Destiny: Rise of Iron – What Needs to be Fixed First

Destiny Rise of IronI have been loving my time with Rise of Iron – I picked up an old friend for my heavy weapon slot, my first weapon got a nice new coat of Exotic paint, and I have been really enjoying zipping around the Plaguelands. That all said though, there’s one thing that I really hope Bungie looks at fixing quickly – The Crucible. We’ve been in this ultra-fast time to kill meta for a long time now – it really goes all the way back to House of Wolves and Felwinter’s Lie style shotguns. Over the last six months or so though, it’s just gotten worse to the point now where unless you use a pretty select group of weapon, you’re at a distinct disadvantage.

It was already super frustrating to play in a handful of playlists – mainly the 3V3 games and Iron Banner – but adding Supremacy has just exacerbated the issues. Having to pick up the crests after a kill is a great way to fight passive play – I’ve always been a fan of Kill Confirmed in Call of Duty. In Destiny now though, forcing players into close range just has continued to push them towards the max-impact shotguns and crazy TTK primaries to have a chance. I’ve played enough Supremacy to at least finish out the Crucible quest and weekly bounty, and in those games I’ve seen almost nothing but Party Crashers, Conspiracy Theory D’s, Eyaslunas and Palindromes. Even weapons that are usually 6v6 standouts – Doctrine of Passing, Hawksaw, and most snipers – start to fall away a bit in Supremacy because of the nature of the game. We already know that the first Iron Banner after launch is Supremacy – that has me the exact opposite of excited for Iron Banner. I usually look forward to it for the weapons and armor – consistently some of the coolest looking gear in the game. But even with the changes to the system with Rise of Iron, I think it’s going to be a super frustrating week. Part of that frustration will come from the fact that there is going to be a pretty wide variety in Light Level for the first time in ages with Iron Banner/Trials. The other part will come with this current meta.

Destiny Crucible

Now that Private Matches are live, and the competitive scene can start to grow, we’re starting to see top level players really speak out about the meta. Guys like TripleWreck and KJHovey have put out videos and posts explaining just how bad this current environment is. The more eyes that see this, the more likely that Bungie acts quicker. I personally don’t agree totally with TripleWreck’s idea on how to fix it – I think a blanket primary buff feels like way too much of a step toward power creep. Instead I think a better fix would be to adjust shotguns again – they’re fine in PvE now, so just focus on PvP behavior. To me, the best bet is to just kill the range and handling – make it so you have to be even closer for those one-shots. There has to be some kind of trade-off to using this weapon, and right now there really isn’t. Same goes for those primaries that are good – drop the stability on those Pulse Rifles, make Hand Cannons more consistent across the board and limit the chances for two-shot potential guns; while the one thing that I do think deserves a buff would be Auto Rifles outside of that DoP archetype. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and hell, I don’t have anywhere near the level of data that Bungie does so hopefully they’ll have a better idea of how to address it. The other thing with Supremacy that I might want a little attention put toward is the score limit – FFA Supremacy feels like it goes a little long, and on some maps it can feel under populated. Maybe pull more from the 3V3 maps – good example was a FFA match on the new map Skyline. The match ignored the outdoor sections for the vast majority of the match, and spawns were all over the place. Maybe it’s just the game mode needing to work out a couple kinks, but still, it’s a bit big of a map for FFA.

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

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

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

Destiny Crucible

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

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

Fist of Havoc

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

The Iron Banner – Or How to Find The Worst Parts of the Current Destiny Meta

Destiny Lord Saladin

Once again we’re back in Destiny – but this time we’re looking at what’s supposed to be an end-game activity: The Iron Banner. I’ve written about the Iron Banner a long time ago – way back during it’s first appearance. It pops up pretty much every other week these days – using the more updated settings they implemented months ago. This week is my first journey back into the Banner since I’ve come back to Destiny, and I am in for a long PvP week. Let’s talk about why.

First and foremost – the current meta is terrible. I’ve written about it, along with just about every Destiny streamer, blogger and YouTuber. The margin for error is basically nonexistent, and requires you to use certain specific weapons or archetypes. Normally, in the Crucible, you’ll see a few hold-outs – using weapons that don’t benefit from the current meta for a variety of reasons. My reasoning is that I don’t like contributing to the issues, so I refuse to use Thorn or Last Word; but I can’t turn down Red Death, because of the prevalence of those guns. Other may like using other weapons for challenges – especially streamers and YouTubers (AKA the No Land Beyond users). Because the normal Crucible doesn’t have level advantages enabled, the margin for error, as slim as it is, is a bit bigger. You can make a few more aggressive moves and still survive. Because it’s not considered an end-game activity, it also helps foster some experimentation. Try out different builds – armor, weapons, perks – in the Crucible and then apply them to Trials of Osiris. That doesn’t happen in Iron Banner.

Destiny Thorn

Iron Banner was considered an end-game event – it used to net you max level gear. Now the gear you buy will only get you to level 33, you’ll still have to Etheric Light your way to 34. The loot drops from completion are I believe higher tiered, but that’s relying on RNG – an unreliable method at best. But it still holds that air of end-game. You are encouraged, because of level advantages, to bring your strongest gear. And because of that, you’ll pretty much only see those absolute top-tier weapons. In a few hours of Iron Banner yesterday, I think I can count on one hand the number of people that weren’t using either Red Death, Thorn or Last Word. Add in that I was consistently the only Titan in the game – not only on my team, but in the game – and it’s really easy to see exactly what the current meta rewards. Warlocks and Hunters have always been the best PvP classes – Blink/shotgun basically ensures that remains the case. Even though most of us playing Iron Banner are already Level 34 with good gear, there’s still a desire to try to get those perfect rolled weapons. And that reinforces the Thorn/Last Word/Red Death primary weapon trinity. If you use anything else – with the exception being the other Top-Tier legendaries (Messenger) – you’re at a disadvantage.

Iron Banner, and the Crucible in general, is actually a lot of fun. Because Bungie has done such a great job of putting in the foundation with the action, PvP is a blast. When it works. Unfortunately, the current meta just doesn’t work. Even way back at launch – when Suros reigned supreme – the overall picture was a lot more even. And as a result, it was a bit more fun. I found myself having a lot more fun then than now. Now I have to play to counter very specific tactics/weapons; as opposed to using whatever I want to have fun. In truth, the only real reason that I’m even playing Iron Banner is for those Etheric Lights to buy – that way I can max out a few last pieces of gear before The Taken King makes it all obsolete.

How I Would Address the State of the Crucible in Destiny

DestinyThere’s been an awful lot of talk lately over the current state of the Crucible in Destiny. The current meta for the game really consists of trying to counter Thorn and The Last Word, or using those same weapons as a primary; dealing with Felwinter’s Lie and similar max impact, long range shotguns; and trying to avoid the slew of rockets with Grenades and Horseshoes on them. Bungie last applied a weapon balance patch way back in January – and really hasn’t said much of anything since on the matter.

Now, I know that they have their hands full with The Taken King coming in two months. But they really need to address the current situation. And I have faith that they will – ideally, this month. The question then becomes what should they actually do. The problem there is that there are still issues that haven’t been addressed since day one when we’re talking about classes. The Hunter and Warlock are hands-down better than the Titan. They’ve generally had better exotic armor choices across the board, for either of their subclasses. So we’ll start here, then talk about the elephant in the Crucible: weapons.

Destiny Titan

In terms of exotic armor, the Titan subclasses each need some piece added. Generally, the best piece of TItan armor for PvP play is the Armamentarium – having two grenades at the ready is awesome. Now, it’s certainly stronger on the Striker – which is true across the board in PvP for the Titan. For the majority of PvP modes, that’s pretty much the only exotic armor worth wearing – and that’s from a player that loved running with the Helm of Inmost Light for ages. For Control, it might be the best piece of armor in the game for objective play – two lightning grenades can all but guarantee stopping a capture. Unfortunately, that’s about it. Helm of Saint-14 tends to be useful – and is definitely the best Defender specific option – but it’s so identifiable that in the end it deters enemies from entering the Ward of Dawn, completely negating it’s use. What I’d love to see in The Taken King, because that’s probably the earliest we can see new exotics added, is some pieces that give Titans some love. Defenders need something to make them a viable offensive threat. As it stands, the magnetic grenade is their strongest option there – and still is easily avoided; their melee is even weaker than the Storm Fist and they are the only subclass with a purely defensive super. In truth, even after The Taken King adds the third subclasses, they’ll still be the only pure defensive/support super. If I had my pick, here’s how I would address it. Give the Defender an exotic set of gauntlets – if only because I think the armor piece should have some synergy with the exotic perk they provide. And with these gauntlets, their exotic perk should add a small, but powerful explosive effect to the creation of the Ward of Dawn – similar to the Fist of Havoc, but maybe not as strong. It softens up any enemies nearby, making Defenders a little stronger offensively. And it also has use in PvE – dropping a bubble when swarmed would be enough to kill most minor enemies, giving the safety that the Ward is supposed to.

Destiny Thorn

That alone doesn’t fix the Crucible – in truth Bungie needs to do a lot better of keeping an eye on the data and tweaking the rules more frequently. Even Call of Duty and Battlefield have more frequent patches and hot fixes that address their issues. Destiny on the other hand has really only had a couple major patches aimed at PvP – one of which completely killed an entire weapon group. That’s really where I think Bungie needs to focus – and do it soon. The issue now is that Hand Cannons maintain their damage well beyond the range that they should – that’s true for any Hand Cannon, but is especially apparent with the exotics. Hand Cannons have reached the point where they can, arguably, out perform Scout and even Sniper Rifles in the right hands. That’s a serious issue. There are other issues in there too – Final Round available on high impact Sniper Rifles, resulting in one-shot kills to the body needs to be dealt with; shotguns in general need to be looked at a lot closer (in particular the Felwinter’s Lie archetype) and heavy weapons need to actually counter each other as opposed to Rockets being the clear winner.

If you look at the community right now, generally most of the talk is about Crucible issues now. PvP needs to be there as a viable option for when the PvE has been completed – whenever a player considers that true. For me, I’ve now beaten both raids, every mission, all the strikes and all but one variant of Prison of Elders. Once I finish up Kaliks Reborn, I really don’t have much incentive to keep playing PvE. Truthfully, all I really want now is to get a Fatebringer and set of boots out of Vault of Glass. Anything else is just extra – and that’s where the Crucible should come in. Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris exist so end-game players have something to draw them in – and yet because of the current state of the meta, unless you have a particular loadout, you are already at a disadvantage. So I find that when I play Destiny, I run the bounties (daily and weekly Queen), then I do Nightfall, at least once or twice – and maybe Prison, just for Etheric Light and Exotic weapon chances. Which means I can be satisfied with my Destiny experience on Wednesday, and not really want to pick it up again. I would much rather play Battlefield: Hardline online than slog through the Crucible bounties. And that wasn’t always the case – Destiny has a unique gameplay element about it that I think is super fun, it just happens to be ruined by the current meta.

There are two schools of thought with the weapon balancing now. One would be to bring back up Auto Rifles to be on par with the others – I think this is inherently the worse of the options. Doing that doesn’t actually address the issues at hand, it just masks them. And ultimately could end up killing the future of the Crucible, as the power would have to keep being increased. Instead, the playing field needs to be leveled by dropping the power on the currently over-powered options. It’s a tough spot because if they over correct – like with the Auto Rifles – something else will pop up (my guess would be a weapon like MIDA Multi-Tool). That said though, they should be in a good spot – by staying dark on this topic for so long, they have to have a huge amount of data available. That should make the tweaks a little easier to make. Now we just need them to actually make them.

House of Wolves Crucible Revisit – What’s Changed and What Hasn’t

DestinyEver since House of Wolves launched a couple weeks back, I’ve found myself playing more Crucible games than I ever did before. Part of that is the increased rewards for completing the matches; part is to play and learn the three new maps available to me. It has been a little eye-opening for me, since during my few month break from Destiny Bungie had put out a pretty substantial patch that hit a lot of the weapon types.

First thing that I noticed was the absence of auto rifles – in particular Suros Regime, which had been pretty ubiquitous early on in the Crucible. The 1.1 patch really hit auto rifles hard, reducing their effective ranges pretty much to the short side of mid-range. The problem with this is that scout rifles, pulse rifles and hand cannons all got range and/or accuracy buffs in that same patch. The general idea was to make each weapon better fit their intended role – but unfortunately it resulted in turning hand cannons into the best option. It’s most notable with the exotic hand cannons – Thorn and The Last Word – which you’ll of course notice if you play more than a couple games in the Crucible.

Destiny Crucible

Now, at face value, it really does seem like everyone online is using Thorn. And I’m not saying it isn’t overpowered – it has the perfect combination of perks that wind up just being overbearing for Crucible. With the upgrades for hand cannons that make them more reliable at range, putting Send It on a gun like Thorn is just asking for trouble; and it gets worse with Final Round and Mark of the Devourer added in for extra oomph. It’s a gun that I really do see some kind of nerf coming its way in the near future. But is it a magic bullet – the answer to all PvP questions? No way. If there’s one thing that the 1.1 and 1.2 patches did well, it’s make every weapon choice viable, more so than ever. With the possible exception of auto rifles in certain situations, just about every weapon choice is still pretty damn viable.

What matters more now than weapon selection is comfort. You have to like whatever weapon you pick – know it’s behaviors in and out. Once you have those nailed down, and you play within those parameters, you really will be fine. That really is the biggest change from the pre-House of Wolves/Dark Below Crucible. In the old days, weapon choice could trump player skill and teamwork. A team that ran Suros really could end up unstoppable. Now, player skill and teamwork matter so much more. Even against a team of all Thorns, a team that’s working together and not playing into Thorn’s strengths will come out on top.

Destiny Thorn

The whole seed for this post comes from reading the Destiny subreddit more regularly since House of Wolves launched. Especially while Trials of Osiris is active I have noticed a ton of posts complaining about Thorn. It’s strong sure, but there’s a lot of ways to beat it. Rush close range – a lot of Thorn players tend to get a little jumpy with their shots at close range; or hang back and snipe/scout rifle them. If you meet up with a good team that also runs Thorn, well that’s when you have to bust out the anti-Thorn: Red Death. Now that pulse rifles actually hold their one in PvP, Red Death is a beast – you get health back per burst with the unique perk. That alone makes it the anti-Thorn, basically negating the damage over time from Mark of the Devourer. Then you have the extra range from being a pulse rifle, and it’s the perfect answer to combat rampant Thorn use.

Things like that – weapons that balance each other out so perfectly, tactics that are evolving to counter other evolving tactics – that are making the Crucible more engaging than it ever was to me. There are still issues – some that are becoming more apparent as Trials seems to bring out some cheaters in the mix. But on the whole, Crucible is way more fun, and more rewarding then ever. House of Wolves has made PvP a viable option for end-game players, and should keep people invested until the fall when Year Two content begins.

Destiny Crucible Status – The Arena Three Months Later

DestinyThe last time I really sat down and looked at the PvP multiplayer in Destiny was way back around launch, and again for the Iron Banner. Well since I’ve been grinding out Crucible marks so I could pick up a new set of Future War Cult boots, I thought I would put down maybe some of my more recent thoughts on the state of Crucible play.

BUILDS
One thing that I think is really clear is that the Hunter classes are clearly the best PvP class. Either super really doesn’t have a true counter, aside from a pure headshot or another super. Golden Gun is all but a guarantee for at least three free kills, and Arc Blade can be just as dangerous, albeit with a little bit less protection. Add in the fact that Hunters can use Blink jump, which is pretty insane, and I don’t think it’s a surprise that there are tons of Hunters online. With that in mind I don’t really think too much has changed from my original thoughts on Hunter builds – for Gunslingers, Tripmine grenade is great, as a Bladedancer, I like the Flux grenade still. In general, you’ll want gear to get your super back quick, and actually melees too – throwing knife is great with Burn added, and Blink Strike is a good mid range melee.

Destiny Hunter

Warlocks are a tricky beast – they’re not quite as powerful as Hunters, but a close second thanks to a couple really nice abilities. For Voidwalkers, you’ve got a real solid class that’s based around big damage in short bursts. Axion Bolt is a fantastic grenade, and Nova Bomb is a great AoE attack to clear enemies, that adds in pretty solid damage resistance while tossing it to keep you alive. But all things considered, I actually think I prefer a Sunsinger in PvP. Radiance’s Phoenix ability lets you revive yourself instantly, which can get you a quick shot at revenge. You’ll want a discipline build for sure, so you can just throw tons of grenades while Radianced. I think really any of their grenades work, but the Solar might be the best bet. Finally, Scorch turns into a one-shot while you are Radianced, which really helps your survivability in close range.

Destiny Warlock

Finally, we reach my chosen main class – the Titan. When I say that they’re underpowered in PvP, I don’t mean that they’re weak. They have some really powerful weapons on their hands, but compared to how certain parts of the other two classes, they underperform just a little. Super-wise, Fist of Havoc is still great – you get a nice defense buff while using it, and Aftermath and Shockwave both are viable, although I really prefer Aftermath for sure. Pulse and Lightning grenades are great for area control, and can catch people off guard to get some “cheap” kills. The problem comes when we talk about melee – Storm Fist is not a one-hit, and has no extended range unlike either of the other two classes. It may sound like whining, but when my best melee attack is one that I have to sprint for a few seconds first to use, its usefulness is really limited. It just needs a little buff, and it would be fine. Defenders are a bit different – Ward of Dawn is nice, but having the Helm of Saint-14 is almost required to really make it worth using. Their melee attack, Barrier Strike, is nice since you get an overshield out of it, which might keep you alive; and having Magnetic grenades is a great option.

Destiny Titan

WEAPONS TO BRING IN
This is where my thoughts on the Crucible have really changed. At launch, I was all about particular weapons, partially due to my lack of having a lot of Legendary or Exotics. Things have changed a bit, and my loadout has definitely changed since then. With the latest patch, hand cannons have become beasts in PvP – Thorn and The Last Word in particular. Thorn is almost a two shot – if one is a head shot, it is with the damage over time. The Last Word is just a pure power weapon, with the ability to fire it really fast – it’s a three shot kill regardless, so that boost helps a ton. Obviously Vex Mythoclast is still a crazy weapon for PvP with its behavior to fire super fast and deal insane damage; you just have to get the drop luck in the Hard Vault of Glass. Special weapons are where I get a little off with what I see people using a lot. I don’t care for Fusion Rifles, but they definitely shine online – their damage output at mid-long range is insane right now. Plan C is great, Murmur is a beast and Light of the Abyss is definitely good with a quick charge time. For my Special slot though I run with Found Verdict – the Vault of Glass shotgun, or Invective still. My mid-long range is covered with my primary, so I have to make my shots count – if I want to use Specials, I have to push to close range, which fits with my Striker build. Sniper-wise, Patience and Time is great, Praedyth’s Revenge is too thanks to high rate of fire and low recoil. Icebreaker is a good choice, just for not having to worry about ammo. Heavy weapons I’ve also switched my loyalties – I used to be a Machine Gun guy, but I like Truth or either Gjallarhorn or Hezen Vengeance now more so.

Destiny Thorn

My former thoughts on weapons were more on controlled damage output – decent rates of fire with high stability. Now my thought is more about quick damage in as few shots as possible. High impact shots – scout rifles like Another NITC, Vision of Confluence both are solid choices; any hand cannon is great now too – help your time to kill drop, and keeping you alive. The Crucible hasn’t changed a ton, but since it’s been active for three months now, you’re going to see a lot of high level weapons. With Christmas noobs right around the corner, just keep that in mind before stepping into the arena.