Weekly Exotic Roundup: Touch of Malice

Hi! Welcome to a new segment where we take the most niche Exotics for a test drive through all aspects of Destiny. We’ll lay out the raw, unadulterated, (unbridled?) results of the experiment for your consideration and/or condemnation.

My skills will be tested; my commitment will be pushed to its breaking point; my wife will be just… so done with this crap. But I will persevere! So buckle up, and ride with me on this prodigious voyage during my free time.. and perhaps some on the weekend if I don’t already have plans.

Touch of Malice

Touch of Malice was the penultimate weapon of The Taken King. It required Guardians to follow a tedious line of quests, all triggered by an elaborate Easter Egg Hunt. Its intrinsic perk, Touch of Malice, took advantage of a raid mechanic allowing Guardians to use its increased power without the downside of assisted suicide. Yeah, that’s a helluva downside: the Touch would straight-up murder Guardians if they did not pay attention to their magazine, making it one of the riskiest weapons outside the raid’s invulnerability aura.

Pros: Very creepy looking; Mercy perk will reward health even with Exposure modifier; that last round hits like a truck!

Cons: Magazine is smaller than some hand cannons; regular rounds don’t do a ton of damage; RoI nixed everyone’s favorite strategy of pairing Blessings of Light with the last round for extended ultra-mega-damage.

Perks

The Intrinsic perk is what makes the weapon magical. The last round instantly regenerates and deals bonus damage, but will also take bites out of your health bar. The damage bonus is quite noticeable, but that life drain will get you into trouble if you’re not paying attention or get ambushed.

In the second column is a bunch of barrel perks that I always just kind of ignore because their advantages are negligible.

Eye of the Storm takes up the third column and is your consolation prize for shooting your life away; giving you added stability as you dig your own grave.

In the fourth column you get to choose between aiming faster, reloading faster or shooting farther. I’ve always ignored snapshot and hammer forged seemed like the obvious choice until I realized how much time I was spending reloading an eleven round magazine so that the gun wouldn’t vampire my ass.

In the final column is Touch of Mercy (wow, a duality!), which gives you some life back if you can kill three things in rapid succession. At this point I should point out that killing two things and then yourself will not count. Just trust me on that one.

Lastly, this “scout rifle” has a secret full auto perk, but don’t get crazy with it. The urge is always there; you’re running around, pumping rounds down range when you hit the last round and the damage kicks in. You scream “ULTIMATE POWER” into your mic like you just won the Quickening and spin in circles, throwing green death everywhere and then you realize your health is in the red right as some Dreg one-shots you.

Don’t be that guy.

Heroic Mission

The story mission of the evening happened to be the very first mission from the Rise of Iron quest line.

Jeez! Putting “Full Auto” on a gun with 11 rounds in the magazine is a cruel joke. I’m an auto rifle guy, but Malice is more like The Last Word. Due to my inability to score consistent headshots, I had to reload after every 1.5 kills. I also found myself firing from the hip a lot on close enemies, which was more effective than I predicted. Two rounds to the chest at point blank range put down the Dregs. However, here’s where it really shined: Captains and Sepiks.

The first Captain in this mission shows up shortly after you jump from the gondola. I had mostly full health when I engaged him so I let my magazine run out and took advantage of the Malice perk. The first “life-depleting round” destroyed him. I did the same with the second Captain, although that time I was definitely not full health (which meant I had high stability thanks to the Eye of the Storm perk). I confess, I have never dropped Sepiks that fast on any run; not even with my Titan and Gjallarhorn. Things got a little hairy as I tried to avoid damage long enough to recover, and Sepiks really had me dialed in behind those pillars, but after a few good breaks where I could really drill that bastard, he went down hard.

Mission Verdict: Less than ideal for trash, but an absolute boss-destroyer.

Heroic Strikes

I decided to start this challenge on a Monday, instead of on the weekly reset. Bungie must have caught on, because Tuesday brought with it something that made me instantly regret my decision: Exposure.

The strike playlist also finally swapped out “Small Arms” for “Specialist,” so there went any sort of advantage I had going into the strikes. For the most part, I managed to avoid death, but I maintained a terrible habit of forgetting about Exposure until I dropped into the red. Strangely, my fireteam acted like this was their first strike, so my terribleness was often overlooked.

The first strike I ran had my team going up against Taniks, who predictably called us out and challenged us in the ways of old. Fun Fact: Variks makes it sound like we were going to duel with swords or have a quickdraw shootout, but apparently these “ways of old” are just chasing Taniks through a ship while he drops as many obstacles in our way as possible. The Fallen must be fans of American Gladiator. It was during this strike that I finally improvised my situation.

The “Touch of Mercy” perk will fortunately give Exposure the big FU and refill your health bar if you get the three kills. It took a while to notice this, at which point I started seeking out Dregs to heal myself. I also remembered that Sunsingers have a skill that lets them hover in the air while aiming. So sacrificing my extra grenade, I switched skills and started shooting everything from a hover, taking advantage of this week’s “Airborne” modifier. Much like the character Claire, from Claymore (Nerd Time!), Malice failed hard against regular enemies but blossomed against the boss. Hanging in the air and sacrificing all of my health, I turned Taniks inside out in seconds and once again destroyed my previous record for killing a boss.

The ensuing strikes all met with varying degrees of success. During the “Summoning Pits” I tried to smoke the Hive Knights, but those jackwagons kept running directly under me every time I hovered, which messed me up way more than I would have ever imagined. That boss encounter had so many things trying to kill me (traps, thrall, those purple spinning things that shoot lasers at you) that I didn’t dare let the last round proc. The Sepiks Perfected strike, with its Rifle Captains, had me reaching for my sidearm a lot to burn down their shields and I spent too much time on the verge of death to risk lighting Sepiks up with Malice. I also managed to run out of ammo somehow during that one.

Strike Verdict: Modifiers will make or break your experience. Learn to improvise!

Nightfall

As soon as we ported in to the Nightfall this week, one of my teammates wanted to quit. It was not because of my silly weapon choice, however, but because this week we received “The Wretched Eye” for the second time since RoI landed.

No matter what the burn is, something in the final encounter is taking advantage of it. The Dregs will scorch you, the Shanks will shock you. Is it Void burn this week? Oh buddy… you might as well head back to the Tower and take up needlepoint. Kovik’s void cannon will nuke you in 0.00285 seconds. Trying to hide from the teleporting priest? or the horde of Dregs? or sneaky Shanks descending from the heavens like tiny hands of divine judgment? Well… here’s a giant, unkillable ogre that will relentlessly chase you down like the freaking T-1000 and will double his speed if you take too long.

kovik-splicer-priest

 

I had research to complete, though, and my fan-base isn’t following me to read about how I thought about doing something. They’re following me to read more funny “Rejected Grimoire Cards.”

After a pep talk, we were on our way to Bunker Triglav and– damn, we’re all dead. Oh, this is not a good start.

Cautiously working our way forward like Seal Team Six, we crawled through all of the Wizard encounters and took out SIVA nodes until at last we descended into the pit with that annoying ogre. Through a dozen wipes, we tried everything we could think of. We tried to burn the priest down ASAP; didn’t work. We focused on clearing adds over damaging the priest; didn’t work. We tried to find a cheese spot; kind of almost worked.

My idea to go “full Rambo” with the boss-shredding brutality of Malice’s final round failed spectacularly. Admittedly, I thought it was a lost cause, but I kept Malice equipped, even though I knew switching to anything else would give us an advantage.

We stuck it out and eventually got lucky enough to survive the Shanks. Finally, the ogre had enraged. Then someone yelled, “We’ve almost got him!” That one sentence filled me with gusto. My super was full; I charged and zapped from just outside melee range. I dumped about 80% of my super into the Priest before the ogre caught me, but it was enough for my team to finish him off. We had beaten one of the most dreaded Nightfalls… and no one had said anything about my Malice.

Nightfall Verdict: Don’t! Without my Warlock abilities, there was null contribution to the team.

Wrath of the Machine

My clan takes the raid seriously; we have a sign-up sheet and everything. I was not going to annoy all of them by bringing my experiment into their genuine attempt at killing Aksis. No, I reserve that kind of stupidity for complete strangers. So after some searching, I got an invite to a random group who did not appear overly serious. No one said a word about my creepy, Tim Burton rifle. Everyone was way more concerned about the lone female in our team and her Soulstealer’s Claw with Magenta Chroma.

On one hand, I was relieved that no one demanded I switch weapons or that I didn’t have to endure some condescending ‘advice’ on how to play a game I’m already a pro at (you guys think I’m awesome, right? Guys!?). On the other hand, I started to think that maybe this experiment was not as controversial as I expected.

Though we cruised through the first Vosik encounter easily enough, things fell apart when we tried to kill him and the team dissolved. Two days later I tried again. At this point Malice really felt like a handicap and I fought the urge to use Outbreak Prime, or take advantage of the Sleeper Simulant sitting in my inventory.

Tight groups of Dregs during Vosik let me refill my health a lot through Touch of Mercy and without that pesky Exposure modifier, I managed to unload a full health bar of last rounds into Vosik’s head during each damage phase after emptying my rocket launcher magazine. I also put a ton of damage on Aksis after each stun which I want to think made a difference, as we killed him with only two pillars down. I nearly died a lot of times and had to sit back to let someone else kill my Captain, because reloading after 11 shots is a bitch to remember when you’re taking fire.

At the end of the raid; after picking up 2 Sound and Fury, 2 Ether Nova, another Genesis Chain, and absolutely no armor; I hear this:

“Tightpenny… (laughter), why do you have Touch of Malice on?! Does anyone else see this?”

“I saw it when we very first started. I just thought ‘this Tightpenny don’t give a @#$%,’ is all.”

“That is ballsy!”

Finally, some recognition! I tried to stay humble.

Raid Verdict: It has its moments, but you spend more time trying to avoid death than dealing it.

Crucible

The Malice is strangely not terrible in the Crucible. Part of me thinks most of my kills came from luck over skill, but the Malice perk didn’t punish me nearly as much as I thought it might. I just don’t spend much time on the edge of death in the Crucible like I do in PvE.

I can count on one hand the times I killed two players with one magazine this week. Actually, I can count the times on two fingers. I worried naught about that “final round” while in the Crucible, because as soon as one hit, it was over. I once missed a distracted Hunter with all ten normal shots only to obliterate him with a pair of final rounds. I traded with a shoulder-charging Titan with body shots fired from the hip. The final round was my Luck in the Chamber, over and over until I died. Guardians who rolled up on me right after a kill had an easy one-shot opportunity.

No one ever joined me on the voice channel, so I have no idea if I was being cursed or ignored, but probably the latter. Players use all kinds of bizarre weapons in the Crucible, from No Land Beyond to Khvostov 7G-02.

I did not spend a ton of time in the Crucible. I had to force myself to fight at a distance in order to kill with it and most of my kills were from distracted or unaware Guardians.

PvP Verdict: A skilled hand can unleash hell with it, but its advantages will be negligible for most players.

Final Thoughts…

For all the trolling and squabbling about the “meta” and how the game “should be played,” no one really cared that I was using a weapon that was designed specifically to kill Oryx and required more attention than an aging pop star trying to revive their image.

And why should they care? I wasn’t causing numerous wipes (although I definitely was not preventing them on that Nightfall) and the weapon did what I needed it to: kill things. Do I foresee a rise in Malice users rocking the raid and strikes? Nope. Using it was stressful.

Now let’s spin the wheel and see what exotic I’ll be using next week…

Universal Remote!

Case
Case C. Capehart is an author of several novels and short stories currently on Amazon.com. You can find his Titan, TightPenny, running Universal Remote and No Backup Plans on Crucible and your judgments will be promptly ignored.

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