With yesterday’s 2.1.0 patch for Destiny the new holiday event started: Sparrow Racing League. I spent a few hours messing around with it, playing a good handful of races and thought I’d put down some thoughts on what I managed to complete. I still have a few more things to unlock – I’m working on my Class A License quest, and there’s still S Class after that.
One thing to note quickly that I neglected to mention in the 2.1.0 patch thoughts yesterday is that the Three of Coins consumable now works in Crucible matches. Pop one any point before the end of match rewards, and you will gain the increased chance for the exotic engram. It’s not a guarantee still – I got one engram from maybe five or so matches, and a second from PvE. I think Crucible grinding with Three of Coins is actually a little easier than PvE though – match time can vary, and there’s no worry about performance or getting the Ultra damage for the kill. Just finish the match and reap the rewards. And since Sparrow Racing League is counted as a Crucible mode, you can pop those Coins during your racing.
As for the Sparrow Racing itself, it’s a mixed bag for me. Yes, it’s actually a lot of fun – the courses are built pretty well, they still feel like you’re in the Destiny universe as it lives and breathes. The rewards, for Crucible in general, feel like they got a stealth buff yesterday – I saw consistently higher light level gear dropped at the end, including a number of legendary items right up near 300 Light even before the Class A level. It feels a bit like Bungie is shifting the loot focus towards PvP more as we get away from launch – which combined with the shift away from DLC I think makes perfect sense. But while it is a lot of fun to tear through these tracks on your sparrow, it gets old relatively quick. Even if you don’t play Destiny all that much any more, I think you’ll still get pretty bored with the two track pretty quick. That’s really the weakest part of the SRL from a pure content standpoint – there are two tracks, and that’s it. Fun tracks sure, but limited in their longevity.
In terms of the other content, most of the really exciting looking Sparrows and fun horns are all tied to the Silver microtransactions. Sure you can earn a new Sparrow through the Class C quest, and armor and horns do drop after races, but you also add in the other typical Crucible loot to the table. You’re just as likely to get rare quality armor or Motes of Light/Strange Coins as you are the legendary quality gear. If you want the new Sparrows that they showed off in the trailer, you’ll have to drop some real money for them – randomly getting a legendary Sparrow for a few bucks. That’s actually my biggest issue with the new microtransactions added yesterday – anything that’s tied, gear-wise, to SRL is random. You roll the dice on your Sparrow or Horn purchase and hope to get a sweet looking vehicle or neat horn. I think Bungie might have made more from Silver had they just offered the Sparrows directly – that Arc based Sparrow is pretty sweet looking after all. The new emotes also are a mixed bag for me. I like the Jump on It emote, and the Jazz Hands one, but the rest just feel lackluster. I think overall the Fall set was better, but this is still early in the game from that standpoint.
One last thing that I’ve really felt with the actual racing is that this is the one game mode where player collision definitely matters. In PvE, you’ll only deal with it if your fireteam groups up too tightly. In normal Crucible, it’s also unlikely to really play a big part in any fights – maybe if you can’t get around a teammate while escaping through a doorway. In SRL though, you’ll be jostled around nonstop if you’re anywhere near the pack. Since you are all aiming for the same boost gates to keep your speed up, those gates turn into massive bottlenecks. It’s very easy to head into a gate with a great line, get bumped and pushed all the way back to sixth place. It’s frustrating, especially when you have racers who base their whole racing style on bashing into people; and really comes to head with the somewhat sketchy detection on hitting the gates. I’ve had plenty of gates where I’m clearly hitting the gate and I don’t get the boost. When that happens on the last lap, that really sucks cause that’s almost a guarantee to lose a place or two. Aside from that, I did have one other rather interesting issue pop up with the Vex gate on Mars – I hit it, and it pushed me right into one of the huge pillars. Cost me two places on the race, and was my first death – in race – since the event started. Maybe some network nonsense going on, but it really was frustrating.
All things considered, I think the Sparrow Racing League is a really cool idea for Destiny as a timed event. It’s limited in scope, and can certainly be frustrating to play, but when it works, it’s damn fun. Since we know that Destiny is going to be featuring these kind of timed events moving forward, it’s a good starting point, but I really hope that Bungie maybe gives us a little more with them. If this is a handful of content, I want them to maybe give us two. Two tracks is pretty weak, when all four main planets could very easily feature spots for some fun racing. But, it’s free to participate in, and again, it is fun when it works, so I do think that everyone that is still out there in Destiny should give it a try.