The Taken King’s Much Needed PvE Facelift is Almost Here

Published on: Sep 2, 2015 @ 21:51

Strikes clearly have a new emphasis in The Taken King. In this article we’ll take a look at a couple Strikes we’ve seen gameplay of: Shield Brothers and Echo Chamber, and explain how their fresh mechanics and design give us hope for Taken King’s PvE content.

For everything Court of Oryx, be sure to check out our full breakdown of it here.

PvE Revamped

Let’s be honest, Nightfall Strikes have grown tiresome and somewhat of a chore over the past twelve months. At first, it was intense. The lighting, sound effects, plentiful and challenging enemy waves and brilliant soundtrack made for pretty amazing first encounters with Strikes. But fast forward a few months, after you’ve played them countless times, the replay value just isn’t there – there’s nothing to keep you coming back to them after gathering most of the sought-after loot.

This is the reason the Shield Brothers Strike caught my attention as much as it did. Multiple unique bosses, different tactics used by each boss, and Strike-specific loot are all things that got me excited. You’ll also notice the lack of cover that makes it all the more hectic and  will keep it from getting stale as quickly. Sign me up! A major problem that Bungie aims to fix with Strikes going forward is “cheesing” – or staying in one place and occasionally peeking out from behind cover. Guardians are incredibly mobile, and Strikes should encourage player movement; the chaotic movement of the Cabal brothers during their final assault should encourage just that.

The two bosses of the Shield Brothers Strike, Valuses Tlu’urn and Mau’ual, both have a different set of tactics that complement each other well and make the encounter that much more interesting. The multi-boss dynamic is not new to Destiny; it’s been used in the Dust Palace Strike on Playstation consoles for the past year. The difference between the Dust Palace and the Shield Brothers, however, is that one is a static fight, the other is an evolving encounter. Encounters are intended to vary during Strikes, and Tlu’urn and Mau’ual both feel more “alive”, rather than designed as near-stationary bullet sponges.

Echo Chamber does a lot of the same things right, but has a few issues of its own. Some Guardians have complained about the use of recycled locations that keep seeming to popping up. The Will of Crota did this as well, but it’s definitely a minor complaint.

The Echo Chamber boss encounter takes place in a room similar to the final confrontation with Sekrion in The Nexus Strike. However, it appears that the boss is impervious to attacks. Instead, a fireteam must carry an orb of some sort. The orb must be carried by a Guardian, but that Guardian does not have access to their weapons. Instead, the other two members of the fireteam must act as ‘bodyguards’ and work together to eliminate waves of Vex throughout the Strike and even during the boss encounter. The orb of light is the key to defeating the Echo Chamber boss. Only through its use can the Strike be completed.

What current Strike uses a mechanic this intricate? The answer of course is obvious: we don’t have an encounter like this one. No other Strike requires this type of teamwork and coordination in order to succeed.

As detailed by Lead Strike Designer James Tsai during the “Strike the Dreadnaught” livestream, the enemy and boss encounters are dynamic, and there will be varying enemies and even dialogue in subsequent playthroughs. Depending on the order in which you defeat the bosses, Mau’ual can inherit the ability set of his dead bond brother, or vice versa. This is a marked contrast from the Dust Palace Strike, as Shield Brothers utilizes a variable like health to keep up the intensity.

Speaking of intensity, it’s certainly not lacking in the music and atmosphere either. The music and art direction for both Strikes are very well done. The design of the boss rooms are perfectly laid out for the design and flow of each Strike and it just all fits together nicely.

To top it all off, the loot from Strikes is going to be improved in a variety of ways. Not only will we be able to use Three of Coins to increase our chances at Exotic boss drops, but we’ll actually be rewarded for sticking with the Vanguard playlist!

From what we’ve seen from the Taken King Strikes so far and Court of Oryx, they’re exactly what the game needed. It’s about time Destiny becomes a game that truly feels like a breathing world. It certainly appears that Bungie has listened to community feedback and attempted to put together a worthwhile expansion, but what do you guys think? From what you’ve seen of the Strikes and Court of Oryx footage, is PvE heading in the right direction?

Mike

I love my hometown too much. I have a problem with compulsive sarcasm.