Destiny June Update (Patch 2.3) Thoughts

DestinyMaybe a little lost in the E3/Rise of Iron hype was the news that Destiny was getting the next big update this week. It went live on Tuesday, and has been one of, if not the, rockiest patch in ages. Weird new bugs have been popping up, and the actual content of the patch has had players talking all week about the changes to the live game. I wouldn’t be a dedicated Destiny player if I didn’t have my own thoughts about it, and that’s what we’ll hit today.

Let’s start with the bugs that we’ve been seeing pop up this week. There’s been a couple rough ones – especially one that has been killing PvP player. One bug that seems to be impacting a bunch of different aspects of the game has to do with the game not properly downloading your character info, and as a result you are unable to launch any activity. It looks like this one also might be why some players are seeing invisible players across the universe instead of actual player characters. There is a fix in place for that one already, but the PvP bug – which has been limiting players to only dealing 1 or 2 damage per shot, regardless of weapon – still lingers. I know Bungie is working on it, and will hopefully get a fix up today so Trials doesn’t get suspended. I may not play Trials, but it’s a huge part of the Crucible’s lifeblood. This is a relatively rare sight with Destiny – usually the patches that go live don’t really introduce major issues like this. I wonder how much of this is because of the timing with E3.

Destiny Hunter

In terms of the actual patch content though, this was the Hunter patch we all knew was coming. Titans got their balance pass back in December, Warlocks with the April update and now Hunters are coming under the microscope. As a player who mains a Titan, it’s nice to see all of the Hunters complaining about balance changes. Welcome back to the pack. Now, there are a couple changes that maybe I think are overdone – mainly with the Throwing Knife damage and Tripmine sticking change – but overall a lot of the elements that made Hunters overly powerful came back a bit. Blink jump finally got the adjustment that it needed, Blink Strike should hopefully not be one-shotting from the front anymore, Shadestep won’t be as powerful, but still a good option for escaping danger, and Gunslingers and Bladedancers won’t feel like detriments in PvE play anymore. Regardless of whether or not you think Hunters needed the changes, the core design philosophy is still the same – give players more options, and make more options within the subclasses viable.

I still think Hunters are going to be just fine in PvP, with two roaming super abilities – both of which got damage upgrades and Arc Blade in particular got a solid adjustment – mean that they’re able to swing teamfights in a split second. Some of those tried-and-true tactics that have worked since launch will need to be reworked though. The biggest shift probably is the Tripmine behavior – it’s more about area denial now, and using them to set up traps. Still powerful, but not the one-hit that it used to be; although I still think they’re the best option for Gunslingers in the Crucible. It’s the PvE side where I think you could see the biggest changes – Nightstalkers have dominated the PvE landscape since Taken King launched. Bungie wants to try and get Gunslingers and Bladedancers out there more, and this patch certainly makes that seem more likely. They do a really clever thing this week too to try and get them out there – the Nightfall strike this week has solar burn on, while Heroic strikes feature arc burn. Combined with the damage boosts, Golden Gun and Arc Blade this week have been destroying the strike bosses – and apparently the loot has been flowing a bit more so than before. I think it’s all part of Bungie getting the base game into a really solid spot for the September launch of Rise of Iron.

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Destiny: The Taken King – Nightstalker Hunter Class Overview

Destiny NightstalkerRounding out our look at all of the new Subclasses that have been added in with Destiny: The Taken King, today we’ll look at the Hunter’s Nightstalker tree. This one is a little different than what most Hunters are used to with their subclasses. This does give them a Void damage option though, and I think really helps make Hunters much more important in full fireteam play.

THE NIGHTSTALKER – HUNT THE DARKNESS
Before we get to where this class really shows its differences from other Hunter trees, let’s start with the grenade options. As a Nightstalker, you have your choice of either the Spike Grenade, Voidwall Grenade or the Vortex Grenade. The Spike grenade is straight from the Defender Titan tree – it’s very similar to the Lightning grenade, but not quite as effective. Try sticking it on walls and ceilings for best results. The Voidwall grenade is the new one – when you toss one out, it will hit and send a burning wall of Void fire out in both directions horizontal from your grenade. It’s a great zoning option, and does offer a sustained damage choice. The Vortex grenade comes from the Voidwalker Warlock – it’s a good sustained damage choice too, creating a swirling vortex of Void damage. I like the potential for sustained damage on each grenade option here, it’s just a matter of picking the one you like best and are most comfortable.

The melee attack though is one of those places where the Nightstalker shows off its differences. Gunslingers have the Throwing Knife – ranged damage. Bladedancers have Blink Strike – extra ranged melee damage. Nightstalkers have Smoke – a thrown pellet of smoke that acts as a slight damage, but a blind debuff. The damage it dishes out is increased should you stick onto an enemy, but that’s really not the focus. Use it as a debuff to blind enemies and help your fireteam – that’s what Smoke is all about. It can be augmented with Envenomed, Vanish in Smoke, and Snare. Envenomed adds a poison damage to the smoke – similar to the Darkness clouds that Hive Wizards spawn. Vanish in Smoke makes any allies near the smoke explosion disappear. Snare lets you put the Smoke pellet on surfaces and has it proximity detonate. I think in general, Vanish in Smoke is the best PvE choice – it’s a great way to get your fireteam out of the danger, quickly. The other two choices are solid all around, but I think shine a bit more in PvP – the smoke already is a slowdown effect, so adding in extra damage is always a good thing; while being able to set traps with it is also a great tactical play.

Destiny Shadowshot

Which brings us to the major change to Hunters’ gameplans – the Shadowshot. You hop up in the air, pull out a Void bow, and launch a shot that tethers enemies. It slows them, anchors weaker enemies and also suppresses and weakens them. It’s a major debuff across the board, hitting pretty much every stat that you want to keep an eye on in PvE. In add waves, it’s awesome for grouping them up for other supers. Against bosses, the slow effect is awesome, the damage buff means Sunbreakers don’t need to close to melee range to apply it, and it can still tether adds too. If that’s not enough, it has three upgrades – Blood Bound, Black Hole, and Quiver. Blood Bound makes it so the enemies you have tethered explode when killed – similar to Bloom on Voidwalkers. It also makes it so damage to tethered enemies is shared – great for tethered majors. Black Hole pretty much is a straight buff to Shadowshot – it gives it more range, longer duration and more tethers. Quiver gives you three shots per Super bar – with reduced Void Anchor range though. Against bigger waves of enemies that are spread out, this isn’t the worst option, but I tend to like the other two more. I see Quiver being the PvP choice, if you decide to go Nightstalker in Crucible.

Finally, let’s look at the class specific perks on the Nightstalker. The first column has Courage of the Pack, Light of the Pack, and Lockdown. Courage of the Pack helps out with Shadowshot. Killing tethered enemies gives you increased recovery and armor as well as nearby allies. This stacks up to five times. Both of those are definitely good to have on hand in high level PvE. Light of the Pack makes killing tethered targets drop Orbs of Light. Hunters across the board have some Orb generation issues, and this really helps alleviate those issues. Lockdown makes your grenade and smoke effects last twice as long – zoning effects to the max. In PvE, it’s got utility, but in PvP this is definitely a good pick. The second column brings us Keen Scout, Predator, and Shadestep. Keen Scout has you sneaking and sprinting faster, and also gives you the Enhanced Tracker (radar), with the power to also mark targets you shoot. Predator lets you shoot your Void Anchors onto surfaces, turning them into traps – similar to Snare for Smoke. Finally, Shadestep gives you a dive/dodge roll to use. I think here that Keen Scout is a fantastic PvE choice – every part of it is useful across the board. Shadestep though is a great pick for PvP – mobility is always a great thing to have in the Crucible.

In general, the Nightstalker gives Hunters a much more important and active role in fireteam play. It’s even more apparent at the high tier level PvE play. Tethering enemies helps control the flow of a fight, the grenade and melee choices just help play into that idea even further. Orb generation is still a little weak, but can be buffed with a perk. It might not be a PvP powerhouse – although I certainly see some situations where Shadowshot could be supremely useful in objective modes. Take the time to really get comfortable with the new abilities and I think you’ll find it to be a fun one.

Destiny Build Guides – Hunter Bladedancer Tips and Tricks

DestinyRounding out my tips and tricks for each of the subclasses in Destiny, today let’s walk through the Hunter’s second subclass, the Bladedancer. To be totally honest, the Hunter is the class I have the least amount of time with, but I still think that Bladedancer is pretty self evident how to go about building.

Just like yesterday, before we dig into the specifics of the class, let’s first look at some of the gear you should be trying to pick for Bladedancer builds. With the Sunsinger from yesterday, I said you should be trying to grab discipline gear to keep your grenades up. With the Bladedancer, I would say you want to grab as much strength or intellect gear as you can find. You’ll want to keep an eye on the defense rating too until you hit the Legendary/Exotic tier gear, since Bladedancer is generally a melee class. Keeping your Blink Strike up, as well as having extra strength behind the melee attacks is desirable. Best case scenario is finding gear with both intellect and strength on it, keeping both Blink Strike and Arc Blade active as much as possible.

Destiny Arc Blade

Now let’s start like we always do with the grenades for the Bladedancer: the Flux, Skip and Arcbolt grenades. Flux grenades are basic explosive grenades, but they deal extra damage if you can stick enemies with them. The Skip grenade is kind of similar to the Scatter grenade on the Voidwalker – it splits on impact into smaller explosives, the difference is that the smaller ones slide around the ground toward enemies. The Arcbolt grenade is the Hunter’s answer to the Axion Bolt grenade – an arc damage grenade that links enemies in the radius with lightning bolts. The grenades are all very similar in that they’re all best used against small groups of enemies or single bosses in PvE, but all retain their use in PvP. In terms of which I prefer – I like the Skip in the Crucible, it has a bit more margin of error with the splitting up of the explosive; and really I would switch between the three in PvE depending on the situation.

The melee attack for the Bladedancer is the Blink Strike – a quick teleport attack that has a bit more range than a normal melee attack. It can be upgraded with Backstab, Escape Artist and Fast Twitch. Backstab is pretty self-explanatory – hitting enemies from behind deals critical damage, basically amounting to a precision hit. Escape Artist grants you a brief period of invisibility after you hit enemies with Blink Strike. This will let you get a melee attack in on tough enemies, to hopefully stagger them, then use the invisibility to run away. Fast Twitch just straight up reduces the cooldown on Blink Strike – keeping you punching more frequently. Blink Strike is a pretty powerful attack, especially in PvP, which is why I recommend using gear to keep it up as much as possible. Pair it with Escape Artist and you can bounce around from enemy to enemy, and paired with Fast Twitch you’ll be Blinking even more so.

Bladedancer

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the Bladedancer subclass – Arc Blade. Arc Blade is what makes this subclass perhaps the most dangerous one in the Crucible, at least as it stands as I write this. I have a hunch that some tweaks might be in the future for Arc Blade, at least as far as PvP is concerned. Arc Blade infuses your knife with electricity, and lets you dash from enemy to enemy dealing lots of melee damage. You can add in some extra bonuses with the upgrades: Showstopper, Razor’s Edge, and Vanish. Showstopper lets you deal some extra damage to nearby enemies using your main fire button. Razor’s Edge sends out a wave of energy along the ground to damage enemies again using primary fire. Vanish lets you disappear from sight, letting you sneak around to dish out sneak attacks. I don’t necessarily see the value in Vanish, but Razor’s Edge and Showstopper both are worth looking into.

As for the class upgrades, Bladedancers have access to: Fleet Footed, Quick Draw, Shadowjack, Encore, Stalker, and Hungering Blade. Fleet Footed lets you sprint faster and slide farther – helping you close the gap and dish out melee attacks. Quick Draw lets you aim your weapons immediately, getting you ready to fight instantly. Shadowjack increases the duration of the invisibility effects that are part of a number of different abilities, letting you get closer to the fight – really nice in PvP. Encore makes it so kills with Arc Blade extend its duration, letting you dash around even more. Stalker lets you disappear from sight after you crouch for a few seconds – or dance for a few seconds. Hungering Blade makes both your Blink Strike and Arc Blade attacks immediately regenerate health after kills. Combining Shadowjack and Stalker keeps you stealthily killing, while Fleet Footed and Hungering Blade gets you close to enemies then regens your health after killing them.

Bladedancer Mask of the Third Man

Ultimately, the Bladedancer subclass is a funny beast – it’s not made for fighting bosses really, since just about every Ultra enemy has a “ground pound” attack that pretty much one shots you. Instead it’s great for clearing out groups of lesser enemies, letting your teammates focus of the bosses. Where it really shines though is in the Crucible – Arc Blade slices through enemies like they weren’t even there. In Control it’s almost unstoppable for clearing points, since you gain an inherent damage resistance while it’s up. Combined with some nice stealth abilities, you can also keep sniping enemies to build up Arc Blade, or use it to rush in and use melee skills to grab kills. I do see some changes coming down the pipe in the future, really for a lot of things in the Crucible (auto rifles) but for now, Arc Blade and Bladedancer just dominate close quarters combat.

Destiny Build Guides – Hunter Gunslinger Tips and Tricks

DestinyThis week I’ve been going through each of the initial subclasses for the three main classes in Destiny, starting with the Striker for the Titan, and yesterday the Voidwalker for the Warlock. Today I want to go through the Hunter’s Gunslinger subclass. Admittedly this was my least favorite class in the Beta, so I really haven’t spent quite as much time with it as the others. That said, it’s a class that really has a very simple identity, so it doesn’t need quite as much toying around as the others.

Let’s start with the grenades for the Gunslinger. The three different types are the Incendiary, Swarm and Tripmine. All three deal Solar damage, which makes them really useful against Wizards and Centurions as they have red shields. As for their actual behaviors, the Incendiary grenade functions basically like a standard grenade. It bounces once, then blows up with a decent blast radius, and sets enemies on fire to deal a bit more damage. The Swarm grenade splits upon impact, spreading out a bunch of smaller explosives that will seek out enemies, really useful for holding down a doorway or point. The Tripmine grenade is pretty self-explanatory in that it’s a mine that is triggered by a laser tripwire. The Gunslinger is probably the most PvP built subclass from the grenade perspective – the Swarm and Tripmine grenades both help control how the enemy moves around chokepoints, and since they deal Solar damage, they deal damage over time. For PvE though, I like either the standard Incendiary grenade or the Swarm grenade for clearing out groups of enemies.

Destiny Hunter

One trait that I think really defines the Gunslinger across most of the abilities is precision. Hunters are already the Destiny equivalent of a ranger/rogue/sniper style character, dealing with stealth and speed more than brute strength. That extends to the melee ability with the Gunslinger – the Throwing Knife. With the Striker and Voidwalker’s melee abilities, if you miss, the cooldown immediately resets, no harm, no foul. That’s not the case with the Throwing Knife. Regardless of whether you hit or not, the cooldown will trigger, so it’s important to make sure that you connect. The nice thing is that the Throwing Knife does some serious damage, and is capable of dealing precision damage on top of that. With the add ons, the Knife can boost its effectiveness in a couple different ways. First with Circle of Life, kills with the Throwing Knife during Golden Gun extends the duration of Golden Gun, keeping your super ability active a bit longer. Using Incendiary Blade, Throwing Knife will also set enemies on fire, dealing damage over time after contact. Finally, Knife Juggler makes it so precision kills with the Throwing Knife immediately reset the cooldown, giving you a second knife right away.

Destiny Golden Gun

Moving on now to the Golden Gun, the Gunslinger’s super ability, we also see a good example of how precision ties into the Hunter’s playstyle. The Golden Gun grants the Hunter a suped up hand cannon with three shots that deal some major damage, imbued with Solar damage. The gun doesn’t last forever, and also disappears after the three shots are fired, which can’t cause critical hits either. Ultimately, the Golden Gun, I think, is best suited for clearing out three enemies in one shot each, or dealing a bunch of damage to a boss without using any ammo. The upgrades for Golden Gun include: Deadeye, Combustion, and Gunfighter. Deadeye increases the accuracy of the Golden Gun, obviously; Combustion makes enemies killed with the Golden Gun explode when killed, giving you a little bit of a chain reaction; and Gunfighter reduces the cooldown on the Golden Gun, letting you use it more often. I like Combustion myself, since it helps Golden Gun deal with larger groups of enemies a bit easier.

Image from Bungie.net

As for the class upgrades, the six available are: Scavenger, Keyhole, Gunslinger’s Trance, Chain of Woe, Over the Horizon, and Gambler’s Dagger. Scavenger makes it so any ammo pickups you grab reduce the cooldown on grenades and the Throwing Knife. Keyhole will let shots from the Golden Gun penetrate targets, again helping you hit more than just three enemies. Gunslinger’s Trance makes precision kills increase weapon stability, which can stack up to three times. Chain of Woe is a very similar skill, where precision kills increase your reload speed, again stacking up to three times. Over the Horizon increases the range on the Golden Gun, playing into the idea that the Hunter is a sniper. Finally, Gambler’s Dagger gives you a second Throwing Knife, which gives you a little bit of leeway with that particular ability. I always like abilities that increase your weapon handling, so I like Gunslinger’s Trance and Chain of Woe together, but Gunslinger’s Trance is a late-game unlock, so I would instead offer up Scavenger from that particular tree.

The Gunslinger is built around long range damage, dishing out critical hits and powerful ranged melee strikes – as such, they’re a little fragile when their shields break. Beyond that, the Hunter already has the lowest recovery stat of the three classes, but a higher agility stat, making it easier to get away and heal. Play the Gunslinger slow, precise and safe and you’ll do fine. In the Crucible though, the Hunter can be really strong, with Golden Gun able to kill three enemies with great precision – always a great thing in PvP.

Let’s Take A More Detailed Look at the Destiny Beta: The Classes

DestinyEven though the Beta for Destiny ended this past weekend, it’s still right at the front of my mind. I was thoroughly impressed with the product that Bungie put out there as a Beta, and it really solidified my belief that Destiny is a strong contender for game of the year. I thought that the rest of the week I would go over in a little be more detail some of the things we got in the beta, as well as touching on some of the new info that Bungie has released this week for the full game. I want to start by looking at each class individually today, then diving into the different locations we got tomorrow, before finally specifically talking Crucible.

Underneath the armor your Guardian equips, there are three other stats – armor, recovery and agility – each impacting the base behavior of your character. Armor determines how much health your Guardian has, which determines how durable he or she is once their shield is broken. Recovery determines how fast your grenades, melee and shield recharge during combat. Agility covers your Guardian’s speed, and I believe your jump height as well.

Destiny Titan

THE TITAN
The Titan was the first class I selected for the beta, originally because my fireteam of friends had picked the Warlock and Hunter already. In the broadest sense, the Titan acts as the tank in a fireteam, using the base character stats as the basis for classification.  Just using those stats, the Titan has the highest base armor rating, which lets you get away with a little bit more reckless tactics with no shield. In the Beta we only got to play as one Subclass for each of the primary classes, and the Titan’s was the Striker subclass. Striker let’s you act as even more of a close range tank by granting the Fist of Havoc super ability. Using this power, your Guardian will hammer the ground with both fists, creating a pretty good size explosion of Arc Light, great for clearing out swarms of lower rank enemies or dealing some massive damage to higher rank ones, as well as being a fantastic option in the Crucible for clearing off control points. The only major downside is that even during the Fist of Havoc, you are still vulnerable to incoming damage, which can be mitigated a bit through the Unstoppable ability modifier upgrade. The other direct upgrades for Fist of Havoc are Aftermath, which creates a field of Arc Light that persists after the initial strike, Death from Above, which gives you more control over your aim after jumping, and Shockwave, which gives the attack a shockwave that travels on the ground.

Titan Fist of Havoc Gameplay Clip – Crucible Control – Played by Me:

Each subclass also offers three different grenades to choose from. The Striker initial grenade, the Flashbang Grenade, despite its sound as an attack with no damage, does indeed deal decent damage, but also has the benefit of stunning/blinding any enemy it hits and doesn’t kill. The Flashbang is a great option while playing with a Fireteam, allowing your other teammates to get in a few free shots while the enemy is stunned; while also working well in the Crucible to stun enemies long enough for follow up shots. The second grenade is the Pulse Grenade, which explodes on contact, and then produces a few more pulses of damage in the blast radius. This grenade is a better pure damage option, but takes a little getting used to since it’s a contact grenade. It’s great for area control, putting up a damage field for a few seconds, and works well in conjunction with the Aftermath ability modifier to extend it’s duration. Finally, the Striker unlocks the Lightning Grenade, which acts similar to the Pulse grenade, except that is sticks to any surface, and jets out bolts of lightning for a period of time. This is another good area control grenade, especially since it can be put in spots that a player might not expect, or where A.I. will walk through.

Finally, each subclass has a melee ability that boosts the base melee attack. The Titan has Storm Fist, a more powerful melee attack, that deals some serious Arc Damage. Going down the Storm Fist upgrade tree we first get Overlord, which has a chance to instantly reset the cooldown, Discharge, which gives it area of effect damage, and Illuminated, which makes kills with Storm Fist greatly reduce the Fist of Havoc cooldown. There are also a few other good upgrades on the Striker tree – including Headstrong, which makes Fist of Havoc’s leap longer if activated while sprinting, Transfusion, making kills with melee attacks trigger health regen, Shoulder Charge, giving you a unique melee attack after sprinting for a distance and Juggernaut, which grants you a protective shield after sprinting for a bit.

Titan Melee Kills – Crucible Control Gameplay Clip – Played by Me:

While playing the beta, we could also take a look at the level 15 subclass for each primary class, but nothing more. Titans gain access to the Defender subclass at that level, and looking at the super ability and upgrades, this looks like a primarily defense oriented class, along with a few other buffs for teammates. We’ll have to wait till the full game to see exactly how many subclasses exist for each primary class, since you can carry up to 3 total.

Destiny Hunter

THE HUNTER
If the Titan is the tank of the group, the Hunter would act as the ranger – a mid-long range specialist with high speed stats, with a super ability that is focused on precision attacks that deal massive damage, along with a powerful unique melee weapon in case enemies get too close. In the beta, we only got the chance to play as the Gunslinger subclass, focused around the Golden Gun super ability. The Golden Gun only has 3 shots after you activate it, and only lasts for a few seconds, or those 3 shots are used. Each shot deals a huge amount of Solar damage, which could ignite enemies. While it might deal a ton of damage, there are a few downsides to it – first, when activating it, the Hunter is really vulnerable for a second or two, which could be fatal; add in the fact that you only get those three shots, hit or miss, and that they don’t cause critical hits, and against some enemies, the Golden Gun might be more trouble than it’s worth. That said, once you get the hang of it, it’s got the potential to be a really powerful ability, especially in the Crucible, killing in one shot. The upgrades for Golden Gun include Deadeye, which greatly increases the accuracy of the Gun; Combustion, which makes enemies explode if they are killed with the Gun; and Gunfighter, which reduces the cooldown, making it available more often.

The Gunslinger has a pretty unique selection of grenades, not really sticking with one prevalent theme along the course of the three choices. The initial grenade option is Incendiary Grenade, which acts just like you would expect. I will say it takes a little bit to get used to it – it’s behavior when it’s thrown as well as the timing on the explosion and blast radius all are a little off the norm I would say. That said, since it’s an Incendiary Grenade, it also offers damage over time to enemies that survive the first explosion, and I’ve found is really useful against Hive enemies. Secondly the Gunslinger unlocks the Swarm Grenade, which explodes on contact, releasing a number of smaller explosives that seek out any nearby enemies. The Swarm definitely takes a little time to get used to as well, learning that the child grenades are the main damage source. It is good for groups though, as it spreads the damage around and makes mopping up easier. Finally, the Gunslinger unlocks the Tripmine Grenade, which again acts just like it sounds. It’s explosive damage, not Solar, so no DoT, but can be used to help control the direction that enemies have to come from.

The Gunslinger has, at least in my opinion, the most difficult to use, but satisfying melee ability of the three subclasses in the beta – a Throwing Knife. This lets the Hunter throw the knife to hit enemies at a distance, while still dealing the full melee damage. However, it’s a precision attack, and has a real long cooldown, regardless of whether you hit or not. This can make for some real “make-or-break” moments in the Crucible. Now, you don’t actually lose the knife for regular melee attacks though, which is a mystery to me, but I’m glad it’s the case. In regards to the upgrades for it, the melee tree itself offers the usual 3 upgrades: Circle of Life, which makes it so killing an enemy with the Throwing Knife while Golden Gun is active extends Golden Gun’s duration; Incendiary Blade, which add Solar damage to Throwing Knife attacks, and Knife Juggler, which makes precision kills with the Throwing Knife instantly reset the cooldown.

There are a few more upgrades spread across the trees that affect the Throwing Knife or the Golden Gun. Scavenger makes it so any ammo you pick up reduces the cooldown of the Throwing Knife, which is a nice boost to have. Keyhole makes the Golden Gun shoot through targets to hit multiple targets that are lined up. Gunslinger’s Trance is a skill that stacks up to 3 times, doing so with precision kills, which increase weapon stability. Chain of Woe is another stacking skill, again with precision kills, this time increasing reload speed, also up to 3 times. Over the Horizon increases the range of Golden Gun and Gambler’s Dagger grants you an addition Throwing Knife.

The Hunter’s knife plays a major role in the level 15 subclass, Bladedancer. Again, we couldn’t actually play as it in the beta, but based on the upgrades, which we could look at, it appears to be focused more around stealth and chaining melee attacks together.

Destiny Warlock

THE WARLOCK
Going with the traditional classifications of Tank (Titan) and Ranger (Hunter), the Warlock acts closer to a Mage, one that is focused around dealing damage, not healing. It’s a bit of a glass cannon, since it can dish out damage, but with a low armor stat, can’t necessarily survive long with no shield. However, it does boost a good recovery stat, getting it back in the fight quickly. We saw that with the Voidwalker subclass we got to play as, especially with the super ability – Nova Bomb. The Nova Bomb is essentially a super powered grenade, dealing a ton of Void Damage and having a pretty good size blast radius. Using it properly takes a few minutes, just to get used to jumping into the air to fire it and aiming it well. Once you have the hang of it, it can be a great crowd control ability, as well as a great PvP power too. The upgrades along the tree include Vortex, which grants a damage over time field; Shatter, which splits the Nova Bomb into 3 projectiles; and Lance, which makes the Nova Bomb travel farther and faster. It’s a powerful attack, but like the Fist of Havoc, you are open to attack while aiming it in the air, so it’s good to be quick with it.

The nice thing about the Voidwalkers grenades is that, since they’re the first ability you unlock, you get good with them quickly, and they behave similar to Nova Bomb. The initial grenade, the Vortex Grenade, acts as a mini-Nova Bomb, with a DoT field and Void Damage. The Scatter Grenade, which splits up almost immediately into lots of little explosives to cover a bigger blast area, I found to be relatively ineffective ultimately. Granted I didn’t have a ton of time to get used to it, as the Warlock was my last class I played, but it seemed like it was limited in effectiveness. Finally, the Voidwalker gets Axion Bolt, which acts similar to the Hunter’s Swarm grenade, but deals Arc Damage.

The Voidwalker’s melee ability might be my favorite one, simply for the boost that it gives the melee attack. Once you unlock Energy Drain, melee will quickly be a major part of combat for a Warlock. Energy Drain makes melee attacks drain energy from enemies and reduces the cooldown on grenades. The upgrades for it increase the effectiveness of it. Surge makes kills from it increase your movement speed; Life Steal makes kills from it restore a large amount of health and Soul Rip turns kills from Energy Drain into reduced cooldown on Nova Bomb. It’s an ability that’s totally built around getting your abilities back faster, allowing you to deal more damage to groups of enemies.

The other upgrades spread in the two ability trees are all about making your Voidwalker even more dangerous. Vortex Mastery increases the range on Axion Bolt seekers, as well as increasing the duration of Vortex for Nova Bomb and Vortex Grenades. Bent Gravity lets you throw your grenades and Nova Bomb farther. The Hunger increases the duration of the Energy Drain effect, making it even more effective. Angry Magic makes the Nova Bomb track enemies, reducing the chances of misses. Embrace the Void makes it so any damage from Nova Bomb or grenades trigger the Energy Drain effect, further increasing its effectiveness. Bloom makes it so any enemy killed by an ability explodes, turning your explosives potentially into chain attacks. Again, overall, the Voidwalker is all about dealing damage as quick as possible, but is pretty fragile as a result.

The level 15 subclass, which we could look through, but not play as for the Warlock is Sunsinger. From what I could tell, Sunsinger is the opposite of Voidwalker, turning your Warlock into a support class, including the ability to revive allies. I think this ultimately makes it a better pick for Fireteams or large groups of players.

Overall, I think Bungie has done a really good job of not making one class clearly better than any other. Each fills an important role in the PvE setting, and they all work well in the Crucible; while at the same time they play differently enough from each other where it takes a bit of time to learn each classes’ behaviors. As I said earlier, I’m curious to see just how many subclasses each primary class will have available in the full game, since there are three slots to fill, but in most cases in games, there’s less inventory space than actual items to fill it with. It’s a long wait till September, but we really don’t have any choice.