Published on: Aug 12, 2015 @ 14:39
Happy Wednesday! If you’re anything like us, much of this day was spent irritably refreshing Twitter, Reddit, and GI looking for the latest update. Well, it’s here! And it’s a doozy of an interview.
In Game Informer’s latest Taken King article, they discuss their experiences and what they enjoyed during the time they had to play it.
Bungie opened its doors to us a few weeks back to show off what the team has been busy working on in recent months, and gave us the chance to play not just a few select missions, but the full scope of what’s on offer in The Taken King. We have a wealth of in-depth details in our monthly magazine cover story, but we decided it was worth sharing more about our own personal experience playing through the content, along with some choice tidbits that we couldn’t squeeze into our 14-page cover story.
You can read the entirety of it on GI’s own site, but we’ll be going over the essentials to offer our thoughts on anything new and/or interesting. Game Informer seems particularly excited, but pure optimism doesn’t always paint the clearest picture, so we’ll do our best here to dissect the particulars of what was said and what wasn’t, to continue to give you the best impression of The Taken King. We’ll go section-by-section, and pick out what we feel is important, but we encourage you to read the whole article for yourself!
Game Informer reminds that this wasn’t a heavily-gated, curated version of The Taken King that was on display for them when they visited, but a fully open and vulnerable gaming experience. This means that the weaknesses as well as the strengths were on full display, so Bungie has to be pretty confident in their final product. While plenty could change before TTK hits shelves, it’s safe to say Bungie’s glasnost is a welcome step forward.
GI continues by highlighting a few of their favorite aspects of TTK, including the emboldened and more coherent storyline, the massive infusion of new weapons and armor, and the new subclass-specific questlines. We covered what we thought of Bungie’s outlook on story in a separate article, but we’re also pretty excited for the new weapons. According to GI, even some common quality items will be on par with, or stronger than, some of the Raid gear from previous expansions. This hard reset is akin to the practices of long-standing MMOs such as World of Warcraft, and incentivizes – however harshly – moving on from our old favorites. To make things easier, Bungie touts their new-and-improved RNG system, with more intelligent loot allocation based on needs and reward history.
While they cover much of what we already know, their comments about Cayde, Zavala, and Eris, stand out. These characters apparently are much more active, with complementary personalities adding some humor and affecting moments. This honestly should have happened a long time ago, but it’s better late than never. Now, when we visit these NPCs with their canned phrases ringing in our ears, we’ll have a bit of an appreciation for their role in the broader context of Destiny.
Also, for all our incredible conquests in “becoming legend”, Destiny has always been pretty pitiful in making us feel like we’ve done anything of consequence. No matter what happens, NPCs still say the same things (Eris being a notable exception) – and it feels odd to be given the same exasperated instructions for Patrol missions that suggest that menial, repetitive tasks are all we’re good for. This is apparently changing with TTK, where the Tower’s collective gratefulness will be on greater display, as it becomes clear that the first line against the Darkness has come to rely on our particular brand of heroics. Who better to “plant the flag”, so to speak, on the Dreadnaught than the very Guardian whose actions pushed the Vanguard to this moment?
There weren’t too many new things introduced here. We know we won’t be able to use our sparrows, and that Destiny’s new location is indeed a massive landscape, that is still replete with secretive alcoves, bottlenecked and claustrophobic encounter areas, and tricky platforming elements that will require vigilance to navigate. We also now know that an Exotic (presumably the Sleeper Simulant), has been separated into a mammoth fifty pieces, all of which are scattered about the Dreadnaught for a massive search quest.
One very cool addition to the Dreadnaught is The Taken War, which will be a series of missions that open up for conquering following your completion of the main storyline. This sort of staged questing has been missing from Destiny, and it seems like a smart way to reinvigorate a space that will inevitably become routine, as all content does. For all of the enemies Destiny has, missions in which we encounter them together are few and far between. The Dreadnaught happily bucks this trend by integrating the Taken, Hive, and Cabal in a warring atmosphere in which you will make your presence known very shortly.
Gear and Leveling
We’re reminded in a little more detail of the new leveling system that the Cover Story first notified us of. Again, level is no longer tied to your gear specifically, but to a set amount of experience that you will amass by completing The Taken King bounties and missions. Again, you get to keep your level, and be assured that Bungie has a foolproof way of knowing what the highest level you have attained is.
While this mechanic was not fully explained, you can apparently “sacrifice some of your weapons to upgrade guns you actually care about.” This idea is fine, in principle, but it seems a little callous to reduce our favorite tools of Year 1 to XP points for guns that we may or may not hang on to when our Vault again begins to fill up. As always, the issue of space looms menacingly overhead, and no matter how many quick-fixes and imaginative workarounds Bungie introduces, we’ll be waving goodbye to more gear than most of us are comfortable with.
Light will be our “power” and it will be tied to both Weapons, Armor, Class Items, and even Ghost Shells, to calculate a sort of “combat readiness” that will determine our likelihood of capably handling a given encounter. Level will have a role of its own, based entirely on XP, but ultimately Light – and thus, gear – will always decide where you’re safe and where you’re outclassed. They do mention that at level 40, more missions and quests will open up to you.
One thing we’re really excited for is Ghost Shells. It’s hard not to be a little cynical about having them withheld for so long: did we really have to wait for TTK for a little variety in the Dinklebot department? Either way, the miscellaneous perks sound fun and useful for mix-and-matching when the need arises. Little elements of customization like this go such a long way in Destiny, and Bungie needs all the encouragement in the world in continuing to introduce them. Throw in the new kiosks that we’ve discussed, and we’ll be seeing a lot of Guardians decked out in different outfits. However, if the best gear still has the most Light, and having the most Light makes a Guardian strongest, we’re a little apprehensive if we’ll end up all chasing the same Raid gear in the end. Ascension has its downsides, but no one wants to be forced into wearing and equipping the same things to be at max power – whether it’s Light or Level calling the shots.
Hey, look at that, we’ve got equippable emotes on the horizon! As it is, there’s only four, so it stands to reason that there are going to be more introduced when TTK drops . We’re hoping that it won’t just be the Collector’s Edition emotes! It’d be pretty sad if the only people that can take advantage of this new feature are the ones who shelled out the most money. Maybe a new vendor will have them available, or they can be earned through specific challenges or special events? Bungie has a lot of room to work with this, so we hope that Destiny’s personality grows as we slow-clap our way through Oryx’s attempt at revenge.
GI reminds us of a few more improvements Bungie is making with streamlining currency, and then they get to discussing their new favorite vendor: Banshee. The Gunsmith has seen his role expanded in TTK, as he truly becomes a proper master of weaponry. He’ll have his own reputation, that can be grinded by completing challenges with prototype weapons he doles out. We don’t know if these weapons will be short-changed on Light, so it’s possible you may end up a little underpowered, making the bounties all the trickier! Your reward of course, will be the new Xûr-esque day, “Armsday”, where Foundry weapons will be delivered with a RNG-dictated roll. We’re hesitant to fully endorse the randomly-rolled aspect of this event; it remains to be seen if the perks in TTK will be desirable or not. But, on the flip side, if you could get your dream weapon and Reforge it to immediately get your dream roll, it would hardly be as exciting to receive your new toy on Armsday. The best solution, of course, is to make sure every perk is strong enough to be worthwhile, so variety doesn’t necessarily mean a deficit in quality. Bungie should know how to do this by now, and they need to avoid making trash perks to earn back confidence from their players.
Speaking of Xûr, everyone’s favorite tentacle-faced monster will have a new item, tentatively called the “Three of Coins”, which increases the Exotic drop rate from the next boss you fell. There, your No Land Beyond from Crota is now practically a guarantee!
Replayability will be a big focus for Bungie as Strikes are given special focus in TTK. Certain parts of classic Strikes will have different elements randomly introduced. This could be a new type of enemy putting pressure on you, or maybe even a new voiceover that fills in some of the blanks or offers new information about your objective. Your AFK leeches will be forced kicking-and-screaming into the fray, as Bungie has introduced a POE-like mechanic that warps stragglers to the front lines. Hopefully, they have a similar plan for those who don’t care about dying, as these have become the real problem in recent months. If you don’t participate, you should get kicked, or at least be denied rewards, plain and simple.
We got a few exciting new details about these new Strikes, including a ringing endorsement of the new PS-exclusive “Echo Chamber”, in which you battle The Restorative Mind, a Vex Hydra that requires you to incorporate some “Raid-lite” mechanics. You have to run in between pillars with an “arc core” that makes the boss vulnerable. Some of the best fights in Destiny incorporate this style of inventive fighting/puzzle-solving, and if it’s finally trickling down into Strikes, it’s a good sign for the game going forward.
The Sunless Cell, accessible to both PS and Xbox users, contain a boss fight in which you tackle a terrifying Hive foe in sheer darkness. This sounds particularly exhilarating, and is even apparently integral to the lore of TTK. Strikes have always felt ancillary to the Destiny story, though this has improved in recent expansions, so the more they are connected to the plot, the better.
GI concludes by tallying off the new Strike playlists, that will be replacing our current roster. Vanguard Legacy fittingly compiles the old Strikes of Destiny into a playlist you can tackle anytime, anywhere. Vanguard Ursa is a tougher battle, with random Heroic modifiers, but rewards Legendary Marks and Engrams for your struggle. Finally, Vanguard Marmoset – and we hope Bungie keeps this name – is exclusively filled with Strikes pulled from The Taken King. As for Nightfalls? Bungie is going to hand-pick the modifiers for these going forward.
We already foresee a few issues with Vanguard Ursa, as certain Strikes with certain modifiers are going to be a real pain. No one will want to play the Will of Crota with Grounded, for example, but the Nexus with Solar Burn would be a different thing entirely. As the goal for Strike playlists is always to make your way to the finish line as efficiently as possible, quitters are going to continue to be a problem.
We’re certain GI is going to go over this in greater detail later this month, so we’ll keep our discussion here brief. The GI guys talk about their favorite new PvP maps and PvP game modes, but don’t reveal much more about the game modes than what we already understand from the initial preview and footage from the TTK reveal at E3. “Zone Control” was given only a sentence or two, confirming that its a game mode in which the top priority is working with your teammates to secure the objective, where kills don’t award points at all.
Of particular note is the new quests and bounties, though. Apparently they will cover not just standard game modes, but Iron Banner, the Trials of Osiris, and more. Some will be easy enough, with short enough requirements, to be completed in a day by yourself. Others will require a coordinated fireteam, such as the Weekly bounty – but the rewards will be great!
As always, Bungie keeps their biggest reveal close to the chest. Not much can be said about the Raid, other than the fact that Luke is confident that it will be “objectively and emphatically our biggest raid yet.” If this is the case, we can’t wait. Crota’s End had its moments, and the Vault of Glass was a great opener, but if they can somehow manage to marry the best of both worlds, then The Taken King will cement Destiny as a successful game for years to come.
We’ve already given you an extensive discussion of value, and every day that more information is revealed gives you a better perspective in what your opinion is of The Taken King’s minimum $40 price tag. And if you’re not yet decided? We’ll have more information… just as soon as GI gets it out.
That about wraps it up! Thanks as always for reading, and we hope you’re satisfied with what’s been shown off so far. Stay tuned in tomorrow for yet another update, and we’ll do everything we can to keep you in the know.