Destiny has been better after each major content release, especially after The Taken King.  Bungie has taken a different approach to Destiny’s second year, switching from major DLC packs to more frequent, smaller events and changes.  We’re four months into Year Two, so I figured it was time to round up some of those happenings.

Eat your heart out, Oryx.
Eat your heart out, Oryx.

Real money transactions are here

The drop-to-your-knees-and-grieve emote is my personal favorite.
The drop-to-your-knees-and-grieve emote is my personal favorite.

Tess Everis, the Tower merchant in the same building as the postmaster, used to give out exclusive and hard-to-find emblems and shaders.  Now, she is the storefront of the Eververse Trading Company, Destiny’s path directly into player’s wallets.  It was only a matter of time before real money transactions found their way into Destiny, especially with the content release method changed to smaller, free updates.

Thankfully, Bungie has said that they will not sell weapons and armor directly.  As of right now, the Eververse Trading Company only sells cosmetics like emotes and dances.  You can buy a level boost to 25, but I’m perfectly fine with that.  Many MMOs sell level boosts to the pre-expansion level cap.  Giving players a way to bypass some of the old grind isn’t a bad thing.

 

Exotic weapon quests, exotic weapon quests everywhere

In Year One, exotic weapons were found through engrams (good luck) and completing bounties given at random.  Now, there are many ways to get exotic weapons.  Hell, I’ve picked up two in the past few days.  Whether it’s Black Spindle, a sniper obtained by clearing a timed fight in a certain daily story mission, No Time To Explain, full-auto pulse rilfe found via a 10-part mission for Future War Cult, The Chaperone, a single-slug shotgun received after a long questline for Amanda Holliday, or any other, there are plenty of ways to get those gold-background weapons.

 

Festival of the Lost

Damnit all Eris...
Damnit all, Eris…

This year’s Halloween event was Festival of the Lost, a two week period where everyone was wearing masks.  Eva Levante handed out a few masks and quests to find more, like an Oryx max or colored engram masks.  These masks had no stats and disappeared after the event, but they looked kinda cool.  Also, and this is becoming the norm with these timed events, the Eververse store had some new items for sale including an item to make a mask permanent and a Thriller dance emote.

You could also go trick or treating around the Tower, which just put a big smile on my face.  Except when I got to Eris Morn.  She gave you a box of raisins because… well, because of course she did.

 

King’s Fall Raid

The raid is tough but really, really fun.
The raid is tough but really, really fun.

I mentioned in my TTK review that I hadn’t done the new raid yet.  I’ve completed it twice now (I know, I’m a professional) and want to give a micro review:

  • The first activity is dunking six pairs of orbs into statues in front of the Court of Oryx.  The team splits into two teams of three.  This part isn’t particularly difficult, but a cool way to throw you right into the fight.
  • Next up is a jumping puzzle on top of Hive ships.  Some of my raid teammates (you know who you are) have more trouble with this than others.
  • Before fighting the first boss, you must prove your worth.  Two teams of three have to coordinate clearing two side rooms and a middle room of enemies while standing on activation buttons.  This fight is pretty fun with some good coordination and communication.
  • The first boss, the Warpriest, is interesting.  Three teams of two clear three groups of enemies and activate a buff, allowing you to damage the boss.  The player with the buff must keep clearing enemies to keep the buff timer up while everyone else hits the boss.  When the buff expires, the Warpriest sends out an auto-kill aura that you have to hide to evade.  You can only hide three times, so this fight is under the gun.
  • After the Warpriest is a puzzle of sorts, running in the dark with plenty of fake turns and random holes to fall in to.  Even after completing this multiple times, it’s tough to not get lost.
  • Golgoroth is the next boss, a giant ogre in a pit.  After clearing enemies, one player must shoot him in the back to draw his attention.  When this happens, Golgoroth’s stomach opens up and can be hit for damage.  The team has to destroy one of six hanging orbs which drops a damage-enhancing aura if you really want to hit him hard, though.  After about 15 seconds, Golgoroth will stop focusing on the first player and close his stomach unless another player draws his ire.  I find that swapping his attention a total of four times is the best combination of speed and ease.  Oh, and your team can only die a total of six times before an auto-wipe.
  • Another jumping puzzle follows, this time with very small ledges and quick moving hammers that punch out of walls like the TV show Wipeout.  This one is pretty long and a toughie.
  • The next boss fight are Oryx’s two sisters who are on two tall pillars in a square room.  Players have to stand on the four shorter pillars in the corners of the room in a certain order to allow the random player who has been Taken to traverse the platforms and grab an orb.  That player can then dunk the orb on a sister, allowing her to be damaged, while bringing an invincible aura to their fireteam.  The platforming and damaging all takes place in 60 seconds.  Honestly, this fight isn’t terribly difficult as long as the randomly Taken player can jump properly.  I have no trouble with it, but a few of my friends do.
  • After killing his sisters, it’s Oryx time.  This fight could warrant a full article on it’s own, but it involves the same platforming to grab an orb and gain an invicible aura routine, combined with many short windows where you have to do a set amount of damage to Oryx to avoid an auto-wipe, fights with Echoes of Oryx, and evading bombs.  A successful Oryx fight takes about 10-15 minutes of intense concentration, but it feels so good to bring him down

 

SPARROW RACING!!!

Rubbin's racin'
Rubbin’s racin’

I’ve been wishing for Sparrow racing ever since the beta test and Bungie finally delivered.  The Sparrow Racing League was a two-week event complete with bounties, quests, and gear.  It was a great source of getting high light helms, and I stocked up while I could.  There were two tracks, one on Venus and one on Mars, and races lasted between five and six minutes over three laps.  Each lap had about 20 gates to pass through to give you a bit of a speed boost and increase your fuel for side-to-side boosts.  If timed and aimed properly, you could boost through a gate for a huge jump forward.  Missing these gates resulted in a max speed loss, so everyone had to keep on a similar line.  The gates were sized differently depending on your current position as well, so even in the back of the pack you still had a chance.

Plenty of skin-tight racing gear could be found to really get you into the racing mood, along with special sparrows, emblems, and shaders.  As expected, a $10 purchase at the Eververse store would net you additional cosmetics.  I really, really enjoyed SRL and I hope it comes back soon (or permanently!).

 

Iron Banner changes

The Crucible is where I spend the bulk of my Destiny time, so the updates to Iron Banner were more than welcome to me.  Each Iron Banner comes with three daily and three weekly bounties.  The daily bounties are pretty easy, like getting 13 kills or completing a match with a certain score.  Weekly bounties aren’t too horribly difficult aside from getting to rank 4.  The tempering buff to gain extra reputation as the week goes on is now automatic, which is a nice touch for those who want to max their reputation (like me).

Drop rates are certainly better now than before.  If your team wins, it seems like at least one person on the team gets some kind of legendary item.  Bungie is even experimenting with other game types for Iron Banner.  Next week, Lord Saladin is coming back with Rift.  I’ve seen my fair share of Rift games snowball quickly, but I’ll reserve judgment until I see how it plays out for myself.

 

What does the future hold?

Destiny is in a strange place right now.  The 180 from large, paid DLC packs to smaller, free updates fueled by microtransactions isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but four months after the release of TTK, players are beginning to wonder if it’s going to be enough.  Bungie recently broke radio silence, mentioning the return of Iron Banner and a Valentine’s Day themed event, but I think I speak for all players when I say that more frequent updates and more transparency would be welcome.  I’m certainly not going anywhere as a player and I continue to play every few days.  What else does Bungie have planned for us?  We’ll find out soon enough.  Hopefully.

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