[Update] A few hours after posting, to Bungie’s credit, the developer announced they’d be lowering the power level of enemies in the first Forge encounter. Now all enemies will be 5 levels lower as a quick fix, and even more changes will be coming in the next few days. That said, as of right now, it’s still very hard content. It’s just slightly more unattainable in the first week. You likely will still have to grind power levels and then get into a Fireteam with friends or pray to the Traveller you aren’t placed with low-level players through the matchmaking. As before, if you are below 600, this content is still basically impossible.
That said, it was a very swift response from Bungie on this and that is good to see. Hopefully the changes upcoming will let players have a hope of completing the first major quest.
The first year of Destiny 2‘s post-launch experience was troubled. Curse of Osiris and Warmind were certainly big content drops, but both courted disappointment. They brought 4-5 hour story campaigns dealing with some interesting concepts in the world of Destiny while adding new exotics, weapons, armour, explorable spaces, strikes and crucibles maps. However, the stories disappointed and, crucially, the end game of these DLCs were not what fans of the series had come to love. After a bit of a grind for the high-level loot, players had little reason to come back to the game.
Ever since Forsaken launched, the mood has been entirely different with the community generally happy with what’s going on in Destiny 2 right now. There’s been a carefully planned out strategy of content that means players almost always have a reason to log on every week. The chase to the power cap, 600, was a long, expertly paced experience that continued to surprise. From the excellent Last Wish Raid, to the raid-like three man dungeon The Shattered Throne, the rollout of content kept coming. Draws like the Thunderlord, Wish-Ender and Malfeasance quests, a Halloween event, pinnacle weapons and more mean it’s felt like, for possibly the first time in franchise history, the period between two major updates has been content rich all the way through.
And here we are now. Forsaken is nearly three months old, and the game just released its first DLC, the Black Armory. Understandably, hopes were high as up to this point, Bungie’s been (mostly) killing year 2.
However, after the first day with the new content, the community is… confused.
Prior to this, there’d been a long period of speculation surrounding the new upcoming structure of DLC. Bungie went to great lengths since the announcement of the new calendar that this content would be working very differently this year. Instead of big flashy releases, the team would focus on smaller but more consistent experiences. Gone would be the story campaigns and the more front heavy experience, and instead they’d focus on the end-game. Still, coming into Black Armory, no one quite knew exactly what to expect or how much content we’d be getting.
Well, in terms of that front-facing experience, The Black Armory doesn’t really have one. When you load up the game with the content, you are told to visit the Spider who then points you towards a new area in the Tower, a previously hidden armory. Once you are there, you’re greeted with a cutscene and a four-part bounty that should take you anywhere between one and two hours. Once you finish that, you’re directed to a mission to reignite one of the armory’s forges.
Sounds all good right? Sadly not. The content here is a recommended 610 power level, but it actually starts with enemies at 615 that eventually reach 630. The problem is players start the DLC at 600, so you have to grind out your weeklies to have a chance with the new content. Essentially, after a short bounty, players are asked to go back and do the content they’ve been grinding since Forsaken‘s launch.
Honestly, it’s exciting to have reason to do weekly quests again and grind out powerful engrams. Destiny is the best experience when the numbers are going up. The problem here is that, on the launch of new DLC, there is precious little new you can do besides stand around in a new room. Asking players to do a small activity that then leads straight back into the previous power grind doesn’t feel great when they’re excited to see what is new.
However, there’s another problem at play here. Even if you do your weekly resets, which can take multiple hours, it’s unlikely you will be able to really compete in the new Forge content. Most players will be lucky to go up ten power levels in one week, and even then, taking down a boss that is twenty levels higher than you is a monumental task. While some are completing the Forge at around 601, it requires a great team composition with perfect execution. For most, this content won’t be completable in the first week of play, which is not how the first week of a new content release should feel. Right now, for most, this new content isn’t relevant to them.
Also, as a side note, Bungie meant it when they said that this new content was meant to extend the end-game experience. If you are considering picking this up and you haven’t ground your way to 600 power level, there is nothing you will be able to touch in this new DLC. Interestingly, (as you can see in the graphic above) if you decide to pass up on Black Armory for now, the power level increase is still applicable to you. You can grind your weeklies just like everyone else trying to complete their first forge. If nothing else, Bungie’s promise to support Destiny 2 is extending to those who haven’t opted into the annual pass which has never been the case. That’s a really nice plus, and the divisions between DLC haves and have-nots has never felt feinter.
Now, of course, this is a short-term problem. In a week or so, players will be high enough level and like its previous few months, Bungie is focusing on the rollout of content over time. We are set to get new forges frequently and there is a brand new Raid (or Raid Lair, no one quite knows what to expect) next week. When all is said and done Black Armory might be looked back on fondly, with constant content drops keeping players going from week to week. We were told these were smaller experiences geared towards keeping us engaged. These aren’t expansions but rather the part of a new season of content. However, for those looking to jump into some brand new activities, you’re likely going to be disappointed with the initial experience. Hyping players up with the release of new DLC and then nearly immediately asking them to go back and grind the old content they’ve been playing for months until they can even touch the new stuff is a baffling choice. In a wicked bit of irony, the new character introduced in the DLC, Ada-1, makes a point to consistently asking guardians to look at the weapons in the armory with their eyes, not their hands. It’s a shame the initial experience feels a little close to that.
Here’s hoping by the start of the Season of the Drifter in March, our impression of Black Armory will be fonder than our first impression.