Titanfall 2 – Tech Test Final Thoughts

Titanfall 2 LogoThis past weekend was the second and final time to play the Open Tech Test for Titanfall 2, and compared with the first weekend there were a few changes that Respawn put in place to hopefully get the hype back on track. Did it work though? That’s a trickier question to answer.

I came out of the first weekend really unimpressed by the state of Titanfall 2. It felt a lot like what made the original game special was either missing or diluted through changes. One of the bigger spots there was how the Titans worked. Going into the second weekend that was one of the highlights that Respawn tweaked – hopefully making it so palyers were able to earn Titans more often. Sure there were a couple other changes, including the addition of a third map, but for me, most of what I was focused on was based around the Titan earn rate. The problem is that even with the change to earn rate, the core issue I have with the Titans is still there – they just don’t feel worth it anymore. In the first game, earning a Titan and piloting it was a major increase in power. You could easily clear Hardpoints, chase down a flag runner, or escort your own; in Marked for Death, having my 40mm cannon Ogre was how I took down most of my targets. Titan combat felt different from pilot combat, but not overpowering to deal with – you had multiple options, from anti-titan weapons, counter-Titanfalls, or good rodeo attacks. Based on the Tech Test, which again, was based on a build from back in June, Titans just don’t feel special anymore. Part of that is the switch in how Titan customization works – gone are the base frames and instead you have preset builds with limited options to tweak. When you factor in that you have to choose between anti-titan or sidearm in your Pilot loadout now too, it makes fighting Titans on foot a less fun proposition.

There were lots of posts over on the subreddit talking about the changes to rodeo and the lack of logic that it has. If my Titan doesn’t have a shield when I call it down, and then I get rodeoed and lose my battery, how does it make sense that when that battery is put into a different Titan, they gain a shield? I don’t necessarily think that just keeping the rodeo mechanic the same as the first game would be the right way to go, but I don’t think the battery mechanic was either. Instead, I would have preferred to see more options for countering a rodeoing Pilot. The changes to Titan combat, combined with the new maps and game modes, really all work together to create a weird situation. I think if you hadn’t played the first game at all, you wouldn’t have any problem with how the Tech Test played. It would feel different from the other shooters out on the market right now – certainly worlds away from Destiny, Halo, or Battlefield and Overwatch, and does have some similarity to Call of Duty. It’s the fans of the first game who have been vocal in their (our) displeasure.

There’s a lot going on with why I think Titanfall 2 might end up being in for a hard season. The first game was so different and fresh, and really was the only game in town during the early days of this console generation. Years of development, a really fantastic time for FPS games, and a loaded launch window now all are working against the sequel. For me the feeling of the first game, which was a huge selling point moving into the sequel, has been lost a little. I was certainly excited to get my hands on it going into the Tech Test, especially a few months ahead of launch. And while I won’t go as far as to say that the full game will be bad or anything like that, I am thinking that I may pass on it, at least during the early days. My college buddies that I play games with were talking about it – is it worth picking up? For me, I’m leaning more toward grabbing Infinite Warfare/Modern Warfare Remastered along with Rise of Iron. There are lots of games coming out, and I think the FPS genre in particular is pretty stacked – Titanfall 2 really needed to keep its identity to stand out, and I worry that isn’t happening. There’s still time until launch, a lot of these issues can certainly be ironed and could recapture the feel of the first game. We just have to wait and see.

Advertisements

Destiny – August Iron Banner Takeaways

Destiny Rise of IronWe’ve hit the weekly reset for Destiny and with it comes the end of another Iron Banner. There’s a very good chance that this was the last Iron Banner in its current format before Rise of Iron changes the way the event progresses. Bungie has said that this was one of the last chances to gear up before the new expansion – I’m not sure entirely since the timing would fit for a final Iron Banner the week before launch leading up to the move to Felwinter Peak. If this was the last Iron Banner before the changes, I think it may have been just in time. I want to quickly talk today a little bit about the current state of the Crucible, and Iron Banner is a great way to really shine a spotlight on the higher end of the competitive meta.

This past Iron Banner was a bit of a sticky point for me. I needed to get both weapons Saladin was offering to complete my Year 2 Iron Banner weapon collection; so in that regard I knew I was going to be playing at least for those. Neither weapon really is the kind that I like to use – I prefer a little faster firing hand cannon, and I’ve been ignoring shotguns on principle over the last month or so. Which is a good segue to why I wasn’t really looking forward to playing the games – this current meta is becoming as stale and frustrating to me as the Thorn meta was. Weapons like the MIDA Multi-Tool and the fast firing pulse rifles have become almost mandatory to do well in Light Level enabled playlists. As stagnant as the primary weapons may be now though, I think the real issue lies with the shotguns. It’s a problem that really goes back to House of Wolves – high impact, low rate of fire, long range shotguns have dominated the Crucible ever since. Whether it’s a Party Crasher +1 or Conspiracy Theory D, or the exotics, those weapons have become so ubiquitous that almost any other special weapon puts you at a disadvantage. I think my biggest issue is that the way Destiny plays – sniping takes a pretty steady hand to nail headshots and I think takes a lot of skill to do well; that’s even with some of the aim assist help that’s in there. Shotgunning, at least within the game now, feels like easy mode to me. Aiming isn’t nearly as important, a lot of the maps feel almost built to accommodate that kind of weapon, and the only truly effective counter is another shotgun. It’s a snowball of power creep that I don’t get how it’s lived for this long.

Which is really a shame because I still think that Destiny has some of the best feeling gunplay in FPS games right now. And that fun PvP experience is becoming a chore to play because of how stale the current game is. I expect that to change soon, I think we all know that with the 3.0 patch there’s almost surely going to be a weapon balance part of it. Hopefully they’ve been looking hard at the Crucible data since the last patch in June to get a good grasp of what needs to happen. Personally, I’d love to see shotguns range reduced a ton, fast pulse rifles stability reduced and MIDA looked at again. There’s not a ton else that really bothers me weapon-wise; sure rockets are strong, but if you avoid the initial heavy push, I think you get more out of a machine gun. Class-wise, I think it’s a no-brainer that we’ll see Thunderstrike’s extended range come back in a bit; but that’s pretty much all I would do, along with a small reduction to Stormtrance’s duration. With a new expansion bringing in a whole slew of new weapons and armor pieces, not to mention potentially game changing new exotics, it’s really important that Bungie gets the Crucible back to a more balanced spot quick. I have a lot of faith that we’ll get a good patch with 3.0.

Titanfall 2 Tech Demo Impressions

Titanfall 2 LogoThis past weekend Respawn had the first of two multiplayer Tech Demo tests for October’s Titanfall 2. I was and still am a huge fan of the first game – it was the first game on the current-gen consoles that actually felt “next-gen” to me. It also managed to beat the other FPS games to the punch with regards to the focus on increased mobility, which we’ve since seen in heavy hitters like Destiny, Call of Duty and even in Halo. So I went in to this weekend pretty excited to see what Respawn has been up to with the sequel – I thought the E3 footage was definitely exciting after all. Unfortunately, I came out of the first weekend with a lot more unsure about the direction the game is headed.Yes, I know it was a build from June, but that doesn’t excuse some of the issues I have with it. Let’s talk through this little mess.

We have to start with my biggest complaint, by a pretty large margin, which is the UI. The first game didn’t have a particularly easy UI to use to begin with, but this time around it’s even worse. The multiplayer lobby is cluttered, thanks to the new Network system taking up the lower third of the screen. Your whole screen feels like it’s being used and it’s hard to tell what’s important – you’ll be bombarded with Network invites dead center in the screen, but if you’re just trying to play a game or two, that’s not at all important. I also had a hell of a time trying to get my friend into my party/lobby to play with. We played one game of Bounty Hunt last night – then after the game finished, it put us into different lobbies and we couldn’t get back together. After about 15 minutes or so, we just called it quits because it’s just wasn’t worth the frustration. Some of the menus are fine – the game selection is nice and clear, explaining the objective, whether or not it has Titans or AI involved and player count. Others are a little clunky – I wasn’t a huge fan of the loadout customization system, not necessarily because it was bad, but I think it was better in the first game.

Once you get past all the UI clunkiness and into an actual game, that’s where I think your opinion of the game really is dependent on what you’re expecting. Coming in as a big fan of the first game, I had some expectations – AI combatants on big maps, Pilots zipping all around and Titans being called down and becoming pretty important targets. And to be fair, those elements are there – sort of. AI only is present in Bounty Hunt, at least for now; and it’s in a much more limited role than it used to be. Pilots still have a great degree of mobility – in fact I think that may be the best improvement from the first game to this one; your movements have more weight to them, they feel like you actually have momentum and mass. The new grappling hook Pilot ability really helps with that feeling, as well as being a really fun way to move around the maps. Titans still play a pretty big role in the game too, but it’s a very different feeling, this time in a way that I think takes a lot more getting used to. Depending on the game mode, you can get a Titan pretty quickly, or at least until they hot fixed it, maybe only once in a Hardpoint game. The biggest change to the Titans though is that they’ve decided to make them all individual classes. Gone are the old chassis that you could customize however you want – take a heavy Ogre chassis and give it the heavy weapon, or give the heavy hitter to the light chassis. Now you have different profiles for the Titan – Ion or Scorch in the tech demo – and they have a couple options to mess with, but their weapons or abilities aren’t those options. Each frame has its own weapon and abilities, and you have to learn how they work. The Titans do feel a little less powerful overall, but that might just be because the maps both felt a little small. One of the real strengths of the first game was that the maps actually felt like big battlefields. Whether you were a Pilot or a Titan, you never felt out of place – the scale worked both ways. This weekend’s maps felt a lot more built around the Pilot to me – playing as a Titan, even on Homestead, felt a little cramped.

Titanfall

All of that may sound like I really disliked my time playing, there’s a lot of nitpicking and criticism in there for sure. But that’s only because I really loved the first game and I really do think that this can become a franchise along the lines of Call of Duty/Battlefield/Halo. What worries me is that it feels like Titanfall has lost its identity a little bit. When I play it, I can’t help but feel the echoes of Call of Duty becoming louder – I don’t get that with Destiny and its lineage with Halo as Destiny has evolved. I worry that the pressure to deliver on this sequel is maybe a little overwhelming – there’s a lot different this time around, especially on the single-player front. I’m not quite as down on it as some of the posts I saw on the Titanfall subreddit were – nor am I as naive as to think that a six month delay would be enough time to completely retool the multiplayer, which was an actual post I saw. I actually had a good number of moments while playing that put me right back in that Titanfall frame of mind – goosing ejecting Pilots, Titan punching Pilots trying to rodeo me, parkouring all over a map without touching the ground, all while fighting the whole time. There’s still enough character in there where when it works, there’s nothing like it right now; even at its fastest, Black Ops III doesn’t quite do parkour as well.

What I would love to see is Respawn take these two weekends feedback seriously, and make this game as good as it can be. I don’t think it needs a big delay, but I do think that pushing it back to Christmas would be a huge help. Two months to use that feedback, polish up the UI and networking; and maybe most importantly, get it out of the crowded launch season – especially with FPS games. The first game didn’t really have a lot of competition to worry about – Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 were really it, and both had been out for months by then. Titanfall 2 doesn’t have that luxury – Destiny: Rise of Iron, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered all hit within a month either way of TF2‘s launch. Add in some other heavy hitters and I don’t think it’s too tough to see how a short delay might really help. Maybe after this second weekend coming up we’ll have a better idea of what’s happening moving forward.

Late to the Party: Doom (2016)

Doom 2016I talked Monday about picking up Overwatch recently, but that wasn’t the only game that I finally took the plunge with. As part of the Bethesda Quakecon sale, Doom (the 2016 version) was marked down pretty well, so I went ahead and picked it up. I’ve been a fan of Doom games going all the way back, so I was excited to see just how this one measured up.

I’m currently through the first three missions in the campaign, and so far, on Ultra Violence the game feels very much like I want a Doom game to. It’s fast, it’s incredibly brutal and the story is engaging enough to keep me invested from one fight to the next.The newer mechanics that Bethesda and id put in work really well with the fast paced action – the mantling means that vertical spaces can be worked into fights; the Glory Kills are brutal as Hell and help encourage aggressive play and the modern changes to weapons and the Praetor suit help encourage you explore and find the collectibles. It manages to strike a pretty perfect balance between the classic FPS gameplay of the original games and still feel like an FPS that belongs in 2016’s landscape. I’m only expecting the game to keep the bar high as I keep playing the campaign.

Beyond the story though, I’ve dabbled a bit with the online modes as well – mainly for the achievements so far. SnapMap is a really powerful tool, while still being really accessible. The tutorials for it are straightforward and they do a great job of outlining the potential for the editor, while still leaving plenty of room for experimentation. Some of the maps on the browser are tailor made for achievement boosting, others show off just how powerful the tools are. It’s a really cool thing to see, I’ve always been a fan of simple, but powerful map editors in games, especially console games. The actual online multiplayer is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s totally different from pretty much every other FPS on the market these days. It plays super fast, you need to have good map awareness and keep an eye on your health. No more regenerating health here, you had better keep track on your health and armor. Since the Glory Kills still are in the online scene too, it helps keep camping to a bit of a minimum, as the game modes do too. The weapons feel very much like the classic ones – the rocket launcher in particular is just as good a weapon as it ever was back in the hey-day of arena shooters. With the re-emergence of arena shooters over the last couple years – Overwatch, Quake, Battleborn(ish) – the fact that the original king is back and in great form just keeps the style at the forefront. If you have any interest in the history of FPS games, or just want to play a fantastic modern shooter, Doom is absolutely worth your time.

Destiny: Rise of Iron – Gamescom Stream

Destiny Rise of IronBungie just wrapped up their Gamescom reveal stream for Rise of Iron, the new expansion for Destiny and I can’t believe how excited I am for this content. Today was all about Crucible updates, and while there wasn’t a huge amount of info, the info they dropped was massive. Let’s go through it.

Let’s get the big one out of the way – Private Matches/Custom Lobbies are coming to Destiny with Rise of Iron. It’s been a request of the community going all the way back to Vanilla, and now that it’s here it really is a game changer. Private Matches means that a true competitive scene can grow, along with a much more full content community. Machinima, community tournaments, pro games, mythbusting all can start to exist on a larger scale. The new settings let you pick any map, any game mode (outside of Crimson Doubles and SRL), the time of day, the presence of vehicles on the large maps and whether you enable Light advantage; and that’s not counting house rules. Your group wants to play sidearms only, with Light levels enabled on Asylum? Go for it. You’re a YouTuber who loves lore – you can now make some amazing video Grimoire content. Hide and Go Seek games are now actually a thing that can happen – they’ve been happening in the Twitch community since April in PvE, but now you can make them an actual game. The potential is incredibly powerful, and the idea of a content drought really doesn’t exist anymore. Now when there’s a few months without major updates, the community can fill that gap with tournaments, or whatever else we feel like. I’m super excited to see what this can bring with this community.

We also got a few more little details on stream, including a really great ViDoc that had a couple really interesting snippets. Let’s start with the gameplay we saw – two matches of the new game type Supremacy. Supremacy is essentially Kill Confirmed – you get a kill, you don’t score until you or a teammate picks up the dropped Crest. The mode looked like a lot of fun, it seemed fast paced and should cut back on camping more too. As long as we see a weapon balance patch with launch, the Crucible is going to be a hell of a lot of fun again. We saw two of the new artifacts in action too today – the Memory of Perun, showing the highlights on low health enemies and supered guardians; and the Memory of Gheleon with the new radar upgraded. The two new maps looked really great too – Floating Gardens looks like it’s going to play super fast, like a combo of Pantheon and Asylum; while the PS Exclusive map looked like a clearer version of The Anomaly set on Mercury. The new weapons they were playing with all looked great – it looked like they were all Faction weapons, a Dead Orbit auto rifle and shotgun, and a Future War Cult hand cannon. The hand cannon in particular looked like my preferred archetype for PvP – the slow, heavy hitting style. And of course, it was really refreshing to see Gjallarhorn back in use.

From the ViDoc though we got our first good look at a couple other details that have me salivating for Rise of Iron. For starters, we got an idea about the new Wretched Eye strike which looks really cool – a Captain Splicer who rips an Ogre’s eye out to use as a weapon? Yes Please. We got a little glimpse at the raid as well, which looks like it’s going to be a ton of fun – I love the themes behind the design, climbing that mountain (Wall) and then having to crash down to the core. My favorite thing though was that we actually got to see a good amount of new gear. The new sets – Iron Lord, Iron Banner, Raid and Trials of Osiris – all look incredible. I’m particularly pumped for the Titan Iron Lord armor with the ornaments on it – I can’t wait to be a flaming wolf Titan. The fact that we’ll have multiple sets of armor – including Faction sets – plus ornaments means that everyone will finally look different. Add in shaders, and class items taking those shaders and the variety that I’ve been hoping for will finally be popping up, at least with appearance. The other thing that I was really happy to see was some of the weapons. They quickly showed some new exotics – the weapon grid for one new machine gun, and models of a couple others. I picked out the “Robocop” style sidearm, and what looked to be a new sniper rifle; along with seeing Monte Carlo and Hawkmoon with their ornaments.

Rise of Iron looked amazing to begin with – everything we’ve been seeing has been exactly what I wanted to see come to Destiny. After today and seeing what the Crucible could be shaping into, I am totally on board for this expansion. It’s taken a couple years, but I think Destiny is finally starting to get into the spot it should be.

Late to the Party – Overwatch

Overwatch Tracer SplashLast week I finally bit the bullet and picked up Overwatch, a game I’ve been super interested in after watching a bunch of Funhaus videos. I played the beta, enjoyed it, but let it go by the wayside. Now that I’ve put a week or so into the game, I thought I’d talk a bit about my thoughts with the Xbox One version.

I want to start with my biggest complaint, and that is that the story for the game and characters is being told outside of the game. There’s a bunch of animated shorts and comics that flesh out the world, and also the Heroes that you play. Since I was away from the game from launch until now, I had no clue about anything – I had to go on to the wiki to find out anything about the characters and story. On one hand, I understand that this isn’t really a game that depends on the story to drive the content – just pick a Hero and go to town. But Blizzard is one of the better developers out there at fleshing out a world and making the characters feel real, so I would have really liked to see something in game explaining it all.

Beyond that though, Overwatch has very quickly become one of the most fun games I’ve played this year. Even playing it solo, I’m having a blast pretty much every game I play. The only one that I really got annoyed with was a match on Numbani where the Defense team posted outside our spawn and just kept sniping in our doors – it took nearly the whole first phase to get out to the point. It’s a game that I absolutely understand is more fun with friends in a party to coordinate with. Even with that though, the roles are all pretty clearly defined where solo players should easily be able to have good teamwork. Each game mode feels similarly enough where you don’t have to play a few games in that type to get it under your thumbs, while still shaking up what team comp you should bring in. An escort match requires different Heroes and play than a control or hybrid match. Going in at level one, I certainly felt a little overwhelmed because the rest of the lobby was a bit higher ranked than I was, but the game does a great job of teaching you as you play that it wasn’t a learning curve at all. That of course is dependent on which Hero you play.

Overwatch Reinhardt

Of the handful of Heroes I’ve played so far – Reinhardt, Roadhog, Widowmaker, McCree, Reaper, Zenyatta and Genji – I’ve enjoyed every one, for different reasons. There’s a lot to dig into with the Heroes, and that really is why I haven’t tried some like Symmetra or Torbjorn since I see their learning curve a bit more intense than others. For me though, the most fun Hero I’ve played has to be Reinhardt – I have loved every game with him. I don’t normally like a support style tank, I usually lean more toward a Roadhog style, able to dish out a bunch of damage, but for whatever reason, Reinhardt has just been exactly the character I needed to pull me in completely. I just wish he had a little bit less reliance on healers or health packs. I also know that I’m coming in to the game at a little weird spot with the meta – on the competitive side of things, Zenyatta and Lucio are pretty much the most important characters on any team – and I need to learn the balance a bit more still. It boils, to me at least, back down to what I mentioned earlier – the roles that each character fits into is where that character will perform the best. The ones that are able to break their mold, those are the ones that are a little too strong – when a support/healer character like Zenyatta can dish out more burst damage than a number of other characters, that’s a problem. Same can be said with D.Va – a tank Hero that can dish out more sustained damage than almost any other Hero, with limited weaknesses. I don’t know when the next patch is inbound – I would expect maybe with Gamescom this week we might find out; we know that a new short is coming soon based around Bastion which might mean patch too. If that’s the case, I really hope that Zenyatta and D. Va come back to the pack a bit. We’re getting closer and closer to the fall deluge of games, with a superb lineup on deck, but if you haven’t picked up Overwatch yet, I think now is a perfect time. It’s a damn fun game, especially if you like old-school style arena FPS.

Destiny Rise of Iron – Let’s Talk Artifacts

Destiny Rise of IronThis has been the most exciting week in a very long time as it pertains to Destiny, now that we’ve finally got a whole bunch of information about Rise of Iron. Game Informer has been dropping a whole bunch of tasty treats this week and will continue to all month long as we get closer to launch. Of the info we’ve learned so far, we have a mix of importance – some things, like the Ornaments, aren’t particularly game changing; while others like the Archon’s Forge or Artifacts are. I want to talk a little more about those Artifacts today, because the more I look at them, and think about how they will be used, the more it seems like they are going to fundamentally change the way we play Destiny.

Let’s start by looking at what the Artifact slot means in-game now. It’s been a sticking point for the community since it was introduced with The Taken King. Bungie had us thinking that they would provide a new way to customize your loadout, while also contributing to your power with Light. In practice though, they end up being just another item to worry about chasing high numbers on. Up until April, trying to get max Light Artifacts meant playing specific events – April added in a couple different ways to find one that I think made it a lot easier. Unfortunately, that’s about all the Artifact is useful for – adding to your Light. The actual perks on them are so situational that I don’t even worry about them at all anymore. Having a chance to generate an Orb of Light is already kinda weak, and when you add in the requirement of using a certain element grenade or precision kill, it just becomes a non-factor.

Rise of Iron Artifacts

With Rise of Iron though, Artifacts are absolutely going to be a factor; or more accurately, the eight new Iron Lord Artifacts are going to. Each one will still have Light on them, so they’ll still impact your power. We’re assuming that they still have Intellect, Discipline or Strength on them too, so they’ll impact your stat builds. But their perks completely and fundamentally change the way we approach Destiny. Some of them are definitely more obvious changes; others I think need to be seen before we jump to conclusions. Let’s go over them and see just how big they could be.

  • Memory of Radegast lets you reflect back energy projectiles using your sword. It was initially revealed with the knowledge that it can impact attacks in PvE like Ogre eye blasts, which is pretty great, but also Crucible rockets from enemy Guardians. We learned after that it will also affect enemy Supers – Nova Bomb, Hammers of Sol and Shadowshot were all named as reflectable. That’s a huge potential play. It should make using a sword feel like less of a penalty in Crucible play, and adds in a counter to rockets in PvP. Right now, rockets are pretty tough to deal with, Truth in particular. Being able to bounce them back should mean that you need to be smarter with your heavy usage. In PvE, it really can add to your survivability. Ogres can melt you down quick if you are caught off guard, using this can keep you alive now without having to burn a super. It also makes the sword more versatile in PvE – it all adds up to more options, which has always been what I’ve said the game needs. I still have a couple questions – is the tracking overwritten on reflections, and how will proximity detonation work – but I like what I see so far.
  • Memory of Perun will give you an enhanced view of the battlefield, highlighting enemy Guardians that have full Super Energy yellow, and low health enemies will be highlighted red. Similar effects are in the game now as scopes on Omolon weapons, but this removes your need to use specific weapons. This is one where I think in the right hands, it’s going to be a lifesaver. You can determine your course of action in engagements faster if you can quickly tell if the enemy has a Super or not. The low-health part should help a ton in team fights, making cleaning up kills a lot easier. This one really has its focus totally on the Crucible, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe more than some others, this is one where I think we need to get it in our hands to really determine how good it will be.
  • Memory of Jolder gets rid of your sprint cooldown. Short and sweet, this one totally changes how you can move around. In PvE, no more being stranded out of cover when you really can’t afford to be. In Crucible play, this one cranks your speed up even more – if you think sliding and shotgunning was a problem before, it’s only going to be worse with this one on hand. On one hand, I really see the negatives here – unless shotguns are getting hit hard, their dominance is just going to be even more cemented; but the reason for putting it into the game definitely makes a lot of sense. Getting used to different sprint mechanics has really jumped out at me now that I’m bouncing back and forth with Black Ops III and Destiny. I easily see Memory of Jolder getting a ton of usage.
  • Memory of Silimar cuts down the damage from damage over time effects dramatically. As a player who doesn’t really use DoT abilities, but seems to always be on fire, I am very much looking forward to this one. That anticipation is increased since we know that Thorn is returning too, which is something I’m still torn on. This is another one where, depending on how much it actually reduces the damage, could be super important. I’m a little curious as to how useful it will be in PvE, there really isn’t a lot of DoT in there aside from Taken Knight fire attacks. I’m also curious to see if it impacts attacks like the Vortex grenades – technically not DoT attacks, but sustained damage nonetheless. In end-game PvP play this one could be super important to counter specific powerful builds.
  • Memory of Felwinter brings the biggest change of the bunch. It totally removes your Super ability, but gives you an extra grenade and melee charge, a boost to all your stats and has Orbs of Light recharge your grenade and melee attacks. This one literally changes the very way you play the game, on a fundamental level. As it stands now, Warlocks and Hunters can spec for double grenade and melee – Sunsingers running Gift of the Sun and Claws of Ahamkara; Gunslingers with Young Ahamkara’s Spine and Gambler’s Dagger. This opens that up to every subclass in the game, which is a pretty damn powerful neutral build. Yes, the Super Abilities are powerful – sometimes completely changing a game – but the overall utility of having access to your grenades and melees is plenty strong. Certain combos predictions are already popping up online – double smoke and voidwall; double energy drain with axion bolt; double storm grenade and thunderstrike; double barrier and suppression. Of all the new Artifacts, this one I think is the one that needs to most attention – it’s certainly got the potential to be game-breaking, but could be a hell of a lot of fun.
  • Memory of Gheleon is one where I think the power is player dependent – it gives you the detailed radar that Nightstalkers have with Keen Scout and also gives you permanent Third Eye with any primary weapon. In the right hands, this could be the most dangerous Artifact. Players with crack shots will get a lot out of this one. I’ve been using Third Eye a lot since I got my Aegis of the Reef with it, and I find myself missing it when I switch weapons. The detailed radar part is a little less important, mainly since I still think the radar is really bad in Destiny. It’s an Artifact that is very much more aimed at PvP since you can pick and choose your engagements a lot more so in PvE. To borrow a phrase from Datto, it’s a “do a thing” item – if you’re good with the thing it does, you’ll love it; if not, it’s probably not going to be super valuable.
  • Memory of Skorri is essentially a way for every player, regardless of class to have Song of Flame, reducing your nearby allies’ cooldowns on their Super Ability. This is super important from a teamwork perspective, in both PvE and PvP. In PvE, having your Super up more often is always good, since they’re typically the most powerful abilities in the game. In PvP, using your Super can not only keep you alive in some situations you normally wouldn’t, but also really swing the course of a match. For players who maybe aren’t super skilled at getting kills, or running the Spark in Rift, this gives them a way to help the team without putting themselves at undue risk. The level of the cooldown is certainly a question to ask, as is the radius that it works at, but this is definitely one that I think full fireteams of coordinated Guardians will have on at least one player.
  • Memory of Timur is the final new Artifact – that we know of for sure – and it’s one of the more interesting ones. It’s one that is solely built for PvE – you melee an enemy of low level and he fights along you for 30 seconds, or you melee him again. In some cases, I think this could be super cool – turning a Knight or a Wizard or even an Ogre or Hydra could be super cool and useful. The problem is just how many enemies will die with that one melee attack – Dregs, Thrall, Shanks, Acolytes, Psions… the list goes on. We are all assuming that by low level Bungie means red-bar enemies, not the yellow health bar majors. It’s one that I think is situational, but could very well keep you alive – I wish it had existed back in Crota’s End for those melee Knights.

Of all the new gear we know about right now – the new armor sets, some of the new exotics, the returning Class Items, the new customization options – I really think these eight Artifacts are not only the most interesting additions, but potentially the most powerful and important ones. I really hope that they aren’t the things that you can pick up on launch day, I want them to be something we have to work for. One of the best things that Taken King introduced were those multi-step Quests to earn powerful items – Sleep Simulant, No Time to Explain, The Chaperone, First Curse. I hope that these weekly bounties that we learned will reward you with the material to turn in to earn these Artifacts aren’t the kind of bounties you can bang out in an hour or two. Destiny needs some more hard things back in it – powerful items need to be rare again; hopefully with these Artifacts we see that again.