So I missed doing a Daily Reaction yesterday, but if anyone would have bothered to check the calendar, they would know that it was new Destiny content launch day, namely the start of the Season of Opulence. I can’t be bothered to tear myself away from my console while frantically level grinding and checking out new content! I even have the week blocked off on a calendar with my wife so she’s aware not to make any big plans for us during this time (though yes dear, I will be helping to hang the shades on the windows before I leave for E3).
There’s a lot of really cool stuff that came with the Season of Opulence, and while I haven’t had a chance to play all of it or really get a sense for the long term content grind, I did spend the last day and a half exploring what’s new. The headliner here (besides the new Raid, which I have plans to play later this week) is The Menagerie, a massive new six-player matchmade activity that I can only describe as a “raid-lite.” Menagerie takes place deep in the undercroft of the Leviathan, in a dirty and forgotten place where the visual aesthetic is quite a bit more dingy than the bright marble and gold opulence of Calus’ ship that we are used to. It’s a great look and I love the art style, which bleeds over into a lot of this season’s weapons and gear too.
Various encounters in Menagerie take tried and true Raid mechanics from throughout Destiny’s years and distill them down into a kind of test that Calus is running for us. Much like the Leviathan Raid itself, Menagerie is a twisted game (though unlike the Leviathan Raid, I feel like Menagerie handles the placement of these themes a lot better). Because it’s a matchmade activity, the mechanics aren’t overly hard—though they remain complex enough to maintain intrigue—and as far as I can tell, there’s no fail state. There are some super tough encounters and we’re hardly leveled to where were playing at peak performance, but Menagerie is the type of encounter that excites me leveling up and getting better equipped to conquer its challenge.
Again, it’s hard to judge it long term, but initial inspection looks pretty good. A randomization of the encounters keeps things fresh, and the new Chalice item gives the player more control over the grind. Acting kind of like a crafting table, players slot runes into the upgradeable Chalice which will then award them with gear at the end of a Menagerie run. Different runes will award different weapons with specific stats and masterwork capabilities, but it will take some time to unlock its full potential. Specifically need a weapon or a certain piece of armor to level up? Well now you can choose, which helps cut down on unnecessary and demoralizing grinds with repeat drops.
Pursuit of Eververse
There are two sore points that stick out of Destiny 2 right now. One is the change to Eververse, where players cannot earn any Season 7 cosmetics in Bright Engrams (Destiny’s version of loot boxes). Bright Engrams, which are awarded to players on level up, are called Best of Year One Engrams this season, which awards a selection of old year one cosmetics. Season 7 stuff needs to be purchased with real world money, or an in-game currency called Bright Dust when the small stock of items rotates throughout the season.
While good in theory, in terms of more straightforward spending habits for people, it just removed a big exciting aspect of each new season. Seeing what you can earn in Bright Engrams was always an exciting part of the season changeover, and now that’s gone. I can either spend $12 to get that sweet Titan vest and outfit, or I can wait and hope it comes up on rotation so that I can buy it with Bright Dust at some undetermined week.
The other sore point is the brand new Pursuits tab, which has been moved to the Director screen and explodes all of those little icons so that a text preview is available. It’s a messy and cluttered look that almost makes bounties even more difficult to track down. Not to mention items like the Synthesizer and Chalice are randomly scattered among the rest of your stuff here. For an item that we need to come back to and repeatedly use, it sure isn’t in a great place. There’s also an issue where hovering over anything in the pursuits tab shows off a more detailed box view automatically, which blocks many of the other bounties on the screen.
These two things are largely small gripes though. Bungie will keep balancing Eververse and it will never make anyone happy. I can get used to the pursuits tab (I mean, it’s basically the same things as it was before the update). We’re also probably going to be seeing some major changes to the game here real soon. It might be that moving Pursuits to the Director under this new tab is simply the first step of a more major design overhaul.
Back to the Menagerie
I don’t want those two small issues to clash with something that Bungie did amazingly right, however, so I’m headed back in to take on the challenges of the darkest depths of the Leviathan. It’s a mode that I can see myself repeating quite a bit, and this is just the beginning. There’s still a lot more to come. Bungie’s laid out a content calendar for the next couple of months, and it looks like they’ll be keeping players quite busy and entertained.
I also have to make mention of the lore for this season, which takes the grandeur of Calus from the base game and puts a generally dark twist on who he is. We might be playing his game, but is he truly a good guy or an ally? Is there a reason he used Ahamkara language and idioms? There’s definitely plenty of mystery and discovery, something that Bungie talked about as a core pillar for this activity specifically. It’ll take a lot more than a couple of days to really analyze everything coming in Destiny 2 Season of Opulence, but if first impressions are anything to go by, I think the honing and finessing of the Annual Pass worked to create a content update schedule that people are excited for.
That’s just my gut opinion, but I’m eager to see what Bungie does with the game as a whole now that Activision is out of the picture and the Annual Pass content is just about over. Menagerie feels like they’ve learned lessons, and that’s a big thing for the players.
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