Destiny: Rise of Iron – Weapon Patch Notes

Destiny Rise of IronWe’re starting to get really close to the launch of Rise of Iron, the third (and potentially final) expansion to Destiny. Today the game is going under some scheduled maintenance for a good portion of the day putting in place the 2.4.0 build in advance of the assumed 3.0 Rise of Iron build. While the game is down though, Bungie is putting out the patch notes online in two waves. The weapon balance changes are live now, and the full patch notes will be up later this afternoon. In general, I think we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the patch note side of things – removal of Spectral Treasure, addition of the new Silver Dust inventory, I’m guessing this is where the Iron Banner changes will happen too under the hood. The weapon patch though was one that the community has been waiting for since June – and there are some really interesting changes coming forward.

The patch notes start off with changes to Exotic weapons – and this is really where the first shining change lives. Universal Remote, a current bane of the Crucible, is getting hit with a little nerf. It’s not quite as strong as maybe I would have liked, having been on the wrong end of one tons over the last weeks, but it’s a great move. The range, which is Universal Remote’s strength, is getting taken down a bit (75% with the exotic perk) no longer ensuring it reaches max range. It’s also seeing a rate of fire increase, bringing a little damage drop – which is honestly always been my biggest hurdle with the high power shotguns, slow handling/RoF. I love these moves, hopefully they help put Universal Remote back into a better spot. Other exotics got changes too – Fabian Strategy is going to be useful finally, thanks to bringing the Zhalo Supercell reload perk to it, and a range and stability increase. Thorn, which is returning in Rise of Iron, needs to be watched carefully to keep it from returning to the top – and reducing the range 25% should help. Dreg’s Promise is also going to be useful with a damage increase on top of the sidearm changes. Boolean Gemini is going to surprise a lot of people I think – it was already a super balanced weapon that I think flew under the radar, with native High Caliber Rounds just makes hit a little harder in Crucible play; the No Time to Explain change is similar -take the weapon’s identity and reinforce it with a native perk, in this case Headseeker. My one complaint with the Exotic changes is with Touch of Malice – it’s the best King’s Fall weapon for boss damage, especially since I play Titan. Well, that’s going to change since the new Touch of Malice will negate Blessing of Light. It sucks, but it will just mean that raid teams will need to figure out new strategies for ogres and Light Eater Knights.

Destiny Thorn

Out of the weapon archetype changes, there’s a couple things to look at. First is the changes to snipers. Right now, they’re way too easy to use in Crucible with limited repercussions. Well, that’s changing a bit – the biggest thing I’ve wanted to come to snipers is finally happening – there’s a noticeable increase in aim flinch coming. Countering snipers with scout and pulse rifles is going to be a lot better of an experience. Beyond that, they’re doubling down on making the three rifle archetypes feel unique – the max impact/low RoF class is going to be the only one capable of consistently taking down Supered guardians with high armor; mid/mid class rifles are the most balanced, and high/low have the most aim assist still. The other real big changes in terms of a weapon class lie with the sidearms. Right now, they’re a real under the radar weapon – they can shine super bright in the Crucible, but lack a little in PvE play. I have found myself really liking one on my Hunter just because of the movement style. After the patch, sidearms will have more unified damage, a slightly longer range, a little better stability, and will have a PvE damage increase. With snipers being a less forgiving weapon, shotguns spreading around a bit hopefully, and fusion rifles staying more or less where they are, I could definitely see a well rolled sidearm being a must have with a Crucible loadout. There are a couple other changes coming – shotguns that are the higher rate of fire will have a better place in the overall meta. Mid-rate of fire auto rifles are also getting a damage boost, as are mid/mid pulse rifles, giving players plenty more options. A well rolled Shadow Price or Grim Citizen is going to be great again; and that Nirwen’s Mercy from forever ago is going to be a beast again.

Out of all the notes in the patch, the only thing that I think is a little bit of a misstep is with rocket launchers. Yes, Grenades and Horseshoes is getting a nerf, which it needed; and Cluster Bombs, which I’ve always thought was underrated, is getting a buff. But Truth is being left out of the Grenades and Horseshoes change – it’s unaffected by it. All that does is just ensure that if you use a rocket launcher, it’s going to be Truth. In an attempt to create variety, I think it’s just killed it in the heavy slot; especially when you think about the Legendary options in the primary and special slots and how you don’t really need an Exotic like in Year One. Maybe I’m wrong and Truth won’t be as effective, or other rolled rockets will stand out, but for now I don’t think that’s what will happen. The rest of the weapon balance changes though I think are great steps in the right direction – they look like they’re really looking to bring variety back into the Crucible, which has certainly been a little stagnant lately. The one thing that remains to be seen is just how the new Rise or Iron weapons will fit in with these changes. We know about a couple new ones from the patch notes – new high rate of fire sidearms and low rate of fire hand cannons – but exotics are still mysteries in many cases. This is probably the last major communication we’ll get from Bungie before launch – maybe we find out about a final Iron Banner next week in today’s update. I would think that Rise of Iron has to be pretty much completed – it’s officially time to prep for launch.

Destiny Rise of Iron – Let’s Talk Artifacts

Destiny Rise of IronThis has been the most exciting week in a very long time as it pertains to Destiny, now that we’ve finally got a whole bunch of information about Rise of Iron. Game Informer has been dropping a whole bunch of tasty treats this week and will continue to all month long as we get closer to launch. Of the info we’ve learned so far, we have a mix of importance – some things, like the Ornaments, aren’t particularly game changing; while others like the Archon’s Forge or Artifacts are. I want to talk a little more about those Artifacts today, because the more I look at them, and think about how they will be used, the more it seems like they are going to fundamentally change the way we play Destiny.

Let’s start by looking at what the Artifact slot means in-game now. It’s been a sticking point for the community since it was introduced with The Taken King. Bungie had us thinking that they would provide a new way to customize your loadout, while also contributing to your power with Light. In practice though, they end up being just another item to worry about chasing high numbers on. Up until April, trying to get max Light Artifacts meant playing specific events – April added in a couple different ways to find one that I think made it a lot easier. Unfortunately, that’s about all the Artifact is useful for – adding to your Light. The actual perks on them are so situational that I don’t even worry about them at all anymore. Having a chance to generate an Orb of Light is already kinda weak, and when you add in the requirement of using a certain element grenade or precision kill, it just becomes a non-factor.

Rise of Iron Artifacts

With Rise of Iron though, Artifacts are absolutely going to be a factor; or more accurately, the eight new Iron Lord Artifacts are going to. Each one will still have Light on them, so they’ll still impact your power. We’re assuming that they still have Intellect, Discipline or Strength on them too, so they’ll impact your stat builds. But their perks completely and fundamentally change the way we approach Destiny. Some of them are definitely more obvious changes; others I think need to be seen before we jump to conclusions. Let’s go over them and see just how big they could be.

  • Memory of Radegast lets you reflect back energy projectiles using your sword. It was initially revealed with the knowledge that it can impact attacks in PvE like Ogre eye blasts, which is pretty great, but also Crucible rockets from enemy Guardians. We learned after that it will also affect enemy Supers – Nova Bomb, Hammers of Sol and Shadowshot were all named as reflectable. That’s a huge potential play. It should make using a sword feel like less of a penalty in Crucible play, and adds in a counter to rockets in PvP. Right now, rockets are pretty tough to deal with, Truth in particular. Being able to bounce them back should mean that you need to be smarter with your heavy usage. In PvE, it really can add to your survivability. Ogres can melt you down quick if you are caught off guard, using this can keep you alive now without having to burn a super. It also makes the sword more versatile in PvE – it all adds up to more options, which has always been what I’ve said the game needs. I still have a couple questions – is the tracking overwritten on reflections, and how will proximity detonation work – but I like what I see so far.
  • Memory of Perun will give you an enhanced view of the battlefield, highlighting enemy Guardians that have full Super Energy yellow, and low health enemies will be highlighted red. Similar effects are in the game now as scopes on Omolon weapons, but this removes your need to use specific weapons. This is one where I think in the right hands, it’s going to be a lifesaver. You can determine your course of action in engagements faster if you can quickly tell if the enemy has a Super or not. The low-health part should help a ton in team fights, making cleaning up kills a lot easier. This one really has its focus totally on the Crucible, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe more than some others, this is one where I think we need to get it in our hands to really determine how good it will be.
  • Memory of Jolder gets rid of your sprint cooldown. Short and sweet, this one totally changes how you can move around. In PvE, no more being stranded out of cover when you really can’t afford to be. In Crucible play, this one cranks your speed up even more – if you think sliding and shotgunning was a problem before, it’s only going to be worse with this one on hand. On one hand, I really see the negatives here – unless shotguns are getting hit hard, their dominance is just going to be even more cemented; but the reason for putting it into the game definitely makes a lot of sense. Getting used to different sprint mechanics has really jumped out at me now that I’m bouncing back and forth with Black Ops III and Destiny. I easily see Memory of Jolder getting a ton of usage.
  • Memory of Silimar cuts down the damage from damage over time effects dramatically. As a player who doesn’t really use DoT abilities, but seems to always be on fire, I am very much looking forward to this one. That anticipation is increased since we know that Thorn is returning too, which is something I’m still torn on. This is another one where, depending on how much it actually reduces the damage, could be super important. I’m a little curious as to how useful it will be in PvE, there really isn’t a lot of DoT in there aside from Taken Knight fire attacks. I’m also curious to see if it impacts attacks like the Vortex grenades – technically not DoT attacks, but sustained damage nonetheless. In end-game PvP play this one could be super important to counter specific powerful builds.
  • Memory of Felwinter brings the biggest change of the bunch. It totally removes your Super ability, but gives you an extra grenade and melee charge, a boost to all your stats and has Orbs of Light recharge your grenade and melee attacks. This one literally changes the very way you play the game, on a fundamental level. As it stands now, Warlocks and Hunters can spec for double grenade and melee – Sunsingers running Gift of the Sun and Claws of Ahamkara; Gunslingers with Young Ahamkara’s Spine and Gambler’s Dagger. This opens that up to every subclass in the game, which is a pretty damn powerful neutral build. Yes, the Super Abilities are powerful – sometimes completely changing a game – but the overall utility of having access to your grenades and melees is plenty strong. Certain combos predictions are already popping up online – double smoke and voidwall; double energy drain with axion bolt; double storm grenade and thunderstrike; double barrier and suppression. Of all the new Artifacts, this one I think is the one that needs to most attention – it’s certainly got the potential to be game-breaking, but could be a hell of a lot of fun.
  • Memory of Gheleon is one where I think the power is player dependent – it gives you the detailed radar that Nightstalkers have with Keen Scout and also gives you permanent Third Eye with any primary weapon. In the right hands, this could be the most dangerous Artifact. Players with crack shots will get a lot out of this one. I’ve been using Third Eye a lot since I got my Aegis of the Reef with it, and I find myself missing it when I switch weapons. The detailed radar part is a little less important, mainly since I still think the radar is really bad in Destiny. It’s an Artifact that is very much more aimed at PvP since you can pick and choose your engagements a lot more so in PvE. To borrow a phrase from Datto, it’s a “do a thing” item – if you’re good with the thing it does, you’ll love it; if not, it’s probably not going to be super valuable.
  • Memory of Skorri is essentially a way for every player, regardless of class to have Song of Flame, reducing your nearby allies’ cooldowns on their Super Ability. This is super important from a teamwork perspective, in both PvE and PvP. In PvE, having your Super up more often is always good, since they’re typically the most powerful abilities in the game. In PvP, using your Super can not only keep you alive in some situations you normally wouldn’t, but also really swing the course of a match. For players who maybe aren’t super skilled at getting kills, or running the Spark in Rift, this gives them a way to help the team without putting themselves at undue risk. The level of the cooldown is certainly a question to ask, as is the radius that it works at, but this is definitely one that I think full fireteams of coordinated Guardians will have on at least one player.
  • Memory of Timur is the final new Artifact – that we know of for sure – and it’s one of the more interesting ones. It’s one that is solely built for PvE – you melee an enemy of low level and he fights along you for 30 seconds, or you melee him again. In some cases, I think this could be super cool – turning a Knight or a Wizard or even an Ogre or Hydra could be super cool and useful. The problem is just how many enemies will die with that one melee attack – Dregs, Thrall, Shanks, Acolytes, Psions… the list goes on. We are all assuming that by low level Bungie means red-bar enemies, not the yellow health bar majors. It’s one that I think is situational, but could very well keep you alive – I wish it had existed back in Crota’s End for those melee Knights.

Of all the new gear we know about right now – the new armor sets, some of the new exotics, the returning Class Items, the new customization options – I really think these eight Artifacts are not only the most interesting additions, but potentially the most powerful and important ones. I really hope that they aren’t the things that you can pick up on launch day, I want them to be something we have to work for. One of the best things that Taken King introduced were those multi-step Quests to earn powerful items – Sleep Simulant, No Time to Explain, The Chaperone, First Curse. I hope that these weekly bounties that we learned will reward you with the material to turn in to earn these Artifacts aren’t the kind of bounties you can bang out in an hour or two. Destiny needs some more hard things back in it – powerful items need to be rare again; hopefully with these Artifacts we see that again.

 

Destiny Year Two Moments of Triumph

DestinyBungie Day was last Thursday, the day of the year when Bungie celebrates the community that supports their games with some pretty cool presents for fans. Usually it’s some kind of a video showing off all the amazing fan created content that has come out over the previous year. This year it was a video celebrating ten years of Bungie Day as well as 25 years of Bungie as a developer. I went into this year’s Bungie Day maybe expecting a little more Rise of Iron but I’m still happy to Bungie celebrating the community.

What we did get for Destiny though was the official confirmation of the Moments of Triumph for year two, as well as those Moments of Triumph going live in-game. Last year, the Moments weren’t actually in the game, you had to track them on Bungie.net instead. This year, building off of the Sparrow Racing League record book, the Moments have their own book – in-game – which lets you track them and also receive the rewards right away. The rewards this year I think are actually better all around too – two shaders and two emblems for in-game rewards, and completing all of the Moments gets you a code to order a shirt from Bungie’s online store. Sure you still need to pay the $25 for the shirt, but it is actually a really cool looking shirt, and no one is actually forcing you to do that part. Completing the Moments still gets you the in-game rewards no matter what. I like the two emblems designs, both based around heraldry and shields, which have always linked well with prestige. The shaders too I think are cool because they’re both pretty unique in terms of their color scheme – sure, there are blue ones and yellow ones, but there really aren’t any that have these mixes. I think they actually look really good with the Iron Banner armor, at least on Titans, which has been a set of armor that has needed a good shader to pair with I think.

Moments of Triumph Year Two

The challenges themselves are a little different than last year’s were, which makes sense since we don’t have quite as much content to pull from as Year One. There are a few really easy ones that you just come naturally from playing – finishing the Story content ending with the Regicide mission, equipping and fully levelling a Year Two subclass, playing the April Update story missions to completion. Then you get a few trickier ones, the ones where if you haven’t done them, you might want to get started sooner rather than later. Firstly, the overall Crucible quest that culminates in The Mountaintop is a long series of quests that has you pretty much hitting every game mode in the game, and using all four primary weapons for multiple games. It’s long, and can definitely get frustrating – even after they changed the requirements for some of the steps to not require you get get a win. Take it in steps, don’t beat yourself up trying to complete a step and if you still have friends playing, get them involved too just so you can party up and have fun. The Exotic Sword quest Moment also is a long one – you have to get one of the legendary swords levelled up to 280, fully upgraded and that’s when Shaxx will set you on the path. The rest of the way is just grinding your way through the two slow parts – 25 kills with swords in the Crucible, and getting the rare planetary materials and element kills. Once you’re at the final step, the special version of the Sunless Cells can be tricky, especially if you play with two randoms, but it is doable – just make sure you make it clear which element you’re chasing. The last two Moments are related – complete King’s Fall on Hard, and find all 50 calcified fragments. The raid isn’t crazy tough, but it does require a full fireteam of six, which might be the hardest part. If you haven’t played the raid before, I definitely recommend playing a couple runs on Normal before diving in on Hard – the mechanic changes between the two are enough to make it really frustrating. While you’re raiding though, keep an eye on the challenge mode battles because you need to do all three of them in order to get all 50 of the fragments, along with the ones that are actually hidden in the raid. This is another Moment you probably want to get working on quick since there are a couple that you’re at the whim of Bungie on: the Tier Three Court of Oryx bosses and finishing a Nightfall Strike that takes place on the Dreadnaught. I recommend destinyghosthunter.net to help figure out which ones you’re missing and how you find those ones.

The Moments of Triumph really exist to give us something to chase down during these last couple months before Rise of Iron launches. Some people already have all eight taken care of, others are missing a handful. Regardless of which side you fall on, you can always find some people to group up with and help out. I don’t think you need to worry too much about really gearing up for Rise of Iron quite yet, especially since we don’t really know about the launch much yet and what we should be getting ready to gear up with, instead you can chase these Moments of Triumph and help your friends get them done too.

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.

Destiny Rise of Iron – The Hype is Rising Too

Bungie wrapped up their reveal stream for the upcoming expansion for Destiny titled Rise of Iron, and holy crap am I hyped for this expansion. We got a date: September 20, 2016. We learned a the price point: $30, which is awesome since it’s $10 cheaper than Taken King. I think overall I’m more excited for Rise of Iron than I was for Taken King, but that’s because Taken King was so solid. I now expect Bungie to keep up doing what they started in TTK.  There’s a lot to unpack, and there’s still a lot of specific details that Bungie is keeping under wrapped still – which is totally understandable with a full summer to get through.

What we did see today is awesome though. It’s a lot of what we were expecting – my post yesterday could not have been timed worse, since it went live literally right before I saw the Xbox leak. So we knew going in to today that we were getting a new enemy type to fight against – it turned out to be the Plague Siva returning and the Fallen embracing it. I think it’s more along the lines of how the Taken were new back in September – it’s a new kind of enemy, but it’s built on an existing enemy faction. Regardless if you think that’s a good move, the  new Fallen Splicers look damn menacing. I’m really glad that the entire expansion, at least for now, seems to be focused solely on Earth. It’s the same idea that Taken King had – tell the story on one location, and use the other locations to help flesh out the post-story content. In Taken King it was the Taken War after stopping Oryx on the Dreadnaught. Do I think that something like that will be in Rise of Iron? I actually do – and I think they laid the foundation for it in today’s stream. We know that we’re taking back the new social space – Felwinter Peak – and then using that social space to honor and remember the fallen Iron Lords. We saw the mausoleum briefly in the stream today, and I immediately got thinking – what happens if each statue to an Iron Lord has a quest associated with it, with a weapon or piece of gear at the end of it? How cool would that be? Go up to Jolder’s statue, pick up a quest honoring her legacy and end up with an Exotic/Legendary machine gun. Now, ultimately what I think will happen is those Iron Lord quests might exist, but they’re probably how we’ll get access to the returning Gjallarhorn, which is a whole other thing to talk about.

The new content looks incredible from a tone/visual standpoint. I love that we’re staying in our backyard, and finding a new enemy that was so dangerous that the strongest guardians in our history had to sacrifice themselves to seal it away. The new gear looks incredible – using the Iron Banner, Warmind and Trials as their themes, at least that’s what we saw on stream. I’m really excited to see the inevitable full stream based around the new gear and weapons – especially new exotics. Which brings us to the one thing that I’ve seen some negativity about – the return of Gjallarhorn. Mainly because going in to the stream, we only knew that it was coming – as the Iron Gjallarhorn – with a pre-order. Immediately the “pay-to-win” comments started to pop up. That’s not quite the case – everyone who plays Rise of Iron can get a Gjallarhorn through a quest. Pre-orders net you the special black and silver one that’s the only difference. Which, if you’re a day-one player like me, is a really, really cool thing to see Bungie do. Gjallarhorn is easily the closest thing that Destiny has to a “mascot” weapon. Halo has Master Chief’s assault rifle, Zelda has the Master Sword – Destiny has the G-Horn. It’s the one weapon that every guardian chased through the entire first year of the game’s life. It ruined the balance of every activity because of how damn powerful it was. And I can’t wait to see how it’s going to play into the game moving forward.

There is still a lot to talk about with Rise of Iron – the Crucible in particular is going to get a hell of a lot of attention over the summer. Bungie did say that they’re going to be at E3 next week. I doubt we’ll see anything super crazy there, but they’ll have something on hand for sure. We’ve got a release date, a price point, and a hell of a lot of positive content to look forward to. Destiny is a game that seriously love, and and I’m super excited for what Bungie is bringing to the game moving forward.

Destiny Rise of Iron Reveal Stream Pre-Show Thoughts

DestinyTomorrow is Bungie’s first reveal stream since they were hyping up the April Update for Destiny, most likely showing off the Rise of Iron expansion that was leaked a few weeks back. All of the promo material leading up to the stream certainly seems to confirm Rise of Iron, but that’s about it. So with that in mind, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what we might see tomorrow. All of this is total speculation still, and is assuming that Rise of Iron is a full expansion, which is looking more and more the case instead of a timed summer event.

First, if it’s a full expansion, we need to think size. Destiny has two different examples to look at: The Taken King size, or Dark Below/House of Wolves size. Just based on the timing with this one, I think it has to be on the larger size – Bungie has also been saying that the next content coming to Destiny was going to be a big addition. I’m thinking a good chunk of story quests, a couple new strikes and a full raid. Based on the leaked Google results that come up when you search for Rise of Iron, it’s looking like the basic gist of the content is going out and discovering the Iron Lords stories. Much like how Cayde-6 and Eris Morn were the primary story contacts in Taken KingRise of Iron will probably be told through Lord Saladin, along with Shaxx and Zavala. I think this is where we might finally get to go to the European Dead Zone – in the Grimoire we know that the original Iron Lords pushed back the House of Kings all the way to the Caspian Sea. We know that the Tower has at least cleared portions of the European Dead Zone for the Crucible. The Cosmodrome is pretty well explored and taken back – the House Devils has been broken, House Kings foothold isn’t as strong as before and the Hive threat has been dealt with. We know though that the House Kings Kell is still around – and I think that’s who the Raid will revolve around. I saw someone saying that the Kell of Kings will be the actual Kell of Kells that Skolas claimed to be. That could make for a really cool raid encounter.

Destiny Rise of Iron

One thing that I think Taken King did really well was keep the story content more focused on one location – in that case, the Dreadnaught. If they do the same with Rise of Iron, which would most likely be Earth, they’ll need to come up with some new areas to explore. But keeping the content in one location really helps focus the narrative – which is something that Destiny really needs to keep doing. I think the story elements that Rise of Iron is going to be dealing with is a potential strength of the DLC. I assume we’ll get more new strikes, but on top of that, I want to see the other old strikes get brought forward – I miss playing Sepiks Prime and Phogoth. We also still have a handful of Exotics that were added to the armory back before Taken King launched that haven’t been added, those could very well pop up, or other new exotics could instead. I don’t think that we’ll get those few Year One exotics that people love to talk about (Thorn, Icebreaker and G-Horn), but I suppose anything is possible. I also really hope we get a few more full sets of armor and weapons – the Year Two sets that the Vendors and Factions have had are starting to get a little stale, even with the Chroma sets. I’ve said it for a long time with this game that the more variety in the gear, the better off the whole game is. I loved back in House of Wolves that I could use any set of legendary gear, as long as I could ascend it. I would love teh ability to wear my Vault of Glass armor again, mainly because it looks so damn badass. We’ll see what they add in gear-wise, since that’s a guarantee.

On the other side of the Destiny coin is the Crucible. I think Rise of Iron will bring the most thorough overhaul for the Crucible that we’ve seen yet. I don’t know about custom games showing up yet – that might be a full sequel feature. But I think we’re going to see a much bigger weapon balance pass than we did in April, along with a handful of other changes that need to happen – in particular the Firebolt/Viking Funeral/Touch of Flame build. I also fully expect to see a bunch of new maps get put into play, and hopefully an actual Capture the Flag mode as well. I think that there’s bound to be some kind of new end-game PvP activity as well. Trials of Osiris is a year old now, and I still think that as a true competitive mode it’s really lacking. Spawn side matters a ton, certain weapon sets are basically required to do well, and some classes are just by default stronger. Since this expansion will be focused around the Iron Lords, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see some kind of expanded Iron Banner as a new end-game. That could be Iron Banner as a weekly event instead of monthly, or a whole new activity under the Banner.

Ultimately, while Bungie has said this is going to be a big expansion, I actually think that most of the changes coming to the game are going to be smaller in nature. Lots of little changes in Destiny actually end up making a huge deal since there are so many different aspects in play. More story content is definitely needed to keep fleshing out the lore that is, again, really strong. New strikes and raids are always welcome, and keep the PvE side of things fresh for longer. PvP I still think is where the most attention is needed to keep the balance – I think that there’s a lot of options that work as it stands now, but there are still a handful of weapons that are just still too strong. I’m definitely looking forward to Rise of Iron a lot, and tomorrow is going to be a really exciting stream I think.

Destiny April Update Crucible – Final Thoughts

We’re back finishing up my thoughts on the state of the Crucible in Destiny post the April update. We talked about Subclasses, and the weapon classes. Today I want to talk a bit about the different maps and modes in the Crucible. I also want to quickly talk about the “Rise of Iron” leak that happened at the end of last week.

Destiny Crucible

I don’t have as much to talk about with the different game modes, so I’ll start there. I only really dislike Elimination within the current group of games, only because I’ve never been that big a fan of one-life per round modes. It’s actually a big part of why I don’t play Trials. I’d like to see Trials feature a couple different game types, much like what Bungie has been doing with Iron Banner since Year Two started. I actually think that Rift is probably the most well designed mode within the context of the game. The Lore behind it makes sense within not only the overall world of Destiny but also in the Crucible. I also think that it’s the one mode that really rewards players for playing the objective, while still rewarding players who are more skilled at slaying. Control tries to find that balance, but I think falls just a little short, while Zone Control goes too far and takes the value out of kills and individual performance. If Clash isn’t what you’re into and you want objective modes in a competitive environment, I think Rift is the place to go. The modes that aren’t full teams of six – Skirmish, Salvage and Doubles – each work I think well enough. They are built to be the modes you go into with friends. Solo queue play in them is a lot more difficult to do well, mainly because with smaller team sizes, you need to have better teamwork. I like Salvage, I actually think it would work better though as a six-man mode and no revives. Ultimately though the biggest issue that I think that the modes have is that the Crucible is just begging for a true split between ranked and social play. Maybe that’s something we’ll see in the sequel.

Destiny Black Garden

With the maps, there’s actually not a huge amount of issues that I have. There are a couple of maps that I think have specific spots that present little issues, but nothing super major. What I think the biggest problem with the maps is that the playlists seem to go through phases – one day I’ll play a few hours and see maybe five maps, the next day it’ll be still only a handful, but different ones. I don’t know how much of that is just bad RNG, but map voting would be a huge way to help get some more map variety in there. I see Widow’s Court, Black Shield, Pantheon and Cathedral of Dusk way more often than the other maps. It certainly feels like a lot of the vanilla maps are weighted less in the hopper than the more recent maps, and the larger maps – Skyshock, First Light and Bastion – just don’t appear at all any more. There’s something like 20 or so Crucible arenas, and I just think playing the same ten or so is missing out. There’s a lot of room in the Destiny lore too to branch out with the arenas that I really hope Bungie starts to take advantage of. You see it on maps like Rusted Lands, with the leftovers from the Hive invasion of Earth; Bannerfall, where the remnants of that fourth Tower faction can be found after the Faction Wars; and Twilight Gap, the site of one of the more important battles within the Lore of the game. I really want to see more of that in the maps – show that these arenas are places that we’ve reclaimed from the Darkness, show that they do truly live in the same worlds that we visit in PvE activities. And I’d really love to see more variety in size in the maps – I love playing Vertigo because it’s so squished compared to many of the maps. It’s a big part of why I wish the larger maps were still in the rotation – it breaks up the monotony of the same few tactics on every map. Using a hand cannon, shotgun, rocket loadout on First Light was a lot trickier to pull off because of the ranges that you were usually engaging at.The more variety there is, the less tactics and loadouts like that can dominate to the level that they have so far.

Destiny Rise of Iron

Finally, late last week, there was a leak of some pretty killer artwork supposedly showing off the next major addition to Destiny, with the title Rise of Iron. Kotaku has apparently verified the art as legit, which is interesting because there’s a couple details that could be telling. Of course, we have no idea at all if it’s the full expansion that we’re expecting this fall – the early rumors for that were Cabal themed, and this art suggests Earth based content which would mean Fallen/Hive. It could very well be a timed event like Festival of the Lost/Sparrow Racing League was, to help get us through the summer. We have no official word to go on, and honestly probably won’t until E3. The art certainly seems to show off Lord Saladin – our Iron Banner buddy – standing out near the Cosmodrome wall looking pretty damn badass with a giant flaming axe. The axe is interesting because it reminds me of the Hammer of Sol visually, but we haven’t ever seen a super ability change appearance that much. Which brings us to the possibility of a new heavy weapon – perhaps an Exotic to complement the Swords. I have thought for a while that there’s room for some experimentation with the melee slot in the form of new Exotics. Assuming also that it is Lord Saladin, he’s got an interesting piece of gear for a Titan to have on – a full cloak. Cloaks are Hunter class armors – Titans wear marks around our waists. That a Titan, and one who not only plays a big role in-game, but also within the context of the Lore, is wearing a cloak is interesting. I have no idea at all what it could mean, but it definitely looks cool as hell. The last thing to talk about that I’ve seen people talking about is all the wolves in the picture. I’ve seen people speculate that means we’ll have companion pets, or that it’s indicating wild animals will be coming to the worlds we explore. The first I think is a really really long shot – even for the full sequel. We already have a companion character in our Ghost, and character development is something that Bungie really needs to work on for the sequel. The second idea is one that I could absolutely see working our – maybe not with the game as it is right now, but certainly moving forward. What I actually think the wolves are in the artwork is just a metaphor for the rest of the Iron Lords. We know a good amount about a few of them, and they’re all described in Lore as Iron Wolves. I just the artist included the actual wolves as a nod to that bit of Lore. Plus it looks cool as hell.

Destiny Iron Banner – Post April Update

Destiny Lord SaladinThis week is the first Iron Banner Crucible event in Destiny since the big 2.2 April Update earlier this month. With the 2.2 Update I actually started playing a little bit more Crucible testing the weapon balance changes and Warlock tweaks as well. But the Iron Banner is a different beast and it’s these week long, monthly end-game PvP events that really helps shape the weapon meta in-between those patches. So with that in mind, let’s talk a little bit about this month’s Iron Banner.

The first thing that I’ve really noticed is the increased Light level really matters now. In previous Iron Banners, it really didn’t amount to a huge factor in combat. Now that Light levels vary a bunch more – I’m willing to bet a lot that there are way more players that haven’t broken 320 yet – those players that did grind to get up above 330 really can use that difference. I went in this week at 318 – probably a little low honestly – but weapon-wise I felt pretty even. It was really with the abilities that messed me up. One Throwing Knife with Burn on would kill me from full health. A charged Warlock melee pretty much did me in as well. It also impacted my Hammer of Sol – sometimes my Hammers wouldn’t net a kill, plus I was a little squishier than normal while Hammered up. Once I switched to Striker Titan, Shoulder Charge really was dictated on my targets armor build – if they ran high armor, I couldn’t get the one-shot. So if you’re coming back to Destiny for the April update and raring to jump into Iron Banner, you might want to wait a little while, or at least find a couple teammates to play with.

Warlock Nova Bomb

The two big changes with the April update in terms of the Crucible really revolve around the weapon balance and Warlocks.The nice thing with the Warlock changes is because they are probably the best all around Class, (and I main a Titan) you see them plenty in Crucible. Generally, I think I’m seeing a good mix of the three subclasses so far. It’s not full teams of Sunsingers, mainly because they’re a little squishier than they used to be. Their grenades are still amazing with a Viking Funeral build, but Voidwalker’s neutral game is much better than before, and Stormcaller has always been a solid choice. Warlocks have always been good in Crucible – Voidwalkers for those single power play moments, Sunsingers are great damage dealers and Stormcallers are good at area control/power plays. Don’t expect a major change with the Warlocks, even with all the changes they’ve had.

Weapon-wise though, the Crucible is a very different place then the last time I really played. The last time I really was involved in PvP play in Destiny, the Crucible was full of full auto Hawksaws, Ambush/Shortgaze sight snipers, Truth, and the resurgence of Thorn. It was not a fun place if you wanted to try different things – which is a huge part of the fun with PvP to me. So far this week though, I’m seeing a bit of a different mix. Sure, there are some that pop up much more frequently – MIDA, Hawksaw, Doctrine of Passing – but nothing to the point where I think it’s the only choice like Thorn used to be. I’m seeing a good mix of special weapons, including a handful of fusion rifles. Rockets are still really strong, but since we get a lot less ammo for them, being smart with the heavy is a lot more important. This is the first time in a long time with Destiny where I think if you have a primary that you really like, you can probably use it and do well. Iron Banner or Trials of Osiris might not be the best place to test that out, but general Crucible is definitely a lot better of a place right now. The Taken Spring update continues to impress me, and really has revitalized my love for this game.

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 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.