Warmind

Destiny, part 30

So the latest Destiny 2 expansion, Warmind, was released three weeks ago today.  I’m still not thrilled about the unimaginative name, but I was and am more pleased with this expansion than Curse of Osiris.  I do feel that the main story was somewhat rushed because I feel that they could have padded things out and made it a little longer, but overall I enjoyed the tale.

Story

I did have a few problems with the story though.  The first was, how did a Hive Worm God get to Mars without us knowing about it?  How long has it been there?  Did it come during the collapse?  Did it come after and get buried, or did it come and has been hiding and drawing power until this moment?  Second is its companion, Nokris.  We only have mention of Nokris once back on the Dreadnaught in the form of a statue outside Oryx’s throne room.  We believed that he – or it – was dead, but it turns out that all record of Nokris was expunged from Hive archives because he/she/it/whatever dabbles in Necromancy.  Ummm, ok…that’s stretching things a bit far for me because don’t the rest of the Hive also dabble in Necromancy in one way or another?

My second problem with the story, and this is a SPOILER if you haven’t finished the main quest of the Warmind DLC yet, is how the hell did Zavala get to Rasputin’s room before Ana and myself?  How did he know where it was?  Ana said that she’d been searching for it for a while now but Zavala seemed to know where it was and got there before we did.  (And once we got there, he proceeded to scold us as though he were an angry parent.  Hmph!)  That one I find a bit hard to swallow as well, but, I’ll go with it for the sake of moving the story along.

Speaking of Rasputin, the reveal with him at the end when he states what it is he wants and what he’s going to do was rather mind blowing.  His “voice” is both fascinating and frightening and immediately commands your attention.  I’m both optimistic like Ana but a little fearful like Zavala.  I’m wondering how much help Rasputin will be able to provide when the next threat comes along, or even if he’ll help us at all.  I’m fantasizing that when those weird ships from the end of vanilla Destiny 2 arrive that he’ll launch an all out assault against them, for what that’s worth.

Rasputin himself.

I did find it to be a bit of intelligent design that they built a super computer on the polar ice cap of a planet.  What better place to build a computer than somewhere that’s extraordinarily cold?

Collectibles

I was a little disappointed in the fact that there are only two Lost Sectors in this expansion, but, there’s a lot going on in both of them.  I like the new Exotics and the updated/remade ones that made it into this expansion.  It’s nice that there are more Regional Chests this time around too.  Gives me something easy to hunt for and collect.  Speaking of collecting, there are also these things:

This is the very first one that you’ll come across during the course of the Warmind campaign.  Shooting it yielded nothing so then we began to think that perhaps there was something related to the main story line that we had to accomplish or unlock.  It wasn’t until later that we realized that they were each of a specific element: solar, arc and void!  We also discovered that there were three of them that could only be broken by the Valkyrie.  Once you find all 45 of them, this Exotic Sparrow and Exotic Sword are your rewards:

I was (and am) also pleased with the tantalizing bits of lore that are scattered throughout the expansion:

After reading all of these, I wonder what Divergence was?

Along with the lore objects from my inventory pictured above, there are quite a few scattered through out the Hellas Basin region of Mars.  The one item that was of the most interest to me was found in one of two Lost Sectors on Mars, and that item was Prince Uldrin’s crashed ship.  The last we saw of the good prince, he was helping to fight off the Hive invasion during The Taken King.  Once Oryx fires the main weapon on the Dreadnaught, that’s kind of the last time we see Uldrin.  I just wonder what’s in store for us regarding him and when we’ll meet him again…?

I was also very pleased with the changes to Eververse.  Every week, you’re given a free random item from a menu of ten items called the Prismatic Matrix and you’re guaranteed NOT to get any duplicate items on the matrix menu if you already have then, essentially making the Prismatic Matrix a sort of collectible checklist.  I like this because it gives players a better chance to get the Exotic ships, emotes and Sparrows unlike before.

I like the new multi Emote system, but the interface for accessing and changing your Emotes runs a bit sluggish and at times is nearly unresponsive.

Environment

I love the environment and the new spaces we get to explore.

Right outside Rasuptin’s room.  The structure is HUGE and a bit intimidating, and definitely gives me flashbacks of the end of Wrath of the Machine.

The outside, the surface of Mars, is interesting in and of itself, but the place that I like the most is Alton Dynamo.  I like the industrial and technological feel of the place, as well as it’s grim emptiness and overwhelming feeling of loneliness and solitude.  I can imagine that, long ago, this place was buzzing with Clovis Bray faculty as they struggled to get Rasputin up and running before The Collapse consumed them all.

It’s nice that they give us a “map” of the place.

I love this server room.  It feels like they took the server room from Wrath of the Machine and sort of refined the design, re-writing the script so to speak, giving the place a nice paint job and making it equally as eerie as its predecessor.

I imagine during the Golden Age that this transit system was bustling with activity.  
Admiring the front facade of Braytech Futurescape.  I like how the glass in the front is reminiscent of the Titan helmets.
Same place, just after the sun has set.
Rasputin’s housing
Happened to catch a Warsat fall from the sky and crash and just the right moment.

The Grind

Now lets talk about the “endgame” for this expansion.  First off, there are these things all over Mars:

Sleeper Nodes.  In my opinion, they are this expansion’s Prophecy Tablets.  The only difference is there were a small number of Prophecy Tablets where as there are 40 Sleeper Nodes.  In Osiris you needed Paradox Amplifiers and Radiolarian Cultures in order to complete each tablet and you only had 3 tablets to choose from each week.  You could only get these components by doing Heroic Strikes and a handful of other in game activities.  Once the tablets were done, that was pretty much it.  You only got one copy of each weapon from each tablet (at least I did) and the end game grind was over with after a few weeks.  This time around you have to grind for Resonate Stems and you get them by doing public events, patrols, lost sectors, adventures and killing random high value targets that happen to wander by.  Once you have four Stems, you can craft an Override Frequency key.

Four of these…
…to make one of these.  And you can only have one at a time.

Once you have the key, it will give you a three word hint as to where its corresponding Sleeper Node is located.  Once you get close, the node will open and start playing music and if you can’t really see where it is, a somewhat annoying orange/yellow oval will start to fill your field of view if you happen to be looking in the direction of the node.  Once you find the node and claim your (usually disappointing) loot, you start the process over again by crafting a new Override Frequency key and starting the search again.  There’s a few problems I have with this system.  The first is that the only thing you’re doing all of this irritating leg work for is an Emblem.  That’s it…and Emblem.  Why?  The second problem I have with this is that the nodes once found and opened, don’t disappear.  They remain in the field of play and can actually be opened again and again and again.  If you’re a completionist (like someone I know) this can be a huge problem.  I feel like this definitely needs to be addressed.  The third is that when you create an Override Frequency it has a tendency to unlock a Sleeper Node on the other side of the map.  Seriously?

The second part of the endgame for this expansion is Escalation Protocol.  Escalation Protocol is a new type of public event that players can either initiate (assuming you’ve completed the Warmind campaign) or participate in if someone else has started.  It takes the entire server to cooperate in order to succeed.

You can start the fight at any of these access points scattered across Mars.

What you have to do is fight off waves of Hive in each Level of Escalation.  There are four waves for each level and a total of eight levels to complete.  At first it was a little bit of a struggle for players (including myself) to get anywhere in the first level.  But now, three weeks later (and assuming there are enough cooperative players around), it’s becoming much easier to reach levels two, three and occasionally four.  From what I can tell, it’s the same routine for each level:  wave one is to kill the Hive, wave two is to diffuse the Shadow Rift and then destroy the three crystals that surround it, wave three is to kill more Hive and then on the fourth wave is the boss encounter for that level.

Pictured on the left are the four waves of Escalation Protocol.  In the distance you can see the Shadow Rift and the crystals that surround it.

Sounds easy enough, and as long as you’re of a high enough Light Level it is, it’s just that the entire time you’re fighting you’re under a time limit.  And as you progress through levels the enemies becoming progressively harder.  At the time of this writing, the farthest that I’ve managed to get was wave four of level four.  That was both exciting and extremely difficult as the fourth level and wave was seemingly nothing but bosses.  It was also disappointing as you get rewards for finishing levels four and eight respectively.  I have a bad feeling that finishing Escalation Protocol in its entirety might be one of the Moments of Triumph for this year.  If it is, I hope that we can come together to complete it.

And old favorite Public Event from the original Destiny made its return in this expansion: Defending The Warsat

Only this time around, as is the case with all Destiny 2 public events, there’s a twist.  The Warsat is surrounded by three Hive Shriekers and each one must be destroyed in succession in order to make the event Heroic.

And then a couple days after the release of Warmind, there was this.  I’m sure we’ll get to it eventually but I’d like to do the other two parts of Leviathan first.

Sleeper Simulant

During the lead up to the release of Warmind, there were rumors that one of my favorite Exotic weapons from the first Destiny – Sleeper Simulant – was going to make a return in this expansion.  I feel like this would have been a pleasant surprise had I not known about it before hand.  This quest chain back in the first Destiny was a fun surprise when it arrived.  I remember the community being excited to be working together to try to figure out what the hell was going on.  Once the mystery was solved and we all had this new and unusual gun to play with, we went about our merry way blasting holes in everything that got in our way and occasionally killing ourselves when a stray shot would ricochet and come back to haunt us.

This time around, much to my disappointment, there wasn’t much in the way of a mystery or anything in the way of a community effort to try to figure out what was going on.  This time around, you were pretty much just handed the quest chain and sent to go and grind until you got what you were after.

And what a long grind that was too.

I was happy to have Sleeper Simulant back considering what I had to go through to get it in both games, but ultimately I’m a little disappointed since there wasn’t much of a mystery combined with the fact that this new version of the gun only holds two shots in the barrel making it somewhat useless or not as versatile/powerful as its former self.  I’m holding out hope that once the Masterwork Catalyst for this weapon is added to the game that the ammo issue will be upgraded.  I sort of feel like it was only really added back to the game to silence the constant complaints of the community.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I’m mostly pleased with Warmind, I just feel like some parts of it could have been better.  I’m looking forward to seeing whatever it is that Bungie has in store for us at E3.