Despite being all anyone could talk about in 2014, Destiny chatter has been relatively quiet so far this year. After the December release of The Dark Below, once that content was complete, all that was left was the eternal grind and periodic events like the Iron Banner. But now, we’re moving closer toward the spring release of the game’s next expansion, House of Wolves, and with it, there are fresh things to discuss.
House of Wolves represents the second half of the season pass DLC for the original game, and is the last officially announced piece of content for Destiny as of the moment. If a leaked schedule is to be believed, Destiny is planning a massive “Comet” expansion this fall, with more DLC to follow after that, and Destiny 2 the next year. But for now, we only have the Wolves.
It can be expected that the amount of content won’t differ that much from The Dark Below, which contained three story missions, one Strike (two for PlayStation), a Raid, three multiplayer maps, new weapons and armor, and a new level cap of 32. Destiny power leveling make upgrade more easy. There may be a tiny bit of variance, but it’s a safe bet the $20 DLC won’t contain anything truly earth-shattering like a new planet or spaceship dogfights. But within this general framework, there are still a lot of things Bungie needs to get right, improving on both the original game, and the last bit of DLC.
More (Any) Cutscenes
One of the more disappointing parts of The Dark Below was that despite the fact that there was a new storyline to pursue, the rise of Crota, it was told in such a limited fashion. The new missions are given via a new Tower vendor, who is the only character given any voicework at all in the expansion. Past that, there isn’t so much as a solitary cutscene before, during, or after any mission. Destiny needed to improve its storytelling from the initial release, but no one imagined it would actually get worse with DLC. Given that the Wolves storyline involves the Awoken Queen of the Reef, I have to imagine this will be rectified, but please, give more than one character some lines.
I previously wrote a lengthy post about how Destiny is in desperate need of a “lore patch” to improve its world-building and storytelling. The list of proposed changes was quite extensive, and I wouldn’t expect all of them to be implemented here, but maybe just…this one? Right now, all Tower vendors are simply that, vendors. All the characters you can interact with exist only to sell you something while uttering one liners, and the only other time you hear their voices is out in the wild when they give you eight-word bounty assignments or brief you on Strikes (for the five hundredth time).
No Exotic Wipes
As we move into gameplay, it’s clear that the biggest mistake that needs to be rectified from The Dark Below is that under no circumstances, should XP be wiped from gear. Despite there being “new” versions of exotics that can be taken to a new max level, there is absolutely no reason to reset their progress back to zero after a trade-in, wiping away potentially dozens of hours of use in an instant, and forcing players to now start from scratch for a third time on each of them. The solution is obvious, and should have been the last time around.
Less Xur Responsibility
While I like the concept of Xur, the weekend-only, “randomized” vendor, the game has become too centered on him. Xur now sells 1) exotic armor and weapons 2) exotic engrams 3) exotic shards used to upgrade exotics 4) ammo synths and 5) exotic trade-in upgrades. It’s just too much. Allow players to upgrade any exotic at their respective vanguard, and take the not-needed randomness out of waiting for Xur to stock the right upgrade.
More Fun Goose Chase
One thing I thought The Dark Below did right was its rather fun post-story mission bounty quest that sent players around to fill an urn with dead Hive, culminating in a challenging final mission and a (somewhat) useful gear reward. We need more cool little treasure hunts like this, and more actual exotic bounties to boot. They’re mysterious, challenging and engaging all at the same time, and Destiny needs more of them (but no mandatory PvP objectives please).
Don’t Negate Crota’s End
This is an offshoot of the “progress wipe” complaint, where players who had played the Vault of Glass on repeat for weeks suddenly found their efforts pointless after the release of The Dark Below. On day one, the vendors started selling Legendary gear as good as or better than their own. Given that Crota’s End has been even more of a slog as players try to reach the new cap, there are going to be riots in the streets if vendor items immediately outclass all their raid gear yet again.
Challenges, Not Brick Walls
Crota’s End also brought with it the death of “challenge,” replacing it instead with “difficulty,” which sounds similar, but isn’t. The hard mode of Crota’s End was indeed hard, but not in a fun way. Rather Bungie simply overleveled all enemies to the point where the biggest challenge was simply that players would die in a few hits and the Hive’s health was now best measured in minutes. The Vault of Glass has a much more thoughtfully built hard mode, and it would be nice to return to that philosophy rather than just turning a dial up to eleven and throwing players into a thresher.
To date, nearly every single boss in Destiny is a just giant version of an existing enemy. Even if the battles themselves are serviceable, the lack of creativity in design is just astounding. If House of Wolves debuts and the bosses are either giant Dregs or Shanks, I’m going to lose it. I’m not asking for Zelda-level creativity here, but please, design something that isn’t just an existing enemy model scaled up by 400%.
No PlayStation-Only Strike
First Xbox had five strikes to PlayStation’s six. Then it was six to eight. Now, if the trend continues, it will be seven to ten, in favor of Sony. In a playlist with so few options to begin with, this creates a repetitive, empirically worse experience for one console and it’s only getting more pronounced as time goes on. I may be biased because I play Strikes more than anything else, but it’s getting tiresome that this exclusive deal is locking a great deal of quality content away from a huge portion of the playerbase.
I could probably keep going, but I want to keep my expectations at least somewhat reasonable here. Feel free to add in your own suggestions in the comments, and we’ll probably hear something official from Bungie soon enough.