I can’t believe how insanely close Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is, and along with it the brand new free-to-play version of Destiny 2, New Light. Just four more sleeps and we’re off on our next adventure on the haunted moon, returning to the Black Garden for an epic new Raid, and starting a whole new narrative cycle that is everything I have been wanting out of Destiny. Right ahead of the release, Bungie released one final “This Week at Bungie,” the studio’s weekly Thursday blog post about the state of the game, the studio, and the community.
Being the last one before this year’s major fall expansion, it was an understandably meaty TWAB with lots to digest. Plenty about Shadowkeep is still being kept under wraps, but it still answered a number of questions that were on players’ minds. With absolutely nothing to do but champ at the bit and grind out bounties before Tuesday, let’s dive in and dissect the latest TWAB.
Think of this as supplemental notes and thoughts on everything. I won’t detail specifics (unless they support a point I am trying to make), but I will cover each point in the TWAB broadly.
Is that First Light?
First I have to call out the image at the top of the page. It looks a lot like First Light to me, a Crucible map from Destiny 1 that originally employed the use of vehicles (before vehicles were quickly removed from Destiny’s PvP experience). Now we know that First Light is back in some capacity, and multiple videos seem to show that it is now a part of the Moon patrol map, but how exactly it fits into the architecture is a mystery. Still, I’m happy to get all of these little nostalgia inducing bits of content, coming back in ways that are unexpected.
Yup, Shadowkeep gets a sweet launch trailer, and it’s set to a great mix of “E-Pro” by Beck. Eris’ narration goes perfectly with the music, explosions, and epic moments, amping up the hype for Shadowkeep and the Season of the Undying. Why am I still talking about it? Just watch it for yourself below:
A More Challenging Destiny
In recent years, Power creep has meant that Destiny has become altogether too easy at the endgame grind. Destiny content creators are left doing insane personal challenges like two-man Raids and beating high-level enemies with nothing but their fists. Except for that bit of difficulty right at the top, Destiny stopped being challenging a while ago.
We already heard earlier this year that the damage numbers are being crunched. It’s purely a visual tweak so that Bungie can continue to increase Power over the Seasons and potentially for years to come. Smaller numbers doesn’t mean less damage. The relative percentage to enemies’ health bars remains the same.
The new part of this is adjusting the challenge of the Power climb, and making sure that the variations in level between players and enemies are more pronounced. It’s all in an effort to make sure that there’s an element of challenge to the game, going along with recent nerfs to Exotic items that became go-to “easy buttons,” allowing players to bypass certain systems like the ammo economy or reload mechanics that are intended to break up fights.
One of the most exciting elements of a new expansion is the renewed Power climb. Having been at 750 Power for so long now, it will be refreshing to start chasing after that 960 cap—plus all those uncapped Artifact bonus Power levels. Things are going to be a little bit different this Season though.
Non-powerful drops will be 0-3 levels below your current highest equippable Power level. Currently, if I get a non-powerful reward dropped, it’s dropping for me around 735, essentially making it worthless without infusion. Now drops will more closely match your current Power level to actually provide you with usable gear right away. This is great news for grinding out rolls on weapons and armor.
I think we all expected Year 2 powerful sources to all get deprecated in the interest of pushing the grind towards Shadowkeep, though I do wonder how that will impact New Light players and their climb to the cap.
Character level is also no longer a thing in Destiny 2, with all characters being set immediately at level 50 and all gear starting out at 750 Power. It’s a bit of an odd solution, just pulling the base up to that point. Even new players will be greeted with this, which could be a little confusing, though it’s better than resetting everyone’s Power, I suppose. It gives the game a sense of forward progression, even though in all actuality this is a pretty massive reset, aligning all players at essentially the same starting gate.
The Artifact’s bonus Seasonal Power level will not factor into gear drops, so just because you grind the hell out of your Titan, doesn’t mean your Hunter will suddenly start getting 950 Powerfuls. The Power progression will work relatively as it has otherwise. The climb to 900 will be quick, all drops being at or above whatever your highest Power gear is. Up to 950 will be where Powerful rewards help the climb, and the climb to 960 comes from special “pinnacle” rewards, activities that go beyond the normal Powerful gear sources, such as the Raid.
Prime Engram drops have also been increased, but the overall Power gain has been decreased. I think this will lead to more excitement at getting new gear more often, while smoothing out the curve and making the climb a bit more stable.
Bright Dust and Eververse
I spent the last couple of days going through my inventory and dismantling everything that came from Eververse. I mean, Luke Smith told us to. All of those items won’t dismantle into Bright Dust after October 1, and they can by obtained from collections for regular old shards and glimmer. So now’s the time to “sell, sell, sell” and get yourself some good Bright Dust stores.
Don’t count on buying up all of the new cosmetics immediately though. Items for the in-game Bright Dust will only start appearing in Eververse two weeks after Shadowkeep launches. Meanwhile, you can start grinding out Bright Dust through weekly and repeatable Gambit, Vanguard, and Crucible bounties. I’m curious to see how this changes the overall Eververse economy and what the return rate is on these. Being free-to-play, it’s understandable that Bungie will still want to incentivize players to spend Silver (currency purchased with real money), though the way that’s done currently is through tactical rotations of what’s available for Bright Dust at any given time.
This section is what informed my prepper grind for Shadowkeep. Turn in all Vanguard, Crucible, and Gambit bounties, as they’ll be reset. Stock up on basically all other bounties, meaning I’m doing more world vendor bounties now than I ever have before.
Oh, and the Season 8 Engram is called the Nostalgic Engram. Such a better name than Best of Year One Engram, which was ridiculously immersion breaking. These engrams are now earned at intervals through the Seasonal Ranking track instead of on level up.
Other Exchange Rate Notes
The economy of currencies in Destiny 2 is becoming a bit of a teetering tower, but one major change should help that: the Glimmer cap is now 250,000, up from 100K. Because everything takes Glimmer as a kind of primer, along with other resources, Glimmer rewards have been tuned across the game. The Spider also now deals in planetary materials from every planet, so you can get whatever you might need. And Xur can now drop world Exotics from Year 2 in his Fated Engram, if you are missing anything. Overall, some expected, but good changes for the yearly changeover.
Patch Note Appetizer
Either Monday or Tuesday will bring the full list of patch notes accompanying the massive incoming update, but Bungie wanted to give players a taste of some of the quality of life improvements and sandbox changes that are happening (aside from the things they’ve already talked about). I won’t cover everything here, but I’ll note some of the bigger changes on the way.
Year 1 Raids are getting the Rally Banner treatment, which should make taking on these encounters a little bit easier instead of waiting around for Supers to charge and doing “ammo runs.” It’s a long awaited change that will really tie these together for New Light players.
The Shattered Throne and Forges can be launched from the Director. While I supported their initial inclusion into the play space, I’m glad that they are now a part of the Director for easy access for grinding, Triumphs, etc. Being a part of the world made them feel more like a secret interesting thing embedded within the Destiny universe, so I hope future dungeons and activities do the same, but with a back up plan of moving them to the Director eventually.
And the biggest one: Buddy emotes now indicate where to stand to trigger them. Finally, I can get people to bro-hug me, or get them with my static shock.
Goodbye Pinnacle Weapons
Let me first clarify, existing pinnacle weapons are not going away, changing, or being made unavailable. You can still earn them. You can still use them. Bungie just isn’t following this same track moving forward, and it makes sense. They were a weird weapon that sat somewhere between an Exotic and a normal Legendary. That’s a narrow band of usability. The more Bungie adds, the more those weapons would simply become the only weapons anyone would use. They’d become the new defaults under Exotics.
There will be special weapons to get from the ritual activities—Crucible, Vanguard, and Gambit—simply called ritual weapons. These new weapons will no longer feature “Exotic-lite” perks, instead offering curated rolls of existing perk sets on fun weapons exclusive to those activities. They’ll still look cool, and Bungie wants them to be desirable, but they don’t want to force players to get them in order to have the best or most ideal loadouts. These are supposed to be “novelties.”
A number of perks are also being retuned in an effort to pull back some legendary weapons and rolls that became must-haves instead of simply options. Rampage, Kill Clip, Swashbuckler, Multikill Clip, Desperado, Surrounded, Master of Arms, and Onslaught are all having their effectiveness reduced to better be in line with the increased challenge I mentioned above, and to help Exotics stand out a little bit more. For example, the change to Rampage doesn’t impact Huckleberry’s version of the perk.
Also, the Crucible Ritual weapon is a Scout Rifle named Randy’s Throwing Knife, which is awesome.
Corrections and Communications
Bungie’s transparency has been unwavering. Quickly issuing some corrections and statements her helps to maintain that, showing a revised Season of the Undying calendar and clarifying that some Trials of the Nine armor that snuck into the trailer above was in fact not supposed to be in there. Don’t get your hopes up. They also cleared up a possible hiccup with previous Finisher mods that were discussed, but ultimately changed in the final version.
Bungie has been a champion for inclusivity and diversity in the video game industry. Here they announced that a previously datamined pride emblem would go out to all players who bought the pride pin from the Bungie Store, letting players represent that diversity and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition, a member of the Bungie staff shared their amazing story of finding belonging in video games and continuing to foster that. I highly encourage you to read it, and I’m glad that Bungie included this major section as a part of the massive final TWAB before Shadowkeep, increasing its visibility greatly.
The night before I left for E3 2019, I had stayed up until about 2:30 in the morning taking on the new Crown of Sorrows Raid. It was my last chance to beat it to earn the Raid jacket reward. I wanted it. I didn’t get it. I had to give up after more than ten hours of trying to get it done and get a couple hours of sleep before my 6 AM flight. I was crushed. (I did eventually beat Crown of Sorrows with an LFG group, of all things, just in time to get my MMXIX Seal and Title done.)
Now we’ve got another jacket to chase, and this is for the big one. The Garden of Salvation is going to be a big main Raid, and I want that jacket. It’s a brown bomber jacket sporting a green visage of a Vex gate sprawled across the inside liner. It’s also adorned with other little trappings, such as customization with your ID, and the name of the Raid.
The Raid launches October 5. Players have until October 15 to get the jacket, and I am determined to get it this time, though I may have to confer with my wife about the fashion of it. Do I look good in a brown jacket? I’m not sure. There’s also an exclusive Raid shirt that apparently spoils the final encounter that can be purchased as long as you beat the Raid anytime within Season of the Undying. Yeah, I’ll probably get that too.
24-Hour Maintenance and PC Prep
We aren’t going to spend too much time here because I am playing on PS4 (and Stadia, when that comes out in November). I have an okay gaming laptop, but I’m rubbish with a keyboard and mouse and probably won’t play too much on PC. Not even sure how well my computer could handle it.
Starting Monday September 30 at 10 AM Pacific, Destiny 2 will be taken offline, and is expected to be down for 24 hours. At some point during this time, players will be able to preload the Shadowkeep update on consoles to get ready (nobody likes waiting for that PS4 “copying” issue that takes two weeks). With such massive changes to the fundamental systems of Destiny, including going free-to-play, it makes sense that they are targeting an extended downtime period. Bungie.net and the API will also be down, so complete everything you want to in Destiny 2 before Monday morning.
If you do plan on playing on PC, there is a bunch of info you’ll probably want to read in the TWAB.
See you on the Moon
And that’s basically it. The next communique we’ll get from Bungie will be the patch notes, probably a novel’s worth of changes and updates. While we may know much of what’s coming already, it’s always fun to peruse the notes to see if there are any little additions or changes worth calling attention to. There are often surprises in store for players. After we read the patch notes, it’s off to the Moon on Tuesday morning, and for a good chunk of the foreseeable future. I’m just glad I have my GAEMS case. I’ve got some travel coming up in October, and I don’t want to spend a moment away from this upcoming update. See you next week, returning and brand new Guardians alike.
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