Destiny Weekly Update/Rumor Thoughts

Destiny I was out of town last week when the new Bungie Weekly Update came out, the first since before Christmas. So while this is a little late, I do want to put down my thoughts on what we got out of Bungie and what we’re getting in Destiny in the coming months.

As I was reading the post, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this post was pre-scheduled for a while now. A lot of the issues that have been talked the most about in the community weren’t really addressed in the detail that I think we would have liked. The lag in the Crucible was barely mentioned in passing, despite being a pretty prevalent problem. The weapon meta is turning really stale again – Thorn, of all guns is popping up with regular frequency again. That wasn’t addressed at all. The lack of new PvE content, while less important than the community would have you believe, wasn’t addressed either. Instead we learned that, yes they tweaked the Crucible matchmaking to include a bit more skill-based matchmaking in secret. We learned that what the new February event is – Crimson Days – and that it’s a Crucible event built around Doubles. And we got the usual Bungie “we’re still working on a lot of different stuff that we’ll tell you about soon” catch-all that they’re really fond of.

Destiny Crimson Days

Here’s the problem with that – we had been waiting almost a full month with no communication from Bungie on the Destiny front. Really, all we wanted was a more direct post about the current state of the game, and what we could expect in February. Beyond that, I would have perfectly happy without the February event update last week – there’s still a January weekly update that it could have been a part of this week. The current game is a weird state of limbo, and this weekly update didn’t really do a whole lot to reassure me that Bungie is hard at work on new content to plug into the game quickly. I know that they’re hard at work at whatever Destiny 2 will be, and I know that the developer environment for Destiny is kinda rubbish, so new content is going to be a little sporadic. Couple that with the shift away from monolithic DLC to smaller event based content and you see why we’re a little impatient. The comparison is a little tenuous, but by this time into Year One, we already had The Dark Below launch – a new strike, three new Crucible maps and a whole Raid. Now it’s not a one-to-one comparison, again, but I don’t think that what we’ve gotten since The Taken King launched is really close – Festival of the Lost didn’t include any new content, just masks; and Sparrow Racing League really didn’t add in a whole bunch of new stuff either. With February’s Crimson Days being based around the Crucible I don’t exactly foresee a lot of new stuff coming to the game in terms of meaningful content.

Destiny Loot Cave

The other bit of Destiny news recently has come from the rumor mill. Yesterday morning there was a rumor that Bungie planned on making heavy ammo synths cost silver – aka real money. Both Activision and Bungie shot that down right away, and really, it shouldn’t have gained any traction at all. Bungie is in a really tight spot right now and a move like that would just kill any of the good feelings that the community has left. They’ve been very good with the microtransactions so far – sure the level boost does have gameplay bearing, but not in any meaningful end-game way. The other rumor came from Kotaku’s article about the current malaise surrounding the game. In the article they say that a source of theirs at Bungie has said that Destiny 2, in whatever shape it ends up, has been pushed back from September. Now of course, that game hasn’t even been announced yet so it really can’t be delayed. But the idea of Bungie pushing a major release back shouldn’t be a huge surprise if it is true. As much as Bungie likes to have annual launches – just about every Halo game they put out came out in November – I think they know that this is a big step for the future of the franchise. I would think that Bungie and Activision both want to make sure that whatever they call Destiny 2 really measures up. As important as The Taken King was, and the current plan of timed events is, the big release this fall was always going to be, perhaps, the key to this “ten-year” plan playing out. I’ve been saying this just about every Destiny post lately, but now more than ever, we really just have to wait a little longer and see what comes our way.


Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Multiplayer Achievements

Black Ops 3

I hit level 55 in Call of Duty: Black Ops III last night, which is the level cap before entering Prestige Mode. When you reach that level, you get one of the four multiplayer achievements in the game – one is unlocked at level 10, the other two deal with the new Specialist mechanic in Black Ops. That, combined with my ongoing grind for weapon camos, calling cards and Specialist attire got me thinking about those sort of multiplayer achievements – whether they’re actual Xbox Achievements/PlayStation Trophies or in-game items. My stance on multiplayer achievements has always been more or less that they really shouldn’t be on the achievement list. But that idea was basically formed from the achievements that were in Gears of War, Halo 3, and Halo: Reach. Over the last couple years, I’ve softened my stance a little.

With the games that I play the most online right now – Destiny, Halo 5, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III – each has competitive multiplayer achievements. A few years ago, I would have been pissed about that – mainly because I see those achievements always drawing the most attention for boosters and the such. I played the hell out of Halo 3 and I’m still missing a whole slew of the multiplayer achievements because they could only be unlocked in Free for All – which to me just further encouraged boosting. With Halo 5 though, the multiplayer achievements are much more easily unlocked. Win five games of the different game modes, and do the same for each of the original three Warzone maps. In theory that’s really not that many games, should you play well and get your wins quickly. Then you are free to just focus on the in-game commendations and REQ points. With the Warzone achievement, I do think that since you’re at the mercy of the map selector, it can be a bit more frustrating – I had the same issue with Titanfall asking you to win a game of each mode on each map. But those are achievements that, again in theory, are simply unlocked by playing the game over time. That’s kinda the point with shooters these days – the campaign is good for a few play sessions, then it’s the multiplayer that keeps the game installed on your hard drive.

Destiny Crucible

With the two Activision games – Destiny and Call of Duty – the lists are a little different. Destiny does have a couple PvP achievements, and really only one is dependent on player skill and might be tricky (Kill a Warlock, Hunter and Titan in one life). The rest are pretty much just keep playing kind of achievements – which works with Destiny‘s notion of you playing a bunch of different activities every time you log on. And since the bulk of the content is PvE in nature, that’s where the bulk of the achievements are. That one odd achievement is a good example of one that I definitely take issue with. At launch, it was a lot easier to get that one – everyone was still playing around with each class, including alts. I got that achievement when I was leveling my Warlock before my fireteam had actually finished the story – mainly thanks to Nova Bomb being good at covering a wide area. After the meta stabilized though and Titans all but vanished from PvP through most of Year One, that achievement became a hell of a lot harder to unlock. Now it’s probably back to being relatively straightforward with Sunbreakers making Titans relevant again.

Which brings me to Call of Duty. It’s been a series that has always done different things with multiplayer. The first multiplayer specific achievements didn’t appear until the first Black Ops, of which there were two – one to reach level 10 in Combat Training, and one to win five Wager Matches. And for the most part, that’s been pretty much how each game has approached the multiplayer achievements – with ones that are easily unlocked just from playing a whole bunch of games. Where they’ve put a lot of the kind of things that could have been achievements are in the meta-challenges. Stuff like Misery Loves Company, The Loner, and Collateral all would have made fine achievements, but putting them in-game helps reduce the boosting, in theory. For Call of Duty, I think that balance is definitely the best way to go. It lets the developers put in a couple multiplayer achievements to round out the list, but put the real challenges in-game and reward the players with in-game items. With Black Ops III though, that line has been blurred just a little bit. Those two Specialist related achievements aren’t just earned by playing with them a lot – maybe the triple kill one depending on the weapon – but the five medals in one game one definitely seems designed to push players toward a specific playstyle with specific Specialists. I’ve spent this whole Prestige playing as Prophet – mainly because I think Tempest is a great objective defense weapon – and I don’t think I’ve played a single game (even with Overdrive) that I’ve felt like I could have earned five medals based on Glitch. Truth be told, I think Glitch is one of the two weakest abilities in game along with Rejack, mainly because of the challenge associated with Glitch has you getting kills after it. To me, it’s way more attuned to a defensive use – before I was trying to get those last cosmetic items for Prophet, that’s how I used it – to survive fights I was dead in.

Black Ops II

Tie that together with the “secret” Dark Matter camo and Gold Hero attire for Specialists, and it’s really not that hard to see why Treyarch is cracking down on boosters pretty early in the game’s life. Instead of Dark Matter being like Diamond was in Black Ops II as a status symbol, my first thought is now trying to figure out if the player is a booster. Now, of course, Diamond had boosters too – they’re part of the system, and that’s why there’s always going to be the need to crack down on them. Putting things that almost encourage boosting into the achievement list is never a good thing, and I think Treyarch toed the line a little this time around. Hopefully Ghosts 2 or whatever we get this year will have a more straightforward list.

Destiny: The First Year Post Mortem

DestinyToday marks the final day for the first year in Destiny. At some point tomorrow morning Bungie is going to flip the switch and make live the 2.0 patch, bringing with it a lot of sweeping changes. So today I want to look back over this first year, the ups and the downs along with all the storylines that we’ve been talking about for a year now.

Let’s start at the very beginning – those first couple weeks after the game went live. We all were learning the ins and outs of our chosen classes, which ones worked best at what parts of the game. The Crucible wasn’t a Thorn/shotgun filled mess – there were actually all three classes represented. We were still trying to actually fill our inventory with Legendary tier gear, pushing up that Light level. The Vault of Glass was just opening, beckoning us with its challenge. Exotics were exceedingly rare, Xur was still a mystery and the Nightfalls were new and hard. It was really easy to find things new in the game that were really exciting to play around with – secrets to find.

Destiny Black Garden

Of course, it wasn’t all roses. We all know that the story was presented in a less than particularly effective matter. This past week we learned that the story did in fact get a pretty substantial overhaul a year before launch that may have contributed to that fact. The idea of tying power level to the Light stat on armor was a cool experiment; but one that ultimately fell flat, so much so that it’s being pretty much thrown out tomorrow for a much more standard item level system. The loot system at that point was especially brutal too. It was a definite period of growth for the new series.

After those first few months, we got our first taste of the grinding part of Destiny. We kept running the Vault of Glass to try to get that last weapon or armor piece. We were starting second and third characters on the other classes. This was also when we got the first real Crucible meta. Auto Rifles were powerful, with one weapon that really reigned above every other weapon – Suros Regime. It was such a nuisance that Bungie pretty much killed the entire weapon class to “balance” the Crucible. We’re still playing with the fallout from that first rebalance.

Destiny The Dark Below

When we start talking about the DLC season, we’re only looking at two points really. The Dark Below brought a new raid with it, and a lot of new info about one of the more exciting enemy types in the game, the Hive. Of course, Crota’s End is a little less involved than the Vault of Glass is; and most of the new weapons introduced were rather lackluster. But it was still what we were looking for at that point – more Destiny. With House of Wolves the game was clearly starting to show the beginnings of thinking about the next step. Prison of Elders was an attempt to make endgame content for 3-man fireteams. The story content was told through one solid quest line. Where I think House of Wolves really did well is the expanded lore for the Reef and the Awoken. We learned a lot more about the Fallen too.

Over the last year we’ve seen a new franchise really start to get its legs. I still think that Destiny‘s potential is super high. If tomorrow’s patch and next week’s Taken King launch can live up to the hype, I really think that there will be a solid foundation in place for that 10 year plan that Bungie and Activision have. It absolutely has its flaws – and they’ve been talked about ad nauseum over the last year. At the end of the day though, Destiny is still a fantastic game, with a lot of fun in there to have.

Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Hunter

The Taken King Logo

Rounding out our journey through all the different exotic items available in this first year of Destiny. We’ve talked about the weapons, and the armor choices for Titans and Warlocks. Today, we’re hitting the last player class – Hunters – and going over their exotic armor. Much like the Titan, Hunters have options for every armor slot, at least ever since The Dark Below.

Destiny Celestial Nighthawk

Like we have been all week, we’ll start with the helmets. Hunters have access to five helmets – although as we’ll see, they’re really only looking at three of them. In terms of class parity, Hunter choices are definitely skewed more towards Gunslingers. But one of the few Bladedancer exotics does exist as a helmet. But we’ll start with one of the worst exotics in the game – the ATS/8 Arachnid. It’s a Gunslinger pick – but only gives you a zoom for Golden Gun. In theory, that’s great – long-range Golden Gun shots could be super powerful in PvP, and helps keep you safe in PvE. Unfortunately for the helmet, Golden Gun is already incredibly accurate – with really no range issues at all. So it’s a total wasted perk – not to mention it’s a pretty damn ugly helmet. The other really low tier exotic helmet is the Knucklehead Radar. It’s a subclass neutral piece, which helps a bit, but the problem again is the exotic perk. It gives you Third Eye – keeping your radar active while ADS with any weapon – which honestly isn’t the worst perk out there. The problem is that it’s a perk that I think best benefits newer players, and as you get more used to the game, loses it effectiveness quickly. I also think it’s a much much more effective PvP perk. It’s not as bad looking as the Arachnid, but still definitely not a great looking helmet. We now can get into the actual contenders for usage here. First up, the best PvP Gunslinger helmet, the Achlyophage Symbiote. Sure it’s a pretty nasty looking beast, but it’s exotic perk is amazing. It gives you an extra shot for Golden Gun – that’s four insta-kill shots for PvP, and can sometimes be the damage you need to for a major or ultra in PvE. However, since House of Wolves launched, we got a better PvE choice for the Gunslingers – the Celestial Nighthawk. It’s a sleek looker – I love that gold faceplate peeking out from under a nice hood. But the real money here is the exotic perk – it takes all your Golden Gun shots, and puts them into one singular shot. It does 6x damage, and over penetrates targets – this means that Golden Gun can actually take down majors and ultras. Obviously it’s not a PvP helmet, but in PvE, it’s a monster. Finally, we get to the only Bladedancer specific helmet – Mask of the Third Man. This Sam Fisher looker makes your Bladedancer abilities use less super energy. That means you get more attacks out of it, which is great in either PvP or PvE. I think it’s a little bit stronger as a PvP choice, but if you’re looking for a Bladedancer specific armor, you’re already limited.

Destiny Khepris Sting

Moving on to the gauntlets, we’re only looking at three pieces here. We’ll start with another of the rare Bladedancer pieces, the Don’t Touch Me gauntlets. This is one of a couple exotics that I haven’t actually used, so I could be a little off with the usefulness on the class here. They’re one of the least unique looking exotics out there – but they do have a nice perk going on here. When you take melee damage, you turn invisible – a nice little PvE perk, not so much in PvP. Again, with House of Wolves, we got another great invisibility focused set of gauntlets – the Khepri’s Sting. This is actually a subclass neutral choice – the invisibility granted isn’t tied to a talent grid. This means Gunslingers can take advantage of it. These arms have a ton of talents associated with them. The Invisibility is the start, bonus melee damage when backstabbing – and a hidden effect that adds Damage over Time for melee attacks. That’s a lot of value for a pretty solid armor piece. Add in a fantastic design and you have a winner. The last piece of arm armor is the Young Ahamkara’s Spine – again a really awesome looking piece of armor based on the Ahamkara. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible exotic perk – your Tripmine grenades last longer. Tripmines are good – doing a ton of damage – but they tend to be really situational, even in PvP. I wouldn’t use my exotic slot on these.

When we’re looking at chest armor, Hunters kind of get the short end of the stick here. There’s only two options here, and really both are pretty limited in their usage. First up is the Crest of Alpha Lupi – again. It’s got the same name as the Titan chest piece – and it has the same use. It helps you revive your teammates faster, and you make more orbs. Nice to have for Nightfalls and 3v3 PvP, but not really necessary. It does look real nice – I like the wolf head that’s on this in a more prevalent spot than on the Titan’s. The other choice here is the other major Bladedancer pick – Lucky Raspberry. I think this one is a lot more useful than Mask of the Third Man – it affects your Arcbolt grenade, making it chain longer. To me, those are more useful than Arc Blade – especially in PvE. Arc Blade is great in PvP, but only great for add clearing and invisible reviving in PvE. Arcbolt grenades are good for add damage, PvP kills and can stun majors and ultras. It might be a little plain in its design, but it’s a really great choice for your Hunter exotic, and does actually pair well with shaders.

Destiny Bones of Eao

Finally, we come to the leg armor for Hunters. Much like the other classes, Hunters didn’t have any exotics here in Vanilla Destiny. With Dark Below and House of Wolves they’ve gotten one piece from each DLC. Dark Below brought with it the Radiant Dance Machines – subclass neutral boots. They look really cool – there isn’t a ton of armor with a green color scheme, making them look even more unique. In terms of function though, it’s a little less exciting. They make you move faster. That’s it. Sure they pair well with MIDA Multi-tool for PvP play, but that’s about it. It’s definitely not a must have set-up for the vast majority of players or content. House of Wolves also brought a subclass neutral set of boots – the Bones of Eao. They are subclass neutral, but Gunslingers definitely benefit more from them, since they give you one extra jump. That means you can upgrade your Triple Jump to a Quad Jump. That’s a really cool messing around bonus, but for serious play, I don’t think it’s a must have. It can allow you to make some pretty crazy plays in PvP, but for longevity it’s not the best pick. Use them for a little bit to mess around and because they look cool, but that’s about it.

And that will wrap up a full week of looking at the exotic items that have been available to us in Year One in Destiny. We learned this week that some of these will be making the jump to The Taken King here in a couple weeks – we don’t know all of the exotics that are, but I think we probably know most of them, at least weapon-wise. There are still a couple weeks left in Year One to go out there and try to fill out your collections – even if you plan on sharding them, it’s worth grabbing them and holding on to them at least until the 2.0 Update.

Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Warlock

The Taken King Logo

Today we’re going to continue looking at each exotic item that’s available for players in Destiny Year One. We’ve already looked at the weapons and armor pieces that Titans can find; today let’s look at the Warlock choices. While the Titan has a possible exotic for each armor slot, Warlocks are limited to three of the four. There are no exotic boots for Warlocks, at least as of Year One. Like we did with the Titan, we’ll look at the items both from a form standpoint, as well as function.

Destiny The Ram

With that said, let’s start at the top with the helmets. Much like the Titan, Warlocks have plenty of options here. While technically most of the helmets are class neutral, Voidwalkers definitely benefit from just about every helmet. We’ll start with the Apotheosis Veil – one that is actually subclass neutral. The big selling point here is that you regenerate your health whenever you activate your super ability. With good orb generation, that’s pretty constant health regeneration. It’s a cool design, nothing super flashy, and one of a few exotics that actually will change colors with the shaders. It’s unfortunately overshadowed by plenty other exotic choices. Next up is the Light Beyond Nemesis – we briefly mentioned this yesterday when talking about the Year Two update. This is the Keeper of the Pack item – AKA the quick revive choice. If you absolutely have to use this on a Warlock, go for it; but in general, I think role is better suited to the other classes. Where this piece shines is the design – it’s definitely one of the cooler helmets in the game. A solid choice, but not the best possible perhaps. Our first subclass specific helmet came in The Dark Below and Voidwalkers rejoiced. Obsidian Mind is perhaps the most powerful Voidwalker specific armor piece. In certain situations, it can net you almost constant Nova Bombs, through the exotic perk that reduces cooldown based on kills with it. Add in Obsidian Mind looks super sleek with a jet black design and it was destined to be a clear winner; and really still can be. The other Voidwalker specific is the Skull of Dire Ahamkara. It’s another super cool design – I’m a fan of the exotics based on the Ahamkara lore. From a perk standpoint, it’s not terrible – you become even harder to kill while Nova Bombing, and your Energy Drain melee abilities are increased. However, all these helmets have been overshadowed with the addition of this last choice: The Ram. Added in with House of Wolves, The Ram is the only item in the game that allows you to innately push a stat over the cap – in this case, it’s your armor stat. In PvP, that’s an insane benefit (and one that Sunsingers can push even farther) – it lets you survive things that no one else can – sticky grenades in particular. If you’re playing Voidwalker, you can get extra benefits with it adding in Life Steal for all your melee attacks. And it looks as badass as possible, resulting in an exotic that has risen right to the very top of the charts.

Destiny Claws of Ahamkara

When we move to gauntlets, we get a little more subclass balance. There’s one neutral choice, and one for each subclass. That neutral choice would be the Claws of Ahamkara – the second Ahamkara based piece for Warlocks. Like the helmet, they have a pretty great design – simple, looking like it’s based around feathers almost. In terms of use they also may require you to look twice. I said repeatedly with the Titan that melee is a bad idea in end-game play; that’s not quite the case as a Warlock. The extra range they have helps keep them safe, and with Flame Shield on Sunsingers, you actually can get away with it. The Claws will give you a second charge on your melee ability – a solid overall choice in PvE or PvP. If it fits your playstyle, this is actually a really good choice. Voidwalkers just got access with the House of Wolves to their gauntlets – the Nothing Manacles. They look very similar to the Sunsinger choice – the Sunbreakers, just in purple. Both also impact a specific grenade in that subclass – Scatter for Voidwalkers, Solar for Sunsingers. The Nothing Manacles I think are the better choice here – they add tracking to the Scatter Grenade projectiles, in addition to giving you a second Scatter Grenade. The Sunbreakers merely extend your Solar Grenade duration – you really can only take advantage with this in specific builds and while Radianced.

Destiny Voidfang Vestments

With the chest armor, the subclass balance shifts the other way. Three of the four armor choices here are Sunsinger based – and that fourth choice really can actually benefit the Sunsinger just as much. We’ll start with The Heart of the Praxic Fire – one of the cooler looking chest pieces, even without applying shaders. However, the exotic perk, which further reduces cooldowns while using Radiance, actually doesn’t have a huge impact. Datto has a video going through the details, but basically even with a max discipline build, you’re probably only going to get one more grenade out. Not that huge of a boost. Next up, the final House of Wolves piece for Warlocks – the Purifier Robes. I love the design of these things – the bird looking emblem right at the breastplate really looks great, and really pops with Thunderdevil on. Unfortunately, their use is really quite limited. You can only get the disorient effect when you self-revive using Radiance. That means you have to die first. Add in a pretty small radius of effect, and even in PvP they pale compared with other choices. For example, the Dark Below chest piece, the Starfire Protocol. It provides you with a nice, simple bonus – a second Fusion Grenade. Sure you have to use a specific grenade, but in general, the Fusion Grenade is awesome across the board, especially in PvP. They look good on top of that, pairing well with a number of shaders. Finally, we come to one of the older armor pieces – the Voidfang Vestments. These were all over the place back in the early days, and really, I think they hold up even now. Yes, they’re technically for Voidwalkers – giving your Axion Bolt grenade an extra seeker – but they have a second bonus associated with them. Anytime you spawn, you have grenade energy; which is applied regardless of subclass. Continually spawning with Firebolt grenades as a Sunsinger is a really great tactic – especially in Skirmish/Elimination. I love the design on these things too – they change with shaders, just have a super ornate look, and it’s just all around a great armor choice.

Warlocks are in a really great spot here with exotic armor. There are a lot of really good choices from a gameplay standpoint, for both subclasses. Sure, there are some that are better than others, but there’s probably a perfect choice for just about any playstyle. I think this is something to keep an eye on as we move into Year Two – we know that a couple of these are moving forward with us, but how they’ll measure up to the new choices remains to be seen.

Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Titan

Yesterday we talked about the Exotic rarity weapons in the first year of Destiny, as we get closer to the launch of The Taken King and the start of Year Two. Today I want to continue the Exotic tour, with a post each day this week on the Exotic armor options for each class. There are plenty of different Exotic tier lists out there, that have gone through each armor piece in a bit more detail – my thought here more to offer an overall look at each classes’ options. We’ll talk both form and function with the armor, something I touched on yesterday with the weapons. We’ll start with the best class: The Titan.

Destiny Helm of Inmost Light

Let’s start at the top – the helmets. There are a pretty good number of options here for Titans to go collect, three that benefit the Striker subclass, the other two help the Defender. Strikers, despite have more options here, I think they don’t really have any one that is particularly amazing. I’m a huge fan of the Helm of Inmost Light – from a design standpoint, it’s one of the coolest pieces of armor out there. The light bursting out through the helmet just looks super badass. From a function standpoint, it’s one of the better options – mainly for PvP. Providing two boosts to Fist of Havoc is great – and opens up some nice build options. But it’s a strength stat helmet, and melee on the Titan is terrible as it stands now. An Insurmountable Skullfort, despite a cool name and cool design suffers from that very fact. It’s boost applies to the Striker’s melee attack – Stormfist – giving you Transfusion from the skill tree. Unfortunately, melee is super dangerous in end-game PvE content, and in PvP, the Titan punch is very much on the bottom level of melee attacks. The last Striker helmet – Eternal Warrior – is new, added in with House of Wolves. It adds a boost to the Fist of Havoc, giving you Unstoppable, keeping you alive while pounding the ground. In PvE it’s got some use – swarmed by Thralls, this could keep you alive through the super. In PvP, it’s definitely more useful, and could work since you can take Unstoppable and Shoulder Charge. On the design front though, Eternal Warrior is up there with Helm of Inmost Light – it’s such a cool looking armor piece. For Defenders, you’ve got two choices, but really from a gameplay standpoint, only one. The Glasshouse, introduced in Dark Below isn’t a terrible choice, giving you Illuminated, making your Blessing and Weapons of Light buffs last longer. It’s got a cool design, but when you compare it with the other Defender helmet, it just doesn’t quite measure up. That final helmet – The Helm of Saint-14 – is probably one of two pieces of Exotic armor any Titan needs to get. It’s exotic perk blinds any enemy that wanders into your Ward of Dawn. In PvE it’s super useful for crowd control. In PvP it can actually make Ward of Dawn somewhat offensive in nature. With a good stat roll, this armor can really make your Titan much more important to have on hand. Plus it looks pretty damn cool, giving you that awesome mohawk.

Destiny Ruin Wings

For gauntlets, Titans have three choices to pick from. One for each subclass, and one that’s neutral. The Strikers have the ACD/0 Feedback Fence, which was added with House of Wolves. It gives you some area of effect damage when you take melee damage. In PvE it’s not as strong as I thought it would be. In PvP, it can get you a kill or two here and there, but I wouldn’t build a set-up around it. These do look pretty badass, taking material off of the Warsats we’ve been defending in Public Events since Day One. Defenders have the No Backup Plans, which suffer from a similar problem to the Skullfort helmet – they boost the melee ability. Longer lasting Force Barrier is nice, since you don’t need to get a kill for it to activate; but again, melee in end-game is super dangerous, and in PvP you’re giving up range to the other classes. The look cool, especially if you have a shader like the Jester Apogee to get purple all over, but form along won’t make me use them over Saint-14. Finally, the subclass neutral choice would be the Ruin Wings. It’s great for PvE, giving you tons more heavy ammo drops, with more ammo in each drop. Now that Gjallarhorn was sold, and everyone will be using more heavy, these things are creeping up my usage list for sure. Add in that they look super badass, and pair well with a number of shaders/other armor pieces, and you’ve got a form and function armor piece.

Destiny Armamentarium

Chest pieces are where the Titans’ choices start to dip a bit. We’ve only got two choices, and they’ve been with us since launch. Neither is specific to a subclass, which makes them super flexible. The first, The Armamentarium, is one of the better all around picks for a Titan to go with. Double grenades are awesome – for both PvP and PvE – and this also gives you extra special and heavy ammo. Sure it looks a little less Sci-Fi than other Destiny items, but it fits with the actual function of the armor. I have been rolling with this pretty much exclusively since I got one with a good roll. The other choice, The Crest of Alpha Lupi, is the teamplay choice for a Titan. In end-game, if you aren’t running Defender, that probably means Arc Burn is on; and it also tends to mean you’re probably making life harder than it has to be. Defender is definitely the better end-game choice, and with Alpha Lupi you can complete the support class build. Saint-14 might be the more useful choice in certain situations (Crota’s End, Prison of Elders, early in Omnigul), but Alpha Lupi lets you get revives while sprinting which is tremendously useful boost. It looks good with the bright crest on the chest, and pairs with a bunch of shaders too. Again, I just got a better stat roll on my Lupi, and I always have mine on hand for Nightfalls/Raids/PoE runs.

Destiny Stand Asides

Finally, we come to the leg armor slot. Again, we only get two choices, but that’s better than Warlocks here. They were both added with the DLCs, so we’ve had progress as the game has evolved. First up, The Dark Below gave us the Mk. 44 Stand Asides. These jet black leg pieces look super slick, especially when paired with my Revenant shader. Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of their use. Having three extra seconds of Shoulder Charge is a pretty lame exotic perk. I’ve said it plenty here, but again, melee is super dangerous in end-game content. So in PvE it’s definitely not worth it, while in PvP it’s technically more useful, since Shoulder Charge is a one-hit kill; but there are absolutely better choices. The other choice, the Peregrine Greaves, are brand new, added with House of Wolves. These also impact the Shoulder Charge, in this case cranking up the damage up three-fold, but only when fired in midair. With the right mission modifiers, this is actually worth using. It can take out Fallen Walkers in one shot, and even bosses can be felled quickly. They have a pretty cool design too, looking sleek, and pairing well with Bittersteel or Chatterwhite. Are they worth using – sort of; am I going to take them over other exotics – hell no.

So there you have it – all the Year One Titan Exotic armor choices. We’ve got a whole bunch of options, spread over each armor slot. Of course, in practice, we really only have a few viable choices for end-game gear and PvP play. There are clear choices that are stronger than others. Saint-14, Armamentarium, Alpha Lupi and Ruin Wings are pretty much where you’re looking – anything else is pretty much just for messing around with, or needing to hit Level 34.

Destiny Exotic Weapons – What Makes Them Truly Special

Destiny XurJust in case you were away from the internet on Friday, Xur finally broke down and sold the best weapon in Destiny again this past weekend – Gjallarhorn. He sold it one other time way back in week 2, when the vast majority of players either didn’t have enough coins to grab it, or didn’t know how amazing a weapon it is. Now that the pendulum has swung back the other way and a huge chunk of players were able to pick up at least one of the “Destiny Nuke” I think it’s a good day to talk a little bit about those Gold Colored weapons. They’re the most coveted weapons in the game, and for good reason.

The Exotic items in Destiny are the carrot on the end of the proverbial stick for most players. Not only do they break up the homogenized designs of the current stock of items looks, but they all feature unique upgrades that help justify their usage. Those unique perks are also why you’re only allowed to equip one weapon and one armor piece at a time. Any more and gameplay balance would be destroyed – and some would argue that it already is by certain items. And that’s why certain Exotics are valued so highly by players – we’ve been chasing Thorn, Gjallarhorn, The Last Word, Icebreaker, Red Death, Bad Juju, and Truth since Day One. These are those weapons that have pushed past balanced and are pretty much indisputably over powered.

Destiny Thorn

What makes these ones that much stronger is the design of their signature perks, when compared with their weapon class. Thorn has insane range and accuracy, well beyond most hand-cannons’ along with the powerful damage-over-time; The Last Word has incredible hip-fire power, and a full-auto rate-of-fire that few, if any hand-cannons can touch. Icebreaker takes special ammo completely out of the equation, allowing a much more conservative approach to just about any encounter. Red Death is pretty much the best answer to Thorn’s DoT in PvP play, and is just the best all around pulse rifle with a sweet spot in all stats. Bad Juju is the other style pulse rifle – fast rate of fire, full-auto fire, and you don’t have to worry about reloading it with its exotic perk. Add in that perk increases your super ability cooldown, and it works in both PvP and PvE. Gjallarhorn’s Wolfpack Rounds melt any boss encounter trivial by ensuring the maximum amount of damage possible; while Truth makes just about any shot a guarantee with aggressive tracking and proximity detonation, a combo that only appears on its exotic counterpart Gjallarhorn.

Destiny Invective Shotgun

There are other, less OP examples in the mix too. SUROS Regime has a health regenerating perk that no other auto-rifle can touch, along with stats that push it to the top of the weapon class. Vex Mythoclast, in addition to being a fusion rifle as a primary, functions like an auto-rifle much more so than a fusion rifle. The MIDA Multi-Tool is just what it says – a multi-tool – that is a great scout rifle, and makes you move faster in ways that can put this up there in the top level of PvP weapons. Invective does similar things to Icebreaker, just in a shotgun form. And it’s in these perks that we as a playerbase determine value and worth in our exotics.

That’s where the difficulty lies on Bungie’s side. They need to figure out a perk that is worthy of being called Exotic, without making it completely gamebreaking. It’s not a sure thing though. No Land Beyond could have been a pretty cool weapon – I think it’s a super design that’s killed by game mechanics: no ammo, and the exotic perk (bonus precision damage) is pretty lame. Hard Light is in a similar boat – it looks pretty spectacular compared with the rest of the auto-rifle group, at least until we see more Omolon guns. But with auto-rifles already weak, especially the max rate-of-fire, min impact variety, and an exotic perk that combines two low-level perks (Armor Piercing and Ricochet Rounds) into one mid-tier perk, there are plenty better options. Pocket Infinity should have been cool – a fusion rifle where the penalty for missing is removed by allowing a longer burst – is killed by a decreasing damage output and super low ammo count.

Super Good Advice

Then there are the exotics that have good value, but just can’t quite break into the top level. Super Good Advice has its uses – breaking detainment in the Vault of Glass and Quodron’s fight, along with shooting tons in PvP – but it’s just not worth using over other exotics, especially in the heavy slot. Thunderlord, while better in just about every regard, suffers from similar problems: Truth and Gjallarhorn are both better exotic choices. I do like that Thunderlord offers a great Arc heavy option, and for Arc Burn missions fits perfectly with Fatebringer/Praedyth’s Timepiece-Found Verdict builds. Plan C is easily the best pure fusion rifle in the game – an instant shot when switching to it is killer in PvE and PvP, but fusion rifles are weak right now, and I wouldn’t take it over others. Patience and Time fills a different role from Icebreaker, in that I think it’s a bit better in PvP with it’s lower recoil per shot, and giving you invisibility. You’ll note that I haven’t talked about Hawkmoon and Monte Carlo here – I play on the Xbox One, so I have no hands-on with them. In truth, the only vanilla exotic I’m missing is Hard Light, but my fireteam has it, so I’ve seen it in action.

As DLC has been added in to Destiny, we’ve gotten a grand total of six new exotics – three in each, although one is PlayStation exclusive still. The problem is none are really worth taking over older ones – it’s a problem that has plagued Destiny in all facets of the game. Dragon’s Breath is a pretty good DPS rocket launcher – especially with bosses that don’t move much thanks to the sunspots it produces with the exotic perk – but Gjallarhorn is better. Nechrochasm, the only arc exotic primary, is obtained through a long process of evolving a common weapon through the course of Dark Below content, all the way through Crota’s End. Unfortunately, it’s terrible. It’s a bullet hose auto-rifle, so that’s strike one; strike two is a low ammo count; and it strikes out with an exotic perk that could be cool – producing Cursed Thrall explosions on precision kills – but is unreliable in practice. Forth Horseman is a PS exclusive shotgun, and honestly seems pretty solid. The House of Wolves exotics suffer from a similar problem to Nechrochasm – they’re only obtained through the Exotic Cipher, which is only obtained sometimes from the level 35 Prison of Elders Skolas fight. On top of that – they aren’t anything spectacular. Lord of Wolves is probably the best pick – a shotgun that functions like a pulse rifle, hits like a truck, has lots of ammo, and has a perk that helps reduce companions cooldowns – but I tend to use it only when I’m messing around. Queensbreaker’s Bow is cool from a far; but in practice, it’s too slow, does too little damage, and just really doesn’t feel special. Dreg’s Promise is the exotic sidearm, and is pretty much the sidearm version of Hard Light – it looks cool, but it’s just not good.

So from a gameplay standpoint it’s easy to see why certain weapons are used and other are dismantled right away. But to me, the other side of the exotic weapons is the design of the weapons. Each one has a unique look and its own backstory. There’s more work and effort put into these guns than the vendor weapons found at the Tower. And that’s a side that really can’t be quantified. It’s easy to say why those top-tier weapons are there gameplay-wise. From that same standpoint, it’s easy to dismantle Pocket Infinity. But Pocket Infinity looks really cool, and you have to go through a pretty in-depth process to get it. To me, it’s a show-off piece, and points to one one thing I wish Destiny would put in the game. Bungie likes to downplay the RPG/MMO side of Destiny, but moving forward I think they really need to start embracing it. One thing that they could do that I think would go over great with the players is adding in some kind of social space that each player calls their own. Whether it’s a room on the Tower or actually making use of those jumpships we’ve got on the loading screen, either works. I would love some private social space where I can display my exotics, connect to the bounty board, maybe some day read those Grimoire cards. But that’s the beauty of Destiny as it exists now – it’s clearly going through some evolution, and that’s the most exciting thing as a fan.