Bungie and Destiny haven’t been in the best place these past few months. As much damage control as it seems the developers have been running, they can’t really seem to catch a break. After the release of Destiny 2’s first expansion; The Curse of Osiris, many were questioning how game could continue when it seemed to be losing players at a rapid pace.
Bungie seem determined to learn from their “mistakes” and have been very vocal in broadcasting their future plans and direction. I mistakes ion quotes because, for better or for worse, they’ve taken the vocal criticism of the fan base very seriously. At face value though, Destiny’s second expansion; Warmind, appears to be taking the game in a direction fans seem to be… less critical of.
With Warmind only being out for a week or so, I don’t want to jump down its throat right away. The true extent of the changes are still sinking in, but I am going to give my initial reactions to the expansion as well as the major updates to the game as Destiny 2 rolls into it’s season 3.
The first thing any of us would encounter when starting would be the new story added with Warmind. To put it plainly; the story is incredibly brief, consisting of only five or six missions and a few adventures. While short and to the point, they aren’t without charm. And each one is a well crafted, original piece of content.
It’s just, considering the scale of events and the lore fleshing out the world, you’d have thought more time would have been dedicated to this particular resolution. By the end of the initial, very well animated, cut scene section, the A.I. Rasputin has become a huge factor in the future of the Solar System. It just feels like this should have been an event treated with more reverence, rather than the leisurely stroll over dead Hive it comes across as.
Once the main story is over, players gain access to the new Mars patrol area, this one located on the planet’s south pole. Mars is actually a great addition. While Mercury felt empty and uninteresting after the story was over, the red planet is a far better location to spend time in. Part snow spattered red wasteland, part golden age research facility with a very ‘Rasputin’ design aesthetic. With all those geometric shapes just jutting out of everywhere. It’s a look I’ve been a fan of since the first game.
While not an enormous area, it feels like a more open and varied place to explore. Like the patrol areas included with the vanilla game, speeding around the map feels fun and never like you’re just waiting for something to happen. Bungie seemed to learn their lesson from Mercury in this instance. Especially with the number of things to do there.
One of the repeated complaints about Destiny 2 is that it doesn’t feel like there is enough to do for the people who want it to be their “one” game. While there was a ton more to keep players occupied in the original Destiny, many seem to forget a lot of this was caused by poor design choices which caused a painfully slow grind. The “content problem” isn’t helped by the mid/maxing tendencies of the Destiny fan with a broadcast platform and a fan base either.
Bringing it back to my point though, Bungie added a lot in Warmind to keep players busy for the next couple of months at the very least. Something you’ll will notice very quickly are Escalation Protocols. These are a new type of public event that takes place on Mars. Very difficult by design, the new events can be activated at any time and place players up against increasingly difficult waves of enemies.
Thanks to a choice to create a slower progression to the new level/power cap, not many people can pass even the first wave of the escalation as it stands. I like that there is something in the game, aside from raid content, that I don’t feel I’m ready to do yet. While some might feel frustrated by what could be deemed “progression bottlenecking”, it doesn’t bother me. It gives me something to look forward to on a Tuesday afternoon.
Aside from that though, there has been a reworking of how heroic strikes work. Something I’ve found to be a very welcome change. Running strikes had become a mundane task, charging through them without much thought. Raising the level cap and including heroic modifiers makes them a more challenging task, meaning that going back and doing them in a particular way adds some much needed variety to what is essentially running the same continent over and over.
The addition I found myself the most excited about though, which surprised me more than anyone, was the new crucible pvp progression system. Seen in the form of the inclusion of the new ranks of Valor and Glory associated with the Quickplay and Competitive modes. This has added a much needed sense of progression and achievement to crucible that never really existed outside of Iron Banner and Trials of the Nine.
Bungie have dangled a perfect carrot in front of me too, in the shape of a cool, intentionally overpowered gun. It’s made me interested in crucible in a way I haven’t really been since the original Destiny. In addition to this, Bungie have announced a new “Crucible Lab” at the end of May to further expand the pvp experience.
While this final note might not be a part of the Warmind expansion, with the game’s changeover to “Season 3”, the team have rebalanced a lot of the game’s weapons, specifically they’ve completely reworked a lot of the game’s exotic weapons. In comparison to the first game, many of Destiny 2’s exotics have felt woefully underpowered. Usually passed over in favour of particular legendary guns.
Bungie have been very concerned with weapon balance in Destiny 2 after a number of fiascos that took place in the first game. In the end, it came to be to the detriment of the player experience as they were lacking weapons of Gjallarhorn, Ice Breaker or Thorn’s caliber in the sequel. Thankfully, Bungie have decided to make Exotics fun again.
On top of buffing or completely retooling certain weapons, a good number of the them have “catalysts” now. For those players lucky enough to get them, not me, they can use them to turn particular exotic weapons into masterworks, giving them even more power/perks.
After a week or so with Warmind, I find myself happy to be playing Destiny again. I like a lot of the changes they’ve added to the game, on top of the new content which is a significant step up from the additions of Curse of Osiris. The big lingering question always seems to be: for how long will Bungie keep me interested?
Looking at their roadmap going forward; the return of random weapon rolls, coupled with the complete reworking of the weapon slots. I am very positive about the game right now. While I don’t see Warmind bringing every lapsed player back into the fold, the ‘hardcore’ of the fans have a lot to enjoy here, and everything looks promising going forward. Now it’s just onto E3 and see what the next expansion is going to be. Whatever “Comet” may be, It has Oryx’s big shoes to fill.