Destiny: Rise or Iron Final Prep Tips

Destiny Rise of IronWe’re in the final couple weeks before Rise of Iron launches on the 20th, with the 2.4 patch live in Destiny now. I’ve seen a bunch of different Destiny community heads talking over the last few weeks about how to prep for the new expansion. So I thought I’d share how I’ve been prepping for the launch.

In-game, it’s been finishing up my exotic class item goal. I have all three Faction Titan marks, and one of the Faction items on each of my alts. Since grinding to level 25 has been a bit of a slog up until recently with the better rep gains, I never really intended to get all nine right away. I’ll aim for finishing the collection moving through Rise or Iron. It’s the same with the exotic swords – I have one already and just need to run the strike on the other two, I just haven’t gotten to it. And honestly beyond that, my whole time playing has just been because I like the game. Once I finished my Iron Banner weapon suite with the last event, I focused more on just enjoying the game, especially since I finished the Moments of Triumph. Since the time on those is really coming to a deadline, I would say that should be your primary focus for sure.

My advise beyond that is pretty simple. Make sure you have a good stockpile of materials – weapon and armor parts, planetary materials, Motes of Light and Strange Coins. If you want to, you can certainly edge your Factions to level them as sson as Rise of Iron launches for a quick boost. But the most important thing is to not burn yourself out – don’t play because you feel like you have to. Take a break, play something else in the meantime. Overwatch is free play on console this weekend, give that a shot. Watch some college football or NFL this weekend. Don’t burn out on Destiny before the expansion even launches. That’s really the most important bit of “prep” advise I can give.

Destiny: Rise of Iron Patch 2.4 Notes

Destiny Rise of IronAfter I wrote up my thoughts on the weapon balance changes coming with the 2.4 patch for Destiny, Bungie released the full patch notes before maintenance ended and the patch went live. Much like with the weapon changes, there’s a lot here that I think is a really good thing, and a couple other parts that could need more time to really nail down.

First, my favorite change in the patch has to do with Public Events. Back in Year One, they were something we chased down – hell, destinypublicevents.com was bookmarked by many a player in order to find them easier. They were rewarding, there was often a Vanguard bounty for finishing a few of them, and honestly, they were just fun to do. With The Taken King, they changed – only netting you a handful of Motes of Light, and no more Vanguard bounties to do. Well we don’t know about a returning bounty yet, but completing that first Gold Public Event is about to get a lot more rewarding. You’ll still get Motes of Light and XP, but on top of that you’re earn Legendary Marks and a Legendary Engram. We don’t know if that’s per character or account, but either way, a guaranteed legendary is always a good thing, especially with loot 2.0 from April. That, along with the new patrol zone when it opens up, really should help populate Patrol as a mode again. It’s not exactly the Loot Cave, but it’s a great way to get a quick upgrade.

The other really big change that I like is that Legendary weapon Engrams aren’t going to drop from post-game Crucible results anymore. Instead of getting weapon engrams, you will earn the Crucible specific weapons – Eyasluna, Red Spectre, those weapons. They’ve also fixed the drop rates on the Crucible ships as well – although that was an unannounced change in the patch notes. We know about new cosmetic options – sparrows, ghosts, shaders, ships – so having those drops rates actually working is a great thing.

If there’s anything about the patch that I’m not high on, it’s that engrams have been decrypting a little lower than I was expecting. I had blues that were decrypting at 240 or so, which is easily 60 Light below what I was getting before the patch. It could just be because at this point Year Two items are officially legacy gear, so they’ll be lower across the board; or it could be a little bug. We probably have to wait until the 20th to know for sure. I think pretty much everything else is a good move. The changes to the Crucible modes Elimination and Salvage are exactly what they need to keep them competitive. One heavy spawn helps fight camping and drives the action towards that ammo crate’s spawn. The new scoring in Salvage should push people to actually play the objective since you get rewarded more for captures now. There are a couple more little tweaks and additions I like – previewing the exotic weapon ornaments, Banshee selling armor materials, previewing a couple new shaders, and knowing that exotic boots are decrypting above 335 along with the Trespasser dropping from special weapon engrams is cool. It’s a great taste of what we can expect from Rise of Iron in just over a week now.

Destiny: Rise of Iron – Weapon Patch Notes

Destiny Rise of IronWe’re starting to get really close to the launch of Rise of Iron, the third (and potentially final) expansion to Destiny. Today the game is going under some scheduled maintenance for a good portion of the day putting in place the 2.4.0 build in advance of the assumed 3.0 Rise of Iron build. While the game is down though, Bungie is putting out the patch notes online in two waves. The weapon balance changes are live now, and the full patch notes will be up later this afternoon. In general, I think we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the patch note side of things – removal of Spectral Treasure, addition of the new Silver Dust inventory, I’m guessing this is where the Iron Banner changes will happen too under the hood. The weapon patch though was one that the community has been waiting for since June – and there are some really interesting changes coming forward.

The patch notes start off with changes to Exotic weapons – and this is really where the first shining change lives. Universal Remote, a current bane of the Crucible, is getting hit with a little nerf. It’s not quite as strong as maybe I would have liked, having been on the wrong end of one tons over the last weeks, but it’s a great move. The range, which is Universal Remote’s strength, is getting taken down a bit (75% with the exotic perk) no longer ensuring it reaches max range. It’s also seeing a rate of fire increase, bringing a little damage drop – which is honestly always been my biggest hurdle with the high power shotguns, slow handling/RoF. I love these moves, hopefully they help put Universal Remote back into a better spot. Other exotics got changes too – Fabian Strategy is going to be useful finally, thanks to bringing the Zhalo Supercell reload perk to it, and a range and stability increase. Thorn, which is returning in Rise of Iron, needs to be watched carefully to keep it from returning to the top – and reducing the range 25% should help. Dreg’s Promise is also going to be useful with a damage increase on top of the sidearm changes. Boolean Gemini is going to surprise a lot of people I think – it was already a super balanced weapon that I think flew under the radar, with native High Caliber Rounds just makes hit a little harder in Crucible play; the No Time to Explain change is similar -take the weapon’s identity and reinforce it with a native perk, in this case Headseeker. My one complaint with the Exotic changes is with Touch of Malice – it’s the best King’s Fall weapon for boss damage, especially since I play Titan. Well, that’s going to change since the new Touch of Malice will negate Blessing of Light. It sucks, but it will just mean that raid teams will need to figure out new strategies for ogres and Light Eater Knights.

Destiny Thorn

Out of the weapon archetype changes, there’s a couple things to look at. First is the changes to snipers. Right now, they’re way too easy to use in Crucible with limited repercussions. Well, that’s changing a bit – the biggest thing I’ve wanted to come to snipers is finally happening – there’s a noticeable increase in aim flinch coming. Countering snipers with scout and pulse rifles is going to be a lot better of an experience. Beyond that, they’re doubling down on making the three rifle archetypes feel unique – the max impact/low RoF class is going to be the only one capable of consistently taking down Supered guardians with high armor; mid/mid class rifles are the most balanced, and high/low have the most aim assist still. The other real big changes in terms of a weapon class lie with the sidearms. Right now, they’re a real under the radar weapon – they can shine super bright in the Crucible, but lack a little in PvE play. I have found myself really liking one on my Hunter just because of the movement style. After the patch, sidearms will have more unified damage, a slightly longer range, a little better stability, and will have a PvE damage increase. With snipers being a less forgiving weapon, shotguns spreading around a bit hopefully, and fusion rifles staying more or less where they are, I could definitely see a well rolled sidearm being a must have with a Crucible loadout. There are a couple other changes coming – shotguns that are the higher rate of fire will have a better place in the overall meta. Mid-rate of fire auto rifles are also getting a damage boost, as are mid/mid pulse rifles, giving players plenty more options. A well rolled Shadow Price or Grim Citizen is going to be great again; and that Nirwen’s Mercy from forever ago is going to be a beast again.

Out of all the notes in the patch, the only thing that I think is a little bit of a misstep is with rocket launchers. Yes, Grenades and Horseshoes is getting a nerf, which it needed; and Cluster Bombs, which I’ve always thought was underrated, is getting a buff. But Truth is being left out of the Grenades and Horseshoes change – it’s unaffected by it. All that does is just ensure that if you use a rocket launcher, it’s going to be Truth. In an attempt to create variety, I think it’s just killed it in the heavy slot; especially when you think about the Legendary options in the primary and special slots and how you don’t really need an Exotic like in Year One. Maybe I’m wrong and Truth won’t be as effective, or other rolled rockets will stand out, but for now I don’t think that’s what will happen. The rest of the weapon balance changes though I think are great steps in the right direction – they look like they’re really looking to bring variety back into the Crucible, which has certainly been a little stagnant lately. The one thing that remains to be seen is just how the new Rise or Iron weapons will fit in with these changes. We know about a couple new ones from the patch notes – new high rate of fire sidearms and low rate of fire hand cannons – but exotics are still mysteries in many cases. This is probably the last major communication we’ll get from Bungie before launch – maybe we find out about a final Iron Banner next week in today’s update. I would think that Rise of Iron has to be pretty much completed – it’s officially time to prep for launch.

Doom – A Game Out of Time in All the Right Ways

Doom 2016Last night I finished up all of the achievements for the base set in DOOM, wrapping up one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a game in quite a while. From top to bottom, I think this was the most fun I’ve had with a shooter in years – giving games like Destiny and Call of Duty a run. While it’s still fresh on my mind, I thought I’d put down a couple things that kept popping up as I was playing it.

Maybe more than anything else, I couldn’t help but think that this game is exactly what an FPS game would look like if the advances of the last 10 years or so hadn’t happened. This is what a classic FPS game should look and play like. It’s a direct line of progression from the classic id shooters – taking what has always worked and adding in a couple sprinkles of modernity to foster exploration and completion. I kept thinking that this was exactly what DOOM should be – not trying to shoehorn in a convoluted story, or contrived RPG elements; it’s fast, it’s brutal, it rewards execution and precision and has just enough bells and whistles to keep you looking in all the nooks and crannies. It’s a classic style FPS boiled down to the most important elements, and done so, so well.

That feeling that DOOM thrives on is possible because of how well the game plays. Maybe there were a handful of times I felt like the controls or mechanics didn’t work for me – the only one that jumps out at me is when the mantling didn’t take. You’re rarely in a position where those traversal elements actually factor into a fight though. Instead the combat is built around the foundation of all FPS games – circle-strafing and jumping. No aiming down sights, no thrust packs and sliding – just point, shoot, strafe repeat. The additions that 2016 brings – weapon mods/masteries, Praetor suit upgrades, Hell Runes and Glory Kills – all just add in a couple new layers of depth to the combat. And that combat is as brutal as brutal can get. DOOM certainly earns its M rating, but not through heady themes like drugs or sex – no, this is a pure, blood-caked, innards coated romp through Hell. The Glory Kills in particular are so over the top it’s incredible – there are a handful of animations I found myself chuckling at as my gruff Doomguy ripped and teared. It’s a game that is so self aware without showing it – some games like to give that little wink to the player, this one just knows exactly what it is and goes about its business. It’s challenging, it’s a love letter to the early days of the genre and at the end of the day, it’s a damn fun game. If you have yet to play it, and have any interest at all in FPS games – especially the foundation of the genre – this is the perfect game to get.

Battlefield 1 Open Beta Weekend Impressions

Battlefield 1EA continued the their pre-release shooter content with an Open Beta for October’s Battlefield 1, starting this past weekend and going through this Thursday. I put in a good chunk over the weekend, both solo queue and with a buddy and thought I’d put down a couple things. It’s a beta and there are certainly a couple little quirks about it – mainly in regards to loading post-match screens and loading into games – but there’s more good than bad here.

To me, the most important thing that this beta had to do was do what the Titanfall 2 Tech Demo didn’t – feel like a logical progression in the franchise. Where Titanfall 2 felt like it was lacking in that identity, Battlefield 1 very much feels like a Battlefield game. If you’re coming into this game from a more arena-style FPS standing, you will struggle a bit with the learning curve. This isn’t a fast paced game – the sheer scale of the maps prevents that from happening. Games take a good chunk of time, and it’s entirely possible to play entire games without seeing huge portions of the map. Weapons may kill quickly – the time to kill is certainly faster than some shooters, but you do have a little downtime before a respawn. If, on the other hand, you’re a Battlefield series vet, you’ll feel right at home – especially if you’ve played the early games in the series. I said after E3 that this one evoked the same feeling that Battlefield 1942, the first game in the franchise, did for me. Now that I’ve had a little time to play the game I think that comparison still stands. It feels like a natural progression for the series – the same parts of the original game that made it so much different from the rest of the FPS scene still are there, while the advances in the genre over the last 13 years that DICE has picked up feel at home in the game.

What is less important about this beta to me are the nitty gritty details about things like the weapons or gadgets and vehicles. Sure, it helps a little to know about how the rifles behave with bullet drop and damage-per-shot; and it certainly is important to know how to counter the vehicles whether you’re in one or on foot. But ultimately, those are the things that matter more in the final release. For now, I was much more interested in finding a couple weapons/classes that I liked playing and just getting in as many games as possible. I would say that my biggest issue with the minor details like that has been that spotting enemies feels a lot more hit-and-miss than previous games. As a mediocre sniper, I really take advantage of spotting enemies for my teammates to finish off, and even when I use the spotting scope in this one, sometimes they don’t get marked – and if they do, they don’t stay marked for long. Maybe it’s just a quirk of the beta, but compared with Hardline and Battlefield 4 – the two most recent entries in the series – it hasn’t felt nearly as consistent. Where I think Battlefield always shines is the atmosphere it creates. There aren’t many shooters that actually feel like a huge battle – Titanfall did to an extent, and Halo can with big teams – but Battlefield has always felt just like its title says. And because a huge part of that atmosphere is due to the scale and scope of the matches, this is one game where I really think you need at least a friend or two to play with. Playing solo the other night was not fun – my spots were going unfinished, even in a squad, and it felt hard to get into a rhythm. Playing with my buddy from college though was the total opposite – we were consistently finishing off each others targets, holding down Conquest points (frequently just us two together) and routinely placing in the top quarter/third of the leaderboard. Running two snipers and communicating made holding down the B Flag not only possible as a duo, but just a ton of fun. You have a pretty surprising view of a lot of the battle from B – you can easily see and snipe to A, C, and D flags as well as the intervening portions of the map, in particular the village. After a bunch of games on this one Sinai Desert map, I feel like holding B and C might be the key to a Conquest victory as they give you a really good amount of map access and overwatch. Good snipers – AKA not me – can easily post up near B and snipe all the way across to the rocks near F and G Flags. While they can’t hit the actual Conquest points, they can provide some cover from enemy snipers in those rocks – in fact, the only point that they can’t see at all from B is E Flag which in my experience so far has had the least combat, but the most vehicle combat.

Battlefield 1 is coming into a crazy packed launch season this fall with a lot of hype. EA has really been pushing it since its spring announcement, perhaps knowing that it’s going to really be competing with two Call of Duty games this year. Based off of essentially a week of play, I do think that there’s definitely something here. It’s reminding me a lot of the new DOOM game from earlier this year, which I just finished the other night. Both games are clear examples of taking what worked exceptionally well in their early entries and finding ways to work in modern touches. They’re great examples of progression within a franchise without abandoning the identity of the series, which is no easy feat. If the full game is as strong as EA keeps saying, Battlefield 1 could do very, very well this fall.

Titanfall 2 – Tech Test Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Destiny – August Iron Banner Takeaways

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

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

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