Destiny 2.1 Patch – Titanic Changes

DestinyI’ve talked here already a bit about the changes that Destiny‘s 2.1 patch brought to the weapon meta. In brief though, the four different primary weapon classes are all a bit closer together than they used to be. Maybe the exact figures weren’t quite to the level that we expected, but I do think that in general they’ve accomplished their mission. That said though, the patch didn’t just bring weapon changes and Sparrow Racing. The 2.1 patch is the first time that the subclasses have really been adjusted in just about a year – and in this case, it was all about the Titan.

If you follow my Destiny posts here, you know that I’ve played as a Titan since the Beta – it’s always been the class that just seems the coolest to me. With the addition of the Sunbreaker in The Taken King Titans got a second option in PvE and a dominant option in PvP. But even I can’t look at how strong the Sunbreaker was and say that it wasn’t too strong. It needed to come down a notch or two – and the older subclasses needed to come up one or two. So the 2.1 patch made those changes.

Destiny Titan

Sunbreaker basically just got pulled back slightly, mainly in PvP. While Hammer of Sol is active, prior to 2.1, we were all but unstoppable. It gave us the highest damage resistance yet – even above Radiant Skin Sunsinger Warlocks. With the right build and gear, you could tank through a Golden Gun shot – that’s a little silly, even I have to admit. Supers should all do something to counter the others, with Ward of Dawn being a little different. So that damage resistance came down a bit, the actual Hammer of Sol damage came back to the pack a little too. It’s probably still the best Titan PvP subclass, with versatile neutral game choices that impact the different phases of Destiny combat. And with the 2.1 patch, it has some competition finally.

Striker Titans have had a bit of a rocky road over the last year and change. Since they were the only purely offensive Titan class for Year One, if you were an aggressive player, you were probably playing them. In Crucible play, they were definitely the better option without a strong understanding of just how to work the Defender builds. But in end-game PvE, well, they just were bad. Basing the subclass around melee combat proved to be way too dangerous for its value. Add in that Fist of Havoc really had limited use against bosses and big groups of majors and that Storm Fist did so little damage it was funny and you can easily see why PvE end-game demanded Defender Titans. Not anymore though! Patch 2.1 made Strikers not only better, but actually relevant. It’s been a running joke that Titans have little T-Rex arms and that’s why they can’t punch anything. Well now they can with a melee range buff – and it’s noticeable too. In PvP I have found myself making lunges almost on par with Warlocks – not quite that far, but pretty close, enough to trade in a lot of melee fights.

Where I think the patch really shines is in the adjustments to the subclasses neutral games. Striker Titan’s strength going in was a strong neutral game – fantastic grenades, and good upgrade nodes to build either around melee health regen, grenade duration or Fist of Havoc versatility. The patch went ahead and tuned those nodes to be even more useful. Headstrong – which previously just had you leap farther while Fist of Havocing – now increases your sprint speed, and feels like you leap even further. It’s actually worth taking now over Transfusion or Aftershocks. Storm Fist got a pretty sizable damage boost to the point where it actually is worth punching low and mid-tier enemies. Amplify gets you 30% more super energy per kill now, making melee kills worth going for. Striker is more that just trash clearing now – it’s still not quite on the level that Defender is, but it’s way, way better in PvE than it ever was. In PvP terms, Striker still has the strengths it always did, but got that melee range boost and damage boost for Storm Fist actually makes a huge difference and brings it right up with Sunbreaker.

Defender Titan also got a little attention, just not quite to the same level that Strikers did. They’re still the best PvE subclass in the game, able to provide not only a safe haven with the Ward of Dawn – potentially buffed by Saint-14; but they also provide a pretty substantial stat boost to anyone that enters the Ward, either offensive or defensive. Really the biggest change with the patch is that now when you activate Ward of Dawn, your grenade and melee energy is refilled – instantly putting you back at full strength. In PvE, that’s a huge boost to potential DPS. In PvP, it means that you can better fight back against whoever comes up against you. With Defender really starting to show up a lot more in PvP play thanks to suppressor grenades and No Backup Plans taking away the risk for Force Barrier usage, the 2.1 patch really just reinforces that having a Defender in the mix in PvP is a good idea in just about any game mode.

If you play Destiny still, at this point it’s likely that all of this is old news. Destiny has evolved very clearly into a game that’s supported by a dedicated fanbase – I think it might get a good influx of players next week, but right now I think it’s more full of longtime players. But if you’re new, you might be wondering why Titans are starting pop up in Crucible play more than they used to. And I think the patch really was just what the class needed to keep us relevant. One last thing to keep in mind is that in advance of 2.1, Bungie had said that the other classes will be getting similar changes, so Hunters and Warlocks will both probably see a patch next month. I think I speak for all Titans when I say I hope that there’s a lovely little Blink nerf headed their way.

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Destiny Sparrow Racing League Event Thoughts

DestinyWith yesterday’s 2.1.0 patch for Destiny the new holiday event started: Sparrow Racing League. I spent a few hours messing around with it, playing a good handful of races and thought I’d put down some thoughts on what I managed to complete. I still have a few more things to unlock – I’m working on my Class A License quest, and there’s still S Class after that.

One thing to note quickly that I neglected to mention in the 2.1.0 patch thoughts yesterday is that the Three of Coins consumable now works in Crucible matches. Pop one any point before the end of match rewards, and you will gain the increased chance for the exotic engram. It’s not a guarantee still – I got one engram from maybe five or so matches, and a second from PvE. I think Crucible grinding with Three of Coins is actually a little easier than PvE though – match time can vary, and there’s no worry about performance or getting the Ultra damage for the kill. Just finish the match and reap the rewards. And since Sparrow Racing League is counted as a Crucible mode, you can pop those Coins during your racing.

Destiny Sparrow Racing League

As for the Sparrow Racing itself, it’s a mixed bag for me. Yes, it’s actually a lot of fun – the courses are built pretty well, they still feel like you’re in the Destiny universe as it lives and breathes. The rewards, for Crucible in general, feel like they got a stealth buff yesterday – I saw consistently higher light level gear dropped at the end, including a number of legendary items right up near 300 Light even before the Class A level. It feels a bit like Bungie is shifting the loot focus towards PvP more as we get away from launch – which combined with the shift away from DLC I think makes perfect sense. But while it is a lot of fun to tear through these tracks on your sparrow, it gets old relatively quick. Even if you don’t play Destiny all that much any more, I think you’ll still get pretty bored with the two track pretty quick. That’s really the weakest part of the SRL from a pure content standpoint – there are two tracks, and that’s it. Fun tracks sure, but limited in their longevity.

In terms of the other content, most of the really exciting looking Sparrows and fun horns are all tied to the Silver microtransactions. Sure you can earn a new Sparrow through the Class C quest, and armor and horns do drop after races, but you also add in the other typical Crucible loot to the table. You’re just as likely to get rare quality armor or Motes of Light/Strange Coins as you are the legendary quality gear. If you want the new Sparrows that they showed off in the trailer, you’ll have to drop some real money for them – randomly getting a legendary Sparrow for a few bucks. That’s actually my biggest issue with the new microtransactions added yesterday – anything that’s tied, gear-wise, to SRL is random. You roll the dice on your Sparrow or Horn purchase and hope to get a sweet looking vehicle or neat horn. I think Bungie might have made more from Silver had they just offered the Sparrows directly – that Arc based Sparrow is pretty sweet looking after all. The new emotes also are a mixed bag for me. I like the Jump on It emote, and the Jazz Hands one, but the rest just feel lackluster. I think overall the Fall set was better, but this is still early in the game from that standpoint.

One last thing that I’ve really felt with the actual racing is that this is the one game mode where player collision definitely matters. In PvE, you’ll only deal with it if your fireteam groups up too tightly. In normal Crucible, it’s also unlikely to really play a big part in any fights – maybe if you can’t get around a teammate while escaping through a doorway. In SRL though, you’ll be jostled around nonstop if you’re anywhere near the pack. Since you are all aiming for the same boost gates to keep your speed up, those gates turn into massive bottlenecks. It’s very easy to head into a gate with a great line, get bumped and pushed all the way back to sixth place. It’s frustrating, especially when you have racers who base their whole racing style on bashing into people; and really comes to head with the somewhat sketchy detection on hitting the gates. I’ve had plenty of gates where I’m clearly hitting the gate and I don’t get the boost. When that happens on the last lap, that really sucks cause that’s almost a guarantee to lose a place or two. Aside from that, I did have one other rather interesting issue pop up with the Vex gate on Mars – I hit it, and it pushed me right into one of the huge pillars. Cost me two places on the race, and was my first death – in race – since the event started. Maybe some network nonsense going on, but it really was frustrating.

All things considered, I think the Sparrow Racing League is a really cool idea for Destiny as a timed event. It’s limited in scope, and can certainly be frustrating to play, but when it works, it’s damn fun. Since we know that Destiny is going to be featuring these kind of timed events moving forward, it’s a good starting point, but I really hope that Bungie maybe gives us a little more with them. If this is a handful of content, I want them to maybe give us two. Two tracks is pretty weak, when all four main planets could very easily feature spots for some fun racing. But, it’s free to participate in, and again, it is fun when it works, so I do think that everyone that is still out there in Destiny should give it a try.

Destiny 2.1.0 Patch Thoughts

DestinyWe expected the full 2.1.0 patch to come out this week for Destiny, and after the announcement of the Sparrow Racing League event, I thought it was a given that it would come out today. Sure enough, Patch 2.1.0 is live for all users, and with it we get our first big rebalance since The Taken King came out. There was also a couple reports out today – from Eurogamer and Kotaku – talking about the future of Destiny moving forward that I want to touch on quickly.

Destiny The Dark Below

We’ll start with those articles first. The big takeaway is that moving forward we probably won’t see much in the way of DLC for Destiny. Instead we’ll be getting these timed events, like the Festival of the Lost and the Sparrow Racing League; and those events will be supported with new sets of microtransactions. This seems like a pretty simple statement by Bungie and Activision, but if you read between the lines a little bit, it really says a lot. First, thanks to some extra reporting from Kotaku, we know that the original Year One style of DLC just wasn’t sustainable; both economically and physically for the developers. That I think really explains why Activision put High Moon Studios on the project. They could see that Bungie just needed more bodies on the project in order to even deliver on the DLC. Offering these smaller events, and supporting them with microtransactions, really just makes sense. Sure I would love to see bigger additions to the game, but if this helps out Bungie develop the game more according to their vision, I’m okay with it. It also takes the pressure off to be constantly playing Destiny – you can take a break, play the other awesome games out there, and come back for the events. One last thing I think this kinda spells out, is that I think it’s fairly obvious that Bungie is starting to really commit resources to the actual full sequel – which right now we’re expecting next fall.

On to the new patch, let’s talk a little about the big points. The first thing that matters is the weapon rebalance. I talked a little last week about it – expect auto rifles to show up in Crucible play a bit more, and pulse rifles to come back to the pack a bit. It’s still a little early to really say for sure if this is the balance that we’ve been waiting for, but looking at the notes I think this might be the closest we’ve ever been. Bungie has really started to focus on the different archetypes for the weapons, and balance them individually. Doing that first is important, because once those archetypes are settled, that’s when outliers and exotics can be looked at closer. Weapon-wise, I really think this patch is just what we’ve been saying the game needed since The Taken King came out.

Titan Flag

The next big part is a pretty sizable retooling of the Titan subclasses. I’ve been a Titan player since the beta, so I like to think I’m pretty educated on the class. Overall, the changes make a lot of sense. Sunbreakers needed to come down a little – Hammer of Sol was just too strong, especially compared with the other similar Supers. I think the changes will work fine – especially in Crucible play, which is really where it needed it. What I think is a nice addition to the patch is that the old subclasses – Striker and Defender – are also getting some attention. It’s been a running joke pretty much since Day One that Titans have little T-Rex arms. So the melee range has been extended a bit. Strikers have had a completely useless charged melee attack since launch – it got a pretty sizable damage buff, along with the upgrade nodes getting tweaked. Defenders even better fit the role of mobile fortress – recharging their grenades and melee on Ward of Dawn activation. Those are all awesome changes for both PvP and PvE, I think just what the Titan needed. What this patch really does to me is show that Hunters and Warlocks are going to be getting similar passes – and I think both could use it. I would bet on seeing that come next month.

Overall, the 2.1.0 patch looks like it’s exactly what Destiny needed right before the holiday. Every Christmas brings in a brand new set of players, with The Taken King out this year, I would expect to see that trend continue with this year. It’s a good time to get into Destiny. I’ll have my thoughts on the Sparrow Racing League up this week, after I’ve had some time to play some races.

Predicting the Destiny December Meta

DestinyWe know that Bungie has another sizable update coming to Destiny sometime this month, bringing with it an updated weapon balance. With every weapon re-balance, that means that the PvP meta shifts – the last time was with the launch of The Taken King, pushing pulse rifles to the forefront. And when the meta shifts, the PvP community rushes around trying to find the new weapons that give them a leg up on the competition.

As the meta stands right now, the current world revolves around guns like Hawksaw, Bad Juju and Red Death for primaries. Pulse Rifles in general are strong across the board – even with the shift toward needing headshots. Because fast firing pulses are basically the best auto rifles in the game now, the reduction of base damage and needing more headshots doesn’t really matter. Secondaries have revolved around the 1000 Yard Stare sniper, and Conspiracy Theory/Party Crasher +1 shotguns. I don’t really see a whole changing here – except hopefully the way people use shotguns. What Bungie was trying to do with the 2.0 patch, I think, worked for the most part. There really isn’t a single weapon that you absolutely need to use to have a hope of breaking even. The days of Thorn/Last Word ended, and really up until the last few weeks, there was actual variety in loadouts. More variety means that the game feels fresh, even with the same maps and game modes.

Destiny Suros Regime Year 2

And to that effect I hope with this 2.1 patch they continue that idea – keep tweaking the base archetypes for the weapons, and that will get the game actually where it needs to be. Once the archetypes are settled, that’s when the Exotic weapons can really be looked at. Obviously, when there are standouts like Thorn, they need to be addressed. But I would really rather see Bungie get the base lines set finally before really fine tuning every little gun out there. I think that we’re actually pretty close to that point now, and based on the early patch notes I think we could be even closer after 2.1 drops.

What I think we’ll see moving forward is that those high rate of fire pulse rifles will drop back to the pack a little, and I think hand cannons and auto rifles will no longer be a liability. The biggest change I think will be with the shotguns. There’s another range hit coming – which they still need – but what could really impact their use is the movement and handling speed nerfs. To me, those are the things that really should have been part of 2.0. If they work properly, the ability to just warrior through gunfire, slide and shoot from ages away should be reduced severely. I think it’ll also help fight the blink-shotgun combo that’s plagued the game pretty much since launch. I think we’ll always see shotguns in the game – they’re just too good at dropping targets instantly. But the way that we use them will have to be adjusted a little bit. I would expect a more defensive and, hopefully, tactical use of them. We kinda see that with snipers – you can’t use exclusively a sniper, because it limits your options – shotguns need to be in that same spot.

What really will be important in the new meta is the exotic weapon choices. I still think that Bad Juju and Red Death will be good, but I actually expect to see the rise of a couple other weapons. Suros Regime could very well return to its old spot on top of the mountain. It’s far and away the best auto rifle – stable, good range, and able to get your health back while taking down enemies. I really think that, depending on just how effective the patch is, Suros will be all over the place. Since we’re also getting some returning Year-One guns, I would try to get hold of a MIDA Multi-Tool. It’s, I think, the most versatile scout rifle out there. It fires super fast, does strong damage, and since it boosts your agility AND keeps your radar on-screen all times, it keeps you alive. Hand cannon wise, I still think you’ll see the usual suspects – Hawkmoon and Last Word.

Before I wrap up, I want to offer up a potential surprise exotic choice: Hard Light. It’s never been a particularly exciting weapon – skip rounds as an exotic perk is pretty lame. Add in that it’s a bullet-hose style auto rifle and you get a weapon that can’t stagger enemies in PvE, and takes way too long to kill in PvP. But the 2.0 patch gave it it’s first truly exotic feeling update – it no longer has damage dropoff on its bullets. Since range now actually matters way more than it did before – especially in PvP – that’s a pretty huge deal. If you can control the recoil, you very well could see this thing doing some decent work at slightly longer ranges than most auto rifles could hope for. Since it’s one of those Year One weapons returning, I could easily see this one being a sleeper choice.