Yesterday the doors of the Black Armory opened… sorta. One of the problems with hype cycles is that you can often build something up in your head to be way more than it actually ends up being. Destiny has this traditional of releasing a DLC and with it comes some new storyline and a bunch of new activities, and at some point they decided to get off that train. I heard the words that they said… but I guess I didn’t take that to mean what we got? The Black Armory is effectively what would be termed as a “Minor Patch” in literally any other MMORPG, where you effectively get a new activity to do similar to a Holiday event. This however is supposed to be the major selling point of the Annual pass, that incidentally came with my super duper deluxe version of Forsaken. Had I purchased the annual pass separately I probably would think I got ripped off. I’m just setting the tone of the post ahead of time so if you are having an awful lot of fun with Black Armory and the Volundr Forge then by all means skip the rest of my post.
Effectively the Black Armory DLC adds a new area of the tower that is locked behind a door… that you apparently need to get a key from Spider to open. So your first mission is to go over to the Tangled Shore and talk to spider… or what I call a Forsaken purchase check… meaning it starts in an area that you cannot get to unless you already own the Forsaken expansion. You take your purchase acknowledgement back to the tower and you will find that there is a door you can now access buried in the bowels of the tower industrial complex… because apparently no one had a key to the door directly adjacent to Ikora Rey until today. We get to meet Ada-1 a surly robot that gives us a lecture on Guardian privilege before sending us out into the world to use said privilege to re-ignite the forges that she apparently had stolen from her.
There is some faffing about in the EDZ as we collect some bits with some rather obtuse directions about how to get a weapon core. To save you all the hassle of trying to figure this out here is an image of what you are looking for, since when you go out there yourself it is likely going to be farmed down… and you wind up wondering exactly what it is you are hunting for. To drop the shield you kill the single drone thingy orbiting it and then can loot the weapon core from it. The other piece will be to kill some Fallen and in truth by the time you get to this location… you have probably passed enough to complete the quest. I found my cache in the outskirts near the bridge leading to the area where those first Hawthorne missions occurred. There is supposedly an area in the Gulch that also has caches but I didn’t find any there myself in part because I had no clue what I was looking for.
There is a bit of killing Hive and getting Multikills with heavy… and then some High Value Targets… but essentially you can complete all of this with a few rounds of escalation protocol. From there you travel to the Volundr forge to create this weapon that you just gathered the parts for… and it is also a new area tacked onto the map. This time you head to the Sunken Isles drop zone in the northwest area of the map, and head into the tunnel complex which will eventually lead you to a new area of the map shown in the above image. You would think this works like the various other public events, in that you can just happen into a group completing it and join in the fun… but you would be wrong. Bungie gave us match making… that inexplicably we have to travel to the planet and wander around a bit to actually enter.
Interacting with the doodad in the world will dump you into a matchmaking queue, and here is where the frustration begins. With Black Armory the light cap moved from 600 to 650 which is to be expected, but this first activity you encounter has a suggested light level of 610 which in itself is a bit misleading. Basically they have thrown us at something that we really can’t successfully pug on day one. Sure there are folks who are forging their weapons but I would hazzard a guess that it is a really small minority. Squirrel who is among the most hardcore of my Destiny friends failed out just as surely as I did, in part because the minion class mobs are just bullet sponges and it takes two full reloads of shotgun blasts to take down one of the special glowing mobs that drop items needed for the event. Essentially you have a minute to ignite the forge by killing glowing bastards that drop the ubiquitous orbs we are constantly transporting… and toss them at the forge that is conveniently shaped like a four square goal. Each time you dunk a donut you get back some time on the clock, and to progress to phase two you need to have collected twenty of these mcguffins.
Unfortunately this is where the bullshit starts a bit because while the suggested light of wave one is 610, it increases difficulty… and the final phase includes a boss that has a suggested light level of 630. So essentially read this event as something that we are not supposed to be caring about until 630 unless you are willing to bleed copious amounts of blood on this cutting edge content. The problem is… this is our expansion content… a few quick quests and then an activity that we are not supposed to be doing until we have pushed our light up significantly already. It feels like if Warmind had ONLY included Escalation Protocol and nothing else… because that is sorta what happened here. We got another world event that this time has a match making system, but nothing much else to show for it. Maybe in their heads they were counting all of the stuff we got at the start of season 5 as being “part of the dlc” but it feels super hollow when we already got to unwrap that gift, and now all we have left under the tree is a squishy package of socks. Notice how EVERYTHING is disabled on ADA-1 until I complete this first step of igniting the forge.
After completing a handful of Powerful rewards bounties/challenges and getting a few Prime Engrams I have managed to push my light level up to 604 in the first night. That is still woefully short of being within striking range of making a real attempt at this event. Conversely I remember rolling up in the Archon’s Forge event and succeeding for a few rounds on the first day it opened. Right now Black Armory feels horrible and if this was how they were going to supposedly fix the Engagement and Monetization issues that Activision talked about in their conference call… then I think they are mental. If this is what a DLC is from this point out… then the Annual Pass is not worth it in the least. Sure this will be a lot of fun at some point, but when you add tasty pie into the game you expect to be able to at least have a single slice by the end of the night. The pie unfortunately is mincemeat, and tastes like sadness and soggy raisins.
So instead of doing the thing that just went into the game… I instead did the thing that I had been neglecting terribly. I had to do some Vanguard strikes for the poweful reward anyway, so I opted to take along my Ikelos weapon and knock the “do five strikes” step out while I was chaining them. From there I went through the process of unlocking 15 memory fragments… which weirdly enough I happened to have just enough Resonate Stems from grinding random stuff on Mars to be able to craft all 15 keys. Essentially once you have those it just becomes a scavenger hunt which took a little over an hour to get to all 15 locations. From there I ran the special quest… and Xol becomes trivial with the Thunderlord and I finished my night with a shiny new Sleeper Simulant that I immediately infused a 610 rocket launcher into to make it viable for shenanigans. All in all I still had a good night, but I am sorely disappointing in The Black Armory… and concerned for the state of the game if this is what a DLC means from this point out. Prior to last night I said that Destiny was in the best place it had been since initial release… now it feels like this one action took us a massive step or two back.