Destiny — it was my most anticipated game of 2014, I played the beta, and I played the hell out of it when it came out.  But after reaching the max level, doing some strikes and an unhealthy amount of PvP, including just barely missing out on reaching max level in the first Iron Banner, I was a little burned out.  I never played the Vault of Glass raid and still haven’t bought the first expansion, The Dark Below, but was feeling the itch just as Iron Banner happened to be making it’s way back around.

So, how does Destiny hold up now?  After months of patches and about 12 hours of playtime in the last week, is it better than before?  Should you dive back in?  Let’s discuss.

I've heard just about everything the Speaker has to say about Control.
I’ve heard just about everything the Speaker has to say about Control.

Expansion gear isn’t only in expansion zones

I was worried that after coming back to a game with DLC that I don’t have would mean I’d be left in the dust, especially since gear is the one and only way to buff your character in Destiny.  Thankfully, you can get expansion-level gear in the vanilla version of the game.  Normal play, bounties, strikes, crucible — everything can award you gear with a little Roman numeral I on it to signal that it is an expansion tiered item, basically meaning it’s values are higher.


Well, unless you want to get some stuff from good old Xur

But then, how does Bungie force people into buying The Dark Below?  By locking out heroic and nightfall missions to be expansion only, that’s how.  I read that the heroic and nightfall missions were expansion missions the first few weeks after release, but I was hoping that wasn’t still the case.  Little did I know that when Xur rolled into town on Friday that my 11 strange coins were going to continue burning a hole in my pocket.  I was hoping to complete the heroic and buy myself a new exotic item.  Lame.



Upgrades?  I’ll show you upgrades!

One of my biggest annoyances with Destiny was that to upgrade my PvP gear I would have to scour planets for materials.  Why the hell can’t I use these marks that have no value since I have all my gear to buy materials?  Well, now you can.  I think this was put in a while ago, but this is a new feature to me and it is so, so welcome.  I was stuck at level 27, just like I was when I stopped playing, even with my newly acquired gear until I was told that the Crucible and Vanguard vendors allow you to trade 10 marks for 20 of any resource.  Woo!

Backtracking to Xur for a second, he now allows you to upgrade exotics you have to their newer, shinier expansion versions for a boatload of glimmer.  Wouldn’t want all that searching and patient waiting for his slot machine to come up with your item to go to waste, would we?


Team chat

Team chat is finally an option.  For a while, you could only chat with other players in your Fireteam, meaning that unless you were playing with friends, Destiny’s “shared world shooter” sounded like a desolate wasteland.  Thankfully, you can now switch to team chat whenever you please.  Each time you bring up the menu, you’ll be reminded that you can switch to team chat with the D pad.  Unfortunately, I was mainly playing with a friend and we kept to our own chat channel.  I’d say that on average, one or two players out of a six player team switched to team chat per round.

Hello Saladin, my old friend. It's time to fight for you again.
Hello Saladin, my old friend. It’s time to fight for you again.


Iron Banner

PvP is the main reason I played Destiny and about 99% of the reason I decided to play this past week.  Iron Banner has undergone a lot of changes since it’s initial rollout, so I’ll just list out some of the important parts:

  • Each Iron Banner event has five levels of reputation to gain which resets after the event is over.  There is no carry over.
  • If you lose a match, you get a medallion.  Medallions are redeemed after you finally do win a match, which all but cancels out the annoyance of players leaving mid-match if they have no chance to win.
  • Iron Banner weapons can be rerolled for different modifiers.  It costs two motes of light to reroll an item, which may make it better or worse depending on your luck.  If your luck is anything like mine, you’ll spend 22 motes and end up with a worst item.  Any progress with the weapon is also lost.
  • You can buy a buff for one mote of light which lasts 12 hours and increases all reputation gained in the Iron Banner.  The buff’s effect increases which each day, so you aren’t completely screwed if you miss a few days.

The most disappointing part of the Iron Banner has to be the bounties.  I’m pretty certain that they changed, or at least a few of them did, from day to day before.  But this time around, the bounties were the same each and every day, meaning that the majority of players were constantly rolling with an auto rifle and machine gun just to complete the headshot bounties.  Maybe it’s just a me problem for sucking so bad at headshots, but I wish there was a bigger slate of bounties to pick from.


Where the hell are all the game modes?

I almost always stay away from playing straight up deathmatch in PvP games.  It’s just not fun for me.  Objective-based game modes are were I like to live, which is why I almost always play Control in Destiny.  But, this is a Bungie game.  The Halo games have always had fantastic game modes: team duos, rocket races, oddball (my personal favorite), grifball, infection, etc.  Why the hell can I still count the number of PvP modes in Destiny on one hand?


Most kills + highest K/D + most captures + highest score =/= reward

I don’t know what magical algorithm goes into determining who gets an item after a PvP match, but I’m pretty sure it’s completely random.  I can’t even count the times where my playing partner and I would have comparable games and he would get an item while I got nothing.  Even more frustrating is when I completely dominate a match, scoring the most points, the most zone captures, and getting nothing while someone with a horrendous score that was a clear negative to the team get’s a legendary or even an exotic.

I bet the top guy is piiiissed.


Overall, is it better?

I think Destiny is in a better spot now than it was when I left it a few months ago.  It’s nice that you can get expansion gear without actually owning it, since that would have turned me away instantly, but having the heroic and nightfall missions locked behind the expansion wall months after it’s release really sucks.  In fairness, I haven’t played the original raid or any of the expansion content, so I can’t speak for that.  But I still don’t think there’s enough here, at least for me as a primarily PvP player, to come back to the game as a regular.  Iron Banner is much improved but the Crucible still lacks enough game mode variety to keep me interested.

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