Welcome back, Guardians! Glad you’ve decided to join us again in the fight against Oryx, the Taken King. If you quit playing Destiny after it’s initial launch or never gave it a try because of the super-grindy, clumsily designed progression system and horrible RNG mechanics not rewarding your time you’re in luck finally. With TTK they’ve revamped all of that so now you can just play naturally. It’s designed with traditional leveling/loot concepts, and a combination of reworked level path and much improved characterizations of it’s NPCs in The Taken King’s campaign really makes this feel like the game it was meant to be. Previously the storyline just ran you through a linear chain of levels that didn’t make a lot of sense at times. Now it’s been designed with branching quest lines, broken down into logical bite size collections of 4-6 missions each. On top of that the Light Level system has been reworked. In vanilla (original) Destiny once you hit level 20 you switched into an entirely new progression system where your level climbed with the gear you equipped instead of a traditional XP gain system. The gear required to advance was fixed to a select few pieces that could only be obtained from the hardest encounters. The random number generation (RNG) for loot meant leading up to that gave you no direct way to actively level. You were at the mercy of random drops that were scarce at best already. To really top of the ridiculousness of this they made it so the best gear that got you the final few levels required you to repeatedly run a six-player raid that didn’t support match-making.

ALL OF THAT HORRIBLENESS IS GONE. Level progression now up to 40 is purely from very reasonable XP gains. Pick up some daily bounties before you play each day and just keep advancing through whatever missions / quests you have and you’ll hit the cap of 40 in no time. Light level (LL) still exists, but it’s an average of all your gear’s damage/defense. So there is a difference in being level 40 with 180 LL and being level 40 with 280 LL. The higher the LL, the more damage you deal and hits you can take. What’s really nice about this change though is drops now scale based on whatever your LL is so you’ll constantly be progressing. Say if your helmet has a 180 armor rating when you kill something, it’s likely to drop gear that has an armor of 185 or 187. Equipping that and killing the same mobs (which are all level 40 now) are likely to drop a new helmet that is 190 or 193 armor now. It basically opens the door for constant improvement so you never hit a rut. All of this improves through natural play too. No need to worry about organizing with five of your friends a night you all have 1-3 hours blocked out to run a raid together. If you’re spending time in Destiny, you’re advancing your character. Continue reading

I am a completionist when it comes to video games. I’ll play an RPG that I’ve finished just to clear optional dungeons and bosses. I’ve replayed action games several times to get all the trophies or achievements. In Crackdown I tracked down every damn agility orb, and nearly every Assassin’s Creed has a save file where I’ve gotten all the stupid collectibles just so my mini-map would be empty. I’ve kept my memory cards since the first PlayStation that still have my clear files for every play through of a Final Fantasy title. So after spending endless hours with a game and not getting that final completion state leaves me with a weird feeling. I don’t get that sense of closure, of finality, preventing me from having what feels like a full experience. This compulsion that I have usually leads me to avoid current TV shows because I hate the lack of a structure. Too often they’ll lack that magic three act arc while the network just rides it out with a weekly drip feed until ratings force it to be shut down. Opposing that you’ll encounter the constant preparation to be cut off the air. Futurama suffered like Peter Jackson’s Return of the King; they both had TOO many endings, too many logical end points. With each cancellation Futurama tried to create that sense of closure for the tales of all the Planet Express crew. So what happens when games aren’t able to close your time with them properly? Two games that I actively play are holding me hostage as they continually recreate that discomfort. Animal Crossing New Leaf and Destiny couldn’t be any more different, but neither one is giving me that finalization I need to walk away fulfilled.

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We all love to believe that idea that length operates independent of quality. Supposedly the time it takes to have a full experience with a title should not be used a determinate of a game’s value. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker clocks in at around 5-7 hours for example and I adore that game. Conversely, The Order 1866 was raked over the coals for being roughly the same length for completion (among other reasons). Still, it remains a sticking point for a lot of people. Here are a number of articles that question a connection, often immediately dismissing any correlation based purely on speculation as they surmise their desired outcome of “there’s no connection between length and quality!”.

We’ve all heard some form of “there’s a misconception that the longer the game, the better it must be.” Recently I’ve been wondering if there’s any truth to it. I wanted to get something more concrete then just anecdotes. I decided to sample some data to sate my curiosity. So I plugged in 185 games from various platforms extracted some numbers. Data regarding length pulled from HLTB‘s “Main Story” time and Metacritic‘s professional score for each entry. The average score of the sampled data was 81.9% on Meta, and the average campaign length on HLTB was 14.7 hours. Now that we have some form of base line established, here’s a quick graph of the findings.

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