Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Xbox One Beta Impressions

Black Ops 3

Over the weekend, Treyarch and Activision opened up the Xbox One beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops III to all players online, instead of just those that have the game pre-ordered. So I downloaded it and played it for a few hours and thought I’d put down my impressions on how the game is shaping up.

We knew going in that mobility was going to be a big focus for Black Ops III, straddling the line between Advanced Warfare’s exo-pack and Titanfall‘s parkour. I think ultimately it’s a good mix of traditional Call of Duty style action with more options for getting around the maps. The wallruns are maybe a little easier to get kills with – aiming down sights doesn’t kick you off the wall. The thrusters that give you double jumps I think actually behave a bit better with the CoD formula. It’s easier to track those double jumps because of the nature of them – similar to why Blink is so powerful in Destiny, versus the other double jumps. Unfortunately, the games I played tended to fall into the same Call of Duty tropes – find chest high cover, head-glitch over it, and set up camp.

What I think really is always the biggest question going in with a new shooter is the weapon balancing. Destiny is dealing with that issue now, Advanced Warfare has had its own issues, and Ghosts was plagued by a broken weapon meta that pulled me completely out of PvP. It’s a small sample size, but as of now, Black Ops has me worried. Even now there are already certain weapon, perk, and attachment combinations that are just about unstoppable. SMG’s are still king – it’s been a continuing problem with the shift to mobility in shooters. The higher power/slower rate of fire weapons just can’t keep up with the speed of the SMG’s and since Call of Duty loves to make them powerful too, they are almost always the best weapon choice.

Black Ops 3 Ruin

All of that said, I actually had a ton of fun playing the beta. Yes, it has the same issues that have been bothering me with Call of Duty for the past few years. Submachine Guns are overly powerful, accurate shooting is penalized vs. shots placed at the lower body, head-glitching still is incredibly frustrating to fight and hip-firing is still far more accurate than it should be outside of point-blank range. But Treyarch manages to make the game feel fun, even with those issues. Sniping has always felt the best with Treyarch at the helm – they make quickscoping much harder to do. They have a slower time-to-kill than Infinity Ward or Sledgehammer, which makes firefights a bit more dynamic. The new Specialists add in a pretty cool way to play games – especially the ability powers – and even more so in objective games. Will I buy Black Ops III? Probably at some point this season. I have loved the CoD games for years now, and I am intrigued by the campaign premise. It does come out two days before Fallout 4, which I am much, much more invested in; so I don’t think I’m going to be a launch day purchase. The beta to me really just made me think that the shooter market this year is going to be pretty crazy – Taken KingBlack OpsHalo, and Battlefront all are going to be fighting for the same market share. Regardless of which one you pick, I think it’s a very good year to like some FPS action.

Weekly News Recap – Week of August 24, 2015

As we get closer and closer to the craziness that is the fall release window, we’re starting to see a bit more news drop. From details about the 2.0 patch for Destiny, to a major game being pushed back to next year, it’s very clearly the busy season.

The Taken King Logo

DESTINY WEEKLY UPDATE DETAILS MORE CHANGES COMING
Bungie has really been giving us the details on the upcoming second year for Destiny over the last couple weeks. Last week we learned all about the coming economy changes headed to the tower. This week it was a bit more mixed in its focus. On the stream we got to see the new Subclasses in a lot more detail – and the first real glimpse at them in PvE; as well as a good look at how the new strikes will look. In the Bungie Weekly Update we got a few more specific details to changes that I don’t think many of us saw coming. The Weekly Nightfall Strikes are getting a pretty serious looking over. They won’t grant a flat XP bonus anymore – Bungie saw that as dictating players time too much, meaning that they felt players thought they absolutely needed to play the Nightfall ASAP to really benefit. The other major part of Nightfalls being adjusted is that unique modifier – Nightfall – that made them the most difficult strikes in the game. Wiping will no longer boot your fireteam back to orbit, but that’s about all we know for sure. I hope to see that it’s still a full reset – bringing you back to the start of the strike, just without the menu downtime. Finally, we also learned when we can expect the 2.0 patch to land, really signalling the start of Year Two. The patch will be out on September 8, a week before The Taken King.

LawBreakers

NEW GAME FROM BOSS KEY STUDIOS UNVEILED
This week also saw the announcement of the first game from Boss Key Studios, the new development studio founded by Cliffy B – LawBreakers. Cliff has a track record of fantastic action games – Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, and Gears of War all bear his fingerprints. LawBreakers looks very interesting so far. It’s pretty rare to see arena shooters these days, but that’s very much what this looks like. Character driven mechanics should help breathe some life into the arena shooter formula, along with the really cool movement mechanics. Over the last two years or so, I’ve really started paying a lot more attention to the way that shooters address movement – and it does look like the cover-based shooters are pretty much gone for now.

X-COM 2 PUSHED BACK TO NEXT YEAR
Coming this week was also the news of the second major game being delayed this fall. Last week we saw Rainbow Six: Siege get pushed back to December, which Ubisoft has done well in lately. Today, X-COM 2 was pushed back into early 2016. They’re saying February now, which wouldn’t shock me – as a month that has gotten a few big games the last couple years. Seeing games get delayed is always a bittersweet thing – it always sucks because you have to wait longer, but you have to keep in mind that it’s for the best. This lets developers put more time and effort into polishing up the game to make them as best as possible. With X-COM 2, the delay could really help it – it was going to have to compete with probably the biggest RPG in years in Fallout 4 if it launched in the fall. Now Fallout will have about 4 months all to its own, and should let X-COM stand on its own. That’s why the push to December may help Rainbow Six out too – it’s not directly competing with Halo, Destiny, Battlefront and Call of Duty now. Instead it’s a Christmas launch – which really could help.

Mega Man Legacy Collection Impressions

Megaman Legacy Collection

While we haven’t quite made it to the Triple A busy season yet, we are starting to get some new games. I already talked about the Rare Replay collection last week, and today we’ll look at another anthology – the Megaman Legacy Collection. You may remember a Minecraft sprite project I was working on before my last computer met with an accident featuring the Megaman games. If you do, it should come as no surprise that I am very much in favor of this collection.

We’ll start with the games included. This is the third anthology of Megaman “Classic” series games, and the second to come out in the US. The first only was released in Japan as the Rockman Complete Works collection and featured the NES games with some neat extras. Our first collection was the Anniversary Collection, which was the first eight games in the series. It was the first time that Megaman 8 appeared on a Nintendo console (Gamecube); and conversely, the first time the first seven games appeared on Sony and Microsoft consoles. It wasn’t the best collection though in my mind – the Megaman 1 port was missing a feature unique to that game. The select trick that is present in the NES original wasn’t in the Anniversary Collection. The Megaman 8 port was also the PSX version of the game, which is missing two hidden bosses that I think really should have been in the collection – Wood Man and Cut Man.

Mega Man 2 Title Screen

Which brings us to the current Legacy Collection. It’s a simplified anthology, only featuring the first six games – the NES classics. The controls make perfect sense, and the unique quirks to each game remain in place. The first game’s select button “faintwarp” trick is still in there, Megaman 2 still retains the “normal” mode from the US NES version and there are even a few little sprite flicker elements. There are a few different visual options to pick from – you can make the game full or wide screen, in addition to the original screen size. If you want an extra bit of classic feel, you can put a filter on the screen to make your picture look more like a CRT display too. These don’t really have any impact on actual gameplay, but it’s a really nice little touch. The games probably haven’t ever looked this good on a console – they run really smoothly, and it’s easy to see every detail in the sprite work.

Mega Man 4 Title Screen

It’s no secret that the Megaman games have always been my very favorite games, of all times. This is a fantastic collection for a new player to get acquainted with the Blue Bomber. And for longtime fans, this is probably the best NES collection of his games out there. But what really makes this a real treat for longtime fans is the extras. Each game has a database showing off each enemy, including their health and damage, along with what weapon they’re weak against. That’s an awesome detail for new and old players alike – there are 46 robot masters in the game, and that’s a lot of weaknesses to have to remember. I find myself looking through the database just to see some more about everything in the games. Each game also has a museum associated with them, showing off the art from the manuals, as well as any other promotional artwork, including the boss contest submissions. It’s a really cool detail – I love the museum for the original game, since each weapon has two pieces of art: one from back in ’87 and one from more recently.

Mega Man 3 Title Screen

The last part of the collection is the Challenge section. They’re bitesized bits of Megaman goodness. They range from completing a screen or two from each stage in a game, to boss rushes, to beating levels under very specific circumstances. They’re great ways to give longtime players a little different kind of challenge. The Megaman games are well known for being pretty tough to begin with, but like most platformers are based on patterns. The more you play, the easier they get. The challenges shake the formula up and push you to learn new patterns – something that isn’t super easy after 20 years of playing the games. The Legacy Collection I think is a really awesome way to enjoy six of the best games that ever graced the NES. Megaman is a franchise that I think younger gamers don’t have the same appreciation for that a lot of older players do, mainly because Capcom has been loathe to make new Classic series games. Hell, the Blue Bomber in general has been on Capcom’s backburner for far too long I think. I’d love to see this collection, along with the success of Mega in Smash Bros. maybe get them thinking that the time is right for him to come back. We’ll just have to wait and see. Regardless, I really think you should go pick this up – it’s only $15, and it’s six amazing games.

Destiny The Taken King Twitch Reveal: Week Two – The Shield Brothers Strike

The Taken King LogoContinuing our look at the Twitch livestreams that Bungie has been doing to help drive up the hype for Destiny: The Taken King. Last week we got our first real glimpse at the changes coming to the economy and UI. This week, after some technical difficulties, we got to see one of the brand new strikes played, from start to finish. It’s a little tough to really extrapolate from one strike, but I think we can kind of get a good feel for their direction moving forward.

Destiny Strike Logo

Strikes tended to be one of the more boring parts of Year One in Destiny. Other than the Weekly challenge strikes – the Nightfall and Heroic – I think they more or less were left behind by most longtime players. The Vanguard playlists used to be one of the better ways to grind out blue engrams for Strange Coins; but with Prison of Elders now pretty much guaranteed to give you a handful of Coins and Motes of Light, they’re just not worth the time. Add in the very nature of the bosses present in the strikes, and you can see why they just don’t see a lot of play anymore; and you can see why Bungie has been giving the strikes some much needed attention.

Destiny Shield Brothers

We got a glimpse of that with the Shield Brothers strike. A strike that takes place on the new Hive Dreadnaught culminating in a boss fight against two new Cabal enemies, the strike I think was a good pick for Bungie to show off the new stuff. It’s pretty much impossible to really judge the new “dynamic encounters” part of the strikes, but we did hear Bungie talk about it again. They’ve said that a different points throughout the strikes, certain combat rooms will have different encounters. That extends to more than just a different set of one enemy type – we’ll be getting different species, spawning in different make-ups and coming from different spawn points. Sure, eventually players will go through all the different versions and probably settle in to those familiar patterns of safety; but at least at launch I think it’ll really help keep the strikes fresh.

The other area of strikes that needed some love were those boss encounters. The one we saw was light on actual fight mechanics, but did definitely have a different feel for the fight. Mixing up two enemies instead of one relatively stationary target makes for a much more dynamic battle. The one we saw today was a lot more in line with a raid encounter – you’ve got the main target(s) and then waves of adds to handle. Giving each actual Cabal target different fighting styles also makes for a pretty dynamic fight – the first one is all melee focused, trying to slam into you; while the second hangs back, mortaring you. At the end, when both are out there together, along with adds, it gets a little hectic. It’s a fight I can see actually being pretty hard at higher levels and for Nightfalls. Once one target is downed, the remaining Valus gets the other’s abilities. It makes that end phase feel a little more unique, while not quite hitting the raid level.

Now, doing all these cool new strikes is well and good, but the carrot at the end of the stick is always the loot. And that is also being overhauled. Now strike bosses will have rewards similar to raid encounters – unique loot that is tied exclusively to the strike bosses. That means that when you see a super cool helmet or class item or artifact or weapon, it might not require you get a whole 6-man fireteam to try and grind. And you won’t be limited to one attempt per week. I think that the loot system in general needed a bit of an overhaul, and this is definitely a step in the right direction. Of course, we have to wait until we’ve run the strikes multiple times to really see how well Bungie did.

We had a few more little details given out today. We had confirmation of the sword as a heavy weapon type, although they didn’t actually show the perspective of the guardian using it. We got some more info on the Artifact slot – it looks like it just will function as another gear slot. The ones we saw today had the power to create orbs of Light when melee kills with certain elements were achieved. We also finally got a look at the new Subclasses’ skill trees fully upgraded. Over the course of the strike we got plenty opportunities to see the new abilities in action too – and as a Titan player, I really can’t wait to get my hands on the Sunbreaker. We only have a few more weeks left until The Taken King is in our hands and we all get to play around with the new content.

Mad World: The Best Video Game Commercials in Recent Years

I had a pre-roll ad for the new Ultimate Edition of Gears of War before a Datto video pop up the other day, and it got me thinking a bit about gaming commercials. For me, that first Gears of War ad, with Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World” still is one of the all time greatest commercials for a game. So today, to kinda take a breather from Destiny talk, as well as a take a break before we hit the crazy season, I thought I would pick out a couple really strong commercials from the last few years.

GEARS OF WAR – “MAD WORLD”
I said that this was the one that got me thinking about this topic, so I think it’s the perfect place to start. It’s maybe a little hard to think about this ad now – with the continued success of gaming as an industry, gaming ads have had to step up the quality of ads. This commercial, for a brand new franchise, was a little different. It was short – the original run was only about 30 seconds. It wasn’t showing cut together gameplay footage, with some dubstep in the background. Instead, it focused on the emotional side of a game that was already heavy on the cheesy testosterone. We knew about chainsaw machine guns and all the action that was coming, but this trailer decided to forego that side of the game. Using a song that is airy and simple and has a decidedly depressing feel to it really helped create the sense going in to that first game that the world really is ending. The Locust have overrun us, and this is the last ditch effort to stop them – and we might not make it. All of that in a really short ad – it was a fantastic way for the franchise to open. So much so, that they’ve essentially remade the commercial for the new Xbox One anniversary edition.

HALO 3/ODST – BUBBLE SHIELD/LIVE ACTION
There’s two classic Halo ads that I really can still remember as being just ahead of their time, and still resonating with the fanbase. First up was the Halo 3 ad, showing off the Bubble Shield for the first time. Sure, it was a CG trailer, but the scale of the battle being shown, and the fact that Master Chief was clearly hopelessly outnumbered, really I think helped cement the fact that this was the end of the story. Now, we know now that Master Chief wasn’t done with us yet, but at the time, Halo 3 was all about Finishing the Fight. This particular trailer really I think helped give that feeling – Chief was pulling out all the stop on this battle. Shortly after Halo 3, we got the side-game ODST. It’s a horribly underrated game I think – it’s short sure, but fills a super important role in fleshing out the storyline in Halo. It’s got a really cool story telling mechanic too – seriously, it’s part of the Master Chief Collection now, I fully recommend playing it. And as part of the ad campaign for it, we got one of the best live-action trailers I’ve ever seen for a game. Showing the process of becoming one of the ODST soldiers, before culminating in the actual drop into combat. I still think it’s one of the better live-action trailers out there, even almost 8 years later.

CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS
Sticking with the idea of live-action trailers, I very clearly remember the Black Ops live-action trailer. It was a bit of a shift in tone for the series, it took into account the rather crazy setting that is online multiplayer, while also acknowledging the popularity the series had hit. This was the first one that really featured a bunch of celebrities in the action. They’ve used this formula a couple times again, usually when they start talking multiplayer. It’s a trend that’s caught on – Madden NFL has really taken that idea and run crazy with it. This year’s ad in particular is just crazy – it’s about 5 minutes and is honestly pretty entertaining.

There are always a ton more ads to look at – and I know that I missed a whole bunch. But that’s one of the best part of gaming – it is just like music or TV or movies, everyone likes different things. I picked a few ads that I really loved – hell I actually went and downloaded that Gears of War ad way back in high school to show my friends. And I also neglected to mention trailers – the Fallout 3 reveal trailer was awesome, but it wasn’t a TV ad. Trailers are a whole different beast and there are way more amazing trailers than commercials I think. As we get into the last couple weeks before the new crop of games is unleashed, we’ll start to see a bunch more great commercials and trailers. Just keep your eyes peeled, and maybe don’t skip that YouTube ad immediately.

Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Hunter

The Taken King Logo

Rounding out our journey through all the different exotic items available in this first year of Destiny. We’ve talked about the weapons, and the armor choices for Titans and Warlocks. Today, we’re hitting the last player class – Hunters – and going over their exotic armor. Much like the Titan, Hunters have options for every armor slot, at least ever since The Dark Below.

Destiny Celestial Nighthawk

Like we have been all week, we’ll start with the helmets. Hunters have access to five helmets – although as we’ll see, they’re really only looking at three of them. In terms of class parity, Hunter choices are definitely skewed more towards Gunslingers. But one of the few Bladedancer exotics does exist as a helmet. But we’ll start with one of the worst exotics in the game – the ATS/8 Arachnid. It’s a Gunslinger pick – but only gives you a zoom for Golden Gun. In theory, that’s great – long-range Golden Gun shots could be super powerful in PvP, and helps keep you safe in PvE. Unfortunately for the helmet, Golden Gun is already incredibly accurate – with really no range issues at all. So it’s a total wasted perk – not to mention it’s a pretty damn ugly helmet. The other really low tier exotic helmet is the Knucklehead Radar. It’s a subclass neutral piece, which helps a bit, but the problem again is the exotic perk. It gives you Third Eye – keeping your radar active while ADS with any weapon – which honestly isn’t the worst perk out there. The problem is that it’s a perk that I think best benefits newer players, and as you get more used to the game, loses it effectiveness quickly. I also think it’s a much much more effective PvP perk. It’s not as bad looking as the Arachnid, but still definitely not a great looking helmet. We now can get into the actual contenders for usage here. First up, the best PvP Gunslinger helmet, the Achlyophage Symbiote. Sure it’s a pretty nasty looking beast, but it’s exotic perk is amazing. It gives you an extra shot for Golden Gun – that’s four insta-kill shots for PvP, and can sometimes be the damage you need to for a major or ultra in PvE. However, since House of Wolves launched, we got a better PvE choice for the Gunslingers – the Celestial Nighthawk. It’s a sleek looker – I love that gold faceplate peeking out from under a nice hood. But the real money here is the exotic perk – it takes all your Golden Gun shots, and puts them into one singular shot. It does 6x damage, and over penetrates targets – this means that Golden Gun can actually take down majors and ultras. Obviously it’s not a PvP helmet, but in PvE, it’s a monster. Finally, we get to the only Bladedancer specific helmet – Mask of the Third Man. This Sam Fisher looker makes your Bladedancer abilities use less super energy. That means you get more attacks out of it, which is great in either PvP or PvE. I think it’s a little bit stronger as a PvP choice, but if you’re looking for a Bladedancer specific armor, you’re already limited.

Destiny Khepris Sting

Moving on to the gauntlets, we’re only looking at three pieces here. We’ll start with another of the rare Bladedancer pieces, the Don’t Touch Me gauntlets. This is one of a couple exotics that I haven’t actually used, so I could be a little off with the usefulness on the class here. They’re one of the least unique looking exotics out there – but they do have a nice perk going on here. When you take melee damage, you turn invisible – a nice little PvE perk, not so much in PvP. Again, with House of Wolves, we got another great invisibility focused set of gauntlets – the Khepri’s Sting. This is actually a subclass neutral choice – the invisibility granted isn’t tied to a talent grid. This means Gunslingers can take advantage of it. These arms have a ton of talents associated with them. The Invisibility is the start, bonus melee damage when backstabbing – and a hidden effect that adds Damage over Time for melee attacks. That’s a lot of value for a pretty solid armor piece. Add in a fantastic design and you have a winner. The last piece of arm armor is the Young Ahamkara’s Spine – again a really awesome looking piece of armor based on the Ahamkara. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible exotic perk – your Tripmine grenades last longer. Tripmines are good – doing a ton of damage – but they tend to be really situational, even in PvP. I wouldn’t use my exotic slot on these.

When we’re looking at chest armor, Hunters kind of get the short end of the stick here. There’s only two options here, and really both are pretty limited in their usage. First up is the Crest of Alpha Lupi – again. It’s got the same name as the Titan chest piece – and it has the same use. It helps you revive your teammates faster, and you make more orbs. Nice to have for Nightfalls and 3v3 PvP, but not really necessary. It does look real nice – I like the wolf head that’s on this in a more prevalent spot than on the Titan’s. The other choice here is the other major Bladedancer pick – Lucky Raspberry. I think this one is a lot more useful than Mask of the Third Man – it affects your Arcbolt grenade, making it chain longer. To me, those are more useful than Arc Blade – especially in PvE. Arc Blade is great in PvP, but only great for add clearing and invisible reviving in PvE. Arcbolt grenades are good for add damage, PvP kills and can stun majors and ultras. It might be a little plain in its design, but it’s a really great choice for your Hunter exotic, and does actually pair well with shaders.

Destiny Bones of Eao

Finally, we come to the leg armor for Hunters. Much like the other classes, Hunters didn’t have any exotics here in Vanilla Destiny. With Dark Below and House of Wolves they’ve gotten one piece from each DLC. Dark Below brought with it the Radiant Dance Machines – subclass neutral boots. They look really cool – there isn’t a ton of armor with a green color scheme, making them look even more unique. In terms of function though, it’s a little less exciting. They make you move faster. That’s it. Sure they pair well with MIDA Multi-tool for PvP play, but that’s about it. It’s definitely not a must have set-up for the vast majority of players or content. House of Wolves also brought a subclass neutral set of boots – the Bones of Eao. They are subclass neutral, but Gunslingers definitely benefit more from them, since they give you one extra jump. That means you can upgrade your Triple Jump to a Quad Jump. That’s a really cool messing around bonus, but for serious play, I don’t think it’s a must have. It can allow you to make some pretty crazy plays in PvP, but for longevity it’s not the best pick. Use them for a little bit to mess around and because they look cool, but that’s about it.

And that will wrap up a full week of looking at the exotic items that have been available to us in Year One in Destiny. We learned this week that some of these will be making the jump to The Taken King here in a couple weeks – we don’t know all of the exotics that are, but I think we probably know most of them, at least weapon-wise. There are still a couple weeks left in Year One to go out there and try to fill out your collections – even if you plan on sharding them, it’s worth grabbing them and holding on to them at least until the 2.0 Update.

Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Warlock

The Taken King Logo

Today we’re going to continue looking at each exotic item that’s available for players in Destiny Year One. We’ve already looked at the weapons and armor pieces that Titans can find; today let’s look at the Warlock choices. While the Titan has a possible exotic for each armor slot, Warlocks are limited to three of the four. There are no exotic boots for Warlocks, at least as of Year One. Like we did with the Titan, we’ll look at the items both from a form standpoint, as well as function.

Destiny The Ram

With that said, let’s start at the top with the helmets. Much like the Titan, Warlocks have plenty of options here. While technically most of the helmets are class neutral, Voidwalkers definitely benefit from just about every helmet. We’ll start with the Apotheosis Veil – one that is actually subclass neutral. The big selling point here is that you regenerate your health whenever you activate your super ability. With good orb generation, that’s pretty constant health regeneration. It’s a cool design, nothing super flashy, and one of a few exotics that actually will change colors with the shaders. It’s unfortunately overshadowed by plenty other exotic choices. Next up is the Light Beyond Nemesis – we briefly mentioned this yesterday when talking about the Year Two update. This is the Keeper of the Pack item – AKA the quick revive choice. If you absolutely have to use this on a Warlock, go for it; but in general, I think role is better suited to the other classes. Where this piece shines is the design – it’s definitely one of the cooler helmets in the game. A solid choice, but not the best possible perhaps. Our first subclass specific helmet came in The Dark Below and Voidwalkers rejoiced. Obsidian Mind is perhaps the most powerful Voidwalker specific armor piece. In certain situations, it can net you almost constant Nova Bombs, through the exotic perk that reduces cooldown based on kills with it. Add in Obsidian Mind looks super sleek with a jet black design and it was destined to be a clear winner; and really still can be. The other Voidwalker specific is the Skull of Dire Ahamkara. It’s another super cool design – I’m a fan of the exotics based on the Ahamkara lore. From a perk standpoint, it’s not terrible – you become even harder to kill while Nova Bombing, and your Energy Drain melee abilities are increased. However, all these helmets have been overshadowed with the addition of this last choice: The Ram. Added in with House of Wolves, The Ram is the only item in the game that allows you to innately push a stat over the cap – in this case, it’s your armor stat. In PvP, that’s an insane benefit (and one that Sunsingers can push even farther) – it lets you survive things that no one else can – sticky grenades in particular. If you’re playing Voidwalker, you can get extra benefits with it adding in Life Steal for all your melee attacks. And it looks as badass as possible, resulting in an exotic that has risen right to the very top of the charts.

Destiny Claws of Ahamkara

When we move to gauntlets, we get a little more subclass balance. There’s one neutral choice, and one for each subclass. That neutral choice would be the Claws of Ahamkara – the second Ahamkara based piece for Warlocks. Like the helmet, they have a pretty great design – simple, looking like it’s based around feathers almost. In terms of use they also may require you to look twice. I said repeatedly with the Titan that melee is a bad idea in end-game play; that’s not quite the case as a Warlock. The extra range they have helps keep them safe, and with Flame Shield on Sunsingers, you actually can get away with it. The Claws will give you a second charge on your melee ability – a solid overall choice in PvE or PvP. If it fits your playstyle, this is actually a really good choice. Voidwalkers just got access with the House of Wolves to their gauntlets – the Nothing Manacles. They look very similar to the Sunsinger choice – the Sunbreakers, just in purple. Both also impact a specific grenade in that subclass – Scatter for Voidwalkers, Solar for Sunsingers. The Nothing Manacles I think are the better choice here – they add tracking to the Scatter Grenade projectiles, in addition to giving you a second Scatter Grenade. The Sunbreakers merely extend your Solar Grenade duration – you really can only take advantage with this in specific builds and while Radianced.

Destiny Voidfang Vestments

With the chest armor, the subclass balance shifts the other way. Three of the four armor choices here are Sunsinger based – and that fourth choice really can actually benefit the Sunsinger just as much. We’ll start with The Heart of the Praxic Fire – one of the cooler looking chest pieces, even without applying shaders. However, the exotic perk, which further reduces cooldowns while using Radiance, actually doesn’t have a huge impact. Datto has a video going through the details, but basically even with a max discipline build, you’re probably only going to get one more grenade out. Not that huge of a boost. Next up, the final House of Wolves piece for Warlocks – the Purifier Robes. I love the design of these things – the bird looking emblem right at the breastplate really looks great, and really pops with Thunderdevil on. Unfortunately, their use is really quite limited. You can only get the disorient effect when you self-revive using Radiance. That means you have to die first. Add in a pretty small radius of effect, and even in PvP they pale compared with other choices. For example, the Dark Below chest piece, the Starfire Protocol. It provides you with a nice, simple bonus – a second Fusion Grenade. Sure you have to use a specific grenade, but in general, the Fusion Grenade is awesome across the board, especially in PvP. They look good on top of that, pairing well with a number of shaders. Finally, we come to one of the older armor pieces – the Voidfang Vestments. These were all over the place back in the early days, and really, I think they hold up even now. Yes, they’re technically for Voidwalkers – giving your Axion Bolt grenade an extra seeker – but they have a second bonus associated with them. Anytime you spawn, you have grenade energy; which is applied regardless of subclass. Continually spawning with Firebolt grenades as a Sunsinger is a really great tactic – especially in Skirmish/Elimination. I love the design on these things too – they change with shaders, just have a super ornate look, and it’s just all around a great armor choice.

Warlocks are in a really great spot here with exotic armor. There are a lot of really good choices from a gameplay standpoint, for both subclasses. Sure, there are some that are better than others, but there’s probably a perfect choice for just about any playstyle. I think this is something to keep an eye on as we move into Year Two – we know that a couple of these are moving forward with us, but how they’ll measure up to the new choices remains to be seen.