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Destiny 2: Warmind review: Everything old is new(ish) again

5 min read

Destiny 2: Warmind review: Everything old is new(ish) again

Destiny 2’s Warmind expansion ought to look familiar. It’s the solid follow-up to a thoroughly disappointing first expansionjust as House of Wolves was to The Dark Below for the first Destiny. It also brings players back to Mars, another original Destiny location, and revives the story of the titular Warmind A.I. that has run in the series’ background for years.

Said story sees the big robot brain under assault by a magic space worm. He calls for the aid of Ana Bray, a superpowered space zombie that has begun to remember her first life during Earth’s golden age. It’s a pretty compelling backdrop, especially for anybody who, like me, pored over the first game’s wikis and Grimoire Card lore. Even if you’re not hip to Destiny’s mostly hidden backstory, Warmind brings the series’ best kind of science-fantasy absurdity to the forefront.

Sadly, as with most of the plot in developer Bungie’s loot shooter, the setup is a lot less interesting in practice than on paper. Warmind’s two-ish-hour single-player campaign gives us exactly one monologue from Bray explaining the situation. Guardians (a.k.a., the space zombies) aren’t supposed to investigate their pasts, though the why of that directive is never really addressed. The regulation comes off like an overly convenient excuse to pit Bray against another speaking character from the main game, Zavala, who doesn’t trust the old Earth war machine. That mistrust is a bit odd, given that Destiny 2 is narratively and mechanically about collecting otherworldly weapons.

Meet the new gear, same as the old gear

Plot aside, Warmind offers a fairly fun clutch of missions in the Destiny 2 mold. You move through new zones killing things with what is still possibly the most rhythmic action to be found in current first-person shooters. Like the previous DLC, Curse of Osiris, some of these missions are recycled as three-person Strikes once you best the micro-campaign.

The upshot is that these story missions are more involved than standing in a room, holding the square button, and practicing headshots on incoming enemies. At least there are still some of those “classic” Destiny moments sprinkled in between. The downside is that the new Strikes feel like repeats right off the bat.

Strikes aside, there are plenty of other elements that feel like echoes of past expansions this time around. “New” exotic gear like the Eternal Warrior helmet and Sleeper Simulant fusion rifle come straight out of the first Destiny and its expansions. On one hand, getting loot I already owned and played with for three years isn’t as exciting a reward as an entirely new toy when unwrapping exotic loot drops. On the other hand, I did really miss my Suros Regime.

The high-end gear is just a bit more fun across the board, too. Alongside the Warmind expansion came a free update that, among other things, made most exotic weapons feel that much more exotic. My personal favorite change is to the Graviton Lance, which now operates better at range and spawns virulent, heat-seeking dark-energy explosions with every kill.

These weapon buffs are just the thing to spice up yet more rerun content, like the public events in the new Mars zone. I was instantly disappointed when, after unlocking the frigid open area, the first thing I found was the same Cabal Injection Rig activity from the base game. Meanwhile, fans of the original Destiny will recognize the one new public event as a slightly modified version of Warsat defense.

Escalate those protocols

There’s also a high-level activity called Escalation Protocol that feels like a wider, more open version of The Taken King’s Court of Oryx. In both, you and nearby strangers team up to kill waves of enemies and a boss that rotates weekly.

This doesn’t require the coordination of a Raid, nor the variety of a Strike, but it does provide a slightly greater sense of scale than the average public event. Hive Thralls swarm in greater numbers here than elsewhere in Destiny 2. Dealing with them, plus their much larger Knight escorts, while also completing some very light objectives, is not a one-person job (until someone finds a juicy exploitas Destiny players tend to do). It is still inconvenient that I can’t take a full fireteam of six into patrol areas, though, a fact to which Escalation Protocol’s sheer chaos draws even more attention.

I could level a similar complaint at Destiny 2‘s player-versus-player suite, the Crucible. The newly weirded-up exotics have spiced it up so much so that I’d almost say constantly staying with your three teammates and hosing anyone foolish enough to round a corner isn’t the only viable tactic. The problem is that Bungie gave us a taste of classic, six-on-six multiplayer for a limited time earlier this year. While the Crucible definitely feels more interestingless squashed flat for the sake of balanceit still slows down in spots.

Warmind’s accompanying free update does finally add ranked matches to Destiny, though. So even if you’re bored with loot from an entire console generation ago, there are new guns and cosmetics to unlock at certain ranks. The strange caveat is that none of these tweaksnot even the set of new mapsrequires Warmind. All the DLC nets you is the use of those new maps in private matches. This is a good thing when it comes to keeping the player base unified, but it does make Warmind itself a little less valuable.

And that’s the critical pickle I’m in. Warmind all by itself feels like another quality shot of Destiny 2. It’s got a new patrol zone, more loot, and a story that’s comprehensible (even if it doesn’t pay off on its promising premise). Its added high-level content (Escalation Protocol and a new Raid Lair) won’t grab headlines, but it does add more spokes to the fundamentally satisfying wheel. That’s still one hell of a step up from Curse of Osiris, which felt more like a demo than a complete product.

Yet the things I’m most excited about in Destiny 2 these days aren’t part of Warmind at all. They’re expansion-adjacent intangibles: a balance philosophy of “make all the guns good” instead of “make the good ones as weak as everything else” is one giant leap in the right direction. Ranked Crucible’s reward structure adds genuine progression to the player-vs-player combat (and here’s hoping six-player teams don’t remain a temporary feature). I’m more excited about the direction of Destiny 2 than I have been since… before Destiny 2 was released.

Warmind alone isn’t nearly enough to keep me on the Destiny 2 train until this year’s big expansion, but it was a decent excuse to see how the foundation of the game is changing. You could do worse than indulging in a bit more of the familiar Destiny 2 before some hopefully big changes on the horizon.

The good:

  • Good excuse to check out smart, coinciding balance changes.
  • New Strikes, loot, and zone feel meaningful, if not familiar.
  • Getting classic loot drops can be nice.

The bad:

  • The most exciting changes came in a free update, not Warmind itself
  • Story wastes a long-running piece of Destiny lore on a short, bland tale.
  • Getting classic loot drops can be disappointing.

The ugly:

  • Getting an old piece of loot from the first game that isn’t your favorite auto rifle.

Verdict: Destiny 2: Warmind is more of the same built on a shifting foundation. Try it if you’re curious about the direction the game is going.

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Gaming

Overlordy: Turn 12 | Rock, Paper, Shotgun

2 min read

overlordyturn12a

Operation Overlord’s rising tide is lapping against the ivied walls of the hotel in the centre of Caent. Though every room is occupied and the sign on the door clearly says “COMPLET” the British seem determined to stay there. Perhaps a blizzard of Maschinenpistole fire laced with the odd Stielhandgranate will persuade them to look elsewhere for accommodation.

(Overlordy is an open-to-all game of Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord in which German forces are orchestrated by commenters while British units are computer controlled. For a scenario outline and summaries of earlier turns, click here).

overlordyturn12b

The Axis infantry occupying the hotel and church make their sedentary intentions clear from the outset of Turn 12. Within seconds the four-man platoon HQ leading the Allied advance finds itself locked in an extremely lopsided firefight with three German squads. Against the odds (26:4) the first combatant to slump to the ground clutches an MP 40 and wears Erbsenmuster.

overlordyturn12c

Meanwhile, just to the east of the hotel, the Comment Commanders, CM’s AI, and Fate are working hard to engineer a meeting between the Hetzer and the Wasp flamethrower. With both vehicles heading in the direction of the village centre, an encounter seems inevitable.

As FJ squads push up…

overlordyturn12d

…two PIAT teams, one on each side of the Allied thrust, come under withering fire…

overlordyturn12e
…and the Hetzer and Wasp edge ever closer.

overlordyturn12f

Something – a glimpse of Jagdpanzer 38 ahead or a Panzerfaust protruding from the hotel or church – spooks the Wasp at T+39 seconds and the diminutive fire-breather commences a smart reversing manoeuvre.

overlordyturn12g

At T+45 the hard-fighting British HQ at k19 sustains its first casualty and a smoke round or grenade begins spewing LoS poison at l21.

overlordyturn12h

Screened by the smoke and with its exhaust blackening bocage foliage behind it, the British dragon lets rip. For a few seconds Wasp and church are joined by an incandescent arc. The torrent of flame cascades through roof holes and shattered stained glass. Wodtke jumps for a bell rope as, below him, the fire swiftly takes hold.

The situation at the end of turn 12:

overlordyturn12j

There’s still an incredible amount of lead crossing j, k, and l20.

overlordyturn12i

The charmed British platoon HQ has just been joined by an eight-man rifle squad who appear to be on the verge of charging the hotel.

overlordyturn12m

His field of view hampered by smoke Brenner being Brenner has decided to customise his orders. The self-willed Hetzer has added a few extra sections to its hunt order.

Although thus far only Wodtke has chosen to quit the burning church, if left to their own devices, I suspect the rest of the congregation will quickly follow suit.

overlordyturn12k

A development that will doubtless please the three Allied squads approaching Caent from the SE (o17).

overlordyturn12l

On the eastern and western map edges, things are quiet. At T+3 the FJ squad by the stream eliminated the American stragglers. Nerbul’s men near the bakery spent the turn observing a lone (?) British squad picking its way through the pine trees circa a19.

overlordyturn12n

overlordymappngbig5

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Video: Happy Birthdays Demo Version Now Available On The Nintendo Switch eShop

0 min read

The special demo version for Happy Birthdays is now available for download via the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch. To celebrate this new release, NIS America has unveiled a new trailer for the upcoming title, which you can check out in the video below. Scheduled to launch on June 8, the full game allows players to shape their land to create different ecosystems, weather patterns and life forms – with hundreds of critters that will be born as time goes by.

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Gaming

June Pokemon GO Community Day event features Larvitar

1 min read

By Stephany Nunneley,
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 22:03 GMT

The next Pokemon GO Community Day event will take place on June 16.

Rock/Ground-type Larvitar is the featured Pokemon for the sixth Pokemon GO Community Day event of 2018.

The Pokemon can learn an exclusive move when caught or evolved during event hours. As usual, Fast Technical Machines and Charged Technical Machines will not grant exclusive moves during community event hours.

Pokemon GO Community Day bonuses for June will include three hours lures, and 3X the normal catch XP.

Event hours for the June 16 Pokemon GO Community Day are below:

  • Europe, Middle East, Africa, India: 10am to 1pm UK, 11am to 2pm CET
  • North America, South America and Greenland: 11am to 2pm PST, 2pm to 5pm EST
  • Asia Pacific: 12pm to 3pm JST

Pokemon GO

Ninatic Labs held the first Community Day event in January with Pikachu. February’s Pokemon was Dratini, March was Bulbasaur, in April it was Mareep, and May’s Pokemon was Charmander.

Don’t forget: from now until June 7 Legendary Pokemon Ho-Oh is available in Pokemon Go Raid Battles. The creature can be found in Gyms worldwide, alongside Latias and Latios.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

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