Weekly News Recap: Week of July 27, 2015

Sunset Overdrive Xbox Bundle

The news cycle continues through the summer, regardless of whether or not there’s any new games coming out. This week has been pretty standard fair – but then that makes sense because next week is Gamescom, the European E3. There’s definitely going to be a few big bits next week – the MLG reveal for Black Ops III (I’m assuming that will basically be the multiplayer detals), The Taken King details galore, and a bunch of Microsoft exclusives including Crackdown.

This week’s news really hit with the start of the Summer Spotlight on Xbox Live. I talked about it yesterday, so I’ll just reiterate that you should check out the games as part of it. You never know what you might find.

In other news, Smite got a pretty sizable update, and Call of Duty has been celebrating “Hammer Week” with double XP and rewards. So it’s been a pretty standard week of news, but pay attention next week – it’s going to be a busy week for sure at Gamescom.

Xbox Live Summer Spotlight: The New Summer of Arcade?

Xbox Live ArcadeOne of my favorite things that Microsoft used to do with the Xbox 360 was the Summer of Arcade. It was a one-month period where each week they would offer brand new titles that highlighted the Xbox Live Arcade. Highlights include Castle Crashers, Limbo and Braid to name just a few games. However, since the Xbox One has come out, the line between Arcade and Games on Demand is pretty much gone. And as a result, the Summer of Arcade has been basically left by the wayside.

However, this year, Microsoft is trying something new. The Summer Spotlight started yesterday and for five full weeks will feature 25(!) new games. It started pretty high too – Kings’ Quest and World of Tanks started the lineup. One thing that I’ve always found with these events is that they are always great ways to find games that might otherwise fly under the radar. They’re generally cheaper than a normal game, and tend to be quicker to play through as well. So while you’re whiling away the hours in August waiting for Madden, The Taken King or even later releases, maybe take a peak at some of the Summer Spotlight games. You could just find a new gem.

The Iron Banner – Or How to Find The Worst Parts of the Current Destiny Meta

Destiny Lord Saladin

Once again we’re back in Destiny – but this time we’re looking at what’s supposed to be an end-game activity: The Iron Banner. I’ve written about the Iron Banner a long time ago – way back during it’s first appearance. It pops up pretty much every other week these days – using the more updated settings they implemented months ago. This week is my first journey back into the Banner since I’ve come back to Destiny, and I am in for a long PvP week. Let’s talk about why.

First and foremost – the current meta is terrible. I’ve written about it, along with just about every Destiny streamer, blogger and YouTuber. The margin for error is basically nonexistent, and requires you to use certain specific weapons or archetypes. Normally, in the Crucible, you’ll see a few hold-outs – using weapons that don’t benefit from the current meta for a variety of reasons. My reasoning is that I don’t like contributing to the issues, so I refuse to use Thorn or Last Word; but I can’t turn down Red Death, because of the prevalence of those guns. Other may like using other weapons for challenges – especially streamers and YouTubers (AKA the No Land Beyond users). Because the normal Crucible doesn’t have level advantages enabled, the margin for error, as slim as it is, is a bit bigger. You can make a few more aggressive moves and still survive. Because it’s not considered an end-game activity, it also helps foster some experimentation. Try out different builds – armor, weapons, perks – in the Crucible and then apply them to Trials of Osiris. That doesn’t happen in Iron Banner.

Destiny Thorn

Iron Banner was considered an end-game event – it used to net you max level gear. Now the gear you buy will only get you to level 33, you’ll still have to Etheric Light your way to 34. The loot drops from completion are I believe higher tiered, but that’s relying on RNG – an unreliable method at best. But it still holds that air of end-game. You are encouraged, because of level advantages, to bring your strongest gear. And because of that, you’ll pretty much only see those absolute top-tier weapons. In a few hours of Iron Banner yesterday, I think I can count on one hand the number of people that weren’t using either Red Death, Thorn or Last Word. Add in that I was consistently the only Titan in the game – not only on my team, but in the game – and it’s really easy to see exactly what the current meta rewards. Warlocks and Hunters have always been the best PvP classes – Blink/shotgun basically ensures that remains the case. Even though most of us playing Iron Banner are already Level 34 with good gear, there’s still a desire to try to get those perfect rolled weapons. And that reinforces the Thorn/Last Word/Red Death primary weapon trinity. If you use anything else – with the exception being the other Top-Tier legendaries (Messenger) – you’re at a disadvantage.

Iron Banner, and the Crucible in general, is actually a lot of fun. Because Bungie has done such a great job of putting in the foundation with the action, PvP is a blast. When it works. Unfortunately, the current meta just doesn’t work. Even way back at launch – when Suros reigned supreme – the overall picture was a lot more even. And as a result, it was a bit more fun. I found myself having a lot more fun then than now. Now I have to play to counter very specific tactics/weapons; as opposed to using whatever I want to have fun. In truth, the only real reason that I’m even playing Iron Banner is for those Etheric Lights to buy – that way I can max out a few last pieces of gear before The Taken King makes it all obsolete.

Destiny – Looking to the Future: Or, What the Reddit “Leak” Really Is

DestinyOnce again I find myself writing based around a post I saw while browsing the Destiny subreddit. Today, it’s one that actually getting some play around the web in general. Hell, even Forbes has commented on this particular post. And it’s because it’s getting some serious views on the Reddit – because it supposedly is a detailing of specifics that the OP has obtained about not only The Taken King, but also Destiny 2. The fanbase is craving for details – The Taken King is only about a month and a half away and we still don’t know a LOT of details. But there is something a little off with the post – Forbes does a good job of breaking that down, so I don’t want to beat that horse. Instead, I want to talk a little about why that post exists, and then maybe do some speculating of my own about the future.

To me, the biggest giveaway that it’s a total sham post is that there’s specifics for Destiny 2. We’ve literally heard nothing even addressing a sequel for the game yet – and while I don’t doubt that it’s pretty deep in development, I actually hope it is – I doubt that Bungie employees at all are talking about it. This community perhaps more than any other in the current gaming sphere should be well aware of how much a game can change quickly. Destiny looked completely different when it was still a year out from release – hell, that game is still one that a lot of us would love to see. Any “concrete” details about a sequel now are just a fan’s wishes. And when you look at these “details” about the future, you really just see it’s exactly that. Activision has a notorious track record for pricing content – early Guitar Hero DLC was more expensive per song than Rock Band (it didn’t help that there was a new game every year, with no chance to transfer songs); Call of Duty charges for cosmetic DLC that literally impacts gameplay in no way at all. The idea that they will abandon paid DLC – especially the kind that the playerbase is dying for – is absolutely insane.

I get that we’re moving forward as an industry, and DLC is going through some changes. We’ve seen more substantial free DLC this year than any year I can remember recently. Titanfall added in the Frontier Defense mode for free, along with the Black Market; Dragon Age: Inquisition has had a bunch of free multiplayer DLC; and Halo 5 has said all map-packs will be free. None of those are Activision games though. The only free DLC that they’ve done for Call of Duty is add in a couple weapons – which still pale compared with the Bal-27 and ASM1. In an age where free MOBA games routinely are in the top played games, I think DLC in general needs to be looked at for multiplayer games. It’s been such a cash-cow for years though, so any growth or changes will be slow and painful. Destiny 2 – whenever it comes out – will probably not be that lynchpin game.

Destiny Taken King Collectors Edition

When it comes down to it – what this post really speaks to – is a community that is rabidly searching through any and every pixel of the trailers for details. As much flak as Destiny has earned over this first year – some rightly so – the community is still really strong, and very loyal. It’s very easily my most played game of the last year – by far. I’m in that same boat – I want to learn all about the upcoming schedule and content as possible. But you have to have a certain level of skepticism about “leaks” – even more so of ones with no concrete proof. The leak back in January that showed off the DLC schedule had some truth to it – thanks to the image that it contained. Add in that it had some truth behind it with the content that had already been released, and it was easy to take at face value. In the end, it was pretty accurate – sure a few details changed here and there, but it has so far been pretty much spot on with the schedule and content. In particular we knew House of Wolves was coming spring time, and we knew about The Taken King (then as Comet) as well as DLC 3 and 4, which are included in the second expansion pass.

Image from @LittleBigOkey

All of that adds up to an environment that is susceptible to these sort of posts. Bungie doesn’t help the case by playing their hands really close to their chest. We’re still a little far from when I would expect to see the floodgates open – that comes within the last month before launch – but I still would love the details to come a little more frequently. As it stands now, we get one or two little tidbits in each weekly update. The updates also are focused around The Taken King – which is what I want, but they’ve basically left the current game stand for a long time, which is frustrating. I’ve written already a few times recently about the current state of the meta, so I don’t need to keep beating that horse.

As far as looking forward, there are a few specific details that I am really hoping for. Of the points in the “leak,” the big one that I want is increased customization. I hate that the only option for end-game play is pretty much homogenized. You wear Prison of Elders armor, or Trials of Osiris armor, until you earn a bunch of Etheric Light to level older armor; basically amounting to using Raid armor that you’ve used for most of the year. That ends up with everyone in the Tower looking the same – even using the same handful of shaders. Adding in more options for customization is needed I think – it would help refresh the feeling of the game. The other point that I really want to address here is supposedly a new way to ascend gear to Year 2 levels. On the surface, that sounds great – but if House of Wolves taught us anything, doing that is a terrible idea. Bungie needs to show us that they’re adding in weapons that would make us abandon the older weapons – House of Wolves didn’t, so everyone ascended Vision of Confluence/Fatebringer/Black Hammer/Gjallarhorn, and really, that’s all you need. The Taken King is exactly what the game needs – a chance to do a bit of a reset with the weapons and armor. Put everyone back on the same playing field, take away the crutch weapons, and reshape the meta. Adding in a way to ascend gear to Year 2 levels would ruin that, and could potentially ruin Destiny in the long run. Datto has a fantastic video that talk about this – especially as it pertains to power creep – which explains it better than I can today. If they do add in ascension, there’s a real good chance that power creep might get to the point that it can’t be fought and could permanently impact the universe. I honestly think that ascension is actually even in the game because of the fanbase raising hell after Dark Below kinda rendered Vault of Glass gear less relevant.

If there’s one thing I can take away from this first year of Destiny, it’s that the game has been one of, if not the most, talked about games. The community is passionate, the game’s building blocks are super tight, and that’s always a good combination. It will probably never be the game it could have been – and in truth it might never have been able to, even without the changes pre-launch. But I still think that Destiny will probably go down as being one of the first true “next-gen” games – and will have a community that plays it for years.

Summer Games Done Quick – Raising Money the Fun Way

Games Done Quick 2015 Logo

I wrote on Awesome Games Done Quick way back in January and that time has come back around again. This week is Summer Games Done Quick, a week long, 24/7 marathon of the best speed runners destroying your favorite games. That in and of itself would be pretty cool, but SGDQ goes one step further – the whole week they’re raising money to directly benefit Doctors Without Borders. The marathon started yesterday afternoon – and within 24 hours, they’ve already raised over $120,000. That’s crazy, and the number will just keep going up all week long.

Twitch.tv logo

If you aren’t familiar with speed runs, they are a player playing through a game as blindingly fast as possible. They involve using known in-game tricks, glitches, even some bugs to help get the time down as low as possible. Each game tends to have multiple categories – usually a 100& and an Any% – with different runners and tactics. The GDQs are a fantastic way to start learning about speed running, and they expose you to some awesome runners and games you might not expect. The marathons are also archived over on YouTube, so if you want to get a quick catch-up before diving in, that’s the way to do it. When you’re ready, check out gamesdonequick.com to scope out the schedule and donate, then bounce over to twitch.tv/gamesdonequick and start watching the fun.

Weekly News Recap: Week of July 20, 2015 – Fallout 4 Quakecon Edition

This weekend is the annual celebration of all things Quake at id software’s Quakecon. Things have expanded over the years, as id has been picked up by Bethesda, and as a result, this year we were expecting a few new details to emerge about this fall’s Fallout 4. And we got a pretty solid start to the news across the Bethesda board early on.

Doom 2016

DOOM ALPHA DETAILS EMERGE
Kicking off the Quakecon news flood, we finally got some details about the upcoming alpha for next year’s DOOM. Players who pre-ordered Wolfenstein: The New Order will either be emailed codes for the upcoming Alpha, or if they had it digitally, they’re already all set. The Alpha doesn’t have a solid date yet, but I would expect it to come out this fall/winter.

Fallout Anthology

FALLOUT ANTHOLOGY COULD BE THE BEST DEAL EVER
Yesterday Bethesda announced what could be the best deal I’ve seen in a long time. PC players will be blessed with the upcoming Fallout Anthology – containing Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout: Tactics, Fallout 3 AND Fallout: New Vegas. And those last two are the complete editions with all the DLC. All of those games, available in a pretty cool collectible Mini-Nuke case – for $45. Forty-Five Dollars – that’s less than any single modern game. Sure, it’s PC exclusive, and sure the games are almost 20 years old – but the timing is perfect and the first few games are hard to come by. Now, it is a true limited edition – so go pre-order it now if you want it.

Fallout 4 Box Art

FALLOUT 4 DETAILS COME FROM EXCLUSIVE DEMO
The big talking point today though was the exclusive, closed door demo of Fallout 4. There’s no plan as of now to release the gameplay footage, so only the attendees will have gotten to see it in action, but the media that was there did live-blog it, along with some quick posts after the show. From the looks of things, the content focused on showing off new companions – confirming four of the “about a dozen” options (Mr. Handy, Dogmeat, Piper and Preston); along with showing off more combat. But the more interesting things, at least to me, were things that Todd Howard talked about before the demo. They hit on the S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats – including showing a quick video talking all about Strength – a video that is the first in a series that they’ll be releasing to the public. After that perks finally got some press – which has been something I’ve been curious about since E3. They’re going with the Fallout 3 style, where you pick a perk at each level-up, and it looks like they’re going to be tied more to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats. There’s still a ton of stuff in the mechanics that I really am curious about, but for now this is good enough to tide me over.

Destiny Quick Hitters – AKA I’ve Been Reading Too Much Reddit

DestinyJust like the title says, I’ve been digging around the Destiny subreddit again, and it really doesn’t take too long for me to find a post that gets my blood pressure up. Generally it’s a lot of posts about the current weapon meta and how Bungie isn’t doing their job because they have the audacity to be making a major expansion due out in two months. I’ve spent plenty of time writing about the current weapon meta in various ways, and while I do agree more frequent communication and updates would be a good thing; I do understand that they’re super busy right now. So today I want to address two other posts I saw this week, instead of beating a dead horse about updates that are four months overdue.

WEAPON PARTS ARE ALREADY GRINDABLE
This is the first one that really got me a little hot earlier this week. Essentially it was asking for the ability to buy weapon parts with planetary materials. Here’s the real issue – the reason that weapon parts have shot up in value is because of reforging. As a result, people have been re-rolling weapons to try to get a perfect set of perks, primarily on those weapons that are top tier in the current meta. For example, the new Party Crasher +1, introduced in House of Wolves, is already a sort of Felwinter’s lite. The problem is that it’s a reforgable weapon – which means you can dump all your glimmer and weapon parts to get a perfect roll. Making them purchasable would just exacerbate the current issues in the meta. And here’s the crazy part – they’re already grindable! All you need is a little patience and hop in the strike playlists. You’ll be rolling in engrams, which can be dismantled into parts. The community already seems to love bitching about balance issues in the game, especially in PvP. Making weapon parts purchasable – with any currency (since they’re all easily grinded) – would just make every unbalanced situation that much more so.

Shadow Price Destiny

TRADING – A TALKING POINT SINCE DAY ONE
I saw another post this week calling, yet again, for trading to be a part of Destiny. This has been something that has come up within the community basically since the beta. Since Destiny draws some inspiration from Borderlands as well as Diablo – and both those games have trading systems in place – it wasn’t a particularly hard stretch to want to see it here. Here’s the issue though – those games have way more variety in their loot. Borderlands has such a tremendous amount of variables for the individual weapons that can change their behaviors, making it difficult for truly overpowered weapons to appear. Thus, trading doesn’t potentially break the PvE experience. Destiny doesn’t have that luxury. The variety really isn’t at that same level – really we’re talking about perks, and even then, an even smaller subset of weapons and armor. No one is out there grinding out hours for blue (rare) weapons – with the exception of The Stranger’s Rifle, which is given after finishing the story missions. Instead everyone is looking for a very small select group of weapons – most of which are end-game legendaries, or the exotics. Trading those weapons not only stands to break the PvE AND PvP metas, but could also evolve to serious exploits. Let me explain. Any game that has that potential can also have the potential for a certain group that is willing to get those weapons, and then sell them off to the highest bidder. Even if that system isn’t in-game, with how easy the web is now, auction sites would pop up instantly. How long do we really think it would take for a site auctioning off Gjallarhorns to pop up? Trading could end up killing the game outright – any sense of balance would be gone in an instant.

At the end of the day, these posts I don’t think actually represent the feelings of the whole community. Sure we’ve all been frustrated when we’re hundreds of hours in, with no sight of Gjallarhorn. The same is true when you get a top-tier weapon, with a terrible roll. You want to make it competitive, because that’s the only way to be in the current meta. I get it. But there are definitely more important issues in the game that need to be addressed. Reputation packages draw from way to wide a loot pool – especially when there are items with no real bearing on gameplay (shaders/ships) that have a lower drop rate than any other item. Getting my Revenant shader was more exciting than just about any new weapon I’ve gotten in months. That’s an issue – the actual gear should be worth more than cosmetic items. We have a couple months until The Taken King, but I don’t think we’ll see any actual update to the game until September. Hopefully though in those weeks, we’ll get a few more glimpses into the mindset of Bungie moving forward. This first year has been a great first year, but it is time to start looking critically at the game and its future.

Late to the Party Part Two: Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of MordorContinuing my recent trend of finally getting to playing games I missed from the fall, I picked up Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor from the Ultimate Games Sale a couple weeks back now. I’m not super far in – it is an open world game, which means that I’ll be playing it pretty slowly as I want to make sure I get everything done before I advance the story. That said though, I have been having a fantastic time with it. The lore behind the game is already super well known – the movies from the early 2000’s did an incredible job of bringing Tolkien’s work to the mainstream. And this medium – an open world game, that isn’t trying to do everything – is perfect for exploring some of the stories that exist in the lore, but haven’t been told. In this case, it’s telling part of the rise of Sauron at the beginning of the Third Age.

From a gameplay standpoint, this game draws a lot of inspiration from the Assassin’s Creed games, along with the Batman: Arkham games for the combat. The parkour and stealth mechanics feel like they were picked right out of an AC game, which is a good thing. It feels fluid and doesn’t have to be overly complicated to get that. The stealth doesn’t feel cheap either – the alerts all are easy to understand and easy to get back into stealth. The combat makes it easy to do just about anything – stealth kills are brutal and effective, the bow combat works perfectly and the swordplay is great at making you feel like a true warrior.

Shadow of Mordor Campfire

One of the big aspects of any open-world game is the side stuff. Those can be anything from collectibles to side missions to lore entries. Shadow of Mordor has all of those, but not to a crazy extant. The hidden collectibles are all revealed on the map when you climb the Forge Towers (which you should do anyway for fast-travel reasons.) The side missions don’t feel overwhelming – and unlock in a pretty logical fashion. Like I talked about last week about the LEGO games, there really needs to be incentives in-game to really go after 100% collections. Achievements aren’t necessarily the biggest motivator for every player. They absolutely should be there though – when there aren’t achievements for either collectibles or completion percentage, it really lowers my incentive to go after them.  In this case, you gain in-game currency, as well as experience, and even further the lore is expanded with each collectible. Taking the Tomb Raider approach to the achievements helps a bunch too – breaking them out into multiple individual achievements is a great plan.

Ultimately, I’m really regretting not picking this game up at launch – it’s a fantastic package from top to bottom. Getting it on sale was certainly a bonus, but it does make me wish I had picked up one of the better games from last year at the same time as everyone else. But such is the risk you run with so many games in such a small window – and this year could be even more packed.

Late to the Party: Smite

Smite CoverLast night I finally went ahead and gave Smite a try. I’ve had the Beta for quite some time and just never sat down to play it. Part of that hesitation comes from my (short) time playing League of Legends – which, while my friends were huge fans of, never really did it for me. I knew going in that Smite is more or less the same beast – a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) with the same pieces in place for the Conquest mode. Multiple lanes, AI minions, and targets that need to be destroyed for victory, along with a rotating cast of playable characters with the option to buy the ones you like for good. Smite does have some other modes going for it – in particular the Arena mode which is essentially a glorified Deathmatch.

Smite Ymir

What I was impressed with in Smite is that there is a good amount of intuitive control involved. It plays a lot like a third-person RPG/action game. After playing a ton of Diablo III this year, I was reminded a lot of that style game with Smite. These MOBA games borrow a lot in the way of skills from those classic RPGs – stuns, freezes, roots, knockups, the list goes on – and thanks to the third-person camera, it feels really crisp. The other thing that was in the back of my mind was that every person I know that has played a MOBA was immediately sucked in. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I do like playing multiple games, and I don’t want to get pulled into just playing Smite or Destiny now. I have enough on my plate where I don’t think that will be the case, but it is something that was on my mind last night.

The other thing that I think Smite has going for it that I really dig is that it uses Gods from traditional mythologies. Greek, Roman, Chinese, Hindu, Mayan and Norse Gods all make up the playable characters. In general the designs borrow from the classical interpretations, with some pretty notable modernizations. Adding in the Lore behind the Gods and Goddesses I think is a really cool move for people to read up on the classical mythology behind them. And with the number of Pantheons they’re drawing from, there’s still plenty of room for more characters to appear. The best move though that Hi-Rez made, I think, is that on each God’s summary screen, it tells you what that God’s strengths are, along with a general idea of how hard they are to play. That’s a nice little touch for us MOBA noobies – breaking up the characters into different classes further helps us define our roles.

Technically, Smite is still in Beta on the Xbox One. That really just means that there are still a few little bugs and quirks around, but also means that there’s plenty of room to grow. And now that it’s in open Beta, and is a free download means that the player base can grow – on a market that I think has really been waiting for this style game. Even if you’ve been hesitant to play a MOBA before, I really recommend grabbing Smite on the Xbox One – you might just find out you like it a whole lot.

Weekly News Recap – Week of July 13, 2015: Destiny 2.0 Edition

DestinyLittle different take on the Weekly News Recap here this week. We’re smack dab in the middle of the summer, which tends to be a slow time for news. This week we had the sad news of Iwata-San’s passing, and some news about Star Citizen‘s Kickstarter issues. But yesterday Bungie put out two new updates through the Destiny app/website – one the Weekly Update they always do, the other detailed a whole lot of changes coming for the weapons with the 2.0 Patch. There’s a lot to parse through with that so I want to talk about that today.

Shadow Price Destiny

The big focus in Destiny the last few months has been the current state of the Crucible weapon meta. Exotic Hand Cannons have reigned supreme more or less since December, while every other primary weapon type lagged a bit behind – especially the Auto Rifles. What we learned last night is that not only will those Hand Cannons be brought back more in line, but every weapon class available is getting some attention. Auto Rifles should be much more viable now – as long as you use them in their proper range, thanks to the change to damage drop-off. Pulse Rifles are getting a little tweak, mainly with the medium rate of fire archetype guns, dropping their base damage down a little. The big thing with Pulse Rifles is that in order to two or three burst, every shot needs to be a headshot now – which should reduce their quick kills, but generally keep them more stable. Scout Rifles are already in a pretty good spot – their generally the best long-range option now, and Bungie is reinforcing that role by reducing their close range effectiveness. Hand Cannons seem to be getting the most noticeable changes – the damage drop-off is being brought in to reduce effective range, pacing shots will be much more required for consistent precision shots, and their ammo is being reduced across the board. I think across the different primaries, this is the patch we’ve been asking for for months now. Weapons that have been behaving in ways they shouldn’t will hopefully be brought in line, and others that were left behind should be made viable again. That, in theory, should increase the amount of variety in the Crucible, which should help keep playing the PvP fun.

Destiny Felwinters Lie

Special weapons have been a sticking point lately as well – anyone who’s spent time in the Crucible knows all too well how strong long range, high impact shotguns are now, never mind when Blink is added to the mix. It’s been compounded by the fact that there are multiple longer range shotguns available now, and they can all be reforged to a perfect mix of perks. So to address that, they’re taking those perks that people look for – Shot Package and Rangefinder – and reducing their impact, along with some damage reduction, mainly for PvE. The Fusion Rifles have seen a lot less use, mainly because of the shotgun strength. So with 2.0, it looks like their making the changes based around archetypes – the long range Fusion Rifles are getting accuracy nerfs, while the close ranges get a slight boost. That should help put the Fusion Rifles back into their role as mid-range specials, especially with the shotgun nerf. Snipers have been more or less where they should be – long-range killers. However, the Final Round perk has been a pretty serious issue – it allows for one-shot body hit kills with a high impact sniper rifle. So to address that, Final Round will only impact precision damage now – which should already be a killshot, so really it’s only going to matter in PvE. The special weapon changes are again, more or less right what we needed. Shotguns didn’t need a flat range nerf, instead it was the perks that needed adjustment. Fusion Rifles needed something to help solidify their role to help counter shotguns. And Final Round was a serious issue that has been addressed.

Finally, we get to the heavy weapons. The only thing their even looking at here is Rocket Launchers – in particular it’s a blanket blast radius upgrade. However, much like Final Round, there’s a perk on Rocket Launchers that’s been a bit of an issue – Grenades and Horseshoes. In PvP it makes using Rockets almost a guaranteed kill thanks to the big radius for the perk to activate. So their reducing the range for the perk to trigger, which really should help keep it from being insane in PvP, but could end up being rough in PvE. That said, the changes here are good – it’s rare to see Machine Guns in PvP thanks to the ease of using Rockets right now, especially with reforging allowing any launcher to have Grenades and Horseshoes.

Normally, that would be enough for a weapon update. But that’s not all here – Bungie also addressed some particular Exotic weapons. it’s no secret that Thorn and The Last Word have been all but ubiquitous these days, for different reasons. Neither gun really fits into their intended design though, and so Bungie is looking at them. But we’ll start with two Exotic Auto-Rifles: Hard Light and Nechrochasm. Neither are particularly powerful now – their both the bullet-hose variety, which was hit hardest in February. Hard Light is getting some good attention – it’s getting a huge buff to stability, the bounce count for shots is increased and the gun will not have any damage fall-off. That’s a pretty substantial update, and combined with the Auto-Rifle buff, could make it a fun gun to use again. Necrochasm has its own share of issues – rarity combined with low effectiveness. So it’s also getting a stability buff, along with extra magazine and making that Cursebringer explosion more reliable and damaging.

Destiny Thorn

The two Hand Cannons though are really what we’re looking for. The Last Word, as Bungie said, is the fastest killing primary in the game, thanks to it’s insane Time to Kill. However, their intention was to keep it a close range monster; but thanks to a few little quirks, it’s been way more consistent at range. So they’re adjusting that appropriately – range is decreased, stability as well, especially while aiming down sights. On the flip side, the hip-fire bonuses are increased, pushing it into that role it was intended – and by fixing the bugs that triggered the extra damage while ADS helps it. And then there’s Thorn. Oh boy. Plenty has been said about the gun – here and just about everywhere else that talks Destiny. Through the Hand Cannon changes, the range shouldn’t be near where it was in the past. That leaves the Damage over Time to be tweaked – which they’re doing. Reducing it by about 1/3 of where it was, and lets it stack multiple times – it’s a good PvE tweak, and really shouldn’t make too much of an impact in PvP. Hawkmoon – the PS4 exclusive Hand Cannon – is getting some changes to reduce the chances for one-shots. Reducing the chances for the bonus damage perks to trigger should help keep it fair.

That’s when we get to the surprises. So far, every thing we’ve seen was more or less expected and desired. Bungie however is really making some changes to guns we didn’t expect. First up, Ice Breaker – in my opinion, the most important PvE weapon in the game. They aren’t really changing what makes it special, just reducing the effectiveness a little by slowing the ammo regen. It may sting a little, but I think it’s a fair move. No Land Beyond has basically been a joke weapon since it was added to the game. They’ve made a number of changes to help make it more effective – quicker handling, sight changes and changes to The Master perk. I still don’t see it being a particularly great gun, but could be slightly better. Black Hammer – a legendary Crota’s End sniper – is getting some tweaks to its White Nail perk. I don’t know a whole lot about this one, mainly because I don’t have the gun yet. Lord of Wolves, one of the new House of Wolves exotics is seeing a boost to the recovery perk it provides. And finally, the White Whale of exotics for most of us, Gjallarhorn is seeing a bit of a nerf – the Wolfpack rounds damage is being reduced. I’ve seen a lot of people crying about this one – here’s the thing: I really don’t think it’s going to be that huge a difference. It’s still probably going to be far and away the most efficient Rocket Launcher available, just doing a little less damage.

There’s a whole lot to sift through here, and it’s really hard to know just how much this will matter because we still don’t have a timeframe. In the past these major updates have come a few weeks before the actual DLC launches, so I would guess that we’ll see 2.0 sometime in August. Whether these changes will matter that much after The Taken King starts Year 2 remains to be seen, and I seriously doubt Bungie will say anything on that matter – if it won’t, saying that kills the player incentive to keep playing until then.