Yet another post about Destiny

I’ll have something other than Destiny to talk about soon (I hope), but until then I’m going to keep enthusiastically posting about Destiny. The first week of The Taken King has been awesome so far, and at times I’ve found I’ve been unable to put the controller down. Destiny seems to have finally gotten the loot driven gameplay loop right. I’ve never seen so many items and engrams drop at almost a constant rate during missions and strikes and I’ve found myself wanting more and more as I’m almost always finding something useful that edges my light level higher.

Destiny

I worked my way through the story missions throughout the week, and with a little help from the Crucible I managed to hit level 40 by Friday. It was a slow rise, as many players hit 40 the day The Taken King released, but I wasn’t dedicating an insane amount of time to the game. I was excited to see Xur return on Friday with new wares, and purchased my first Taken King Exotic, An Insurmountable Skullfort, to get a decent light level bump.

My goal was to get as close to a 290 light level this weekend as possible, so with that in mind Friday I began running Strikes. The very first Taken King Strike I encountered was Cerberus Vae III, one of my least favorite Strikes in Destiny. Luckily they reworked the Strike a bit with new enemies, however the overall Strike plays out exactly as it did before.

After this disappointing rehash I finally got into the new Strikes, and they were great! Every new Strike has an interesting aspect or two that makes them more fun to run through than the older ones. For example, the Sunless Cell boss fight in the dark is a blast! The first time I dove into the dark pit I felt my palms get sweaty as I had no idea what I was about to encounter, and my heart raced during the entire encounter until Alak-Hul finally fell.

The Project S.A.B.E.R. Strike has its own wonderful moments, such as the beginning of the Strike in which your Fireteam has to avoid being overrun while defending an uplink. The Taken enemies really make this section of the Strike challenging and exciting. The last time I ran through it I could tell I was grouped with people who were running the Strike for the first time. Unfortunately, neither was utilizing voice chat (I have yet to encounter a single person in playlists who does) and I found myself the sole survivor of the initial onslaught which I somehow survived. The boss fight at the end of this Strike can be challenging the first few times, especially if your teammates don’t know what to expect, but once everyone knows what’s going on it’s actually rather easy.

The Shield Brothers Strike can be one of the most frustrating, especially with no communication. Encountering the dual boss fight the first time is chaotic, however a lot of jumping seems to help the chances of survival.

I’ve had a blast playing through all the new Strikes, even as I ran through them multiple times. The amount of engrams dropping all the time makes it hard to stop running Strike after Strike. I’ve watched my light level constantly creep higher, and ended the day at 254, just shy of the 260 recommended for the Heroic Strikes. I tried entering a Heroic Strike at a lower light level (the Shield Brothers) but it proved too much to handle and I had to bail out as we never would’ve completed it.

Destiny gear

I’ve also had fun in the new Crucible modes, although I’ve always been a terrible PvP player. I’ve played more matches than I normally would have throughout the week because after every other match I was getting Strange Coins while on a losing team. I looted at least ten Strange Coins through just a few matches which left me with more than I had ever had at one time by the end of the week. If they continue to drop as frequently in the Crucible I’ll probably play more than I ever have to prepare for Xur’s weekly visits.

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Destiny: The Taken King is a blast so far!

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Destiny’s third expansion The Taken King released today, a week after the 2.0 patch introduced a significant amount of changes to Destiny’s gameplay. I ordered the expansion and the $20 Collector’s Edition upgrade, and so far it seems like the purchase has been worth it.

I didn’t really play any Destiny after the 2.0 patch launched, so I was still level 32 when I jumped into the game earlier today. With the level cap raised to 40, I decided to it would be worth checking out the House of Wolves quests I had never finished in order to get some experience. Even though much of my time spent in Destiny since the Taken King release has been spent with older content, I still feel the impact the newest expansion has made. Earning experience instead of hoping to get the right loot to increase light level feels great. I also thoroughly enjoyed the House of Wolves quests as I finished the quest line and gained a handful of levels in the process. Not only was I leveling, but I also came across a ton of Taken King gear along the way (mostly greens and blues). It felt great to see so many engrams flying all over the place as I blasted my way through enemies.

The taken King

Sorry for the quality of the screenshots, I was streaming to Windows 10 and couldn’t take any in game screenshots while doing so.

Once I did get to the Taken King content, it blew me away. The cut scenes, music and voice acting are all phenomenal. I had never experienced something so well produced during my time with Destiny previously, and I was literally in awe. I had also never been as excited while completing story content in Destiny.

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The new locations are visually pleasing and the new enemies are a blast to fight. They introduce new mechanics that are exciting to encounter. I’ve only completed the first story quest and the Sunbreaker quest but both were an absolute blast. In fact, the Sunbreaker quest is my favorite Destiny story mission by far. Unleashing the power of the new subclass was incredibly thrilling alongside the epic music and relentless onslaught of enemies. I can’t wait to see what else the new subclass has to offer.

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So far I’m loving The Taken King, and can’t wait to spend more time with it!

 

Destiny has taken ahold of me

In the past month I’ve gone from having completely forgotten about Destiny, to at times being borderline addicted and obsessed. Last week I ordered this cool looking Destiny shirt that finally arrived yesterday:

11954767_10109371919674734_3838806998934894634_n Destiny shirt

I also got a window sticker for my car:

Destiny window sticker

How did I get here? Well what finally hooked me was doing the raids for the first time. As I’ve already said, completing Vault of Glass was an absolute blast, and last week I finally did Crota’s End for the first time as well.

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The Crota raid was much easier than Vault of Glass, however the two times I did Vault of Glass were on Hard, so I’m not sure if that was a factor. Either way, the mechanics of Crota were much easier to get the hang of, and it was awesome to finally down Crota. It was even more exciting, because I looted my very first exotic from the raid (the rest came from Xur): Ice Breaker!

Ice Breaker

Continuing with my obsession, I’ve tried redeeming the Red Bull codes for the XP boost (hoping to level up my weapons), however have yet to have success. All of my codes redeemed without issue, yet nothing ever showed up at the postmaster. I’ve tried three codes so far and haven’t received anything. Lame.

Destiny Red Bull

Next on the Destiny Agenda I plan to do my first Nightfall and Prison of Elders if I can find groups to do them with. We’ll see how it goes.

My second Vault of Glass (Hard) run caught on video

On Tuesday I ran Vault of Glass for the first time (on hard) and later that day decided to join another group to try it again. I know it’s absurd to spend so much time in one day playing a video game (I’m a little ashamed to admit) but I had so much fun working together with a group trying to conquer the raid.

The second attempt didn’t quite go as well as the first, however I streamed the ordeal on Twitch as a guide on how to be a complete and utter noob in Vault of Glass. We made it to the end of the raid but could not conquer Atheon, and ultimately everyone had to go so we left the raid unfinished. Despite the failure, I had just as much fun playing with this second group of people. The Gorgon labyrinth section was especially fun because even as we repeatedly failed everyone was laughing, fooling around and having an all round great time. I’m glad I got to run Vault of Glass with such a great group of people, and am glad I captured it all (well minus all the conversation).

Changing my mind about Destiny

Just two weeks ago I tried convincing myself I was done with Destiny, in the post ‘Why I’m reluctant to check out Destiny’s expansions.’ Shortly after making the post I caved and purchased the expansion pass for $34.99, determined to see what all the fuss was about.

I never really got into Destiny before this moment. I purchased it once it was released but mostly played the game solo, and never really enjoyed it. Sure the shooting was rock solid and an absolute blast, but the story missions and strikes with random groups weren’t doing it for me.

Over the last two weeks I decided to go ‘all in’ with Destiny. I started out by joining match-made strikes, which were still hit or miss. By that I mean there were times I was matched with players so terrible it made playing the game miserable. They would rush into enemies and die over and over again. They would attempt to stand directly underneath a boss and shoot up at it only to die. I’d resurrect them and they’d die again. In other strikes I would be matched up with someone AFK, or someone trying so hard not to die that they’d fail to contribute to boss fights at all. Even worse I’d be in the middle of a strike and one of the other players would drop out of the fight for no reason leaving us short handed.

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With a little help from Xur

The weekend of the 14-16 Xur made caused a huge ruckus by offering the legendary weapon Gjallarhorn in exchange for 17 strange coins. This infuriated a lot of players, many of whom felt buying the rare weapon devalued the weapon and the experience of earning it “rightfully”. I was disappointed to find I only had eight strange coins in my inventory and through the weekend I only earned two more (from engrams).

This weekend, however, was a different story. I logged in one day last week to find three Legendary weapons and 13 strange coins waiting in my mailbox. I used these strange coins to purchase my first piece of exotic gear from Xur this weekend, the Eternal Warrior helmet.

Eternal Warrior

This raised my light level high enough to start doing the higher level strikes. I started running The Dark Below and House of Wolves strikes which helped me get Vanguard Marks (alongside a couple lucky drops) which eventually got me to level 32. I enjoyed going the process of trying to get better gear for the first time in Destiny, however the strikes themselves didn’t impress me. All of the strikes I’ve done since purchasing the expansions have been the same strikes I’ve done before, just at a higher level. I don’t think I’ve actually seen any new content yet, which is kind of a bummer.

Completing my first raid: Vault of Glass (Hard)

I’ve been trying to do Vault of Glass ever since I was a lowly level 24, but never could get anyone to take me along on the raid. I finally got into a group on Sunday and was excited to finally head into a raid. I was level 29 and felt like I was ready for the challenge. Most of the group was in the thirties and a few had done the raid before, so I felt like it would be pretty easy. It turns out I was wrong. We struggled right from the start, taking quite awhile to erect the spire. Eventually we made it through and onto the next challenge, the confluxes. After a short briefing from our leader (watch out for the fanatics) we dived in. This section proved to be a major roadblock. We were a man short of a six man team and could not successfully defend the confluxes, failing over and over again. No matter what strategies we tried it always ended in failure, and after a couple hours our group disbanded.

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Discouraged, I continued doing strikes and managed to get some better gear raising my level to 32. This morning I was browsing the Destiny forums earlier this morning and happened across a group looking for another raid member for Vault of Glass. I decided to shoot them a message and before I knew it I got an invite to their party. I didn’t realize they were doing the Hard mode of Vault of Glass. Oops. Worried that I would miss my chance to complete the raid, I didn’t tell them that I had never done VoG before in any form. We made it through the spire section with ease and I was feeling rather confident this run would go smoothly.

The conflux section went much smoother this time, though there were some hiccups when it came to the oracle section. I had never made it this far, but did my best to figure out what was going on and I tried to follow everyone else’s lead. It took four or five tries with varying strategies, but eventually we managed to pass the oracle section as well (a man short as well). We got a sixth raid member and proceeded to the Templar battle. This also proved challenging, but we were able to finish the fight on a third try, and further into the raid we went.

At this point we were a few hours into the raid and I started having thoughts about leaving the raid as I was getting tired and frustrated, but decided to press on. The group descended into the Gorgon’s Labyrinth, and this is where I finally had to admit I had no clue what I was doing. The group ran ahead and I couldn’t figure out how to get down the cliff into the labyrinth. I tried jumping several times and ended up dying four or five times. Eventually they realized I wasn’t with the group and I had to admit I had never done the raid before. It turned out they were actually really helpful, and told me I should’ve told them earlier so they could’ve explained everything. From here on out they took time to make me aware of everything that was going on which was really cool. I didn’t expect the group to take kindly to a noob joining them on a Hard mode raid.

The disappearing platforms section also gave me some trouble, but they showed me how to get across using the passageway to the right and I finally made it after four or five (or six) tries. They then walked me through the cliff walk very patiently, and on we went.

The gate section took some further explaining, but ended up being easier than I expected after our first wipe (where I was sent into one of the portals). This actually ended up being my favorite section of the raid as the strategy fell into place and we absolutely rocked Atheon in one try.

I was excited to have finally completed my first Raid in Destiny and I was especially thrilled that the group I jumped in with was so helpful and patient with me. The sense of community I had while doing this raid was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had while playing Destiny and I can’t wait to experience more of this.

epic raider achievement

After the raid the group wanted to immediately head into the Crota’s End raid, and told me I was welcome to come along (though it would probably require even more explaining), but after the three hours spent working through Vault of Glass I was a little beat. I couldn’t imagine heading into another two to three hour affair, no matter how fun it would be.

Praedyth's Revenge

I ended up looting a ship and the Praedyth’s Revenge sniper rifle which seems pretty cool. I’d like to run Vault of Glass again, but most likely on Normal next time. I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to head into Crota’s End. I might try to tackle it next weekend, but raiding is exhausting!

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Long story short

This post is pretty long-winded, so I’ll wrap it up shortly. Ultimately, my opinion of Destiny has evolved quite a bit over the past two weeks. How much you enjoy Destiny really depends on how much you interact with the community. Playing endless match-made strikes in which no player EVER talks (I’ve never experienced a single strike mission where anyone said a word, and I always join the strike team channel) is no way to experience Destiny. Using the forums and groups to look for groups may be a bit of a pain, but the time invested pays off incredibly by providing a much better Destiny experience. There’s nothing quite like the experience of running a raid with five other people from around the world. I’m addicted.

Why I’m reluctant to check out Destiny’s expansions

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Ever since its release I’ve had mixed feelings about Destiny. I played the beta, enjoyed it and couldn’t wait for the game to release. Once release day came I was incredibly disappointed in the way the ‘story’ of Destiny was handled. There seemed to be no plot, or no overarching reason why I was going on any of the missions at all. There were blurbs of dialogue delivered with so little effort I didn’t even bother listening to them. Every mission seemed isolated from the one before and playing Destiny felt like playing a sort of random mission generator.

Despite the lack of story, I still immensely enjoyed the shooter aspect of Destiny. The shooting was rock solid and all of the weapons were exciting to use, at least for awhile. Before long most of the weapons ended up feeling the same, and I was never blown away by any of the loot drops. In games like Diablo there’s a constant drive to keep hacking away at enemies because some of the rare weapons that drop are significantly different than everything else and wielding those weapons makes you feel more powerful. Destiny never allows you to experience that feeling.

Destiny

Again, despite another negative aspect of the game, I’ve still been occasionally drawn to Destiny. There’s something enjoyable about jumping into a strike with two other people and working together to run through hordes of enemies before facing a bullet sponge boss. Unfortunately, like the story missions, there is very little variety in the strike missions. You’ll fight through easy to kill enemies until you face off against a predictable boss that will soak up thousands of bullets for anywhere between five and 15 minutes until it inevitably falls.

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Even realizing all of Destiny’s negatives (and I’ve only scratched the surface), I’m still tempted to purchase the first two expansions: The Dark Below and House of Wolves ($19.99 each, or $34.99 with the expansion pass). I’d like to see the additional content (I’m only level 24 currently), but there’s one thing keeping me from investing the time and money: achievements. There are no achievements in either The Dark Below or House of Wolves. $40 worth of content offers up zero achievements. This might sound silly, but if I pay for additional content I expect to be able to earn some additional achievements. I can’t think of any downloadable content in the modern era of video games that hasn’t offered an additional set of achievements for the player to earn.

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The forthcoming major Destiny expansion, The Taken King ($39.99, or $79.99 via a complicated pricing structure) will feature achievements. The question is, do I really want to play through hours and hours of content that is likely to be very similar to what I’ve already played just to get to a point where I can start earning achievements again? I’m not so sure that I do. Sure the first two expansions may be worth playing for the experience alone, but more often than not I hear Destiny spoken of negatively, even from the mouths of seasoned players.

Have you played the Destiny expansions? Were they worth it? Do you think they’re worth playing as a casual Destiny player?

Had a bit more fun with Destiny tonight

I jumped right back into matchmaking Strikes tonight, and I had a lot better luck as I was matched with people interested in actually playing the game!

I was initially matched into the Devil’s Lair strike already in progress and my teammates and I made quick work of the strike and final boss. Much more enjoyable with a team that works together!

After that I stayed in matchmaking with one of the players from Devil’s Lair and we actually matched with another third team member who was just as capable as the last. We knocked out the Nexus quite smoothly and I had an enjoyable time doing so.

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My only complaint would be that no one used the team voice chat in either strike. I don’t know what it is, but no one ever wants to chat in Destiny. The same goes for the Crucible match I played to end the night, no one was using the team chat channel. Too bad.

I ended the night with a Crucible control match and went a respectable (for me) 20-13 (and we won!). I didn’t really get any notable gear tonight and still sit midway between level 24 and 25. Still, I enjoyed the night and look forward to running another strike or two tomorrow night, hopefully I’ll be just as lucky with the matchmaking!

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