For many players, Destiny "Year 1" has been more of a paid beta than the fully-formed beginning to a ten-year journey with Bungie. The developer started out with a number of intriguing ideas (to differentiate Destiny from its MMO and FPS inspirations) but many of the studio's most ambitious concepts led to tedious gameplay experiences - as players found cheeses and exploits to circumvent the game's less successful design choices. As a result, Bungie has gone back to the drawing board for a number of Destiny fundamentals, making sweeping changes to storytelling, incentivizing and rewards, as well as how players level their characters.
During a recent "Year 2" Twitch stream alone, detailing the "Shield Brothers" strike, Bungie debuted a retooled Ghost voice (replacing Peter Dinklage with Nolan North), detailed new subclass perks, and explained that in The Taken King, strike bosses will drop exclusive armor and guns. One day later, the developer went deeper into how strikes and other end-game content has been improved for Year 2 - revealing that players will need to face the Taken King's big bad, Oryx, before unlocking high-level end-game content.
In the latest Bungie weekly update, the studio detailed changes that would be coming to Nightfall and Heroic Strikes, as well as other end-game content, with The Taken King, specifically:
Our desired Nightfall experience is the weekly ritual where you get together with your friends for a test of thumbskill and allow players to optimize for gear.
- Now Requires Level 40
- Wiping no longer returns Fireteams to Orbit
- Now uses 30 second time-out penalty for Death (same as Raid Normal)
- Removed weekly Nightfall buff (adjusted sources of XP and Reputation up to account for its absence.
We've removed a dedicated Weekly Heroic Strike from the game this Fall. In its place we've added a new playlist: the Vanguard Heroic Playlist.
- Requires Level 40
- Removed the Weekly Heroic Strikes
- Instead, accounts receive Legendary Marks for completing the first three Weekly Strikes
- Removed the Weekly Cap on how many Legendary Marks can be earned
- Guarantee a Legendary Engram drop from a character's first clear of a Weekly Heroic Strike
The True Meaning of War
Each week, Lord Shaxx has a Bounty called "The True Meaning of War." Completing this Bounty each week (which requires completing the PVP weeklies) grants players Nightfall tier rewards.
Small changes will also be coming to daily PVE and PVP rituals:
Daily Heroic/Daily PVP
Increased rewards and made them an account completion. We want players to choose which characters they want to play on and earn Legendary Marks on.
However, the changes also come with a key detail that many overlooked - before players are granted access to any daily or weekly end-game missions and challenges, they must "confront the immediate threat first? Oryx lies between you and these challenges. You'll need to survive his wrath to partake in the new endgame."
The statement led many to assume that end-game content would only be unlocked after players had defeated Oryx in The Taken King raid; however, the wording (and common sense) indicate that players will only need to confront and survive Oryx - not outright kill him - in order to access Nightfalls and the Vanguard Heroic Playlist.
As a result, it is much more likely that players will need to complete all of The Taken King's story missions and Oryx-specific quests - similar to The Dark Below's missions, strikes, and Eris story-bounties, before they can open-up high-reward daily and weekly activities. After all, you confront Skolas and survive in The House of Wolves' story - only to actually kill him in Prison of Elders.
While Bungie has yet to officially clarify the statement, the studio has made a point of knocking down barriers to play and quality of game life in The Taken King, so it would be incredibly strange for them to hide end-game content behind a full raid completion - especially since only twenty-percent of Guardians have even completed a Destiny raid. Without question, there is a significant portion of the community that plays weekly activities but has yet to finish a raid - meaning that forcing gamers to finish the Oryx raid (which could be the toughest one yet) would alienate certain fans who were already active prior to The Taken King launch.
Instead, it's much more likely that, in their quest to get players more invested in the Destiny mythos, Bungie is encouraging gamers to experience their improved story and cinematic presentation - so they are invested in The Taken King events prior to grinding for high-end gear and rewards. That's all to say, casual gamers can rest assured, their current routine will not be locked away behind a time-consuming six-person activity.
Still, for those players who have yet to finish a raid or are reluctant to jump into the Oryx raid when Taken King launches, there are a number of resources available (most notably Destiny LFG sites and Destiny "Sherpa" subreddit) - where frequent raiders are willing to help less-experienced players with high-level content. It might sound daunting at first but raids are some of the most impressive and rewarding aspects of Destiny - and gamers who have yet to kill Atheon, Crota, or Skolas (and soon Oryx) are missing out on one of the game's biggest challenges.
Destiny: The Taken King launches on September 15th, 2015.