This Week at Bungie 11/29/18

Thoughts On The First Week of Destiny 2’s Black Armory

Last Tuesday, Destiny 2’s Annual Pass holders got the first part of the Black Armory content drop, or “DLC” as some people want to call it.

As Bungie stressed, I thought pretty clearly, leading up to Black Armory’s “release,” this isn’t the typical Destiny expansion or DLC. This isn’t something akin to a Dark Below, House of Wolves, Rise of Iron, Curse of Osiris or Warmind. It’s definitely not a huge expansion like a Taken King or Forsaken.

This, the Annual Pass, is something brand new for Destiny. It’s not like the Season Passes that we’ve had in the past that bundled DLC’s together but that you could still purchase separately. The only way a Destiny 2 player can access the new Black Armory content is to purchase the Annual Pass.

If you bought bundled with Forsaken, the Annual Pass was an additional 30 bucks. If you have Forsaken and you buy the Annual Pass now, it’s like $35. The Annual Pass contains content drops know as Black Armory, Joke’s Wild coming in March, and Penumbra coming in June.

These are not $10 or $12 DLC’s, although you can look at it like that if you so choose. I prefer to look at as a subscription to Destiny 2 that provides me with content for the next nine months, with the price of that subscription being about $3.50 a month.

The Annual Pass is meant to add to the end game, not provide cinematic story missions through a campaign that players see once (per character) and rarely revisit through the Daily Heroic Story mission. This is, to me as a hardcore Destiny 2 player, the absolute best path forward.

I’ve seen a lot of hate online for Black Armory. People were extremely disappointed on launch day. A lot of folks still don’t get it. I’ve seen the argument that there is no content here, that this is worse than Curse of Osiris, and that this isn’t worth $10 or $12.

I completely disagree with all of that. It’s the first week of content, in a month that is again $3.50 worth of the Annual Pass which is what we paid for.

There’s A LOT of content here for the price, absolutely. This, by itself, is already worlds better than Curse of Osiris (and I wasn’t someone who hated that DLC). There’s no new crucible maps yet. There’s new story missions and no new strikes. I don’t care about any of that, personally.

There is a new raid. It may be short, I haven’t played it yet personally and won’t for a while because no one in my clan is anywhere close to being at a power level to do it. I’ve watched it, it looks like a ton of fun and like one of the more unique raids we’ve every seen. A raid that’s action packed and doesn’t get bogged down with puzzle mechanics that get old after the first three times you do it.

More importantly than the raid, at least for the average player, is the new Forge activity.

This is where a lot of the complaints came in, especially on launch day. And I get that. A lot of us were hyped to jump into new content on launch day. We completed a quick quest that was just a bit of a grind, and then got stonewalled by the Forge being a 630 power activity at the end boss. It was brutal.

We knew this was the first Forge of four. Going into it, I assumed that the first forge would be around 600 power and that the final Forge that opens up eventually would be the higher difficulty one. I didn’t expect it to be just over the halfway mark between the old cap (600) and the new cap of 650. You jump in, you get slaughtered, and you think this is impossible. It was disappointing. It was a kick to the balls on a hyped launch day for new content.

Then I went and did my milestones for the first time in weeks, and I got my power up to about 611 or so. And then I beat the Volundr Forge with two random blueberries and got my Hammerhead and opened up the heart of the Black Armory.

With that first victory, which I didn’t get until Friday, the whole thing went from slight disappointment to this is great. Now I’m doing Ada’s bounties every day. I’m grinding the Forge and the bounties to get Modulus Reports so that I can craft a new Hammerhead machine gun. I did the quest to unlock the Gofannon Forge (which probably should have been something similar to open the first Forge). I’ve got the auto rifle and the sniper rifle.

I’ve gotten six Powerful drops from the Forge alone. Two machine guns, the auto rifle, the sniper rifle, the cloak for completing Ada’s weekly forge two weapons, and boots from a rare bounty. I ended the first week of Black Armory at 625. Yeah, there are people already 650. I’m not a streamer. I didn’t grind all day every day. I didn’t have a bunch of powerful bounties stockpiled for weeks. I just did the milestones and grinded the Forge, and got a decent amount of Prime Engrams in the process.

The Forge has become my new favorite activity in Destiny. It’s better than Escalation Protocol or Blind Well. It’s better than Court of Oryx or Archon’s Forge from Destiny 1.

Here’s why I like the Forge’s so much:

  1. It’s a quick, grindable activity.
  2. I can do it whenever I choose because I don’t need a key of some kind to start it.
  3. Matchmaking.
  4. It’s rewarding.
  5. It’s a controllable grind for a guaranteed item.

Matchmaking can be hit or miss, of course. You can get paired with people who are well below the power requirement. You can get matched with people using terrible weapons and/or seem to have no thumbs. You can get matched with people who quit.

The  Volundr Forge and the Gofannon Forge are easy activities that you can complete (or fail) in less time than it takes to play a decent game of Crucible or Gambit. This works to its benefit and makes matchmaking more forgiven, in my opinion.

The Forges offer up a plentiful amount of easy to kill powerful enemies, which makes for frequent prime engrams. The Forge itself can also drop Black Armory reskins of year one weapons, that you can either keep or dismantle for a Black Armory schematic (useful for purchasing a random Black Armory mod, and Dragonfly spec is amazing on the curated Nation of Beasts handcannon).

The Forge also drops Modular Reports, which you can also get from completely Ada’s daily bounties. Modular Reports are used to craft either Augmented Weapons (which is the exisiting Forsaken loot pool of weapons with an extra perk option on them) or craft additional Black Armory weapons. This week, it’s the Hammerhead machine gun and the Ringing Nail auto rifle that you can craft.

These weapons have random rolls, and have curated versions. What I like about the Forge, and this is #4 and #5 on the list, is that you can control your grind somewhat. This week, if you really want a good roll on the Hammerhead (and I do want the curated version which has Feeding Frenzy and Rampage) then you can grind for Modular Reports, complete the frame for the machine gun, and then complete the Forge and get a guaranteed Hammerhead for it.

Destiny 2 Black Armory

This is the first time in Destiny where you can grind an activity and know that you’re going to get the item that you want. It may not have the roll you want, but at least a layer of RNG has been removed. You get the reports, you complete the frame, and then you forge your weapon. I love this system. Does it suck that we’re seemingly only going to have an option for two a week? Sure. That means next week you probably won’t get to grind for a better roll on the Hammerhead. But at least you know when the weapon frame is available that you can grind for it as many times as you want and will always know when you’re going to get the weapon.

I would like to see this expanded on with the Forge to also include ways to grind for the armor. I think the armor looks great, and I would love a way to grind for a specific piece of the armor until I get the perks on it that I want. That’s probably not going to happen, but nevertheless I would like to see it.

For me personally, this first week of Black Armory has been fantastic. I love the two Forge’s that have been released far. They’re both fun. I like Volundr one better though. I like the secrets that have been find that give the secret emblems. Ultimately though, I like that I can be excited about what’s coming.

We have the Dawning starting tomorrow for all players. That’s cool, but what I’m excited about is what’s still to come with Black Armory content drops. We have the Izanami Forge opening on December 18th. There’s a mysterious fourth forge called Bergusia Forge that Bungie hasn’t mentioned. And we know that on January 8th we’ll get access to Niobe Labs, which many are speculating is a Shattered Throne style new dungeon. And of course on January 29th, the quest for The Last Word begins.

There’s other secrets, like the third crest and the mysterious box. None of the Forge exotics have been found. There’s going to be new stuff pretty much weekly, and that’s wonderful. I think people people who scoff at this forget that after Taken King launched in D1, and was heavily praised, we had absolutely nothing new until the relatively minor free April Update.

I for one couldn’t be happier with the first week of the Black Armory content drop. I look forward to the rest of it as it gets unveiled over the coming months. This is a new content strategy for the Destiny franchise, and one that I believe is world’s better than the $20 DLC’s we became accustomed to like Curse of Osiris and Warmind.

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