Over 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.
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.
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.