Tags: Destiny

Everything’s coming up Destiny, even without Activision

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The future is bright for Destiny 2, according to Bungie’s Luke Smith. The latest weekly update from Bungie features a post from the game’s director addressing the news that Bungie is parting ways from Activision. Smith stresses that the studio will continue to work on the Destiny universe and that Destiny 2’s content updates are continuing as planned. In a separate announcement, Blizzard assured fans that the PC version of Destiny 2 will continue to live on the BattleNet launcher for the foreseeable future.

Bungie also thanked partners Vicarious Visions and High Moon Studios for their work on Destiny content. Since both studios are owned by Activision, it’s unlikely they will continue their relationship.

“We’re thinking about what it means to be truly independent, what it means to self-publish, and crucially, what Destiny’s future can now look like for our players.”

What happens with Destiny 3? Where will Bungie find development funding outside of Destiny 2’s revenue? Speculation has been running rife since the breakup announcement. Whatever the company decides to do, players are keen to see what a “truly independent” Bungie looks like.

Destiny 2 is almost free to play

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You can grab a free copy of Destiny 2 on PC right now. No strings attached. It’s the regular base game of Destiny 2 that people paid full price to experience at launch last year. You just need to go through your Battle.net account and claim your copy before November 18th. It’s yours to keep as long as you add it to your account by then.

You’ll want to pick up a copy of the Forsaken expansion if you want all the most recent high-level goodness, but free is a pretty good price for at least twenty hours of the base campaign and multiplayer. If you really need to give Activision money, there’s always plenty of in-game stuff to buy. PC players that actually paid for Destiny 2 will get a free in-game emblem to mark their sacrifice.

Claim your free copy of Destiny 2 on PC here until November 18th.

You can catch up on Destiny 2 in one go starting tomorrow

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Beginning on October 16th, owners of Destiny 2’s latest expansion, Forsaken, will get all the content from the expansion pass. That’s everything from the Curse of Osiris and Warmind packs. According to Bungie’s post, the content is being rolled together to streamline the process of bringing on new players. It makes sense because many popular MMOs and “games as a service” experiences do the same thing. Easing the barrier to entry can better entice fresh players and keep the community going.

Every player of Destiny 2 who has yet to touch down on the Tangled Shore will need only the Forsaken upgrade.

If you jumped on Forsaken already, you’ll get a bunch of in-game items as an acknowledgement of your loyalty. There’s nothing quite like wearing a cosmetic doodad to tell everyone you paid full price for something.

The stars of Uncharted and Destiny trade roles

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That’s hunky star Nathan Fillion playing Nathan Drake in an Uncharted short film. While it’s an unofficial fan production, this is something fans of the Naughty Dog action game series have wanted to see for a long time. Thankfully, director Allan Ungar did too. Between ABC’s The Rookie going from pilot to series, Fillion was able to squeeze in some time for the passion project.

“This is what we set up to make, what we set out to do when we sat down for vegan Thai food. It’s a fifteen-minute short film. It’s our tribute to the character. For right now, we’re very happy with this just this being what it is.”

Nathan Drake is famously voiced by Nolan North in the games, so it’s a bit coincidental that at about the same time the Uncharted short was hitting the web, Nathan Fillion confirmed that he does not voice Cayde-6 in Destiny 2’s upcoming Forsaken expansion despite voicing the character previously.

“I wasn’t available for this last instalment – it’s not me doing the voice for Cayde-6. In a wonderful, amazing turn of events – it’s actually Nolan North!”

When a door closes, a window opens. Something like that.

The Destiny 2 experience is marred by the experience

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What’s going on with the experience grind in Destiny 2? That’s the question a lot of players have been asking over the long holiday weekend. It all kicked off when an armchair investigator dug into how the game throttles the rate of experience gain for players in certain situations. According to the data collected, players that stuck to the seemingly more lucrative XP activities in Destiny 2 may have actually had their XP scaled back by 90% with no notice. Shortly after the publication of the Reddit post, Bungie admitted that there were some shenanigans going on. They did have a system in place that essentially penalized players that stuck to easily repeatable content.

We are not happy with the results, and we’ve heard the same from the community.

It was a stunning turn of events to fans. The speed with which the developer responded to the initial accusations (over a holiday weekend) emphasized the severity of the breach of trust.

But the issue hasn’t ended yet. Further analysis by fans revealed that after the dynamic XP scaling was removed, Bungie increased XP level requirements by 100% across the board. Bungie has also admitted this is accurate. Any way you slice it, you’re going to grind for longer than you thought you were going to before all this came out.

Blizzard claims another PC victim by swallowing Destiny 2

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The PC version of Destiny 2 will be exclusively on Blizzard’s network. For the first time since its inception as Battle.net in 1996, Blizzard’s back end will be used to host a non-Blizzard game. In their statement, Blizzard explained that creating a new networking system for the PC version of Destiny 2 “would needlessly extend the development period” of their sister company’s game. Blizzard noted that they have no plans to add any other Activision titles to their platform, but they are “potentially evaluating” other opportunities for synergy.

In related news, the PC build of Destiny 2 will support an uncapped framerate, 4K resolution, and configurable controls. By being integrated in Blizzard’s network, Destiny 2 players will also have all the cross-game social features people get in titles like Overwatch, StarCraft 2, and World of Warcraft. Plus, they’ll be able to use their Blizzard Balance to purchase Destiny 2, and presumably that will extend to the in-game purchases as well. Destiny 2 will be available worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 8th.

This is how The Division and Destiny embrace change

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It’s been a little more than six months since Tom Clancy’s The Division launched and big changes are afoot. Ubisoft has heard the complaints, collected data, and analyzed the information. They agree that The Division needs some attention. The upcoming 1.4 update leans hard into what the developers term “the importance of gunplay” and making progression more intuitive. Character boosting stats like Firearms, Stamina and Electronics, for example, will be on every piece of loot you equip in the endgame tiers, so gear management more closely resembles the journey in the early part of the game. The Division’s all-important firearms are being walloped with the balance stick so oddities like sub-machine guns outperforming assault rifles won’t be as common. There’s a long and detailed set of data the developers have to back up these decisions, including a few charts. Who doesn’t love charts?

Want to build for the highest possible damage? That’s perfectly fine, but you’ll end up with a gun that might have a big recoil or a small magazine. Or if you prefer, you can build a weapon that is incredibly stable and precise, but you’ll have to sacrifice raw damage. It means that there will be more skill involved in using the weapons, just like in a regular shooter and during the level 1-30 experience, and our hope is that it will lead to much more variety and less cookie cutter weapon setups.

The Division’s 1.4 update is supposed to come out in October, and Ubisoft is taking feedback on the announced changes. Players on the PC version will be able to check out the planned changes on the public test server beginning on September 26th.

Meanwhile, Destiny just released Rise of Iron, their latest major expansion since The Taken King. It brings back Gjallarhorn.

Here’s your chance to spend more money in Destiny and Black Ops III

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It’s microtransaction time for Destiny and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Both games are adding new in-game purchasable items, just in time for Christmas.

In Bungie’s Destiny, players now have the opportunity to buy a consumable that instantly boosts one character to level 25. The Taken King expansion came with one free boost that did the same thing, but now players can apply this level-up to another character for $30 more. Sub-class experience will still need to be earned the old-fashioned way, but with this new offering players can bypass all that pesky low-level stuff and get right to the Taken King content. Who really wants to play through a game anyway?

In Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III, cyber-soldiers can purchase Call of Duty Points a new in-game currency that can be traded for Black Market cosmetics for versus multiplayer and consumable boosts for the cooperative zombie mode. Unfortunately for fans of pay-to-win, it appears that the new system won’t allow you to unlock game-breaking advantages.

There’s no Lord of Terror, but there’s a little bit of Diablo III in Destiny

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By most players’ accounts, The Taken King expansion for Destiny and the updates to the main game are a success. The game at launch was criticized for its core loot cycle and level progression being obtuse, unfair, and just too grindy. With the 2.0 revamp, Bungie took a hard look at all the systems and addressed many of the complaints people had. In short, a loot-based action game launched with a screwy drop system and level progression that was unsatisfying, but the developers ditched core mechanics that proved troublesome and made the game better. If that story sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

Kotaku reports that in December of last year, members of the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls team met with Bungie to discuss what they had learned after Blizzard launched their loot-driven game. Namely, that people wanted the illusion of random chance, but that rewards needed to be skewed in favor of the players.

People who were at the presentation say it was extraordinarily helpful for Bungie’s team. One source called it “invaluable.” Others said it drove some of the decisions they made for The Taken King. In previous interviews with Kotaku and other sites, director Luke Smith has talked openly about avoiding randomness and designing quests with guaranteed rewards, an approach that has served Destiny well throughout year two so far. Destiny’s meta-narrative has followed the same path as Diablo III’s: It had a rocky launch, then the developers found redemption.

The turnaround on Destiny was successful enough that Bungie was able to approach Activision with the idea that future content could be supported through in-game purchases of optional content like emotes and cosmetic skins.

“There was a bet that was, ‘Hey if we did microtransactions, I bet you we could generate enough revenue to make up for the loss of DLCs,'” said a source. “Instead of it going Destiny, DLC1, DLC2, Comet, DLC1, DLC2, they’re actually just gonna go [big] release and then incremental release. So it’ll just be Destiny, Comet, Destiny, Comet every year. It’s basically just switching the game to an annual model.”

A little loot distribution from Diablo III and a page taken from buy-to-play MMOs gets you the current strategy for Destiny.

Destiny is losing two things, and it may make the game better

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Destiny is being retooled. Bungie announced that the level progression system is being overhauled with the September 15th release of The Taken King expansion. Currently, players of the shooter advance their characters by gaining experience from level 1 through 20. After that point, Light Levels are earned by grinding for gear drops that empower the character builds. It’s why you hear Destiny players talking about Crota’s End, or Trials of Osiris armor all the time. If the random number generator doesn’t cooperate during the drop, the unfortunate soul is doomed to try again. The new system will be based on a straight XP progression for levels 1 through 40 just like it is for the first 20 levels now. Gear will unlock as you level up giving more direct progression feedback. While the Light gear system was good for keeping players involved, the random nature of drops made the system frustrating and hard to balance.

The Taken King will also see another big change to the game. Peter Dinklage’s voice will be gone. Bungie has hired veteran performer Nolan North to redub all of Ghost’s dialog and to take the character forward. Lines like “That wizard came from the Moon!” may not have the same pizazz after the expansion is released. Luckily, we’ll always have “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”

It’s Wolves versus vampires in Destiny versus The Witcher 3

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Destiny’s second expansion launches on May 19th. The House of Wolves will add a second social hub for players to run around in, so they won’t just be hanging out in The Tower. The expansion from Bungie also adds more “epic” story, another high-level raid, and new Crucible maps. Like The Dark Below expansion, veteran players can expect some nigh-impossible scenarios that will be mastered in a matter of days by the truly hardcore. House of Wolves will be $19.99 on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One if purchased on its own. The expansion is included as part of the expansion pass.

Savvy readers will note that May 19th is also the multi-platform launch date of The Witcher 3 from CD Projekt RED. This sums up my feelings on the potential scheduling conflict. That’s not even figuring in the fact that Grand Theft Auto V for PC launches later tonight with the exclusive cinematic editor.

Update: Bungie has clarified that House of Wolves won’t include a new raid. It will instead add a new battle Arena called The Prison of Elders.

Destiny gets spooky and prepares for The Dark Below

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Destiny’s first DLC offered for money, The Dark Below, is coming on December 9th. The DLC is $20 on its own, or included as part of the $35 expansion pass. It will raise the level cap to 32, add more endgame gear, offers new multiplayer arenas, increase bounty slots by five, and buffs the story with missions that will send players back to the Moon.

Through three new story quests, The Will of Crota Strike, and the Crota’s End Raid, players will fight to uncover and eliminate The Hive’s forces and save humanity.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate Halloween in Destiny, you’re in luck. For a limited time, you can get spooky consumable cosmetic items like a Jack o’ Lantern headgear from the in-game postmaster. Trick or treat Ghost!

Sony would love it if you forgot that Destiny isn’t really theirs

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You may have heard that Destiny launched last night. You’ve likely seen advertising that would imply it was nothing short of the best thing ever on PlayStation. It’s on Microsoft’s console as well, but aside from a midnight launch event at some Microsoft stores, and a clever web page for a fake fragrance, there hasn’t been much made of the fact that you can play Bungie’s latest on Xbox.

Sony’s gotten all the good stuff, including a lot of exclusive bits and bobs in the PlayStation version of Destiny. That’s because of co-marketing. Sony helps to advertise the game, saving Activision some money. In return, Sony gets the chance to brand the game as theirs in most gamers’ minds. Sony UK head Fergal Gara told Eurogamer that the game is so important to the company that they are handling it as they would an in-house developed title.

“We’re treating it, for all intents and purposes internally, as if it’s a first-party release. We’re wrapping our arms around it on all levels of the organisation. It’s a special project and an important project and it has the power to launch Christmas. It’s hugely important.”

Will the co-marketing effort pay off for Sony? Probably. These kinds of co-marketing efforts usually do exactly what they’re intended to do. Sony’s console is already in first place as far as sales, so it makes sense for Activision to push that version anyway. (You can see that the majority of Destiny players on Quarter to Three have opted for the PlayStation so far.) Last generation, Microsoft and Activision partnered on Call of Duty installments and both parties benefitted. With Bungie’s ten year strategic plan, it remains to be seen if this generation will be defined by Destiny and Sony.