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 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 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.

Destiny Rise of Iron: Quick Predictions

DestinyBungie day is tomorrow – 7/7 – which is always a really fun time for fans of their games. In the past, they’ve had online Halo tournaments with fans, and since Destiny launched, they’ve used it as a day to share relatively big news. We know tomorrow we’re officially learning what the Year Two Moments of Triumph will be – even though they were data mined a couple weeks back. But we might also get a couple little bits of Rise of Iron news – Bungie said they wanted to talk about it all summer, and it’s really been about a month since any real info was shared. The E3 buzz fleshed out a few details – no physical edition, no special edition, along with the mentality that Bungie is approaching this expansion with – but the community is rabid for more details. I’ve seen a good number of videos from the bigger Destiny names on YouTube – Datto, Byf, Gothalion and Broman – all have been talking about various elements that they are expecting/hoping to see in Rise of Iron.

So I thought I would put down a couple of my own thoughts about it going in to Bungie Day, then tomorrow we’ll digest what Bungie actually shares. The first big thing to look at is the Light Level increase – we know we’re getting a substantial increase with Rise of Iron, but Bungie at last glance was still tweaking the number. My money is on a cap of 400 – that gives them a couple milestones to let players hit along the way to the raid. It’s also a good jump, and I think 450 or 500 would just be too big of a gap to clear. As it is right now, the effective cap is 330 – that’s the level where all the reward packages cap out, and it’s where the difficulty caps out. So right at Rise of Iron launch, that can give Bungie a real easy place to assume where the majority of players will be, and plan out the 70 light beyond that. One thing that I’ve seen all over the subreddit lately too is the desire for light to be removed from class armor. I think it’s just because the paths to 335 on class armor are relatively limited – Challenge of Elders cumulative score RNG, and the end-game RNG drops: raid, Iron Banner, and Trials of Osiris. There are the strike specific loot drops too, but that’s only for Titans and Hunters – there isn’t a Warlock Bond in the current loot pool. For me, a better move would just be to open up the loot pool – make it so those class items can drop from more sources. It all just comes back to my biggest hope – more options across the board from an armor standpoint, both functionally and visually.

Destiny Rise of Iron

Which is a good way to think moving in to the next point I want to hit – choice. I’ve been saying this all the way since House of Wolves, the more options that Bungie gives players, the better the game will be. HoW did that with the infusion, meaning that any legendary armor could be end-game gear. I saw a lot more variety in the guardians during those first few weeks, until everyone started chasing the perfect weapon rolls and we went back to the “everyone uses the same gear” spot. Over the last couple months, really since April, we’ve started to see that again with Chroma and 1:1 infusion – you don’t have to wear raid gear, or grind raid gear, to be at the light cap. If they just keep giving players different ways to be at the cap, it will help keep the game fresh, even if it’s just from a visual standpoint. I think we get lost talking about stats and perk rolls because those directly impact performance; but visuals are actually important too – if everything is the same over and over again, you lose that drive and excitement. When your guardian looks different from the same gear you see in every match in the Crucible, I think that helps keep players connected and engaged. I would definitely expect to see plenty more Chroma compatible gear, along with other ways to customize your guardian, maybe using the SIVA tech being introduced.

I think when we start thinking gear and the quality of life stuff that comes with it, there really isn’t a lot that should be shocking. Moving on from last gen consoles should, in theory at least, free up some more space in the vault, or more collections in the Tower – maybe even for the raid gear that I’ve seen the community talking about plenty. We know that all of the inventory for the vendors will cycle through, with new designs for the armor and new archetypes for the weapons. What I would like to see is maybe a couple new vendors pop up – or even better have rotating stock for the main vendors. We saw how having one vendor weapon with a top level roll (the old vendor Hawksaw) can impact the Crucible sandbox on a pretty major scale. I think the prevalence of weapons like the PDX/Hawksaw/Grasp all goes back to the Hawksaw being sold at the Tower. Having a rotating stock – even if it’s just rerolling the perks on the weapons/armor should help keep one roll from dominating. It also would make the currency feel more valuable – as it is right now, Legendary Marks don’t really mean anything for me. I save up to 200, then dump them on either an exotic to complete my collection, or put them into planetary materials. If you make the rolls change – daily or weekly – you make the decision to buy a bigger one. Add in, hopefully, new vendors and the economy shifts pretty substantially. Now, for the hardcore/dedicated players, that economy won’t change too much – mainly because the variety is still limited just because of the pieces Destiny uses. But for the vast majority of players, keeping the vendors always changing would keep them always having potential power.

One last thing that I really hope we’ll see is in the Crucible – we know we’re getting a new mode, but not what that mode is yet. I doubt we’ll learn that tomorrow – I think Bungie will have a whole reveal stream dedicated to the Crucible changes in advance of Rise of Iron. But I’d love to see some kind of new mode that isn’t end-game, just a new way to play. I think there are two front runners – Capture the Flag and Infection. Infection makes sense based on the overall theme of Rise of Iron, while CTF fits more with the nature of the Crucible and Iron Banner in general. I fully expect some kind of balance changes before launch too – potentially two, since we’ve had two major patches since April, and August would fit with that schedule. They may just wait until launch though. There’s a lot of talk about the possibility of custom matches – it’s certainly possible, since they’ve said we’re getting new features – but I think it’s a longshot. I think what’s more likely is some kind of distinction for social and ranked playlists. I could even see ranked playlists being a new potential end-game option. What I think is a given though is that we’ll see a pretty sizable shake-up in the Crucible, especially given the focus on the Iron Lords and their involvement with the Crucible already.

There’s certainly still a lot to talk about with Rise of Iron. Bungie will I’m sure talk about it in some capacity tomorrow for Bungie Day, but there’s still a good two full months of time for them to tweak things and build the hype up the way they want to. That said, Destiny is in a pretty damn solid spot – there are plenty of fun activities in the game, and just as many that reward you with good loot. We may be in a content drought right now, but the content that is there is as solid as it ever was.

Bungie Day 2015 and Some Other Thoughts Bouncing Around

Today – July 7 – is Bungie Day. They’ve celebrated the day for as long as I can remember, thanks to their good old love for the number 7. In celebration this year, they’ve got a pretty cool looking emblem available for players of Destiny Year One. The catch is that you have to actually earn it, by going through and earning Moments of Triumph. Each one is a high point in the first year of Destiny. They range from simple ones like finishing the story missions, hitting level 20 and getting all 20 of the Golden Chests; to more involved tasks like finishing both raids on Hard Mode, and taking down Skolas at level 35. It’s a cool way to add in some incentive for players who may have missed one or two Moments along the way. In terms of actual in-game updates, players will have to wait a little longer.

Fallout 4 Box Art

As I continue to get more and more excited about Fallout 4‘s launch, I got thinking about something that Todd Howard said during the E3 showcase. At the very beginning of the show, he mentioned that player freedom is still Bethesda’s number one desire. That got me thinking about player freedom in general. What I came up with was that there are really two schools of doing it in gaming. First is something along how Minecraft goes, and how it looks like No Man’s Sky will go about it. There’s is no structure to the narrative at all –  you start, with a vague objective (get diamonds/survive, or reach the center of the universe) and that’s all the game gives you. The rest is totally player driven. The other way is more structured, built more around player choice than anything – games like Grand Theft Auto, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout. There’s a strong variance there, in terms of just how much freedom the games provide, versus the structure of the games.

I’ve gotten to the point now where I have a certain perspective for player choice that’s been shaped over the last few years. When it’s present in a game like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, the outcome doesn’t quite have the same impact. In Mass Effect for example, you can play as a “bad guy” – Renegade. But the outcome of the story’s narrative is still a happy ending. Contrast that with Fallout: New Vegas, where you can play as a truly amoral character – and still have a story outcome that fits, through the Legion storyline. Even in Fallout 3, which I think is a bit more narrow focused, there’s a clearly “bad” ending, by siding with the Enclave. That presence of consequence, combined with choice makes those games a bit of a different beast.

Neither option is inherently better – I love the Mass Effect/Dragon Age style games, just as much as Elder Scrolls/Fallout. And when I hear the game director for Fallout 4 saying that their taking player choice and consequence more seriously, it makes me think that we’re getting about as close to the edge for narrative-driven player freedom games as we can. One of the issues I’ve been having in New Vegas is trying to make sure I do quests in the right order to minimize the amount of failed quests due to picking a side. That happens to be one of the main points of focus for Fallout 4 – finding ways to avoid failing quests through other quests’ completion. It not only helps the narrative, but also opens up the possibilities for story-telling. Now the hardest part is waiting until November to really find out how well they do with it.