Last month I visited Bungie for an early hands one with Rise of Iron. This is part two from that trip. You can read part one here since it covers all things PvP. Today the focus shifts to PvE.
Throughout the day we had a series of panels where speakers came in and presented to us the different aspects that went into creating this expansion. The day was kicked off by new Bungie CEO Pete Parsons. Pete was followed up by different small panels and concluded with a roundtable discussion including Christopher Barrett, Game Director; Scott Taylor, Executive Producer; Shiek Wang, Art Director; Steve Cotton, Lead Designer World; Lars Bakken, Lead Designer Crucible, and Derek Carroll, Senior Designer Crucible. While yesterday I wrote about the new crucible additions and upgrades there was much more than that discussed. To begin with the team owned up to doing a poor job of storytelling in past iterations of the game. One of their primary goals was to correct this. This led them to ask questions of themselves such as, how do we make revisiting Old Russia interesting? How do we show the progression of time? Not long has passed in game time since we’ve last been there but a lot has happened narratively. How do we show this?
The Fallen of house Devil Splicers have been very busy and the Siva infection has taken root. You can see red tendrils sprouting all around with concentrated areas of infection tainting everything around it. This Devil Splicers aren’t just a different house of fallen either. They are almost a new fallen. The Siva hasn’t just infected the world around them. It’s infected them too. These Siva infected fallen have augmented their bodies so they look different, beyond just a color pallet swap or reskin. They will behave differently too with new gameplay.
Take a look at the new PVE in this exclusive video.
Bungie is also adding in more cut scenes in this expansion to help explain what they can’t always convey in context. They won’t use it as a crutch though. They still plan on telling the story through mood and art. Rise of Iron will start with a bang when your guardian assists Lord Saladin in liberating Felwinter Peak. Once freed from the Fallen Felwinter Peak will serve as a new social area. It is larger than the Reef but is approximately two thirds the size of the Tower. Stylistically the colors are supposed to be cold physically but warm and uplifting spiritually. Felwinter is a place to pay homage to the original Iron Lords. You’ll get to learn why they ended up having all those cool weapons named after them. The team was also excited to create a giant axe weapon. They had never done one before and ended up using it as a starting point.
It’s not just new weapons being added to the game though. There is new armor and new artifacts as well. Stylistically the new armor is the most striking. We were shown a Titan that had armored wolf heads for shoulders. It appears someone at Bungie has taken a page out of their down the cost brethren from Blizzard’s playbook on armor design. I say the more cross pollination between the two the better off both franchises will be. The artifacts statistically, however, probably have the biggest change. Each of the eight new artifacts will have additional abilities that have a direct impact on your playstyle. One, for instance, will allow you to hold an additional grenade but you’ll no longer be able to use your special attack. Another will allow you to power up your teammates faster so they can use their special attack more often. Still a third will allow you to see enemy guardians in PvP on the mini-map that have their special attack at full power as well as guardians that are at low health. There is a mausoleum on Felwinter that has a statue for each of the 8 original Iron Lords. As you collect their representative artifact you’ll participate in a ritual lighting their fire.
There will be one new strike and two refreshed strikes for Rise of Iron. The new strike is The Wretched Eye. It is on Old Russia, Earth. Taking from lessons learned during the Taken King expansion the team chose to have some variability in play. Not every run through this strike will be the same. Sometimes you’ll encounter the fallen, others you’ll run into the hive. There are a series of missile silos connected in a lattice of crisscrossing tunnels. The same tunnels will not always be open. While not completely procedurally generated this makes for a nice crafted piece of content that has a little variety to help keep it fresher, longer. The two strikes being revisited are the Devils Lair, and Summoning Pits.
The team hasn’t just added new content though. They have also added tweaks here and there across the sandbox to balance the game. Even the rewards structure is not immune to being worked on. They understand some players don’t play during the week and are only on during the weekend so they have made it take less time to reach rank 5 in Iron Banner. The experience should be fresh and new. They also want the game in general to be more accessible for players. I asked if there were any plans to add matching making into the raids or to make clan invites available in the game instead of the web and they said not yet. They have added a clan roster into the game as part of a quality of life improvement though.
There will be UI upgrades as well. Continuing what we have seen with the upgraded quest system they also want reward to be more visible as well. Record books will be integrated into the UI and you’ll very clearly see what you are able to get as you play through Rise of Iron.
There will be no level increase this time around. This was debated internally but was ultimately decided against. The developers wanted to focus on new end game content and present the players with a new light goal to chase. Simultaneously going after a new level as well was felt to be unnecessary.
One thing we didn’t get to see much of was the new raid. The game will go live on the 20th and the new raid will go live on the 23rd. I don’t think we will have to wait very long before we see guardians killing whatever is hidden in the raid’s bowels.
The new expansion will be digital only. The only way to get a physical copy of the game will be to buy the Destiny Collection which will include the base game and all the updates. This will run $60. The disc will only contain the base game. Everything else will have to be downloaded. The expansion will also come with a character boost. There is also an upgrade path tied to the collection. This is for legacy players to make the jump from PS3 or Xbox 360 to current gen consoles. There are a number of advantages to moving to current gen only. From an engineering standpoint they would have had to remove things they wanted to add from the expansion to have a consistent presentation of the game on all the consoles. They can also fit more players into a shared space now. This decision to move ahead on current gen systems only will overall make for a better game.
Here are some other miscellaneous tidbits I picked up at Bungie as well. Sparrow League Racing will be making a comeback and they aim to include more with it this time. The Festival of the Lost will resurface in October. Like I mentioned yesterday there are PS4 exclusives. Not just PvP maps either. There will also be a Sony exclusive quest and gear set. Bungie doesn’t just have a sponsorship from Sony, it’s a partnership.
That covers the highlights from my visit and what I learned players can expect in Rise of Iron. There are a few other details that I have to keep under my hat but you’ll learn about those soon enough. I also took in game footage of the new strike the Wretched Eye.