Seduced By Vengeance

Destiny, part 33

Finally the day we had been waiting impatiently for arrived.  It was smart of them to do the expansion in two separate pre-loads over two weeks, I’m pretty sure they didn’t want another Rise of Iron fiasco (tapirs on the surface of my mind is still the best comment I’ve read on their official Instagram).

I feel like the emotional impact of the moment that Cayde gets killed was significantly lessened by the official trailers from E3 and August, but keeping something like this a secret would have been very difficult in the gaming industry.  However, it didn’t make the moment sting any less. Uldren closes his eyes, the screen goes black, and then you wait for what feels like an eternity upon an eternity for the gun shot. Not only was this a historic moment in the history of Destiny because one of the Vanguard has been killed, but because its the first time the player’s Guardian has spoken since the vanilla campaign of Destiny 1.  I just hope that each voice actor for each race/sex was brought back to reprise their roles and its not been truncated to one man and one woman. While it was a little jarring that my characters had all become mute, it didn’t really bother me as much as it did others. But hearing the words “You don’t have to, Uldren is mine” escape the lips of my Warlock did make the event and the path of bloody revenge I was about to embark upon that much more personal.

Go To Prison…Yes?

Revisiting the Reef and the Prison of Elders at the beginning of the expansion was a definite action packed opening that felt like coming home but ultimately it was a bit confusing as to why this was happening until it was revealed that the riot started because Variks was the one that instigated it!  All because he asked the Vanguard – Zavala – for help in the Reef and was refused (source: https://youtu.be/qt_0PF_MDlU )  This small action was the catalyst for the opening of Forsaken and whose repercussions can still be felt now, weeks later.

I found it a little hollow, for some reason, that they just decided to cut to the chase of killing Cayde so early in the expansion.  Maybe because his death wasn’t the main focus of the story at hand?  Knowing it was coming made the mission that much worse because you just didn’t know when it was going to happen.  But once Cayde was dead, the tears were shed and the feelings of anger surfaced, it was time to embark on a path of bloody revenge that would lead to much more than I bargained for, much more than I thought was going to be in this expansion.

Entering this new stretch of the Reef, known as The Tangled Shore, in a barren, dusty and lifeless plain under an alien purple sky evoked a gritty wild west feel.  If there was ever a lawless place in all of the Destiny universe, this was it.  Far, far in the distance we can see the graveyard of colony ships that tried to flee Earth so long ago only to be left dead in space, its occupants long ago passing from this world to another.

From this ruin, some semblance of order was brought forth from the chaos when the Awoken appeared and claimed the Reef as their sanctuary, and they began building a place for them and their society.  This is where we now trespass to avenge a fallen friend.

We find ourselves in an unfamiliar part of the Reef, a place under control by a Fallen that goes by The Spider.  The Spider is a fat lump of Fallen (not unlike Jabba the Hut) that sits on a device with many legs attached to the bottom.  He speaks in a gravelly voice like you’d hear from a Godfather movie.  He seems like someone that can help you get what you want but that you shouldn’t trust at the same time.  I find it both unsettling and disgusting that he has nets full of dead Ghosts in his room, and the currency that you use to buy bounties from him are fragments of Ghost shells.

His henchmen – fellow Fallen – are all dressed in ghillie suits adorned with large green spikes on the back. It’s a very striking look that shouldn’t fool anyone as to who they work for, but somehow it does.  This whole expanse of the Reef feels like a conglomeration of random bits and pieces that have been scavenged from everything that washes up its violet and star lit shores.  It feels like a concentrated effort to bring order to the chaotic madness that surrounds you. It feels like one of the best sci-fi set pieces I’ve seen in gaming in a long time.  There’s so much to explore and discover that it’s a bit overwhelming at first, until you get the lay of the land.  It’s also a tad frustrating trying to find a safe place to hide so you can check your inventory.

This is where I like to sit

It’s designed very well and definitely feels like an eerie ship graveyard.

The one particular point of interest that stands out from the nitty gritty of the Tangled Shore, is this:

The Watchtower of The Dreaming City

It’s tantalizing curvature, its foreboding presence definitely pique my curiosity.  But more on this wondrous place later (in a separate series of entries).

Once you’ve established yourself with The Spider, its time to get to work hunting down the Barons of The Scorn:

…or the bad guys for this season.  You know, the fuckers that were in the room where Cayde died.

The Scorn and The Barons

The big bad of this season are The Scorn, and with them are the 8 Barons that you must hunt and kill before reaching Uldren Sov to exact your revenge for Cayde’s death.  The Scorn are – were – Fallen that have been corrupted by a new type of Ether.  I’ve found that the most annoying types among the Scorn are the Wraiths – near unstoppable meat shields that seem to eat bullets –  and the Screeb – Scorn that crawl across the ground and then explode if they can get near you; much more terrifying than the Cursed Thrall.  Then we have the Barons (listed in order of recommended Light Level):

Yaviks, the Rider (Light 390)

The first and somewhat easiest of the Barons is Yaviks, the Rider.  I felt the opening of the mission where you have to let Ghost calibrate her Pike to your bio metrics was somewhat annoying as I don’t like having control of my character taken away like that.  Finding her hiding place – as is the case with all the Barons – felt too easy.  Once you reach where she hides, the battle consists of riding a Pike across fields covered with liquid (that looks suspiciously like Emulsion from Gears of War) and firing the Pike’s shitty on board guns until she dies in a fiery crash.  At least if you’re attempting to fight her solo, the number of spare Pikes is plentiful as you’ll burn through them quickly since you have to get so close to her in order for your hits to land plus all the annoying adds and awkwardly placed exploding barrels that I may or may not have lost a Pike to.

Araskes, the Trickster (Light 400)

The next target is Araskes, the Trickster.  Araskes’ gimmick is to make explosives and then disguise them as other objects: engrams, ammo pickups, etc.  But since all his “bombs” glow you’ll have an easy time of not getting yourself blown up.  I’d say the hardest thing about actually getting to the fight with Araskes is trying to accomplish the triumph in the book of killing multiple enemies with one of his explosive engrams.  The fight is your standard shoot him, kill adds, keep firing assholes until he dies affair, but the room is rather picturesque with all that Glimmer all over the floor:

Kaniks, the Mad Bomber (Light 410)

The first time I did this fight with my level appropriate Warlock (I’m writing this while playing my Titan who is over leveled for everything) it was almost enough to make me rage quit the entire expansion (and my co-op partner wasn’t helping matters either).  The mission starts with you traveling to 4 Horn Gulch to find Kaniks’ “gift” all while you are forced to listen to him excitedly talk to you as though he were some sort of cro magnon buffoon.  Once you reach the gulch, you find that his “gift” is (surprise, surprise) a bomb that you must diffuse.  Then you must reach the plains where our story began to diffuse more bombs, Prison of Elders style while enduring more of Kaniks’ annoying taunts.  Once that’s done, it’s off to a mysterious unmarked cave where the hunt for Kaniks comes to an explosive conclusion.  During the fight with our simple adversary, you have to defend yourself while disarming 3 more bombs.  I found this fight to be highly irritating the first time through, and the second time through even though I was over leveled for it, it was still very annoying.  And the nerve of him to call ME a murderer at the end of the fight?  That’s rich.  I think this Baron was the most annoying of them all to kill.

Reksis Vahn, the Hangman (Light 420)

This adventure is the point at which the barbarism of The Scorn truly comes to light, as you have to find and rescue some of Spider’s servitors from Reksis and his henchmen.  Once that’s done you travel down into the seedy underbelly of the slums of the Tangled Shore (not that the rest of the Shore doesn’t look like a slum, but anyway)

I enjoyed killing Reksis as he was the one that struck the first blow against Cayde after his Ghost had been destroyed.  The fight was rather challenging as you don’t have a lot of room to maneuver around in and Reksis is a quite large and imposing figure.  It did make it somewhat easier to digest the fight when he would teleport out of the room leaving you to deal with his henchmen.  For all the times they annoyed the shit out of me throughout all of Destiny/Destiny 2, I did feel a little sorry for the Servitors that didn’t make it out of their cages.  This area is the embodiment of hopelessness.

Hiraks, the Mindbender (Light 430)

This guy is seriously fucked up in the head.  After scanning a few of the Scorn devices, you track him down inside the ruins of a crashed Hive ship.  You crash the “party” he’s having only to have him run away into the Ascendant Realm through a portal in the ship.  It is here in his farce of a throne world that you face and kill him.  The lightning illuminating the bizarre “trees” around the place where you fight him is a nice touch and adds to the mystique and horror of the Ascendant Realm quite nicely.  Oh, and don’t forget to unlock the secret chest after you kill him.

Pirrha, the Rifleman (Light 440)

This cunt.  This was the cunt that killed Cayde’s Ghost and severed his connection to the Light, to The Traveler.  Hunting him down and killing him was definitely a sweet taste of revenge, especially after listening to all his taunts all the way to the massive cave where you have to fight him and his decoys.

All in all, I feel like these 6 jackoffs were like a sort of fucked up boss rush mode that got shoe horned into the game.  It’s not that they weren’t fun to hunt down and kill, but I did feel like they could have been more somehow.

What was designed to take probably several days/weeks, we managed to “complete” in 2 days.  I use the word complete loosely here as I feel the main story bit of Forsaken is done and all that’s left is the post game grind.  I feel (and know) that we kinda rushed the story of Cayde being killed by Uldren but that doesn’t make the Kill Bill-esque story any less good by any stretch.  I feel, right now, in spite of rushing the story along with my Warlock, that this is Destiny 2 in its Taken King phase.  There’s a LOT of content to do, so much so that every login and every reset is a bit overwhelming.

Elykris, the Machinist

The preceding cut scene with Uldren shows an up close of the Fallen Dregs I never asked for but I find interesting at the same time.  This one is probably my favorite mission simply because of getting to drive the tank through most of the stage.  They should have made it a bit clearer that you can reacquire a tank from the repair pads, should the need arise.  Side note: if you’re doing this solo, Ghost actually controls the tank while you’re trying to find the parts to fix it.  After driving the tank and subsequently ditching it after a short, glorious run at blowing everything up (I do so love sticking it to the bad guys in this manner with explosives and a tank) there’s a thankfully short Saving Private Ryan moment where you have to run through bombs to Elykris’ room.  Which gives me PTSD flashbacks of the entrance to Wrath of the Machine:

Elykris’ room
entrance to Wrath of the Machine

I can’t be the only one that sees it, right?  Once this bitch it dead, there’s only 2 more names on the list:  Fikrul and Uldren.  Ghost’s declaration of “It’s almost over” sounds like both a relief and a bit of disbelief.

Fikrul, the Fanatic

Uldren’s right hand “man” in this whole scheme.  It was time for him to die, and it was also time to know the truth about what’s been going on:  Uldren is being controlled.  More on that later.  The firefight leading to the base of the Watchtower is epic!  Finally reaching that which has beckoned to me is joyous.  The fight with Fikrul is your standard wail on the boss/add control affair with the added twist that Fikrul will constantly shoot lighting from his staff and also create very large damage areas on the floor.  Seeing this scary giant fall to his knees to the floor was satisfying.

During the opening of the fight, he names off each Baron that we’ve already killed and wants to know whether killing his friends made us feel good.  In one sense, yes, killing them did make me feel good because as The Drifter says “A little revenge feels good doesn’t it?”  Cayde was our friend, and he was only doing what he thought was the right thing.  I’m only doing what I think is the right thing.

Uldren

The moment had finally arrived.  One, finally reaching The Dreaming City to try to stop Uldren’s plan and two, to kill Uldren and avenge Cayde.  Walking down the hallowed halls of the Awoken sanctuary is a treat for the eyes.  The level of detail and care that has gone into the creation of this place is absolutely breathtaking.  The sense of scale here is fascinating and a tad mind boggling as The Dreaming City exists in both the physical plane and the Ascendant plane at the same time.

But the Ascendant bits are rather terrifying.

An unfathomable infinite inky dark void fills my field of vision outside the windows of this building.  The idea that glass of any kind would shield me from what ever horrors lay in the deep beyond is a joke to me.  When Toland spoke of flying through a sky filled with green black suns, was this the place that he spoke of?  Was this the horror that he beheld?  I must press onward, for Cayde.  For justice.

In the distance I can hear whatever the creature is masquerading as The Queen talking to Uldren.  My revenge is close at hand.  Passing through this fragment of the dark nightmare, I find myself back in the real world, in a room that was sealed.  Is this how the Awoken live from day to day?

In a panic, I run to the nearest window.  I need assurance that I am indeed back in the real world and that it is still there.  The Awoken’s use of crystal in their architecture is both beautiful and mesmerizing at the same time.

The Taken corruption of this beautiful place is more and more apparent.

Another trip through the nightmare and I can hear more of the conversation between Uldren and the impostor.  The alarming tone in Uldren’s voice gives me both pity and satisfaction.  A sick sense of pleasure washes over me as I press onward.  If Destiny ever had a version of The Upsidedown, the Ascendant Realm would be it.

I’m back indoors again after passing through a rift made by the Taken monsters that I had vanquished.  The window I passed through looks as though the glass were either liquid or pulsating with the energy of this place.

I journey forward to whatever awaits.  The blights of Taken matter protrude from the Ascendant and through the physical walls like some sort of mute cancer in this place.  This is what sadness looks like, or perhaps if depression were given a physical form.

And finally…after all this…the ruse is revealed.  The creature that had been masquerading as Mara Sov is actually the last Ahamkara, Riven:

Seeing it all finally play out as the truth was revealed was incredible.  Seeing Uldren get swallowed by Riven and listening to his screams for mercy was almost orgasmic.  I just wonder:  if we had done nothing and let the creature consume him, how long would he have been in there being digested?  A brief time and then expelled as so much waste or would his suffering have been a very long and arduous, painful journey to oblivion like the victims of the Sarlacc?

The Voice of Riven’s appearance reminds me very much of a Beholder from Dungeons & Dragons without its eye stalks.  The battle with this monster was very unique in that not only do you switch between the physical and the Ascendant planes, but that each switch changes the scenery of the room forcing you to be on your toes in terms of strategy.  Once the creature was defeated, Uldren is unceremoniously spat out on the floor and the final confrontation between him, my Guardian and Petra takes place.

It feels right somehow, using the gun to kill the killer of your friend.  But Uldren’s question – Do you know which side you’re on? – has been asked since the first game, and an ever increasing amount of evidence points to the Guardians being the bad guys of the Destiny universe.  (Here is one of many sources found online:  https://www.polygon.com/2018/10/1/17923004/destiny-2-forsaken-story-lore-traveler )  But ARE we on the wrong side?  IS The Traveler evil?  Is The Traveler really a god of some sort (biological, machine, etc)?  This expansion is evidence that The Traveler’s power can be used for evil whether that is its intended purpose or not, so it brings up the question again:  are the Guardians the good guys?  I personally don’t know the answer.  What I do know is that if it turns out to be that we are indeed the bad guys, and have been all along, this reveal will be one of the biggest surprises in all of video game history (at least it will be for me).  It would also be one of the biggest betrayals I’ve ever experienced, a pain beyond all other pains.  I’m imagining a huge debate down the road about whether we should give up our powers to end this vicious cycle of violence and how I’ll stand with the ones that choose to give it up to stop the madness.  But that’s a debate for another time and post.

I’d like to think that my Guardian – particularly my Awoken Warlock – is on the side of good.  I’d like to think of him as a just being who’s on the side of good (or The Light if you prefer).  Uldren is my cousin, but he must pay for what he has done.  I close my eyes and pull the trigger.  A wave of satisfaction, sadness, anger, nausea, happiness, joy, misery, rage and pity washes over me.

Did I do the right thing?

Did I?

I’ve taken countless lives before this one, without thought, without hesitation.  So why does this one affect me?  Because he was my cousin?  Because he was the brother of my queen?

I want to hold you close, skin pressed against me tight,
Lie still, close your eyes cousin, so lovely, it feels so right,

I want to hold you close, soft breasts, beating heart,
As I whisper in your ear, I want to fucking tear you apart

I know there will be retribution for this action.

What You Think Is The End…

I liked that once Uldren had been killed, every character from the base Destiny 2 campaign had something to say about it.  Failsafe and Devrim and Amanda offer their condolences, Asher warns of the blinding effects of seeking revenge, Sloane offers her congratulations in a sense, even The Drifter gives his own two cents on what happens and even gives a little warning about revenge and the feeling it brings.  But the standouts in all this are Zavala and Ikora.

Zavala’s response both did and did not surprise me.  I expected him to be a hard ass about Cayde’s death; the typical macho bullshit, men don’t cry type of response.  But I was surprised a bit that once Cayde had been avenged he wasn’t really happy about what we had done.  Wasn’t Cayde your friend Zavala?  I feel like, since Warmind, Zavala’s character is undergoing a kind of metamorphosis and while its a little frustrating/irritating I’m interested to see where it goes.

Ikora’s speech was the one that touched me the most.  I’ve witnessed it 3 times (once for each character) and it doesn’t get any easier.  If anything, it just makes the wound even deeper.  Here is a woman, a powerful and strong woman, who for a brief instant in the story lets her guard down and pulls back the curtain to show you the shamble that her life is in.  It really makes me feel bad for her on so many levels.  But she is right about one thing…if we don’t fight for our friends, what are we fighting for?  Why are we even doing any of this shit?  Some part of me wants to believe that if I was granted such powers by The Traveler that I would be a good and noble and just person, doing the right thing and fighting for my loved ones and what I believe is right.  In all actuality I’d be hard pressed to really give a shit about strangers since I’d be all powerful and could do more or less anything that I wanted with little consequence.  I also feel like Ikora – and to some degree the Forsaken Barons when they reference my killing sprees and inability to die – break the 4th wall a little bit by commenting on the fact that she’s only ever been a supporting character in my story.  I can tell that by the end when she meekly mutters “thank you” that she’s not really happy and is tired of the misery that’s befallen her.  I can only hope that things get better for her in the future.

Forsaken Transitions and Additions

Have you ever eaten candy until it made you sick?  Or discovered a new favorite food that you’ve eaten and eaten and eaten until the sight or smell of it made you nauseated?  That’s what Forsaken feels like for me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little overwhelming sometimes.

Bounties

With the launch of Forsaken, EVERYONE in the game now has bounties.  It’s more or less a way to help players gather glimmer and planetary resources now that they’re necessary for infusing weapons and armor, instead of making them hunt each planet for what they need.  Public Events and Lost Sectors also yield these resources, so its rather easy to get what you need.  Each character’s selection of bounties also changes at daily reset.

But logging in every day to do this?!  Nah, I’m good.

Gonna have to use my method from Destiny 1 where I log in and pick and choose what I want to accomplish and be satisfied with that (especially with running three characters).  I guess I’m more or less back to where I was at the end of Destiny 1:  login, choose what I want to accomplish with each character, be satisfied with that, logout.

Of particular note in the bounty system is Hawthorne.

Hawthorne carries both daily and weekly bounties like the rest of Destiny 2’s cast, only hers are for gaining personal XP for the clan.  The thing that really bothers me about this is the fact that some of her bounties require you to go to the Crucible and hate yourself until the requirements are met.  I find it dreadful that I’m being coerced into playing Crucible especially now that shotguns are back in the secondary slot.  I also feel, now that I’m having to pick and choose what to do since there’s so much of it, that I’m not as useful to the clan.

Though the progress bar would beg to differ.

The other item of note in the bounties system is Spider and his weekly selection of Wanted targets.  This feels like a throwback to the Destiny Year One expansion House of Wolves and how you had a weekly selection of named Fallen targets to hunt and kill.  Unlike House of Wolves where you had to scramble to find the rewards chest after killing the target, this time around you get your reward after completing the bounty.  Most of his marks are hidden in the Lost Sectors throughout the system, but the last 4 on the bottom row require a bit more effort and patience.  3 with the red Spider glyph can be found out in the wild (like the old House of Wolves targets) and the last is a mini adventure where you square off against a powerful enemy in whatever Lost Sector the game puts you in.

If for no other reason, these bounties are a good excuse for players to learn the names of Lost Sectors and where they are located.

Weapon System Implementation and Confusion

After a year of the rigid kinetic/energy/heavy system layout, we now have the weapon types in the slots they were in back in Destiny 1, which leaves some of our old strategies null and void (no more Heavyweight + Void Singe + Telesto during Nightfalls 😦 )  Having weapons in the Primary/Kinetic slot that use Special Ammo is a little confusing, and also feels a bit useless to me since I seem to rarely use anything that uses Special Ammo.  This system is definitely NOT what I thought it was going to be, but I’m getting used to it.

Infusing is also different now.  In Destiny 2 (pre Forsaken) you could only infuse the same weapon type to the same weapon type (SMG to SMG, hand cannon to hand cannon, etc).  Now in Forsaken, the infusions work like Destiny 1, where you can infuse weapons in the same slot (Primary to Primary, Secondary to Secondary, Heavy to Heavy).  I’m glad this system is back as I feel doing it the other way was rather stupid and very limiting.  After about a month of Forsaken, I’m glad to say that I’ve mostly forgotten the old way of infusing.

Also in this expansion was the inclusion of bows.  At first I thought it was going to be a quirky niche weapon that I wouldn’t like very much, but it turned out to be a welcome change and something that breathes new life into a 5 year old fighting system.

Wake Me Up Inside

Another reason this expansion feels like Destiny 2 in its Taken King phase to me is the fact that we got NINE new supers for our classes!  Every time you killed a powerful enemy it would drop small feathers of light and once you collected enough of them, it was time to go to Io.  There, you were met with a surprise conversation with The Traveler  (who sounds a lot like The Speaker with a very weird distortion effect added to his voice).  Seeing the power flow out from the cradle where The Traveler sat was awe inspiring and the task to defend the trees from the Taken so that they could bloom again was neat.

I’m happy with all the new Warlock supers so far.  The healing well and the beam of death are fun and the incredible crowd control offered by the new void super is amazing.  Its something I would have liked to see back in Destiny 1.  At the time of this writing, I’ve only unlocked the solar and void supers for the Hunter and Titan both.  Both of their solar supers seem geared for crowd control or an intense amount of damage to one target (like the Warlock’s new beam of death).  However, the new Hunter void super seems geared for some major DPS while the new Titan void super is more for protection and giving party members a damage boost.  I’m enjoying them all and look forward to getting both arc supers once the Dreaming City corruption reaches its maximum again.

Triumphs and Collections

The Triumphs tab and the Collections tab are one of the BEST things to happen to Destiny 2 since launch.  Now that the Collections tab is active, I have been able to free up a lot of vault space by deleting almost all of my gear from the first year of Destiny 2.  I think the only things I saved were a few Legendary pieces I’m fond of and a few Ghost shells.  It makes me very, VERY happy that I can now acquire a particular shader from the Collections when I want it instead of hoping that I get the one I’m after from a random drop (though I’m still not a big fan of the shader system as it is).  The only thing I’m confused by with the Collections tab is the numbering system.  Specifically the total fraction at the top.  At the time of this writing, my Collections fraction stands at 1531/1850.  My total amount (1850) is the highest in the whole group and none of us really seems to know why that is.  I also think it’s bullshit that Transmat effects for ships and projections for Ghosts are absent from this collection while other cosmetic items such as ornaments and shaders are.  At least getting Bright Dust is now much easier thanks to the new Eververse bounties.  The one thing that I hate about the Collections is the inability to reacquire anything from the Forsaken expansion all because it has random rolls.  I love that random rolls are back because it’s nice to have to put a little thought into what you want to keep or dismantle and you’re not getting the exact same gun or armor every single time, but I feel that keeping you from getting such items from Collections is a cop out.  I can reacquire Ghost shells from collections that have different perks on them, so why can’t I do it with guns and armor?  And speaking of Ghosts, the new projections are neat and all, but why was this added to the game?

As for the Triumphs tab, this was created for Destiny players like me.  There’s a category here for every type of Destiny player:  PvE, PvP and in between.  There’s lots of goals to grind toward if you just want to mindlessly grind toward your next goal as I am want to do from time to time.  The thing that interests me the most here are the Seals at the bottom of the page.  Each one requires A LOT of work and it’s supposed to add a title to your character similar to what you’d see in other MMO type games (like World of Warcraft).  At the time of this writing, I’m the closest to finishing the Destinations seal.  I have a feeling that the Seals and associated Triumphs for raiding and Crucible/Gambit will be among the last ones I ever finish, if I bother finishing them at all.

I’ll post more updates in the future about the Collections/Triumphs tabs when season pass content drops.

Stay tuned for my series of posts about The Dreaming City and all the wonders that it has to offer!