I’m a bit of a Destiny noob. I had a great time in last year’s demo, but only really jumped into the game recently before heading to Bungie Central to play The Taken King expansion. Are you in the same boat? Bungie is tempting new players to take the plunge with the $60 Legendary Edition, which contains the game and all three expansions.
At Bungie, I sat down with Art Director Michael Zak to talk about the new player experience, and I thought I’d share his thoughts and tips with all of you. I’ve been enjoying the game quite a bit as a new player, so I’ve added some of my own thoughts in as well.
Why is this a good time to jump into Destiny?
Bungie has had a year to polish the game, and it’s making some great mechanical changes in The Taken King. Zak believes that the Legendary Edition provides a great deal of content per dollar. As a new player with the Legendary Edition, you’ll have the option to level up in the traditional way or jump directly to level 25 to join your friends in the Taken King expansion content.
I played through the early game both before and after the September 8 patch that added The Taken King’s mechanical changes, and I have to say it’s easier and more fun to start out now. Leveling up is smoother and the game does a great job of guiding new players with its quest system. Loot drops are more common, particularly once you hit the new story missions, and it’s not hard to find other players in the game’s public areas right now.
What are some ways that The Taken King makes things easier for new players?
Zak is enthusiastic about Destiny’s new quest log. He noted that the bounty system was a rudimentary mini-quest system, but now quests are fleshed out and full-featured. The new log presents the story more clearly, and you can track specific quests and chart your progress through the various story threads that weave through the game. Even the new sub-classes feature short quest lines that include training missions for their major features.
I’ve definitely appreciated the addition of the quest system as a new player, and I recommend that Destiny newbies pay close attention to the quest log. It really helps you keep track of the story, especially since you’ll have access to quest lines from all the expansions. Class-related quests are also a great way to earn some nice equipment early on, and you can turn in bounties from anywhere right from the log. Just think, older Destiny players had to slog back to the Tower (the game’s main base for players) and turn all their bounties in person!
In addition to the quest log, new players have access to better interaction with vendors in the Tower, and as I mentioned earlier, can enjoy a smoother leveling experience. This is especially true after hitting level 20, which used to put players up against a complex “post-game” progress system. Now you can just level up normally by doing quests and shooting bad guys until you hit the hard level cap of 40.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for new players?
When I asked Zak what he’d say to any friends who’d just jumped into Destiny, he smiled and said, “Play with me!” He suggested that Destiny is a great game to play with a group of friends, and I certainly enjoyed my time playing through strikes (small group missions) with other game writers at Bungie’s event.
Zak also suggested that there’s no need to race to the end of the game. He recommends taking it slow and playing through at your own pace while leveling your first character. I agree with that recommendation, because Destiny is a gorgeous game with a lot to offer players who stop and smell the roses. It’s not necessary to fully optimize your character right away, because Destiny is pretty easy to pick up, and the missions aren’t terribly difficult to start with.
If you start having trouble surviving story missions at some point, it’s now pretty easy to figure out how to gear up. Your Light score gives you an idea of your gear’s power, and you can see the recommended Light score for taking out a particular enemy by hovering your target reticule over it. If you need better gear, you can always take some time out to do bounties, earn some money, and grab new gear from the various vendors in the Tower.
What about PvP-oriented players?
Destiny’s PvP game has received a shot in the arm with its traditional elimination matches joined by Rift Mode (basically capture the flag) and Mayhem, which turns your destructive possibilities up to the max.
If you prefer to power up via PvP, that’s easier to do now as well. Since leveling has been smoothed out, you shouldn’t hit any major roadblocks on the way to 40. PvP bounties and quests will also help you earn experience and loot without ever having to shoot an AI-controlled creature.
Zak also notes that Bungie wants to be more transparent about the balance changes made to the game, whether in the name of PvE, PvP, or both. He suggests looking out for posts like this one by Jon Weisnewski on the Bungie boards.
OK, Becky, So Should I Get Destiny?
I’ve found Destiny an easy game for newbies to get into, even those of us who don’t play a lot of shooters. As a dedicated mouse-and-keyboard warrior, I tend to dislike console shooters because I don’t like aiming with analog sticks. Imagine my delight when I discovered that aiming is simple and intuitive in Destiny. Before long, I was strolling through abandoned space hallways with my hand cannon, snapping off headshot after headshot and feeling like a badass.
Difficulty in Destiny is less about the basic mechanics of shooting, and more about learning to adapt to new enemies and unexpected situations. It’s about using strategy, teamwork, and knowing when to fight and when to run away. If that’s the kind of thing that sounds good to you, give Destiny a try. It’s a gorgeous game that’s fun to play, and I’m glad I started playing close to The Taken King’s release, because the improvements that have been made for this expansion make the entire game easier to get into.
Thanks to Michael Zak for taking the time to share his thoughts on Destiny and The Taken King with us!