Destiny was a game that I looked forward to for months before it released. I can still remember the day it came out. I had a job interview and took the whole day off from my job. The interview lasted until noon and then I had the rest of the day to enjoy Destiny. And enjoy it I did – for a solid few months. The story was lacking, but the gameplay itself was incredibly fun – until that max level hit. When you hit level 20 in Destiny, things changed. Gone were the days of leveling up based on experience, instead replaced by a strange and hard to decipher “Light” level that rewarded you based on armor. I remember hitting level 25 light level and just being stuck. I didn’t have the time to do raids (especially with the lack of a LFG mechanic) and the repetitive nature of the vanguard marks meant I could only upgrade a piece of armor every now and then. Throw in the strange coins and my burnout was all but guaranteed. I’m an MMO fan, so I’m no stranger to grinding for gear, but this was something else entirely. A month or two after hitting max level, I called it quits. I was happy to let Destiny sit in the rear view mirror of my gaming past, especially with actual good new games coming out like Metal Gear Solid V, but something caught my eye on a recent news post I read – Destiny 2.0. Apparently Bungie was getting rid of the current “Light” system and replacing it with some new and inventive method of progressing – experience. Plus, with the new launch of “The Taken King” coming out soon, I decided to give the game another shot. My week of game time with the 2.0 launch was one I would like to share with you now.
When I first started playing Destiny last year, I decided to roll a Warlock. I enjoyed my time with him, but with a fresh start in Destiny, I thought I needed to experience this new content from the beginning. Bungie streamlined the questing system starting from the beginning of the game and the Dinklebot (the name given to Peter Dinklage’s voiced character in the game) was erased from the game and replaced with voice artist pro Nolan North. I created a new character, and this time went with a Hunter. After finishing the intro quest, I could immediately see the changes Bungie put in place and how they will have a lasting impact on the game. Quest lines actually have a cohesive path with steps explained and detailed on a new quest tab in the menu. You can still take bounties for PvE and PvP content, but story driven content is treated separately with their own rewards and objectives lined out. A new character jumping into Destiny for the first time would actually be a lot better off than someone who started a year ago. The game is much more user friendly and introduces concepts in a more fluid nature vs. the herky jerky release of info in 1.0.
The quest lines aren’t the only thing noticeably different – the hub world at the Tower has had some changes. Interactive notice boards exist at the Tower that will allow people to acquire weapons they have discovered previously to give to their other characters. Quests that have been abandoned are also retrievable from a notice board and all important NPCs are relegated to one central location (more or less.) But above all else, the best feature is the elimination of the old “Light” system. Once you hit level 20 in 2.0, nothing happens – you’ll keep gaining experience. As of right now, you can level up to level 34, but after The Taken King releases (and if you buy it) you can level up to 40 before hitting the cap. Previously, once you hit 20, the standard leveling capped, instead replaced by the leveling system mentioned before that used your armor’s “Light” score to level up. The “Light” system still exists, but it’s now just a way to determine if you are prepared/able to take on a challenge in game. The system gives you a number that is an average of your total attack/defense. Quest lines will use a “Light” number to help you decide if you should try to take on a task. It’s actually quite unobtrusive and I wish Bungie had used this from the beginning.
In one week of gaming with 2.0, I leveled my Hunter from level 1 – 33. I have one more level to hit the current max (which I plan on hitting tonight) and then tomorrow will bring about “The Taken King” which will increase that max to 40. I am having more fun with Destiny now than I have had in it’s short life and I think most people who abandoned ship will feel the same way. A lot of the issues we were vocal about have been stripped and replaced with more intuitive systems and logical gameplay elements that reduce the need for grinding (while not eliminating it) and make the game more fun rather than a lesson in futility. Bungie has promise that “The Taken King” will introduce some truly memorable story moments for those of us who enjoy the lore and raids and group play that will challenge and please those who thrive in group sessions. Regardless of where you stand or where you previously stood with your views on Destiny, the free 2.0 update has changed enough to warrant another look. We’ll see how well “The Taken King” does to further these changes, but I am right back on board with a game that I had written off for dead a mere month ago. Good on Bungie for listening to the fans – now how about we get a way to view our Grimoire cards in game?