Destiny Year Two Moments of Triumph

DestinyBungie Day was last Thursday, the day of the year when Bungie celebrates the community that supports their games with some pretty cool presents for fans. Usually it’s some kind of a video showing off all the amazing fan created content that has come out over the previous year. This year it was a video celebrating ten years of Bungie Day as well as 25 years of Bungie as a developer. I went into this year’s Bungie Day maybe expecting a little more Rise of Iron but I’m still happy to Bungie celebrating the community.

What we did get for Destiny though was the official confirmation of the Moments of Triumph for year two, as well as those Moments of Triumph going live in-game. Last year, the Moments weren’t actually in the game, you had to track them on Bungie.net instead. This year, building off of the Sparrow Racing League record book, the Moments have their own book – in-game – which lets you track them and also receive the rewards right away. The rewards this year I think are actually better all around too – two shaders and two emblems for in-game rewards, and completing all of the Moments gets you a code to order a shirt from Bungie’s online store. Sure you still need to pay the $25 for the shirt, but it is actually a really cool looking shirt, and no one is actually forcing you to do that part. Completing the Moments still gets you the in-game rewards no matter what. I like the two emblems designs, both based around heraldry and shields, which have always linked well with prestige. The shaders too I think are cool because they’re both pretty unique in terms of their color scheme – sure, there are blue ones and yellow ones, but there really aren’t any that have these mixes. I think they actually look really good with the Iron Banner armor, at least on Titans, which has been a set of armor that has needed a good shader to pair with I think.

Moments of Triumph Year Two

The challenges themselves are a little different than last year’s were, which makes sense since we don’t have quite as much content to pull from as Year One. There are a few really easy ones that you just come naturally from playing – finishing the Story content ending with the Regicide mission, equipping and fully levelling a Year Two subclass, playing the April Update story missions to completion. Then you get a few trickier ones, the ones where if you haven’t done them, you might want to get started sooner rather than later. Firstly, the overall Crucible quest that culminates in The Mountaintop is a long series of quests that has you pretty much hitting every game mode in the game, and using all four primary weapons for multiple games. It’s long, and can definitely get frustrating – even after they changed the requirements for some of the steps to not require you get get a win. Take it in steps, don’t beat yourself up trying to complete a step and if you still have friends playing, get them involved too just so you can party up and have fun. The Exotic Sword quest Moment also is a long one – you have to get one of the legendary swords levelled up to 280, fully upgraded and that’s when Shaxx will set you on the path. The rest of the way is just grinding your way through the two slow parts – 25 kills with swords in the Crucible, and getting the rare planetary materials and element kills. Once you’re at the final step, the special version of the Sunless Cells can be tricky, especially if you play with two randoms, but it is doable – just make sure you make it clear which element you’re chasing. The last two Moments are related – complete King’s Fall on Hard, and find all 50 calcified fragments. The raid isn’t crazy tough, but it does require a full fireteam of six, which might be the hardest part. If you haven’t played the raid before, I definitely recommend playing a couple runs on Normal before diving in on Hard – the mechanic changes between the two are enough to make it really frustrating. While you’re raiding though, keep an eye on the challenge mode battles because you need to do all three of them in order to get all 50 of the fragments, along with the ones that are actually hidden in the raid. This is another Moment you probably want to get working on quick since there are a couple that you’re at the whim of Bungie on: the Tier Three Court of Oryx bosses and finishing a Nightfall Strike that takes place on the Dreadnaught. I recommend destinyghosthunter.net to help figure out which ones you’re missing and how you find those ones.

The Moments of Triumph really exist to give us something to chase down during these last couple months before Rise of Iron launches. Some people already have all eight taken care of, others are missing a handful. Regardless of which side you fall on, you can always find some people to group up with and help out. I don’t think you need to worry too much about really gearing up for Rise of Iron quite yet, especially since we don’t really know about the launch much yet and what we should be getting ready to gear up with, instead you can chase these Moments of Triumph and help your friends get them done too.

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Destiny Rise of Iron – The Hype is Rising Too

Bungie wrapped up their reveal stream for the upcoming expansion for Destiny titled Rise of Iron, and holy crap am I hyped for this expansion. We got a date: September 20, 2016. We learned a the price point: $30, which is awesome since it’s $10 cheaper than Taken King. I think overall I’m more excited for Rise of Iron than I was for Taken King, but that’s because Taken King was so solid. I now expect Bungie to keep up doing what they started in TTK.  There’s a lot to unpack, and there’s still a lot of specific details that Bungie is keeping under wrapped still – which is totally understandable with a full summer to get through.

What we did see today is awesome though. It’s a lot of what we were expecting – my post yesterday could not have been timed worse, since it went live literally right before I saw the Xbox leak. So we knew going in to today that we were getting a new enemy type to fight against – it turned out to be the Plague Siva returning and the Fallen embracing it. I think it’s more along the lines of how the Taken were new back in September – it’s a new kind of enemy, but it’s built on an existing enemy faction. Regardless if you think that’s a good move, the  new Fallen Splicers look damn menacing. I’m really glad that the entire expansion, at least for now, seems to be focused solely on Earth. It’s the same idea that Taken King had – tell the story on one location, and use the other locations to help flesh out the post-story content. In Taken King it was the Taken War after stopping Oryx on the Dreadnaught. Do I think that something like that will be in Rise of Iron? I actually do – and I think they laid the foundation for it in today’s stream. We know that we’re taking back the new social space – Felwinter Peak – and then using that social space to honor and remember the fallen Iron Lords. We saw the mausoleum briefly in the stream today, and I immediately got thinking – what happens if each statue to an Iron Lord has a quest associated with it, with a weapon or piece of gear at the end of it? How cool would that be? Go up to Jolder’s statue, pick up a quest honoring her legacy and end up with an Exotic/Legendary machine gun. Now, ultimately what I think will happen is those Iron Lord quests might exist, but they’re probably how we’ll get access to the returning Gjallarhorn, which is a whole other thing to talk about.

The new content looks incredible from a tone/visual standpoint. I love that we’re staying in our backyard, and finding a new enemy that was so dangerous that the strongest guardians in our history had to sacrifice themselves to seal it away. The new gear looks incredible – using the Iron Banner, Warmind and Trials as their themes, at least that’s what we saw on stream. I’m really excited to see the inevitable full stream based around the new gear and weapons – especially new exotics. Which brings us to the one thing that I’ve seen some negativity about – the return of Gjallarhorn. Mainly because going in to the stream, we only knew that it was coming – as the Iron Gjallarhorn – with a pre-order. Immediately the “pay-to-win” comments started to pop up. That’s not quite the case – everyone who plays Rise of Iron can get a Gjallarhorn through a quest. Pre-orders net you the special black and silver one that’s the only difference. Which, if you’re a day-one player like me, is a really, really cool thing to see Bungie do. Gjallarhorn is easily the closest thing that Destiny has to a “mascot” weapon. Halo has Master Chief’s assault rifle, Zelda has the Master Sword – Destiny has the G-Horn. It’s the one weapon that every guardian chased through the entire first year of the game’s life. It ruined the balance of every activity because of how damn powerful it was. And I can’t wait to see how it’s going to play into the game moving forward.

There is still a lot to talk about with Rise of Iron – the Crucible in particular is going to get a hell of a lot of attention over the summer. Bungie did say that they’re going to be at E3 next week. I doubt we’ll see anything super crazy there, but they’ll have something on hand for sure. We’ve got a release date, a price point, and a hell of a lot of positive content to look forward to. Destiny is a game that seriously love, and and I’m super excited for what Bungie is bringing to the game moving forward.

Destiny Rise of Iron Reveal Stream Pre-Show Thoughts

DestinyTomorrow is Bungie’s first reveal stream since they were hyping up the April Update for Destiny, most likely showing off the Rise of Iron expansion that was leaked a few weeks back. All of the promo material leading up to the stream certainly seems to confirm Rise of Iron, but that’s about it. So with that in mind, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what we might see tomorrow. All of this is total speculation still, and is assuming that Rise of Iron is a full expansion, which is looking more and more the case instead of a timed summer event.

First, if it’s a full expansion, we need to think size. Destiny has two different examples to look at: The Taken King size, or Dark Below/House of Wolves size. Just based on the timing with this one, I think it has to be on the larger size – Bungie has also been saying that the next content coming to Destiny was going to be a big addition. I’m thinking a good chunk of story quests, a couple new strikes and a full raid. Based on the leaked Google results that come up when you search for Rise of Iron, it’s looking like the basic gist of the content is going out and discovering the Iron Lords stories. Much like how Cayde-6 and Eris Morn were the primary story contacts in Taken KingRise of Iron will probably be told through Lord Saladin, along with Shaxx and Zavala. I think this is where we might finally get to go to the European Dead Zone – in the Grimoire we know that the original Iron Lords pushed back the House of Kings all the way to the Caspian Sea. We know that the Tower has at least cleared portions of the European Dead Zone for the Crucible. The Cosmodrome is pretty well explored and taken back – the House Devils has been broken, House Kings foothold isn’t as strong as before and the Hive threat has been dealt with. We know though that the House Kings Kell is still around – and I think that’s who the Raid will revolve around. I saw someone saying that the Kell of Kings will be the actual Kell of Kells that Skolas claimed to be. That could make for a really cool raid encounter.

Destiny Rise of Iron

One thing that I think Taken King did really well was keep the story content more focused on one location – in that case, the Dreadnaught. If they do the same with Rise of Iron, which would most likely be Earth, they’ll need to come up with some new areas to explore. But keeping the content in one location really helps focus the narrative – which is something that Destiny really needs to keep doing. I think the story elements that Rise of Iron is going to be dealing with is a potential strength of the DLC. I assume we’ll get more new strikes, but on top of that, I want to see the other old strikes get brought forward – I miss playing Sepiks Prime and Phogoth. We also still have a handful of Exotics that were added to the armory back before Taken King launched that haven’t been added, those could very well pop up, or other new exotics could instead. I don’t think that we’ll get those few Year One exotics that people love to talk about (Thorn, Icebreaker and G-Horn), but I suppose anything is possible. I also really hope we get a few more full sets of armor and weapons – the Year Two sets that the Vendors and Factions have had are starting to get a little stale, even with the Chroma sets. I’ve said it for a long time with this game that the more variety in the gear, the better off the whole game is. I loved back in House of Wolves that I could use any set of legendary gear, as long as I could ascend it. I would love teh ability to wear my Vault of Glass armor again, mainly because it looks so damn badass. We’ll see what they add in gear-wise, since that’s a guarantee.

On the other side of the Destiny coin is the Crucible. I think Rise of Iron will bring the most thorough overhaul for the Crucible that we’ve seen yet. I don’t know about custom games showing up yet – that might be a full sequel feature. But I think we’re going to see a much bigger weapon balance pass than we did in April, along with a handful of other changes that need to happen – in particular the Firebolt/Viking Funeral/Touch of Flame build. I also fully expect to see a bunch of new maps get put into play, and hopefully an actual Capture the Flag mode as well. I think that there’s bound to be some kind of new end-game PvP activity as well. Trials of Osiris is a year old now, and I still think that as a true competitive mode it’s really lacking. Spawn side matters a ton, certain weapon sets are basically required to do well, and some classes are just by default stronger. Since this expansion will be focused around the Iron Lords, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see some kind of expanded Iron Banner as a new end-game. That could be Iron Banner as a weekly event instead of monthly, or a whole new activity under the Banner.

Ultimately, while Bungie has said this is going to be a big expansion, I actually think that most of the changes coming to the game are going to be smaller in nature. Lots of little changes in Destiny actually end up making a huge deal since there are so many different aspects in play. More story content is definitely needed to keep fleshing out the lore that is, again, really strong. New strikes and raids are always welcome, and keep the PvE side of things fresh for longer. PvP I still think is where the most attention is needed to keep the balance – I think that there’s a lot of options that work as it stands now, but there are still a handful of weapons that are just still too strong. I’m definitely looking forward to Rise of Iron a lot, and tomorrow is going to be a really exciting stream I think.

Destiny April Update Crucible – Final Thoughts

We’re back finishing up my thoughts on the state of the Crucible in Destiny post the April update. We talked about Subclasses, and the weapon classes. Today I want to talk a bit about the different maps and modes in the Crucible. I also want to quickly talk about the “Rise of Iron” leak that happened at the end of last week.

Destiny Crucible

I don’t have as much to talk about with the different game modes, so I’ll start there. I only really dislike Elimination within the current group of games, only because I’ve never been that big a fan of one-life per round modes. It’s actually a big part of why I don’t play Trials. I’d like to see Trials feature a couple different game types, much like what Bungie has been doing with Iron Banner since Year Two started. I actually think that Rift is probably the most well designed mode within the context of the game. The Lore behind it makes sense within not only the overall world of Destiny but also in the Crucible. I also think that it’s the one mode that really rewards players for playing the objective, while still rewarding players who are more skilled at slaying. Control tries to find that balance, but I think falls just a little short, while Zone Control goes too far and takes the value out of kills and individual performance. If Clash isn’t what you’re into and you want objective modes in a competitive environment, I think Rift is the place to go. The modes that aren’t full teams of six – Skirmish, Salvage and Doubles – each work I think well enough. They are built to be the modes you go into with friends. Solo queue play in them is a lot more difficult to do well, mainly because with smaller team sizes, you need to have better teamwork. I like Salvage, I actually think it would work better though as a six-man mode and no revives. Ultimately though the biggest issue that I think that the modes have is that the Crucible is just begging for a true split between ranked and social play. Maybe that’s something we’ll see in the sequel.

Destiny Black Garden

With the maps, there’s actually not a huge amount of issues that I have. There are a couple of maps that I think have specific spots that present little issues, but nothing super major. What I think the biggest problem with the maps is that the playlists seem to go through phases – one day I’ll play a few hours and see maybe five maps, the next day it’ll be still only a handful, but different ones. I don’t know how much of that is just bad RNG, but map voting would be a huge way to help get some more map variety in there. I see Widow’s Court, Black Shield, Pantheon and Cathedral of Dusk way more often than the other maps. It certainly feels like a lot of the vanilla maps are weighted less in the hopper than the more recent maps, and the larger maps – Skyshock, First Light and Bastion – just don’t appear at all any more. There’s something like 20 or so Crucible arenas, and I just think playing the same ten or so is missing out. There’s a lot of room in the Destiny lore too to branch out with the arenas that I really hope Bungie starts to take advantage of. You see it on maps like Rusted Lands, with the leftovers from the Hive invasion of Earth; Bannerfall, where the remnants of that fourth Tower faction can be found after the Faction Wars; and Twilight Gap, the site of one of the more important battles within the Lore of the game. I really want to see more of that in the maps – show that these arenas are places that we’ve reclaimed from the Darkness, show that they do truly live in the same worlds that we visit in PvE activities. And I’d really love to see more variety in size in the maps – I love playing Vertigo because it’s so squished compared to many of the maps. It’s a big part of why I wish the larger maps were still in the rotation – it breaks up the monotony of the same few tactics on every map. Using a hand cannon, shotgun, rocket loadout on First Light was a lot trickier to pull off because of the ranges that you were usually engaging at.The more variety there is, the less tactics and loadouts like that can dominate to the level that they have so far.

Destiny Rise of Iron

Finally, late last week, there was a leak of some pretty killer artwork supposedly showing off the next major addition to Destiny, with the title Rise of Iron. Kotaku has apparently verified the art as legit, which is interesting because there’s a couple details that could be telling. Of course, we have no idea at all if it’s the full expansion that we’re expecting this fall – the early rumors for that were Cabal themed, and this art suggests Earth based content which would mean Fallen/Hive. It could very well be a timed event like Festival of the Lost/Sparrow Racing League was, to help get us through the summer. We have no official word to go on, and honestly probably won’t until E3. The art certainly seems to show off Lord Saladin – our Iron Banner buddy – standing out near the Cosmodrome wall looking pretty damn badass with a giant flaming axe. The axe is interesting because it reminds me of the Hammer of Sol visually, but we haven’t ever seen a super ability change appearance that much. Which brings us to the possibility of a new heavy weapon – perhaps an Exotic to complement the Swords. I have thought for a while that there’s room for some experimentation with the melee slot in the form of new Exotics. Assuming also that it is Lord Saladin, he’s got an interesting piece of gear for a Titan to have on – a full cloak. Cloaks are Hunter class armors – Titans wear marks around our waists. That a Titan, and one who not only plays a big role in-game, but also within the context of the Lore, is wearing a cloak is interesting. I have no idea at all what it could mean, but it definitely looks cool as hell. The last thing to talk about that I’ve seen people talking about is all the wolves in the picture. I’ve seen people speculate that means we’ll have companion pets, or that it’s indicating wild animals will be coming to the worlds we explore. The first I think is a really really long shot – even for the full sequel. We already have a companion character in our Ghost, and character development is something that Bungie really needs to work on for the sequel. The second idea is one that I could absolutely see working our – maybe not with the game as it is right now, but certainly moving forward. What I actually think the wolves are in the artwork is just a metaphor for the rest of the Iron Lords. We know a good amount about a few of them, and they’re all described in Lore as Iron Wolves. I just the artist included the actual wolves as a nod to that bit of Lore. Plus it looks cool as hell.

Destiny – April Update Crucible Subclass Thoughts

DestinyContinuing our thoughts from yesterday, we’re looking at the state of the Crucible after the April update for Destiny. Yesterday we looked at the current state of the weapons in the Crucible, and today let’s talk about the subclasses. Titans and Warlocks have each gotten somewhat comprehensive tweaks since the launch of The Taken King, so we have a little to look at.

We’ll start with Warlocks since they just got the balance tweaks in the April update. Warlocks have always been strong in the Crucible – access to Blink, potentially the strongest melee attacks, and supers that are both duration based and power plays. What the new update really did is just help keep them from being overly strong against the other classes. There’s still a build that I think needs some attention – and in truth, Bungie knows it too, they talked about it on one of the lead up streams to the update. Let’s start with Voidwalker though. Voidwalker in Crucible has always been about burst power – grenades that do strong, quick damage, melees that keep you alive and a super that can wipe out whole teams if placed and timed right. After the update, Voidwalkers role just has been further defined. Instead of really being defined by Nova Bomb – which is still a big part of the class – I think Voidwalker now is more defined by the Energy Drain melee attack. It’s a simple build – focused around using your grenades to trigger Energy Drain, and that recharge, since the update, gets your grenade back in mere seconds. It’s a PvE powerhouse, that manages to retain its utility in the Crucible. Blink is still really strong, the melee range is still on the longer side, and Nova Bomb has always been strong. Overall, Voidwalkers didn’t change a whole lot – just became a little more focused. The patch really focused more on Stormcallers and Sunsingers. Stormcallers had been enjoying a pretty high time heading into April. Using Transcendence with Stormtrance had you Sith Lording around for a really long time. That came back a little bit – it’s still strong, but the duration isn’t nearly where it was. It needed it though, so I’m glad that it happened. The rest of the Subclass is still pretty similar to before – extended melee range, damage chaining with arc abilities, and grenades that are pretty lackluster. In certain game modes, Stormcaller can be the best choice – you can clear control points and roam for follow ups like a champ. Sunsingers are where I think Bungie will be revisiting next patch again. Yes, Flame Shield was reduced in strength, and Fireborn’s Radiance duration was also reduced. But Sunsingers’ real strength in Crucible play has long been a Viking Funeral/Touch of Flame/Firebolt grenade build. You keep damage going, by spamming the grenades with Radiance, and since you get even more grenades while Supered now, if anything the build’s power was increased. It’s an issue, but one that Bungie is aware of and, hopefully, trying to fix. Overall though, Warlocks are still in a really good spot – they’re pretty well balanced across the board, just takes a few games to get used to the jump behavior.

Destiny Nightstalker

Next up Hunters – the class that I have always associated most with Crucible strength. Hunters are still in pretty much the same place – mainly because Bungie hasn’t taken a full look at the Subclasses yet like the other two. A lot of the same moves that used to work still do. Let’s start with the new Subclass – Nightstalker. While the Nightstalker might be the Hunter’s best PvE subclass, it has the steepest learning curve in Crucible play I think. The Shadowshot is more focused around control, not kills; the melee is actually a ranged slow, and the grenades are all area denial in nature. Once you get used to those little trick though, Nightstalker can be a really effective part of a team in objective games. Nightstalkers also have a pair of really strong exotic armor choices – the Graviton Forfeit and Sealed Ahamhakara Grasps. You really do need to learn Shadestep though to use Nightstalker at its best I think though. Bladedancers have always been super strong in the Crucible – that really hasn’t changed a hell of a lot. Arc Blade, while maybe not as tanky as the old days since there are lots of high impact options for weapons now, is still really powerful at getting kills. Blink is still the best jump for escaping danger; Blink Strike is a powerful, quick melee attack; and Skip Grenades have become one of the stronger pure damage grenades out there. The neutral game isn’t quite as strong – invisibility isn’t as powerful as it might seem, but in the right hands a build focused around that could be alright. Honestly, not a lot has really changed for Bladedancers, just the addition of a great new exotic chest piece in the Tarantella. Gunslingers are in a similar boat – nothing crazy has changed. Golden Gun is still as close to a guaranteed triple kill as any super can get; Throwing Knives give them a ranged melee option that’s surprisingly strong; and Tripmine grenades can litter the arenas. The neutral game is just that – neutral. There’s nothing super strong, just decent enough boosts for the knife and weapon handling. The Symbiote went from being a detriment, to back on that near-top tier. I happen to think that the Young Ahamkara Spine is overall stronger, since you’ll probably have Tripmines more often. Since Hunters haven’t gotten the same attention recently, there really hasn’t been a lot of changes to their place in the Crucible.

Destiny Sunbreaker

 

Titans, on the other hand, have gone through a bunch of changes over the last 6 months. Taken King brought them Sunbreakers, which were admittedly really strong. In December, each Subclass got a balance pass and put Titans into, what is I think, the best spot they’ve been in since launch. Strikers, which have always been my favorite Titan Subclass, are actually not a detriment in PvE now. In Crucible, Fist of Havoc is the best panic super out there, while also providing a perfect counter to supers and control/heavy ammo plays. Strikers have the best overall grenades for Crucible in the game I think – each one does different things and does them perfectly. Storm Fist is still weak – much like all the Titan melees are – but can net a kill or two here and there. Shoulder Charge is phenomenal as a one-shot kill, and the other column of upgrades provides a couple different options. Defenders, while they are the PvE powerhouses, are super fun to play in Crucible once you get over the learning curve. Suppressor grenades are king – they can totally shut down an enemy play. Ward of Dawn, while still a giant “use your Super on me” bubble, can provide a bit of safe haven for ammo grabs and control points. Force Barrier nets you an overshield, which in Crucible is a good thing to have. The neutral game isn’t super strong, but Bastion and Illuminated is a good combo no matter what. Sunbreakers, while not as powerful as they were, are still the best overall Crucible class I think. Hammer of Sol is a great roaming super, with potential for lots of kills. Fusion grenades are good one shot kills. Sunstrike can weaken enemies, or instantly recharge on kills. You can go with a sunspot build for extra damage over time. Cauterize keeps you alive while Hammer of Sol is active. And it’s not a particularly difficult class to learn how to play effectively. If you’re new to Titans, start here, then branch out.

Ultimately, I think the Subclasses are all pretty well set. Warlocks and Hunters still are clearly stronger in Crucible, but the gap isn’t nearly as big as it used to be. Destiny doesn’t really do a great job of differentiating between the three classes – they all feel very similar – which makes it easy to hop between them. That means Crucible doesn’t have to be only played with one class.

Destiny Crucible – Has It Changed Post-Update?

DestinyOver the last couple weeks I’ve been playing more PvP in Destiny than I have since probably the launch of the game. On all three of my characters, chasing the good drops from Shaxx and still leveling my factions up. I’ve written here a couple times about the “meta” that lives in the Crucible, but since the April update (The Taken Spring) I haven’t gone too in-depth about how the Crucible is shaping up. Today, I’ll give it a closer look.

Before we get into the real meat, I’ll say this about the Crucible – over the last couple weeks, this has been the most fun I’ve had playing Crucible since the launch of the game across the board. I’ve seen a lot of posts on the Subreddit talking a lot about Skill Based Match Making/”sweaty” games in the Crucible. I personally think that’s a totally silly argument – PvP is supposed to be competitive, that’s the whole point. What I think people are arguing for is a separate place to play less competitive games – a social playlist – which I do think has merit, it just is too late to add in to the game at this point. You can have fun in the “sweaty” nature of the games – just take a step back, and focus less on the negatives. Find a moment or two in each game that gets you excited – maybe it’s a clutch quick-scope, or a pivotal play with your super ability. When you stop worrying about your wins/losses and K/D in each game, and focus more on the actual gameplay I think you will not only have more fun, but also get better naturally over time.

When we talk about the Crucible, most of the conversation revolves around the weapon balance, and rightly so. While the Guardians we play are characterized by their abilities, the primary way we interact with the worlds in the game is through our weapons. That’s why it’s both super important to get the weapons feeling right, but also incredibly difficult to nail down. I’ve always been a big believer in thumbskill trumping any weapon limitations – if you get your thumbs under you, any weapon can work, and work well. With that said, Destiny has always struggled to find a level playing ground since there are lots of moving parts. However, right now in the Crucible is probably the best all around that it’s been in a very long time, at least from a primary weapon standpoint. All four weapon classes work, and can net you plenty of kills, provided you use them within their ranges/roles. No more cross-map shooting with hand cannons, and the same goes for scout rifles at point blank range. Exotic weapons aren’t as important in PvE anymore, but in the Crucible, they still can be deadly choices – but they aren’t the only choice like Thorn/Suros/Mythoclast used to be.

Destiny MIDA Multi Tool

Let’s talk a little more about primary weapons before we move along. If there is one weapon that’s close to that Thorn/Suros/Mythoclast level it has to be the MIDA Multi Tool. It’s definitely the most popular weapon that I’ve seen out there, but I think it does have a little stepper learning curve than the other weapons did. It’s a scout rifle, so figuring out the pacing on the fire rate and dealing with the close range limitations of the weapon can take a little time. But when you pair it with the exotic perk – greatly increased agility – and it can be a super difficult weapon to fight against. I think the only real reason you don’t see it to the same level you used to with Thorn is because of that learning curve. That said, my new favorite build uses my MIDA on a full agility Bladedancer running Radiant Dance Machines – you can walk just about as fast as sprint, and that extended to strafing. It’s stupid fast. Beyond MIDA, there are actually plenty of different primary weapons you can use to do really well. Doctrine of Passing – which does require Trials to earn – is still capable of putting out insane damage at close ranges, but auto rifles are finally starting to come back. The Iron Banner Haakon’s Hatchet is really solid, as is Shadow Price and Grim Citizen III, along with pretty much any exotic. Hand cannons are all about in the same spot – Hawkmoon stands out a bit more, and Last Word came back to the pack a good amount. I’ve actually been really liking my Devil You Know and even The First Curse for the weekly hand cannon bounty. Scout rifles are pretty similar to hand cannons – all very similar in behavior, which opens up the possibilities; and we already talked about MIDA, although Tlaloc is a solid choice for Warlocks as well. Pulse rifles are still really strong – they have been the best overall class since The Taken King launched I think. Hawksaw and the Suros PDX still can dominate with the right roll, and the new Final Duty from Variks is in that same kind of spot. I still think that Red Death is the best overall weapon, not just in Crucible play, but in the entire game, but I think I’m a little in the minority on that one these days. Outside of the hyper-competitive arenas of Trials, I think this is the first time in a very long time where just about any primary works awesome. Trials is a little different, but I’ve never liked Trials thanks to the Elimination game type.

Destiny Invective Shotgun

When we move to special and heavy weapons though, that’s where that balance starts to break down a little bit. This is where you’ll see a lot of the same weapons over and over in each game. Fusion rifles, while certainly better since the April update, are still rare sights, and I think there’s really only one that I would say has the potential to be powerful – Plan C; that fast charging, relatively strong impact kind of fusion rifle. But shotguns and snipers are still the kings – and the same names are still leading the charge. Conspiracy Theory, Party Crasher, Thousand Yard Stare, LDR, Longbow – weapons that should be very familiar to anyone at this point. With the shotguns, it’s the same problem that Felwinter’s presented in Year One – the high impact, long range, low rate of fire weapons are by far better PvP options. There’s really only one exception to that, and it’s an exotic – Invective. You’re still chasing the same basic ideas – range boosts, reload speed boosts, impact if can get it – that you were in Year One. As a result, this is where I think the balance breaks down and you find players all using the same loadouts. Snipers have a little more variety, but only in names. The Thousand Yard Stare, LDR 5001 and Longbow Synthesis are all basically the same archetype weapons. Impact is on the higher side, rate of fire is right in the middle, and they can all roll with the perks you want. Reload speed boosts, good scopes, and target acquisition all help make that weapon slot feel samey. Exotic snipers all but have disappeared – I was shocked to see a Hereafter yesterday in a match. Building  off of that idea, I can’t remember the last time I used a sidearm in the Crucible, or saw one for that matter. If there’s only one thing that the next weapon pass looks at, I really hope that it’s the special weapon economy. Special ammo has been up and down, but the weapons all haven’t really changed in basically a year now.

Heavy weapons are also in a similar spot – and really have been since the early days of Destiny. Rockets are the head of the class – by a large margin. Even with the ammo changes, reducing the number of rockets you can hold, they’re still the best choice for a heavy. You have easy potential for multi-kills, and the damage is instant. I may prefer using a machine gun, but I have to pull back after grabbing ammo while the rockets start flying around. Swords are…interesting to use. Potentially a really powerful option – especially on smaller maps, but you do have to get up close. A lot like with the specials, you’re still looking for the same talents as always. Rockets still need tripod, grenades and horseshoes, tracking, and as much velocity and blast radius as you can get. There’s a reason Truth is still the best PvP rocket in the game. Lord Saladin did bring a damn good second option with Tormod’s Bellows with a god roll, but it’s no longer for sale. Machine guns still need to have that mid rate of fire and above average impact to really stand a chance – they can get lots of kills, but you need to survive past the rocketfest. Any boots with ammo boosts, and gauntlets with reload speed boosts help a lot here – the guns themselves aren’t quite as dependent on perks actually. Look for stability, range and reload perks. Basically chase the Raid machine gun, and you’ll be set. Swords are all set with their perks, so there’s no real variety there. Instead you want to get as much ammo as you can, then just learn to time your attacks. It’s a lot like the machine guns – survive the initial crossfire rockets, get to the choke points, use the block ability and you’ll be chopping down enemies for sure.

There’s a lot still to talk about – we’ll talk subclasses tomorrow and the different modes themselves Wednesday – but weapon wise, the Crucible is in a really solid spot. There’s still work to do of course, but for the first time in a while, I actually find myself wanting to play Crucible again. Bungie just needs to keep an eye on the data and keep making changes that need to happen. I would like to see them come a little more frequently, but we’ll see moving forward.

Weekend Gaming Thoughts: A Little Bit of Everything

This past weekend may have been the most exciting weekend we’ve had in quite some time for gaming. Between the new April Update in Destiny, the Falcon Lost Incursion in The Division, and open betas for DOOM and Battleborn there was plenty of new stuff to dive into. And dive I did this weekend, hitting it all except the new Division stuff since I’m still a little cool on that game. I wanted to talk a bit about what I played, even though I already did a little with Destiny and Battleborn.

Battleborn Start Screen

With Battleborn, I played a bunch more story missions – both solo and in full five man groups. I started to try out other characters beyond Marquis as well and I have to say that of the characters I did play, I really liked them a lot. Oscar Mike – the stereotype soldier guy – is a fantastic pure burst damage character. His grenade skill can not only do burst damage with the explosion, but then add in the napalm DoT effect and it’s an incredible trash clearance skill. His ultimate skill is great for doing a massive amount of damage as well, assuming you target the spot right. Rath, who was by far my favorite melee character I played, is a neat character to play. I like his health steal on hit, it helps a offset a little his fragile nature. His skills help out tremendously with crowd control, and his ultimate is lovely for trash clearance and multi-target damage. Plus, he’s voiced by Christopher Sabat AKA Vegeta, so he’s basically the best ever. I was worried a little that melee characters would be a step or two behind in the story missions, but Rath at least did really well. The only part in the two missions where he let me down was in the final phase of the ISIC fight, because he flies all around and was aggroed on our El Dragon during that phase. Assuming that the rest of the story missions have similar engagements, it looks like melee characters will totally be viable choices. Battleborn went from being a game that I was ambivalent towards, to one that I’m very much interested in grabbing.

Doom 2016

With the other beta this weekend, DOOM, I played that a bit less.I only played a couple games, but that’s because I think this is shaping up to be a really really good game. If you’ve played any classic id FPS – DOOM, Wolfenstein or Quake – you’ll be ready from the get go. This was easily the best pure arcade style shooter that I’ve played in years. It felt immediately like the old games, just with a sprinkling of modern trappings. It’s fast, it’s brutal, it rewards thumbskill and twitch shooting. If you come from the modern FPS games, you might have a little learning curve to get used to, but the game does it’s job really well. If this is at all on your radar, this is definitely a good sign. Since the beta was extended to today, if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot.

Destiny Taken Guardians

Finally, I got to go through the Challenge of the Elders in the April Update in Destiny. I was worried that I wouldn’t get it in because I wasn’t close to 320 Light yet. And in fact, I’m still not 320 Light. But I was actually able to solo through the Challenge of Elders at 314 Light, which doesn’t exactly sound like much of a Challenge. It wasn’t super simple – the second room took me a good 6 deaths or so to clear. But because Small Arms is the modifier this first week, if you’re a little lower Light, you can easily make it up. I ran with Red Death and Cauterize on my Titan to get health back on kills to help since I’m solo, and it was done in like 40 minutes. Even with Variks taking points away, I was able to score over 40,000 points to earn a weapon from him. I did run it later with a couple buddies, which just further showed that this week in particular, challenge isn’t really the right word I’d use. That said, the actual activity itself is a ton of fun. Soloing it was the most fun I’ve had in PvE in a long time – it’s just total chaos the whole time. The rewards are maybe a little inconsistent, but that is kinda Destiny in a nutshell. It’s really fun, and cements my feeling that the April Update was exactly what the game needed.