As I sit here waiting for this 17 GB update to download on my current impossibly slow internet connection, I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you about this new update. At this point in time, I’ve been waiting about 24 hours on the download to complete and my PS4 is reckoning another 18 hours before I’ll be able to really see the changes. That said, let’s take a look at my preferred guardian on my personal account. (Although I do have a warlock on my “work” account, it’s not yet high enough level to warrant looking at and doesn’t have so much as a single exotic item.)
What we see here is that my level is 32, light level 145, with 34 intellect, 45 discipline, and 51 strength. For the most part, the latter three stats can be ignored. Until yesterday’s update, the light level and character level were inextricably linked past level 20. By that I mean that once you fought and quested to level 20, you had to get equipment with various light ratings to go any further, which is a fundamentally flawed system. Frankly, for all that I’ve done in Destiny, I should long ago reached level 34 but because the fucking random number generator in the loot system didn’t see fit to give me equipment with a higher light level than what I have, I got stuck at level 32. This leads me to believe that I could only have gotten higher if I had the opportunity to raid (Vault of Glass and Crota’s End) at all or hit the Crucible a lot more. (More the former than the latter I’m sure.) As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really a PvP type of person, and I only know two people with PS4s and Destiny, and I rarely even get to play with them, let alone contemplate doing the raids because Bungie is too high on themselves to institute the grouping system on raids. Bastards. (This MAY be mitigated by a feature in the upcoming PS4 3.0 firmware update.) So, bottom line, no matter how hard I worked over the last year, I could never feel that sense of accomplishment by reaching level 34.
That changed yesterday.
With yesterday’s update, light level became a reflection of the quality of your equipment and was separated from your experience point total. This means that completing raids, missions, strikes, and just flat out killing things for the hell of it once again matter. I know I nitpicked about the stupidity of the light level, if not in a post here, then certainly with my aforementioned friends, and my inability to climb higher on the level ladder is a perfect demonstration of why it was bad. Perhaps it was intended to showcase the power of the exotic items or make you feel all the more powerful and fortunate once you got them, but to those of us that haven’t been able to raid, it’s been a source of constant frustration. So I applaud Bungie on realizing that this is an issue to many players and resolving the issue.
While I still, apparently, have between 14 and 24 hours minimum depending on the way the wind blows before my download is complete, I’ll delve into the new light level. In the past, the light level came from the total amount of light your equipment possessed at any given time. I believe the light only came from your armor, and as I mentioned above, it determined your level above 20. Under the new regime, the light level comes from an average of your armor, equipped weapons, your Ghost’s shell, and a new piece of equipment called an “artifact.” Without having a special Ghost shell or an artifact at this point, my light level is currently 145 based on my weapons’ and armor ratings. Considering the new maximum for “Year 1” equipment after this crucial rebalancing of ratings is 170 for weapons and armor, I’m doing pretty well. I should note that my currently equipped exotic weapon, Plan C, hasn’t been fully upgraded yet (I need an exotic shard from Xur) so that rating will increase once I get one. Assuming it’ll be sometime this weekend, I can probably expect my light level to increase to 150-155 or so once I upgrade the weapon or swap to a different, fully upgraded weapon. I don’t expect to hit 170 until I get an artifact and/or shell for my Ghost, but it’s possible those things won’t actually become available until next week’s launch of The Taken King. Which, I would like to point out, you and everyone else (except me, naturally) have already downloaded.
That’s right, I said you’ve already downloaded the next expansion. While I have no evidence to back this up, think about it. Why the hell is a weapon rebalancing update so big? I’d give the update 1-2 gigs if the only things it was doing were changing some of the core files to handle the new balancing system, updating the sound files for the Ghost voice from Peter Dinklage to Nolan North (not sure if the switch-over was activated yet), and a few performance and tuning changes. In these days of high speed broadband, which I’m sorely lacking at the moment, terabyte sized drives, and 50 gigabyte games, we tend to forget that 1 gigabyte is a huge amount of data. Having worked with audio recordings as part of making films, a few megabytes can record many hours of high quality sound, and most of the weapon balancing data could be done in a XML or even comma separated values file probably less than 5 megabytes in size. So why is this weapon balancing update 17 gigabytes?
The simple answer is that it downloaded all the new assets necessary for the Taken King, including the Dreadnaught, the Taken themselves, new weapons and armor, new audio files, and god knows what else Bungie needed for next week’s launch. It makes no sense that Bungie would launch an update this large this week, and then turn around and do another one on Tuesday. For those of us that already have Destiny, yesterday’s patch IS the next expansion. When next Tuesday rolls around, those of us that pre-ordered the expansion digitally will probably see a very small update take place that unlocks all the new content, but it’ll be just that, a very small update. Bungie wants players to start diving into that new content immediately, so it makes perfect sense to put it in place ahead of time. It wouldn’t surprise me to see videos showing exploits to get at the new content early start popping up at some point today or tomorrow.
That about covers everything… I think I’m going to sit back and listen to the Ramones while I wait for this turkey to finish downloading… By the way, what’s up with AT&T? They promised U-verse service in Detroit over 7 years ago, and the best I can get in my centrally located home *IN* Detroit, is their 1.5 MB downstream DSL. What the hell is up with that?
Update: Now that this gigantic update/expansion is finally installed, nearly 48 hours after it was released, I’ve had a little bit of time to play around with it. First of all, like I mentioned, the levels are now completely experience based rather than light/equipment based. That left me free to climb to level 34 ahead of the official release of The Taken King. But I think that that ascension was a little too fast. I literally went from 32 to 34 in the span of minutes as I did several bounties and quests. Minutes. While I acknowledge some of them were experience heavy, Bungie should have tweaked the level profession at higher levels to reflect the increased difficulty in leveling. Maybe it was a fluke, I’ll find out as I work on my other characters.
Another thing is that a fair amount of content that shouldn’t be available until Tuesday is now through various bugs and that’s even affecting rewards. Faction specific quests should probably be avoided until the official launch.
Also, don’t forget to visit the gunsmith and try out the prototype weapons; the ones for which you do the telemetry testing are supposed to be sent to you free of charge on weapons day. Well… One at least. It’s unclear if you’ll get all of them if you test multiple ones