April 12th was a battle for the online, console loot scene with Destiny and The Division going head-to-head. With both games dropping free content on the same day, which one is better for the gamer stuck in the middle? The “April Update” from Bungie or the “Incursions 1.1 Update” from Ubisoft? I’ll pit the two head-to-head in three categories: Content, Longevity, and World Changes. Each game will get a nod for each category. The game with the most overall categories wins the battle! FIGHT!
The most important factor for any update. Content is what reels gamers in, and keeps them playing a game. Nothing else matters if the main portion of content is lacking. Both The Division and Destiny added plenty of content with their updates, which one came out on top?
The new Incursion is the main source of content for The Division’s April update. Falcon Lost, now the highest end-game activity, is the first of two Incursions coming to The Division. Along with it is the new Gear Score implementation. After reaching level 30 players are now rated based on their Gear Score instead of everyone simply being grouped as level thirty’s. Falcon Lost for example recommends a Gear Score of 160 and requires a score of 140. The Gear Score takes into account all of the items in your inventory, level being the most likely factor. With almost all level 31 items equipped I was sitting at 170 Gear Score when I first launched the update.
The Incursion itself is a little disappointing. With the similarities to Destiny, many dubbed these as Raids. Even knowing months ahead of time that Incursions were never going to be like Raids, I was still a little disappointed. Falcon Lost consists of 15 waves of enemies in the same large, square room. There aren’t any new enemies types unless you count the stationary APC that sits at the back of the room shooting at you periodically. Other than that waves consists of the typical shot-gunners, snipers, drones, heavy machine-gunners, and the like. Every four waves or so you are tasked with planting an explosive pack on the back of the APC. After four times it blows up and you win.
One thing the Falcon Lost Incursion does right is difficult and loot. Falcon Lost isn’t a cake walk. If you don’t have a group of four players that are either very skilled or very geared, you’re going to have some trouble. But after one attempt with my group of 170+ players, we beat it on our first try. Challenging difficulty is another story however. The update also adds the new Gear Sets. There are four Gear Sets which are new armor sets the give bonuses the more you have equipped. You get one from the APC drop every time you complete the Incursion and one extra for the first time you complete it each week. Other pieces can be obtained through vendors, Dark Zone, and Challenging missions.
Outside of the Incursion the update also added trading between party members, daily and weekly Assignments, Dark Zone Supply Drops, a group spectator camera, and two new High End named weapons.
The main content addition for Destiny revolves around the existing House of Wolves content and an increase to the maximum Light Level. Prison of Elders now has a level 41 mode with a chance of being a Taken varient, along with the central challenge activity: Challenge of the Elders. This new mode consists of three boss waves and a point system. If players are able to surpass the high score of 30,000 points in one match, Variks will reward them with new loot. You can also replay the Challenge of the Elders until you reach a cumulative score of 90,000 points to earn more rewards.
The Challenge of the Elders mode itself isn’t much different than the normal Prison of Elders. With a recommended Light of 320, you would think three players with Light Levels barely above 320 would at least fail once. Well that wasn’t the case. The mode attempts at throwing some sense of urgency by putting a time limit on you. As your team attempts to rack up kills on enemies, you also need to eventually kill the boss. After a certain amount of time your score will start to decrease, most likely so players can’t farm enemies to get their score up. It doesn’t help that my first playthrough we ended up fight the Servator boss for the third wave. So none of the bosses were even new.
The other major change with this new update is that it increase the maximum Light Level to 335. This affects most of the end-game activities. The Challenge of the Elders, Weekly Nightfall, and King’s Fall have all been updated to recommended Light of 320. Players can now get higher gear through a number of different means including Trials of Osiris, Iron Banner, Heroic Strikes, Court of Oryx, and more.
Other additions include one new quest which took us about 30 minutes, eight old exotics being brought up to Year-2, one new strike which utilizes areas from another strike, one old strike with taken enemies, new armor and weapons, twelve new emotes, and a new vanity item that changes the glow of new armor (not existing armor) called Chroma.
Comparing new content to re-purposed old content is an easy decision. The Division takes this category.
Winner: The Division
Two huge factors of DLC in MMO/loot style games such as these are frequency and longevity. It doesn’t matter if the DLC is frequent if it’s also too short. Similarly it doesn’t matter if it’s a little infrequent if it it very lengthy. So how well do these two stack up in terms of length of new content?
Length is a tricky factor to measure as it really all comes down to the gamer. Games such as Destiny and The Division can be considered anywhere from 20 hour games to 2,000 hour games. Technically there is enough content in both games where one gamer that decides to can easily spend thousands of hours experiencing it all. On the other hand another gamer might be satisfied after completing all of the main content (story, strikes, PvP, raids, etc.) and then being done with the game after 30 hours or so.
For The Division, length can be measure by the time it takes you to complete Falcon Lost on Hard and Challenging, collect all pieces to the new Gear Sets, reaching the maximum Gear Score, and obtaining the two new named weapons. But someone could easily be satisfied after obtaining one Gear Set and completing the Incursion on Hard.
Similarly Destiny’s April Update length can be measure by the time it takes you to complete the new quest, new strike, revised old strike, level 41 Prison of Elders, Challenge of the Elders, obtaining all of the newly added year-1 exotics, reaching the maximum Light Level, collecting all Chroma colors, and maybe a handful of new Legendary items.
But in the same fashion as The Division, I could easily see someone being satisfied after completing the quest, new strike, old strike, trying out Chroma, completing the Challenge of the Elders, and raising their Light Level a bit.
One thing I think Destiny does backwards is their maximum rank. In The Division you’re end-game activity is now the Challenging Incursion. To complete it you will have obtain Gear Sets to increase your Gear Score and find three other people that have done the same. Not to mention this is a completely new activity. In Destiny your new end-game activity is the Challenge of the Elders, yet you can complete it at Light Level 320 which many began the update at. So what exactly is your motivation for getting to Light Level 335 when you’ve already completed the new end-game activity? Sure you can try the increased King’s Fall raid, but nothing actually changed there. It’s the exact same raid you’ve been playing for the last 6 months.
Personally I would give the advantage to The Division but seeing as this is determined by the gamer so much, I’ll give it a tie.
Winner: Destiny and The Division
New additions to a game are fine, but what really makes them stand out is how much they alter the entire game. How much have these April updates changed existing content and how much is new and different outside of the added content? In short, how much did the world change as a result to these updates?
The new additions to The Division have changed things up quite a bit, for low and high level players alike. For lower level players, High End items drop much more frequently. Named bosses in missions, the Dark Zone, and pretty much everywhere seem to be dropping High End items at a much higher probability. In Challenging missions, it’s a guarantee that the boss will drop them. The vendors in the Dark Zone have also scaled down their DZ rank requirements. What used to require level 50 DZ rank now only requires level 40.
For higher geared players, the crafting system has received an overhaul. Crafting blueprints in now more expensive in terms of materials and materials received from breaking down items is lower as well. There are also some changes in regards to Phoenix Credits. Dark Zone vendors now use DZ Credits instead of Phoenix Credits for their loot. Recalibrating items now costs normal credits instead of Phoenix Credits. This drastically changes the way players will be obtaining their gear.
On the Destiny side of things, the Light Level increase will have a major impact to upcoming Trials of Osiris and Iron Banner. Of course this will have the greatest impact in the first few weeks when gamers Light Levels are more spread out. In terms of both Crucible and PvE, the inventory for snipers and shotguns has been reduced. To compensate, the drop rate of special ammo has been increased, although the effects can still be noticed.
For the House of Wolves activities, Keys are no longer required to open the Prison of Elders chest. In addition to that, armor and weapon cores are now longer required to purchase items from Variks. The vault space has also been increased. The other major change comes in the form of minor tweaks to guns, armor, and sub-classes. It seems every few months or so Bungie likes to changes things to artificially make the game feel new and different. There are tweaks to practically every style of weapons and more so these changes will likely make the most impact in the Crucible.
Overall the Light Level has changed the world of Destiny the most. Nightfall, Kings Fall, Trials of Osiris, and Iron Banner will all feel much different until players can increase their Light. Seeing as these changes are only temporary due to that fact, I give the edge to The Division.
Winner: The Division
There you have it. The Division wins over Destiny with a score of 3-1. In truth, I thought both of these updates were disappointing. Although I knew it wouldn’t be a raid, I expected more from the Incursions. And while I knew Destiny was offering old content with a shiny new polish, I was expecting a challenge from their “Challenge” of the Elders. While I’m sure both are enough for gamers that were already hooked on either game, these mediocre updates simply don’t do it for me. But then again, you can never expect too much from a free update.