NEWS: Etheric Light, ATK Level, Y1 Exotics, Trophies & More

Published on: Aug 28, 2015 @ 18:09

GI sat down for a podcast with Luke Smith and Mark Noseworthy, and we learned a lot more about the design decisions that led to some of the features we’re going to see implemented in The Taken King. The guys also answer popular questions from the community with candor and clarity.


Etheric Light

“Right now, as of the end of August, there’s not currently an exchange for it.”

Bungie currently has no plans yet for Etheric Light to be effectively integrated into the economy. Most irksome, they haven’t provided a way of dismantling it or ridding yourself of it, so it will be another thing cluttering up your inventory with no use. It’s not all bad though; they anticipate it being something they’ll address at some point after TTK’s launch. Let’s hope it’s sooner than later.


Release Schedule

There’s no minute-to-minute schedule cemented yet for the Taken King’s release. Bungie has a timeline that they’re targeting, but until its set in stone, we won’t hear anything about the exact release time. Mark Noseworthy assures us that more specifics will be out the closer we get to release.


Expanding Beyond the “Cap”

When Light and Character Level are split, you untether the idea of grinding for the cap. Light is more an estimation of your power, and the goal should not be to rush to the highest level, but to consciously boost it, incrementally, to make yourself better and better suited for content that you’re interested in playing. There won’t be giant chasms between certain light levels, as it scales linearly without any plateaus anymore. Gone are the days of 33% damage reduction for simply being one gear piece short of a set. Bungie would be happy if we all shifted away from the cap mentality.

Luke is excited about The Taken King offering more avenues for optimization. The vertical power game (i.e. increasing your Light Level) that was in Vanilla is gone, and the new Expansion wants to provide different pieces of gear with specific abilities that allow you to streamline your playstyle, emphasizing synergy over just the max stats. Bungie wants to curtail that vertical climb, while still encouraging you to play by tucking away useful niche gear to truly build your Guardian with meaningful decisions.


Attack vs. Light

Luke elaborates on how your Attack and Light will combine for calculating your outgoing damage:

“…the short answer, dude, is yes. Like the Attack value exists on the weapons to dictate the attack value for the weapon. So, a weapon that is 170 Attack will drop your Light by some percentage if your average is 280 – like, I’ve seen the same thing you’re talking about – and what’s that’s gonna do is lower your overall – your uh – you’re going to be less defensive; like you’re going to receive more damage because your overall light went down. But when wielding that 170 Attack weapon, your Attack is also gonna go down too, because your weapon is not scaling against the inflation curve for the enemies.”

To simplify, this means your Light will affect how you scale against enemies, in terms of receiving and dealing damage, but unless your Attack is also on-par with the strength of the enemies you’re facing, you’ll do much less damage on top of that. For this reason, we are now 100% sure that your Y1 Fatebringer simply won’t cut it when you get to the true endgame.


Expanding the Vault

While we can’t speak to the intricacies of programming, suffice it to say that Bungie’s team rooted around and found through a sheer stroke of luck an extra megabyte of memory, that they decided should be allocated toward increasing the size of your Vault. In this way, they were able to free up a considerable amount of space for you to fill with your favorite gear. Hilariously, they originally feared they only had the resources for three extra vault spots, and were reticent to even announce this as an improvement, anticipating (correctly) the community’s derision to that being something worth a patch note.


The Balance of Subclasses

While Luke isn’t ready to concede the Titan being a lost cause – he claims the Defender is the strongest PvE class, bar none – he and Bungie are well aware of the Titan’s shortcomings in PvP, especially that of the Defender. In fact, 2.0 may contain a balance buff for Razor’s Edge vs. the Ward of Dawn. Without announcing anything specifically, Luke acknowledges Bungie has plans for taking a look at Titan talents, Exotics, and their inherent weaknesses compared to the other subclasses.

“The original six kits – you know, we’ve got to look at all of these things in our upcoming balance patches.”

The Original Six might be getting a revamp! After seeing the absurd potency of the new subclasses coming with The Taken King, we’d be lying if we said our old subclasses didn’t look a little tame in comparison. Luke fully plans on examining the balance of these at some point down the line, and possibly even re-tooling certain perks to be more viable. This comes with the usual caveat of no real schedule, so don’t hold your breath.


Year One Exotics

Bungie had to have a team discussion to decide which Exotics would be joining us for the nascent days of The Taken King. It wasn’t simply a matter of coming up with the right upgrade, but figuring out which Exotics fit into the balance they hoped to engender. MIDA Multi-tool won’t have a Y2 upgrade right away, but thankfully there are three new Exotic Scout Rifles to keep you warm in the meantime.

There’s only one new Exotic Pulse Rifle (No Time To Explain), so Bad Juju and Red Death were natural choices for the Y2 treatment. Although hamstrung by deals with Sony for PS-exclusive content, Bungie is extending a bit of an olive branch to spurned Xbox players by keeping Hawkmoon relevant for The Taken King. For the first time, PS and Xbox users will be experiencing the deadly Hand Cannon together. All Y1 PS-exclusives will receive an updated Y2 version.

Ice Breaker and Gjallarhorn

They were emblematic of a problem in Destiny that needed to be fixed, and have been retired as Bungie feels they’ve begun to fix that problem. Luke graciously acknowledges the bullet sponge bosses that demanded their use, but also claims boldly that overpowered weapons like these have no place in the game when the bullet sponges have been removed. We think this is debatable; as fun as the new subclasses look, there’s something to be said for handing a player a crazy fun weapon like Ice Breaker, even if it unbalances certain aspects of a game. You have to weigh balance against other aspects sometimes.

Luke reminds us that Bungie wanted the arrival of TTK to feel “like a different season” and that part of cultivating that atmosphere involves plunging players into an experience where they won’t be able to rely on the weapons they’ve always used. It’s bittersweet, but we can see where they’re coming from. Destiny needs to evolve to avoid becoming banal and predictable, and for that to happen, novelty must be a priority.



Incoming and outgoing glimmer has been re-examined. You’ll have more things to spend Glimmer on, but as a result, there will be more sources in which Glimmer is generously rewarded. Armsday, for example, allows you to purchase multiple packages as you rank up with Banshee. You may end up purchasing enough packages between your three characters to consume over 20k Glimmer just for Armsday! As a result, Bungie upped the amount of Glimmer rewarded from patrol missions and certain economy items, such as the Alchemist’s Raiment, have been designed with the singular goal of lessening the burden of keeping your wallet full.

Cap Increase?

“Nope, it’s still the same.”



Luke shed a little light on these with a few tweets, but he expands here to say that Artifacts are designed around the perk potential of creating orbs. You’ll have different ways to do this, depending on the artifact, but almost all will involve some sort of elemental damage, be it a melee or another form of attack. They’ll also provide minor stat boosts, unlock at level 40, and come in either Rare or Legendary quality. The game will even put you on a path to acquiring your first one through a scripted mission.

titan artifact


Character Re-customization

Plenty of people at Bungie want this feature too! Noseworthy wants to look like a Robot, Awoken He-Man (go figure), with the “cool He-Man haircut.” There will not be a Barbershop or Character Recustomization Kiosk of any sort when The Taken King comes out, but both Luke and Mark again reassure us that our requests aren’t falling on deaf ears.

It’s a bit of a letdown, but a vague response is better than no response.


Keeping Old PvE Relevant

While it would be a great feature for those of us who have exhausted Destiny’s to-do list a million times over, Bungie is keeping the Y1 content at Y1 levels with Y1 rewards. The Vault of Glass, and Crota’s End will not be updated with harsher challenges or better rewards. Instead, they will remain activities for those players that will join Destiny again with The Taken King to experience for the first time in their original format.

The Prison of Elders will not see an update for loot or variety, apparently. This one stings a bit because PoE had pitiful rewards and never was realized as fully as it might have been had Bungie focused on meaningful rewards. Thankfully – well, for hardcore PvP players, anyway – the Trials of Osiris will march forward, with a bigger and better Y2 inventory for the Crucible’s best to acquire come September.


Trophies & Achievements

There are new Trophies and Achievements for PS and Xbox, respectively. We published a list of them earlier today, so check them out! Rest assured that all old achievements will retain their compatibility to any relevant changes to the game when TTK comes out. “Either way, nobody’s getting screwed.” Mark Noseworthy puts it best.


Equipping Emotes

You’ll only have one potential Emote you can swap out, and that will be the left D-Pad slot. You won’t be able to point, but you can swap in whatever new Emote you want to replace it with. We hope to see them allow every D-Pad slot to be customizable in the future; pointing is actually pretty useful!


Petra & The Awoken

There will be a storyline with several quests that emerges later in the game. Variks will be involved, and it’ll feel like a continuation of the storyline from the House of Wolves, incorporating the ramifications of a significant early cutscene in TTK, and how the Reef is reacting to the presence of Oryx.


Strike Playlists

There are only three playlists, but as we stated in a previous article, Luke is confident that simply playing any of the new playlists will get you set with gear that will move you consistently toward having a good set of endgame gear, making use of the smarter RNG that discerns what you’re still missing and provides it to you with more frequency.

Still, Heroic Strikes will provide the best rewards, including Legendary Marks. You can mess around in Y1 Legacy if you’re interested in playing the old stuff, though we can’t say for sure if the rewards are up to snuff. 200 Light will be the recommended value for the “normal” new playlist, and 260 for the Heroic playlist.


Lag & Cheaters

They have nothing to announce about the results of their bans and behind-the-scenes actions to eliminate latency, but are pleased to report that they will be focusing more on competitive matchmaking to better pair up players of equivalent skill levels. Lars and the PvP team should have more on this in the near future.


The End

If you didn’t have time to listen to the podcast, we hope this article has been helpful in plucking the useful stuff and condensing it to a brief read. We definitely encourage you to listen to it when you get a chance though, because it’s a breezy, fun, and informative look-in to how Bungie is coping with their own and the community’s demands.