Review: Destiny: The Taken King

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Destiny’s Latest Exploit Lets You Kill Yourself For Exotics.

Well, I’ve had a good run with Destiny – it’s my second most played multiplayer game after Call Of Duty: Black Ops II and I’ve had a lot of fun participating in the Crucible, but Bungie’s decision to lock away content that was available prior to the release of The Taken King has greatly irked me.

The answer — of course this is the answer — is that the mission lets players take advantage of a new loophole and earn lots of powerful exotic items with a minimum of effort. My enthusiasm for Destiny had been diminishing for some time now – I never had much interest in the story or Raids, but during the initial release window the Crucible was fantastically chaotic. That’s not a value judgement — I wish I had the time — but I have to make dinner with my wife, clean our house, train our puppy, see friends, work, and, when I’m not doing those things, play games. My decision not to play Destiny, or any other MMO, is one of self-preservation, intended to leave me time to play many smaller games rather than a single all-consuming game. They’re also the only class of gear in the game with usage restrictions; namely, you can only have one exotic armor piece and one exotic weapon equipped at any given moment.

I understand that it was an attempt to balance guns, but I really don’t think that’s necessary in a game that has players jumping 20 feet in the air and throwing giants spheres of caustic energy at each other. You can buy a pack of five for seven strange coins, and if you use one before fighting a named boss (an “ultra” in parlance), it will give you a solid chance of getting an exotic engram. In the early 2000s, dozens of video developers and publishers tried to manufacture their own popular MMO for this very reason: they attract more players with an ever-expanding sphere of FOMO, the fear of missing out.

I first saw this technique thanks to redditor KinetiClutch — if you go to the “Scourge of Winter” mission on Venus, you can farm the boss for a ridiculous number of exotic engrams. The leveling system, apparently, doesn’t rely so much on luck, as it once did, but more importantly, a special item instantly boosts players from a level 1 character to a level 25, theoretically saving newcomers the headache of improving their avatar so that it can compete alongside those of their high-leveled friends. Perhaps this is all for the best; there are several multiplayer-centric games on the horizon, and no longer having the enthusiasm I once had for Destiny will make it easier for me to give these games a chance.

The signature upgrade, Improved Transfusion, gives you the ability to have up to two melee charges stored and triggers health regen with every Storm Fist kill (the Striker’s melee). That’s supported by Invigoration, which grants bonus melee energy when you pick up an Orb of Light, and a one-or-the-other upgrade: Hands-On, which gives you bonus Super energy for melee kills in PvE, and Heavy Lifting, which does the same for heavy weapon kills.

Strikers definitely enjoy the added benefit of health regen from Storm Fist kills with An Insurmountable Skullfort, but Sunbreakers and Defenders shouldn’t overlook it. It’s likely that Bungie will patch it so that bosses only drop engrams if you survive the fight, but even if Draksis didn’t drop an engram along with your death, you could just restart the level, run through it, and get to him in a few minutes a pop. I talk to a few intergalactic space merchants at The Tower, the one place in this virtual world where creatures don’t want to kill me, and they give me some other items, a handful of quests, and some lines of dialogue that fit into a story that I think would be confusing even if I weren’t taking my seat halfway through the show. Gunslingers tend to be more common in PvP or lower-level PvE activities, since both the Bladedancer’s stealth and the Nightstalker’s support abilities are hard to pass up for tougher challenges. Given how annoying it used to be to wait (and wait, and wait) for that one stupid exotic item that the game refused to give you, that’s a pleasant change.

Because they’re fans of Destiny, they planned for The Taken King’s release and have already upgraded their characters to level 40 using a mix of tricks from forums, exploits in the game’s design, and special promotional codes sponsored by Red Bull. I want Persona 5 to be the best Persona game ever, and I know it can be, but if Atlus needs another six to nine months to make it happen then so be it. At least not unless it turns out to be something really really special, which going by GC’s impressions of the game earlier in the year, I can’t quite see happening. I’m far more interested in Xenoblade Chronicles X as long as that isn’t delayed I couldn’t care less about Star Fox Zero, from my point of view it’s a much more interesting prospect as a platform exclusive. The moment-to-moment pleasure of unloading a weapon is enjoyable — its developer Bungie created the original Halo games — but because I’ve boosted my character to level 25, the early stages are too easy.

If you’re using The Impossible Machines, look at pairing the free Landfall with Superconductor, which improves the effectiveness of Stormtrance’s chain lightning, in PvE activities. Ionic Blink, which lets you teleport around while the Super is active, could be more helpful in PvP since most of the Crucible arenas are so tight and teams tend to cluster together already.

But what really interested me was the evidence of improvements to a person’s visual abilities and the increase in growth in areas of the brain, it got me wondering if we gamer’s could be evolving into a separate sub-species to the rest of humanity. Now he’ll bring along either a weapon or a random exotic engram (it costs 19 Strange Coins) that hasn’t yet been decoded, meaning you’ve got to visit the Cryptarch to see what it is. I spend a couple hours mindlessly blasting my way through the original Destiny campaign, listening to my friends over party chat having what sounds like the world’s best time.

But the documentary did show real world applications for skills that can be acquired through gaming, and on a personal note I don’t even bother to look at the controls anymore before I start a new game. Due to the way engrams now work post-The Taken King, every one the Cryptarch decodes has an increased chance of turning into an exotic you didn’t have in your inventory yet. My point is this, think of how many different types of input your average gamer learns to master over the course of a lifetime, how many in-game obstacles we overcome and how it can teach us all to think outside the box. I say this with humility: playing a game alone, while hearing my friends have the time of their lives in that very same game, sits high in my top 10 list of awful things a video game has had me do. At first, I make jokes about how poorly the game welcomes outsiders like myself, how I don’t know my Gjallarhorn from my Googlegorn, and everyone chuckles, before someone lets me know the Gjallarhorn isn’t actually that great anymore. “There are better exotics,” a friend says. “Chris, do you have an exotic?” No, I don’t really know where I’d get one.

I’m sure most people like me, who grew up coding on the Spectrum, would have got an emulator on their PC long ago and gone through World of Spectrum and other sites and downloaded all the games they ever wanted to play. The more I quip, the more I get the sense everyone is just humoring me, and I realize, with shame, I have become the stereotypical jock ridiculing D&D players because it confuses and intimidates him. You can still buy rare Sparrow upgrades: this week’s options include a Plasma Drive that boosts the speed and durability of rare (blue) Sparrows and adds a blue contrail and an Emerald Coil, which works the same as a Plasma Drive but gives the Sparrow a green contrail. On another note I know spare time is an issue but think you should come pay us all a visit over in the Mario Maker group and the GameCentral Nintendo group on Facebook. We’re not clear on how the actual numbers shake out just yet, but if you’ve got a bunch of Strange Coins lying around, there’s no harm in buying a few stacks of these.

The only thing is, I didn’t think I’d need to on this particular day as Gran Turismo is rated as PEGI 3 (I surely don’t look like a toddler?) Anyways, the lady asks me for ID as this game is age restricted and cannot be sold to anyone below 18 years of age. Both employees look at me blankly, with the initial sales assistant looking at me like I’m some greasy teen trying to pull the wool over their eyes. The manager then calls over a young male member of staff who ‘knows about these things’, at which point I feel relief as he clearly points out the difference between the game I’m trying to buy and the game they think I’m trying to buy. I do have sympathy for the employees, Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto are close in name and they do have to be on their toes checking IDs and such, I just wish it hadn’t taken so long.

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