‘Destiny 2’ gets Warmind and a major update this week. Here’s the deal.

Image: bungie

Warmind is a big moment for Destiny 2.

Bungie’s hit game has been in a rocky place for months. The game made a splash when it launched in Sept. 2017, but it quickly became clear to fans in subsequent weeks that first impressions missed the mark.

The original Destiny was a huge hit in large part because it offered an ever-growing set of “endgame” activities, designed to be tackled once players reached the game’s higher power levels. It lived up to Bungie’s intent, of providing an experience that could function as a hobbyist’s pursuit.

To its credit, Destiny 2 didn’t stray far from that thinking. But changes made to the way in-game loot was delivered (as well as the loot itself) moved the game away from the habit-forming chase that defined its predecessor. On top of that, many well-established activities from the first game disappeared in the sequel.

Over time, it became clear that for all of its mechanical improvements and impressive visual fidelity, Destiny 2 was a giant step back. Then, the game’s first expansion pack, December’s Curse of Osiris, did little to restore faith.

Now we have Warmind, the second major expansion of Destiny 2. Along with that is update 1.2.0, a free release that continues Bungie’s ongoing efforts to fix and expand upon various facets of the base game. 

Both of these additions launch on May 8, and together, they aim to keep players invested until Bungie’s much more significant (and as-yet-unrevealed) Sept. 2018 expansion arrives. Here’s a rundown of what’s new and what’s changed with the combined launch of Warmind and 1.2.0.

Warmind (The thing you pay for)

Warmind is a full-blown Destiny 2 add-on. There’s a new location to explore, a new set of story missions to run through, a remixed enemy faction, and an assortment of additional activities.

THE STORY 

Warmind introduces Ana Bray, a long-thought-lost Guardian whose hunt for information on her past leads her to the polar ice caps of Mars. Something about Ana’s arrival prompts a partial thaw of the surrounding glaciers, revealing the core of a Warmind named Rasputin — a key figure in Destiny lore — as well as an ice-crusted army of Hive.

You head to Hellas Basin on Mars to investigate the mystery of this newly uncovered Hive army, the worm god Xol that they worship, and the way all of it connects to the newly awakened Warmind. There’s a free webcomic from Bungie that sets up the story; you can check it out here.

THE EXPLORATION SPACE

The Hellas Basin includes a large, open outdoor space — the public Patrol zone — and a number of interiors that you’ll visit as you dig in with the new story and everything it leads to. 

It’s the home of a new endgame event, Escalation Protocol (more on that below). It’s also where you’ll find Warmind‘s new breed of Hive enemies, and their worm god, Xol (which appears to be the big boss of this whole endeavor).

ESCALATION PROTOCOL

Warmind‘s big, completely new loot grind is a survival activity in which participants can play through up to seven waves of increasingly challenging Hive forces and bosses. At the end of the seven waves, players face a unique boss that rotates every week.

What’s neat about the activity is it all plays out in the public portion of Hellas Basin. Destiny 2 only allows for teams of up to three in those public patrol spaces, so all but the highest-tier players will likely have to work with strangers to make it through all seven waves.

The rewards include a new set of armor, a handful of new weapons, and an assortment of purely cosmetic items.

OTHER STUFF

Image: bungie

In addition to the new mini-campaign and exploration space (and everything those lead to), Warmind also delivers the expected lineup of “new Destiny expansion” additions. There are two new cooperative Strike missions (three if you’re on PlayStation 4); two new maps for the Crucible, Destiny‘s PvP mode; a new “World Quest” leading to an exotic-tier weapon; and the new raid lair, Spire of Stars.

Raid lairs were introduced in Curse of Osiris. They’re similar to the main raids in the sense of them being 6-player cooperative activities built around solving puzzles and defeating puzzle-centric bosses. But where raids tend to be longer, spanning multiple encounters and (usually) several different bosses, raid lairs are shorter, building up toward one major boss encounter.

Spire of Stars is shrouded in mystery at this point. We know it’s launching on Friday, May 11, and we know it uses the same Leviathan mega-ship setting as the Osiris raid lair and Destiny 2‘s main raid.

Update 1.2.0 (The thing that’s free)

Whether or not you buy Warmind, May 8 also brings Destiny 2‘s much-anticipated 1.2.0 update, which kicks off the game’s “Season 3.” This is a free addition that makes a vast number of changes. It’s essentially a patch, but that word undersells the extent of what will be tweaked.

Bungie released a big, continually updating document that runs through the particulars of it all. You should definitely check that out if you want to nerd out on the hard data (though you won’t find much until the full patch notes are released). Think of what you’re reading here as more of a broad, beginner-friendly rundown.

WEAPON CHANGES

The most high-profile slate of planned weapon changes in 1.2.0 affect a large portion of Destiny 2‘s exotic weapons, the most sought-after tier of loot in the game. Exotics all come with unique, often play-changing abilities. You can only equip one at a time, but using it is meant to make you feel powerful.

That hasn’t been the case with a number of Destiny 2 exotics, and 1.2.0 aims to address that. The specific changes will vary from weapon to weapon, but the overall aim is to make each one better live up to its exotic classification.

All the exotic weapons pictured here are due for 1.2.0 tweaks.

All the exotic weapons pictured here are due for 1.2.0 tweaks.

Image: bungie

Take the Graviton Lance, a burst-firing pulse rifle. When the third shot of its three-round burst connects, you do extra damage. If you manage to score a kill, the downed enemy flies backward a short distance and explodes, damaging any other nearby foes. 

It’s neat, but missing that third shot kills the weapon’s usefulness. What’s more, the explosion often isn’t super effective when the corpse is flung away from any other foes huddled around it. 

After 1.2.0, the Graviton Lance’s burst will be reduced to two bullets — making it easier to ensure the higher damage shot connects. What’s more, downed enemies will now float up as well as back, and they’ll create a larger, more damaging explosion that also spits out homing projectiles.

Here it is in action.

Looks badass, right?

On top of the exotic changes, Bungie also gave every class of weapon a fresh look for 1.2.0. The update will bring a number of broad changes to just about every weapon type in the game, above and beyond the individual exotic changes.

CRUCIBLE RANKINGS AND MORE

Image: bungie

Destiny 2‘s online competitive mode, Crucible, is also getting a significant update. The biggest addition is a new ranking system that gives the game’s elite PvP players an opportunity to compete for both bragging rights and unique gear.

The new ranking system splits up between two buckets of play: Glory, for the serious-minded players, and Valor, for the more casual crowd. Each bucket has its own, discrete level progression, meaning the more you play in one or the other, the more you stand to rise through the rankings.

On the Valor side, each new rank level (out of six total) gets you an engram that unlocks into a piece of Crucible gear. Players that hit rank 6 have the option of resetting their progression; doing it once gets you a unique piece of gear — in Season 3, it’s a helmet — and doing it again gets you a second one (an exotic Ghost).

Glory works similarly, with six ranking tiers to rise through. But in Glory, winning is what really matters. In Valor, you earn rank points whether you win or lose matches. Losing in Glory, however, costs you points. There’s no resetting your rank progress in the Glory ranking tier, but your level can move up and down as you win and lose.

There is one big benefit to playing in the Glory tier, however: If you manage to reach rank 4, you’ll have the option of buying a season-specific unique weapon. Hitting rank 6 gets you an ornament (a cosmetic weapon skin) for the same. Season 3’s Crucible weapon is a nifty-looking pulse rifle called Redrix’s Claymore.

Update 1.2.0 also brings private matches to Destiny 2‘s Crucible. This will allow groups of players to create PvP matchups of their own using whatever rules and maps the game allows for.  It’s a carryover feature from the original Destiny, and a welcome addition.

OTHER STUFF

Image: bungie

On top of the marquee weapon rebalancing and Crucible ranks, 1.2.0 also makes a number of other tweaks to Destiny 2. The most popular is likely to be an increase in Vault space, from 200 to 300, which will allow players to store more of their precious loot.

Bigger than that are changes to the way weekly Heroic Strikes and Nightfall challenges work. The particulars here get pretty in the weeds, so it’s best to read Bungie’s breakdown right here (roughly halfway down the page). Same goes for a change to the way cosmetic items are earned, detailed in a section right after the Strike/Nightfall rundown.

You’ll also now have the ability to equip as many as four different emotes at once. Destiny‘s emotes are cosmetic items that, when equipped and triggered with a button press, make your Guardian dance, wave, or perform any number of other actions. 

It’s purely for fun and doesn’t impact the gameplay so much, but being able to equip four — instead of the previous one — is a long-requested feature, going all the way back to the first game.

Beyond that, expect tweaked volume settings offering a finer degree of control over what they do and don’t hear. There are also some changes to make inventory management easier — quest items, for example, now live in their own inventory bucket instead of taking up precious weapon/armor space — and the usual assortment of bug fixes.

It’s a lot. But this is a big moment for Destiny 2. Don’t expect all the game’s woes to be fixed through the combined might of Warmind and update 1.2.0, but it’s hopefully enough to keep the game vibrant and exciting until Bungie can launch the bigger one-year-later add-on — likely to be revealed at or around E3 — this fall.

You can buy Destiny 2 here. 

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Copyright or Author: Adam Rosenberg
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