Bungie just wrapped up their first live stream on Twitch to show off a little bit of the new content headed to Destiny in the April Update. It’s nothing super surprising, but I think it’s exactly what Destiny needs for the broader community. Let’s go over what we saw today.
The big thing is that we’re getting a new and updated version of the Prison of Elders. Based on what we had seen last week, along with the language that Bungie was using to set-up this April update, that’s really not a huge surprise. They said that the big design idea was to create a PvE activity that was built around replayability. That right away put me thinking about Prison of Elders, since the basic structure of a round-based, short event activity is built right in to it. It is a little different, since it’s bringing in Scoring to PvE. But ultimately, it’s not a huge step outside of the circle – and actually, that’s a good thing. I know that there are going to be plenty of hardcore players arguing that this isn’t enough and that Bungie is still “killing Destiny.” I think they’re way off because I think ultimately what Bungie is doing with this – totally free – update is trying to ensure that the casual audience, which is way bigger of an audience, sticks around through the summer. Using an updated Prison of Elders is exactly what they need to do that. But we’ll talk a little more about that at the end of the post.
In addition to the Prison of Elders, we’re getting two additional strikes and a new story mission that looks like it will culminate in a return to the Hellmouth. The new strike looks like that will be that final culmination of that quest line, which makes sense again with the name – the Blighted Chalice. That’s pretty clearly Hive/Taken language. The other strike is a Taken version of the Winter’s Run strike from vanilla Destiny. That strike was one of the hardest in the base game when it was the Nightfall, and I can only imagine that playing that as a Taken strike with the right modifiers is going to be a nightmare. The stream didn’t show any of that content though, to keep it fresh and unspoiled for when it goes live on the 12th. There is also a PlayStation exclusive questline that is given by Petra, while the other questlines your point of contact is Variks.
We didn’t get a good look at a lot of the new items and loot because they’re saving that for next week. Sure we got some teaser looks – there’s pretty clearly a Taken looking sword and shotgun, along with what looked like Prison of Elders weapons brought up to Year Two levels. But actual details about new weapon talents and stuff like that will have to wait a week.
Let’s talk about their motive again though. I know that there are going to be plenty of people complaining about the update. I’m already seeing it online. Here’s the thing – this is a free update. It was never going to be a substantial content update. It was always going to be built from within – Prison of Elders being the easy choice. For being a free update though, it looks like we’re actually getting a surprising amount of content that is going to stick with us. The previous free updates – Festival of the Lost, SRL and Crimson Days – all were timed events. This one is going to be staying part of the game moving forward. Which makes me think that this update isn’t aimed at the hardcore community. The broader community is where this is going to really take root. Casual players won’t need to find a full team of six players to run through a raid that can, if things go sideways, take multiple hours to run through – especially with novice raiders. This gives players who maybe only have a couple friends still into Destiny a road to the new Light cap of 335 – in fact the only route to 335. The difficulty – even on the Level 42 Challenge tier – doesn’t look beyond the reach of casual players. With a road to 335 that is a lot more player friendly, this update, to me is designed to keep those casual players invested through the summer until the bigger September update. There’s plenty of cool stuff that is headed our way, even if the update isn’t particularly big.