Even though the Beta for Destiny ended this past weekend, it’s still right at the front of my mind. I was thoroughly impressed with the product that Bungie put out there as a Beta, and it really solidified my belief that Destiny is a strong contender for game of the year. I thought that the rest of the week I would go over in a little be more detail some of the things we got in the beta, as well as touching on some of the new info that Bungie has released this week for the full game. I want to start by looking at each class individually today, then diving into the different locations we got tomorrow, before finally specifically talking Crucible.
Underneath the armor your Guardian equips, there are three other stats – armor, recovery and agility – each impacting the base behavior of your character. Armor determines how much health your Guardian has, which determines how durable he or she is once their shield is broken. Recovery determines how fast your grenades, melee and shield recharge during combat. Agility covers your Guardian’s speed, and I believe your jump height as well.
The Titan was the first class I selected for the beta, originally because my fireteam of friends had picked the Warlock and Hunter already. In the broadest sense, the Titan acts as the tank in a fireteam, using the base character stats as the basis for classification. Just using those stats, the Titan has the highest base armor rating, which lets you get away with a little bit more reckless tactics with no shield. In the Beta we only got to play as one Subclass for each of the primary classes, and the Titan’s was the Striker subclass. Striker let’s you act as even more of a close range tank by granting the Fist of Havoc super ability. Using this power, your Guardian will hammer the ground with both fists, creating a pretty good size explosion of Arc Light, great for clearing out swarms of lower rank enemies or dealing some massive damage to higher rank ones, as well as being a fantastic option in the Crucible for clearing off control points. The only major downside is that even during the Fist of Havoc, you are still vulnerable to incoming damage, which can be mitigated a bit through the Unstoppable ability modifier upgrade. The other direct upgrades for Fist of Havoc are Aftermath, which creates a field of Arc Light that persists after the initial strike, Death from Above, which gives you more control over your aim after jumping, and Shockwave, which gives the attack a shockwave that travels on the ground.
Titan Fist of Havoc Gameplay Clip – Crucible Control – Played by Me:
Each subclass also offers three different grenades to choose from. The Striker initial grenade, the Flashbang Grenade, despite its sound as an attack with no damage, does indeed deal decent damage, but also has the benefit of stunning/blinding any enemy it hits and doesn’t kill. The Flashbang is a great option while playing with a Fireteam, allowing your other teammates to get in a few free shots while the enemy is stunned; while also working well in the Crucible to stun enemies long enough for follow up shots. The second grenade is the Pulse Grenade, which explodes on contact, and then produces a few more pulses of damage in the blast radius. This grenade is a better pure damage option, but takes a little getting used to since it’s a contact grenade. It’s great for area control, putting up a damage field for a few seconds, and works well in conjunction with the Aftermath ability modifier to extend it’s duration. Finally, the Striker unlocks the Lightning Grenade, which acts similar to the Pulse grenade, except that is sticks to any surface, and jets out bolts of lightning for a period of time. This is another good area control grenade, especially since it can be put in spots that a player might not expect, or where A.I. will walk through.
Finally, each subclass has a melee ability that boosts the base melee attack. The Titan has Storm Fist, a more powerful melee attack, that deals some serious Arc Damage. Going down the Storm Fist upgrade tree we first get Overlord, which has a chance to instantly reset the cooldown, Discharge, which gives it area of effect damage, and Illuminated, which makes kills with Storm Fist greatly reduce the Fist of Havoc cooldown. There are also a few other good upgrades on the Striker tree – including Headstrong, which makes Fist of Havoc’s leap longer if activated while sprinting, Transfusion, making kills with melee attacks trigger health regen, Shoulder Charge, giving you a unique melee attack after sprinting for a distance and Juggernaut, which grants you a protective shield after sprinting for a bit.
Titan Melee Kills – Crucible Control Gameplay Clip – Played by Me:
While playing the beta, we could also take a look at the level 15 subclass for each primary class, but nothing more. Titans gain access to the Defender subclass at that level, and looking at the super ability and upgrades, this looks like a primarily defense oriented class, along with a few other buffs for teammates. We’ll have to wait till the full game to see exactly how many subclasses exist for each primary class, since you can carry up to 3 total.
If the Titan is the tank of the group, the Hunter would act as the ranger – a mid-long range specialist with high speed stats, with a super ability that is focused on precision attacks that deal massive damage, along with a powerful unique melee weapon in case enemies get too close. In the beta, we only got the chance to play as the Gunslinger subclass, focused around the Golden Gun super ability. The Golden Gun only has 3 shots after you activate it, and only lasts for a few seconds, or those 3 shots are used. Each shot deals a huge amount of Solar damage, which could ignite enemies. While it might deal a ton of damage, there are a few downsides to it – first, when activating it, the Hunter is really vulnerable for a second or two, which could be fatal; add in the fact that you only get those three shots, hit or miss, and that they don’t cause critical hits, and against some enemies, the Golden Gun might be more trouble than it’s worth. That said, once you get the hang of it, it’s got the potential to be a really powerful ability, especially in the Crucible, killing in one shot. The upgrades for Golden Gun include Deadeye, which greatly increases the accuracy of the Gun; Combustion, which makes enemies explode if they are killed with the Gun; and Gunfighter, which reduces the cooldown, making it available more often.
The Gunslinger has a pretty unique selection of grenades, not really sticking with one prevalent theme along the course of the three choices. The initial grenade option is Incendiary Grenade, which acts just like you would expect. I will say it takes a little bit to get used to it – it’s behavior when it’s thrown as well as the timing on the explosion and blast radius all are a little off the norm I would say. That said, since it’s an Incendiary Grenade, it also offers damage over time to enemies that survive the first explosion, and I’ve found is really useful against Hive enemies. Secondly the Gunslinger unlocks the Swarm Grenade, which explodes on contact, releasing a number of smaller explosives that seek out any nearby enemies. The Swarm definitely takes a little time to get used to as well, learning that the child grenades are the main damage source. It is good for groups though, as it spreads the damage around and makes mopping up easier. Finally, the Gunslinger unlocks the Tripmine Grenade, which again acts just like it sounds. It’s explosive damage, not Solar, so no DoT, but can be used to help control the direction that enemies have to come from.
The Gunslinger has, at least in my opinion, the most difficult to use, but satisfying melee ability of the three subclasses in the beta – a Throwing Knife. This lets the Hunter throw the knife to hit enemies at a distance, while still dealing the full melee damage. However, it’s a precision attack, and has a real long cooldown, regardless of whether you hit or not. This can make for some real “make-or-break” moments in the Crucible. Now, you don’t actually lose the knife for regular melee attacks though, which is a mystery to me, but I’m glad it’s the case. In regards to the upgrades for it, the melee tree itself offers the usual 3 upgrades: Circle of Life, which makes it so killing an enemy with the Throwing Knife while Golden Gun is active extends Golden Gun’s duration; Incendiary Blade, which add Solar damage to Throwing Knife attacks, and Knife Juggler, which makes precision kills with the Throwing Knife instantly reset the cooldown.
There are a few more upgrades spread across the trees that affect the Throwing Knife or the Golden Gun. Scavenger makes it so any ammo you pick up reduces the cooldown of the Throwing Knife, which is a nice boost to have. Keyhole makes the Golden Gun shoot through targets to hit multiple targets that are lined up. Gunslinger’s Trance is a skill that stacks up to 3 times, doing so with precision kills, which increase weapon stability. Chain of Woe is another stacking skill, again with precision kills, this time increasing reload speed, also up to 3 times. Over the Horizon increases the range of Golden Gun and Gambler’s Dagger grants you an addition Throwing Knife.
The Hunter’s knife plays a major role in the level 15 subclass, Bladedancer. Again, we couldn’t actually play as it in the beta, but based on the upgrades, which we could look at, it appears to be focused more around stealth and chaining melee attacks together.
Going with the traditional classifications of Tank (Titan) and Ranger (Hunter), the Warlock acts closer to a Mage, one that is focused around dealing damage, not healing. It’s a bit of a glass cannon, since it can dish out damage, but with a low armor stat, can’t necessarily survive long with no shield. However, it does boost a good recovery stat, getting it back in the fight quickly. We saw that with the Voidwalker subclass we got to play as, especially with the super ability – Nova Bomb. The Nova Bomb is essentially a super powered grenade, dealing a ton of Void Damage and having a pretty good size blast radius. Using it properly takes a few minutes, just to get used to jumping into the air to fire it and aiming it well. Once you have the hang of it, it can be a great crowd control ability, as well as a great PvP power too. The upgrades along the tree include Vortex, which grants a damage over time field; Shatter, which splits the Nova Bomb into 3 projectiles; and Lance, which makes the Nova Bomb travel farther and faster. It’s a powerful attack, but like the Fist of Havoc, you are open to attack while aiming it in the air, so it’s good to be quick with it.
The nice thing about the Voidwalkers grenades is that, since they’re the first ability you unlock, you get good with them quickly, and they behave similar to Nova Bomb. The initial grenade, the Vortex Grenade, acts as a mini-Nova Bomb, with a DoT field and Void Damage. The Scatter Grenade, which splits up almost immediately into lots of little explosives to cover a bigger blast area, I found to be relatively ineffective ultimately. Granted I didn’t have a ton of time to get used to it, as the Warlock was my last class I played, but it seemed like it was limited in effectiveness. Finally, the Voidwalker gets Axion Bolt, which acts similar to the Hunter’s Swarm grenade, but deals Arc Damage.
The Voidwalker’s melee ability might be my favorite one, simply for the boost that it gives the melee attack. Once you unlock Energy Drain, melee will quickly be a major part of combat for a Warlock. Energy Drain makes melee attacks drain energy from enemies and reduces the cooldown on grenades. The upgrades for it increase the effectiveness of it. Surge makes kills from it increase your movement speed; Life Steal makes kills from it restore a large amount of health and Soul Rip turns kills from Energy Drain into reduced cooldown on Nova Bomb. It’s an ability that’s totally built around getting your abilities back faster, allowing you to deal more damage to groups of enemies.
The other upgrades spread in the two ability trees are all about making your Voidwalker even more dangerous. Vortex Mastery increases the range on Axion Bolt seekers, as well as increasing the duration of Vortex for Nova Bomb and Vortex Grenades. Bent Gravity lets you throw your grenades and Nova Bomb farther. The Hunger increases the duration of the Energy Drain effect, making it even more effective. Angry Magic makes the Nova Bomb track enemies, reducing the chances of misses. Embrace the Void makes it so any damage from Nova Bomb or grenades trigger the Energy Drain effect, further increasing its effectiveness. Bloom makes it so any enemy killed by an ability explodes, turning your explosives potentially into chain attacks. Again, overall, the Voidwalker is all about dealing damage as quick as possible, but is pretty fragile as a result.
The level 15 subclass, which we could look through, but not play as for the Warlock is Sunsinger. From what I could tell, Sunsinger is the opposite of Voidwalker, turning your Warlock into a support class, including the ability to revive allies. I think this ultimately makes it a better pick for Fireteams or large groups of players.
Overall, I think Bungie has done a really good job of not making one class clearly better than any other. Each fills an important role in the PvE setting, and they all work well in the Crucible; while at the same time they play differently enough from each other where it takes a bit of time to learn each classes’ behaviors. As I said earlier, I’m curious to see just how many subclasses each primary class will have available in the full game, since there are three slots to fill, but in most cases in games, there’s less inventory space than actual items to fill it with. It’s a long wait till September, but we really don’t have any choice.