This week Destiny 2 entered its sixth season, the Season of the Drifter. Minus a few minor hiccups, Destiny 2 has gone from strength to strength since the release of the Forsaken expansion last September and this latest offering from Bungie is expected to carry on that trend. In the last week much information has been released regarding what the Joker’s Wild expansion will bring to the table, as well as a host of other changes and fixes coming to the game over the next 90 days. So let’s dive in.
Gambit Prime and The Reckoning
First of all, Bungie released a ViDoc giving players an insight into what the studio is trying to achieve with Season of the Drifter and Joker’s Wild. The ViDoc primarily focuses around the introduction of two new game modes: Gambit Prime and The Reckoning.
Gambit Prime is described as the “sweatier version” of everyone’s favourite PvPvE game mode – an intense and competitive experience that will require players to adopt distinct roles within their team and strong coordination skills, not unlike a raid encounter. Gambit Prime matches are single-round affairs with a much tougher Primeval to take down at the end. Players who manage to send multiple blockers into play during a match can use them to drain Motes of Dark from the opposing team’s bank as well.
The distinct roles mentioned earlier each come with their own armour set, which can only be earned by playing both Gambit Prime AND The Reckoning. This armour provides bonuses which will enhance the player’s ability to carry out that role, so it’s well worth the effort to collect it if you’re a regular Gambit player. Firstly you’ve got the Reaper, whose job is to take down as many enemies as possible as quickly as possible. Then comes the Collector, who focuses on gathering the Motes of Dark dropped by the Reaper’s victims and depositing them in the bank. Thirdly you’ve got the Sentry, who specialises in taking down Blockers and Invading Guardians. And lastly of course, the Invaders themselves, who delight in dealing death and sowing mayhem within the enemy team’s ranks.
The Reckoning, by comparison, is described in rather vague terms as a pinnacle PvE activity where players are thrown into utter chaos. Not much is known about it at this point apart from the fact that it’s a horde mode of sorts and that it is somehow connected to the machinations of The Nine. The Reckoning has three tiers of difficulty, which are being released week on week with the third and highest tier set to become available on March 15th.
In addition to these new activities, Season of the Drifter has brought a variety of other changes to the game. The maximum Power cap has been raised from 650 up to 700, Shotguns and Power Weapons have been tweaked, new Exotic and Legendary gear has been added to the game, and Xûr has received some much-needed attention too.
Power Surge Bounties
When the Black Armoury expansion released it caused an outcry from frustrated players who had paid for content they couldn’t access without weeks of grinding. Bungie quickly attempted to fix this by lowering the difficulty of many of the Forge Ignition activities, thereby making them accessible to a larger number of players.
This time around the studio have planned ahead and introduced Power Surge Bounties into the game. Available from the Drifter, these bounties will make it possible for Annual Pass holders to boost themselves up to 640 Power within a couple of hours. There are four Power Surge Bounties in total, all of which are fairly easy to complete by playing weekly milestone activities. One is linked to Gambit, another to Crucible, the third is linked to Strikes, and the last one requires players to complete Public Events and Destination Bounties from world vendor NPCs.
A Power Level of 640 should be more than enough to allow players to compete in Gambit Prime, but it is worth noting that The Reckoning currently suggests a minimum recommended Power Level of 650.
Bungie have decided to shake things up this season, making some potentially controversial changes to Shotguns and Power Weapons. For quite some time now, Guardians have typically stuck with three Exotic Power Weapons in particular: Sleeper Simulant, Thunderlord, and Whisper of the Worm. In an effort to coax players away from these weapons and make many others more viable options, a series of adjustments has been made.
Machine Guns will now deal 21 percent less damage against bosses. Linear Fusion Rifles will see a general damage increase of 10 percent, but reduced aim assist. Grenade Launchers are being buffed, receiving a PvE damage increase of 25 percent as well as a significant increase to reserve ammo.
However, by far the most significant Power Weapon changes are being applied to Rocket Launchers. Rocket Launchers will see a base damage increase of 60 to 65 percent. To balance this rather hefty buff, Cluster Bomb damage has been reduced by 80 percent. It was Bungie’s intent to make all Rocket Launchers more attractive to players for Raid and Strike content, not only those that can roll the Cluster Bomb perk. The studio states that Cluster Bombs were too good but also too inconsistent, making them highly situational. It appears this could also be Bungie’s solution to the infamous “Cluster Bomb Cheese.” The bug that allowed players completing the Last Wish Raid to kill Riven of a Thousand Voices far quicker than intended.
It also appears that the golden age of rapid-fire frame Shotguns has come to an end. The season six update has totally overhauled all Shotguns, effectively dethroning such beloved weapons as Threat Level and the mighty IKELOS_SG_v1.0.1.
Bungie wanted to rebalance Shotguns to diversify the pool of weapons being selected by players. To this end all Shotguns have had changes made to their rate of fire, or RPM (Rounds Per Minute) – but to compensate for this all Shotguns have also received a damage increase of 100 percent in PvE. Aggressive Frame Shotguns and Precision Frame Shotguns have seen an increase in RPM, being bumped up from 45 to 55RPM and from 55 to 70RPM respectively. Whereas Lightweight Frame Shotguns will now fire at 80RPM instead of the previous 90. Lastly, Rapid-Fire Frame Shotguns have seen a dramatic reduction in RPM from 200 down to 140.
Added to this the Full-Auto perk has been heavily nerfed, only offering a boost of 10RPM now. Whilst these changes will likely upset many fans, it will be refreshing to see what new champions rise now that the old have diminished. Previously the basic rule was: the faster a Shotgun fired, the more damage it put out. But now, with slower rates of fire and buffed damage across the board, players should have more choice on what they can carry into battle.
New Armour and Weapons
As with previous expansions, Joker’s Wild will bring new armour and weapons to the game. In addition to the Gambit Prime armour sets there are new seasonal armour sets available from Eververse, a new Legendary Dark Age themed weapon set, and five new Exotics. There are three new Exotic armour pieces and two Exotic weapons to collect. Titans can obtain the Stronghold Exotic Gauntlets, Hunters the Liar’s Handshake Exotic Grips, and Warlocks the Getaway Artist Exotic Gloves. The two Exotic weapons obtainable are the returning Thorn Exotic Hand Cannon and a brand new kinetic Linear Fusion Rifle called Arbalest.
Thorn’s Exotic perk Mark of the Devourer causes rounds fired from the weapon to do additional damage over time. Enemies killed by Thorn drop Remnants which when collected by the player reload the weapon and increase the potency of Mark of the Devourer. Arbalest on the other hand, has an Exotic perk called Compounding Force, which allows the weapon to fire slug rounds rather than energy blasts – doing massive damage to enemy shields.
Lastly, with the new season comes new pinnacle weapons to grind for. This season’s offerings include weapons tied to the Crucible, Gambit, and the Vanguard. Like all pinnacle weapons these three will come with unique perks, making them even more effective in specific activities. As per usual, the quests to attain these highly specialised weapons can be picked up from Lord Shaxx (for The Recluse Submachine Gun), The Drifter (for the 21% Delirium Machine Gun), and Commander Zavala (for the Oxygen SR3 Sniper Rifle.)
Starting March 15th Xûr will begin offering Guardians bounties from The Nine. These bounties, known as Invitations of The Nine, will not only encourage players to visit Xûr on a weekly basis but will add another layer to the mysterious narrative of Joker’s Wild. The Invitations of The Nine questline will reveal more about The Nine and their motives and will take nine weeks to complete.
And if that wasn’t enough to motivate you to pay uncle Xûr a visit, perhaps this will be: Xûr’s weekly loot pool will now include Year 2 Exotic items. That’s right, at long last players will be able to fill in the annoying gaps in their Forsaken Exotic collection. Sadly, the Isochronal Engram is still only capable of dispensing Year 1 gear at present, but that is expected to change in a future update.
Season of the Drifter Content Road Map
Alongside the release of the Season of the Drifter, Bungie revealed a more detailed content road map for the next 90 days. The road map details a series of new and existing maps due to be released for Gambit Prime, as well as two events that will be available to all Destiny 2 players.
The first of these is Arc Week, which Bungie has yet to talk about. Our best guess at this time is that it could be a spiritual successor to Arms Week from Destiny 1 – and assuming that is true we might also get treated to Void and Solar Weeks sometime in the future. The second event that caught our attention is The Revelry, Destiny 2’s new Spring-time celebration. Again, details on this event are few, however we anticipate Bungie will reveal more information as we draw closer to April.