Q&A for a Returning Guardian

DeeJ recently sat down with Red Bull’s Adam Mathew for an interview about the upcoming Rise of Iron release. Here’s the highlights! 

Mathew: When I was a veteran going into TTK, I can distinctly recall thinking “I’ve put hundreds of hours in, and I deserve to have that time respected – Bungie had better not hand the newcomer kinderguardians the same level of power for not much effort”… The spaceboot is completely on the other foot for me now. Here I sit, eyeing my three 320(ish) guardians, and thinking “man, I hope Bungie will give me a leg up into Rise of Iron, or I’ll probably ragequit”.

How on Earth do you keep both types of players happy with RoI?

As DeeJ explains, Rise of Iron has new things to do and earn for all players, with lots of new meat and challenges for 335 Veterans. But it won’t leave new and returning players to struggle through a painful grind. An item similar to the Spark of Light from The Taken King will be made available to people to get their characters combat ready.

In addition, DeeJ says of returning players, “You know what? If you’ve completed the Hard Mode raid of TTK, you’re good to go with RoI. I don’t think you need to do a lot of extra grinding to land into this expansion and take on those early missions.” He also points out that the continuation of 1:1 Infusion will make every Common Green and Rare Blue worthwhile as players can bring their current gear up to par easily.

Mathew: What were once pitched and challenging firefights in TTK now seem manageable, because I know the AI and their tricks. How will RoI’s SIVA-infused Fallen wrong-foot players who are already well-versed in the bullet ballet that is Destiny?

DeeJ reminds us that SIVA has changed the Fallen in many ways – both those that have already been revealed, and those not yet made public. They are faster, more nimble, and their weapons are more deadly and powerful than ever. DeeJ says, “They are Fallen in that there are certain things about them that are instantly recognisable, though I think you’ll find they’re a faster and far more ruthless breed.”

And that’s been supported in the reveals we’ve seen so far, including high velocity scatter guns, triple tap bursts from Fallen Snipers and Servitors, peg-leg Dregs that look like pirates and move like ninjas, and hints at even more deadly and unfamiliar foes.

Beyond that, we already know that Fallen Dregs can release seeking SIVA bolts when killed with a precision shot – who’s to say they’re the only Fallen breed that will seek postmortem retribution?

One quote stands out that should concern every Guardian:

The Fallen captains have light-based weapons, and man, those things can turn on a dime to seek you out as you start to evade.

Does SIVA give the Fallen a new avenue to call upon the Traveler’s Light? Or did DeeJ misspeak, meaning to say that they are energy-based weapons that will seek us relentlessly? Either way, the difficulty level is getting scaled up. 

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Mathew: Early in TTK I fell in love with their Scorch Cannon, a weapon I figured would be a frequent fixture of the battlefield going forward (but wasn’t). Is RoI’s flaming axe in the same category: a novelty crowd-controller that’s quickly cast aside for more practical weapons?

Deej replies, “The Iron Battleaxe is what we call a spectacle weapon. Much like you said, it is a weapon like the Scorch Cannon, to be used in a very important moment. I love how it factors into one of RoI’s story missions; that said, I can’t spoil it.”

The Scorch Cannon appears in a few Story instances, and remains an occasional boon in the Prison of Elders, but it was also a feature of the House of Wolves public events, a regular occurrence in Patrol zones for many months. From the look of things, the Iron Battleaxe will be much the same.

We’ve already seen bounties from Shiro-4, the Vanguard representative in Felwinter Peak, that reference using the Iron Battleaxe during Patrol Missions, and it’s a safe bet we’ll have chances to use it during Archon’s Forge challenges as well.

Beyond that, will Bungie incorporate it into Wrath of the Machine? It would seem to be a fitting place to bring its power to bear, but only time will tell.

 

Mathew: You guys are also bringing Gjallarhorn (the Excalibur of rocket launchers) and Thorn (the poisonous bane of noobs) back into the spotlight for Year three. Historically speaking, they’re two of the most problematic guns you’ve ever had in terms of power and balance. How are you tackling that problem?

DeeJ’s answer here is simple, and seems obvious in retrospect: iteration. “Through playtesting and data analysis. Through reading the feedback and stories that people tell on our forums. We don’t want to abandon weapons that are that special in the hearts of our players just because they have been a challenge. We relish a challenge.” 

Thorn’s damage-over-time effect has been nerfed, and the gun itself has been brought into line by the same hand cannon adjustments that have seen Hand Cannons fall to the lowest-of-the-low and then rise again as the high risk, high reward weapon-of-choice for the Crucible Elite. Thorn makes that list, thanks to its ability to delay Recovery, but the bar for success with it is higher than ever.

Gjallarhorn, meanwhile, remains a powerful choice thanks to its Wolfpack Rounds – a Cluster Bomb effect that seeks out targets aggressively. However, those rounds have seen major damage nerfs that, along with the Light Level change, took Gjallarhorn from the must-have weapon that saw people excluded from Raiding parties to its current position of Year 1 novelty. As DeeJ himself says, “Gjallarhorn is going to have to fight for its rightful place at the centre of everyone’s hearts. We’ll see what happens.”

 

Mathew: On “embracing nostalgia”, you guys are sure doing that by taking the Khvostov from joke-weapon-of-trolls to sought after new exotic. What brought about this decision?

Here, DeeJ reiterates that this was motivated by exactly that theme of nostalgia, which permeates all of Rise of Iron. “Bringing back something that is special to the player, like the very first gun you scooped up in Destiny, and restoring it to power, plays into the themes of RoI. We’re talking about lost heroes, echoes from the past who become loud again, reaching into history to bring in honorable traditions.”

I know I still remember that first story mission, seeing the Fallen come out of nowhere, feeling the desperation brought on by Ghost’s urging as I picked up my first weapon and moved ahead into battle. I played through it at least 5 times now as I’ve made and remade characters, and I made sure to hang onto a Khvostov as a keepsake after the most recent character rebuild.

A good thing, too – those of you who haven’t kept up on the news should know that the original Khvostov will be able to be dismantled in Rise of Iron to automatically gain a Khvostov Weapon Part and start a quest to obtain the new Exotic version. This is the most customizable gun Destiny has ever seen – learn more here

 

Mathew: The main thread of vanilla Destiny, The Traveler and The Speaker (who, ironically, hasn’t been talkative for months), seem to have fallen by the wayside. Will this mysterious orb nudge its way back into the narrative of RoI? Or is that fully-fledged sequel territory?

We’re pulled in so many ways, wrecking the Vex war machine, ending Crota and his father both, putting down the Wolves’ rebellion along the way – oh, and don’t forget freeing Rasputin, demolishing the Cabal scout forces, and failing to stop a message being sent to the Cabal Emperor himself. Where is the fallout for these actions? Crota’s End lead us to the Taken King, a bit of story closure I think we’re all grateful for, but it also prompts many questions.

While we can’t expect answers to many of those questions in this release, DeeJ did have this to say: “The way we see it, we’re still in ‘origin story mode.’ When you take a look at some of the grand plans that we’ve hinted at for Destiny, there are a lot of stories we could tell in this game. There are combatants that we’ve barely scratched the surface on. We know so much about the Hive and their parentage and the noble figures in their caste. We’re just now starting to learn a little bit more about the Fallen. Those stories are always there to tell at a later date, but we’re taking a deliberate step away from the Tower in RoI by taking you out in the wild frontier to answer Lord Saladin’s call.”

That’s all for now, Guardians! If you’re a new player, or haven’t been following the Rise of Iron news, catch up with this recap: 

Jonathon V
I love talking about Weapons, Perks, Stats, Lore, and all things Destiny. Find me as Kyt_Kutcha on PSN and Reddit, or listen to me co-hosting the Massive Breakdown podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes.

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