I wrote about isometric action-RPG Immortal Planet [official site] two months ago when a release date was announced: based on early gameplay footage I liked what I saw, but I wasn’t sure about the combat, which looked repetitive. Well it’s just come out for real now, and the launch trailer suggests the swordplay might be more varied than I first thought.
It’s a ‘Souls-like’ (drink) game based on slow-paced melee combat. You’re not going to rush in whirling your sword around your head and hope for the best: you have to dodge and block enemy attacks and manage your rapidly-depleting stamina bar, as well as strike when enemies are tired. I like the aesthetic, and it’s from the creator of turn-based stealth hack-and-slash Ronin, which was rather good.
The new trailer is below. It looks like there’s actually a good range of attacks and dodges to use, as well as lots of different weapons (there’s a sword that transforms into a trident at 00:31):
Each level has a single checkpoint, so you drop in and start exploring. If you die, you go back to the start and lose experience, but you can pick that experience back up at the spot you died. There’s “multi-stage struggles” with bosses at the end of the level, too, and lots of options for character customisation.
Here’s a little more on the combat, which seems to be the standout bit:
“Patience and focus are much more important than reflexes. Block, dodge and tackle enemies while managing your stamina. You can see enemy stamina and exploit it to stun them when they are exhausted.”
If that more cautious approach tickles your fancy, it’s on Steam and GOG for £9.89/13,49€/$13.49, which includes a 10% discount until Thursday.
Ahead of the launch of Splatoon 2 this Friday for the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Switch Online [Free] companion app is now live. It’s a super quick download, and seems to seamlessly link to your Nintendo account… But (as of this writing) it doesn’t seem to do a whole lot yet. I can sort of link my account, then it tells me the service is down for maintenance.
Regardless, if you want to get ahead of the game, you can go ahead and grab it right now. Once the service is fully functional you’ll be able to use the app to do voice chat with Nintendo friends as well as use the various social networks to find and invite people into your game. I’m still not super sold that it’s a better solution to having a full-featured dashboard for the Switch like the Xbox and PlayStation have, but, eh, we’ll see how it works in practice.
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Anyway, I’ll be rapidly switching back and forth between being a kid and a squid later this week, and I’m super curious how the app voice chat is going to be any better than just using Discord.
Compete’s video team headed to the University of Utah to check out their varsity esports program, which began as a League of Legends fan club that grew into the student-run organization Crimson Gaming, which helped pave the way for the school’s official scholarship program for budding pro gamers. (UPDATE: 5:00 pm- This paragraph has been updated to clarify Crimson Gaming’s beginnings.)
The University of Utah is part of the Pac-12 conference, and according to Robert Kessler, executive director of the school’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program, the Pac-12 has “been talking about the idea of having a conference-wide league for esports. But it hasn’t been able to get everybody to agree to all the details. So we decided … we might as well jump into this.”
Compete also spoke to Angie Klingsieck, the Executive Director of Crimson Gaming, as well as Crimson Gaming’s Competitive Director Jordan Runyan, about the student-run organization’s growth over the past few years. The school’s devotion to League of Legends caught the attention of Riot Games as well as University of Utah’s administration. According to A.J. Dimick, the director of operations for University of Utah Esports, the “grassroots movement of these students” led to the eventual foundation of the school’s program, which they hope will inspire similar programs at other schools.
This is the latest episode in our new season of Compete videos. Last week’s video profiled the Southern California fighting games scene, and our debut Compete video profiled medical experts who keep esports pros healthy.
VIDEO CREDITS: Executive Producer Fritzie Andrade
Senior Producer Anastasia Weeks
Producer Zoe Stahl
Associate Producer John Dargan
Shooter Mitch Blummer
Editor Anders Kapur
Graphics Devin Clark
Writers Maddy Myers Eric Van Allen
Additional Consultation from Editor-In-Chiefs Stephen Totilo Tim Marchman
Event footage and photography courtesy of Han Yang Crimson Gaming
Competitive League of Legends has grown past just the five-player line-up. Coaching staff and more people in charge of training, guiding, and managing players are becoming necessary for a successful team eyeing a spot at the top of the League Championship Series.
Or so says the coaching staff for the Immortals, who spoke to me over Skype about their process, structure, goals, and ambitions as one of the largest support structures in the North American LCS. We reached out to them after a commenter inquired in April about what a coach for an esports team actually does. In most ways, the dynamic between players and coaches isn’t unlike what you’d see with traditional sports teams—just maybe with a little extra life management.
Immortals’ League of Legends team has seven players: five starters, two subs. Its coaching staff is composed of five members, including head coach Kim Sang-Su (known as SSONG), team manager Jun Kang, coach Robert Yip, head analyst Brendan Schilling, and analyst Nick Luft. It’s a stark contrast to the early days of League and even modern esports teams in other games like Dota 2, which can often get by with a single coach-slash-manager or less.
A day in Kim’s life usually goes something like this: The head coach wakes up and, during the weekday, manages the team’s scrims. One set of scrims, break to rest and eat, then back to scrims. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s focused training for the Immortals squad, and after that, Kim sits down at his computer to watch matches and study strategies, from North America to Korea.
Kim’s focus tends to be on building teamwork and achieving milestones. He’s working with five different players who operate at the top of their game in each role—the trick isn’t always getting them to play better individually, but together.
“I treat it as, the five different players and five different positions, I compare it to a real-life job,” said Kim. “It’s having different occupations—top, jungle, mid—they’re all experts in their own lane. Since this is a team game and they don’t have the knowledge of the other lanes or other occupations, I try to meld them together into a team.”
The head coach also diffuses arguments and helps to mediate discussion, but big picture strategy is often Kim’s purview. Identifying mistakes, reinforcing good habits, and checking off mile-markers for improvement makes up a good portion of Kim’s role in the team. Still, he tries to keep things lighthearted.
“My ultimate goal is that since we’re pro players and professionals, that we treat daily scrims and practice seriously as professionals,” said Kim. “Then when that day is over, that we just enjoy what we’re doing instead of being stressed all day.”
Robert Yip, another coach on the team, came into the League of Legends scene in 2012, at a time when most coaches were former pros, recycling the talent pool.
“You would hire people that had really good base knowledge because they were former pros, and they would work with the up-and-coming pros,” said Yip. “Normally there wouldn’t be a lot of new faces or new ideas in the scene. Slowly but surely, people are incorporating people from outside esports because they bring a different perspective or skillset.”
Former esports player and team manager Jun echoes this sentiment of growth in the scene. “When I played, I didn’t have a coach,” said Jun. “We were just five players. Having someone to talk to about strategy, getting feedback about what I think and asking them, learning about their experience when they were a player, is very valuable.”
While many modern coaches are still former pros or high-level players, like Kim and Jun, support staff membership has been expanding to those with different schools of thought. People with sports backgrounds, physiotherapy or athletic training, are becoming advantageous in a league system that resembles modern sports structures more every day.
This manifests in the larger support staffs for teams like Immortals, where Yip’s role is performance coach, a new trend in esports. Unlike Jun or Kim, Yip hails from a sports coaching background. Strength and conditioning, sports psychology and health are his fortes, and Yip’s focus is to make sure the team is exercising, sleeping and eating well, and staying emotionally sound.
“The [performance coach] works with the team or group to make sure people are physically, mentally, emotionally stable and strong enough to compete in a high-pressure environment,” said Yip. “It’s something that a lot of teams should look into getting. It’s something that a lot of the better teams have, and have had someone working with them consistently, and they’re seeing the benefits of that these days.”
Like physical therapists Matt Hwu and Cait McGee, Yip works with players on posture, stretching and fitness to make sure they don’t incur any injuries that might inhibit their performance. There’s not a lot of physicality involved in esports, as Yip mentions, so players spend time doing core exercises and wrist stretches so they don’t succumb to injuries.
“What’s key is to make sure they have a long career so that they can play for a lot longer,” said Yip. “They can reap the benefits of their skills and it sets them up for the future if they want to go into coaching or college, or anything like that.”
Jun’s role as team manager tends to be twofold: One part is handling the logistics of the team itself. From mediating arguments and overseeing the team’s scrim schedule to waking them up in time for practice, Jun handles the day-to-day of Immortals. “I’m basically the dad,” Jun tells me. His other role is being a bilingual go-between for the players. Head coach Kim is from South Korea, and Immortals’ players hail from South Korea, China, America, and the Philippines. Though English is a common enough through-line, Jun often handles translation for Kim during team meetings and interviews, including our own. Though his duties have become more focused on play than the day-to-day logistics in the last year (the team has hired a cook, which Jun was happy about), it was clear Jun was the Cliff Gardner to Immortals’ organization.
All these moving pieces, from strategy discussion and scrimmaging to physical well-being and teamwork discussion, culminates every weekend in the week’s LCS matches. It’s at this point that the coaches have to let the players fly—unlike football, basketball, or even games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, coaches are only able to talk to the team during their draft and for one minute after the draft has concluded. The rest is up to the five players, led by their in-game shot-caller.
“We just try to talk to them about the big picture, how they should be playing out the game as a whole,” said Kim. “We can’t really micromanage small things because the game is volatile, it changes every minute, so they have to figure out what they have to do in certain situations on their own.”
At that point, Kim and the others can review what happened and reinforce better ideas, starting with basic concepts. One that came up was improving communications, a general concept but one critical to a game where operating as a whole unit rather than five individual players tends to make the difference in late-game fights.
“We try to isolate, what are the roles and responsibilities of each person on the team,” said Yip. “What can they be held accountable for? And with all the coaches and analysts we have, we keep track of all the players and qualitatively map out what they say versus what they should be saying, trying to make their communication more effective.”
As franchising looms on the horizon, the coaches had different opinions of what it would mean for their roles. Kim believed it would put more pressure on players and coaches to perform, as you’re now a permanent representation of a brand. Yip sees teams taking more chances, bringing in more coaching staff like himself that can focus on minutiae or out-of-play concerns. Positional coaching, having a literal mid-lane coach or bot-lane coach, was brought up. It’s an asset some teams already utilize, similar to a quarterback coach. But even greater, organizational assets become possible as established brands can bring on performance coaches to not just work with their League team but their Overwatch, Counter-Strike, and fighting game players as well—a rising-tide of support staff.
Where the former days of League had team houses encountering health concerns and fire hazards, a growing coaching staff scene is raising the bar for competition, allowing players to focus on the game with expert support. As that grows, cultures and processes can emerge for teams, building eras and dynasties rather than just brands.
“Players and coaches will start looking at the unique selling points teams have,” said Yip. “And say, ‘This is the team I want to play for.’”
Coaching around the world
Then And Now: Talking To Retired Pro Gamers About The Rise Of Esports
Street Fighter Player Turns To The Book Of Daigo After Loss
Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch saw a significant update on the Public Test Realm server lately that introduced a highly requested feature – the ability to save and export Highlights.
The new Highlights system allows you to keep any highlights for 24 hours and they remain even if you exit the game. Along with the top five highlights of a game, players can also record their own highlights in the middle of a match. If you want to keep the highlights permanently, it’s possible to download them on to your system, tinkering with the resolution, quality and frame rate to improve the final video.
But perhaps the more significant change is that to the Loot Boxes. Duplicates gained in Loot Boxes will be reduced significantly and to compensate for Credits that you’d otherwise get from dupes, the amount of currency earned will also increase. This should assuage many complaints about the Loot Box system, especially in light of the Anniversary Event.
What are your thoughts on these changes? Let us know in the comments.
It’s tough to determine a “winner of E3” this year. One could easily say that Microsoft stole the show with their reveal of a new Xbox, although we won’t know how successful it will be yet because of its high price tag. Companies like Sony and Bethesda presented huge reveals in regards to VR but once again, we will need to see how the community reacts upon release. The announcements at the 2017 E3 Expo marked a new age for gaming and technological advancement; this new era will require more exploration before we can determine if E3 was a success this time around.
Arguably the biggest reveal from this year’s E3 was the Xbox One X from Microsoft. To date, the Xbox One X will be the most powerful console available, capable of true 4k resolution and 326 GB of memory bandwidth. The only drawback is the $499 price tag which is $100 more than the new console from Sony.
Several industry analysts have already voiced their concern that the price for the new Xbox will simply be unaffordable however, you are definitely getting your money’s worth based on the specs that were revealed. Several new games were revealed for the new console including Forza Motorsport 7, Assasin’s Creed Origins, and Metro Exodus. In addition to the long list of titles Microsoft revealed, they also dived deeper into previously announced titles such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Anthem.
Sony used the majority of their segment to discuss more details on previously announced games such as Destiny 2 and God of War. There were also announcements of new games including a remastered edition of Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4. Like their Microsoft competitors, Sony revealed their plans to incorporate VR.
Games such as Skyrim and Final Fantasy XV’s Monster of the Deep will have PSVR exclusive versions. To end, Sony gave an extended peak at their new Spider-Man title. The game features similar combat/movement mechanics to Batman Arkham and will feature quick-time events when saving the people of New York.
EA’s kicked things off with the announcement of new games such as Madden NFL 18 and A Way Out, however, the focal point of point of their conference was an in-depth look at Star Wars Battlefront 2.
In addition to releasing a teaser trailer, EA gave a first look at multiplayer and new heroes that will be available in this much-anticipated sequel. Lastly, EA gave a teaser for the new Bioware game, Anthem. The title has not been given a release date yet, although Bioware hopes to release the Anthem by early next year.
Ubisoft delivered a solid showcase at this year’s E3 event. Among the biggest announcements were the reveal of Super Mario Odyssey and Rabbids Kingdom Battle. We were also given more details about recently announced games including Assassin’s Creed Origins, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Far Cry 5, and Steep: Road to the Olympics. Lastly, Ubisoft announced several new titles in development such as The Crew 2, Skulls and Bones, Transference, and much more.
Nintendo revealed several surprises during their E3 2017 spotlight. Most notably, Nintendo announced that a new Pokémon game is in the works in addition to Metroid Prime 4. We also received a more in-depth look into games that were announced earlier this year. Rocket League will be available on Nintendo Switch sometime during the holiday season this year; in addition to Nintendo themed in-game items, the cross-network play will be available.
We were also given a look at an extended trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Nintendo Switch which is also set to release during the holiday season. In other big news from Nintendo, a trailer for the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC was revealed. The DLC will feature additional gameplay, a new difficulty mode, and a plethora of new items.
Bethesda began their E3 presentation by giving us a look at their new VR games in development, Doom VFR and Fallout 4 VR. They also revealed updates for existing titles. Leading the charge was the announcement of Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, a DLC for the incredibly popular Elder Scrolls Online MMORPG. The DLC will include an entirely new explorable area, tons of additional quests, items, and much more.
We were also given a look at the Skyrim Creation Club, an innovative approach at adding new game content to classic games like Skyrim and Fallout 4. The Creation Club will allow community creators to work directly with Bethesda to create new content for their games. What sets the Creation Club apart from conventional modding is that all created content will be compatible with achievements and previously saved games.
Some secrets stay hidden for years. Others stay hidden for a couple weeks, but only because people collectively poured hundreds of hours into solving them.
As part of World of Warcraft’s most recent major update, Tomb of Sargeras, Blizzard added a secret so deviously obtuse that no single player had much hope of solving it. So players banded together via WoW’s Secret Finding Discord Community and started sleuthing.
What they uncovered was a series of pages scattered across Azeroth, each marked with an infuriatingly vague clue. Some, like “the first of lords to fall”—which points to Ragnaros’ lair—weren’t so bad, but others, like “in snow, sand, and stone” could’ve applied to just about anything. They had to be collected by individual players in a specific order that was inspired, oddly enough, by the cosmology chart from real-life book World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 1. As WoWhead points out (via PCGamesN), the page numbers even spell out the the book’s ISBN: 9781616558451.
In this wonderless year of 2017, it’s rare that secrets stay secret for long, often thanks to dark arts like datamining. This secret hunt was particularly clever in that it couldn’t be datamined. Apparently, pages only appeared in the game’s database after players interacted with them. I’m not 100 percent sure how Blizzard achieved that, but it’s damn cool.
As members of the Secret Finding Discord Community sleuthed themselves into oblivion, WoW senior game designer and riddle master Jeremy ‘Muffinus’ Feasel lurked—secretly, of course—in the Discord channel, taunting players and occasionally dropping hints via Twitter.
Two weeks after the Tomb of Sargeras update dropped, players finally solved the puzzle. For their troubles, they were rewarded with a special mount, Riddler’s Mind-Worm. It might not seem like much given all the trouble people went through, but something something the journey not the destination or whatever. Also, some WoW players just go fucking batty for special mounts. It’s a thing!
Once it was clear that the puzzle was solved, Blizzard’s Feasel signed off with one last tweet:
Since 2010, World of Warcraft players have been creating hordes of pink-haired level one gnomes and running them across Azeroth to support the fight against breast cancer. This year Blizzard is giving the event a boost with special decorations, a cheering crowd and its own special quest.
The tradition of running low-level gnomes across a danger-filled continent dates back to EverQuest in the early 2000s, back before World of Warcraft came along and took over the MMO-space. It’s a high danger, low stakes sort of thrill that helps pass the time between camping for things or waiting for raid timers to reset.
Using the “Running of the Gnomes” as a means to raise money for and awareness of breast cancer in World of Warcraft started back in 2009, when members of the Scarlet Crusade server Alliance guild SeeD decided to change their tabards to pink during October, aka breast cancer awareness month. In 2010 they started the first official “Running of the Gnomes” charity event, choosing WoW’s most diminutive race mainly because one of the starting hair color options is a lovely shade of pink. Nearly 150 players showed up for the run and after-party. In 2013 they had about a thousand, raising $1,305 for the Cleveland Clinic’s Tuohy breast cancer vaccine research and testing.
Here’s a video of last year’s event, courtesy of YouTuber MultiSnapShot. Nearly 3,000 players participated, raising more than $5,000 for the charity.
And here’s WowHead’s video (via PVPLive) detailing how official Blizzard support is changing the way naked gnomes run across Azeroth.
Blizzard’s set up an official starting line for the event in New Tinkertown up North, with a quest that will guide players through some 40 gates along the route, finishing in Booty Bay on the southern tip of the Eastern Kingdoms. Cheering NPCs are scattered along the event path, giving the tiny pink-haired runners the extra motivation they need to get eaten by tigers in Stranglethorn.
The new additions, currently on the Public Test Realm, should be ready in the core game in time for this October’s event.
I’m now fully caught up on the Destiny 2 [official site] presentation and am wading through the first hands-on footage people are feeding out as videos. The game has a hard release date of 8 September on console (and a smidge of pre-order beta before that) but PC is still a bit of an unknown. It’ll still happen but the exact details are still lurking in the realms of “dunno”. BUT! That gives us some breathing room to get you, the wide-eyed PC player, up to speed. There’s also plenty in the info we now have that excites me and a few niggles I wanted to poke at while they’re still fresh in my mind. Shall we start with an overview of the game and then move on to things like the reworked match-making for raids and so on? It’s my article so I’ll assume you said yes!
Destiny is best thought of as a sci-fi MMO with some truly lovely-feeling shooting as its core gameplay. There was a story campaign but the bulk of the experience came after that through quests and raids and weekly challenges and PvP and all manner of other bits and pieces. Like I say, it’s an MMO set in space. I just checked my own game stats and the majority of my time was spent on PvP, playing a point capture map selection called Control. But what do you really need to know about Destiny and its lore to get to grips with Destiny 2? Allow me to explain – I’ll be brief!
A Teaspoon of Lore
Destiny 2 is set in the same universe as the original game. There’s a bunch of lore nerdery which might help you appreciate all the oohing and ahhing during the trailers but the core of that first game was that The Traveler – that big moon-looking object hovering in the sky over Earth – is the source of your characters’ special powers. It lets you tap into and use a force called Light and there’s also a lot of gubbins about existential threats and whether the Traveler’s motives are benign and… if you’ve played a lore-heavy sci-fi game you’ll probably be able to imagine the discussion of every minute detail on subreddits over the years.
There were factions in the first game and all manner of figureheads and legions within those factions because it’s a lore-heavy sci-fi game (even though you’ll hear a bunch of arguments about there not being a real story because of how it hid everything in grimoire cards so you had to be bothered to tease it out of the game and frankly some people didn’t fancy that approach). What I think is most useful to know is that one of the alien races is the Cabal. They’re based on Mars in the original game and take the form of these beefy, heavily armoured jerks – kind of space turtles who often had these irritating shields you’d need to work around when splattering them.
The Cabal are the focus as the main enemies for Destiny 2. Players of the original game suspected they might be because all of the other major races (the Hive, the Fallen, the Vex) had been the focus of a raid and a bunch of chunky content so it was theoretically the Cabal’s turn. So here you have a Cabal Warlord called Ghaul (also known as Gary because of bants in a trailer) who is in a right mard that the Traveler decided to make human and human adjacent characters (the blue-skinned Awoken and the humanoid machine Exos) the heroes of the piece and has decided HE deserves to wield Light too thankyouverymuch.
To that end he sort of wheel-clamps the Traveler and siphons off its Light while also leading Cabal to destroy the original game’s hub world, The Tower.
TL;DR? This is a hard reset which zaps all your previous powers, destroys your loot vault and sends everyone you know scattering in all directions.
The story (in as far as Bungie have shown so far) is about regaining your powers and getting the band back together.
The band in this case is the triumvirate of vanguards for each of the player classes. There’s Zavala who was the commandy shouty blue guy who made the bubble shield in the trailer above. He’s one of the Awoken, if you were wondering, and he’s in charge of the Titan class. That’s the class which is very much about front-lining, stomping about and doing power-fists into the earth. Then there’s Nathan Fillion as Cayde-6 – an Exo who heads up the Hunters. Hunters are the showboating faction who wear capes and zip about being annoying. Hunters are the worst. Ikora Ray is the human who acts as the Warlock vanguard. The Warlocks are the best faction and they are in charge of space magic, really floofy jumping, and wiping out entire capture points with Nova Bombs in PvP.
After the destruction of The Tower Zavala’s off having an existential crisis, gazing across the methane seas of Saturn’s moon, Titan. Because he’s a Titan. DO YOU GET IT? Ikora has gone to a sacred site on Io to regroup and also to marshal her fury into something useful. The presentation made it sound like she was in some kind of mashup between a church and Professor Farnsworth’s Angry Dome. Cayde is doing bantz on Nessus which is a Vex stronghold – the Vex being a sort of robo collective who can play silly beggars with time itself. To be fair, Cayde is always doing bantz. He is Banter Claus. Archbishop of Banterbury. Immanuel Bant.
And thus: new story campaign, new strikes (kind of mini-raids), new actual raid with details TBA, new multiplayer maps presumably based around these new locations and so on and so on.
Here’s Terra Mantis’s footage of the Inverted Spire strike. It should give you a better feel for how the game flows. In case you’re wondering, they’re playing as a Gunslinger Hunter – they get a Golden Gun as their ultimate:
Let’s now move on to the more granular bits and bobs!
So much of Destiny was about how guns felt when you handled them and you’d develop incredibly strong preferences and attachments to your loadout. That’s why I’m not particularly interested in the weapons themselves until I can actually play with them and see what feels nice. In the original game I favoured hand cannons as my primary weapon. They were good for close-up work and you could deal an impressive/horrific amount of damage if you were precise. I would also sometimes cheat on my favourite hand cannon – a gun called The Last Word – with the mid-range burst-fire of a pulse rifle. Secondary tended to be a sniper rife called Defiance of Yasmin and my heavy weapon slot was generally reserved for a machine gun (Qullim’s Terminus in case you were interested).
Destiny 2 seems to be doing away with that primary/secondary/heavy distinction so you can have more than one weapon of a particular type in your loadout. Maybe multiple sniper rifles if you’re That Kind Of Jerk. It might also be useful because the previous distinctions – primary, secondary and heavy – generally meant you had one all-rounder gun, one specialist gun and one massive burst damage gun. I can imagine a bunch of scenarios where you might want to have two or even three specialist guns you can easily access depending on your role in the current fight.
The new categories are thus “kinetic”, “energy” and “power”. What that actually means in specific terms is not clear to me yet – I assume it’ll be a lot clearer when I’ve watched more footage or when we get bigger chunks of time with the game.
Supers are things in the original Destiny which you power up as you play and which, when charged, allow you to perform some spectacular or game-changing move. I mentioned two of those earlier – the Warlock’s purple Nova Bomb which you could use to blow an area up using purple elemental energy and the Golden Gun you get as a Gunslinger Hunter. Purple energy is technically called “void” energy but there’s also blue which is “arc” and orange/golden which is “solar”. By switching between different flavours of power you could change your super as well as other bits and bobs like how your character moves and how they jump and the grenades they can throw.
I’ll use the Warlock as an example:
If you’re using void power you’re a Voidwalker Warlock and you get that big bomb. If you’re using solar you’re a Sunsinger Warlock and you get Radiance which boosts your grenades and melee skills and reduces their cooldown timers massively. Arc power gives you Stormcaller Warlocks which gives you a Palpatine-style lightning attack. This one is super useful if you don’t fancy doing nonsense like “aiming” or “hiding”.
With the Traveler being clamped by turtles from Mars you lose all of this stuff even if you played the first game and had it maxed out. That’s why everyone’s stumbling around in the trailer – no Light means no powers. It looks like Bungie aren’t overhauling the elemental flavours though, so the supers you do get will be some new ones (based on the same principles but with different manifestations) and it looks like you earn back some of the earlier ones (but probably not the really game-breaky ones).
Specifically there’s a solar thing for Warlocks called Dawnblade where your super (I think that’s called Daybreak) has you use a flaming sword to slash projectiles at people, Sentinel is for Titans and gives you a void (i.e. purple) version of Captain America’s shield you can use to duff people up or ricochet off someone’s head to hit someone else, and Arcstrider for Hunters offers up fancy nonsense involving a glowing blue staff. It’s always fancy nonsense for Hunters.
PvP takes place in The Crucible and spans a wide range of modes. Some are always available and some are only around for limited times and have unusual requirements or restrictions/boosts. In the original there are another tier of PvP modes – Iron Banner is monthly-ish and you can earn special loot, there was also a Sparrow Racing League and there’s a hardcore elimination-style thing called Trials of Osiris. It sounds like Bungie want to keep that basic variety so there’s at least one mode each player will want to play but they’ve been reworking how it fits together.
It sounds like all PvP in the Crucible is going to be set up as 4v4 instead of the variable team sizes of the earlier game. That’s good in that you don’t need to add or drop people if you fancy changing modes during a session. I’m wondering whether Trials of Osiris falls into that bracket? Theoretically it could but Trials is a 3v3 mode with a bunch of specific requirements that ramp up the difficulty and sort of gate access because you needed a group and an access pass and it’s only available a few days each week. Bungie mentioned Trials as a thing that would exist in Destiny 2 but I’m wondering if that will be an exception to the 4v4 rule because it feels like it was so finely balanced around 3 that 4 would make it a significantly different experience. That said, they might have overhauled the whole thing and made it something different.
Another change is that instead of needing to keep mental track of big PvP milestones, like who of the enemy team has their super ability charged, or who picked up the limited supplies of heavy weapon ammo and is thus a greater threat, you’ll get that info on your HUD. Part of me is inches away from screaming “GIT GUD NUB NUB!” and “IN MY DAY WE HAD TO REMEMBER THAT STUFF BY HAND!” But Bungie are banging on about things being easy to pick up and hard to master. Bloody annoying to people like me whose mastery extended as far as the thing which is now default info for everyone if you ask me!
They also mention an attack/defend mode called Countdown. I assume it’s a word game with a few number rounds thrown in at intervals. Or I suppose it might be a vaguely Counter-Strikey mode about setting charges and killing other Guardians if you want to watch this video:
This is the one causing a lot of feather-ruffling. Think of it as Bungie’s way of bringing LFG (looking for group) queries into the main game rather than leaving them as the domain of subreddits and dedicated third party forums/apps. It combines with an attempt to make matchmaking a bit less awful.
The idea is the if you’re a member of a clan you can use that as a kind of second friend list in order to find people for raids who are of a similar gaming bent to you. If you aren’t you can see which clans are up for raids as well as a little bit about them – a short bio, for example – which would theoretically give you an idea of how friendly they might be to play with and what they prioritise.
Their vision is that solo players will be taking less of a gamble when they join a group to attempt a raid or a strike or something, and that players who are already partied up to some degree can easily fill any remaining slots.
That’s the plan. I believe that that’s how Bungie want it to work and I hope that’s how they get it to work because otherwise as a solo player who is nervy about joining up with randos you can end up missing a huge chunk of content and loot.
I do have reservations, though. What they showed of the system sort of relied on the clans giving accurate or flavourful information in their short bio to let solo players know if they wanted to play with them. I can imagine it being far more of a lottery in real life (although I guess Bungie could also get players to rate groups on competitiveness or helpfulness which could add another dimension to sorting through clans). They also haven’t revealed enough about the system to know if it factors in things like whether you’re happy to be on voice with strangers. I’m not. I get really nervous, not least because I have a very obviously female voice and that can end up in some very uncomfy places online.
So…. cautiously optimistic but assuming third party hubs might need to make up for shortcomings?
You’ll be able to hop from world to world without needing to go back to orbit every damn time. Going back to orbit every five minutes was the BIGGEST FAFF. That is why everyone cheered at this bit of the announcement.
Patrol (which is the kind of free roaming PvE bit) will now let you find treasures and lost sectors, so it seems a bit beefier than the old approach.
The map is being reworked to do things I used to use an app for, like flagging up where public events would be happening and when (those are limited-time encounters in the patrol space where you come together with whoever happens to be nearby to defend a thing or fight a thing or whatever the task is.
They mentioned one of the strikes would be on Nessus and would feature a three-stage boss.
If you do join a clan, everyone’s progress will feed into a big progress bucket and lead to clan-wide rewards. Other games have versions of this stuff – WoW guild advancement was all about rewarding players for being active members of a guild, for example. You’ll also see it in things like League of Legends where a big LAN tournament like the All-Star might gift items or boosts to an entire region if their team wins. I’m assuming clans will have some version of this with everyone’s XP feeding into a vat which sometimes dispenses some nice digital toys. That’s TBC, though.
The game will be available on PC via The Artist Formerly Known As Battle.Net which is fine by me as it won’t personally involve me needing to download yet another game client.
BUT! The PC release date is currently unconfirmed. All the September 8 ballyhooing is for consoles. In all honesty that probably won’t affect me because I’ll likely do the bulk of my playing on PS4. I prefer FPS on console. It’s a personal preference so as the kids on Twitter say, don’t @ me. I’m not hurting anyone except all of my foes as I rack up amazing killstreaks.
Oh, and Ikora Ray better get some improved screentime soon. Her presence in the trailers and story so far has fit her personality, but it has also meant that she has tended to be sidelined while Nathan Fillion’s bant-machine and Zavala’s speechmaking take centre stage. She gets to do some cool things but I worry that new players will look at the cinematics and campaign footage so far and not think “WARLOCKS ARE CLEARLY THE BEST”. I am taking the fact a lady Warlock has been repping hard for my class and that we got the Dawnblade super as my current consolation.
Bruce Foxton’s War In The West is rising in the east and, as Gary Gilmore’s Eyes Over Azerbaijan begins to blink, the telegraph taps out this week’s missive from HQ. Roman, as ever, is lurking in the wardrobe with a wicked smile. Wait. Hang on. The cheek of it!
What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re clicking on.
Adam: I’m heading back into Offworld Trading Company to check out the new expansion, Jupiter’s Forge. Competitive real-time economics is how I like to spend a Saturday evening. I’m also planning to make a start on Endless Space 2, having waited so long for it to leave Early Access. STRATEGY STRATEGY STRATEGY.
Alec: I am playing FINALLY UPGRADING MY ANCIENT PC. The deed is done, in fact – it has a new processor, motherboard, memory and hard drive. Now I just need to work out why any game I run on it runs at half the speed it did on the old system. I hate computers.
Alice: Endless Space 2 sounds great! That is the space strategy I want. I’m also committing crimes in Payday 2 once more, following an update giving the meatshield AI squadmates customizable gear and team-boosting passive perks. They remain braindead lumps who can’t even carry a bag farther than ten metres but at least they contribute more. Look, Payday 2 provides the selection of chunky revolvers and pump-action shotguns that other FPSs deny me.
Brendan: The Surge. I was too stupid to get early review code for this sci-fi Souls impersonator, so I’m still slogging through its narrow corridors and killing mobs of disgruntled factory workers. I just dropped 22,000 not-souls after purposefully jumping off a high place so that I would die closer to the restart point. It didn’t work, the not-souls are still on the ledge. Duh.
Graham: I’m going to continue playing Dead Cells, the early access roguelite Brendy recommended last week. It is everything he says it is: frenetic combat, crunchy pixel art and, yeah, I’m getting slightly tired by the sameyness of the opening level each time. I wish it forced me to make a few more important decisions in the initial section. But I’m still loving it.
John: I fully plan to finish CrossCells, which Pip’s reviewing for you gorgeous people. Beyond that, I’ve the usual teetering tower of indie games I wish I had time to play, and the competing interests of a family who seem to think weekends are supposed to be used for wherever this ridiculous “Outside” place is. True fact: no one has ever been eaten by a bear indoors.
Philippa: This weekend I will be playing “continuing to KonMari my possessions”. I’m not particularly stringent with her methods of tidying but some of her ways of thinking about things have enabled me to let go of possessions which have long outstayed their usefulness or gifts which were wide of the mark but which I felt obliged to keep because of the person they were from. She and I have VERY different thoughts about books though and thus my beloved shelves will remain unscathed.