Exotic Concepts #7: Sol Vector

Gave the option of a Voidwalker or Sunsinger exotic to a particularly active reader. Thanks for being a fan, @Volk37!

To some, it may seem like the Sunsinger focus got the short end of the supers stick. Radiance doesn’t let you do anything new if you don’t include the Fireborn upgrade. Sure, you can take a little less damage or improve cooldowns for nearby allies, but it’s not as interesting as other supers. You don’t get to feel like blazing winged badass you look like.

Sol Vector is a set of warlock gauntlets that is supposed to give a Sunsinger the sense of complete power and domination one should be if one was a star by getting creative with your grenade and melee.

Apollo Arbalast – Launches a super firebolt grenade that continually procs while Radiance is active. Higher discipline equals faster bolt procs.

What’s cool about this is that it’s almost like deploying a limited-duration turret. If the defender titan is the ultimate in zone defense, a discipline-build Sunsinger is the ultimate in zone offense. While a minimal discipline build will fire off only two or three pairs of firebolts, a maxed discipline build should proc seven or more times.

Lambda Scorch – Scorch hits at any distance.

It’s important to remember that scorch is cooling down very fast during Radiance, perhaps instantly with a strength build. That amounts to a very powerful ranged weapon. It should travel about as fast as a fusion rifle bolt to force the user to track a moving target at long ranges. Accuracy should be as accurate as your average sniper shot because anything less than that would detract from the godly destruction you should be able to apply.

It’s important to note that using Lambda Scorch will drain your super metre, so if you’ve got Apollo Arbalast out, it’ll last less time than you expect.

The Infusion upgrade (Replenishes health each time you pick up an Orb of Light) rounds out the upgrades a lot nicer than anything weapon-based and fits the theme nicely.

In the interests of balance between the two major upgrades, I think a three-way equal split between intellect, discipline and strength would be best. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that before but given the nature of this exotic I feel it fits.

For appearance, I’d like this to look like gauntlets that would match the Heart of Praxic Fire. Same colouration and pattern.

If it seems over-the-top even for an exotic, take into consideration how dominating a Bladedancer is with the Mask of The Third Man. That’s usually the gauge for whether or not the exotic is truly OP.

So what do you think? Would you use this? Do you think I’ve finally lost my mind?

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Exotic Concepts #6: FASTBALL

I think titans have gotten the best exotics when you consider how well they all integrate into effective build choices. Going over all the existing options looking for significant holes in the profile, I came up empty. I had to think a little more outside the box than usual, but it also had to be simple and executable.

False Axis Sensory
Tactical
BALlistic
Limb

The “Fastball Special” takes its cue from a nerd meta-joke. Large hero throws small hero at baddies. Mayhem is assured. Ah, the mayhem. While you can’t throw other guardians at Valus or Phogoth (as much as you’d want to sometimes…), you do throw other things. Grenades. Grenades travel on a parabolic arc and don’t travel very fast. But you’re a mighty titan, are you not? Are you arms not… mighty? If a professional baseball pitcher can throw a small ball at 100km/h, why can’t you send a sticky grenade slamming into some poor fool’s face at several times that speed?

Fastball Special: Magnetic Grenades will be thrown extremely fast and in an almost straight line.

Fastball Encore: You get a second Magnetic Grenade.

At this point some of the more hardcore titan players will be hissing and booing at me, saying that discipline is a fool’s stat for titans. Indeed, the strength stat seems to be the only thing worth a damn if you go by the example of every other titan exotic, but since Destiny makes it silly to min-max to such a degree due to its failure (yes, failure) to allow upgrade stacking, why not have a discipline build? This exotic would have to have a crazy-high discipline-only roll to make it worth while, but we’ve seen that sort of thing before in other exotics.

Consider how many heads you can detonate if you’ve got a sunsinger warlock in your fireteam helping you proc these little messengers of loud pain even faster. I did promise mayhem, after all.

I’d also like to include a heavy weapon loader upgrade to round out its effectiveness.

So here’s my question for the readers: What does it look like? Let’s have some fun with this! Even if it’s a half-idea or a picture from something else that you think kinda sorta maybe is in the same ballpark, just drop anything in the comments section. Also, would you like to use it?

Exotic Concepts #5: Shinsō

Exotic weapons are all well and good, but armour is what other players will gawk at when you’re busting a move at the Tower, or holding the banner at the beginning of a Crucible match. They arguably affect more of your play style than any single weapon will.  So let’s see what we can dream up for exotic armour!

When it comes to the Hunter class in the Crucible, I’m all about Bladedancers. It’s more than just that crazy super, though. Building your entire hunter around your melee can be very rewarding if you’re into a super-aggressive style. However, the range at which a Hunter’s Blink Strike can find its target as compared to his super’s is quite shorter, not to mention it’s not really a noticeable improvement over any other class/subclass. The perk for Blink Strike does say it has an extended range, but it’s almost nothing, which is disappointing.

Shinsō would be arm armour that would have 60cm black blades coming out of each gauntlet. Any melee attacks (including the super) will have different animations to utilize these blades as opposed to the standard ones. I’d like them to incorporate smooth lines with sharp terminuses as well as the yin-yang symbol.

It’s perk would be called Ikorose and vastly increase the range of melee attacks. The internets tell me that the range of a Blink Strike is 5.8m, so a Shinsō-boosted range should be around 9-10m to keep it really interesting. If you’ve got a 100% strength build and are using the Fast Twitch perk, you’ll be simply wrecking in the Crucible. I’d also recommended Hungering Blade since you’ll be using your melee a lot. Having a high strength role and maybe a bit of intellect would be pretty important to the build you would want with this exotic.

I’m pretty sure I’d want the other perk to be Shotgun Loader to boost the reload speed of shotguns. As I’m more or less aiming this exotic for Crucible use, special ammo isn’t that hard to come by, so I feel giving something useful to a weapon that people already use in conjunction with Blink Strike would be the best choice. I’m aware some people find this combo annoying but it is effective, if not a bit suicidal.

This is my first crack at exotic armour and I’m a little wary about balance, so feel free to tell me if I’m off my rocker and how you’d fix Shinsō. I’m hoping to come up with something for Warlocks and Titans so if you’ve got ideas for them, let me know in the comments section!

Exotic Concepts #4: Double Dragon

Here’s another exotic weapon picture that comes from the bowels of the interwebz:

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Ah, yes. Dual-wielding. I still remember the crowd’s reaction when Bungie showed the Master Chief holding two SMGs in Halo 2. It was a palpable excitement over really nothing at all when you break it down. People love it. Dual lightsabers in Star Wars, dual pistols in Hard Boiled… it’s just cool. Why not have a dual-wield exotic?

Firstly, I love the idea that the dual-wielding option is not something you get right out of the box. Then I started thinking about all the steps people had to go through to get Necrochasm, and regardless of how panned the final weapon has been, people were eager to work hard towards that goal. Not wanting to delve into how RNG fails at Bungie’s intent that armour and weapons would show off achievements, how could we make the procurement of the Double Dragon unique?

Double Dragon would always be found as either one of two legendary hand cannons: Ball Lightning (arc) or Flare Thrower (solar). You’d get them as randomly as you would any other legendary and would have normal but solid legendary stats. Ball lightning’s static perk would be Hip Fire while Flare Thrower’s would be Firefly. Again, they’d be very good legendaries (the kind that make top 5 lists) but just that.

Things would get interesting once you’ve leveled one hand cannon completely up. Oh, look. Something is waiting at the postmaster for you. What’s this? An exotic bounty? Seems this awesome gun I just finished upgrading has an equally awesome counterpart out there, and this bounty will lead me on some grand quest to reunite them!

You’d go on this quest, acquire the other hand cannon at some point during it, fully upgrade that weapon and then complete the bounty in some grand fashion that involves using them both in an up-leveled Dust Palace strike to kill the light-corresponding Mind Flayer.

Suddenly, you get a new exotic. Double Dragon. You’d retain the individual weapons as legendaries because it would be silly to keep you from using them individually if you wanted to. A good legendary weapon is by no means something to just throw aside, especially after you went through all the trouble to upgrade them.

So you’ve got Double Dragon. What does it do? First and foremost, it would be the only weapon to do two kinds of damage in alternating shots. As two guns, one still shoots arc and the other still shoots solar. I think it would have a pretty fast rate of fire since it’s really two hand cannons for the price of one. In fact, the stats would obviously get a general boost to line it up with other exotics.

There’s also the reload. Why would this be of interest? Well, your guardian uses his/her free hand to reload a hand cannon, so what do we do when there’s another gun in that hand that also needs fresh ammo? Games in the past have just dropped the guns from view, but that’s pretty lazy. I think Double Dragon’s revolver mags should snap out as they do now, but the left hand gun would snap in the opposite direction, so both mags would be towards the chest. Then, instead of a physical mag being swapped out, the mag could vent out energy before being snapped back home.

Perks. The primary perk would be “Third Eye” as homage to Inspector Tequila and other great scenes where the hero spins around with pistols in each hand. I’d also like to see the “Lightweight” and “Field Scout” perks make appearances to keep with the theme. The unique perk, “Double Dragon” would combine the two static perks from the formative hand cannons (“hip fire” and “firefly”) which I think would be pretty potent but not overly so for an exotic.

Thoughts? I got a lot of people poking at the last Exotic Concept I posted over various social media and I loved all the interaction (though if it were centralized in this blog’s comments you guys could interact with each other as well)! Keep it up!

Next concept? Armour!

Exotic Concepts #3: Phobos Buster

Here’s an exotic rifle concept image I found:

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I’m actually looking forward to a Cabal-themed raid, and this has all the markings of a big raid exotic ala Vex Mythoclast. Scout rifles are pretty popular and they’re my favourite primary weapon type.

My concept for this weapon is something you’d find in the middle of a venn diagram between scout rifles, sniper rifles and fusion rifles. It would spin-up the same way as a fusion rifle, fire a single hard-hitting shot like a sniper but be classified as a scout due to primary status and usefullness at closer ranges. Firing rate would be akin to a very fast fusion rifle (a hair faster than FWC’s The Calming). This would all add up to a unique weapon that would be built to melt bullet-sponges right out of the box.

That’s about all I’m going to get from the pic. Frankly the Surplus perk is fairly useless at the best of times. “Psion Buster” is obviously the artist’s idea of a raid-specific perk, but you wouldn’t find those on exotics. Armour-piercing rounds would be great if the weapon we were dealing with fired faster. Void damage makes no sense for a Cabal weapon. We’re outside the box already, let’s stay outside.

My favourite strike mission is The Dust Palace, as it has the most exciting final encounter, a lack of big singular bullet-sponges and the main targets use all three types of polarized shields. That last point requires some unique loadout thinking for a strike. In honour of that strike, I’d like this very unique weapon to be able to put out all three damage types. That alone will make it a must-have.

Beyond optics and secondary perks which I don’t really like to specify, we’re left with the primary and unique perk. The pic calls the unique perk “Bust A Move” which sounds like a movement perk and the icon tells nothing. We’re not going in that direction.

For the primary perk, I’d like to add another circle to the aforementioned venn diagram. Rocket Launcher. “Quantum Munitions” will act much like an enhanced firefly or Ice Breaker, as well as explosive rounds. Hits with this weapon cause a 3-meter kinetic explosion around the target, while kills will trigger a 7-meter explosion dependent on the damage type in use.

With the unique perk, it’s best to look at why this weapon is called the Phobos Buster. Phobos is the Martian moon that the Cabal have wrangled much closer to the planet. The warlocks believe it’s being held there by the Psion Flayers who intend to use it as a weapon. In the strike mission where you encounter them, the three Flayers each had a different polarized shield, so why not give Guardians the same option? The perk “Quantum barrier” would apply an overshield after each kill, polarized to the damage type in use.

The usefulness in PvE situations can’t be understated, but its effectiveness in the Crucible requires a lot of skill and observation, specifically observing what weapons one’s opponents are using and tracking any common damage types. If you notice that your foes are using more arc light than anything else, switching to arc light and getting a barrier up will give you a sizable defensive advantage.

What do you think? Would you use this weapon? Does it balance out?

Always looking for more exotics ideas from readers. I’d specifically like to get some armour items suggested!

Frontier Update #4 – Trials and Tribulations

First update of 2015! Today I turn the ripe old age of 32 and I’ve gotta say we’re chugging along nicely. I figured it’s as good as time as any to connect to my readers and share.

First and foremost, THANK YOU!!!

Thank you for the reads, clicks and subscriptions. I put a few hours of my life into this blog every week and while the process is its own reward, I can’t be more thankful for your readership and dedication.

Blogs like this are kind of a bygone medium in gaming culture since everyone famous in the Destiny fanbase is on Youtube and Twitch. I’d consider doing the same but my rig died on me a few months back and I have not had the change to rebuild so video editing isn’t possible at the moment.

That all said it’s been a challenge getting the word out about this thing. I’ve found what groups I can on facebook and I’m bugging who I can over Twitter (even going so far as to use Hootsuite to schedule tweets). I’ve also been copying Frontier chapters over to FanFiction.net for those who read stuff there (dug up my old account and found a Naruto fanfic I once worked on. Nostalgic…).

Let’s talk about the fiction! We’ve got acts 03 and 04 out in the wild and the response has been generally positive.

In a fashion, these two acts are meant to play off each other and push at the boundaries of the world. Act 03 was engineered to show fireteam Warden in a win scenario while 04 has them defeated. While I’m sure Bungie wants you to believe that your personal character in the game is capable of saving the world all on his/her own, that’s just not reasonable or feasible from a storytelling perspective like mine. You’ll find that I’ll be taking great care to balance virtue with flaw, ability with limitation.

Act 03 was born out of perhaps the hundredth time I ran the Winter’s Run strike. It’s one that I enjoy more than others. As my friends and I were chatting and we came around that corner to see Winter’s ketch just sitting there it just dawned on me that after we kill this Archon Priest that Cayde-6 seems so concerned about, maybe we should swing back and take the ship! I mean, we did kill off a sizable chunk of the crew as well as their Kell in a story mission, right? The story just snowballed from there.

I wanted to expand not on the guardian powersets, but on their use and implementation. It’s beholden on me to see what limitations the story imposes versus what limitations the game mechanics do. I think that’s very important to differentiate going forward, and play a bit with concepts. My understanding of the lore, science and fantasy/superhero storytelling lets me do this easily.

There was also a Vault of Glass run where everyone in the party screamed “GUARDIANS MAKE THEIR OWN FATE!” during Time’s Vengeance, which is an in-game message you get telling you basically to hit Atheon with everything you got. That inspired chapter 08, which was purely a lead-in to the rest of the act but needed to be interesting on its own. Lastly, some creative feedback I got from some friends let me know that it may have been difficult to get a grasp on Telemica’s character, so during this act I let her sensibilities shine through as much as possible.

Act 04 was definitely the hardest act to write thus far. Writing action scenes is certainly not something I feel proficient in yet and I surprise myself when things actually come out somewhat coherent. Small scenes I can handle, but I needed this scene to feel big and chaotic. Supplying enough detail without it getting verbose was a delicate balancing act that required me to reference some other works. Chapter 14 took a lot longer than usual to draft and even longer before I felt comfortable posting. Oddly enough, I’ve gotten some feedback that it was my best chapter yet, so perhaps all that fretting counted for something.

At this point we’re fast-approaching a multi-act story arc that I have planned which will compose the core story I want to tell. I have three more acts to get out there and then you may not see anything for a while. Consider it a sabbatical of sorts. I assure you that I will be working on stuff, but for my own sanity I need to take the time to make it right. I hit the ground running when this blog launched but I feel that if I rush through this next phase of the story chapter to chapter, it’ll suffer for it. I’ll do my best to post other stuff along with updates and I hope you’ll understand.

Speaking of the other stuff, we started two new segments on the blog! Exotic Concepts and (soon to launch) Lore Breakdown (title may need some work).

Exotic Concepts is a fun little exercise where we come up with new exotic weapons and armour. I say “we” because after I posted the first one, I got great responses from readers who had their own ideas for exotics and wanted me to give those ideas a full and proper treatment. I have quite a few of them being drafted and they’ll be coming out soon.

Lore Breakdown will involve me basically decoding grimoire cards into lore that can be easily digested. Is Crota really the “son” of Oryx? What makes the Vex so much more dangerous than the other aliens? I have not quite figured out exactly how I want to present these, but while I do, please let me know what parts of the lore you’d like explained. The segment will be that much better if I’m answering questions you have, rather than questions I think you may have.

There are also the random other posts I throw up. Some are actually about the game and what’s going on with that. Others are videos of Cap and I playing in the Crucible. I try and present a variety of content if possible. If there’s anything you’d like to see, let me know and hopefully I can make it happen. I try not to do the same news as everyone else (supposed leaks, patch news and such) because I get the feeling you don’t need or want yet another source of that stuff. Still, if you’re looking for my personal take on such things, I can be easily compelled to start covering news.

There’s also Twitch gameplay. I’m curious if any of my readers would be interested in playing and engaging with me live. I can put out notifications over Twitter and maybe record and post the sessions if I can figure out how to get the voice to capture. Let me know if you’d like this to be a thing.

PAX East is coming up at the beginning of March. I don’t expect anything Destiny-related to be there but I’m hoping there will be. I may just go completely off the rails and become a general gaming blog for that weekend.

Oh yeah, I still play the game from time to time. I try and complete all the weekly content and I’m still seeking a Hawkmoon, Vex Mythoclast and a MIDA Multi-tool. I’ve mostly focused on my lv31 warlock due to time constraints and I’ve just bought a FWC bond for him.

I don’t get a lot of links from search engines and such, which means this blog’s humble popularity is mostly thanks to word of mouth. If this was Youtube I’d ask you to like and subscribe for free stuff, but that’s not really possible for me in this format. Still, I’d really appreciate it if you spread the word about this thing that I do. Hopefully someday I can figure out how to give back in a more tangible way. I may not always openly ask for feedback, but it’s always more than welcome. Each and every comment fills my heart with joy and gets my utmost attention, so please feel free to engage me.

That should be pretty much it. Fingers on triggers, keep moving.

Exotic Concepts #2: Whisper

People seem to want more uniqueness in their exotics. A signature. Something that makes it stand out in the crowd. It’s with great pleasure that I present the first reader-submitted exotic concept. Whisper.

Here’s exactly what was sent to me:

Whisper.
But no one else is there..
Sniper rifle.

Softly: range and impact greatly increased, weapon is silenced. (you don’t appear on radar and enemies have a delayed response. Shots fired have a silencer effect.)

Inside voices: precision kills with this weapon increases reload speed,and greatly increases precision damage for a short time.

Thanks, Mike! Firstly, love the flavour text.

The thing about sniper rifles is that if used properly, they are one-hit killers and effective at the longest ranges. That said, there’s no real need for buffs to damage or range. Reload speed also shouldn’t be an issue unless you have a half dozen enemies lined up. So, what do we do with this concept?

The idea of a silenced sniper rifle is awesome but in Destiny there is one element that is far more telling to the presence of an impending long-range death: that little red light. If you’re lucky enough to see the barrel pointed at you before the trigger is pulled, that telling light is your only indication. I think a wonderful and unique perk would both muffle the sound of the rifle and eliminate that red light. There’s your “Softly” perk.

I’ll admit that kind of left me at a loss for what else to add. Precision and other stuff would be on a vertical perk tree (agility, over-penetration, blah blah blah), so I was drawing a blank. Then I killed a Praetorian point-blank with Icebreaker and it clicked.

Inside Voices: Whisper is effective at all ranges.

This eliminates not only any damage falloff at extreme long ranges, but also makes it useful closer up at ranges where you are using a hip-fired primary weapon. To balance this out, Whisper will need a relatively low firing rate, long reload and a small clip of no more than three rounds. Also, to make the perk useful at all, I’d want vertical perk trees of ballistic and scope options. Two separate trees of three options (one for ballistics and one for scopes) would work well. Having these options allows for customization, but at the same time doesn’t allow for the rifle to be too responsive to changing needs. It’ll test the operator’s ability to handle the weapon, change selections on the fly and respond to fluctuating dynamics. I’m not sure any other weapon in the game would demand such talent, but it would be rewarding. A player that can make this weapon dance in Crucible will be a rare force.

I’d love to have much more customization available, but as sniper rifles are weapons for specific purposes, there’s very little wiggle room. There’s not a lot of success when they expand a weapon type too far outside its intended role. I’m looking at you, Universal Remote.

What do you think? Does it balance? Would you use it?

Again, thanks to Mike for dropping the concept for me to toy with. I realize I went completely off the rails with it but I hope it’s pleasing in the end. At present I’ve got four more concepts in the pipe, two of which are reader-submitted. I’ve also added a page on the sidebar so that readers can keep track of them. Oh, and I’ve got someone working on volunteer artwork for Rose, so look forward to that.