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 Crucible – Has It Changed Post-Update?

DestinyOver the last couple weeks I’ve been playing more PvP in Destiny than I have since probably the launch of the game. On all three of my characters, chasing the good drops from Shaxx and still leveling my factions up. I’ve written here a couple times about the “meta” that lives in the Crucible, but since the April update (The Taken Spring) I haven’t gone too in-depth about how the Crucible is shaping up. Today, I’ll give it a closer look.

Before we get into the real meat, I’ll say this about the Crucible – over the last couple weeks, this has been the most fun I’ve had playing Crucible since the launch of the game across the board. I’ve seen a lot of posts on the Subreddit talking a lot about Skill Based Match Making/”sweaty” games in the Crucible. I personally think that’s a totally silly argument – PvP is supposed to be competitive, that’s the whole point. What I think people are arguing for is a separate place to play less competitive games – a social playlist – which I do think has merit, it just is too late to add in to the game at this point. You can have fun in the “sweaty” nature of the games – just take a step back, and focus less on the negatives. Find a moment or two in each game that gets you excited – maybe it’s a clutch quick-scope, or a pivotal play with your super ability. When you stop worrying about your wins/losses and K/D in each game, and focus more on the actual gameplay I think you will not only have more fun, but also get better naturally over time.

When we talk about the Crucible, most of the conversation revolves around the weapon balance, and rightly so. While the Guardians we play are characterized by their abilities, the primary way we interact with the worlds in the game is through our weapons. That’s why it’s both super important to get the weapons feeling right, but also incredibly difficult to nail down. I’ve always been a big believer in thumbskill trumping any weapon limitations – if you get your thumbs under you, any weapon can work, and work well. With that said, Destiny has always struggled to find a level playing ground since there are lots of moving parts. However, right now in the Crucible is probably the best all around that it’s been in a very long time, at least from a primary weapon standpoint. All four weapon classes work, and can net you plenty of kills, provided you use them within their ranges/roles. No more cross-map shooting with hand cannons, and the same goes for scout rifles at point blank range. Exotic weapons aren’t as important in PvE anymore, but in the Crucible, they still can be deadly choices – but they aren’t the only choice like Thorn/Suros/Mythoclast used to be.

Destiny MIDA Multi Tool

Let’s talk a little more about primary weapons before we move along. If there is one weapon that’s close to that Thorn/Suros/Mythoclast level it has to be the MIDA Multi Tool. It’s definitely the most popular weapon that I’ve seen out there, but I think it does have a little stepper learning curve than the other weapons did. It’s a scout rifle, so figuring out the pacing on the fire rate and dealing with the close range limitations of the weapon can take a little time. But when you pair it with the exotic perk – greatly increased agility – and it can be a super difficult weapon to fight against. I think the only real reason you don’t see it to the same level you used to with Thorn is because of that learning curve. That said, my new favorite build uses my MIDA on a full agility Bladedancer running Radiant Dance Machines – you can walk just about as fast as sprint, and that extended to strafing. It’s stupid fast. Beyond MIDA, there are actually plenty of different primary weapons you can use to do really well. Doctrine of Passing – which does require Trials to earn – is still capable of putting out insane damage at close ranges, but auto rifles are finally starting to come back. The Iron Banner Haakon’s Hatchet is really solid, as is Shadow Price and Grim Citizen III, along with pretty much any exotic. Hand cannons are all about in the same spot – Hawkmoon stands out a bit more, and Last Word came back to the pack a good amount. I’ve actually been really liking my Devil You Know and even The First Curse for the weekly hand cannon bounty. Scout rifles are pretty similar to hand cannons – all very similar in behavior, which opens up the possibilities; and we already talked about MIDA, although Tlaloc is a solid choice for Warlocks as well. Pulse rifles are still really strong – they have been the best overall class since The Taken King launched I think. Hawksaw and the Suros PDX still can dominate with the right roll, and the new Final Duty from Variks is in that same kind of spot. I still think that Red Death is the best overall weapon, not just in Crucible play, but in the entire game, but I think I’m a little in the minority on that one these days. Outside of the hyper-competitive arenas of Trials, I think this is the first time in a very long time where just about any primary works awesome. Trials is a little different, but I’ve never liked Trials thanks to the Elimination game type.

Destiny Invective Shotgun

When we move to special and heavy weapons though, that’s where that balance starts to break down a little bit. This is where you’ll see a lot of the same weapons over and over in each game. Fusion rifles, while certainly better since the April update, are still rare sights, and I think there’s really only one that I would say has the potential to be powerful – Plan C; that fast charging, relatively strong impact kind of fusion rifle. But shotguns and snipers are still the kings – and the same names are still leading the charge. Conspiracy Theory, Party Crasher, Thousand Yard Stare, LDR, Longbow – weapons that should be very familiar to anyone at this point. With the shotguns, it’s the same problem that Felwinter’s presented in Year One – the high impact, long range, low rate of fire weapons are by far better PvP options. There’s really only one exception to that, and it’s an exotic – Invective. You’re still chasing the same basic ideas – range boosts, reload speed boosts, impact if can get it – that you were in Year One. As a result, this is where I think the balance breaks down and you find players all using the same loadouts. Snipers have a little more variety, but only in names. The Thousand Yard Stare, LDR 5001 and Longbow Synthesis are all basically the same archetype weapons. Impact is on the higher side, rate of fire is right in the middle, and they can all roll with the perks you want. Reload speed boosts, good scopes, and target acquisition all help make that weapon slot feel samey. Exotic snipers all but have disappeared – I was shocked to see a Hereafter yesterday in a match. Building  off of that idea, I can’t remember the last time I used a sidearm in the Crucible, or saw one for that matter. If there’s only one thing that the next weapon pass looks at, I really hope that it’s the special weapon economy. Special ammo has been up and down, but the weapons all haven’t really changed in basically a year now.

Heavy weapons are also in a similar spot – and really have been since the early days of Destiny. Rockets are the head of the class – by a large margin. Even with the ammo changes, reducing the number of rockets you can hold, they’re still the best choice for a heavy. You have easy potential for multi-kills, and the damage is instant. I may prefer using a machine gun, but I have to pull back after grabbing ammo while the rockets start flying around. Swords are…interesting to use. Potentially a really powerful option – especially on smaller maps, but you do have to get up close. A lot like with the specials, you’re still looking for the same talents as always. Rockets still need tripod, grenades and horseshoes, tracking, and as much velocity and blast radius as you can get. There’s a reason Truth is still the best PvP rocket in the game. Lord Saladin did bring a damn good second option with Tormod’s Bellows with a god roll, but it’s no longer for sale. Machine guns still need to have that mid rate of fire and above average impact to really stand a chance – they can get lots of kills, but you need to survive past the rocketfest. Any boots with ammo boosts, and gauntlets with reload speed boosts help a lot here – the guns themselves aren’t quite as dependent on perks actually. Look for stability, range and reload perks. Basically chase the Raid machine gun, and you’ll be set. Swords are all set with their perks, so there’s no real variety there. Instead you want to get as much ammo as you can, then just learn to time your attacks. It’s a lot like the machine guns – survive the initial crossfire rockets, get to the choke points, use the block ability and you’ll be chopping down enemies for sure.

There’s a lot still to talk about – we’ll talk subclasses tomorrow and the different modes themselves Wednesday – but weapon wise, the Crucible is in a really solid spot. There’s still work to do of course, but for the first time in a while, I actually find myself wanting to play Crucible again. Bungie just needs to keep an eye on the data and keep making changes that need to happen. I would like to see them come a little more frequently, but we’ll see moving forward.

Destiny April Update Thoughts

Destiny The Dark BelowAfter a couple weeks of slow gaming, all of sudden this week has exploded. Destiny‘s spring update went live yesterday, along with the first major update for The Division (with a nasty bug that deletes Xbox One characters) as well as Dark Souls III and open betas for Battleborn and Doom. That’s a hell of a lot of games to look at in one week – never mind that there’s been a couple headlines that really caught my eye. So there’s a lot to talk about as we close out the week, but we’ll start with Destiny.

Let’s start with the top level impression right off the bat. Is this update as great as Bungie says – sort of. I think ultimately, this update is exactly what Destiny needs now. It’s not on the same level as The Taken King, or even House of Wolves/Dark Below. It’s somewhere in between the timed events and those first two expansions from Year One. But it’s free – no cost as long as you have Taken King. I think it’s a great update for both re-energizing the dedicated players who have been sticking with the game since September; as well as pulling back players who may have stepped away. As someone who straddles that line, I see both sides of it – hardcore players have a new suite of gear to chase as well the higher light cap; while returning players have new paths to get that power that maybe eluded them at launch. As long as you go into it with the right frame of mind, this is exactly what the game needs.

Prison of Elders

Now, Bungie would have you believe that the main selling point of the update is the new Prison of Elders and story content. Let’s pump the brakes on that a little though. The story content is literally one mission, a collection quest and then you’re on to the new strike. It’s totally beatable in half an hour max. The story stuff really just helps flesh out a little more of the current state of the universe in Destiny. It’s been one of the biggest shortcomings of the game since launch – telling the story and framing the world in game. The Taken King was the start of trying to get that on track – more story is told in game now, and that’s what this is. Showing that Oryx wasn’t the end of the Taken threat does a couple things – explains why there’s Taken still out there in the wild, as well as give them an out for if they decide to keep Taken as an enemy moving forward. As for the Prison of Elders, I know a lot of people were less than thrilled that it was returning. Look, it’s a repeatable, simple horde mode style event that already existed in game – it was always going to be the answer. It’s the easy move, letting Bungie put the update out faster, and still concentrate on the big fall update/next year’s sequel. Yes, the initial Prison was somewhat lackluster, but I think a big part of that was due to how Year One worked. Difficulty levels were a little more punishing with the original Light system than it is now. This new Prison though is pretty damn fun. I went through six matches on the level 41/Light 260 version last night – each match was fun, from start to finish. The four waves leading to the boss are similar to how they used to be – I would say, strike level difficulty. That last boss wave though, when it’s against Taken foes, is legit fun and crazy. There are just tons and tons of enemies – add waves spawn pretty quickly, regardless of boss damage. Taken enemies are some of the most fun to fight against, mainly because of their unique attacks, so the fact those boss rounds have pretty varied mixes of enemies makes them even more fun. I managed to get each of the four new Taken bosses last night too – some are easier to do (the Taken Vex Hydra and Hive Knight) while the other two are definitely crazy. In particular the Taken Captain boss is just chaos from start to finish – you spawn in with Taken Captains and Knights and Vandals and Thrall all heading right at you. Getting out of the doorway is the first order of business, then setting up and fighting like you know you have to in Destiny.

Destiny Taken Guardians

So Prison of Elders is back, and is actually fun. But the best part of the update is actually the quality of life upgrades. Extra vault space is lovely with the new items added. The new Vendor rolls are a lot more balanced, and offer new options to play with. The upgraded reputation gains make leveling factions less of a nightmare, and the reward packages have updated loot pools. The Warlock subclasses all got a little love to be more evenly balanced. The Crucible will, hopefully, be a little less stagnant for a bit with the weapon balances. There are a lot more paths to the top tiers of Light power. The new armor in particular looks incredible. Chroma adds in new ways to make your Guardian truly your own – I’m already trying to figure out how I want my three characters to look. How to pair Chroma with shaders and such. The things that the players do feel like they all have purpose again – Patrol mode isn’t just for material gathering, you can actually earn some reputation and have fun out there again. Strikes drop their unique loot up to the new 335 cap. It’s all little changes that add up to a big breath of fresh air for a game that really needed it.

One last little thing to think about with the update. I saw some comments as the reveal streams were happening saying that this wasn’t enough to keep players engaged until September. I totally agree with that – there isn’t enough in this update to keep everyone on board until September. Now that we have the update on our consoles, I think I have a better idea about what this is really about. This update isn’t about keeping us around until September – it’s to keep us here until E3. It’s designed to get the hardcore audience re-energized and through that, bring back a good amount of the wider community. Then with the players back, you give us one timed thing in May (like maybe the return of Sparrow Racing League?) and along the way, drop hints for E3. Whatever Bungie shares at E3 is really what will help keep us invested until the fall. I would fully expect there to be something timed this summer – SRL, a “Festival of the Lost” style event – but I doubt we’ll get any real content again until the fall. You just have to bank on a bunch of hype and excitement from the fans through the summer – and that’s something that Bungie is really good at.

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 EverVerse April Update – Pay-to-Win?

DestinyIn last week’s Bungie update, Deej cleared up a couple questions from the community (thanks to Datto) and one of those questions has turned into a bit of a hot topic over the weekend. The armor that is found in the Sterling Treasure packs, which can be purchased from Tess, does have random rolls when the pack is opened. That’s a curious decision, and has had a good chunk of the community asking – is this pay-for-power? So let’s talk a little about it.

Ultimately, if you boil this down to the nitty gritty, it is technically pay-for-power. You are trading real world money, for in-game items that have Light levels on them. That’s pay-for-power. However, if you actually look at the way it’s implemented, it’s not so much pay-for-power as it is pay-for-potential. Armor perks, while useful, aren’t really as important as getting a good weapon roll. That’s because in PvP, most of the armor talents don’t really provide a huge impact. Increased melee or grenade energy on kills is only on minions of darkness, the ammo increases from those perks really only provide minor increases to power, and most of the orb based perks are so situational that they aren’t super important. There are a couple of talents that do provide PvP power – reload speed increases, extra heavy ammo, and the elemental armor boosts can all help get you a few more potential kills. So in that regard, the rolls on the Taken armor or Tron armor are important. Where I think people were maybe worried was in PvE.

In the PvE game, armor talents become a lot more important. You try to roll the right ammo perks, reload skill, energy boosters and health regenerators. With that basis, I understand why people were worried about the potential pay-for-power impact from microtransactions. But Bungie did a sneaky thing to combat that – they changed the infusion process. Because it’s a lossless system now, pretty much any armor is now end-game armor. Since the Sterling Treasure armor drops at three Light, you already need to have higher level armor to infuse into it. So even if you spend a bunch of money on the packs and manage a God roll, if you don’t have armor that’s already relevant, your new gear is useless. So in that way, it isn’t actually pay-for-power. It’s pay-for-potential, as well as pay for kickass looking Taken armor. You need to already be at a level to complete the end-game activities in order to make those new armor pieces useful. It’s really more of a way for Bungie to have armor customization options available for purchase. I look at the Spektar and Desolate armors more like Shaders – they’re more designed as customization/cosmetic items. Bungie doesn’t have a way to put in collections or things along the lines of armor skins, at least not in Destiny itself. I see this as a trial run for those sort of things in the full sequel next year.

Destiny Taken Guardians

At the end of the day, the Sterling Treasures aren’t game-breaking items. They’re shortcuts more than anything. They offer people who want the new armor sets a way to bypass the time constrains and get them, without giving them immediately useful items. They are about as close to that line as I think they should be, at least I hope they won’t go any closer to that pay-for-power line. As long as they stay clear from weapons, I think they’ll be alright in Destiny – at least the first game. There’s still a lot of time for Destiny to evolve and grow – this is Bungie experimenting with ideas and seeing what works. We’ll see how well it works if it sticks around for the future.

Destiny April Update Reveal Stream Number Two Thoughts

The Taken King LogoToday was Bungie’s second reveal stream talking about the new April Update for Destiny. It just wrapped up, and coming away from it I’m actually energized about the loot for the first time in a long time in Destiny. Let’s talk a little bit about what we saw today.

Today’s stream was solely focused around loot – armor, weapons, ships, sparrows and the like. Over the last few months I’ve definitely been less excited about grinding loot in Destiny – I have armor I like, guns that I like and are actually good performing, and the barrier for reaching the next plateau forces me to have to get a full team of six for the Raid. That’s a barrier that, because my fireteam has basically moved along a bit, probably won’t be broken down anytime before the update. But after today’s reveal, I finally feel like I have new gear that I’m chasing – and that as a primarily solo player, I can get them all too. Each faction is getting a full new suite of armor for each class – and each one looks great. This is the first time since launch that I’m actually considering switching to New Monarchy to get the Titan armor – it looks basically like Shaxx’s armor. Combine that with the new Chroma system, and I am going to be one badass looking Titan in April.

That new Chroma system looks pretty cool – it’s another way to customize your guardian, which I think is something that Destiny is still rather lacking on. Four choices of colors – red, yellow, blue and white – and they can be applied to each armor piece individually gives players a bit of freedom to tweak their guardian. Beyond that, some of the new weapons will also feature Chroma slots to apply weapon camo essentially. It’s a good example of seeing Bungie grow with their development on Destiny – they’ve been slowly turning around from a game that had infinite potential and no direction, to one that finally is starting to shape into the game we wanted it to be a year and a half ago. It’s not a direct impact on gameplay – but it does directly impact a part of the game that I think is just as important: setting and world building. The armor all has coherent themes that run through them, the weapons have always had lore behind them and we’re starting to slowly see Bungie being able to use that incredible lore that has been in the Grimoire since launch and tie it into the actual game.

Destiny Taken Guardians

A lot of what we saw today was all cool, but ultimately the most exciting things in regards to gameplay will probably have to wait until next week when we get the sandbox stream. Seeing that we’re getting more vault space is super nice, and a bit of a surprise – I was actually planning on what old items I was going to have to delete last night to clear space for the new gear. The new gear can now live on in my expanded vault, along with that gear that I fell in love with last year. We learned a bit about new paths to upgrades too – reputation gains are being pushed up, which is important since the new faction armor is only obtained from those upgrade packs; there are new items to further boost those reputation gains as well. Far and away though the biggest thing we learned was that the strike unique gear can now drop at max light level. That might not seem like a big deal, but it actually changes the entire game for solo players. As a primarily solo player, this is a major deal to me. Prior to the update, there really isn’t a way for me to reach 320 as a solo player – not without some serious PvP grinding, which in the current meta isn’t all that fun, and not a guarantee. After the update, I can load into strikes – either vanguard, heroic, Nightfall or even just vanilla – and grind those until I get the unique drops I need. As it stands right now, with the unique loot available, there’s potentially every gear slot except for boots and possibly chest – not sure on that one. That means that, assuming the new two strikes fill those last couple slots, that no matter what, as long as I keep playing those strikes I’ll get the gear – eventually – and get to 335. That’s amazing, and opens up max level to a huge amount of players that might not normally ever get there.

There are still a couple questions to answer. The new infusion system, which is a big part of what is going to let solo players reach 335, does introduce a potential problem when you combine it with the new Eververse items. Specifically that you can buy the Spectral Treasure – which is how you get the two coolest looking sets of armor. Every player will be able to get three packages every week – run Prison of Elders, hit the Postmaster up and play one match of weekly Crucible. But since you can buy them – and it looks like the armor that drops from those treasures looks to have perks on them – that kinda opens up a huge can of worms. It’s a fine line that they’re treading towards being pay-to-win/pay-for-power. The big question really will depend on whether or not those rolls are static – if they are, then I think it’s less of an issue. If the rolls are random per package, then you open up the potential for abuse. That’s still unknown, and one thing that I would expect Bungie to be keeping an eye on the feedback on. Overall though, the update is still shaping up to be really exciting. It still feels very much like Bungie is focused on making Destiny better for all players – not just PvE or PvP or raiders. It’s a perfect time to come back to the game if you’ve been taking a break, and for dedicated players I think it gives just enough of a carrot to keep chasing for a little while longer.