Xur Week Two: 9/22/17

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Since I did this last week I thought I would continue with it for at least another week because Xur brought something I had been wanting.  This time around since the weekly flashpoint is Titan, Xur is located on the section of the planet called “The Rig”.  To get here you will have to cross some areas of the map that have lots of mobs on them, but thankfully none of them seem to be willing to follow you into the actual room he is located in.  Previously in Destiny 1 Xur arrived Friday morning and left Saturday at Midnight PST.  This time around that does not seem to be the case because he was up on Nessus until the reset happened Tuesday morning.  I am not sure if this was intentional or some sort of a bug, but regardless I would suggest checking him out today or tomorrow just to make sure.

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This time around he has brought the Wardcliff Coil or for those of us that played Destiny 1 and followed the dataminers…  the Dubious Volley.  Honestly I think Dubious Volley is a much better name for what the weapon does, because it is essentially an anime missile launcher.  What I mean by this is if you have ever seen something along the lines of Robotech where a bay of missiles opens up and then they sorta fire in a bunch of different directions…  that is what this weapon does.  In use from what I understand it feels a lot like a Gjallarhorn that ONLY fires Wolfpack rounds…  but way more of them.  One of the problems I have heard is that as the mini missiles are tracking in… if a mob moves close to you…  it will in fact blow you up too.  This is one of those fabled weapons that we never got in the first game… so I am absolutely picking this up so I can play with it now.

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The Feedback Fence is an item from the first game…  that in truth no one actually used.  There were a few super edge case builds that you needed to run if you were going to optimize this…  which is a bit sad given that they look amazing.  Functionally to make it work you need to run around punching things…  and then letting something else punch you to explode it.  This makes it extremely unpredictable, and not that useful given that the cases you really want to unleash damage on a target…  are most likely cases where they don’t actually melee you.  The number of bosses that reliably melee you is pretty limited.  I would suggest only picking these up if you simply need the light level and using them as infusion fuel.

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Do you like Solar Grenades?  If so then these are probably the gloves for you.  I like grenades quite a bit but in general I am not a fan of the changes to the fire subclass for Warlocks, so as a result I am probably going to give these a pass.  This is the second week in a row that we have had a solar specific item on Xur for Warlocks which is a little disappointing.  I used last weeks chest piece only until I got a legendary chest that I could it into.  All of that said, this does not take away from the fact that this really is a good item.  It increases the duration of your solar grenades and causes solar melee hits to increase grenade energy regeneration.  If you want to be a mad bomber this is probably going to be down your alley.

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Once again I have not even started my Hunter yet so this is an image that I borrowed from the internet, and then overlayed the stat block.  When zooming in on a target this helmet will place a little red X over it.  When that target gets low health you begin dealing significantly more damage to the marked target.  The drawback here is that if you focus on any other targets for any length of time it will shift the X and  that may or may not be what you want to have happen.  Another edge case that is super useful is in the tracking of a mob that might be running from you…  like how some high value targets do these days.  I am personally not that interested in this helm, and plan on just sticking with the chest piece from last week that increases my Arc Strider stuff.  Folks are saying however that this is a really powerful pickup and I can see why because in theory it just gives you bonus damage on a target, which would be nice for boss burn phases once the boss gets within “execute range”.

 

290 Power and More Weapons

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Last night I pushed through and hit another Milestone in Destiny 2, and that is hitting the 290 light barrier.  While our clan lead seemed to hit this practically over night… it has been a long slog for most of us.  I’ve talked about this before but the gearing process slows down greatly at 265 and then each additionally point of power seems to be a struggle to obtain.  This is going to be the phase of the game that loses most people because if you have never dealt with how rough Destiny 1 was to get light…  then this is going to seem like a chore.  For the most part I am enjoying the process because I like watching the numbers go up.  For frame of reference however…  the game was released on September 5th and sixteen days later I have logged roughly 57 hours of play according to Destiny Tracker.   Now for additional point of reference I spent just shy of 500 hours playing Destiny 1 on the PS4 and just shy of 50 hours on the Xbox One.  Basically all I am trying to say here is that 290 power level is a significant investment of time, but in theory you could probably also get there just by focusing on the few powerful gear rewarding objectives that you can do each week.  My process has involved a lot of doing random stuff hoping to get exotic engrams that then push me up every so slightly.

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As far as things to talk about this morning I don’t have much.  I thought instead I would share a few new weapon pickups that I am enjoying.  Each week I do the crucible milestone so that I can get the luminous engram associated with it.  During one of the many matches I had to play to get 100% completion to get my loot…  I managed to get this gun to drop.  As far as I know this is only available from the crucible itself or from turning in crucible tokens for faction with Lord Shaxx.  This gun is amazing in PVE and I imagine similarly amazing in PVP given its propensity for one-shot killing almost anything but yellow bars, and even then a single shot will usually strip their shield.  I was using it last night while running around on Io and straight up 2 shotting Vex Minotaurs…  one to drop the shield and one precision shot to kill them.  It did similar magic on Taken Centurions, except their shields seemed to take to shots to drop them.  If you get this gun, I highly suggest you play with it a bit before sharding it because I think you are going to like it.  I also love the name because its a play on two infamous guns from Destiny 1:  The Devil You Know and The Devil You Don’t.

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As the reward from completing the nightfall, I managed to pick up an Origin Story.  I have no clue what weapon I chose at that step in the quest chain…  but I know it was not this gun and whatever I did wound up as infusion fodder somewhere along the way.  At this point in my life I was deeply connected to Scathelocke and could see no other weapon taking that primary gun crush position for me.  However after hearing people talk about this gun, I decided to play with it a bit before using it as power level fuel.  I am certainly glad that I did because my god this gun is amazing.  It is a much slower rate of fire archetype as compared to the Scathelocke…  so if that is the Haakon’s Hatchet then this is closer to the Suros Regime or Genesis Chain.  This has quickly taken my primary slot and the only time I am not using it… is when I am rocking Better Devils.

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A weapon that I have loved for awhile but was not using a lot at the time of the last post is Uriel’s Gift.  I try really hard not to run double auto rifles because it limits the things that I can do, however there is a period of time when I did.  Now that I have started using Better Devils a lot more this is filling in as my secondary slot.  Similarly I am using this a lot in crucible because it just has an insane time to kill.  Out of the gate the gun has really good stability in spite of what looks like on paper a relatively low stat… or at least it has a very predictable recoil pattern.  This allows me to choose High Caliber Rounds to get the stagger effect against enemies.  This has been the game where I suddenly greatly favor Omolon weapons.  In Destiny 1 I always thought they looked cool, but never really liked the way they felt.  This time around I am digging both.  Functionally my two primary setups are Origin Story/Manannan or Better Devils/Uriel’s Gift and I swap back and forth between those as needed.

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This has been the version of Destiny where pulse rifles are just not that good.  I’ve tried a bunch of them and none of them really feel like they used to…  or have the ability to shred enemies like they used to either.  Of the pulses I have tried, I have largely standardized on using the Nergal because it feels the best and seems to perform the best out in the field.  I’ve actually used it a bit in crucible and it works well enough…  the problem is it is just outshined in every way by the Auto Rifle options I have now.  I have this feeling that we are going to see an Auto Rifle stability nerf which will clear the way for the pulse to shine a bit more.  Previously Pulse was the stable multi shot option… and Autorifle was all about learning how to ride a bucking bronco into battle.  If you are looking for a pulse however I highly suggest you check this one out.  I get it regularly from the gunsmith, and it seems to be on a pretty generic drop table.

 

 

Dark Math and Infusion

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I finished the night last night at 287 power, putting me well within striking distance of at least 290 this week… and with some additional luck in getting some really good drops 300.  For the moment I have standardized on the gear set that I am wearing and I have been eating everything that gives me slightly higher light levels to pour into it.  This morning I thought I would talk a bit about the infusion game in Destiny 2 and my frustrations with it.  The longer I play Destiny 2 the more I think of it as a continuation of the previous game to the point of largely feeling like a big smooth reboot.  There is a lot of gnashing of teeth over this point but I have reached a sort of equilibrium in my attitude.  I realize there are going to be some people that cannot get past this fact and I am guessing they really were not that big of a fan of the original game in the first place.  There are certainly things that I am not the biggest fan of, but overall I am really enjoying my time spent wandering around…  and weirdly looking forward to starting over with the PC launch and doing all of the things that I wish I had done this time around.  For me at least the chronology of Destiny looks a little something like this.

  • Year One – Destiny Launch/Dark Below/House of Wolves
  • Year Two – The Taken King
  • Year Three – Rise of Iron
  • Year Four – Destiny 2 Launch

Now back to the original topic I wanted to discuss…  Infusion.  During Year One it was not really a thing even though there was a limited form of it available in the ability to “power up” weapons with ascendant shards…  which was less a version of infusion and more a version of delayed gratification making you level your weapon further after getting it.  Side note… they are doing something like this system with an exotic shotgun that you get from the raid but that is a discussion for another day.  During Year Two they introduced the infusion system but made the calculations behind it extremely frustrating.  The closer you got to the level cap the less light you were able to squeak out from each infusion.  I remember keeping a vault full of random gear to step new items that I got up… without losing a bunch of potential light in the process.  For those who didn’t live under the system… say you had a 300 light level exotic item.. and you wanted to infuse a 335 item into it…  the resulting item would be 324.  If the first item was a legendary item…  you would end up with 328 making this weird penalty on using exotics.  During the tail end of Year Two and all of Year Three this changed and you started to get the complete face value of every infusion, meaning in that same scenario… of a 300 exotic and a 335 infusion fodder… you would end up with a 335 exotic gaining full credit for the item you were pouring into it.  The previous infusion system was pretty straight forward in that any primary could infuse into any other primary…  with the same being true for armor pieces.  Meaning I could throw my trash at my alts and help funnel their light level up.

Now we scan forward to Year Four and a bunch of things have changed that make the system as a whole way less beneficial to the players.  Year Three was pretty much the pinnacle of the system as far as I was concerned, it felt good and didn’t cause needless strife to the players.  In Destiny 2 however… they made a bunch of tweaks that seem like nonsense.  Firstly they removed the element of simplicity, meaning it was no longer slot based infusions and instead depended upon the specific item type.  This means if you need to bump up your auto rifle… you are going to need another auto rifle.  Similarly it means that if you want to pour additional power into your hunter arms…  you are going to need another pair of hunter arms.  To further confuse things they added a system of mods into the game, and at face value these seem like awesome things.  It lets you take one piece of gear and tailor it to your exact needs without having to wait for the ideal item roll to drop.  Where this complicates things however is when it comes to legendary mods, because not only do they add perks to an item…  they also had 5 power levels.  This means that if you have a 200 item without a legendary mod and a 225 item with a legendary mod…  feeding the 225 item into the 200 item will result in a new power level of 220 because the mod gets consumed in the process.  The first time this happened to me I was confused as hell and extremely angry because it felt like they had taken a step back to the lossy days of item infusion.

Where things get even weirder is the fact that in the past there were hard item level caps that you could not breach.  For example right now in Destiny 2… blues stop giving you upgrades initially a 260 and purples at 265.  That however is a somewhat fungible barrier, because as your power level trickles up…  so does the level at which items start dropping.  I am not entirely certain why things drop at the level they start dropping… but for example last night the maximum power I could hit was 287 but the blues I kept seeing were 277.  The lowest power item I have equipped is a 282 helm…  so I do not think it is based on that given that there was a period of time where I kept getting items that I could infuse into my lower armor pieces to keep pulling my total up a bit.  There is some manner of dark math happening behind the scenes and I think that is what is making this process feel less certain and because of that less “good” than the previous system.  We reached peak infusion during year three and all of these tweaks just feel like they were screwing with a solved problem.  I am hoping at some point we revert back to just having slot based infusion rather than item type based.  The whole item levels and drops thing however I am not even sure how to straighten that out because it seems super wibbly wobbly.  All of this said however…  Bungie has tweaked things significant given time and I have a feeling that they will also tweak this product to roll back some of the weird parts.  It is just a little frustrating at this point however to be entering what is legitimately year four of the game, and it feels like they forgot some of the lessons they learned during the first three years.  I mean maybe this is the influence of Blizzard, since they seem to love fixing systems that were not broken by ripping up the pavement and installing brand new and improved pavement that requires a completely different car to drive on it.  Whatever the case I am still loving the game and have been spending almost every non-work waking moment playing it…  but there are just frustrations that build up as with any new experience.  I thought I had gushed for awhile… and its probably time for me to start unpacking some of my baggage as well.

Happy First Xursday!

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One of the tidbits of information that we knew going into Destiny 2 was that Mister Shadow Tentacles himself…  Xur the Agent of the Nine would no longer be showing up in a social space.  That meant that we would need to find him somewhere on a planet.  At first I thought this would be somewhat of a scavenger hunt, where we had to scour the planets to find where he was hiding.  However that does not appear to be the case because they put a familiar IX logo on the director map.  This week Xur is located on Nessus in the Watcher’s Grave area, and in this case he is up high in a tree next to a golden vex scannable item.  The other things that we didn’t know were the level of items he would be bringing….  and the cost.  We knew that legendary shards would be the universal currency for lots of different things and now replace the familiar chase item…  Strange Coins.  It appears that everything is 270 and I have verified with a few videos of Xur that regardless of the players power level he seems to be handing out that same static level.  The basic set up is similar to Destiny 1 in that he is bringing a single weapon and a piece of armor for each class.  This week we have…

  • Merciless – Fusion Rifle – 29 Legendary Shards
  • Raiden Flux – Hunter Chest – 23 Legendary Shards
  • Doom Fang Pauldrons – Titan Arms – 23 Legendary Shards
  • Wings of Sacred Dawn – Warlock Chest – 23 Legendary Shards

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If you only have the Legendary Shards to pick up a single item… I would say buy this thing.  I was lucky enough to get it as an Exotic Engram drop while leveling… and this thing is amazing.  It has a weird perk on it that speeds up the recharge rate until you get a kill.  This combined with a perk that increases your damage if you reload after getting that kill..   makes it a machine to melt mobs.  Especially on bosses the fact that it keeps getting faster lets you pour some insane damage into the boss in a very short period of time.  This thing completely decimates the ship that flys in on the Cabal extraction event for example.  This was one of the first legendaries that I infused up, simply because I like using it that much.

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I went ahead and picked these up because I didn’t already have them.  Effectively when you are in your super mode… kills with the shield bash reset the cooldown of your shield throw.  I could definitely see this being useful since in general you only get one throw per sentinel super.  Similarly melee kills help give you super energy… and since I run around punching everything already this should be a good exotic for me.  The only problem is…  I am currently using another exotic just for the light levels so in theory I need to find something to replace it with before I can rock these.

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For the Warlock Xur is selling the Wings of Sacred Dawn, which is one of the fanciest chest slot items I have seen in game so far.  The truth is however that I largely just bought this for the item level to help give my Warlock I am currently leveling a power boost, so I can start double dipping on those sweet sweet powerful engrams.  The perk is Tome of Dawn, which causes you to suspend midair while aiming while you are in your super.  Precision hits extend this effects duration allowing you to stay up in the air frozen longer.  Since I don’t really like Dawnblade as a subclass and went Voidwalker the moment I got it as a drop and have never looked back…  this really is all about the 270 light level for me and nothing else.  If you like Dawnblade your mileage may vary.

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I had to swipe an image of this one online, because I have not even begun to start my Hunter leveling…  since it is probably the class I like the least in Destiny 2.  I went ahead and picked this up however because I had the shards…  and once again it will be a power level boost when I finally get around to leveling and equipping a third class.  The perk on the item is called Synapse Junctions…  which causes quick successive attacks with Arc Staff to increase damage output and the duration of your super.  In truth this is probably a good item for me since I mostly like the Arc Staff super ability.  Again however…  its really about the 270 light.

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One of the slight disappointments comes not from the exotics themselves…  because I really do think that he brought a decent load out of items.  What I am a little disappointed in is the fact that he ONLY brought the exotics.  Previously in Destiny 1 there were a ton of other items that he sold…  most of which are no longer still in the game.  What I would have loved to see him sell in their place however were maybe some really nice gear mods to help those players who have yet to hit that 280 plateau get there.  Additionally I would have loved to see him offer Fireteam Medallions as an alternate way other than Eververse dust currency to get them, since they appear to be the replacement for three of coins.  The best method of getting Exotic engrams appears to be running one of those and chaining heroic events.  Speaking of which… I need to do a lot more of that.  Anyways regardless of anything else… I am just happy to see the Friday tradition of finding Xur continue into this new game.

 

Destiny 2 Heroic Event Triggers

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Yesterday Pete asked if I could do a post about the various heroic event triggers, and this morning I am going to attempt to do just that.  Last night I was able to get a few reasonable screenshots of the objectives for several of the events.  Others I have simply looked up and will attempt to explain because I don’t have good imagery for them.  At this point though I now feel relatively comfortable in my knowledge of how to launch any of the events into heroic mode.  I am posting a picture of my own character at the start of this post largely because I am happy that for once I have most of a matched set of gear.

Glimmer Extraction – Fallen Event

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This is more than likely the very first event you ever complete in Destiny 2 because it spawns right out in front of the church.  Essentially a Ketch will drop off a Glimmer Harvesting team and you have to take out the extraction teams.  Each team will consist of 3 mobs followed by a mini boss type mob.  Then the ketch will drop another ship in a new location.  There will be three different locations that the Fallen attempt to harvest and if you take down all of them you defeat the event.  In the Heroic mode however things change.  In the above screenshot you can see a little engine looking thing with a stream of glimmer going into it.  There will be one of these at each location the Fallen attempt to harvest, and to trigger heroic you need to destroy them before you have defeated a given waves miniboss.  From there the goal changes to guarding a pile of glimmer until your folks can transmat it out.  Someone has to be standing on the pile at all times to make sure the bar is progressing.

Weapons Exchange – Fallen

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This event is pretty straight forward.  In Destiny 1 we learned the ins and outs of fighting Fallen Walkers…  hit the armor plating on their legs until one section falls of and then the carapace covering the control module slides open and you can pour damage into the unit.  In this event there are 3 energy fields protecting a total of six scorch cannons.  Each time you bust open the carapace on the Walker, a number of arc orbs will spawn at its feet.  In order to trigger the heroic phase, you need to take those orbs and carry them to the receptacles that look like the object in the screenshot above.  It will take two orbs per shield, and once you have dropped all three shields…  a second walker gets dropped on your location.  The goal is to have the first walker almost dead when you drop the shields so that you can grab a scorch cannon and finished both off extremely quickly.

Ether Resupply – Fallen

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This event is another one that is pretty straight forward…  kill the giant Servitor.  During the event a number of smaller servitors will spawn in and start interacting with the bigger one.  The first one has to be killed because he shields the Servitor from any damage.  There is a second phase where three spawn in… and in theory you can leave these up if you are just taking down the Servitor normally.  However if you kill them it starts the heroic phase…  which causes the Servitor to take greatly reduced damage…  talking 10-15 damage per shot in a vulnerable spot reduced damage.  The goal here is to get the servitor down pretty close…  then kill the three mini-servitors…  then drop the big guy to close out the event.

Excavation – Cabal

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This is one of the least straight forward of all of the events.  The goal of the Excavation event is to stand hear the mining lander and progress the bar to 100%…  all the while avoiding waves of progressively more difficult mobs and missiles that are coming in from the command ship hovering over the location.  At various points in the fight a Thresher gunship will fly in and start attacking anyone defending the location.  In order to trigger the heroic phase of the event you need to take down this gunship… and in my experience you have about two flyby phases to do it in before you have progressed the event to 100% and ended it naturally.  Essentially everyone needs to focus fire this thing down whenever you see it.  If you are successful a major cabal centurion boss will spawn in… and wreck him to earn your heroic chest.

Injection Rig – Cabal

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I am not honestly sure what the non-heroic goal of this event is, because from the start it is telling you to drawn down the Infiltrator Valus…  which is what happens if you trigger heroic mode.  While this event is going on there will be a giant cabal shield that spawns over the drill, and every so often giant vents will open at up to four spots on the rig.  If you are in the bubble you start burning, and the ultimately goal to trigger heroic mode is to destroy all four of these vents before you end up dying in the process.  About the most that I have seen taken out in a single go are two vents at a time, so that means it will take a few passes to get them all down.  It helps if you have a really good ranged power weapon like a fusion rifle or rocket launcher.  If you are successfull Infiltrator Valus will spawn and you wreck him to get your chest of goodies.

Spire Integration – Vex

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Much like the Fallen Walker event… this is a reboot of a classic event from Destiny 1.  In the Spire Integration event your goal was to prevent wave after wave of Vex from integrating with the spire that you were guarding.  One of those does in fact exist in this event, as does the objective of preventing anyone from integrating with a wiggle room counter of 10.  However to progress the event to the Heroic mode you need to also help build shields around these additional spires.  There will be 3 glowing rings scattered around the event… standing in one will begin to capture the point and raise a vex shield around you.  Once you have captured all three of these the Heroic mode will trigger and you have to destroy progressively more nasty Vex until the timer runs out.  Prepare to have Minotaurs and Cyclops to spawn in addition to all of the normal yellow bar Vex types.  Stay alive and prevent 10 integrations to win your heroic loots.

Taken Blight – Taken

This is one of the ones that I don’t have an image for.  Essentially the goal of this event is to destroy an number of taken blights that spawn in.  In Destiny 2 the blights work slightly differently in that they are protected by a bubble and in order to actually damage the blight you have to step inside of it.  During this event while standing in one of these bubbles you will get a brief buff called “Blight Receding”.  There is another giant blight bubble that will spawn near the other blights… and this one is protected by a shield and if you attempt to hit it you get “invulnerable”.  However while you have this Blight Receding buff you can deal damage to it.  Functionally you need to alternate ducking inside the bubble to get the buff and going out and damaging the big blight until it is destroyed.  If you are successful this will trigger the heroic mode and summon a Taken Major for you to destroy.  If you defeat it then you get shiny loots.

Witches’ Ritual – Hive

This one only spawns on Titan and I believe only in one specific location near where you spawn in at the arcology.  The goal is to prevent a pair of hive wizards from opening a portal… the only problem is the wizards are shielded and invulnerable.  You will notice however there are two hive sigils on the ground, and standing in one causes the corresponding wizard to lose its shield.  After you take down the wizards a bigger more powerful wizard will spawn in.  In order to trigger the heroic version you need to then recapture the sigils and use it to destroy two crystals that were previously invulnerable to attack.  If you do this successfully another Hive Major will spawn in the Darkblade Knight.  Defeat it to get your tasty loots.

The Shader Situation

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Yesterday I briefly mentioned the issue happening right now with Shaders, but I had a few people ask me directly what exactly was going on.  So I thought I would take a moment this morning to explain the issue from my perspective.  In the original Destiny Shaders were an item that dropped that when applied effected the color scheme and sometimes physical properties of your armor.  It was a purely cosmetic system, but one that the players latched onto with both hands.  The Shaders themselves dropped from all manner of activities and occasionally were attached to achievements.  This happened with enough relative rarity that when you got one…  you noticed and immediately started playing with it.  Each Guardian could carry a total of nine shaders with them at any given time… and I personally found myself swapping back and forth between shaders on a regular basis to fit my current mood or to coordinate which whatever  weapon loadout I happened to be rocking that night.  To say I was engaged in the system is probably a bit of an understatement given that I had 103 of them according to the achievement that tracks such progress.  I was by no means the most prolific however because there were folks in game who had literally every single one… and you can see in the above photo… the ones that are greyed out are ones I had not found yet.  The system itself was pretty limited and some shaders looked good on some armor sets…  but absolutely horrible on others.  However it was something that gave us some license to stand out in the tower from the other Guardians also wearing Iron Banner gear.

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With the lead up to Destiny 2 there was so much talk about how improved the Shader system was going to be.  It was announced that we would be able to apply shaders individually to armor pieces and even our weapons.  As a long time supporter of cosmetic systems this seemed amazing, because it would finally give us some level of granular control over our appearance.  In Destiny 1 it was annoying when your chest-piece looked amazing with a specific shader applied, but your boots or arms looked completely horrible.  This was especially true when rocking the various combinations of black and white like I regularly did…  and it would have allowed us to swap around until we found a specific shader that worked for each individual item.  While playing the “Demo” I found it curiously lacking that they didn’t show off the new shader system, but given this was a build of game originally shown at E3 I thought maybe it was simply left out because the system had not been finished at that point.  It was not until launch that we actually saw the system at work…  and realized that shaders were not a single use consumable item.  The above image is of my shader “collection” in Destiny 2, and all of these so far have come through the starter packages that you keep getting handed by the Eververse vendor at the Farm each time you reach a specific level plateau.  Why the community is going to war over this minor point is the fact that Bungie took what used to be a very good but limited system… and turned it into a potential cash grab.

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Yesterday Luke Smith released a sequence of statements on his Twitter account talking about the issue…  and the answer feels less than satisfactory.  Luke is literally the only person who thinks that doing “shader farming” is a good idea.  That sounds miserable especially when it means that you now somehow need to rope five of your friends to follow you down a rabbit hole just so you can have pretty armor for the week.  It is hard enough to convince people to run old school World of Warcraft raids when only transmog items are on the line…  let alone run a 2-3 hour long Destiny raid that never really trivializes…  for armor paint.  Now up until this statement I was taking a wait and see approach and in part I still am.  I noticed that all of the planet faction NPCs had shaders on their loot table that you can get from engrams.  Maybe as he says as we start to grind faction we will be swimming in armor spray paint, but more than likely there is still going to be a sizable number of shaders that are only available through bright engrams.  Bright engrams for reference are the new RNG loot box that the Eververse sells for Silver.  Right now the equivalent conversion rate is $5 to 3 Bright Engrams… and while these drop organically each time you fill up your xp bar again post level 20… that is going to be a less than enjoyable grind to get them.  While I have not actually opened an actual Bright Engram, I have been opening the assorted packages that Eververse gives you in the farm and through those I have received a bunch of shaders enough to make me think that this is going to be the easier way to get them.

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As of last night I hit 15 and probably will push through to 20 tonight, so I should start to see this supposed increased shader drop rate shortly.  What is frustrating to me is that everything else about the game is really amazing.  However that amazing is slightly tarnished by the fact that I know one of my favorite systems has turned into something I looked forward to using…  to something I will probably hoard and never actually use.  You change out gear in Destiny constantly… and even on my maximum light cap 400 characters in the original game…  I was regularly tweaking and fiddling with my build out each time I got some new interesting piece of loot.  There is never going to be a point where you can set your armor selection in stone, knowing that you will likely never get something that works better for you.  Each patch Bungie tweaks this or that making it likely that you are going to be swapping gear our to optimize whatever you happen to be going for this week.  There is never going to be a point where you have enough of your favorite shaders…  nor will you have the freedom to swap them around at will just to do silly things like have everyone raiding in Glowhoo or that hideous McDonald’s looking shader.  Shaders were fun and one of those few non-gear rewards that you loved seeing at the end of a Crucible match or after a strike.  Gone are the days when you cannot wait to try on the new shader you just got to see what it looks like.  Now instead it is going to be a stack in your inventory that keeps going up in number…  but you still feel like you maybe shouldn’t use yet because there is a really awesome item waiting around the corner that you might want it for.  So that in a nutshell is the situation with shaders and why the Destiny 1 player base is frustrated by it.

For the Puppies

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I’ve rattled on over the last few days at some of the things I have been disappointed thus far in the Destiny Demo experience, or at least airing some of my concerns and misgivings.  I thought I should probably spend some time this morning talking about one of the things that they are doing amazingly well with the launch of Destiny 2.  One of the core reasons that most of my friends bounced off of this game…  was the lack of story.  Don’t get me wrong…  there is plenty of story to be had…  they just lay it out in a way that is largely nonsensical.  Only by hoarding weapon and armor descriptions…  hundreds of grimoire cards… and then cross referencing those against missions in the game and random nonsense that is in the background of the level design…  do you actually get the true picture of what is going on.  Please note… that I didn’t actually do this on my own but at some point I stumbled across the Myelin games channel and drank deeply of the font of lore theory.  If you want the story in a much more digestible form then I refer you again to the amazing Lore Primer video that MyNameIsByf created where he attempts to lay everything that we know for certain out in a linear timeline…  that happens to be an hour and a half in run time.  Prior to launch they claimed the game would have a story line rivaling that of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or Star Wars…  and we all balked.  In truth however it does in fact have this story woven through the fabric of the game… but makes every possible attempt to disguise it from us and make it harder to figure out than is humanly reasonable.

This time around however they swore they had changed, and when we got our hands on the PS4 demo…  as I have said before there is literally more story in the Homecoming mission than there was in the original game sequence leading up to the Black Garden.  I am not trying to be hyperbolic here… but in truth there is way more character exposition than exists in any form in Vanilla Destiny.  We were introduced to a cast of characters…  like The Traveler, The Speaker, The Stranger…  and a handful of characters that I could tell we were supposed to care about that served as our class leads….  but never actually did much in the way of leading.  We also had a nonsensical enemy in the form of “The Darkness” which sorta felt as stupid as attempting to go to war against “Terrorism”.  We lacked anything resembling a big bad Villain that we the players were focused on…  and when we did get raids…  we had no emotional payoff in taking down Aetheon or Crota…  because they were just another name in a long line of names that meant nothing to us.  One of the best experiences I have ever had was when I finally took down Arthas… the Lich King for the first time…  because I had an entire expansion focused on combating the forces of the scourge and playing cat and mouse with him across a continent.  When it finally resolved and we got to see that cut scene for the very first time…  there were literal tears of joy in my eyes.  With the Taken King we got a better shot at a big baddie…  but even then we didn’t really have enough time to learn to hate him the way we should have.  The emotional payback element was largely missing because he zoned into our solar system… blew up a bunch of Awoken… and then wrecked a ship that wasn’t even ours.  We had a dozen or so missions to get into her head, and by the time we took out Oryx…  it was cool and definitely felt epic but was still lacking any resounding payback theme.

The core problem there… is the Taken King content and our supposed “war” with Oryx happened disconnected from anything that we actually cared about as players.  The Tower… our home for the last three years remained largely unscathed…  as did the Reef other than a few NPCs swapping places.  There was no sense of loss to fuel our desire for revenge, and while it is a freaking amazing expansion and a leap forward in storytelling…  but still not quite there.  With Destiny 2 there are so many things changing… and in truth they needed to.  There will be players that lament the loss of their shiny vault full of weapons… and I won’t like there are a lot of things I will be sad to say goodbye to.  However what we are getting is a tangible reason for fighting and that means so much more than any given piece of loot could…  and the folks that know me really well will be shocked to hear me say that.  The history of the city is built on the backs of major flash points that we can only really find out about in legend… or in the name of locations.  Growing up I heard about all of the things that my Grandfathers went through with World War II…  how one Grandfather stormed the beach at Normandy…  got shot up by a gunner and just happened to fall into a trench with a medic that could patch his punctured lung.  That was his story though… and not mine…  much in the same way that the tales about the fabled Guardians of the past are just legends and didn’t really factor much into my day to day game play.  In Destiny 2 we start the game by living through the fall of the Tower and the loss of our Light as a source of power…  as well as the potential loss of our constant companion the Ghost.  We have reason and motive to want to take back what was ours from this Chubby Darth Malgus.  I am so ready to hit the ground and start taking down Cabal as I at the same time attempt to fortify and rebuild our new home…  the Farm.

Another thing that the Taken King did better was start to give our class leads a personality.  Cayde-6 went from being a random Exo Hunter in the tower…  to Robotic Mal from Firefly.  Zavala went from being that dude that sold me crappy Titan gear…  to being the Stalwart defender of the tower and the “worrier in chief” about everything.  Ikora Rey went from being someone I never actually talked to… because the Warlock jump is horrible…  to being this sassy arcane dynamo.  The Homecoming mission took all of these elements and built on it, and they have been carrying this mission forward in the form of a flood of videos about Destiny 2.  I’ve been linking them in and out of the paragraphs of text, and they do this amazing job of packaging up the elements of the world that you might want to care about and delivering them to you on a silver platter.  Yesterday the live action video shipped and it is truly amazing… and I said this before but there is no song better for a “getting shit done” montage than Sabotage by the Beastie Boys.  Leading up to this however there have been five character vignettes… one for each of the class leads:  Cayde-6, Zavala, and Ikora Rey…  as well as one for Hawthorne the person who is going to be helping us a lot at our new home on The Farm…  as well as one for Ghaul our new bad guy focus.  They’ve done more in the months leading up to the release of this sequel to set the stage and give us a reason to care about it…  than they did in the entirety of three years of the original.  For me…  its like getting to share this gift with all of my friends because I was the only one mental enough to actually go digging into the lore.  For the last few years my friends have had to listen to me rattle on about this or that from Destiny without actually knowing any of the context.  Here is a giant fucking context sandwich…  and it gives me a lot of hope for the future.  I think Bungie gets it… and they understand that you cannot just throw a train of breadcrumbs in your game and call it good.  They started in the middle of an established story…  but never gave us enough bearings to be able to really find our way clear of caring about what was going on.  I’ve said before that the central focus of Destiny is shooting space monsters with space guns… and I still stand by that.  If you are really not into that premise then no amount of story is really going to make you want to stay.  However…  it does give you some reasons for why you might want to shoot those space monsters…  and understand where exactly your space guns game from.

 

Traditions End

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For the last several years there has been a tradition I have observed… and that is going upstairs and checking to see what is available on Xur for the week.  For the unindoctrinated… Xur is an Agent of the Nine… a group that we know next to nothing about in Destiny.  He also is somewhat of a garbage collector and brings trinkets for us to purchase each week either in the Tower or Reef social space.  Various activities in the game reward a currency called Strange Coins… and these are then exchanged for various items that always include an exotic weapon and a piece of exotic armor for each class.  The armor rolls are notoriously bad but it is still a reasonable way to get a jump start in light levels, and I absolutely abused this fact on my Xbox One account when I was leveling it.  One of my favorite sources of Xur info is from Patrick Casey, and at the head of this mornings video he made a comment about how he is just about to never have to see this squid faced guy again.  Not sure why… but it just sort of finally hit me…  our time with Destiny is almost over.  Within the next few days the PC Beta for Destiny 2 will begin… and then shortly after that the official launch of Destiny 2 on PS4 and Xbox One.  This really is the last weekend when Xur really matters at least for me in particular because starting on Monday I will be playing Destiny 2 on my PC systems… and starting the following Wednesday I will be playing it on my PS4.

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Destiny 1 as a whole has been an amazing experience, and I am looking forward to seeing Destiny Item Manager (the first screenshot) updating to start showing me all of my baubles that I begin collecting in Destiny 2.  A huge chunk of my experience has been my clan, and it is awesome to see the clan page updated to fly a brand new banner in preparation for what things are ultimately going to look like in Destiny 2.  I’ve worn the tag even when it didn’t really matter… like on my Xbox One account… and was proud to see it rise out of the ashes of Axioma.  Right now my future in the Destiny universe seems a little up in the air.  I am not entirely certain if I will be playing as a PS4 primary or PC primary…  and even then I have no clue what my clan situation is going to look like.  This is where my various gaming worlds begin to collide.  Destiny 2 existing on the PC is going to bring a lot of long time friends out of the woodwork that are interested in playing the game.  At that point I am not sure if it is better to flood TQMB…  or just start something on my own.  I am not even sure if you can have split clans based on platform… or if your Bungie account can only join one period.  I would like to remain in Tequila Mockingbird on what seems like the platform that they will be most active on…  aka the PlayStation 4.

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It seems really weird to be thinking that I might be standing in the Tower for the last time.  Sure Destiny 1 will remain in existence for a period of time… and I can always go back and experience things.  The problem is… will I actually want to?  Destiny 2 looks to be the first game with a ton more things to be doing… and it feels like something worth sacrificing an entire world for.  Sure I have gotten used to seeing The Traveler floating just off in the distance…  but I will get used to the new visuals of the European Dead Zone.  I will miss my vault full of weapons that I have accumulated through hours of grinding… and bending the arm of Squirrel and Jex into helping me do random stuff.  Destiny has been a magical time for me… and it feels like I have been away far too long.  I am ready to dust off my controller skills and venture forth into the new world when it opens on September 6th.  While I feel a little misty about the thought of abandoning the current one… I know bigger and better things are just on the horizon.  The challenge I always struggle with in gaming is that I have more friends than I can ever possibly play with at the same time… but I always try and juggle this as best I can.  I am certain that as we enter the new game I will figure out a way to balance playing with my awesome friends in Tequila Mockingbird… and all of the new people who will be giving the Destiny franchise a fresh chance.

Last Banana

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It has been a very gaming light week for me, and I wound up heading to bed something like 8:30 or 9 ish which is very much not normal for me.  Functionally I am coming off of a few really rough weeks at work where I have been in firestomper mode 24/7.  As a result I get home and I am just too drained to deal with human beings… or in truth the possibility of human beings.  This is where my “I” streak comes out with a vengence, and it has lead me to play a lot of games in a very low key and solo manner.  Last night however I decided to go ahead and play some Destiny.  Right now the very last Iron Banner before the release of Destiny 2 is going on… and with it the chance to get the sniper rifle and hand canon…  neither of which I have a decent roll for.  Additionally with the thought about going into Destiny 2…  I am finding myself more than a little nostalgic for Destiny 1 at the moment.  I’ve never been one to really work on the book achievements, but I am finding myself doing so at least in a limited fashion.  September 6th begins a new adventure into the Destiny universe… and with it we are leaving behind all of the trappings of the last.  As flawed at times as the original might be… it still very much feels like home.

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The match type for this last Iron  Banner is Control, which is also in part what is pushing me back to play some.  Control is my favorite game mode because it gives me a reason beyond killing other players to be engaged.  Deathmatching was something that I was a fan of when I was in High School… but once I have gotten older I find myself craving some larger objective to be working towards.  While I would love to have role based gameplay along the lines of Enemy Territory…  holding points on a map at least gives me some measure of that core focus.  What ends up happening in truth is that players form what I call a “muderball” and then ping ping back and forth across the map capturing points.  In Destiny 1 this game play is actually to some extent rewarded because the more people you have standing on a point… the faster it shifts to neutral and then to captured.  In Destiny 2 however…  points capture at a fixed rate so it is going to be interesting to see if players actually spend some effort focusing on defense rather than just constantly retaking points.  I saved the above screenshot largely because this was as good as it got last night as far as kill to death ratio.

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As far as a load out…  it just feels like the special weapon slot doesn’t mean much of anything anymore.  The limited amounts of ammunition you get, and the fact that it seems like Invective no longer recharges at a reasonable rate meant that for the most part I was using nothing but primary.  I tried a few things as the evening went on.  At first I had some early success with Oversoul Edict, but as the night went on I wound up breaking out my friend the Genesis Chain.  I’ve never been a huge fan of the Suros aesthetic but I absolutely love this weapon…  especially if you get head shots and trigger the firefly explosion effect.  I love the way that sounds… its like a tiny “fuck yes” as you are running away to find the next engagement.  What cracks me up about me and Destiny… is that I tend to bond with whatever weapon everyone else says that you should just shard.  This lives in an archetype that no one seems to like and is functionally just a better version of “An Answering Chord” that is a available on the Vanguard Quartermaster.  However it just feels better and seems to work better for me than that weapon ever did.  I mean I also love the Fabian Strategy… which is a weapon everyone else seems to hate so my particular tastes seem to consistently go against the meta.  Last night I managed to finish all of my quests from Lady Efrideet, but I have yet to get any weapon drops so I am thinking I might want to go ahead and try and make rank 5 during this final Iron Banner in the hopes of maybe seeing some decent versions of the Hand Cannon along the way.

Assorted Turtling

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Yesterday was an exceedingly stressful day, and that combined with the fact that my wife is out of town…  lead to a sudden bout of turtling.  For those unfamiliar with the nomenclature…  I go through these periods where I feel like I need to pull my head into my shell to attempt to remain sane.  I’m thankful that I have a few friends that get it, and don’t give me too much hassle about it, but every so often I just reach this point where I need to disconnect from humanity.  Last night was one of those nights and I cycled restlessly through a whole bunch of games to see if I could find something that would fit well enough to pass the evening in.  The negative is that in theory this should have been a night I was tanking in Final Fantasy XIV, but I just could not handle communicating with others…  or having anyone I cared about relying on me.  The irony is that I wound up for a bit early in the evening in Destiny…  and absolutely wound up carrying two other players hard through a random strike.  I took a screenshot not because it is impressive…  but because it shows the massive difference between my participation and that of the other two.  This was on the Wretched Eye strike… and I wound up kiting the Ogre… and DPSing most things down…  and resurrecting the other two people constantly.  Now I know what Squirrel and Jex feel like when I run with them.

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From there I wound up back downstairs and watched the last episode of Handmaid’s Tale…  which is maybe not the best idea to watch when you are already feeling depressed.  While doing so I ended booting up Rift and playing around some there.  I am still level 67 and working on the Gedlo Badlands, which is not exactly my favorite zone so far.  Moonshade Highlands is my jam, and I have never been that big of a fan of desolate desert landscapes…  especially not ones where everything is on fire.  That said I did make a lot of progress knocking out various quests and while it still feels like my experience bar isn’t really moving…  the constant ding of planar levels seems to help the feeling of being mired.  I have been running around with a heavy Warlord hybrid build, and while I have been absent it seems to have been buffed significantly.  Previously I had a lot of problems with struggling to kill a given mob in time before it killed me.  Now I seem to be able to run around and wreck things pretty safely.  My biggest complaint with Starfall Prophecy now Prophecy of Ahnket… are the legendary morphs of abilities.  Each of them seems to read like it is going to be universally better than the original…  but after taking a few of them they seem to FEEL worse.  The biggest problem here is that you cannot undo them without paying for a respec…and then you have to remember what the hell you chose as a spec down to the point where you screwed up and chose the wrong legendary morph.  Personally I think the system should just be a toggle, and that you can have X number of legendaries toggled on equal to the number you have earned.

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I also played a little Secret World Legends, which is something I seem to do just about every day… or at the very least I am logging in to get the rewards.  I am not completely sold on the game but I am enjoying it enough to keep showing up and experiencing it.  The combat feels fresh enough to make going through a bunch of quests I did long long ago feel worth it.  My key complaint however is the game still does a piss poor job of clearly identifying which quests you have completed and which ones you have not.  That was one of my biggest problems with the game is to log in and roam around through a sea of cutely named quests… that all sort of blend together in my head making it impossible to sort out if I have or have not completed them.  This was even worse when it came to expansion content going into the game, and blending in among all of those other quests that I did a year ago.  So far blade and elemental is fun enough, but I find myself really missing the shotgun… and with the way gear levels up in this game I feel like I am really not in a great place to switch gears at any point soon.  I do have an extremely low level shotgun sitting in my inventory and I might try swapping it out at some point soon just to see if it is viable.  I’ve moved on to the Savage Coast but there is honestly still a lot in Kingsmouth that I have never really gotten around to completing.  My biggest complaint overall is as compared to the original… the drop rates of anything meaningful in the world is nonexistent.  All of your gear seems to come from lootbags gained through doing quests… so I have a feeling that a big part of the “endgame” is going to be repeating quests on the daily reset to get more stuff to fuse into your gear.  That doesn’t really bode well for those players that are not a big fan of grindy mechanics.