Myriad Upgrade Materials With Destiny

I don’t understand Destiny’s success. Or rather, I don’t understand the ferocity of its fans. Perhaps this is simply the curmudgeon in me, the gamer that never quite understood or liked the things that make massively multiplayer online games what they are today.

I don’t understand why every tidbit of Destiny news is so voraciously devoured—whether that’s simply news that you can buy the awkwardly named Gjallarhorn at the intrepid merchant Xur, or that said weapon and its brother Thorn are getting nerfed. I’ve never felt particularly attached to a weapon in a video game, except for maybe the Balder Side Sword in Dark Souls. But even that, I wouldn’t expect to read about in multiple gaming outlets multiple times a year.

I understand that writing about games includes writing about minor updates and tips and things like that, but across the gaming media there are myriad weekly updates on where Xur is at and what he’s selling. Which street corner he’s slinging from, so the junkies can go get their fix.

The game has taken on a bizarre life of its own, months after its launch, that I haven’t really seen in any other game in a long time. Gear is so important, so crucial to success, that not having the right gun or armor can make or break players. This is sort of the antithesis of what I consider a well-designed (let alone fun) video game. But it also seems to work for the many players still hopelessly addicted to Destiny. It works, and I’m a little surprised how well it works, but maybe that’s just because it doesn’t work for me.

Destiny’s myriad upgrade materials and currencies are also a huge turn-off to players like me. I don’t enjoy juggling this sort of inventory nightmare, with some materials only useful to individual classes. And having to earn both Crucible and Vanguard Marks is silly. I like in-depth game mechanics, but all of this—on top of the gear-centric leveling system—strikes me as complicated for complication’s sake rather than true depth.

But now here comes the third expansion, The Taken King. Bungie isn’t merely expanding its online space-shooter, its streamlining the entire experience. Indeed, it’s streamlining the game so much I might actually find myself lured back in.

Aside from all the new enemies and Strikes and the plethora of other changes, the streamlining is what might just tip me over the edge and make me a believer.

1. Burnt-out players won’t have to level their way to The Taken King’s minimum level.

Well, one of your characters will be able to use a boost that levels her up to the required minimum level for the new expansion. For anyone burnt out and hopelessly behind, this means you can skip a lot of grinding and just dive in where you need to be for the newest expansion. What I’ve noticed—and what I’m sure Bungie has noticed—is that some players just didn’t take to the game’s complex leveling systems all that well, and by the time House of Wolves was released, players were already behind and struggling to keep up. With one character guaranteed to start out at the appropriate level, slackers like me can catch up. And since you can start playing The Taken King comfortably at level 26 (which you can hit no problem in vanilla Destiny) you can use the boost to level up a brand new character in a different class.

2. Light Levels and armor no longer decide a character’s level.

The only reason all of the above stuff is even possible is because of Bungie’s very wise decision to streamline leveling. Now you can level up with experience points like in normal role-playing games! Light Level merely indicates your character’s power, a combination of attack and defense stats. This is clever, since it means no two Guardians of the same level will necessarily be the same power. If you have the best gear, you’ll still be more powerful than other players even if they have the same level as you. This keeps an incentive system in place for the hardcore players, while giving more casual players at least the ability to compete and keep up more easily, while diminishing RNG.

3. Inventory management just got way easier.

In The Taken King all those pesky items like Sapphire Wire, Hadronic Essences and Plasteel Plating—items devised solely to give them silly names—are getting nuked. One simple upgrade material for armor will remain, spanning all classes, and giving lazy players like myself a bit less to manage in our inventories.

Along these lines, kiosks for emblems and shaders mean those items will no longer take up inventory space. You’ll see everything you own already, as well as the ones you don’t have and hints at how to get them.

4. Currency is being streamlined.

Vanguard and Crucible Marks are out, Legendary Marks are in. The implications here are huge: Players can now focus on their gameplay preference and still earn Marks, choosing either PvE or PvP and earning Legendary Marks either way. It’s not only streamlined, it caters to the diverse preferences of gamers.

5. Time-saving stuff.

Little things like being able to turn in bounties without trudging back to the vendor will save time and boring load screens. The game is grindy enough without having to return to a vendor to get your bounty reward. This has been done in other MMOs out there, which simply reward you instantly after completing a quest rather than forcing you to go back to the little exclamation point people. Xur will also carry a new item called Three of Coins (because why not call it that?) which you can consume to increase your chance of exotic gear drops. And the Gunsmith will let you try out weapons and buy Legendaries, which is cool.

There may be more ways the game is streamlined that we’re not aware of yet, but the big picture here is that Destiny is getting a massive overhaul with The Taken King, and in the process many of the unique, overly-complicated systems Bungie included in vanilla Destiny will be ditched in favor of more traditional systems. This is one case where innovation doesn’t always equal progress, and where scaling back some far-out ideas actually leads to a more accessible, fun product. Some people will surely hate the changes, hate the fact that players not invested since the beginning will have such an easy time catching up, and so forth. But mostly what this says to me is that Destiny is going to have an even more robust player base going forward with The Taken King.

The expansion itself, with its new sub-classes and expanded story—not to mention Nolan North taking over as Ghost in place of Peter Dinklage—all make The Taken King closer to the sort of game I was hoping for in the first place. Not entirely what I wanted, but closer.

Destiny Gear and Leveling

The Dreadnaught

Ben: What did you think of the Dreadnaught? At first I was a little annoyed that I couldn’t use my sparrow in this new zone, but since the action is more compact in these areas I ultimately didn’t really feel like I needed it. That said, the Dreadnaught was plenty big, and I think there are a lot of little areas in there that I still have left to explore. The space is full of disappearing platforms and hidden alcoves, and it challenged my platforming skills a little more than other areas, which I liked. I also know that there is one exotic weapon Bungie has broken into 50 pieces and scattered across the Dreadnaught, so I’m looking forward to watching the community collect those pieces and unlocking that special gun.

Matt: After you run around for a bit, the absence of sparrows makes sense. There are so many chasms, tight corridors, and battlefields that I think it might feel weird to be zipping around on a speeder bike. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours in various Patrol zones, it’s also really thrilling to have a new place to run around, and one where I feel like the enemies are a real challenge. Plus, the combat experience is more varied than I expected — you’re running into Hive and Taken, but there are also a bunch of Cabal on board the Dreadnaught, engaged in their own fight against Oryx’s forces.

The other thing about the Dreadnaught is the way it acts as the broader endgame zone. There are a lot of quests, both there and in other places around the Destiny universe, that don’t open up until you hit level 40. Bungie has this structure called “The Taken War” which opens up after the initial story missions conclude. Some of those missions are really challenging.

Of course, that begs the question about leveling, so let’s talk about that for a bit. What was your experience like with the new leveling system?

Gear and Leveling

Ben: I love the new leveling system. It seems fair and it makes a lot more sense. Newcomers were always confused about the whole light leveling mechanic, and breaking light and gear off is a more straightforward system. I think longtime Destiny fans will be happy with it, because Bungie isn’t taking away anything from players; you get to keep all your existing levels. I also think it’s a nice touch that you can now sacrifice some of your weapons to upgrade other guns you actually care about, which gives you something to do when you get that fifth copy of a random exotic you don’t need.

Matt: I think it’s a smart move that a light value is inherent to all your gear now, even starting at level 1. Like with leveling, it offers a consistent and clear path to improvement, and it also gives Bungie a clear way to tell people what activities they should tackle. Every mission, strike, and raid now has a recommended light total as a guidepost for when you’re ready for it. Do you like the idea that light comes from both weapons and armor?

Ben: I think that’s also a smart move; it gives more value to each new piece you get no matter where it fits on your character. It’s great to see that light value number attached to your character. It’s a direct representation of your power and a good barometer to gauge the tasks and missions you can tackle with your friends. I also love how the wider range of gear gives you more opportunity to express yourself as a player.

Matt: Another interesting change shows up with your stats of intelligence, discipline, and strength. To be honest, that nebulous percentage value connected to those three abilities has always been a little unhelpful to me. What does it mean when I have 75% discipline? The new system breaks these stats down into tiers, and when you cross the threshold to the next tier, you know the exact benefit in number of seconds by which your grenade cooldown has been reduced.

I’m curious – did you end up getting any new ghost shells during your playtime?

Ben: A few, and I wish I still had them when I got home! I’m tired of having the same ghost as everyone else. One of the ghosts that I found had a cool orange/blue color scheme. However, these new ghost shells are more than just an aesthetic change; your ghost now boosts your light level, just like other pieces of gear.

Matt: Yeah, I remember at one point I got one called a Frontier Metropolitan Shell, and it had some neat perks on it [editor’s note: an earlier version of the text incorrectly labeled the new shell as a Frontier Shell, which actually came with the original Collector’s Edition of Destiny]. Sometimes these shells might offer a choice to boost intellect, discipline, or strength, and you have to choose which boost has value for your current build. The ghost shells also sometimes have cool effects, like the ability to sense nearby spinmetal or other resources. There was even a perk that offered increased glimmer for killing Hive.

It also seems as if Bungie is looking for increased ways to let you look and move the way that you want. Since you can now declare faction allegiance and get a faction badge, there’s no longer a need to put on a class item you don’t want. I’m really looking forward to wearing the Hunter cloak I like, rather than the one I need for more Dead Orbit reputation. In another nod to expression, I noted that the character screen now has a slot for equippable emotes right below my emblem selection. The game even lets you cycle through whether you show off your primary, secondary, or heavy weapon when you’re walking through social spaces.

We’re talking a lot about gear, which leads us to the Tower. After all the changes that we saw there, who is your favorite tower vendor now?

The Taken King Hands-On Impressions With Destiny

Bungie opened its doors to us a few weeks back to show off what the team has been busy working on in recent months, and gave us the chance to play not just a few select missions, but the full scope of what’s on offer in The Taken King. We have a wealth of in-depth details in our monthly magazine cover story, but we decided it was worth sharing more about our own personal experience playing through the content, along with some choice tidbits that we couldn’t squeeze into our 14-page cover story.

Ben Reeves and I each played a great deal of the content solo, and also teamed up for everything from Crucible matches to strikes. We sat down recently to discuss our takeaways from our time with the game. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.

First Impressions

Matt: Ben, we had a pretty cool opportunity a few weeks ago when we visited Bungie. They  pulled back the curtain and let us play through as much of the expansion as we could, and share what we discovered with our fellow fans. Were you surprised about how much we got to experience?

Ben: I was blown away with how much they let us play the game. We sometimes get to play games on cover trips, but rarely to this extent. We spent a whole day getting hands-on time followed by a full day of interviews, which really helped me appreciate Bungie’s new approach to design. The game and story feel much more integrated and each area feels new and different. I think this is probably the best Destiny content to date. Would you agree?

Matt: Yeah, I’d agree with your points, both about their openness and how good the game is. It was awesome that Bungie was open to us exploring so much. I think it speaks to their confidence in this being a really stellar step forward for the franchise. For fellow fans and readers out there, it’s worth noting that Bungie showed us a work-in-progress version of the game. We’re going to talk about a lot of stuff today, and we’ve had a lot of interesting articles already appear in our game hub. But it won’t surprise me if some of what we saw is different in its final incarnation. With that said, the core experience is really solid.

So, amidst all we got to play on that day – any favorite things stand out?

Ben: Well, like I said, the story isn’t embarrassingly bare this time around. It’s an actual story, for one. And the game remains a blast to play with friends. I love the grind to collect new gear and weapons, and that push to 40 will really give me a lot of reason to start playing again. Collecting gear remains one of the main reasons to play the game, in my opinion. And now there are even more things to equip.

Matt: Yep. No doubt. There are so many new weapons. I think they’ve said that there are more guns in The Taken King than were present in the base game’s launch.

This is the first time they’ve really reset the weapon and armor economy. We were getting new green weapons that out-powered our best raid gear from Year One, even after the first mission. I also really like that the game seems to pay closer attention to what you would want. Creative director Luke Smith told me that the loot backend pays attention to what you need for a meaningful improvement, it offers variety in armor or weapon type from what you’ve recently gotten, and also tries to avoid repeating the same gear, although he admits that you’re not always going to get exactly what you want on every drop, which is good, because that would eventually get boring.

Ben: In terms of gameplay moments, one of my biggest highlights during my solo time was the mission to collect my new subclass. My primary is a Warlock, and the new Stormcaller class is a lot of fun to use. You’re basically throwing chain lightning, which allows you to turn large groups of enemies into ash very quickly. The mission to unlock that class basically lets you go all out with the ability to get a feel for how it works, which was very empowering.

Matt: I played around with all three of my guardians, but I spent the most time with my Titan. And I fell in love with that flaming hammer pretty fast. As you said, there’s a potent power fantasy at the end of those missions where they give you your super on an extremely fast recharge, and you go to town on whole squads of enemies. On the surface, it’s super fun wrecking so many enemies so fast. But under the hood, it’s a way for the designers to get you familiar with the super and its use very quickly, and then set you loose on the world. It’s a great idea.

Story

Matt: You mentioned story before, which I don’t want to gloss over. It’s not as if they’re changing everything about their fiction or anything. It’s just that the new storytelling feels much more cohesive. Characters engage in more conversations, rather than everything being a declarative sentence without any context.

Ben: Agreed. The basic plot is simple: Crota’s father has returned to seek vengeance on the guardian that murdered his son (that’s you). You’re basically fighting a space devil, but I think the simplicity of the story makes it easier to follow what’s going on. I also loved how the story allows for some of the characters in the tower to interact more. It was nice to see Eris and Cayde better display their personality in these moments. It makes the Tower feel a little more alive and worth visiting.

Matt: I completely agree. Within the framework of that simple story, they can then stretch their wings as storytellers, and play with both the inherent zaniness of ideas (expressed through Cayde), but also the melodrama inherent to the setting, with characters like Zavala and Eris. I also enjoy how much The Taken King makes me feel like I’m the tip of the spear, so to speak. It’s something they experimented with in the base game, but it’s so much more powerfully expressed here. This story really casts your guardian as the true hero who breached the Vault of Glass, and brought down Crota. When the Vanguard needs someone to face Oryx, you are their first choice. I love that when you go to the Dreadnaught, you’re the one planting the patrol beacons for the guardians who will come after you.

Grimoire Card And Realized What The Universe Is Missing with Destiny

Yesterday, as part of Game Informer’s month-long trickle of Destiny news ahead of the release of The Taken King, they released a video that focused on some of the changes coming to storytelling in the expansion. The theme of the video is “a hundred little things,” and as Bungie’s Luke Smith and Mark Noseworthy explain, that encompasses a bunch of smaller changes to Destiny to make story better in the game.

Story has been perhaps my longest-running frustration with Destiny since day one. As an avid sci-fi enthusiast both in gaming and elsewhere, Destiny’s almost entirely empty plot has left me unsatisfied for the better part of a year.

If I’m being entirely honest, I wasn’t terribly moved by many of the changes mentioned in the video. Destiny has huge storytelling problems, not minor ones, and I think it needs more than small or obvious fixes to pull itself out of that pit. So while showing the name of who is talking during a given voiceover is useful, that’s more common sense than really anything else. The same with say, using the enormous stable of actors they have at their disposal like Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres in actual cutscenes. I’m sorry, but I just can’t consider the idea of two characters actually talking to each other as some sort of storytelling revolution, yet sadly in Destiny, that’s what it feels like.

But there is at least one minor change I thought was kind of neat, the ability of your Ghost to scan objects in the environment and feed you bits of Nolan North-voiced lore that way. It’s a cool feature that reminds me of the current best storytelling mechanism in the Destiny universe, Grimoire cards.

Grimoire cards are bits of lore that players unlock by playing the game or performing various feats like killing a certain boss or finding dead Ghosts littered around the map. The long-running theory has been that they were written in relative haste as Bungie pulled out pieces of the vanilla game’s story in the year or two ahead of launch, a theory I am inclined to believe given the fractured state of the story currently in the game.

With that said, whoever was brought into the game to write them did a hell of a job. Far and away, they’re more interesting than any story element in the game itself. And yet, the biggest problem with the Grimoire cards is their inaccessibility to players. First, you have to unlock them, which can be a tedious process in and of itself, and it leaves many stories they tell unfinished if you don’t find them all. Secondly, they can’t be accessed in the game at all. You have to read them on Bungie’s website, their app, or a third party collection site. As such, I would amazed if more than 20% of players have read more than 10 Grimoire Cards since launch. I am also willing to bet that very, very few have actually read them all.

But I have.

To do so, I did not go on some giant pain-in-the-ass hunt to unlock them all. Rather, I just read them all in order on Destiny-Grimoire.info. Maybe there are better sites, but I liked this one because it just listed them all on one page and I could just through them scroll endlessly. Ninety minutes later, and it was like I’d read a short collection of short stories. Rather good short stories, in some cases.

The Grimoire paints a picture of Destiny as a vibrant, interesting, dark, mysterious universe, something rarely conveyed in the game itself, if ever. I’ll cite a few examples so you can get some idea of what I’m talking about. Here’s a short snipped about the possible origins of the Exo, one of the game’s races, an idea never even remotely discussed in the game itself.

Why does a war machine have emotions? Why should a war machine have awareness? These are not useful traits on the battlefield. Don’t flatter yourself. They are not useful. So why should the Exo mind mimic the human architecture so closely.

You know what I smell on you? I smell the stink of anthropocentrism. I think you think that there’s only one way to think. That’s why the Exo mind is so human, you presume. Because all higher thought converges.

My friend, you should meet the Vex. There is nothing human in them.

Now. This is what I believe happened, back in the time before any Exo can remember. It explains everything.

I think someone wanted to live forever. “

Here’s Cayde-6, the Hunter Vanguard voiced by Nathan Fillion (with a larger role in The Taken King, it seems), describing the end of a battle where he accidentally found himself fighting Hive alongside a Fallen Vandal, who is eventually wounded.

When I came down, empty on all guns, she was slumped against a bulkhead staring at me with all her tiny black eyes. Ether leaking out of her like smoke. The Knight hadn’t died easily. Downslope the last Wizard moved like fire behind another line of Thrall.

I looked at her and wondered how many innocent human lives she’d ended on those broken blades.

She did the strangest thing then. Took the last shock pistol from her bandolier and threw it between us, as if to offer it. When I went to pick it up she tried to knife me, but she was slow, and when I broke her arms and opened her throat she didn’t seem surprised.

To this day I wonder if she hated me, or wanted to make me kill her, or just felt she should spare me the choice.”

Here’s a rousing speech by Iron Banner master Lord Saladin to new Guardian recruits:

“Every world begins as a big pebble lost among trillions of pebbles. Every worthy sun was once cold hydrogen spread thin across the vacuum. Even the universe, this cosmic garden that surrounds us and awes us…this monument to Creation was once the size of an apple seed. And everything that’s splendid and great stands at the end of incalculable chance and mayhem.

Yes, you have talents. Enormous, wondrous powers. But you should put the smirk away. Do you know what a Guardian is? Not yet. Your name is another pebble. You are a cold apple seed.

But you will grow.”

And here’s part of a mysterious story about the darkness-forged weapon Thorn, which implies the Traveler and his “light” may not be all that benevolent, and its possible Guardians aren’t the heroes they think they are:

“At the end of the path grew a flower in the shape of a Ghost. I reached out to pluck it and it cut me with a thorn. I bled and the blood was Light. 

The Ghost said to me: You are a dead thing made by a dead power in the shape of the dead. All you will ever do is kill. You do not belong here. This is a place of life.

The Traveler is life, I said. You are a creature of Darkness. You seek to deceive me.

But I looked behind me, down the long slope where the blossoms tumbled in the warm wind and the great trees wept sap like blood or wine, and I felt doubt.

When my Ghost raised me from the sea there was a thorn-cut in my left hand and it has not healed since.”

There are many more of these. Not all are great, but many are good, and a few are really quite beautiful. Reading the entire Grimoire and seeing all these bits and pieces of stories and theories got me thinking about what the universe of Destiny could really use to expand.

Yes, the game-based answers are obvious. A way to read these damn cards in the game itself. More cutscenes, better use of the voice actors with better scripts they can work with. That was true at launch, and it’s true now. But I’m talking about something else.

What’s clear to me from reading a zillion Grimoire entries and finding a shockingly fascinating universe, or at least the hints of one, is that Destiny could really benefit from expanded universe fiction. As in, Bungie works with science fiction authors to craft Destiny stories outside of the game itself in order to better flesh out the world, tell some of these stories that are hinted at in the Grimoire, and invent new ones to boot.

My personal preference would be a fully-fledged novel or two penned by someone talented in the genre. But it could also work with a collection of short stories (but longer than Grimoire entries, please) or even a series of graphic novels.

While it’s true that Destiny has to keep many things under wraps due to the plot twists they want to unfold in the game itself, from reading the Grimoire there’s more than enough here to build a story around at least the past of the Destiny universe, and perhaps some current events going on in “real time” that parallel the progress of the game.

Destiny received hotfix update 1.2.0.5

PlayStation and Xbox owners can now obtain the Husk of the Pit once again, find a changed rotation of PVP maps, and get ready for the Nepal Aid rewards and other upcoming changes.

The Husk of the Pit suddenly dropped stopping in Destiny around the time that House of Wolves came out. This prevented many players from being able to initiate and complete the Necrochasm upgrade quest.

You may point out that the Exotic Necrochasm Auto Rifle wasn’t that hot of a weapon to begin with, and you’d be right. The amount of effort it took to obtain compared to its power was disappointing. However, the 2.0 update is buffing Auto Rifles in general and the Necrochasm in particular. That should hopefully make it a more appealing weapon.

The Nepal Aid rewards should be obtainable soon following the release of the Destiny 1.2.05 update. The shader and emblem have been added to the game now, and all that remains is the emails from Bungie containing the redemption code for those that purchased the Nepal Aid items from the Bungie Store following the devastating earthquake that struck the country.

Crucible multiplayer is receiving some tweaks, as well. Some of the maps in rotation for House of Wolves Control and Clash playlists are receiving a lower weight to lessen their chance of appearing repeatedly in the playlists. Meanwhile, the Inferno and Doubles playlists have been given different Heavy and Special Weapon ammo crate spawn rules from other playlists.

We also get our first peek at one of the Destiny Tower changes coming with The Taken King. A kiosk has been added near Eva Levante to replace Tess Everis. Tess is leaving the Tower only temporarily, though. It sounds like Bungie may have a job promotion in store for the special items merchant voiced by Claudia Black.

You can check out the full Destiny 1.2.0.5 hotfix update notes below.

Weapons

  • Fixed an issue where “Packing Heat” achievement/trophy could not be unlocked by newly acquired Exotic weapons
  • Fixed an issue where Husk of the Pit drops were disabled
  • Drop rates for the Husk of the Pit from Blades of Crota have been increased by 150%

PvP

  • Updated the House of Wolves Control playlist to include the following maps with a lower weight in the rotation:
  • Rusted Lands, Shores of Time, Pantheon, Exodus Blue (Sony)
  • Updated the House of Wolves Clash playlist to include the following maps with a lower weight in the rotation:
  • Firebase Delphi, Twilight Gap, Blind Watch, Exodus Blue (Sony)
  • Inferno and Doubles playlists now have different tuning values for ammo crates
  • Special Ammo initial spawn time and respawn intervals have been changed to 180 seconds
  • Max of three Special Ammo crates will now be placed at one time
  • Heavy Ammo crates now spawn only once per match at 300 seconds

Tower

  • Tess Everis is temporarily leaving the Tower
  • A Kiosk terminal can be found near Eva Levante in North Tower that contains Tess’ old inventory of special order items
  • The Nepal Aid shader and emblem have been added to the game
  • Redemption codes will soon be sent to the email used to place orders in the Bungie Store
  • These items will be found at the kiosk mentioned above

Technical

  • Fixed a potential crash when closing the vendor screen
  • Fixed a very rare case where an account could blocked by a WEASEL error on sign on
  • Fixed issues with suspend/resume handling on Xbox One

‘Destiny’ – Designing Gjallarhorn’s New Competition

For the Taken King, Destiny is crafting a suite of new exotic weapons for players to fawn over and collect. However, not all of these will be acquired randomly; some truly powerful tools will require work to unlock. The journey Bungie took to create Sleeper Simulant, however, is nearly as interesting as the path players will take to unlock it. We spoke with a few of Destiny’s weapon smiths to get the rundown on how Bungie designs an exotic weapon from scratch, and then we took the weapon for a test drive ourselves.

The Sleeper Simulant is a fusion rifle that will sit in your heavy weapons slot, so you know it packs a punch, since it needs to compete with weapons like rocket launchers and machine guns for your attention and use. Unlike most fusion rifles, its charged up blast can penetrate through multiple enemies and will ricochet off walls up to five times when fully upgraded. Think hand-held rail gun, and you’re on the right track.

However, in order to unlock the gun, players first have to collect relics of the Golden Age which have been scattered across the various locations of Destiny. After players bring these pieces back to Banshee-44 (the Tower’s gunsmith), the ancient artifacts trigger a memory in the ancient Exo gunsmith, and he will invite players on an odyssey to repair and reactivate one of the Taken King’s most striking exotics. Bungie doesn’t want to spoil the story content of this mission, but it did say that there will be unique tasks and objectives required for completion, which might even include puzzles that are too hard for any one player to figure out on their own.

We asked Bungie to walk us through the process of creating this powerful weapon, and these are the answers the team provided:

Finding Inspiration:

“We wanted to design a gun that matched the theme of cutting edge technology that was still in its infancy, but bears the hallmarks of a prototype that is not ready for mass distribution,” says concept artist Jesse van Dijk. “One of the designs that exemplifies this concept to me is the prototype of the first stealth fighter. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking it didn’t look like a plane. In almost every conceivable way, it was a much more advanced version of what came before and yet it looked so much simpler. It had all these incredibly primitive geometric shapes, so it had that dichotomy of being super advanced on one end and being incredibly visually simple on the other. We latched onto that theme for the Sleeper Simulant, and also looked at images from NASA, such as the Mars rover.”

Breaking The Rules:

“When it comes to exotics, anything goes,” says gameplay designer Jon Weisnewski. “We have a joke in the design pod that we spend all this time building all these rules for how combat works, and then, when we make an exotic, we pick a rule to break. For the Sleeper Simulant our idea was to take a weapon archetype and move it out of its current role as a primary weapon and make it a heavy. We wondered how could we turn something like a fusion riffle into a heavy hitter. The creation of the Sleeper Simulant was a happy high-five. We said we wanted to make a laser that bounced off walls, and the art team showed us this image and we were like, ‘Sweet, let’s make these things kiss.'”

Finding The Fantasy:

“We try to hit two fantasies for every weapon,” Weisnewski says. “One is the emotional fantasy that the player has just by owning the weapon. How do you feel when you get this weapon? That’s all dependent on how it looks, what it’s called, its lore, what it sound like when it shoots, and just how devastating it feels to use. Our second fantasy is the gameplay fantasy, which is more like the water cooler line that someone will give you the next day after using it. For something like the Red Death it might be, ‘That’s the gun that heals me when I shoot.’ For the Sleeper Simulant we’re thinking it’s, ‘the laser that bounces off walls and kills a lot of guys.”

Fine Tuning In First-Person:

“The design of a weapon is constantly changing through development, and it’s critical for every weapon that it gets proven to work in first person,” van Dijk says. “The perspective you have on a gun is so different when you hold it up close to your eyes. The field of view creates distortions that you might not even think of when looking at a weapon from the side view. What does the gun’s heads-up display looks like? How well does it perform in a combat scenario? Can you actually see what you’re shooting at, or is the weapon in the way? All this fine tuning generally takes a while to sort out. At this point, we never assume that a gun’s design is final until we put it in the game and see how it looks down the barrel.”

Putting It In The Game:

“We went back and forth on depth of view with this gun,” Weisnewski says. “The nature of the gun is that you want players to take it into a base and fire it off and watch it ping-pong around environment and hit multiple guys. But in actual play, players kept wanting to use it like a precision weapon, and they would charge up their shots and try to take out their targets from a distance and continually miss. So we started playing with the zoom, and trying to dial that in so we could help them out a bit. Charge time was another issue. We wanted the gun to feel really heavy and feel powerful, but at first it was too slow and took a long time to charge up, so players didn’t want to use it.”

Path To Glory

Here’s a look at Sleeper Simulant’s upgrade path, charting how the gun grows as you level it up. Like all new exotics, Sleeper Simulant has an intrinsic property that is unlocked immediately upon acquisition, helping to make it stand out right from the start. 

Intrinsic properties:

  • Projectile over-penetrates enemies and will ricochet once. Projectile capable of dealing precision damage
  • Barrel column upgrades:
  • CQB Ballistics – Bonus to Stability
  • Linear Compensator – Bonus to Range, straighter recoil, bonus to Impact. Reduced Stability.
  • Accurized Ballistics – Bonus to Range, bonus to Impact. Better Target Acquisition. Reduced Stability.

Support Perk:

Just a Scratch – Reduces aim deflection on incoming rounds while you’re aiming with the weapon. Helps the wielder stay on target during the long charge up.

Stat upgrades:

  • Speed Reload – faster reload speed
  • Perfect Balance – Better Stability
  • Single Point Sling – Ready the weapon faster, and faster move speed while aiming.

Exotic Perk:

[Final name TBD] – Increases bounce count of projectile to 5.

That’s our look at the creation of the Sleeper Simulant, but you can get more details about Destiny’s The Taken King expansion in our cover story hub. We recently posted an interview with creative director Luke Smith where we asked more than 100 questions about the game, but you can also look forward to more developer interviews as well as a look at why now might be the best time to return to Destiny.

Bones Of Eao, Eternal Warrior And More From Destiny

Each week, Xur turns up wherever he feels like it in Destiny, if he feels like it at all. But when he does show up, it’s likely he’s going to have some pretty nice items for sale, as long as you can find him. Every week, Destiny players flock to him to throw their strange coins at him to get the latest exotic gear. Destiny power leveling make you get it.

This week, Xur is near near the Speaker, on the balcony overlooking the city, and he’s got the first ever sale of something all Destiny players drool over: The Bones of Eao exotic hunting boots. With a whopping 357 defense, the Bones of Eao allow players to add an additional jump to the Double Jump skill, but wait there’s more: players using the Gunslingers’ Triple Jump get a fourth jump when sporting these shoes. Not bad for 13 Strange Coins.

Xur also offers The Last Word hand cannon along with the Eternal Warrior helmet. However, if you’re playing a Voidwalker, Xur can sell you the Voidfang Vestments, the only chest armor designed specifically for Voidwalkers.

If you’re looking for upgrades, though, you’re out of luck this week: Xur doesn’t have any. However, he does offer some additional items, including Exotic Shard, Plasma Drive, Auto Telemetry, Scout Rifle Telemetry, Hand Cannon Telemetry, Heavy Ammo Synthesis and Mote of Light.

Exotic Gear:

  • The Last Word (exotic hand cannon) – 23 Strange Coins
  • Eternal Warrior (exotic Titan helmet) – 13 Strange Coins
  • Bones of Eao (exotic hunter boots) – 13 Strange Coins
  • Voidfang Vestments (exotic Warlock chest armor) – 13 Strange Coins
  • Exotic Engram (exotic chest engram) – 23 Motes of Light

Xur showed up this morning and will remain in his current location until Sunday morning. Visit him now while you can, because once he’s gone, he’ll be gone until the next week (unless, of course, he decides to take a week off).

Exciting peek at ‘The Taken King’ from Destiny

The Halo creator’s latest epic adventure finally touched down last September, and it’s set to grow exponentially just over a year later with the release of The Taken King next month.This new trailer skips the deep-dive details in favor of a more atmospheric, story-driven peek at what’s to come.

In The Taken King, the god of a race of space-demons is out for revenge, transforming the solar system we know into a hellscape teeming with mutated alien killers. Sounds lovely.

Destiny Share The Changes Actually Happened?

It’s been almost a year. Bungie has released two expansions for Destiny: December’s The Dark Below and May’s House of Wolves. In September, they’ll release The Taken King, which looks to be the most substantial addition yet.

 In between major releases, Bungie has also been tweaking and patching Destiny, adding a number of small improvements to the interface, matchmaking, gameplay, and more. The Destiny of summer 2015 is a markedly different game from the Destiny of fall 2014.

It’s likely that Bungie will be announcing a bunch more about The Taken King over the next few weeks. They’ll probably share and tease more about the new weapons and armor, explain whether our gear will carry over from this year into next, show us some new crucible maps, talk about how the Prison of Elders will be expanded, and more.

Before all that happens, let’s go back over those initial changes we suggested last fall and see how many of them actually made it into the game. Turn on your wayback machine, here we go…

1. Sparrow Races

What we wrote: “How in the world someone can put super awesome speeder bikes in their game and then not organize some way to race them is beyond me, but somehow Bungie did it.”

Has it happened? No, not yet. It still seems ridiculous that we can’t hop on our awesome speeder-bikes and actually race someone. There are, at least, now “pikes” strewn around some patrol areas, which let you drive around and shoot stuff. It’s not racing, but it’s something.

2. A Comprehensive In-Game Stats Page

What we wrote: “I also can’t tell you how many hours I’ve played, how many strikes I’ve completed, how many times I’ve died, or how many bullets I’ve fired. There should also be an easy in-game way to check stats like your Vanguard or Faction rep, for that matter.”

Has it happened? Yes, at least partially. The inventory screen now has a lot more information than it used to, and it’s possible to see your rank in the various factions without visiting that faction’s HQ in the tower. Still can’t see your overall K/D or how many aliens you’ve killed, though.

3. Better High-Level Armor Customization

What we wrote: “We’d love to see some sort of deeper armor customization — not just of appearance but of ability, or perhaps a “gem”-like system that lets us weld items onto our armor to gain additional buffs.”

Has it happened? Sort of. It’s not possible to change a piece of armor’s stats, but thanks to the etheric light system, you can upgrade a whole lot of different armor. As a result, it’s much easier to get a build that you like, e.g. pure INT/DISC with extended grenade-throw distance and more super energy from kills. The Taken King looks like it’ll add even more armor flexibility, giving you more choice about which stats you boost and even letting you change them on the fly.

4. Better Ship Customization

What we wrote: “It’d be nice to feel like our rides reflected something about us other than just whether or not we’ve been lucky enough to find a rare ship while doing patrols.”

Has it happened? No. Your ship is still your ship, and while some of the ships introduced in House of Wolves are cool—they either look like crystalline glass sculptures or like off-off-brand Go-Bots—it’s still not possible to customize your ship’s look with shaders or other cosmetic additions. The ships still all look the same, and as a result, one of the most “elite” ships is… the janky one you got at the very start of the game, because so few of us hung onto it.

5. More Patrol Landing Zones

What we wrote: “We’d love to be able to choose our landing point, rather than have to navigate all the way from the Steppes to The Divide every time we want to go take out that Fallen Walker in the public event.”

Has it happened? No. You still land in the same places on patrol, and it usually still takes too long to get from there to wherever you’re going. The Taken King is adding a new patrol zone, of course, but no word yet on how the existing patrols may change.

6. Patrol Mission Difficulty Modifiers

What we wrote: “We’d love to see a second difficulty setting—maybe just a single one—that kicks the base level of the grunts on each world up by ten or so levels.”

Has it happened? Sort of. You can’t modify a patrol’s difficulty, but with House of Wolves, there are now higher-level Fallen enemies hanging around on Venus, Earth, and the Moon. Poor Mars, though. Does anyone go to Mars anymore? Mars must feel so bummed out.

7. Launch To Tower, Not Just Orbit

What we wrote: “We’re only passing through space on our way to the Tower to cash in bounties, decode engrams, and do whatever else. When we bring up our ghost in the field, two face buttons are still unassigned—it only makes sense that one of them could be designated a “Launch to Tower” button.”

Has it happened? No. Alas. However, Bungie’s Destiny app has made it possible to do some of the things we used to have to go to tower to do, like transferring gear and materials between characters. Cool third-party apps like Destiny Item Manager and Tower Ghost make it even easier. It’d still be great to bypass orbit and go straight to tower from wherever we are.

8. More To Do In The Tower

What we wrote: “’Find Xur’ and ‘Turn on the Fan’ are some of the closest things to actual activities, and it’d be nice if Tower could continue to grow and offer more and more things for players to do. ”

Has it happened? No. Sure, they added a new “tower” in the form of the Reef, but there’s still nothing to do there except try to jump onto the one thing or the other thing, or to turn on the lamp that’s next to the postmaster. Fun! There are now more factions, more vendors, and more things to check, but nothing new to do.

9. New Shaders At The Store, For Pete’s Sake

What we wrote: “We’d love it if the Guardian Outfitter would actually start getting some new stock, even if it was just once a week. It’s amazing she’s stayed in business this long, frankly.”

 

Has it happened? Yes. Eva Levante did finally get a few more shaders in stock since we wrote our first article, though her stock still can’t be called bounteous. Fortunately, you can now get new shaders at a few other vendors, as well—Eris Morn, Petra Venj, Variks and Lord Saladin all sell a few nice-looking shaders, provided you can rank up enough to buy them.

10. Built-In Shader Previews

What we wrote: “…it’d be even nicer if Bungie built in a preview feature for shaders similar to how it lets you preview other gear. Surely there’s space for a dressing room somewhere on Tower…”

Has it happened? Yes. You can now preview shaders before you buy them.

11. Meaningful Clans

What we wrote: “It’d be nice to be able to create and manage your clan in-game, and even to have access to a shared pool of money or bounties. It’d also be cool if every clan could be given their own space on Tower (they’d all occupy the same area, of course) that you could customize, where people in the clan could go to hang out, get clan-specific bounties, that sort of thing.”

Has it happened? No, not really. Clans still feel mostly “outside” of Destiny, little more than a way to publicly show that you and the other people on your Crucible team are allied outside of the game. Clan pages on Bungie.net are a decent way to organize, but it’d still be nice to see clans become more meaningful in the actual game.

12. Custom Emblems

What we wrote: “We’d love the opportunity to design our own emblems, the better to help our clans stand apart.”

Has it happened? No. There are more emblems in Destiny than ever, but it’s still not possible to make your own custom emblem. Players have worked their way around this by getting creative with the little-used emblems—I saw a clan in Trials of Osiris called “The Green Arrows” who all had matching fugly green emblems—but as of now, we still can’t make our own.

13. Opt-In Proximity Chat

What we wrote: “It’s great that Bungie is adding opt-in chat for crucible multiplayer and strikes, but it’d be nice to see something similar for proximity chat while out exploring in the world.”

Has it happened? Sort of. It’s now possible to join a voice channel to talk with the people on your strike team or on your Crucible team, but the game still doesn’t have the sort of proximity chat we were envisioning.

14. A Bunch More Emotes

What we wrote: “This game direly needs a wheel’s worth of emotes that are actually useful, some of which relay information through the other players’ ghosts. ‘Help!’ ‘I’m ready to revive.’ ‘Come here.’ ‘Go there.’ ‘Shoot that.’ That sort of thing.”

Has it happened? No, though as the recent uproar over the exclusive Taken King collector’s edition emotes demonstrated, the game will be getting more emotes soon. Just how many remains to be seen.

15. The Ability To Change Your Handle

What we wrote: “Destiny should allow players to create custom names for each of their characters, rather than having them all operate under their Gamertag/PSN name.”

Has it happened? No. Bad enough that we’re all still saddled with the PSN IDs we picked out when we first started, we’re also not able to put a different handle on top of that in Destiny. If your PSN ID is CPT_JUGGALO, then CPT_JUGGALO you remain.

16. A Helmetless Option

What we wrote: “We’d love to be able to show off our fabulous haircuts outside of the Tower.”

Has it happened? Sort of. The inverse, actually. You can’t go helmetless while on patrol, but you can opt to wear your helmet in social spaces. We’ll count this one as a “sort of.”

17. Character Re-Customization

What we wrote: “If we’re going to continue to develop these characters over the next ten years, we’d better be able to change our minds about how they look.”

Has it happened? No. And we’re all very hopeful that The Taken King will let us change our character’s face, sex, and race.

18. The Option To Hide Other Players’ Handles

What we wrote: “It’d be nice to have an option to turn off other players’ handles in-game. It’d be entirely optional—their level could still display, since that can be useful information, but it’d be nice to have more control over what shows on our HUD at a given moment.”

Has it happened? No. And to be honest, after nearly a year of Destiny, in retrospect we wouldn’t really care if this one never happened. Especially if we were allowed to pick our own custom Destiny handles. It’s nice to see who you’re playing with.

19. A HUD-Free Screenshot/Selfie Mode

What we wrote: “Destiny would hugely benefit from a HUD-free screenshot mode, as well as a good selfie mode. It’d be even better with the aforementioned helmet-free option, which would make every random battle look far more interesting and photo-ready.”

Has it happened? No. And the game’s beauty continues to be difficult to document and share without a bunch of text and other UI junk getting in the way.

20. More High-Level Solo Activities

What we wrote: “If a [solo] player just wants to play for an hour or two each night, there should be more than a couple of things for them to do.”

Has it happened? Sort of. There are more single-player missions now, of course, but most of the new PvE activities are geared toward playing as a team. Lone wolves can matchmake into the weekly strike or the level 28 Prison of Elders, or hop into the new public events, but when you do those things, you’re gonna do them alongside other people. There still aren’t many high-level, endgame-ish things to do on your own.

21. New Missions With Actual Variety

What we wrote: “Here’s hoping the new missions channel the sorts of challenges seen in the Vault of Glass raid, with enemies who buff and debuff, bosses that require careful strategy to defeat, and environmental challenges that test the limits of Destiny’s long-distance jet-jumps. Show us what you’ve got, Bungie. We can handle it.”

Has it happened? Yes. Both expansions introduced new single-player missions with more variety, particularly House of Wolves. There’s always room for improvement, of course, but we’ve seen several clear steps in the right direction.

22. In-game Grimoire Cards

What we wrote: “Grimoire cards should be moved into the game somehow, either during loading screens or at a kiosk in the Tower, or somewhere in the menus. You wrote all that lore, now put it in your game, Bungie!”

Has it happened? No, and the Grimore remains sadly segregated from the rest of the game. Sites like Ishtar-Collective.net have done a great job of pulling all the Grimore lore together into a digestible format, but it remains baffling why so much of Destiny’s backstory isn’t in… you know, the game.

23. An Integrated Looking-For-Group Tool

What we wrote: “While it’s nice that there are websites that let people hunt for teammates for the nightfall strike or the raid, it’d be even nicer if the game itself could feature that sort of tool.”

Has it happened? No. Popular LFG sites have continued to do a fine job of remedying Destiny’s lack of an integrated LFG tool, but Bungie has yet to add one to the game itself.

25. A Way To Undo Gear Breakdowns

What we wrote: “It’s likely that someone or other will accidentally break down a legendary or exotic piece of armor and regret it afterward. It’d be nice if there were some sort of short-term undo option for breaking something down, like the buyback option most RPG stores offer.”

Has it happened? Sort of. You can’t undo a gear breakdown, but it is now possible to “lock” your gear, meaning my precious Hopscotch Pilgrim will forever be safe from an accidental holding of the Square button.

26. An Inventory Wheel

What we wrote: “It’d be nice to have an inventory wheel that lets players quickly access different weapon loadouts, ammo packs and other consumables, and check the status on various bounties. There’s no reason we should be fiddling with in-game menus while taking damage from enemies.”

Has it happened? No. We players have certainly gotten better at hopping into the inventory menu, changing up our loadout or popping an ammo synth, then hopping out in time to stay alive, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t love to have a better inventory interface in-game.

27. Shared Bounties

What we wrote: “If you wind up out patrolling with a friend and they have a (non-exotic) bounty that you don’t, they should be able to share that bounty with you and have it turn up in your bounty inventory. You shouldn’t have to return to Tower just to get on the same page.”

Has it happened? No. This is another improvement that, in retrospect, actually doesn’t feel all that important. It’d be better if we could just grab bounties using the Destiny App, so that if, say, we started the Nightfall without getting The Cleansing, we wouldn’t have to bail out and go back to Tower just to get it.

28. A Home For Exotic Bounties

What we wrote: “Exotic bounties are cool and everything, but they’re also time-sinks, and they shouldn’t hog an entire spot in your bounty inventory for the multiple days it usually takes to complete one.”

Has it happened? Sort of. There are now twice as many bounty spots as there were when Destiny launched. It’s still not enough, but from what we saw of the menu screens when we demoed The Taken King at E3, there are more bounty spots coming, along with a whole page dedicated to mission progress and, presumably, other ongoing challenges like exotic bounties.

29. An In-Game Map

What we wrote: “While we’ve all learned the basics of Old Russia and the Moon, it’d be nice to have an in-game map that shows our location relative to the overall world we’re exploring”

Has it happened? No. At this point, we’ve got all of the maps memorized, but I’m sure newcomers would still benefit from an optional in-game minimap.

30. A Way To Pause The Game

What we wrote: “Bungie: as adults with roommates, spouses, children, and pizza delivery guys occasionally asking for our attention, we cordially ask you to add some way to pause your fucking game. Thanks.”

Has it happened? No. Seasoned players have figured out when they can set down the controller and for how long, but Destiny still forces you to play on its timetable, not yours.

31. Let Players Trade Items… Or Maybe Don’t

What we wrote: “It seems inevitable, but we’re not sure that it would actually improve the game.”

Has it happened? No, and it shouldn’t. Even at the time we first wrote this, it was included as number 31 because we said we weren’t sure we wanted it. A year later, it’s even easier to see how a trading economy would completely upend Destiny’s reward system. A real-money economy would sprout up outside of the game almost immediately, with $100 eBay Gjallarhorns for everyone. As fucked as Destiny RNG often is, there’s still something vital about only being able to use weapons and armor that you yourself unlocked in the game. When I see someone wearing full Trials of Osiris gear or even just using Thorn, I know that they did some shit to get it. A trading economy would throw all of that out the window.

Final Tally

If you’ve been counting, four of our proposed changes made it into the game, seven were sort of added, and 19 still haven’t made it. A few of those 19 are things don’t really rate anymore, but most of them would still improve the game. Also, to Bungie’s credit, they made one big change—increasing our vault space—that we hadn’t thought to ask for because it hadn’t yet become an issue in October. Of course, there’s still not enough vault space, but hopefully (hopefully, hopefully) they’ll give us more in September.

Will The Taken King address more of our lingering issues? Probably. When that expansion comes out, will we publish a list of new changes we’d like to see? Likely. Will the people who make Destiny continue to be annoyed as we cavalierly propose solutions to problems that are likely much harder to solve than they seem? Almost certainly.

We’ll know more soon, as The Taken King is out in just over a month. Here’s hoping they at least let us skip the cutscenes.

Give Year Two update ahead of Taken King reveal from Destiny

DESTINY players face a new hunt from Bungie who have also revealed more on the Year Two update ahead of The Taken King extravaganza at Gamescom.

Having given fans their first official peek at the Dreadnaught, the studio revealed that a Taken War is set to unravel to push the overall storyline further on Xbox, PlayStation and PC platforms.

Breaking down the theme of what exploring the massive spaceship would feel like, Bungie in their latest blog post confessed that they wanted to build  a dark and mysterious space for gamers to meet the game’s newest foe, Oryx.

The developers have promised that new Bounties, Patrol Missions, and Public Events both large and small—some of which you can even instigate yourself will be discovered in its vast caverns, although players will need to put in the time to find all its best loot.

“The Dreadnaught has its secrets—you’ll need to return again and again to solve them all and acquire the rewards we created for doing so,”Designer Ben Wommack explained. “There are hidden treasures and bosses waiting to be found, and it won’t be apparent how to access them the first time you go exploring.

“We’ve laid out a lot of breadcrumb trails though, as you fight your way through the ship. So follow the clues you’re given, face the challenges you can find, and earn that sweet loot!” Bungie also went as far as describing how the latest expansion will help shape what is to come in Destiny: Year Two.

“As well as being a focal point for the story campaign in The Taken King, the Dreadnaught will also be a centrepiece of The Taken War, a progression that extends well beyond the traditional storyline,” community manager David Dague revealed.

“It will also provide new ground to explore and Patrol. In that regard, like The Taken King itself, it represents a big leap forward.

“Many other Hive abominations are waiting for you on board the Dreadnaught. Oryx has built an army for them to lead, bristling with combatants that were taken from our world, twisted by the Darkness, and sent back to prevent you from looting their fortress.”

Bungie also announced they would launching a hunt of those gamers guilty of cheating in the Crucible and restrict access to it for the worst offenders.

“We started with a look at the most notorious cheaters that had been reported by other players,” Dague added.

“After a cross-reference against our own player-data, we gave the Banhammer a mighty swing. Contained in its blast radius were hundreds of people who have manipulated network traffic. If you don’t know what that means, we love you. Never change.

Bungie say they will be revealing more on the Taken King at Gamescom next week, which could see more of the Dreadnaught opened up to curious fans.