If you’re positively bewildered by what madness you’re spotting here and would like additional context, a link to previous parts in the series can be found at the end of the article.
Usually, professional journalists hate dating their work. Mostly because it can make an article feel specific to a moment in time. The theory being as soon as the next patch rolls out like a drunk and elderly Sonic of the Hedgehog, nothing said will be relevant.
That said, I’ve never been afraid of such things.
So as I boot up the game, I get told to visit people in The Tower because of “The Festival of the Lost.”
“Well, okay?” I mutter confused as I set off. Hoping it wasn’t related to The Limbo of the Lost. Since I managed to shoot the Vex making device until it stopped moving, it seemed just as fine a place to start as any. Besides noticing the date was the 27th of October, nothing really sprung to mind. “They wouldn’t do a straight Halloween themed event…right?”.
Well, fortunately they haven’t. Interestingly enough though, they kept the ritual of banging on doors for delicious treats.
As well as there always being one giving out raisins…
In exchange for these treats, I received a mask; a dodecahedron one to be exact. I mean, it is technically a mask. “What? You want a better mask? Go out there and shoot players in our PvP mode.”
“But, I’m level 25!”
At this point, like a bored child, the game had wondered off. With that I tightened my belt, put on my finest gear and rode out into combat.
The first PvP mode I tried was ‘Rift’. Imagine ‘Capture the Flag’, but you have to place it in your opponent’s goal and if you shoot the carrier then it goes back to the center if it sits too long. I’m not good at PvP even at the best of times. In fact, I ended the match just off the bottom with a win, surprisingly. Although there were two peculiarities I noticed.
The first, and perhaps the most obvious and alarming one, is the point system. You gain points if you capture-the-flag. You also gain points if you kill people. In fact, you gain so many points doing the latter that I question the use of the former. I think we scored once and the enemy scored so many goals the celebration horn ran out of compressed air. Yet we won pretty hard on kills. I couldn’t help but think that a game based around ‘Capture the Flag’ should be primarily about capture and flags and not about how many scalps I collected.
Which is probably good because I didn’t collect many.
The second one revolves around levels. I was gunning down level 40 folks down as a simpleton at level 25. Speaking to someone who has been chasing Destiny for years, apparently weapons/armor stats don’t make a difference. This creates an interesting dynamic where instead of being pushed towards specific weapon types, I could just use whatever weapon pleased me. Although I’ve heard some conflicting accounts in terms of armor/weapon stats, so I’m not entirely sure.
However, that isn’t to say the game completely lets you off the leash. If you’re expecting to be able to mow down level 40’s as a level 2, you’ll still end up biting the curb. Your sub-class is non-equalized, so if you’re a level 2 (the lowest you can be) you may have noticeably lower stats. It takes until about level 15 or 20, I think, before you’ve unlocked all the equippable slots. At that point, you’re free to frolic.
I think the minimal, if any, difference in weapon/armor statistics is both the best and worst parts of the PvP. It creates an accessibility that, I believe, should be applauded. I can play PvP at the odd level of 25 without any problems at all.
However, there is the dangling problem of progression. What do you give to people who have it all? Cosmetics? Sure. However, there’s nothing to give people that will improve things mechanics wise, unless if you’re that concerned about the very minor differences. If you’re a casual PvPer, there’s a very quick limit as only PvE experiences offer noticeable stat improvements on gear. Something that differs wildly from say, MMORPG’s style PvP’s where better PvP equipment is given as a reward for doing well (e.g. World of Warcraft).
On the surface, this sacrifice is acceptable. Sadly though, the PvP maps feel a bit constrained and simple. There isn’t the complexity nor the size associated with skill-based FPS PvP. Other than flinging numbers at each other until one drops, there’s not much to notice about the PvP matches.
Getting back to PvP topic, I also tried ‘Combined Arms’. I don’t usually do well with vehicles. In fact I’m normally obliterated but oddly enough, I was the one who did the obliterating this time. I quickly climbed into a tank and started gunning people down with no problem, not even dying once during the match. I kept wondering if I was missing something as I not only won, but I also got first place on the team. I did however get the worst reward on the team. For my efforts, I received a shiny coin while others won guns and a shader but hey, I still got first place. It’s certainly a topic worth re-visiting later.
I still think it might have been an accident I did so well. Faced against someone else in a tank, I panicked and put the boost on. Somehow, in the process, I ramped onto their tank and ran them over.
Since I did so well, they gave me a tiger mask. I also had the option to pick any mask I wanted out of three so I chose the Speaker mask. Sadly, this was wrong according to my mission that told me I should have picked a different mask to do it. Fortunately, I just need to kill so many to get another mask so that’s nice.
That is when I remembered something. I checked my pockets, and what do you know? I had 200 silver jangling around my pocket so I bought a box called Treasures of the Lost. Upon being opened, I’d be given randomized items, including masks. Considering this was a box you can only get via paid currency, it seems mean to put event-exclusive items behind a paywall.
This is especially true since there was the very real risk of getting items you might not even like. You’re essentially paying actual money for the chance to get a mask you actually want. 200 silver at that, which is approximately $1.73 at the least or $1.98 at the most. It’s bizarre way of handling things, as they could have simply given players the option to buy the masks that they actually like. So I roll the dice and…
I guess I’m a wolf now?
This seemed as good a time as any to leap into The Taken King territory.
“So, what’s the story?”
In an unusual twist, I can actually answer this. Remember when we went and shot Crota (or his crystal) so much he went away? Well, his father sure remembers. He remembers so much that he is willing to assimilate the Awoken, Cabal and more into The Hive’s consciousness in his quest to hunt for those whose hands are stained with blood. That’s right. You angered a god’s father, Oryx and now he wants to kill everyone for the big chance to kill you. Good job hero.
Well, more accurately, I think I saw the Awoken’s queen and king wiped out pretty hard by Oryx’s fleet during a cut scene. After which, I’m sent to Saturn after the Cabal sent us a distress beacon. Considering there was that one time I shot many Cabal, this is an unusual event.
Made more unusual by my appearance.
Arriving and then walking through the base was a strange moment in Destiny. At the risk of being crass, Destiny usually has the subtlety of a claw hammer being slammed into your nose. The minutes I spent walking around the carnage, confused at the cosmic insanity I was staring at, was welcomingly atmospheric. This all built up to a reveal of The Taken. It seemed that individuals across the many races corrupted to serve their army.
Another cut scene happens, where peculiarly characterization occurs. In the base game, I could not tell you of any character’s feelings, motivations or even names. Last part, we had Petra and Varriks but now we have Eris Morn and each of the class leaders arguing. Cayde is just acting as dismissive and bored as I felt towards Eris. Correct maybe, but information delivered in a “mystical” non-straight forward way that felt relieving to get called out on.
Fortunately Cayde has a plan. Cayde also has a recognizable voice actor who I thought was Nolan North (who is Dinkle-bot’s voice actor since the release of The Taken King, even re-recording lines in the base game, whoops!). Especially with the casual arrogance that seemed so familiar.
“God damn, Nathan Fillion? Really?!”
Perhaps this is indicative of how much I enjoy hearing unknown voices above the all too familiar ones.
Back to the plan, Cayde mentions off-hand in a mumble that there is something else. With a growing grin on my lips, as I tilt my head forward, I whisper loudly “Go on…”
Apparently someone who owes him money has gone missing and so it’s up to me to go find him at his last known location.
This is where I’m introduced to Nightstalkers. Apparently some hunters like to sneak about, pinning people down from the shadows. It’s a nice cut scene that introduces them, but it’s not really relevant to me at that moment. I’m then told Cayde’s friend Tevis was a Nightstalker. I was about to ask how a comic book vampire-hunter team plays into all this when we stumbled upon Tevis’s ghost.
After killing some Vexes, we find out he’s got himself lost in the Black Garden. I keep scratching my head thinking we closed that place and stopped Vexes from being made, but what can be done at this point?
Some killing later, we find Tevis’s body. Despite being gone, his Nightstalker bow is still there.
…So, we grab it.
So I’m allowed to give it a bit of a spin, especially the bow and arrow. Oddly though I’m still not sure what the bow and arrow does. I’ll find out a later date though since it’s now a sub-class. The sub-class is unsuprisingly called ‘Nightstalker’, too. For now though, I’ll continue on the basic sub-class Gunslinger. I Can’t fault what works well.
Now it was time to follow the plan. The plan was to take the fight directly to Oryx by smuggling me into his fleet’s main ship where Oryx would be, and then shooting him myself. “Isn’t that giving him what he wants though?” is the question I felt appropriate to ask, but I’m not popular with my superiors if I ask questions. However to get in, I would need to find a stealth MacGuffin to bolt onto my ship. Fortunately, Nayfan Phillyman stashed some a while back. Now it’s just a question of picking it up.
Sadly, Cayde Fillion stashed it within The Devils’ Lair, so I would have to shoot Fallen to get there. Even worse, Taken had arrived so I would have to shoot both. Although both hate each other so I guess it all kind of evens out.
I climbed to the top of a broken down tower. Again to give credit where due, it feels unique compared to the base game. Terrain is prone to falling so I had to climb up the tower via cobbled platforms and it felt less like being guided down a linear corridor. Although that isn’t to say it wasn’t linear… just less so.
I already looked down earlier, remember? Five minutes ago when I was launched off a platform by a Taken, shortly before you resurrected me again.
I get to the top to find the stash of Robo Fillyon, only to instead find The Taken. Fortunately, they reacted predictably to my hail of bullets. I managed to grab all of the stealth drives. Rather than giving it to me by putting it on my ship, I get to watch a cut scene where Cayden puts it on the half-rock half-ship monstrosity that is Eris Morn’s ship. I mean, I guess I haven’t earned it. That or robo-hunter knows the ship is going to get trashed.
That’s the look of someone who would normally care, but she’s also sick of A Wrist Mourn’s nonsense.
After which, well, I decided I would take a break. It’s a long part, and we’re nearly up to reuniting Crota with his father in the afterlife. Come back next week where I smuggle myself into Oryx’s ship and hope he doesn’t just nuke the ship to get at me.
Until next time… Bye!