Gear and Leveling with Destiny
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?