Destiny April Update Reveal Stream Three – Playing in the Sandbox

DestinyBungie’s final reveal stream for the April Update for Destiny just wrapped up, and today was all about changes to the game-world in Destiny. Bungie calls it the sandbox, a lot of the community calls it the meta, all it really boils down to is how players interact with the game world around them. Bungie talked today about weapons, ammo, revives and Warlocks. Let’s hit a couple important bits.

The big changes to the Crucible really revolve around keeping games competitive more often. A big factor to that is revives in the 3-man modes, especially Trials. The update is bringing a slower revive time, as well as adding a strong penalty to revive timers in Trials of Osiris. The big thing is that the quick revive exotics no longer will let you sprint through and revive – you need to actually sit there for the revive. The overshield granted is also weakened, which should limit the revive push back a little. What wasn’t changed, or at least didn’t appear to be changed, was the potential for revive snipes – which is a big sticking point for me to steer clear of Trials. The other big economy change to the Crucible is with the ammo situation. Special ammo, which was removed from match start in a previous patch, is back now since players were working around that with some weapon exploits. I like bringing it back, especially in conjunction with the other changes to special ammo and weapons. The ammo crates spawn in later – three minutes into the match – and spawn less frequently. It means that using your special weapon is more of a choice – you need to pick and choose your shots. The same idea can be applied to heavy ammo – no more grabbing one crate, and holding down the map until the second spawn. There’s now only going to be one heavy ammo crate per game now. It puts a hell of a lot more emphasis on team work to grab that heavy, and spread that heavy around the team. Overall, I like the general changes – I’m sure that there’s a few more details we’ll see tomorrow in the update notes tomorrow of course. When you look at the changes to the crucible, and combine them with the weapon and Warlock changes, I think the Crucible is going to be a lot more friendly an environment to play in, especially since the rewards are going to be increased.

Destiny Thorn

The main point that I was looking forward to seeing today was the weapon balance tweaks. The current weapon meta has been pretty stagnant since December I think – especially in the Crucible. What we saw today was a lot of little changes, but ones that I think will have some substantial impact. The overall archetype changes I think hit the ones that needed them most – bullet hose auto rifles, the super slow autos, slow pulse rifles,  fusion rifles, snipers and hand cannons. I think each one got what they needed, with the exception of maybe a little accuracy boost I would have liked for the hand cannons. A bunch of specific weapons got tweaks that needed them as well – especially exotics. Thorn finally got the DoT nerf that I think it always needed. Suro Regime finally I think has become the dual option weapon it was intended to be. Icebreaker was pushed even farther to being a support weapon. The big surprise on the exotic front was Dreg’s Promise. It was possibly the worst weapon in Year One, utterly underwhelming. It’s gone under the knife and come out a totally different looking weapon. Gone are the ricochet rounds that were pretty terrible as an exotic perk, replaced with tracking shots, similar to what can roll on rocket launchers. I thought immediately of Bungie’s first tracking bullet weapon, the Needler from Halo. It’s not quite on that level, but seeing it in action was pretty impressive. It looks like a legitimate weapon choice now. I think the big overall theme with the weapon balance pass was all about options. It’s really clear that Bungie doesn’t want there to be one or two ways to play the game – both in PvE and PvP. That’s what Gjallarhorn is gone. It’s why Icebreaker got left behind. It’s why Thorn is getting looked at, again, now. The more options there are, the better the game is – variety is never a bad thing in a shooter.

Destiny Warlock

The last thing Bungie talked about today were the Warlock subclasses. Back in December, Titans got a overhaul, taking the subclasses used the least -Defender in PvP, and Striker in PvE – and adjusted them so that they aren’t detriments. This time around, it’s the Warlock. Nothing super crazy was adjusted – on any of the subclasses – just small adjustments that bring each subclass closer to the role that Bungie wants for them. Stormcaller had Stormtrance brought back a little bit, meaning you have to pick and choose when to use it more. Sunsingers had Radience tweaked a bit – banking it with Fireborn means it’s a shorter duration, but using it more offensively will give you a couple more grenades now. Flame Shield also got a little bit of a nerf, which as a Titan I really appreciate. No more melee powerhouse Sunsingers. Voidwalkers didn’t get a huge change – really their energy drain powers were where the focus was. Crank that up so that it’s giving you more energy, and really building your class around those perks is what the Voidwalker is all about now. You’re shooting for extra Nova Bombs, and these changes will help. I like the changes all around – nothing that seems like it’ll kill a subclass in PvP, and nothing that really hurts any of them in PvE. Honestly, going in to the stream, I felt like the Warlocks were in a pretty good spot. The little tweaks were all that really needed to be done – I think Hunters still need work, especially in PvE; and as a Titan, I always want a little more range on my punch. That said, the subclasses are closer than they’ve ever been I think, although hopefully we don’t need to wait too long for the Hunter pass.

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Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Warlock

The Taken King Logo

Today we’re going to continue looking at each exotic item that’s available for players in Destiny Year One. We’ve already looked at the weapons and armor pieces that Titans can find; today let’s look at the Warlock choices. While the Titan has a possible exotic for each armor slot, Warlocks are limited to three of the four. There are no exotic boots for Warlocks, at least as of Year One. Like we did with the Titan, we’ll look at the items both from a form standpoint, as well as function.

Destiny The Ram

With that said, let’s start at the top with the helmets. Much like the Titan, Warlocks have plenty of options here. While technically most of the helmets are class neutral, Voidwalkers definitely benefit from just about every helmet. We’ll start with the Apotheosis Veil – one that is actually subclass neutral. The big selling point here is that you regenerate your health whenever you activate your super ability. With good orb generation, that’s pretty constant health regeneration. It’s a cool design, nothing super flashy, and one of a few exotics that actually will change colors with the shaders. It’s unfortunately overshadowed by plenty other exotic choices. Next up is the Light Beyond Nemesis – we briefly mentioned this yesterday when talking about the Year Two update. This is the Keeper of the Pack item – AKA the quick revive choice. If you absolutely have to use this on a Warlock, go for it; but in general, I think role is better suited to the other classes. Where this piece shines is the design – it’s definitely one of the cooler helmets in the game. A solid choice, but not the best possible perhaps. Our first subclass specific helmet came in The Dark Below and Voidwalkers rejoiced. Obsidian Mind is perhaps the most powerful Voidwalker specific armor piece. In certain situations, it can net you almost constant Nova Bombs, through the exotic perk that reduces cooldown based on kills with it. Add in Obsidian Mind looks super sleek with a jet black design and it was destined to be a clear winner; and really still can be. The other Voidwalker specific is the Skull of Dire Ahamkara. It’s another super cool design – I’m a fan of the exotics based on the Ahamkara lore. From a perk standpoint, it’s not terrible – you become even harder to kill while Nova Bombing, and your Energy Drain melee abilities are increased. However, all these helmets have been overshadowed with the addition of this last choice: The Ram. Added in with House of Wolves, The Ram is the only item in the game that allows you to innately push a stat over the cap – in this case, it’s your armor stat. In PvP, that’s an insane benefit (and one that Sunsingers can push even farther) – it lets you survive things that no one else can – sticky grenades in particular. If you’re playing Voidwalker, you can get extra benefits with it adding in Life Steal for all your melee attacks. And it looks as badass as possible, resulting in an exotic that has risen right to the very top of the charts.

Destiny Claws of Ahamkara

When we move to gauntlets, we get a little more subclass balance. There’s one neutral choice, and one for each subclass. That neutral choice would be the Claws of Ahamkara – the second Ahamkara based piece for Warlocks. Like the helmet, they have a pretty great design – simple, looking like it’s based around feathers almost. In terms of use they also may require you to look twice. I said repeatedly with the Titan that melee is a bad idea in end-game play; that’s not quite the case as a Warlock. The extra range they have helps keep them safe, and with Flame Shield on Sunsingers, you actually can get away with it. The Claws will give you a second charge on your melee ability – a solid overall choice in PvE or PvP. If it fits your playstyle, this is actually a really good choice. Voidwalkers just got access with the House of Wolves to their gauntlets – the Nothing Manacles. They look very similar to the Sunsinger choice – the Sunbreakers, just in purple. Both also impact a specific grenade in that subclass – Scatter for Voidwalkers, Solar for Sunsingers. The Nothing Manacles I think are the better choice here – they add tracking to the Scatter Grenade projectiles, in addition to giving you a second Scatter Grenade. The Sunbreakers merely extend your Solar Grenade duration – you really can only take advantage with this in specific builds and while Radianced.

Destiny Voidfang Vestments

With the chest armor, the subclass balance shifts the other way. Three of the four armor choices here are Sunsinger based – and that fourth choice really can actually benefit the Sunsinger just as much. We’ll start with The Heart of the Praxic Fire – one of the cooler looking chest pieces, even without applying shaders. However, the exotic perk, which further reduces cooldowns while using Radiance, actually doesn’t have a huge impact. Datto has a video going through the details, but basically even with a max discipline build, you’re probably only going to get one more grenade out. Not that huge of a boost. Next up, the final House of Wolves piece for Warlocks – the Purifier Robes. I love the design of these things – the bird looking emblem right at the breastplate really looks great, and really pops with Thunderdevil on. Unfortunately, their use is really quite limited. You can only get the disorient effect when you self-revive using Radiance. That means you have to die first. Add in a pretty small radius of effect, and even in PvP they pale compared with other choices. For example, the Dark Below chest piece, the Starfire Protocol. It provides you with a nice, simple bonus – a second Fusion Grenade. Sure you have to use a specific grenade, but in general, the Fusion Grenade is awesome across the board, especially in PvP. They look good on top of that, pairing well with a number of shaders. Finally, we come to one of the older armor pieces – the Voidfang Vestments. These were all over the place back in the early days, and really, I think they hold up even now. Yes, they’re technically for Voidwalkers – giving your Axion Bolt grenade an extra seeker – but they have a second bonus associated with them. Anytime you spawn, you have grenade energy; which is applied regardless of subclass. Continually spawning with Firebolt grenades as a Sunsinger is a really great tactic – especially in Skirmish/Elimination. I love the design on these things too – they change with shaders, just have a super ornate look, and it’s just all around a great armor choice.

Warlocks are in a really great spot here with exotic armor. There are a lot of really good choices from a gameplay standpoint, for both subclasses. Sure, there are some that are better than others, but there’s probably a perfect choice for just about any playstyle. I think this is something to keep an eye on as we move into Year Two – we know that a couple of these are moving forward with us, but how they’ll measure up to the new choices remains to be seen.

Destiny Build Guides – Warlock Sunsinger Tips and Tricks

DestinyContinuing our walk through the second subclasses for each of the main classes in Destiny, today let’s look at the Sunsinger subclass for the Warlock. It’s definitely a different beast from the Voidwalker subclass, not just for the difference in the damage type, but for the focuses that the upgrades set up for. Tomorrow will wrap up the subclass guides with the Bladedancer for the Hunter, and on Thursday I’ll do a postmortem on the first month of Destiny‘s lifespan before starting to look ahead again to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Sunset Overdrive, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Before I dive into the actual upgrades for the Sunsinger, it’s important to look at your gear for Sunsinger builds. With Voidwalker builds, you can totally get away with a strength build, using Energy Drain to continually keep your grenade and Nova Bomb charging. Sunsinger on the other hand really benefits from a discipline build – keeping your grenades up is super important, especially when paired with Radiance. We’ll get into the specifics as we talk about Radiance, but keep in mind that when getting gear – it might not be a bad idea to keep a second set of gear specific to either subclass, especially if you are going to switch back and forth.

Sunsinger Class

With that said, let’s start off with the grenades for the Sunsinger subclass. You have access to the Solar, Firebolt and Fusion grenades. The Solar grenade essentially is a fire damage variant of the Vortex grenade – it’s got a good blast radius and stays up dealing damage over time for a good bit. Similarly the Firebolt grenade is close to the Axion Bolt grenade – it has a short first explosion, before sending out fireballs to hit enemies. It’s not quite as effective at hitting enemies around corners, but it does send out three bolts, which travel much faster. I like it in PvP myself for hitting enemies you can’t see around corners. Finally, the Fusion grenade really excels for taking down bigger enemies – it deals bonus damage if it’s stuck to a target. Depending on your preferences, I think your best options are the Solar and Firebolt grenades – both are really strong choices, and pair well with Radiance.

Before that, let’s hit the melee ability for Sunsinger – the Scorch melee attack. A lot like Energy Drain, it has a lot more range than you might expect, so don’t let that fool you. As a base attack it deals solar damage, and lights enemies on fire, dealing some damage over time. The upgrades for Scorch include Flame Shield, Solar Wind, and Brimstone. Flame Shield grants you an overshield when you deal damage with Scorch – which helps if you’re running around in the fray. Solar Wind makes hits with Scorch knock enemies back, keeping you a bit safer. Brimstone causes kills with Scorch to make enemies explode – giving you a bit of an option against groups of enemies. I like Flame Shield, especially in the Crucible – having an overshield is always a good thing. One thing to keep in mind – Scorch has a bit longer cooldown than Energy Drain does, so going with a discipline builds means you probably won’t be tossing Scorch around a ton.

Sunsinger Radiance

Now we get to the crux of the subclass – the super ability, Radiance. The description of Radiance is a little obtuse – just saying that it increases the effectiveness of all your abilities. What this translates to is a much much shorter cooldown on your grenade and Scorch. That’s why it’s so important to go with a discipline build – using that stat’s effect combined with Radiance lets you toss around grenades like crazy. It’s not at all unreasonable to get out at least six grenades during one Radiance. Not only does that help by clearing groups of enemies out quickly, but it also generates lots of orbs. Radiance’s upgrades are Song of Flame, Radiant Skin and Fireborn. Song of Flame reduces all the cooldowns for nearby allies, helping keep them supered, with grenades and melees up. Radiant Skin gives you a pretty sizable damage reduction with Radiance active. Fireborn lets you activate Radiance after you’ve been killed, essentially acting as a self-revive. Depending on what you’re going to be doing in game, you can mix up what upgrades you have on. Song of Flame is good if you have a group of teammates in PvE, while Radiant Skin and Fireborn both get more use in the Crucible. Fireborn is also nice to have for high level strikes that you can’t respawn without a teammate reviving you.

As for the class modifiers we have Radiant Will, Viking Funeral, Sunburst, Touch of Flame, Angel of Light, and Gift of the Sun. Radiant Will extends the duration of Radiance, giving you even more time to toss around grenades, and keep cooldowns low. Viking Funeral makes enemies you ignite burn longer and take more solar damage, nice to have extra damage anytime. Sunburst makes it so kills with Scorch have a chance to drop Orbs of Light, again helping your teammates stay supered. Touch of Flame makes it so every grenade ignites enemies, giving them all damage over time. Angel of Light allows you to hover in midair if you aim down the sights while in the air, which is a nice tactical move, especially in the Crucible. Gift of the Sun gives you a second grenade – again pairing incredibly well with a discipline build and Radiance.

Upon first glance, it might look like Sunsinger is a buffing class, thanks to keeping cooldowns low and adding damage resistance with Radiance; but in practice, Sunsinger is a lot like Voidwalker – it’s a glass cannon class that lets you throw lots of grenades that can cause damage over time, while at the same time, you still have some fragility to deal with. It’s a lot of fun to play in the Crucible for sure, using Flame Shield and Radiant Skin to keep you alive in the fray while still tossing grenades out there to get kills.

Destiny Build Guides – Warlock Voidwalker Tips and Tricks

DestinyYesterday I talked a bit about my preferences for the Striker subclass for the Titan in Destiny. Today let’s do the same for the Voidwalker subclass for the Warlock.

The Voidwalker at it’s core functions basically like a glass cannon – it’ll dish out lots of damage, but you’re pretty fragile should your shields break. With the right gear you can keep your abilities charged and ready in order to keep dealing damage. Just like the name suggests, the primary damage source comes from Void elemental damage – so against Vex minotaurs, a Voidwalker will be really useful to break their shields quickly. It’s a fun class to play, once you get the hang of how some of the abilities actually behave.

Destiny Warlock

First thing you’ll want to really get familiar with is how your grenades work. If you’re used to how grenades feel in most shooters, you might have some initial struggles with the Warlock’s grenades. The throwing motion is more of a sidearm fling, and as a result, the actual grenades come out flatter and don’t quite travel as far as you might expect. I’ve found the most effective way to use the grenades is by jumping up into the air first, then flinging down the explosives into the groups of enemies. As far as the three grenade types go, the Voidwalker has access to the Vortex grenade, Scatter grenade and the Axion Bolt grenade. The Vortex grenade is just what it sounds like – a single explosion on contact, and leaves an dome that causes continual damage. The Scatter grenade splits on contact into a bunch of smaller explosives, which is great for clearing out a group of weakened enemies quick. The Axion Bolt grenade has an initial burst, then sends out two seeker bolts that hit enemies that are in the range, which is a nice way to hedge your bets in case your aim isn’t great. I’ve been running with the Axion Bolt lately, but I really think any grenade is a good choice – in both PvE and PvP. It really just depends on your playstyle.

Nova Bomb

Tying in with the grenades is the melee ability for the Voidwalker, Energy Drain. As it is, the melee for the Warlock is a quick palm strike that actually has a lot longer range than it might appear. With Energy Drain, any hit will trigger a regen effect that increases the regen on your grenades. With the right gear, you can cycle the two pretty quickly, with gear that makes grenade hits reduce melee cooldown, and then energy drains do the same for grenades. That effect is always part of the melee attack, regardless of which upgrades you put on it – those upgrades instead add on other boosts with kills. Surge gives you increased movement and reload speed after hits, Life Steal makes kills restore a big chunk of health and Soul Rip makes kills reduce your Super cooldown. I tend to run with Surge on, since it helps with reloads on scout rifles and hand cannons, plus again I use gear with a decent Intellect boost for Nova Bomb.

Warlock Nova Bomb

And speaking of Nova Bomb, I think that super ability really illustrates the glass cannon nature of the Warlock well. It does a ton of damage, but you are still pretty vulnerable during it, especially in PvP if your enemies have good aim. At its core, Nova Bomb essentially is a giant version of the Vortex grenade – a big explosion that clears groups of enemies quickly. To extend the usefulness, you can add Vortex on it, which adds a damage over time aspect to the explosion, Shatter, which splits the super into three projectiles, good for bigger groups, or you can add Lance, which makes it go farther and faster. Depending on your preferences, I think Shatter and Vortex are the better of the upgrades specific to Nova Bomb, but Lance might be useful if you tend to play from farther back from the fray.

As for the other six character upgrades, they include: Annihilate, which makes your grenades and Nova Bomb explosions larger, Angry Magic, which makes Nova Bomb track enemies, The Hunger, which increases the Energy Drain effect, Vortex Mastery, which makes Axion Bolt seekers have longer range as well as increasing the Vortex effect on grenades and Nova Bomb, Bloom, which makes enemies explode when you kill them with abilities, and Embrace the Void, which triggers the Energy Drain effect when any grenade or Nova Bomb damages enemies. I think for the majority of the time, Annihilate is the way to go – larger explosions is always good, and really, any of the last three can work, just play around with them to find what you like.

As for my build, I have been using Axion Bolt lately, along with Shatter on Nova Bomb and Surge on Energy Drain. I use Annihilate and The Hunger as I feel like it, and primarily Bloom to help clear groups with melee and grenades even quicker, and Embrace the Void when I want to keep my abilities cycling even faster. With the jumping ability, I’m playing around with Blink right now, but I’m not sure I like it, so I would just stick with Focused Burst for a bit of speed.

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

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

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

Destiny Titan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destiny Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

Destiny Warlock

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

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

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

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

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

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