Hello there ladies and gentlemen; your resident Destiny expert David Game is here with a very important article on Destiny’s upcoming expansion: The Taken King.

The Taken King is to be released on the 15th September 2015, and in the lead up to said release, Bungie are holding a series of livestreams via their Twitch channel to reveal the changes players can expect.

This week was packed full of both unexpected and much needed proof of improvements that are going to be implemented as well as new information only the keenest of eyes had been able to spot up until now.

Please bare in mind, in the interest of including as much information as possible, I may retread some relatively old ground, such as the Level 40 cap, announced prior to today’s stream. I ask that you forgive any repetition found henceforth.

If you’d like to watch the entire stream, here’s the link to their archived live-stream, but if you’d prefer an easier-to-digest information drop, I invite you to continue reading.

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Kicking off the stream, we’re joined by Bungie staff Deej, Mark Noseworthy and Tyson Green with newly-appointed Co-Community Manager Cozmo elsewhere with a live studio audience. The point of which, I didn’t truly understand, but no harm done.

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When Deej opens the menu, a few new items grab your attention. Your level is on the left, now governed entirely by experience earned, and your “Light” rating is on the right, governed by various equippable items. Your regular level dictates what items you can equip, falling more in-line with the regular experience expected in MMO games (though, as we’re so often told, Destiny is not technically an MMO). This choice allows for  players to work towards the level cap by doing actual missions, bounties and PvP without worrying about the loot-drop, or lack-thereof, affecting their reaching of the top level. This is a welcome change as the original system only served to unnecessarily confuse the progression process and create an artificial wall that only luck could help you overcome in the random loot generator. Light now strictly affects your attack and defense ratings, and no longer will you be hampered by choosing an alternative helmet to the one that provided you with the most light at the time so that you could remain at the level cap.

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Following on from that, the statistics. Guardians have three statistics: Intelligence, governing Super recharge time. Discipline, governing your grenade cool-down, and Strength; governing your melee ability cool-down. Originally, gear would have various statistics, you’d choose what suited you and the affects just kind of happened. Now, they’re in greater detail as hovering over them explains what “Tier” you’ve unlocked with your currently equipped gear and exactly how that impacts your abilities. For instance, if I’ve achieved the highest tier in Intelligence for my Titan, his Super ability might replenish in 45 seconds instead of a 60. In games such as these, knowing exactly how long it’ll take until you can use your abilities again is very important and the new system offers guidance in a way I hadn’t personally considered necessary, but am more than happy to see.

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Of course, to be clear, getting better gear still matters. There are options to upgrade your favourite gear, which we’ll touch upon later, but you no longer feel as limited in your options. The inclusion of “Ghost Shells” – various skins for your little robotic companion – in to the character screen is a joy to see. Before, there were two, and they did literally nothing but show off the fact that I’d purchased the Collector’s Edition. Now, they give an increase to your Light, an increase to your stats AND they have their own perks, such as locating local upgrade materials on various planets: Spinmetal, Helium Filaments, Spirit Bloom and Relic Iron.

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Next up they addressed Quests. Anybody that’s played Destiny knows that the quest system failed to deliver an enjoyable narrative throughout most of its first year and eventually relegated you to simple bounties that were even less immersive. The Taken King has taken strides from the look of what was shown, and a new tab in the main menu was shown. Quests, in my hopeful mind, now make a grander spectacle of themselves with large portions of the screen detailing what your various main missions are. They speak of the Stormcaller – which is the new Arc sub-class for a Warlock – being a reward for completing a quest-line. They speak of wanting rewards to be based on player direction rather than pure randomness, and these quests seem to reaffirm that statement. To the side of these were the regular bounties, but the amount you can hold at one time has been increased to 16 from 10 (and originally 5 when it first launched. It was painful). These bounties can be gathered from several NPCs now and can be handed in directly from that menu. No more glorified loading screens taking up the bulk of your time, now you just finish and click it to receive your rewards. There may be fully-fledged missions that require your presence to present the narrative we’ve so desperately craved, but the simple bounties do not demand your return to the Tower. They also addressed the inclusion of various new types of bounties that respect your time as a player to a greater degree. Rather than “Complete 6 Patrol Missions of Mars because who cares?”, we get “Kill 30 enemies with a Solar Weapon” – things you can accomplish as you run through the game, which were always my favourite bounties: akin to sub-missions within missions.

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Additionally, when you access your H.U.D by summoning your Ghost, you are treated to the inclusion of your personally tracked quests and their progress bars. A minor improvement but a time-saver nonetheless, as before you’d have to enter your menu to see how well you were doing on a bounty, which, in the middle of some of the more combat-heavy bounties, could prove a nuisance. That’s all gone now with the bounty tracker in the H.U.D.

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They addressed how they would get new players involved right away with The Taken King. If you’re just starting out in the world of Destiny and want to catch up with the veterans, a consumable called “Spark of Light” will instantly boost you to Level 25 so that you can access The Taken King’s content. I’ve noticed some backlash about this, but I approve of it entirely. The more people we can get in this world, enjoying the better content that most of us have waited patiently seemingly in delusional hope, the better it is for the community. Note that you’ll have to play the introductory portions of Destiny before gaining access to this consumable, but a good 30 minutes in is a small price to pay.

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A minor aesthetic choice is to allow the guardians with or without their helmet to be inspected in the character tab of the main menu. Some prefer to wear their hard-earned gear whilst others enjoy showing off the pretty face they’ve made whilst creating their avatar. Pro-choice, ladies and gentlemen.

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You can also show off whichever weapon you choose in the Tower. In the same way you’d swap your weapons in combat, utilise the same buttons in the Tower to swap between Primary, Secondary and Heavy weapons on your back.

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Bungie then revealed that “The Speaker”, a veteran of the Tower, will house the material exchange and sell improved Class Items, previously a vanity application, now equipped with various perks that’ll contribute to your stats (much akin to the new Ghost Shells) and improve the experience gained on specific weapons depending on the item equipped. For example, if you have a class item equipped that allows for faster experience gained for Machine Guns, that’s exactly what it’ll do once you unlock that upgrade.

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Emblems, however, were missing from The Speaker. It is then revealed that emblems, shaders and ships have been moved to special terminals around the Tower. They house the entirety of your earned emblems, shaders and ships as well as displaying those you’ve yet to get and how to obtain them. I love this. As any player of the past will know, the acquisition of emblems and shaders in particular come fast and furious, and with only 9 slots to spare on your character, you inevitably had to delete them eventually. Whilst purely cosmetic, these items are near and dear to a Guardian’s heart. Whether they express your victory over Atheon or your crushing of Crota, it’s good to know there’s a place you can retrieve them from at any time.

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We then find out about the rep changes to Factions. Before, you could be affiliated with all of the factions in the Tower by wearing their class item. In doing so, you’d earn reputation to rise in their ranks and obtain their gear. This was fine, but ultimately pointless, as their gear rarely meant anything bar the occasionally highly-effective weapon. In my opinion, they simply weren’t worth investing in. Now, however, they may very well be. You pledge allegiance to a faction in order to gain reputation with them, so you’re no longer restricted to their class-item, and more importantly, you organically earn reputation whenever you earn reputation via Vanguard Missions (Player vs Enemy) or in Crucible (Player vs Player).

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You can only change your faction once per week. Current reputation carries over for veteran players, so if you’re Rank 3 with Dead Orbit, you’ll be Rank 3 in The Taken King. The higher the rank, the more you can purchase from your favourite faction, and their gear has received a significant overhaul as well. Not only will you look like the ultimate Faction Fan-boy, but the upgrades on the gear will serve to improve your defenses and damage output in ways that the original system did not. Whether this puts Faction gear on par with end-game Raid Tier gear remains to be seen, but it’s a great overhaul to make these Factions relevant. You can also convert consumable items in to reputation at the factions, so if you find yourself in excess, it won’t go to waste. Faction vendors can also provide faction-specific quests. Faction packages have been improved in TTK to provide more meaningful rewards, so no longer will you receive a single shard as Tyson Green says, you get a guaranteed Legendary item alongside possibly some strange coins and motes of light, plus the possibility of shader drops. More importantly, once a shader is provided to you in this way, it’ll be taken out of the rotation in the package drops, so you’ll not receive any more duplicates in this manner.

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Vanguard and Crucible Marks were integral to the original game as it helped you gear up effectively. Now, they’ve been changed. We visit Lord Shaxx, the man in charge of the Crucible, and we witness his reworked vendor screen. He himself  holds Crucible bounties now, and if you complete them all, you can complete a “final” bounty of that week to achieve Nightfall-Tier gear. This is a major update for those that strictly entertain the PvP aspect of the Destiny experience, and also provides another avenue to get a guaranteed Legendary and possibly Exotic item. They’ll reset on a weekly basis, giving you the opportunity to dive in again after each reset. Shaxx also sells his own Ghost shells that have PvP-specific perks such as “More Glimmer from killing Titans”.

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Then the question of marks was actually addressed after the Shaxx aside. Honestly guys, questions from the community during the live-stream of content you’re controlling the delivery of isn’t a good idea. Perhaps wait until after you’ve delivered your info-pack, then take questions. I understand you’re trying to get the players involved, but it made things somewhat awkward more than it did involving.

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So the original Vanguard and Crucible Marks have been combined in to one currency: “Legendary Marks”. This is a positive move to unite the player base and, once more, let you progress without limitation. If you want to earn all of your Legendary Marks in Crucible but spend them on Vanguard Gear, you can. The other, arguably more important piece of information is that, whilst the maximum amount of LM you can have at one time is 200, it is no longer capped at that point per week. It is unlimited AND account-wide, so you can earn them all with one character and spend them with another. I was very happy to hear this as the original cap of 100 per mark type felt like yet another artificial wall for me to climb. Now that it no longer affects level directly, however, they can obviously be more free-wheeling with it. Your current marks from both Vanguard and Crucible will be converted to commendations, which you can cash in for reputation gains upon the release of The Taken King.

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It is confirmed by the stream team briefly afterwards that breaking down Year 2 Legendary gear, indicated by The Taken King sigil in the top right of gear exclusive to it, will yield Legendary Marks also. Not on the stream, mind you, but it will at release.

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On the other side of the room is Arcite; the Crucible Quartermaster, and he too holds his own Crucible bounties now. They’re focused more-so on weapons, as the items he sells to you in exchange for Legendary Marks are high-end damage dealers. These bounties are also on a weekly reset.

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Exotic Blueprints were next on the agenda. There are two terminals in the Hall of Guardians; one for armour, one for weapons. Each has a registry identical to that of the Emblem Collection screen we’d seen earlier in the stream, and it houses the Exotic items you’ve found up to that point. You can retrieve your Exotic items at any time with any character on your account by trading in an Exotic Shard and some glimmer. They’re separated in to Year 1 Exotics and Year 2. Some of the Year 2 Exotics are upgraded Year 1 versions. What’s more, if you’ve already found a Year 1 version, you can purchase a Year 2 version straight from the Exotic Blueprint Kiosk. No searching for new versions of the same gear here. You will need to utilise Legendary Marks to do this, however, but given that they’re no longer capped, it’s perfectly acceptable. Year 2 Exotics also begin their life at their maximum rating, akin to the House of Wolves expansion sets, so there’s no messing around upgrading defense stats this time, and they begin with their key perk – for instance, Helm of St. 14 Year 2 (if it exists) would automatically have its blinding perk upon acquisition of the Year 2 version, and would have new perks to unlock outside of it. They use the Light Beyond Nemesis Warlock helmet as an example. Helm of St. 14 is NOT confirmed thus far for Year 2.

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They claim that not “all” of the current exotics will move in to Year 2 “right now”. Perhaps implying future plans to upgrade others, but I’d rather see new gear than old gear upgraded, and it seems like there’s a fair amount there in the greyed-out engram slots that express what you’ve still yet to retrieve.

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They then go to the Exotic Weapon Blueprint Kiosk and show off the upgraded Suros Regime Auto-Rifle. It is now black and will be referred to as “Darth Vader’s Ferrari” at the behest of Deej. The options for the new Suros are very interesting. For those that lamented the Focus Fire forced perk, they have an alternate now where you can fire slower and steadier, or fire even FASTER as you hold down the trigger. These alternate perks were introduced back in the first expansion The Dark Below, and it’s nice to see them being widely-implemented in smarter ways across the better weapons. It is a beautiful design too.

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They then show the new damage ratings. The exotics are hovered over and it says “160”. They quickly address this by saying that they’ve rebalanced the attack/defense rating system to be more in line with the Light numbers, so your 160 damage weapon is just as effective as your current 365 rating. They’ve reworked the numbers to make actual sense rather than having a seemingly random valuation that we forced ourselves to understand over time. The same applies to the Armour, in case that wasn’t clear. Your defense is just as effective.

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The Cryptarch – Master Rahool – now has Legendary Engrams to purchase via Legendary Marks. Those engrams will always give what they appear to, instead of the old method of possibly dropping shards. Is it a Special Weapon Engram? It’ll give you a special weapon.

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The bigger update comes in the form of Banshee; the Gunsmith. They speak of “Field Test Weapons”. You basically rent these low level white weapons for free, go out in to the world and kill things with it, and you’ll earn reputation with the Gunsmith. The Gunsmith’s new reputation starts at zero for everybody, and you can complete quest-lines involving him or do the aforementioned Field Test bounties to increase your rep. Increasing your rep with the Gunsmith does something fairly unique in giving you access to “Foundry Orders”. These are specific gun requests that rotate to new stock weekly on a Wednesday, known as Armsday, a day after the general weekly reset of other Destiny activities. When you reach Rank 1 or higher, for 2500 glimmer you can acquire a specific gun via these Foundry Orders and know exactly what you’re getting. In a game that often forces the focus to random drops, it’s great to see something more player-driven by choice for your efforts. Know that, as it is a requisition order, you are ORDERING the gun in that week, and on the following Armsday, it’ll be ready for you. So, order a Suros DIS-43 in Week 1, you’ll have it ready for you in Week 2. I’m not sure how I feel about the wait for the gun. I almost feel like it’s setting itself up to be a bit of a disappointment, but perhaps the Foundry weapons will be particularly impressive and the week will be worth the wait. Nevertheless, skepticism is understandable for now.

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One of the most interesting, brand new systems in the game is “Infusion”. Each of the Year 2 Legendary and Exotic items will have the “Infuse” node on the upgrade screen, and it acts as an advanced version of the Etheric Light upgrade found in House of Wolves. The way the system operates is like this: say you have a weapon you really like. It’s got perks you love and stats that put it above some of the higher level gear in all but attack or defense rating. You can choose to infuse a more powerful weapon you don’t like as much to improve the rating of your favourite gun or armour. You have to pay some additional in-game currency such as motes of light, legendary marks, glimmer and weapon parts, but you get to improve whatever Year 2 gear you find yourself attached to. All Year 2 weapons and armour can be improved to the highest level available in-game, but it is very important to note that Year 1 gear will NOT have this feature. Personally, I’m fine with that. I want to embrace new gear, and if it’s not on par with or exceeding that which they gave us in Year 1, they’ll hear about it for sure from this very vocal of communities.

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Of course, throughout the stream, Vault space had been somewhat theatrically mentioned several times. Now it was time for the big reveal. The space in the Vault has been doubled (or marginally more). There are 3 tabs: Weapons, Armour and General. Strangely, the General tab is the same size as before. No explanation was given and it seems something of an oversight to expand the Vault for weapons and Armour but not for the General tab. It won’t impact us too much, I imagine, but it is a baffling choice given the overhaul they were implementing. Regardless, the Vault space is doubled for the most important items, and sighs of relief can be heard across the galaxy.

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The stream ends with the stream-team engaging in a quick shuffle via the Dance Emotes Luke Smith was so fond of back at E3. Rumours are that pre-orders reached record numbers at this point of the stream, but time will tell, and of course, I say this all in jest.

So, that’s a hefty load of information. You can find a somewhat condensed version of it over at Luke Smith’s Twitter feed, wherein he addresses the intention to show the “Artifact” slot and that we’ll see it next week, as well as clarifying some of the other points requested by fans.

I, for one, am really looking forward to The Taken King. The two expansions have had me feeling jaded, but the wealth of information we’ve received today in particular has reinvigorated my enthusiasm. I remain wary of what’s to come. I’m concerned about the 2.0 patch in regards to weapon balancing and whether or not their new gear will come close to the old gear in terms of effectiveness, but all in all, the changes detailed in this broadcast seem very positive. I’ll be back next week with a write up on their Strike Stream!

Bizzle.

 

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Rossco is the co-founder of MGL and loves a game with a good single player story. His nickname "Respawn Rossco" comes from his inability to play online shooters, yet he continues to try! His articles are all about enjoying gaming no matter the format you play, he updates MGL daily with news, reviews and in-depth articles.

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