Last week, Bungie launched a significant update for Destiny, a video game in which players create virtual dolls and dress them up in a variety of coloured costumes. The update, which has been informally dubbed The Taken Spring, adds a few new bits of content to Bungie's shooter-MMO hybrid. There's a short quest, a boring new strike and an unnecessary PlayStation-exclusive mission that seems to exist solely so Sony has extra ammo for their marketing cannon. Bungie has also refreshed the Prison of Elders, which is Destiny's version of horde mode. There's now a level-41 version and even a challenge mode for special gear.
As a package, even a free one, it's disappointing. The Prison of Elders remains boring and repetitive, in part because it's so structured — every time you go in, you're fighting the same types of enemies on the same types of maps. The new strike is just another jaunt through an old area, and the lore doesn't make much sense — the boss, Malok, is meant to be a contender to last year's big bad Oryx, but in reality he's nothing but a big ol' knight with a shiny head. With no other new content coming out until the expansion this spring, this might feel like dire times for Destiny.
Yet the new update didn't just add more content. The Taken Spring bumped up the light level to 335 and made some much-needed changes to the game's core systems. Two of those changes have turned out to be just what Destiny needed.
The first change is a revamped loot system tweaking the random drop rates that have plagued Destiny players since year one. Now, drops from higher-end content like the raids and Trials of Osiris are far more likely to give you rewards that mean something. Players at 315 no longer have to keep running on the treadmill for 300-light gear; now, they're more likely to find drops at light level 315 or higher. The algorithm feels player-friendly in a way it never did before.
The second and most important change is one that should have been added six months ago: Infusion now makes sense. In the past, infusing a low-level item with a higher one would result in a piece of gear that sat somewhere in between. For example, if you infused that sweet new 280 Sleeper Simulant with a level-300 Thunderlord, you'd wind up with a level-290 Sleeper Simulant. It'd take a lot of grinding to get your favourite laser gun all the way up to the cap.
Now, the system is way simpler: infuse a piece of gear and it will leap right up to the higher of the two levels. The change is simple, yet pivotal. It allows Destiny players to use whatever gear they think fits their character best — or whatever looks the prettiest — instead of forcing them to stick with the stuff that maxes out their light level. It's a player-friendly addition that has re-energised hardcore Destiny fans as they shoot their way to level 335, and as they wait for the new expansion this spring.
It's fair to say that Destiny still lacks content for those of us who have played hundreds of hours, but hey, we've played hundreds of hours. Ain't nothing wrong with a break.