This 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.
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.