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.

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Destiny April Update Reveal Stream Three – Playing in the Sandbox

DestinyBungie’s final reveal stream for the April Update for Destiny just wrapped up, and today was all about changes to the game-world in Destiny. Bungie calls it the sandbox, a lot of the community calls it the meta, all it really boils down to is how players interact with the game world around them. Bungie talked today about weapons, ammo, revives and Warlocks. Let’s hit a couple important bits.

The big changes to the Crucible really revolve around keeping games competitive more often. A big factor to that is revives in the 3-man modes, especially Trials. The update is bringing a slower revive time, as well as adding a strong penalty to revive timers in Trials of Osiris. The big thing is that the quick revive exotics no longer will let you sprint through and revive – you need to actually sit there for the revive. The overshield granted is also weakened, which should limit the revive push back a little. What wasn’t changed, or at least didn’t appear to be changed, was the potential for revive snipes – which is a big sticking point for me to steer clear of Trials. The other big economy change to the Crucible is with the ammo situation. Special ammo, which was removed from match start in a previous patch, is back now since players were working around that with some weapon exploits. I like bringing it back, especially in conjunction with the other changes to special ammo and weapons. The ammo crates spawn in later – three minutes into the match – and spawn less frequently. It means that using your special weapon is more of a choice – you need to pick and choose your shots. The same idea can be applied to heavy ammo – no more grabbing one crate, and holding down the map until the second spawn. There’s now only going to be one heavy ammo crate per game now. It puts a hell of a lot more emphasis on team work to grab that heavy, and spread that heavy around the team. Overall, I like the general changes – I’m sure that there’s a few more details we’ll see tomorrow in the update notes tomorrow of course. When you look at the changes to the crucible, and combine them with the weapon and Warlock changes, I think the Crucible is going to be a lot more friendly an environment to play in, especially since the rewards are going to be increased.

Destiny Thorn

The main point that I was looking forward to seeing today was the weapon balance tweaks. The current weapon meta has been pretty stagnant since December I think – especially in the Crucible. What we saw today was a lot of little changes, but ones that I think will have some substantial impact. The overall archetype changes I think hit the ones that needed them most – bullet hose auto rifles, the super slow autos, slow pulse rifles,  fusion rifles, snipers and hand cannons. I think each one got what they needed, with the exception of maybe a little accuracy boost I would have liked for the hand cannons. A bunch of specific weapons got tweaks that needed them as well – especially exotics. Thorn finally got the DoT nerf that I think it always needed. Suro Regime finally I think has become the dual option weapon it was intended to be. Icebreaker was pushed even farther to being a support weapon. The big surprise on the exotic front was Dreg’s Promise. It was possibly the worst weapon in Year One, utterly underwhelming. It’s gone under the knife and come out a totally different looking weapon. Gone are the ricochet rounds that were pretty terrible as an exotic perk, replaced with tracking shots, similar to what can roll on rocket launchers. I thought immediately of Bungie’s first tracking bullet weapon, the Needler from Halo. It’s not quite on that level, but seeing it in action was pretty impressive. It looks like a legitimate weapon choice now. I think the big overall theme with the weapon balance pass was all about options. It’s really clear that Bungie doesn’t want there to be one or two ways to play the game – both in PvE and PvP. That’s what Gjallarhorn is gone. It’s why Icebreaker got left behind. It’s why Thorn is getting looked at, again, now. The more options there are, the better the game is – variety is never a bad thing in a shooter.

Destiny Warlock

The last thing Bungie talked about today were the Warlock subclasses. Back in December, Titans got a overhaul, taking the subclasses used the least -Defender in PvP, and Striker in PvE – and adjusted them so that they aren’t detriments. This time around, it’s the Warlock. Nothing super crazy was adjusted – on any of the subclasses – just small adjustments that bring each subclass closer to the role that Bungie wants for them. Stormcaller had Stormtrance brought back a little bit, meaning you have to pick and choose when to use it more. Sunsingers had Radience tweaked a bit – banking it with Fireborn means it’s a shorter duration, but using it more offensively will give you a couple more grenades now. Flame Shield also got a little bit of a nerf, which as a Titan I really appreciate. No more melee powerhouse Sunsingers. Voidwalkers didn’t get a huge change – really their energy drain powers were where the focus was. Crank that up so that it’s giving you more energy, and really building your class around those perks is what the Voidwalker is all about now. You’re shooting for extra Nova Bombs, and these changes will help. I like the changes all around – nothing that seems like it’ll kill a subclass in PvP, and nothing that really hurts any of them in PvE. Honestly, going in to the stream, I felt like the Warlocks were in a pretty good spot. The little tweaks were all that really needed to be done – I think Hunters still need work, especially in PvE; and as a Titan, I always want a little more range on my punch. That said, the subclasses are closer than they’ve ever been I think, although hopefully we don’t need to wait too long for the Hunter pass.

Destiny: The Taken King – The Return of Iron Banner and How It Feels So Far

Destiny Lord Saladin

This week marked the return of Lord Saladin to the Tower for the first time since the launch of The Taken King for Destiny. For the new players, Lord Saladin’s appearance means that the Iron Banner is live – and that PvP is a whole different ball game. On the surface, it might not seem like a big change – you only can play Control and it’s only 6v6. That really isn’t the big deal though – Iron Banner is one of only two Crucible modes where your Light score will actually matter. Going in with gear that isn’t powerful can absolutely mean you’re in for a long game. That matters more than ever and it isn’t because of anything specific that Bungie did with the power curve. It’s because this is is the first Post-2.0 Patch Iron Banner.

Destiny Thorn

New players won’t really get why we talk so much about weapon balancing and meta game. They’ll never know the futility of fighting a team of Thorn/Last Word users, or going back further, Suros/Vex users. They only have a small taste of the power of shotguns – and won’t know the frustration of dealing with 15 ft. kill zones with them. They may even think that Titans have always been the go-to Crucible class and that Sunbreakers are just more of the same. I wish that was true. Veterans know all too well that Hunters and Warlocks used to have the Crucible in their grasp, with Thorn and Felwinter’s Lie reigning supreme. And it’s because of those memories that I’m having way more fun with Iron Banner this week than I did during House of Wolves.

Over the course of the last couple days, I really haven’t been killed by one specific gun noticeably more than any other. Sure a couple pop up frequently – Red Death, Hawkmoon, Hawksaw – but not in the frequency that Thorn and Last Word used to be there. I’ve even seen people using Fusion Rifles! That hasn’t been a sight in nearly a year. And that makes playing way more fun. Sure it sucks to get killed, but it’s nice to know that I’m not going into a fight already down a step because I don’t like Thorn. It means I can experiment with my loadout more than I ever did. In House of Wolves, if I played Iron Banner, I used Red Death, Party Crasher +1 and BTRD machine gun. That was pretty much it, no matter the map. My armor didn’t change either – the only Exotic I ever thought of using was The Armamentarium. This week alone I’ve used more weapons and armor set-ups than ever before. I’ve tried Red Death, my Imago Loop, Zhalo Supercell, Hereafter, Conspiracy Theory, In Times of Need, Truth, my Arc Edge and even Baron’s Ambition. Every weapon has gotten me kills, and gotten me killed – just like I want in a PvP environment. I want my thumbskill and decision making to matter more – and now they do. I can take a shot and pull into cover and not just tick my health away. Firefights are way more about tactics and accuracy than they were before. It’s the Iron Banner behaving the way it should.

My biggest issue though is that true power is still gated by a pretty serious obstacle. Yes it’s possible to break 300 Light with only matchmade activities, but you’re at the mercy of RNG. To really be going into Iron Banner at a Light Level of at least 300, you’re much better off having done the Raid a few times. Now for most Iron Banner players, that’s probably not that big a deal, but for newer players I can see it being a pretty serious barrier for performance. What I would really like to see is the Crucible rewards be closer to 300 light either during Iron Banner or right before. It shouldn’t be a guarantee or anything like that, but it would open up a way for PvP-centric players to get up to that 300 region. I do like the way that Iron Banner is shaping up though so far for Year Two – with Trials of Osiris coming up next, we might have a more defined meta after the weekend.

The Return of Iron Banner and Why That Matters for The Taken King

Destiny CrucibleIn last week’s Bungie Weekly Update, Bungie outlined the plan for the return of end-game level PvP content. Next Tuesday we’ll see the return of Lord Saladin and the Iron Banner, and next Friday Brother Vance will start up the Trials of Osiris again as well. The Taken King already has a ton of content for players to enjoy, but the return of even more content is actually a really big deal on the PvP front. Today we’ll talk about why they matter so much.

One that Bungie has done really well with The Taken King has been infuse Destiny with all kinds of new content – and we’re still discovering secrets all over the place. On the PvP front though, the content was has certainly been a lot more straightforward. New maps and game-modes really isn’t a huge move when compared with the PvE content added in. In truth, most of the PvP shake-up has come from the weapon rebalance and the three new subclasses. I’ve already talked a bit about my issues with that long initial Crucible questline – but next week those feelings could change a little bit.

Destiny Lord Saladin

Let’s start with the lasting impact from Iron Banner and Trials. When power matters, and your light stat will impact your survival and damage, that’s really when a weapon meta can grow and define itself. You saw that in House of Wolves with the sheer number of Thorn/Felwinter’s/Rockets loadouts. Going into Iron Banner without that set-up, or one that specifically countered it (Red Death) meant frustration. That extended just as much – if not more so – in Trials. That meta doesn’t really exist anymore though – the rebalance has done a really good job of shaking everything up. Handcannons don’t have the uniform utility they did, which allows the other weapon types to start to shine. I’ve been playing a lot of Crucible lately, working on my Titan emblem quests, and I really haven’t seen a single weapon dominate the game like Thorn or Suros Regime used to. Sure there are a few I see more frequently, but I wonder how much of that is familiarity or quest related. For example, I still see plenty of Last Word, but that’s probably for the Jolly Holiday quest to get The Chaperone shotgun. What does bug me is when I see someone using all old Year One weapons – the new set of guns work really well in PvP, try them out!

That said though, I have a feeling that will probably change pretty soon after Iron Banner and Trials go live. That’s really when we’ll see the weapons strengths and weaknesses shine. Low impact, high rate of fire guns are going to be the ones I’m most curious to see – they were notoriously bad in the last meta, but I’ve been able to kill with them again now. We’ll see next week if they can still work with power balancing on. For now I do like that the meta is still in flux – it lets experimentation work and because of that, you’re seeing a lot more variety in the PvP game. I’ve said this about Destiny for a while now, the more variety that the PvP supports, the better it is. There isn’t a ton of content to really support a long PvP life – this isn’t Call of Duty or Halo where the competitive side is the real meat of the game. There’s only a few game modes and a couple handfuls of maps (with a sometimes rough rotation) compared with the other shooters double digits game modes and maps and map voting. That’s why I’ve been having a lot more fun lately than I was during House of Wolves – even without playing much Rift.

Destiny Felwinters Lie

The other benefits that Iron Banner and Trials bring with them are a little more hidden. The easy one is the new gear – armor and weapons. In the past set, the Iron Banner had the best PvP shotgun and sniper (Felwinter’s Lie and Efrideet’s Spear) and Trials had the best pulse rifle with The Messenger. I’m curious to see which archetypes they pick for the weapons this time around – especially for those ones that used to be super powerful. I have a hunch that even though the new Iron Banner shotgun has similar stats to Felwinter’s it’s not quite going to behave as nicely. The armor though is where I’m more curious – in the past the armor hasn’t been top-tier quality, except in PvP settings. With the new system, and perks making a bit more impact than stat values, I could see this new set being useful. Which is great because it looks amazing. With a good roll, I’ll absolutely take that Iron Banner helmet as my go-to legendary while I run with Immolation Fists or Crest of Alpha Lupi or Ruin Wings – even if I need to do some infusing on it.

That other benefit that I said is a little hidden is more of a feeling thing. When Iron Banner and Trials are live, the vanilla Crucible gets a little more forgiving. Those players that are chasing the end-game PvP content leave Control and Clash and Rift and head over to those end-game games. That ties into that big Crucible quest. I’m stuck at the Elimination phase – just before the last push. But Elimination right now has a lot of Trials veterans in there – and matchmaking against that is just brutal. But starting next weekend, with Trials actually live, that should make Elimination a little more doable. The same stands with Iron Banner – the more hardcore players and fireteams head off to impress Lord Saladin, leaving the vanilla playlists open for newer guardians to get those wins they need. The Crucible isn’t maybe the focus for a lot of players, but it does have some nice value in there – there are some really cool weapon drops I’ve managed to get plus those subclass specific emblems look so good. With more options headed our way soon, the Crucible’s value is going up again.

Let’s Talk About that Crucible Questline in The Taken King

The Taken King LogoSince the launch of Destiny: The Taken King, I’ve been running all over the place completing quests and bounties galore. But there’s one quest line that has stayed in my inventory this whole time has been the first Crucible quest chain. Over the last couple days too I’ve started to see more posts on the Destiny subreddit bringing up this particular quest. So let’s talk a little about it.

I think there are two ways of looking at this quest. The first is the way that a lot of the Reddit posters have been – that of the hardcore player. The people who play the game pretty much exclusively and play it a lot. The other is more in line with I think how Bungie approached it. It’s designed to be a welcome to the Crucible – across the whole spectrum. It shows you the ropes, and gradually ramps up the challenges. In theory, both views can and should work together. Hardcore players, especially players that focus on PvP, can complete the quest pretty quickly; while at the same time new players have a framework to guide them through the ins and outs of each different game mode. That’s actually really smart game design – older, more seasoned vets get rewarded quickly and new players have a good learning period to figure out the different modes.

Destiny Crucible

Where I think the roadblock may show up is once you hit the end of the Factions section and get to Trials Practice. Every previous step has you win two games in a specific game mode – not terribly difficult, especially if you go in with a few friends. Trials Practice however, requires you to win five matches of Elimination. That’s more than just an increase in wins required – Elimination is probably the most hardcore mode in Destiny. I think that this is where the quest gets a little wonky. It works perfectly up until then, but then the pressure steps way up, and the margin for error drops out. The value of a win shoots up and as a result you start to see the new Crucible issue – quitting. Because a lot of players are just trying to finish the quest, the most efficient way is to leave forgone losses to get into a new game quicker. You see that with the weapon bounties – the next step of the quest chain – a lot more.

Where I think the biggest disconnect here is that the PvE counterpart to this is no where near as deep. Both quests are designed to teach players about the playlists available and end up with the second tier rewards – just below the Raid. The problem is that the PvE is three steps – five normal strikes, five Heroic strikes and a Nightfall. That’s it, and you have a built in Nightfall reward in the quest. That’s easily done in a full day of play, with time to spare. The Crucible quest has more variables in play that make consistently completing steps difficult. Unless you and your group are pretty consistent PvP players, this is definitely a bit of a slog. It’s not empirically a bad quest, but it is one that I can see that turns off players. Just be ready to explore the new weapon meta and find the weapons that work for you in any game mode.

Fist of Havoc

One last note about Crucible quests, now that Mayhem is live this week, this might be the time to go through those PvP Subclass quests. I just wrapped up the Striker one, and I would have loved Mayhem for the Fist of Havoc multikills. If you’ve been putting them off, this might be the best week so far to try them – those emblems are pretty sweet looking.

Destiny: The Taken King – Crucible Impressions in Year Two

The Taken King LogoOver the last week we’ve been talking a lot about Destiny‘s new expansion, The Taken King. However, I’ve been pretty much ignoring a pretty big chunk of the game – the PvP Crucible. So today I want to quickly talk about some of the changes that I’ve noticed since I’ve been playing a bunch more Crucible than I was in House of Wolves.

Let’s start with the new game modes. The Taken King adds three new ways to play PvP: Rift, Zone Control and Mayhem. Two of those – Rift and Zone Control – are actual game modes, while Mayhem is more of a modifier, like Inferno. Since the launch of TTK, only Rift and Zone Control have actually been active – Mayhem ran during the preview weekend though. What I like with these new modes is the focus on objective gametypes. Rift plays similar to Ricochet or Uplink – you capture a neutral object, then deliver it to the enemies’ goal to score points. It’s a pretty intense mode – but good team play can really shift the balance fast. That said, being the spark runner is a lot of fun – especially scoring the rift. The dunking animation is really awesome, plus the points you get from it are well worth the effort. I don’t recommend running through Rift much as a solo player, but it is still a lot of fun.

Destiny Crucible

Zone Control is pretty much straight Domination. It’s the Control gametype already in the game, just with the scoring simplified completely. Instead of kills being boosted by holding onto control points, your team’s score goes up from controlling those points. It’s standard Domination, just with the Destiny twists of Supers and Grenades and Melees and Heavy Weapons. It does require a bit of teamwork to really succeed, but it’s not as imperative as it is in Rift. Zone Control does give people who aren’t great at firefights a good way to contribute to the team by grabbing the points. Heavy Ammo control is still very important – especially with the addition of Swords as a weapon type.

Mayhem, as I said, isn’t strictly a new game mode. Instead it acts as a second modifier on top of a normal game mode. Like Inferno removes the radar, Mayhem cranks up all your recharge rates to maximum. You’ll get your Supers every couple minutes – and grenades and melees even faster. When Mayhem Clash is up, that’s when this really lives up to the name. It’s just Supers and Grenades all over the place. One nice thing with Mayhem is that Heavy Ammo drops from enemies that have it again – just like way back in the early days of Year One. In general, I think Mayhem is a great way to get through some of those class specific Crucible quests – you just have to wait for it to be active.

Destiny Bannerfall

Beyond the new game modes, the other real big change to the Crucible is the influx of new maps. On the Xbox we have nine new maps to explore and play on. Of the group, I’ve played all but three – the two former PlayStation exclusives, and Crossroads. Those that I have played though, I really like. There’s a good mix of ranges and sightlines – some are built more around close quarters engagements (The Drifter, The Dungeons and Memento to a lesser extent); while others are much more varied in combat (Bannerfall, Frontier and Vertigo). I really don’t think there’s a purely “bad” map in the bunch – some are definitely a bit tougher to learn the flow of, but in general I like them all. My favorites have been Bannerfall, Frontier and The Dungeons for a few different reasons. Bannerfall is a fantastic mix of all ranges – any weapon can do really well, as can any class. Frontier is a long range masterpiece, without feeling overly huge – which was an issue with First Light and Bastion in particular. Frontier is the first map where I don’t feel punished for using Scout Rifles. The Dungeons is the exact opposite – it’s an Auto Rifle/Handcannon/Shotgun map for sure, which is right in my wheelhouse.

Which brings me to the weapons themselves. A lot has been made going into the 2.0 patch about the weapon meta being shuffled. While the patch didn’t hit the reset button entirely, it did fix most of the issues that were there. In particular, Handcannons got taken down a few notches – they’re still powerful in their proper range, but beyond that, they aren’t the snipers they used to be. Auto Rifles definitely got the boost they needed – in that they are actually useful again. It’s been fun to actually run around with Suros Regime again. The big issue that I still have is with Shotguns. Even as a major Shotgun guy, the high impact, long range archetype is still almost unstoppable. And again, there’s a vendor selling a Felwinter’s style shotgun. Yes, Shot Package got nerfed, but it didn’t get anywhere near the nerf it needed. I fully expect that with the 2.0.2 patch we’ll see another pass at the Shotguns in PvP – and they still need it. Classwise, not a whole lot has changed. Blink is still annoying, but it is easier to track now. Hunters and Warlocks are still a bit stronger than Titans, but Sunbreaker does even the field a bit. Overall, as it stands after a week, I actually think the Crucible is in a pretty good spot. The real tests will be when the Power Level enabled playlists go live again like Iron Banner – that’s where the meta really starts to take shape.

Destiny 2.0 Thoughts – The Real Issue With the Shotguns in PvP

DestinyAs we get closer to the 2.0 patch for Destiny, I thought I would offer up my thoughts on some of the parts of the weapon balance changes. Today, mainly because I’ve been playing PvP more frequently, I want to talk about shotguns.

Anyone that’s put any real time in the Crucible since the last weapon update – back in January – should be very familiar with the power of shotguns. Since the weapons’ impact stat matters a lot more in Crucible for damage per shot, shotguns have always been powerful weapons. They tend to always have pretty high impact stats, which in turn results in more one-hit kills. The problem came in when Felwinter’s Lie was first available for sale – it’s already the longer range, highest impact, low rate of fire. When Iron Banner 2.0 went live at the same time, Lord Saladin offered the option to reforge weapons – allowing every person with a Felwinter’s Lie to roll it to it’s most powerful state. In this case, it allowed anyone to roll an already powerful weapon with a perk – Shot Package – that pushes it even farther. Normally that wouldn’t be a huge issue – Bungie should have nipped it in the bud back then by addressing Felwinter’s in particular. Instead, with the House of Wolves they added in three other high impact, extended range shotguns – AND made reforging even easier to do.

Destiny Felwinters Lie

Now, in the 2.0 weapon balance patch, the problematic perks are being addressed. Shot Package, and the slightly less ridiculous Rangefinder, are both being reduced in effectiveness. That’s a really good start – especially since shotguns already got hit by a range nerf back in the 1.1 patch. The problem here is that the real issue that’s kept shotguns at the top of the list is that Destiny‘s core mobility mechanics make it incredibly easy to get in to one-hit range almost instantly, with little to no danger. Sliding is the highest risk move in the close range playbook, and even that still easily favors the sliding player. The biggest issue is Voidwalkers and Bladedancers have access to Blink Jump – essentially a teleport. It allows them to move around the maps super fast, with almost no threat of danger – damage while blinking is ignored, at least during the teleport. Add in that it’s an almost instant transit and the change in vertical nature makes countering it an incredible chore – especially as a Titan.

So while I am happy to see those really problematic perks get knocked down to a more even level, knowing that they probably won’t ever adjust Blink means that shotguns will continue to be a viable strategy forever. Now, as a shotgun fan in shooters, I’m really happy with the way the weapons feel in Destiny. But the current meta feels counter-intuitive to the rest of the way Destiny feels and plays. Bungie has a track record of messing with the weapon type – in each Halo game they worked on, the shotgun underwent a pretty noticeable tweaking. Destiny needs more frequent tweaks than it’s seen so far, but I do worry that we might see the swings be too much each time. We’ll see what 2.0 actually brings with it, and how the new meta shapes up after The Taken King launches.