Destiny April Update review: Bungie’s new approach brings the fun back

By Patrick Garratt, Monday, 18 April 2016 13:59 GMT

Humble pie has been swallowed. Looks as though it tasted sweet.

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The April Update is the most inclusive, measured re-imagining of the core Destiny experience we could have hoped for. It signifies a new approach, one which satisfies the ultra-hardcore and casual player alike. Bungie has finally managed to balance this amazing game to the benefit of all.

Destiny April update review

Let there be light. After undoubtedly the darkest period in Destiny’s 18 month history, the revitalising power of the April Update is scarcely believable. Before there was only the pain of Bungie’s hubris, the convoluted design of the King’s Fall raid challenges representing the only sure way to grab top-level drops. While many players lapsed, this update represents an entirely new thought process behind Destiny, its progression systems and its openness. The approach has changed. Bungie listened. Listening is good.

Gone is the horror of only having one route to the cap, and this disintegration of Bungie’s ego is surely the key to the April Update’s success. The stress has gone. You don’t have to commit to life-destroying activities to level, but the golden rewards are there if you do. Progression is now available to everyone, simply from playing the game and completing your runs.

Challenge of the Elders, the new take on Prison of Elders, is so much fun. It just doesn’t feel like a chore to play through it three times to get to the 90,000 points required to receive an armour piece from Variks – each run only takes about 30 minutes at the outside – and the gun reward from hitting 30,000 in a single run is easily obtainable. The levelling mistakes we saw in House of Wolves, whereby anyone could get max level items every week, have obviously been noted: guns and armour can now drop up to five levels above your current Light, and more if you’re hitting activities like the raid challenges. You naturally advance at a measured pace by playing the game, and playing the game is fun. I have no idea why it’s taken this long, but it’s like Bungie finally understood that not everyone wants ultra-hard challenges that last for six hours to be the only end-game option.

While you now have a choice, the teeth-crunching endurance activities are still there if you want them. The raid has been updated to keep it relevant, and the challenges are still challenging, as they should be. The Nightfall is now a brutal activity from which you receive bizarre drops, but no one cares because it’s old-school Destiny, a thinking game of patience, tactics, weapon selection and numbers. And, obviously, there are still the Trials if you’re looking for the end-game PvP challenge.

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The April Update has pulled Destiny together. There’s something for everyone, and everyone’s progressing. The new armour sets and the lifting of infusion disparity means that your guardian can now, finally, look as you like, and the new shaders and Chroma system mean we’re now seeing a fantastic variety of aesthetic styles, such as bright pink titans and disco warlocks. Who wouldn’t want a bright pink titan or a disco warlock?

Being able to just change the Chroma on a weapon or piece of armour with the click of a button sums up Bungie’s direction with Destiny right now. Provided it fits within the overall vision, just give people what they want. The better the developer satisfies Destiny’s various player groups, the better community growth and play-time will stabilise. Everyone can hit the Prison and move there Light levels upwards, but if you want the choicest gear – note the difference between “the best gear” and Light level – you’re going to have to raise your game to the raid challenges and Trials. No one gets left behind anymore.

This broad-mindedness has a knock-on affect to gear. You now want to store a mix of weapons again, because elemental damage in the Nightfall really does matter. Every weapon is viable. Most activities are viable. I was doing some Gunsmith bounties with Paul Davies this morning (getting a 325 void sniper as a result), and something he said rang totally true: if you want millions of people playing your game, you have to allow them to play it. Destiny before this update was Bungie saying, “If you want the cap, you have to be the best of the best at playing the one thing we regard as our best work, no matter how bugged or unfair it may be.” It’s different now. Everyone can join in and have fun, regardless of their ability.

Which makes the April Update the most inclusive, measured re-imagining of the core Destiny experience we could have hoped for. It signifies a new approach, one which satisfies the ultra-hardcore and casual player alike. Bungie has finally managed to balance this amazing game to the benefit of all. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

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