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Bungie on the origins of Destiny 2’s newest mode: Gambit Prime

Bungie’s Lars Bakken tells us the story of Gambit’s evolution

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Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Gambit is only six months old, having come to Destiny 2 in the Forsaken expansion last September. But in that time, Bungie has been developing a new spin on the mode: Gambit Prime.

Gambit Prime is more complicated version of Gambit. It adds class based gameplay and more difficult bosses. It’s designed for Destiny’s hardcore audience.

Season of the Drifter’s creative lead, Lars Bakken, and Bungie’s communications director, David “DeeJ” Dague, sat down with Polygon to talk about Gambit Prime, what’s different, and why it changed.

“[Gambit Prime] came out of feedback from the community about Gambit. How it takes too long, in their opinion. I don’t blame them,” said Bakken.

The studio has been collecting data on how its players interact with Gambit. In this case, Bungie found a single Gambit player to be its guide.

“We hosted a player from the U.K. who came out here, who’d played more matches of Gambit than any other breathing person on the planet,” said Dague.

Bungie flew the U.K. player to their studio and hosted them as a guest of honor. The developers picked their brain. The goal was to create a Gambit that was less predictable, and evolve common strategies to be more complex.

In Gambit Prime, skilled players (like Bungie’s expert from the U.K.) have more to tackle, with harder enemies and more punishing attacks from enemy Invaders. Prime’s unique armor sets help to overcome those challenges. They’re a way for players to take a successful playstyle from vanilla Gambit and make it even more effective.

Bungie designed the role system to cement these complexities. It added a more rigid strategy to something that was always inherent to Gambit.

“Even while Gambit was in pre-production, there were ‘soft roles’ we expected players to naturally take on. Specifically clearing the bank, picking up Motes, sending Blockers, clearing out waves, and invading,” said Bakken. “When we discussed how we could evolve Gambit, cementing the roles in armor sets were one of the top ideas that came out of the team.”

Gambit Prime was made by Bungie’s Gambit team, but those developers built the on the ideas of their most dedicated players. Or at least one of them.

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