Throughout my entire Halo 3 career, there was one weapon in particular that I favoured over any other. It wasn’t my trusty Battle Rifle, nor my shimmering Energy Sword, but rather my Spartan Laser ‘Galilean’, a weapon that I accrued a total of 1,200 kills with across 1,800 multiplayer games.
I knew where it spawned on each and every map, I knew not to hold the fire button for too long lest the thing fire prematurely, and I knew how to maximize its usefulness over the course of each and every battle. I loved the Laser, and my affection for it never seemed to dwindle, not even when my fondness for the Gravity Hammer rose to prominence through my undying love of GrifBall.
In this case, Bungie needed to do very little for this rather odd attachment to come about. I was a guy who loved to play Halo, and the Spartan Laser was my own tool of destruction, seemingly tailored to my love for incinerating enemies with a mix of cruel and unusual punishment.
But with Destiny’s emergence comes Bungie’s desire to replicate this sort of unison between man and weapon. Destiny is a huge game that actively encourages exploration and gives us all the freedom to roam, and yet its player customization options are much more intimate and personal. Relatively infrequent loot drops mean that finding that perfect weapon is all the more important, and if Bungie’s decision to give each weapon its own identity and lore are anything to go by, then we may each find ourselves picking favourites in a similar fashion.
The weapons of Destiny are more plentiful than in any other Bungie game to date. In fact, according to the developers themselves, the amount of unique weapons in the game is a figure greater than the number used in every Halo game combined, and then squared! That at the very least gives us a lot of variety, and it’s that variety which will allow us to sift through a galaxy of choices whilst we search for the ideal set of armaments to compliment our play-style.
I, the warlord.
In Destiny, your weapons are confined to three different character slots; primary, secondary and heavy. Your primary weapon is the one you’ll likely favour on a frequent basis, with these rarely deviating from one of the many types of rifles available. Not to be confused with holding a simply less powerful weapon, the secondary slot will be home to weapons that you will use for a specific purpose, like a shotgun for clearing out a narrow corridor or an SMG for a short-burst of direct fire. Finally though, we have the heavy slot, a designated space for a weapon that can deal out a hell of a lot of damage in a relatively short space of time. Think rocket launchers that shoot supernovas and you won’t be too far off.
But this system shouldn’t be mistaken for being too rigid and uncompromising, as regardless of what race and class you pick, each armament in the game is completely usable to each and every Guardian. If you pick the Titan class, then feel free to wield a sniper rifle as opposed to a rocket launcher, if you opt for the Hunter, then you’re more than welcome to stick with the SMG and if you opt for the Warlock, then a shotgun could be the perfect weapon to work in tandem with your devastating array of powers. This free reign over weapon choice isn’t without some semblance of structure though, as all of your gear, weapons included, is subject to a colour-coded system that denotes weapon rarity, and quite possibly usefulness.
White signifies the most common weapons, green a slightly rarer type of weapon, purple and even rarer type than that, and then there’s gold, which is reserved for only the best gear that the game has to offer. Another thing to note is that, for the sake of balance, particularly in competitive multiplayer modes, you are limited to using only one gold weapon and one gold piece of gear at a time. You can however have multiple gold items in your inventory at once, swapping them in and out of your active inventory as you please, so there’s still a reason for hoarding the best possible items that the game has to offer.
I, the gunsmith.
Your basic weapon styles are all represented in Destiny, so be you a sniper rifle advocate or seasoned pistol veteran, you should have no problem finding a type of arm to suit your liking. What’s interesting about the Destiny weapon system is that not only does each weapon have its own skill-tree to progress through, but it also may have a special trait that gives it an extra edge in combat. Confirmed traits range from a sniper rifle that renders its owner invisible upon aiming down the sights to a rocket launcher that deploys automated turrets wherever it fires. But although these are additional bonuses that could be the difference between keeping the weapon or stowing it, it’s the skill trees that give the Destiny weapon system its biggest edge.
As I stated in my ‘Personalization of Destiny’ article, the nearest point of comparison for the weapon system in Destiny will be the one found in Borderlands series. As in Destiny, the Borderlands weapon mechanic is based around a colour-coded rarity system with unique weapons also providing unique traits, but at no point did Borderlands allow you to take a weapon and keep it for a large part of your journey. Once it was over-levelled by another, it was completely useless. Destiny breaks away from this formula allowing players to scavenge items on their travels that go towards increasing four primary attributes of each weapon; accuracy, handling, stability and magazine size. To progress through a weapons skill-tree, you will need three things at each increment. The first is Glimmer, an in-game currency that drops from fallen enemies. The second is Talent, which is earned simply by using the weapon in question. And the final thing required is a Weapon Kit, which is another item you will need to find as you progress through the game.
I, the forager.
The final aspect to the Destiny weapon system is easily the most important; the way in which you find them in the first place. Well thankfully there are a few different ways of doing so, however most of them revolve around killing, so you better get your war-face on.
The first way to adorn yourself with more weapons than you can carry is the simplest; merely shooting and looting in your regular cooperative campaign. If you’re lucky, a regular enemy foot-soldier may drop a weapon that you can use, but with loot drops being fairly infrequent so as to put further emphasis on the need to find that oh-so impeccable weapon, the most coveted loot will only drop from bosses that appear toward the tail-end of quests and other excursions. But if you’re feeling particularly blood hungry, then you can always shirk your cooperative campaign in favour of joining a competitive multiplayer lobby. Competitive multiplayer is a completely different entity altogether, and although details on it remain scarce, we do know that some weapons are only to be found in the bullet-riddled vistas that make up Destiny’s PvP arenas. Finally, you can always take the less murderous route of buying weapons from vendors in and around The City. If you can live without the heart-racing thrill of being attacked from all sides as you reload whilst ducking for cover, then the markets of The City may be the ideal place for you to outfit your character in new gear, provided you have the Glimmer to pay for it, of course.
Despite there being many holes and unconfirmed features of the first-person shooter aspects in the game, the relatively little we do know tends to paint a picture of a solid system that leans heavily on the idea of finding a weapon and making it your own. Not only do we have the freedom to pick and choose from hundreds of available armaments each with their own distinct feel, look and personality, but we can also improve them through customization, sell them or even give them to our fellow Guardian friends. And as Destiny is a game all about player freedom, it would be amiss for Bungie to not extend this very same ethos to every single one of its core tenets.
Last time, I took a look at the personalization aspects of Destiny, whilst here I’ve focused on the armaments of the game. Keep an eye out in the future as I round off this article series with a look at three other pillars of Destiny; its universe, its lore and its inhabitants. And as always, thank you for reading!