Destiny: Rise of Iron – Scott Taylor on nerfing Gjallarhorn, the new raid and calling time on Xbox 360 and PS3

By Patrick Garratt, Thursday, 30 June 2016 15:39 GMT

Time to answer the call of the Iron Lords.

We only got a trailer from E3, but for many Destiny players it was enough. We still know next to nothing about Rise of Iron, the latest Destiny add-on to manifest following The Dark Below, House of Wolves and The Taken King, but the promise of Gjallarhorn’s return, a new raid, new gear sets across all major activities, new exotics and a deep-dive into Iron Banner lore has the player-base primed for September 20. Destiny DLC, what with the inevitable level cap increase and fresh content, demands to be played.

We caught up with executive producer Scott Taylor at E3 to see if the team pays attention to the Destiny Reddit posts about raid gear drop-rates, whether or not Rise of Iron will give you a pet wolf and what we can expect from the Splicers, Destiny’s latest enemy faction.

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“The sandbox is always evolving, so when Rise of Iron comes out Gjallarhorn will be appropriately tuned.”

VG247: Have you nerfed the Gjallarhorn?

Scott Taylor: Gjallarhorn is obviously one of the most memorable weapons in all of Destiny. But the sandbox is always evolving, so when Rise of Iron comes out Gjallarhorn will be appropriately tuned to Rise of Iron, to that experience.

Are there any differences other than the colour between the pre-order Gally and the one you get in-game?

Scott Taylor: No. It’s all about visual. The pre-orders can get the Iron Gjallarhorn, and everyone who plays Rise of Iron and completes the quests – and this is true of the Iron Gjallarhorn as well – can get the regular one as well. Gjallarhorn is available to all who come to play Rise of Iron. You can get both. So, you can get this awesome weapon that you’ve heard about if you didn’t get it, and experience it.

Obviously, it’s great that we’re getting a new raid.

Scott Taylor: Yeah! We’re excited.

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That’s why most people turn up. Will long-term players see a familiar design, or is it going to be a new approach?

Scott Taylor: Well, raids are always our most challenging experience in Destiny. It’s always a combination of challenge and co-ordination, and that’s not going to change. I don’t want to talk about any of the specific mechanics in this raid, just because the fun of the raid is uncovering these things and people like brainstorming and figuring stuff out. But that’s the thing I’ll say: it’ll continue to be the most challenging event in Destiny for six players.

Are we going to see a similar raid difficulty progression that we saw with King’s Fall? So, are we going to see a Normal Mode, then a Hard Mode, then challenges? Is this something that you want to continue?

Scott Taylor: I actually don’t know if I can talk about this. [PR indicates this is the case.]

Did that sort of progression work for you with King’s Fall?

Scott Taylor: I didn’t work on that. I feel a little disingenuous talking about it.

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A lot of players are asking for the older raids to be made relevant again. Are we ever going to see that?

Scott Taylor: So, right now we’re focused on this raid and Rise of Iron. That’s a conversation that goes on, but we haven’t ironed out any plans for that.

“I am sorry to say you don’t get to ride the wolf or play as the wolf, sadly.”

With the April Update we saw quite a change in tack as to how people progress. The route to the level cap relaxed. Is this something that we’re going to see continue in Rise of Iron?

Scott Taylor: Well, I think we started that with House of Wolves, actually, as Trials of Osiris players are able to get to the end-game. The game’s a living game, and that was the first instance I remember of there being a PvP path, so you could get there if you didn’t raid. It seems to be that that’s something we’re playing with all the time. We’re not changing that. There are multiple paths. We’re thinking through the best way to serve the most players.

What can you tell us about the Splicers?

Scott Taylor: Yeah! They look mean. So, the Splicers are Fallen who’ve been corrupted by this technology Civa, which is one of the central mysteries of Rise of Iron. The Splicers have some new abilities and some news tricks up their sleeves.

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How do operate in terms of combat AI? What are they like to fight?

Scott Taylor: They’re similar to Fallen. If you’ve fought the Fallen you’ll know how to start to fight them, then you’ll start seeing little tweaks and differences. You’ll have to adapt your strategy. It’s similar to the rest of the game, where there’s this similar but different tweak. It’s consistent with that, where we have the Wall but it’s down, and we have Saladin in a different space, and we have the Gjhallahorn in a different space. It’s the Fallen, but you’re going to be surprised. You’re going to find instances where you’re like, ‘Woah! I didn’t know they did that.’ We’re excited for those moments.

PR: And they sound cool, with their little ping, ping, ping.

Scott Taylor: They sound very cool. Yeah, there’s a bunch of aesthetic things too that just make them feel different. Their silhouettes, for example, are different, too.

Is there going to be a distinct hierarchy within the faction?

Scott Taylor: You mean with Captains, and so on? Absolutely.

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Do you get pets?

Scott Taylor:I am sorry to say you don’t get to ride the wolf or play as the wolf, sadly. But the wolves are important to the tone. We’ve been seeing the wolves on the cool Iron Banner armour, so now Saladin has come out of the tower, you tend to find wolves where Saladin roams. That’s cool. It tells you a lot about his character and why the armour’s built in this way.

This isn’t coming to legacy consoles. Why is this the right time to move on?

Scott Taylor: The 360 and PS3 have been around for a decade, and 90 percent of our players are on PS4 and Xbox One. We’re always trying to make the best Destiny experience possible, and at this point we were going to have to start debating taking things out of the game for everyone, as opposed to just adding. This felt like a good time to make that change.

You seemed to have a problem delivering content after The Taken King. There was a long gap, and I say that as a player. We got to the point where we were like, ‘Wow, we have actually run out of stuff to do.’ What happened? Can you just talk about it generally? Did something specific happen?

Scott Taylor:No. We’re always looking to support Destiny the best way with the team we have and what we’re focusing on, so right now that’s Rise of Iron. Obviously we like updating the game. That’s really important to us. But we also want these meatier, bigger pieces, and so for this we really wanted to focus on delivering a cinematic story, delving into the lore of the Iron Banner and the PvE setting and mixing those things up. We devoted a lot of effort and energy into Rise of Iron, to make it the best Destiny experience it could be, and so that’s how I think of it: to deliver a big piece of content is a big commitment. We have to really focus on that.

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“The 360 and PS3 have been around for a decade, and 90% percent of our players are on PS4 and Xbox One. This felt like a good time to make that change.”

How much pressure did you feel earlier this year from the community? A lot of players were very critical at that point.

Scott Taylor: The way I think of that is that people love playing Destiny, and want to play it, and want more content. I look at it from that frame. What’s the best way to deliver the next great adventure of Destiny? You know, I play Destiny too, so I look at it as an opportunity to look at what people want to stay invested in the world and play the game. For me that was making something like Rise of Iron, with all-new gear, all-new weapons, all-new exotics, and tying it all together thematically is very powerful. When you have something like a raid, a strike and legacy strikes we’re reprising, and they all fit together in a theme there’s something very powerful about that. It’s very difficult to do that with small iterations, and I think there’s a big impact to be had with something like Rise of Iron, to address that.

About the gear. Is it generally Iron Banner-based?

Scott Taylor: No, I think we showed the Trials stuff? So, there’s a whole Trials set. I think we showed raid gear?

PR: Yes.

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Scott Taylor: And then there’s more that we haven’t showed yet. Not all of it is themed around that, but certainly there will be some that’s themed around it. Similar to other past sets, and even the raid gear isn’t going to look like Iron Banner gear thematically. I think it’s very Civa-y, and consistent with the things you’re going to find in the raid. They all fit together tonally, but if it’s like, ‘I’m a Trials player and I want to express how powerful I am in Trials,’ then we still have those avenues for players.

Are you going to fiddle with the drop-rates for raid sets? I’m sure you read the enormous articles people put together on this matter. Are you going to increase it a little bit? Potentially?

Scott Taylor: These sandbox quality of life things we’re always looking at. We did an update yesterday. I don’t know if I can speak to that specific one, but we are always reading those things and talking about it, and trying to balance what the best thing to do is.

Destiny: Rise of Iron is due for Xbox One and PS4 September 20.

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