Thoughts on the Destiny 2 Gambit Preview

From the daily reset yesterday through the daily reset today, Bungie made a special preview of Gambit available for all Destiny 2 owners to play and experience. I won’t spend a bunch of time explaining the mode, but in very brief terms, this is how it works:

  • Two teams of four compete to defeat enemies, “bank” resources those enemies drop, and then defeat a boss that appears after enough of those resources have been collected and banked.
  • The teams play in maps that don’t physically connect to each other—your team of four has its own PvE space during the activity.
  • As you bank resources in specific amounts, this sends enemies to your enemy’s side to temporarily prevent them from banking their resources.
  • If you die without banking those resources (called “motes”), your team loses those resources completely.
  • At various points throughout the mode, each team can send over a single player from their team to the other side to engage in PvP and attempt to frustrate the other team and cause them to lose resources or progress.
  • The game is played to best-two-of-three rounds.

The mode is a public matchmaking playlist, so if you don’t enter with a pre-made team of four players, the game will add players to your team in the same way that Strikes or Crucible matches are queued. Gambit has its own playlist slot next to those activities in the Director:

I’ll work on a guide for playing Gambit later, but in the meantime, while there are still a couple of days left before Forsaken launches and the mode is available to all, I’d like to talk about what I enjoyed and what I didn’t.

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Understanding the Destiny 2 2.0 Weapon Slot System

With patch 2.0 to Destiny 2 this past Tuesday, the way weapons and ammo are organized within the game has fundamentally changed. It’s been confusing for some people, so I thought I’d try to explain it, if possible.

To start, here’s the easiest way to look at it:

  • The slot a weapon is in and the type of ammo it uses are no longer the exact same thing
  • The top two slots determine what ammo a gun uses based on the type of weapon, not based on the slot itself (white or green ammo)
  • All weapons in the third slot take the same type of ammo (purple ammo)
  • Ammo bricks now drop differently, with white ammo being most common, green being less common, and purple being the rarest

If pushed to write this in one sentence, it would be: weapon slots and ammo types have been decoupled.

Trust me: that’s the easiest way to phrase it I can come up with right now. If you want to learn more about the system, keep reading, and let’s talk about Destiny 1 and 2 and their weapon and ammo systems and how they have evolved.

I’d like to know more about this!

Talkin’ TWAB: Multiplayer Progression, Longer-term Matchmaking, Solstice Armor Deadlines

As we roll into the last week prior to the release of Forsaken, the information being revealed is increasing both in frequency and importance. I was out of town for this TWAB, but it’s worth it to catch up and let you know what it was all about.

Tell me about Infamy!

Destiny 2: Forsaken Launch Party

Hey, friends!

A couple of things I love are going to join forces in a Twitch stream this upcoming Tuesday, starting around noon Central time and extending until Whenever I Feel Like Stopping:

  • With Extra Life weekend coming up in a few months, I thought it a good idea to do some early fundraising and get the ball rolling
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken launches around that time and I’ve taken some time off to play through it right away with my son, live on stream

I would love it if you would stop by and support the stream! Load it up, hang out, chat a bit, and if you feel generous, donate to my Extra Life campaign for this year. All proceeds donated via my Extra Life page go directly to local children’s hospitals and are tax-deductible.

Watch us run through the story of Destiny 2: Forsaken, experience the new Gambit game mode new to the franchise, or just stop by and chat neat-o Destiny stuff with us while we explore!

If you can’t attend directly, if you would tell your friends and families we’re doing such a thing, it would be greatly appreciated. More eyes on what we are doing means more possible donations to help sick kids in the St. Louis area.

Here are the important links for the event:

Thank you so much for your consideration!

Talkin’ TWAB: Weapon Changes, Economy Updates, Eververse…

If you were looking for a Season Four info dump, this week’s update from Bungie has you covered. As always, you can find their original post here, and I’ll do my best to re-summarize the information for you and provide some commentary.

It’s a lot. Let’s get started.

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Solstice of Heroes Engrams

Solstice of Heroes is now a week old, and three weeks of earning special seasonal event drops, upgrading armor sets, and completing Moments of Triumph remain before we start transitioning to Season Four and Year Two of Destiny 2.

If you haven’t participated in a seasonal event in Destiny 2, or if the last seasonal event you participated in was The Dawning around the turn of the year, it might be unclear how the limited-time Solstice Engrams function. Let’s talk about what they are, how you get them, and how they work, so you can spend the rest of the event either optimizing for obtaining the stuff you want or ignoring that this grind exists.

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On Patch Notes

Video game nerdery ahead.

It's pretty safe to say the 1.1.4 update coming to Destiny 2 tomorrow is a big deal. It's an attempt to respond to criticisms of the game's shortcomings when it comes to the gameplay tuning, pretty much across the board—and it took Bungie over six months from launch to get to.

Lots of people are looking to this patch to reinvigorate some of the game and bring some excitement back to both PvE and PvP modes. It's been termed the "Go Fast" update, because it has tweaks to player movement, ability recharge rates, and some gunplay bits.

The notes won't drop until tomorrow, but I want to take a few to talk about patch notes and what makes for good game patch notes. At least so far, Bungie hasn't provided good patch notes for a game that a lot of hardcore players study down to specific numbers. In fact, just today, one day before the update, the main subreddit for the game has been publishing or republishing a lot of numbers, like these:

These posts have very specific numbers that are based on measurements being taken by players that have no access to the underlying math of the game—they are all based on observation. There's a post like this probably every week somewhere, detailing something and including numbers to show the work.

They shouldn't have to do this all over again; post-patch, the patch notes should give them all the information they need. I'll explain. Bungie's patch notes have previously looked like this (and yes, this is a bit cherry-picked, but it's representative and is from this update):

  • Increased the base damage and reduced the precision modifier of Precision Auto Rifles
  • Slightly reduced the aim deflection of High-Caliber Rounds on Auto Rifles and Scout Rifles
  • Reduced the effectiveness of Aim Assist at higher ranges on Scout Rifles
  • Reduced severity of recoil on Hakke High-Impact Auto Rifles
  • Hand Cannon accuracy recovery now scales with rate of fire
  • Improved base Aim Assist on aggressive Hand Cannons
  • Slightly increased the rate of fire time between bursts on all Omolon Sidearms
  • Slightly increased impact damage on lightweight single-shot Grenade Launchers

These aren't good patch notes. They leave me with tons of unanswered questions.

How much more damage will my Precision Auto Rifle do now? Why are you making it less precise, and how? High-Caliber rounds deflected aim before? What do you mean, and how is that changing? How much is "slightly," and does that mean roughly the same across the various notes, or does it stand for a range of values?

Almost everything in these notes is pretty vague.

Good patch notes should:

  • Tell you what changed.
  • Tell you how much and in what direction.

Great patch notes will also:

  • Tell you why something was changed.

The best example of this is almost certainly Killer Instinct. KI had the best patch notes of any game I have ever seen, followed pretty closely by Diablo III. Here's a great example of KI patch notes that accomplish this:

Fulgore:

  • [Fulgore has been pretty difficult to balance. We’ve adjusted his rushdown, his zoning, and his instinct during Season 3 and he is still an extremely powerful character, which shows how tricky it is to find the sweet spot for him. Now that the dust has settled a bit, the team feels confident that Fulgore now has the weaknesses we intended him to have, but on the journey to this spot, we went a little far in a few areas. These buffs will not send Fulgore over the top again, but should help with some small quality of life aspects of his game.]
  • Raised Energy Bolt damage by 42% (from 7 to 10) [This gives him more zoning damage and more damage on his Energy Bolt into Teleport mixups]
  • Raised Light Cyber Uppercut damage 33% (from 15 to 20)
  • Raised Medium Cyber Uppercut damage 16% (from 12 to 14) [Usually, you’d expect the heavy version of a move to do the most damage, but in this case we wanted the reverse. The benefit of the light uppercut is the highest damage and most invulnerability, while the benefit of the heavy version is more potential damage left behind and multiple hits.]
  • Light and Medium Eye Lasers can now be Pip Cancelled into Energy Bolts. Heavy Eye Beam still cannot be. [This is a big buff to pip cancels and these versions of Eye Lasers, and as a result, his instinct mode as well.]
  • The minimum reactor spin speed has been increased slightly. It now takes about 10 seconds at the lowest speed to build one pip, instead of 12.5 seconds. [Fulgore’s weakness should be the odd way in which he gains meter. The old instinct mode gave him so much free meter per game that this weakness didn’t matter. Now that we have things functioning the way we want, we feel his default ‘slow’ meter gain is just a hair too low. Over the course of an average match, this should result in 3 to 5 more pips than you used to get.]

For real: these notes are amazing. Fulgore was a special case in that specific update, but these notes accomplish everything they should:

  • They tell you exactly what changed, and don't leave anything out.
  • They give you exact numbers for the changes, so there's no guesswork as to the extent of the changes.
  • They tell you why things were changed and what the intentions of the development team were when they made the change.

Look through the rest of that patch's notes, and you'll see more of the same. Specific, well-documented patch notes that indicate not only the exact changes made to the game, but the thought process behind them.

And look: I know these are two different game genres. One is a 2D fighting game with a limited amount of movement on a plane, and the other is a 3D first-person shooter with lots of complicated environmental and player-vs-player interactions to keep in mind.

But when you get down to it, it's still adjusting math and systems. This information is available to someone, somewhere. (If it's not available internally, there are other problems afoot.) And this goes not just for Destiny 2, but all games: please don't use vague terminology when you patch your games. (Capcom with SFV is another notable offender here.) Tell your players what you are changing, whether it was a bug you fixed or is a new adjustment, and why you are making the change and what you hope to accomplish with it.

They'll most likely appreciate it.

Destiny Discussion Stream: Bungie’s December Roadmap Post

Bungie dropped a pretty big blog post today regarding where they are with updates and changes to Destiny 2, which seems to be in a spot with some hardcore players.

My son and I hopped in-game tonight and had a chat about the changes while we were playing. We keep things positive and talk about the changes and a bit about the things others seem to want but aren’t yet getting (and may not get).

Destiny 2: Month Two Gallery

I find myself hitting the screen capture button fairly often in this game, which is kind of nice. It gives me a record of what I’ve been doing and the things I’ve been messing with in the game.

My son and I are still playing together almost nightly, and it’s been a lot of fun. And we recently joined SafeGamers, giving us some groups we can play with who are respectful of our time and of us—a welcome change from a lot of online gaming experiences.

I’ve managed my first Destiny series raid, and cleared it a few times since then. I expect fewer screenshots next month, if only because I’m exhausting a lot of the content in the game prior to the first DLC release coming this December. (And I included the Legacy screenshots, which showcase some pretty neat art from various experiences I completed in the first game. I’m hoping my next Legacy is much more complete.)

Also, I’m aware there are some resolution problems with the carousel for these images; if you want to see the (much sharper) originals, use the button that appears when you are browsing the images in carousel.

Destiny 2: Month One Gallery

I have a lot to say about Destiny 2, and keep meaning to write about it, but for now, I thought I would post a little gallery of the screenshots I’ve taken over the first month of the game, especially as I’ve been playing through it with my son and it’s become family time. :)