Destiny: The Taken King – Crucible Impressions in Year Two

The Taken King LogoOver the last week we’ve been talking a lot about Destiny‘s new expansion, The Taken King. However, I’ve been pretty much ignoring a pretty big chunk of the game – the PvP Crucible. So today I want to quickly talk about some of the changes that I’ve noticed since I’ve been playing a bunch more Crucible than I was in House of Wolves.

Let’s start with the new game modes. The Taken King adds three new ways to play PvP: Rift, Zone Control and Mayhem. Two of those – Rift and Zone Control – are actual game modes, while Mayhem is more of a modifier, like Inferno. Since the launch of TTK, only Rift and Zone Control have actually been active – Mayhem ran during the preview weekend though. What I like with these new modes is the focus on objective gametypes. Rift plays similar to Ricochet or Uplink – you capture a neutral object, then deliver it to the enemies’ goal to score points. It’s a pretty intense mode – but good team play can really shift the balance fast. That said, being the spark runner is a lot of fun – especially scoring the rift. The dunking animation is really awesome, plus the points you get from it are well worth the effort. I don’t recommend running through Rift much as a solo player, but it is still a lot of fun.

Destiny Crucible

Zone Control is pretty much straight Domination. It’s the Control gametype already in the game, just with the scoring simplified completely. Instead of kills being boosted by holding onto control points, your team’s score goes up from controlling those points. It’s standard Domination, just with the Destiny twists of Supers and Grenades and Melees and Heavy Weapons. It does require a bit of teamwork to really succeed, but it’s not as imperative as it is in Rift. Zone Control does give people who aren’t great at firefights a good way to contribute to the team by grabbing the points. Heavy Ammo control is still very important – especially with the addition of Swords as a weapon type.

Mayhem, as I said, isn’t strictly a new game mode. Instead it acts as a second modifier on top of a normal game mode. Like Inferno removes the radar, Mayhem cranks up all your recharge rates to maximum. You’ll get your Supers every couple minutes – and grenades and melees even faster. When Mayhem Clash is up, that’s when this really lives up to the name. It’s just Supers and Grenades all over the place. One nice thing with Mayhem is that Heavy Ammo drops from enemies that have it again – just like way back in the early days of Year One. In general, I think Mayhem is a great way to get through some of those class specific Crucible quests – you just have to wait for it to be active.

Destiny Bannerfall

Beyond the new game modes, the other real big change to the Crucible is the influx of new maps. On the Xbox we have nine new maps to explore and play on. Of the group, I’ve played all but three – the two former PlayStation exclusives, and Crossroads. Those that I have played though, I really like. There’s a good mix of ranges and sightlines – some are built more around close quarters engagements (The Drifter, The Dungeons and Memento to a lesser extent); while others are much more varied in combat (Bannerfall, Frontier and Vertigo). I really don’t think there’s a purely “bad” map in the bunch – some are definitely a bit tougher to learn the flow of, but in general I like them all. My favorites have been Bannerfall, Frontier and The Dungeons for a few different reasons. Bannerfall is a fantastic mix of all ranges – any weapon can do really well, as can any class. Frontier is a long range masterpiece, without feeling overly huge – which was an issue with First Light and Bastion in particular. Frontier is the first map where I don’t feel punished for using Scout Rifles. The Dungeons is the exact opposite – it’s an Auto Rifle/Handcannon/Shotgun map for sure, which is right in my wheelhouse.

Which brings me to the weapons themselves. A lot has been made going into the 2.0 patch about the weapon meta being shuffled. While the patch didn’t hit the reset button entirely, it did fix most of the issues that were there. In particular, Handcannons got taken down a few notches – they’re still powerful in their proper range, but beyond that, they aren’t the snipers they used to be. Auto Rifles definitely got the boost they needed – in that they are actually useful again. It’s been fun to actually run around with Suros Regime again. The big issue that I still have is with Shotguns. Even as a major Shotgun guy, the high impact, long range archetype is still almost unstoppable. And again, there’s a vendor selling a Felwinter’s style shotgun. Yes, Shot Package got nerfed, but it didn’t get anywhere near the nerf it needed. I fully expect that with the 2.0.2 patch we’ll see another pass at the Shotguns in PvP – and they still need it. Classwise, not a whole lot has changed. Blink is still annoying, but it is easier to track now. Hunters and Warlocks are still a bit stronger than Titans, but Sunbreaker does even the field a bit. Overall, as it stands after a week, I actually think the Crucible is in a pretty good spot. The real tests will be when the Power Level enabled playlists go live again like Iron Banner – that’s where the meta really starts to take shape.


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