Destiny: House of Wolves Leadup – Prison of Elders

DestinyAfter a few days off for travel – I was off seeing my sister graduate from college – I’m back to keep the hype flowing for Destiny. I was able to catch up on the Prison of Elders reveal from last week, which is the end-game co-operative experience coming with House of Wolves. The big complaint going in to the new DLC has been the lack of a Raid, but I have to say, after seeing both the competitive and co-operative end-game content, I don’t think it’s really that huge of a deal.

The Prison of Elders itself seems like it’s going to have plenty of life to keep it relevant for a while. Adding in a matchmade variant helps ensure that end-game content will be played, regardless of whether or not you have a group. It’s always been a complaint against the Raids, so seeing it appear in the Prison is a nice touch. I’ve never felt it was necessary, but would be nice. That said, I am a fan of the higher level difficulties being non-matchmade. The higher level challenge mode entries in the Prison definitely look like they require a higher level of teamwork than I have experienced generally in random parties. It’s very similar to raids – just a bit more straightforward experience. The modifiers and the critical objectives in the higher levels look pretty crazy, and definitely seem like it’s going to be intense for fireteams.

Destiny Queen of the Reef

The gear that the Prison rewards you with – being Fallen themed – looks pretty cool. As opposed to the angular designs in the Osiris gear, or the orbs in the Vault of Glass, or the Hive influenced weapons; the Fallen gear looks a lot more fluid, almost scavenged together. The armor looks cool without relying on the kind of stereotype armor tropes. I’m curious to see if there’s going to be anything along the lines of the Eidolan Ally/Necrochasm progression for Fallen weapons. I’m also looking forward to seeing what completing the Prison on Level 35 will net you – in the past doing these end-game activities on max level results in extra special gear. With the level cap being 34 I’m curious to see exactly what doing something over that cap will net you.

Ultimately, now that we’ve seen both end-game level activities, I think I’m more excited going into the House of Wolves than I was for Dark Below. The variation of the activities looks higher, the novelty of the new areas and gear looks better, and I just think that players are going to be returning to Destiny after a break refreshed. Will the story content be groundbreaking? Probably not – but honestly at this point we shouldn’t expect it to be. As I’ve said since day one – if it’s more of the same with Destiny, that’s not a bad thing here. It is still I think the most fun game I played last year, just ahead of Titanfall. It’s got flaws – probably ones that can’t be fixed with the game almost 10 months deep. But there’s still a ton of fun to be had in here – and it really does look like House of Wolves will deliver.

Weekly News Recap – Week of April 27, 2015

As we do every Friday, let’s take a look at some of the headlines from this past week.

BANJO-KAZOOIE SPIRITUAL SUCCESSOR KICKSTARTED
Since Microsoft and Rare have been hesitant to give fans the Banjo-Kazooie 3 that they’ve been clamoring for, the original creative team has taken it upon themselves to give them the game they want. Sort of. Since they don’t have the rights to the franchise, they’ve had to go about it a different way. Taking a page from Keiji Inafune’s book, they went to Kickstarter and created a spiritual successor, a la Mighty No. 9. Funding for Yooka-Laylie went up this week and has been getting money at a crazy rate. The initial goal has already been hit, so it’s on to stretch goals. I’m always a little cautious with these Kickstarted games, but the fan pressure is going to be really high to get it out, and out right.

DESTINY’S NEW DLC STARTING TO TAKE SHAPE
I went in to what we saw from Bungie over the last couple weeks more in depth earlier this week. But in the weekly update they clarified a few points after I had already posted my article. The big bit that I think was most important to clear up was the new Crucible changes. Turns out that the changes will be coming out in a patch prior to the May 19th release of House of Wolves. Those changes include the Dark Below maps opening up for everyone; spawn fixes for Iron Banner; and some new changes to the rewards system. Those changes are the real meat here – completing a daily activity for Crucible gets you a reward package, similar to the Public Events; Legendary items will drop as rewards now, as opposed to just engrams; Crucible Marks and Rep gain will be doubled; and the new Etheric Light items needed to ascend items will drop in Iron Banner. All these changes will apply across the Crucible, not just for Trials and Iron Banner.

Destiny House of Wolves Lead Up: Become Legend All Over Again

DestinyBungie has started ramping up the hype train for the upcoming second DLC for Destiny by having weekly livestreams over on Twitch going over a couple of the features we’ll be seeing. I just want to give my thoughts on what we’ve seen so far, and maybe look forward to the fall.

First off, last week we saw Bungie go over the new social zone that will open when House of Wolves goes live. The Tower won’t be the only social space starting on the 19th – we’ll now have access to the Reef. The Reef is available for everyone, even those who don’t buy the DLC. In the Reef we’ll get to meet a whole new group of vendors, from new individuals that fill the same familiar roles – Berg 99-40 (bounties), Sentha 55-30 (Postmaster), and Master Ives (Cryptarch) – to fresh new faces that tie in with the DLC. The new story missions will be coming our way from Petra Venj, making her return after the Queen’s Wrath event. She’ll be filling a role very similar to the one that Eris Morn did for The Dark Below. And then we Brother Vance, our contact for the Trials of Osiris; and Variks the Loyal, the contact for the Prison of Elders. The Vestian Outpost, our new Tower, has a really cool feel to the design, it’s grimy, and looks a lot more lived in than the Tower. I’m excited to get some time looking around for the new Ghost shells that Bungie has hidden around.

Destiny House of Wolves

Now there’s still a bit out there in the ether – mainly surrounding the story missions and Prison of Elders. Today they showed us the Trials of Osiris – the new end-game PVP experience. After the more recent patches have changed up the PVP a bit, I’m actually more interested in playing the Trials than I had been. No matchmaking for party members means you need a preset group of friends, but also ensures a better teamplay experience. The fact that the Trials are weekly – running Friday through to the weekly reset – means there’s plenty of time to build up a good record for rewards. The new gear looks pretty sick, with a strong Egyptian influence, and also lets PVP players reach the new level cap a bit easier. The big news for me was that Bungie has said that all Crucible modes will feature a more generous drop rate for gear – meaning less chances for the guy who finishes a game in last to be the only one getting gear. Since it is end-game level, they enabled level advantages too, making it more appealing for max level players.

A lot has been made over the lack of a new raid in House of Wolves. Sure the raids have been the most engaging parts of Destiny so far, but I also think that they get overplayed a bit. Switching the end-game PVE over to the Prison of Elders is a smart move, just going on what little we know. We know that it’s going to be weekly, and that there is a different set of challenges that will be associated with them each week. We also know that the Prison is only for fireteams of 3, which may actually open them up to more players. You won’t need to get a full six man team anymore, and can go in with just a strike team. I’m curious to see what the gear will look like – Bungie has teased a bunch of new gear that looks a lot like the weapons that the Fallen used. I don’t know if they’ll be loot from the Prison, or just new gear that we can earn.

I was one of the biggest Destiny defenders at launch – sure it has issues, in particular with the story-telling – but it’s still the most fun game I played last year. I thought the gameplay and visuals were superb, and I loved the design. Dark Below extended its life a bit, but I, like a lot of Destiny players, hit a wall after finishing the Crota raid. I had reached the level cap, with pretty much all the gear I wanted, and without a consistent group that liked PVP, I had moved on to other games. There’s still a lot on my plate, but I have to admit, House of Wolves has me excited to play Destiny again. May is generally a slow month for releases anyway, so I think the timing is pretty perfect. Bungie might just have a solid month on their hands.