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Destiny photo

Say goodbye to Commendations in Destiny

You know those things we made you earn? Yeah, forget about them
Apr 24
// Laura Kate Dale
Anyone out there who has been keeping up with all the updates to Destiny since its release will likely be aware of Commendations. Added to the game in it's last DLC pack, Commendations were a required currency for buying new ...
Teaser Trailer photo
Teaser Trailer

Destiny teaser shows just enough House of Wolves content to keep us interested

Bungie is great at playing hard to get
Apr 21
// Alissa McAloon
Bungie is on the verge of revealing even more information about Destiny's upcoming House of Wolves expansion. The full reveal will happen tomorrow in a live stream, but Bungie has released a new and painfully short teas...
Destiny photo

Destiny data miners uncover new quests, missions and social spaces

More places for you to dance with strangers
Apr 15
// Vikki Blake
Destiny fans have already uncovered new secrets sitting in the game's recent 1.1.2 content update. While we already knew that there would be a new social space in The Reef, Reddit user ShdwFlm's backstage snooping has confirm...
Destiny photo

Destiny will get one more update before the next expansion

Whenever that is
Mar 06
// Chris Carter
The last update for Destiny was pretty great. I logged in to check it out, and promptly quit because there really isn't anything to do. Bungie is teasing the next update however (1.1.2), of which it isn't giving details ...
Bungie photo

Bungie adds support for moving Destiny items between characters online and in-app

Feb 27
// Chris Carter
Chalk this up to "it should have been in at launch," but you can now transfer items between characters in Destiny. The process isn't perfect though since it isn't in-game, but you can do it by way of the companion app or Bung...
Bungie photo

Bungie implements patch 1.1.1 in Destiny, mostly changes weapon balance

Everything else is minor outside of the heavy ammo fix
Feb 26
// Chris Carter
Bungie has unloaded patch 1.1.1 into the Destiny world, which has a number of weapon balance adjustments, in addition to a new reputation window, matchmaking for weekly Heroics, and a fix for the dreaded heavy ammo bug. ...
Destiny photo

Destiny to get matchmaking for Heroic Weekly Strikes

Update 1.1.1
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Bungie has been teasing a big change for Strikes (dungeons) going forward, and turns out that it's matchmaking for Weekly Heroic Strikes. As one of the three "weekly" events you can do for rewards (Heroics, Nigh...
Halo: MCC photo
Halo: MCC

There won't be a public beta of the latest Halo: The Master Chief Collection update

Maybe the public should be testing, though?
Feb 10
// Jason Faulkner
The Halo: Master Chief Collection saga has been a tumultuous one. It was released back in November, and we're still hearing about fixes and updates. But there's a team hard at work on delivering a smooth experience for player...
Bungie photo

Bungie is overhauling some weapon types in the next Destiny update

But the new DLC timeline sounds pretty damn terrible
Feb 05
// Chris Carter
Bungie has posted its weekly update for Destiny, and surprise, it actually has some substance for once. New weapon changes are coming, mostly to the tune of auto rifle, shotgun, pulse rifle, and hand cannon adjustments. The f...

House of Wolves might be Bungie's last chance to save Destiny

Jan 26 // Chris Carter
Let's take a look at some of the biggest problems plaguing Destiny: The heavy ammo bug A lazily implemented Crota's End Hard Mode Fixing exploits (cheeses) before fixing more egregious glitches Introducing more items and not more bank space Forcing the userbase to upgrade Exotic items via RNG No new core bounties since launch outside of the same small pool of Eris DLC Three measly DLC story missions that take 30 minutes to complete Underpowered new Exotics that make the expansion weapons pointless No glamor or outfitter options; everyone looks the same Vendor gear that can be acquired day one of the expansion blows prior raid gear out of the water No in-game grimoire to read lore, story is still weak No matchmaking for weekly Heroic Strikes or Nightfalls No real events to speak of outside of a lazy PVP reskin (where is Queen's Wrath?) This isn't a list compiled from outside sources -- this is something I've experienced personally as a player. Bungie said Destiny would continue to "evolve" after launch, but if this is its evolutionary process, it's still a bacteria. Bungie lead designer Luke Smith jumped into a recent NeoGAF thread to address a few concerns, stating that some mistakes won't be repeated. According to Smith, vendor gear won't invalidate prior raid gear, and the Exotic upgrade process will not reset talents (though nothing has been said about the RNG element). That's an okay start, but Bungie has to do much more to win back disenchanted fans, especially after the recent Hard Mode raid debacle. For many players this is the breaking point -- the final equilibrium when the grind and issues of Destiny outweigh the enjoyment factor of playing with friends. It's easier to overlook blemishes while you're in good company, but as many of those people start to drift away, you start to see more clearly. Wait, people still play Destiny? Yep, there's over 10 million players out there as of December 2014. It's one of the most active online games out right now, and one of the biggest games of last year. Often times when I'm trying to utilize matchmaking in another game I'll get bored, move over to Destiny, and find a game manually in 30 seconds. That's how big it is. But Bungie won't be able to rest on the laurels of its hype for much longer. If the studio doesn't deliver with House of Wolves, there will be a severe drop-off of players who refuse to pony up for the next bit of DLC. At that point it'll have to bring old fans back into the fold, and convince people who made their mind up at launch to join the party. That won't be easy. If Bungie has to delay the next expansion to make it better, so be it. If not, a lot of the Destiny detractors may have their wish later this year when it becomes a collective echo in the annals of one-hit wonder history.
Destiny woes photo
The Season Pass buck stops in March
Before Destiny was released, it was hyped into oblivion. Hundreds of thousands of fans bought into it, and by extension, purchased the Season Pass consisting of the first two expansions -- the second of which, House...

Destiny photo

Destiny's Crota's End Hard Mode is disappointing outside of the final fight

More of the same until the end
Jan 22
// Chris Carter
I have a stable of around 30 people I raid with in Destiny regularly, but yesterday I picked the five I play with the most and set a scheduled time for the brand new Crota's End Hard Mode. Everyone showed up, and te...
Crota's End photo
Crota's End

Bungie delivers quick Destiny hotfix before Crota's End Hard Mode

Exact launch will be announced at 1PM EST
Jan 21
// Chris Carter
Bungie is gearing up to release its last bit of major content before the next Destiny expansion, the Hard Mode version of the Crota's End raid. Before that, a quick hotfix was dropped that adjusts the bridge encounter, a...
Destiny photo

Be prepared, Destiny players: Crota's End's getting tougher next week

But, only if you want it to
Jan 16
// Brett Makedonski
Were you one of the many Destiny players taking advantage of exploits to run Crota's End over and over before Bungie inevitably intervened? If so, it's time to atone for those sins and actually earn your stripes. On Janu...
Bungie photo

Bungie's Holiday gift for Destiny players was...a random legendary weapon

Well, they told you it would be legendary
Jan 08
// Chris Carter
Before the end of 2014, Bungie tweeted out that players would obtain a "small, but legendary" gift for their Destiny accounts. Most people presumed that it would be a Santa hat consumable of some sort, like the Halloween...

Destiny is the most fascinating game of 2014, mostly for negative reasons

Dec 31 // Chris Carter
The problems with Destiny are myriad. At launch, the loot system was utterly broken. Players would be rewarded with purple-level engrams and constantly earn blue quality or lower, which was a real kick in the nuts considering how much work it was to find a purple in the first place. Other issues were rampant, like the concept of forcing players to farm hundreds of materials to level-up armor pieces to reach level 30. Grinding was and still is commonplace, whether you're grinding for currency (Glimmer), weapon experience, armor experience, marks, reputation, or pretty much anything else in the game. "The game starts at level 20" indeed, Bungie. It was enough to scare people away from even trying it, but not enough to scare away the roughly 10 million users as of December 2014. What is it that keeps people playing? Besides the obvious addiction-oriented reasons that any MMO-like will bring to the market, it's actually really fun to play with friends; every single person I know who plays Destiny does it with friends on a regular basis. Everyone who played solo has quit by now. Everything in the entire game is better with friends. Whether it's farming, raids, or just plain dicking around in the open-world Patrols or PVP, the game is built so more players will equal more fun. If I had to give an award to "best community" this year it would probably be Destiny, as most of the interactions I've had in-game and online have been positive. This is the core reason why many people, myself included, still play. There are bright spots beyond the "fun with friends" gimmick -- because let's face it, what game isn't fun with friends? The first raid, the Vault of Glass, was insanely rewarding. Tackling the Vault with five other good friends is one of the best gaming-related experiences I had in 2014 -- that's not a hyperbolic statement. The coordination needed in the early days of the raid with lower-level weapons was crazy, and every room was a puzzle of sorts to solve. Crota's End, the second raid, was the same way, and the rush I felt while running from the horde during the first part was probably how Ian Malcolm felt while sprinting away in terror from Jurassic Park's Tyrannosaurus rex. I continued to play throughout The Dark Below expansion, which brought its own set of problems, many of which haven't been addressed since launch. There's still a lack of bank space, there's still a lot of loot disparity issues, and the new Exotic upgrade system is incredibly obtuse. There's hints of brilliance in there, like the unique Husk of the Pit "weapon storyline" that will conclude with the hard mode version of the Crota's End raid, but there's not enough to keep most people interested. I'm very keen to see what the next expansion, House of Wolves, brings to the table. I may be the odd one out here but the Fallen (pictured in the header) are my favorite race in the game, so I really hope Bungie brings it with the third raid after everything is has learned. I'd also like to see more story missions (try five lengthy ones at least, guys), more Strikes, and a complete overhaul of the Strike playlist and weekly system. Perhaps an additional "monthly epic raid" goal, cycling in the three raids. Anything to keep people playing and give them some diversity without curbing the fun factor or making content obsolete. I've said this time and time again, but the core of Destiny is excellent. It feels great every time I boot it up, and nearly every single gun handles perfectly yet differently. It's really hard to go to any other shooter after a lengthy Destiny session, honestly, and I can't stress that enough. Bungie just needs to lick its wounds, deliver more content, and balance a few things going forward. Maybe Destiny's "Game of the Year" edition in 2015 will be a must-buy. For now, just sit right there on the fence in the same spot you were in September 2014 -- off of the Game of the Year list.
Destiny love-hate photo
People love to hate-play it
I have roughly seven days of playtime logged into Destiny. I have a level 31 Warlock, Titan, and Hunter who are all one piece away from level 32 -- the current cap. I've completed the new Crota's End raid roughly 20 times, 10...

Review: Destiny: The Dark Below

Dec 12 // Chris Carter
Destiny: The Dark Below (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: Activision Released: December 9, 2014MSRP: $19.99 (Season Pass $34.99) At this point I've played the new Strike multiple times (two weekly heroics and two Nightfalls), and I'm happy with how it holds up in the normal rotation. It's nice to see the Hive represented, and although the first half is a re-used zone from Earth, I happen to like that area, and it works well with the Strike format. I also like that the boss, Omnigul, fits right into the new theme and is worked directly into the story. Although more or less a super Wizard, it still fits better than most other Strike bosses. As I stated previously, the new PS4 exclusive Strike is useless, short, and I likely will never play it again by choice; it also will never appear as a weekly event since Xbox owners can't access it (though it will show up in the Roc playlist). So much for all that boasting by Sony. I spent an entire afternoon with PVP in the new temporary DLC playlist, and I'm happy with the maps overall. Cauldron still holds up as my top pick, and possibly my favorite map in general. I love the underground aesthetic, as it reminds me of Bungie's Halo glory days. Pantheon's design holds up as well with its long hallways, and is perfect for shotgun and sniper enthusiasts alike. It also pairs perfectly with my new 4th Horseman Exotic shotgun. Skywatch is a mixed bag because it can still come up on lower-count playlists, and it's absolutely terrible when it's not populated. It should have been smaller, or Bungie should have upped the total player count in PVP. [embed]284869:56642:0[/embed] The entire gear meta has changed, and it's a bit easier to follow now. To get level 31 you'll need to have every piece of gear at +33, or one Raid/Exotic piece at +36 and all but one piece at +33. To reach the new level cap of 32, you have to have everything at +36. Simple. You can buy +33 gear from vendors if you have the marks, which allows most players to work their way towards 30 and beyond even if they're just starting out. Bungie claims that armor drops have been improved in the new raid, and I can corroborate anecdotally. My Warlock had his chest drop, and my Titan got his gauntlets and chest. With a combination of a new Xur Exotic upgrade, raid gear, and Vanguard marks, I now have two level 31 characters. Of course, your mileage my vary. But even though you may get said top-end gear, the grind is real because of new Radiant Materials and the new rank-four reputation Eris materials. You'll need 21 Radiant Shards per piece to upgrade to level 32, and currently I only have two. You can't get them anywhere but the raid currently, so until Bungie updates the game to unlock them in other ways, you'll have to grind out the raid at least once per week to hope for a portion of a raid piece upgrade. Still, I like this new system more than the old one because it rewards you more often and then forces you to work for it on your own time, which is much better than the sparing drops Bungie had in the Vault of Glass. Exotics can also be upgraded at Xur, which is a terrible process as expected. For starters, you have to hope your item is on Xur's RNG table. I got lucky with my Warlock, and I'm level 31 as of today. A lot of my friends weren't so lucky, and because of the mark cap, they cannot possibly get to level 31 unless they earn a piece of gear by luck through an Engram. It's a weird system. Why didn't Bungie just allow you to upgrade any Exotic you want, but make the process extremely difficult to do? Say, from a set of rotating Exotic bounties that will take several days? That way the questlines would still be engaging, it would be something different, and everyone could work towards upgrading their favorite items eventually instead of relying on RNG. That's Bungie for you, though. In terms of the pack's art design, I've actually gotten used to the green-tinted aesthetic of The Dark Below. It's themed well, and I never thought I'd like the Hive this much. I also hope Dinklebot never comes back. I really wish there was more though, because although the DLC does have a lot of tender love and care, it doesn't have enough to justify the asking price. Again, playing all of this content, underwhelming or not, was consistently fun throughout. I still love jump canceling my Warlock hover to get into a perfect position, and everything from aiming down your sights to hip-firing just feels great. Like I've said in the past, it's jarring to go to any other shooter after playing Destiny. It also must be said that the launch went off without a hitch. The bulk of the content was downloaded a week before, so when I logged on at 5AM EST to play, it instantly loaded and I was playing the DLC. For around 10 minutes I thought it was glitched. Alas, The Dark Below needed more to truly sell itself to most of the fanbase. Four Strikes, not two, would have been about right. Crota's End is fun, but I feel like it was shorter than Vault of Glass, and it was a bit easier to pick up. I'm not too sure on the longevity of this raid either unless Bungie has something special up its sleeve for January's hard mode. For now, there's an easy test to judge whether or not you should pick up The Dark Below: did you play Destiny from launch all the way up until the first expansion? If so, you'll want to get it as soon as possible. If your enthusiasm has faltered over the past few months and you never really got into the first raid, you can wait or pick up the Season Pass at a later date after more incremental improvements have been made. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Destiny DLC review photo
The dank between
Having basically played the new Destiny expansion The Dark Below nonstop since launch, I've experienced everything it has to offer. That in itself is an issue, because although I have played more than the average pe...

Review in Progress: Destiny: The Dark Below

Dec 09 // Chris Carter
Destiny: The Dark Below (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: Activision Released: December 9, 2014MSRP: $19.99 (Season Pass $34.99) Let's start with the story. The Dark Below centers primarily on the Hive menace, with the evil big bad Crota at the end of it. There's been a lot of buildup within the core story and the appropriate codex entries for Crota, so it's exciting to get to face him head-on; plus, the Hive themselves are an interesting foe. The actual narrative is a bit better this time around. There's no lengthy, annoying cutscenes with pointless exposition or grunts. It's all focused. You'll start the questline by speaking to the new NPC Eris, who has escaped from the clutches of Crota and lived to tell the tale. Dinklebot will take a backseat in this DLC, as his "wait until I open the door" mechanic and even his speech services are no longer required. Eris will hauntingly give us the story and the rundown this time. Funnily enough though since the 'bot is gone, you're going to power through the three story missions much faster than normal. How fast? Roughly five to ten minutes each. There's still gates of some sort, but now you can freely run about and wreck shop without fear of a lengthy Dinkle-diversion. There are some Fallen foes but the Hive is front and center, and the combination of Wizards, Thralls, and Knights makes for some fun firefighters. All in all, you'll only meet one new enemy (which is basically a Wizard variant), and a few new areas. It's certainly a better effort than the core campaign, but it's just a taste -- not exactly ideal for a $20 expansion. [embed]284530:56528:0[/embed] Strike-wise, you're going to get one more mission, or two if you're on a Sony platform. The non-exclusive Strike, the Will of Crota, deals with the enemy you met in the story, Omnigul. It's mostly in a re-used area which is a massive bummer until you get to the tail end of the Strike, at which point the final confrontation is enjoyable. It's basically a super Wizard with more Hive adds. Again, fun enough, but it doesn't feel like a DLC add-on. Fear not, Xbox owners, as you aren't missing out on much with the PlayStation-exclusive Strike, The Undying Mind. While the area is technically from the final campaign mission (the Black Garden), it does feel new, and deals with the Vex. The problem is this Strike is incredibly short, and I feel like I've fought more Vex than I know what to do with after over 50 Vault of Glass runs. To make matters worse, the Mind is essentially a reskinned Nexus. It really should have been another Cabal-themed Strike. In terms of PVP, you'll also net three new maps: Cauldron, Pantheon, and Skyshock. The former is Halo-esque and one of my favorite arenas to date. Pantheon is more Black Garden, and feels like a modified battle pit that's great for free-for-all matches. Skyshock will be very familiar looking to PlayStation owners who already have the similarly themed Earth map, but Xbox players will enjoy the variety a bit more. I haven't played enough PVP to make a judgment on how the maps feel over time, but expect an assessment in the full review. Of course, the big daddy piece of content is the new raid, Crota's End. The new raid is designed to test your team's skills to their maximum, and I'd say it's a tad harder than Vault of Glass. While it has technically been completed today in roughly six hours by the top raiding static in Destiny, it will take regular players ages beyond that figure. Once again, the raid is the best part of Destiny. Although I'm a little over halfway through it, I've seen more variation here than the rest of the game combined. Little things like pitch-black caves with pylons to hug to get rid of debuffs, and one-on-one swordfights are among the many mechanics you'll face in Crota's End. I came in with a group of five knowledgeable raiders and had a blast. It's a shame that Strikes aren't as fun as individual encounters in either raid, and that Crota's End isn't getting a hard mode until January. I'll give my full thoughts on the raid soon. So far, I love it. New changes are also afoot, most notably the Exotic system. In a sad turn of events, the new Exotic upgrade system is now partially based on RNG. To upgrade your existing weapon or armor, you need to visit Xur from Friday to Saturday, hope that he has your existing item, then pay to get the new version. Once you get it the leveling process is roughly a third faster, but having to rely on Xur is terrible design. Other tweaks include Nightfalls and Heroics being bumped up two levels, with the current weeklies only accessible to DLC owners. There's also more of a point to Strange Coins because of the Exotic Shard upgrade system, a new resource to manage for upgrades (including a helpful exchange for shards and energy), new vendor gear, and more resource gains and 10 bounties due to the last patch. All of it except for the new Exotic upgrade mechanic and forced DLC weeklies are well done and cut down on some of the less fun parts of Destiny. Two steps forward, one step back seems to be Bungie's motto. Again, while playing all of this content, the gunplay is still silky smooth. It sounds like an overstatement, but it truly is difficult going to another game after playing Destiny. The jumping system, physics, floating, aiming -- everything feels perfect. Even though the DLC is underwhelming outside of the raid and Bungie has made some mistakes, I'm still having fun. Having said that, just like the core Destiny experience, there isn't a lot here that screams "must buy." As I have more time to really dig into the current meta, explore Light level calculations, and test the longevity of the new maps and Strikes, I'll give you a full verdict. For now, I'd only recommend The Dark Below to hardcore fans.
Destiny DLC review photo
The dank between
Destiny was released earlier this year, and like many hyped games, it failed to deliver on its promises. The good news? It was still a well crafted shooter, and practically everything involving the actual gameplay was ex...

Destiny photo

You can carry over your progress to the Destiny sequel

Sequel? Yep
Dec 09
// Chris Carter
Many people have misunderstood the "$500 million" and "10 year plan" comments that Activision has made in the past in regards to Destiny. Those numbers encompass the entire franchise over time, not just one game. That plan in...

Completing the new questline in Destiny is complicated, here's how

Dec 09 // Chris Carter
First, go to the Tower and grab the initial quest piece from Eris. She is located to the left of the spawn point. Complete the three story quests and pick up the "kill 25 Knights or Wizards" bounty. Repeat the second DLC quest on Earth two to three times to finish it. As a tip, you can delay the death of the big enemy to spawn more Knights and Wizards. Turn it in. Grab the three new Patrol quests that Eris will produce. Go to Earth and select Patrol. Your first stop is to the right of the initial spawn. Go through the facility and past The Divide, then burn past the Rocket Yard. Act like you're going into the Sepiks Prime strike. On your left after the first tunnel past the yard you'll find a specially marked Hive enemy. Kill it and the subsequent spawns to get your first bounty. Next, reload the Earth Patrol to start from the beginning. Go straight ahead to the complex that was in the beta, where you kill a Wizard for the first time. Right before the stairs to said Wizard room you'll find a marked Thrall in the corner. Kill it and the rest of the room for the second bounty. Do not reload, continue on through that area. Finally, keep heading up that building and past the Wizard room. Go into the area with the original loot cave. Head into the big building due north (right next to the cave), and run until you get to the big open area of the Terrestrial Complex. Go straight ahead into that tiny landing, steal the urn, and kill the enemies that appear. After all that you'll unlock the new Strike and the Heroic/Nightfall weeklies. Just to be clear, none of the above steps past the "25 kill" bounty are located on your radar nor are they fully explained. You do not need to wait for Xur to unlock the new weeklies.
Destiny photo
More than just the three story missions
After booting up the new Destiny expansion The Dark Below this morning, I completed the three new story missions. Upon finishing the questline I saw that the weekly Heroic and Nightfall missions were blacked ou...

Destiny expansion photo
Destiny expansion

Destiny expansion video teases what players will find in The Dark Below

Hello my baby, hello my honey
Nov 21
// Darren Nakamura
We have known for a little while that the first expansion to Destiny would be called The Dark Below, and that it would add a healthy-sounding chunk of content. Bungie has now released a trailer showing off the moon excavatio...

Review: Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Nov 07 // Chris Carter
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)Developer: 343 IndustriesPublisher: Microsoft StudiosRelease:  November 11, 2014MSRP: $59.99 After booting it up, Halo: The Master Chief Collection gives you the keys to the kingdom right off the bat. Instantly accessible are all four campaigns (with local or online co-op), multiplayer, and the extras menu. The latter includes all of the Halo TV content, a spot to change online profile settings, and the Forge and Theater modes. That's, well, that's a lot of stuff to sift through, so let's start with the campaign, shall we? From the start, every single mission is unlocked. While this sounds like a small caveat, it's actually a very welcome mechanic that will allow long-time fans to skip their least favorite levels and get right into the good stuff. Also, the game's larger cutscenes can be viewed in the mission select menu to easily rewatch later. That's something most will probably want to do that over and over for particularly special clips such as the brand new remastered Halo 2 FMVs. While the original Halo doesn't look as good as its successors even with the resolution upgrade on the Xbox One, there's no denying that it's a timeless classic. From its memorable campaign to some of the best multiplayer maps of all time, Halo: Combat Evolved is a game that people won't stop talking about for decades. It was a joy to replay the campaign again, marveling at the toggle between "old" and "new" visuals, which is instantaneous in Master Chief Collection. For those that have never played a Halo game before, the campaign still holds up, and the silky smooth framerate will no doubt alleviate any concerns that this has become too dated. [embed]282966:56231:0[/embed] Halo 2 is the golden boy of the package though, and it is fully remastered beyond the capabilities of what 343 Industries did in 2011 on the Xbox 360. The most dramatic effect is the completely redone cutscenes -- a night and day difference when directly compared to the original game's in-house visuals. When I first replayed the campaign, I was utterly confused as to what I was watching until I pressed the Back button and realized just how incredible the upgrade was. That jaw-dropping effect carries over into the regular campaign, which is even more fun than the original in some respects. This is thanks to the addition of the memorable Arbiter character, and a greater look at the overall lore and races of the Halo universe. Halo 2 took the concept of the Ringworld device from Combat Evolved and expanded the galaxy tenfold, and it was a pleasure to relive the experience yet again. On the other hand, Halo 3 is my least favorite of the core games. It basically took what Halo 2 did in terms of raising the stakes off of one location, but it lacks a lot of the surprise and charm from the second go-around. This is definitely one story that I skipped around a lot, foregoing specific missions that were either too tedious or not inspiring enough to replay. Where Halo 3 really shines is in multiplayer, as it features some of the best maps in the series. The brilliance of Master Chief Collection is that it allows players to simply watch the story scenes and skip right to Halo 4 if they want. Although it was polarizing at release, I can definitively say that Halo 4 still holds up for me. The stark shift to the Forerunner conflict was a huge breath of fresh air, especially after Halo 3. This switch is particularly evident after playing the first three titles back-to-back, and I think people will appreciate the unique aesthetic and playstyle of Halo 4 more after experiencing them together. While I'm okay with the omission of the disappointing Halo: Reach, ODST would have made this package even more amazing. But, the sheer quality of these four games, whether it's by way of their campaigns or multiplayer maps, stands on its own. Master Chief Collection is presented in such a way that everything is linked through one menu that can be accessed from within any game. This is where universal options can be tweaked, but it also allows for specific customization to any given title. Love inverted controls for Halo 1 but hate them for Halo 2, 3, and 4 for some reason? That can be altered permanently. Fancy using the Call of Duty style right-analog click for melee in every game? That can be switched to apply for every game. There's also the ability to auto-mute everyone in multiplayer as a default, and to set online avatars for each game. This amount of customization is not only welcome on a console, but mostly unprecedented. The individual campaigns are each impressive in their own right, but multiplayer's where most will find themselves spending most of their time. After all, that's the thing that's going to keep everyone playing for more than a few weeks. With all of the claims and promises, I'm pleased to say that 343 Industries didn't take a half-measure with this collection in terms of preserving the original Halo experience; this is definitive. Hell, even the levels from the PC version of the original Halo are included in all their glory. For anyone that had a classic moment with any core Halo game, it can be relived here. There are playlists upon playlists: Capture the Flag, King of the Kill, Oddball, Races, Infection, Flood -- it's all there. Not every gametype is playable in every title, but if it was in the original, it's in that respective list. In the sessions I had, online play was very smooth, and each game had their own authentic signature style without feeling too jarring jumping from one game to the next. The matchmaking system is set to go live next week and will feature the Trueskill ranking system from Halo 2. We will update with a report of how things are going during launch week. Since Halo 2 is getting the royal treatment, it also has a small selection of completely remastered maps which employ a vastly upgraded visual style that is accessible from a different playlist. While the maps are a visual treat, this is essentially my only major problem with Master Chief Collection. Not only did 343 not take the time to remaster every map in the game, but it's also confined to a different section. It's an odd decision, as the isolation goes against the concept of cohesiveness that the Master Chief Collection sets out to accomplish. Making matters worse, the actual list is less exciting with such a small pool of maps. Another relatively underwhelming extra feature is the "Playlists" section from the main menu. This boils down to a hand-picked selection of campaign missions that fit certain themes, like "daring escapes" and "vehicle heavy" levels. The only bright spot with playlists is the cross-game capability, which lets players experience similar stories across multiple titles. It would have been more impactful if all of these levels were heavily modified in some way to make them worth playing again, but fortunately, it doesn't detract from the overwhelming amount of content in the core game. Digging through the menus, the features go on and on. Forge is back for every game outside of Halo: Combat Evolved. With the new visual updates it's easier than ever to craft new modified versions of favorite levels. Theater is equally great, as it allows rewatching of past matches and the option to find new ones online. Lastly, Halo TV is integrated, as is the Halo Nightfall series, the Halo 5: Guardians beta, and Halo 4's Spartan Ops mode -- all of which aren't live at the time of writing. The prospect of completing the whopping 4,000 Gamerscore will also terrify and excite hardcore fans. While I think I would have given up playing a Halo 2 remaster on its own after a few months, The Master Chief Collection will keep me busy for quite a while. The sheer number of maps, variants, playlists, and rulesets will keep me interested for months on end. I can already envision myself joining groups of friends who only like particular games, forming separate communities within the collection. Not only that, but this is also the perfect way to replay each campaign if I ever get the itch instead of finding multiple discs. This is the new gold standard for remakes. Well done, 343 Industries.
Halo Collection review photo
The master of remasters
Although Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was a noble effort to remaster the original game that brought first-person shooters on consoles into a post-Goldeneye era, I couldn't help but feel a bit underwhelmed by the over...

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Destiny's first expansion gets some official details

Coming December 9
Oct 29
// Chris Carter
Activision has just sent some details our way for Destiny's first expansion, The Dark Below, which will be available December 9. Dark Below will feature new weapons, armor, and gear, as well as more Legendary gear and Exotics...

If Bungie envisions Destiny as an MMO, it should start acting like it

Oct 27 // Chris Carter
I currently have a level 30 Warlock, a 29 Titan [full raid gear], and a 25 Hunter in Destiny. Part of this is due to the necessity of having to cover the game long term (and be at an appropriate level when I have to review the expansions), part of it is because there is a fun game buried beneath the mess that's engaging to play with friends. That bit of fun comes mostly from the game's raid (which is easily the best part), and Destiny's core shooting mechanics, which are potentially Bungie's best work. But that all came with the launch. As of writing this, Bungie's actual ongoing support has been abysmal, and that has negatively impacted the game. One of the most absurd things I've noticed is the bounty system. Bounties are basically extra "quests" that players can run, and reset daily. They have a mix of PVE and PVP requirements, but the latter is often marred by bounties that cannot possibly be completed, thus wasting a slot in the limited pool. "Salvage" is a gametype that's only offered at certain intervals, but on a constant basis, some bounties are filled with Salvage objectives. This pisses me off the most as it could have easily been fixed, and was "left running" for weeks on end. The "events" so far have been pointless or a series of smoke and mirrors for bad rewards. The Queen's Wrath event came after much of the playerbase had the appropriate gear to raid, and after one day, Bungie took away the ability to harvest the rewards for shards (again, it's quick to remove mechanics and slow to add them). With that incentive gone, there was no reason to rank up with the Queen's faction as the rewards were abysmal. It was ultimately pointless and just threw "more bounties" at players. The Iron Banner PVP event was even worse. It came even later and offered the same gear level as the Queen's Wrath event -- it also couldn't be broken down for materials. The hyped idea was that higher-level players would have an "advantage," which was cool in theory and a reward for all that hard work, but it didn't play out that way at all. As a joke, people started making videos of level-five Guardians easily killing level 30s, exposing the event. Bungie did not address this until the event was over. Another set of "fixes" involve the final boss fight of the raid -- Atheon. It's an encounter that players have been enjoying for weeks, and it's well designed as is. Basically, three players can position themselves in the back of the room so that they are teleported into another arena to kill a set of enemies, then they run back out to join the group. In many MMOs, this is commonplace. The three "better" players would take point inside, and the other three can just provide support. It accommodates all playstyles. Instead, Bungie has said, weeks later, that this is "not intentional." The studio is changing it so three players are randomly sent into the portal instead. This isn't the end of the world as skilled players will easily adapt, but it's a pointless change that goes against the design of almost every well crafted raid event in other games. It also feels incredibly odd to come back almost two months later and make this claim when it looks like the design was intentional. Bungie also dealt with the controversial removal of loot caves. These caves (and sometimes stairs or doors) allowed players to farm loot by having enemies constantly come out of them but honestly, they weren't even that effective. So Bungie removes as many loot caves as it can because "this is not the way they intended us to play," but still requires players to farm roughly 100 materials per piece of armor to fully upgrade it. So we have to farm in an even more boring way -- there's no talk of allowing people to earn materials through other means. It's a running joke in my raid group that if we ever start having fun, someone starts up in a robotic voice going "Guys, Bungie did not intend for this to have fun. It will be fixed shortly so enjoy it while you can." Again, Destiny is a great shooter. But if Bungie is going to insist on throwing out MMO designs like weekly caps on marks and raid loot, and farming aspects like material grinds, it needs to get its act together and give people more incentives to keep playing, not take them away. There has been one attempt to rectify mistakes -- the Iron Banner is being changed. But it's going to take a lot more than that, as that's just the tip of the iceberg. When the first and second expansions hit, I will play them and assess the state of the game at that time. Things could improve. But as it stands, I have little confidence in Bungie to change things for the better based on what the developer has shown us so far.
State of Destiny photo
Less catching up, more improvements
Destiny was a functional game at launch, but a number of design choices were made that left all of us scratching our heads. The Cryptarch system in 1.0 was horrible in that it allowed players to earn legendary engrams (r...

Moneyballs photo

Smash sells 705,000 in two days, Destiny players flock to PS4

Oct 16
// Steven Hansen
Super Smash Bros. 3DS is selling as well as you would expect. According to NPD data, 705,000 units in its first two days in the United States, good for fourth best-selling in September. This is close to Pokemon X/Y's one...
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Bungie recommends re-installing Destiny if the patch is giving you issues

After hotfix
Oct 15
// Chris Carter
Bungie rolled out a controversial patch recently (which wasn't even that big, honestly, as auto-rifles are still really effective in PVE), and some users are reporting issues with the game after picking up the download. The d...
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Destiny's loot is now way less aggravating

The club is full of ballers and their pockets full grown
Oct 01
// Jordan Devore
Here we go. The patch that fixes -- or, at least improves -- how loot works in Destiny. Chris already detailed the patch, which is out now, at length. But the short of it is that Legendary (purple) engrams will now always awa...
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Sad day: Bungie nerfs Destiny's loot cave

'Not our dream for how Destiny is played'
Sep 25
// Brett Makedonski
Bungie's grand social shooter Destiny has boiled down to an interesting and repetitive formula for a lot of players lately: fire into the darkness of a cave and hope some interesting gear drops. No world exploring, no co...
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Destiny's 'Queen's Wrath' event is underway, here is what it brings

Earn more gear
Sep 23
// Chris Carter
Bungie is currently running a special event in Destiny that basically consists of extra bounties and an extra faction to interact with. It'll run from September 23rd through October 6th, and will allow you to earn r...
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Destiny's vehicle heavy 'Combined Arms' playlist starts today

Xur also has re-appeared
Sep 19
// Chris Carter
If you're looking to play Destiny this weekend, you can take part in a limited time multiplayer playlist in The Crucible called "Combined Arms." It basically features increased heavy ammo drops as well as extra vehicles....

Destiny is the same gameplay experience on last-gen, but looks pretty rough

Sep 17 // Brett Zeidler
Destiny (PS3 [tested], PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: Activision Released: September 9, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Bungie was very adamant about keeping the Destiny experience exactly the same no matter what platform a player chooses (outside the PlayStation exclusive content, of course). That is, the overwhelming majority of content, environments, quests, enemies per screen, enemy levels, weapons, etc. are all exactly the same no matter what system the game is played on. This is where the similarities end for the last-gen versions. Getting Destiny set up on PS3 was an ordeal. After a small patch install, the game has a mandatory 6 GB install process. Before that, however, a 170 MB Compatibility Pack needs to be installed via the in-game PlayStation Store embed, and the aforementioned mandatory install cannot run in the background. I have no idea what content the game needed to download to be compatible with a week after launch, but it was apparently necessary and took forever to download. It gave me a nice hour to catch up on homework, so that was nice. How did we ever put up with this? I have been playing a bit on PS4 when I've had time, so it was a nice surprise to immediately see my character greet me after the start screen. I convinced myself that I would have to start completely over and test the character transfer system later, but, nope, as long as you're signed into the same platform family with the same account everything will just be there. Even my controls were saved. After selecting my character, my ship didn't appear in the destination selection screen or loading screens (even after restarting). The ship sounds still played out, so it's definitely supposed to be there. Destiny on last-gen runs at a sub-720p resolution, and, while this may have been passable about a year ago, this really is hard to look at nowadays. Nevertheless, it's still understandable. There also appears to be little, if any, anti-aliasing, texture detail is far lower, skybox quality is much lower, and shadows are extremely pixelated. The worst offender probably has to be the clipping issues. Shrubbery and foliage will appear about twenty feet in front of you, and trees randomly appear/disappear for no apparent reason. Enemies appear to have rendering priority, and awkwardly stick out in seemingly empty areas off in the distance; instead sometimes actually lurking in tall grass that only appears after getting closer or zooming in. It may sound like Destiny is just entirely poor-looking on last-gen systems, but that's not the case. I do still think it looks nice as, stylistically, it's all there. And that's probably why the result is the way it is; Bungie wanted to cram every single detail from the current-gen versions into the PS3 and 360 while not suffering from performance. As with PS4 and Xbox One, the game is locked at 30 FPS and never substantially dips even when things get crazy, so they certainly succeeded there. It's up to you how paramount a bump in resolution and substantial detail increase in every aspect really is to you. If any system is an option to you, or a new one will be very soon, then the choice should be very clear. Would you rather spend fifty hours looking at a blurry, pixelated game when you could have the same experience but instead with the game's assets' full potential presented to you? Destiny on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 may fall short in graphical prowess, but stylistically, and content-wise, it's the exact same experience that can be found on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The cloud-based character transfer system for in-line platform families makes it very worthwhile for soon-to-be adopters of current-gen consoles who simply can't wait any longer to play the new hotness to do just that if they're not bothered by the graphical limitations.
Destiny PS3 photo
720p is so last-gen
[Screenshots shown here are not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions.] The marketing for Destiny would have you believe that the only place it makes an appearance is on the PlayStation 4. But no, it certainly made its way t...

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