Destiny April Update – Our Impressions

Do you still play Destiny? If so, you have probably already sampled the latest update which dropped on April 12. If you are not still playing Destiny, you might be wondering if the latest update is something you need to jump into immediately. The answer is ‘yes’, but also – quite sadly – still ‘no’. Bungie have managed to disguise very little content into something that seems like a much larger update. However, despite the lack of overall content, there are some nice changes which have balanced the way that players level up, as well as some welcome changes to the reputation system. These changes make it seem like less of a chore when you sign in to complete a few bounties, while still making you feel less ‘compelled’ to sign in than you did during the Vanilla or Dark Below phases of the game. Are these changes enough to draw old players back to Destiny? Probably not, but they might be enough to keep habitual Destiny players happy for a little while longer.

The major changes included in the April update are the addition of two new Prison of Elders modes, as well as a couple of new – albeit very short – quests from two of the most forgotten characters in the Destiny universe; Petra Venj and Variks the Loyal. The Petra Venj questline is yet another PlayStation exclusive; however, Xbox users will be happy to know that the reward for this quest is only a sparrow with identical stats to any of the sparrows they may have acquired during the Sparrow Racing League. The Variks questline is much more rewarding, as talking to Variks in The Reef will allow guardians to unlock a new questline, which includes a brand new – though incredibly short – mission on The Dreadnaught, as well as a brand new strike. Upon completion of the strike, guardians will receive a 320 light Taken Sword from Variks.

Thanks, Variks!

Thanks, Variks!

The next phase of Variks’ questline requires guardians to complete the new Level 41 Prison of Elders activity, which is full of Taken enemies captured from The Dreadnaught. The activity will be familiar for anyone that regular entered the Prison of Elders during the House of Wolves era of Destiny. The Level 41 activity includes matchmaking and consists of five rounds of enemy encounters, at the completion of which, guardians will be rewarded with higher light level gear from the infamous Prison of Elders treasure chests. Destiny veterans will be pleased to know that these chests no longer require ‘Treasure Keys’ to open. Players under 320 light level will probably want to grind this activity for a while before they attempt the Challenge of the Elders, which is a Level 42 activity consisting of only three rounds.

Solo Challenge of the Elders? I got this!!

Solo Challenge of the Elders? I got this!!

The Challenge of the Elders is slightly different to the traditional Prison of Elders model, as it utilises a scorecard (purchased from Variks for 5000 glimmer) to track progress. The scorecard contains two targets: a high score of 30,000 points which must be obtained in a single run; and a cumulative score of 90,000 points, to be obtained across multiple runs for the week. Players will receive a weapon from Variks for completing the 30k target, and an armour piece for the completing the 90k target. These rewards can only be obtained once each week, and players will need to obtain a new scorecard from Variks after each weekly reset.

100 glimmer? You're a shyster, Variks!!

100 glimmer? You’re a shyster, Variks!!

The new questlines and Prison of Elders content are the major additions included in the April update; however, there are some smaller additions which address some balancing issues in levelling and reputation gains. Patrol missions have seen an increase in reputation, with kill and collect missions now giving 40 Vanguard reputation instead of 10, and VIP patrols now giving 50 reputation instead of 25. Scout missions, and Scan mission will now also give 50 reputation instead of the paltry 10 that they used to give. While patrols missions are still the slowest way to boost your reputation, the changes to reputation gains might result in players stopping to pick up a mission or two, especially if they only need a hundred or so reputation for their next faction or vanguard package.

These changes are more than welcome, as they not only result in neglected activities being utilised again, but also increase the rate that players can increase their faction ranks. Increasing faction rank is now more important than ever, as faction packages will now contain weapons and armour up to 330 light level. This makes it even easier for solo players to level up to acceptable light levels. This has been one of the major criticisms of Destiny since the Vanilla days, as players were always required to complete end game content for the highest level gear. While this is to be expected for an MMO style game, the lack of matchmaking for these activities made it difficult for the solo player to reach higher levels.

New 'No HUD' mode makes for prettier pictures... I have a Taken Sword, bitches!!!!

New ‘No HUD’ mode makes for prettier pictures… I have a Taken Sword, bitches!!!!

Another welcome addition is the change in the infusion system for weapons and armour. Infusion will no longer rely on a mathematical formula to calculate the light level for infusion, as weapon and armour pieces will now be infused to the light level of the piece of weapon or armour that is being dismantled for infusion. This means that a weapon at 260 light can become 335 light simply by infusing it with a weapon that is already 335 light. This is definitely a welcome addition, but I wonder if this function was only introduced to quell the ‘pay to win’ argument that would obviously ensue as a result of the new ‘cosmetic’ armour pieces that are available for purchase.

As part of this update, Bungie have introduced a new material known as ‘Sterling Treasure’, which can be awarded once per week for completing the Level 41 Prison of Elders as well as the weekly crucible playlist. However, Sterling Treasure can also be purchased from Tess Everis at the Eververse Trading Company for 200 silver. Remember silver? Yeah, that’s the currency they introduced with the Taken King for purchasing cosmetic trinkets like emotes, and sparrows. With the April update, Bungie have also included new cosmetic armour pieces which are awarded from Sterling Treasure at 3 light… that’s right;  3!! However, these pieces can be infused with any armour piece of a higher light level. And that’s my problem with this change, as the new infusion system has only come about because Bungie do not want Destiny to be seen as a ‘pay to win’ kind of game. The answer to this problem was to release the new armour at 3 light, and let people infuse it to whatever they wanted. But this is how infusion should have worked in the first place, because the old system forced a whole new kind of grind on people. Which is a real shame, because quite a lot of people actually came back to Destiny with The Taken King, and most of them enjoyed it until the grind became too much of… well, a grind!

It's only 3 light, but I'm all shiny and chrome... WITNESS ME!!!

It’s only 3 light, but I’m all shiny and chrome… WITNESS ME!!!

Don’t get me wrong, the new armour looks awesome; but would I grind for it? No! Would I pay for it? No! And that is one of the major issues with this update. By allowing people to purchase Sterling Treasure, Bungie have effectively reduced the number of hours that people might put into this update. If they had increased the amount of Sterling Treasure that could be awarded each week, then people might be inclined to play the game more often for a guaranteed reward.  There is no doubt that the micro transactions introduced into the game are an obvious revenue stream for future content, which some would say  is a good thing, but aren’t Bungie supposed to be working on a sequel? How many games have continued to be played regularly right up until their sequels have been released? Destiny is 18 months old now, and it’s unrealistic to think that Bungie can keep people entertained right up until ‘Destiny 2’ is released.

I can hear people now saying, ‘Hey Battlepope, don’t you love Destiny? Why are you ragging out on it?’ The short answer is yes; I do love Destiny, and this update is a nice little change. It’s a change that might keep me playing it a little bit longer, but not necessarily more regularly. I’ll log in a couple of times a week, purely because I enjoy Destiny PVP, and I enjoy the solitude of random patrol missions. However, the fact that I love Destiny is also the thing that makes me so critical of the smaller updates that have been served up over the last few months, especially now that The Division has included daily and weekly tasks that can easily replace my waning addiction for daily Destiny Bounties.

Is the April update something you need to experience? Not necessarily, but it is certainly fun, and it is certainly free. That’s the magical price point of this update; it costs absolutely nothing, and it will keep you entertained for a brief period of time. The new content will appeal to people that are still playing Destiny and have become increasingly bored over the last few months, and may keep them happy for another couple of weeks. However, it is not the kind of update that will bring old Destiny players back, especially as it was released on the same day as the equally free update for The Division, and the hotly anticipated and rage inducing Dark Souls 3. If you loved the old Prison of Elders, then you’ll definitely love the new update; however, if Prison of Elders wasn’t your bag, just stick to The Division for now.

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Dale O'Donnell (Battlepope) is a 37 year old Anthropologist, and gaming enthusiast residing in Melbourne, Australia. His obsession with games dates back to 1989 when the NES was his console of choice. Battlepope is now predominantly a PS4 player, with RPGs as his preferred game type.

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