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The Character Progression Of Destiny

by Bryan Vore on Dec 27, 2013 at 04:30 AM

In the final installment of our month of Destiny updates, we chat with investment lead Tyson Green about how you'll upgrade items and abilities on your characters. Learn about specific focuses for all three classes and what makes Destiny's progression system different from Call of Duty's prestige structure.

Flexible Character Tweaks

Green: We want to have a well balanced upgrade experience for your gear but also for your abilities. And we want to give players the ability to actually commit to some of the decisions that they made so they can distinguish themselves from one another. But that sort of comes along with, “Well, what do you want to do when someone wants to change their mind about something? Do they have to throw their character away?” And that was really unappealing.

We want to say “No, you are your character.” When you decide to roll an Exo Hunter that’s because both being an Exo and being a Hunter were things that were exciting and appealing to you. So when you want to change your mind about something, whether it’s a weapon or whether it’s what abilities you’re using, we let you change the stuff that your character is using and we let you upgrade the stuff that your character is using rather than having to reset your character or throw your character away. 

I think Call of Duty is really interesting in this respect because they have the prestige system. You might say, "Why would anybody reset their character and throw all of their guns away?" The answer is people actually like that. People like making progression with their character. And if doing that let you be different or distinct from your friends or your competitors in some way, I think that’s a really exciting experience for players. So we really sort of looked at that and said, “People enjoy this, so let’s build a good system that lets them do that, that doesn’t make them throw their character away.”

Upgrade Categories

Green: The three things that all characters can upgrade are their weapons, their armor, and their focus. Those all level up as you use them. So when you’re wearing your armor and earning experience your armor’s leveling up. When you’re using weapons to get kills, those specific weapons are leveling up. And your focus also levels up when you’re getting kills or completing activities. 

Describing Focus

Green: A focus is a thing that captures all of your abilities in one bundle – sort of a thematic bundle, but also a functional bundle. It carries your grenade abilities, your super attacks, it carries certain passive abilities that change the way your character plays. The focus is the thing that defines how your character is going to play at both the lowest and the highest level. It’s what your character is thematically about and it’s also functionally what abilities you have available to use. 

You could call it a spec. You could call it a build. You could call it a lot of things. For a long time we called them builds, but your build is a bigger thing because it also brings into account which weapons you’re using and what modifiers are on your armor. I want people to be able to talk about playing a Void Warlock sniper build, which is something that encompasses more than just the focus item. 

Experience Distribution

Green: Everything gets the XP [reward] unless you have an XP bonus or something. You might have a piece of armor that gives plus XP to your weapon. So you might take that 10 XP on every piece of gear except your weapon, which might get 11 XP because of the modifiers. You might have a consumable or a perk active that gives you a bonus to how fast something else levels. It can vary from object to object. But generally speaking we’re definitely not asking anyone to make any hard decisions like, “Maybe I should only equip this one piece of gear because that’s the only thing that needs to level up so it power levels that one thing.” We’re trying to keep those mechanics very straightforward. 

Tuning Weapons To The Task

Green: You can absolutely have more than one weapon that you’ve configured differently. Like you have one sniper rifle which is really good in competitive multiplayer because it has high burst damage and a good precision damage modifier. But you might have another sniper rifle which is better in cooperative campaign where you’re looking at doing more damage to an enemy. You have to be able to burst a target down over a longer sustained period of time so it’s got a bigger magazine and can carry more ammo. Those could both be the same base weapon just configured differently.

A Titan Focus

Green: The Fist of Havoc focus [Editor's Note: not a final name] is really about close quarters combat. It’s about getting into melee range and using powerful arc damage attacks to take your foes out. It can be built slightly different so it’s more about area control. It can be a little bit more defensive or a little bit more aggressive, but fundamentally that one is about smashing the door down, leaping into the room, and just absolutely nuking everything inside with point blank melee range damage. Fist of Havoc is the name of the super attack for that focus. That’s the one where you basically just smash the whole area around you. And there are some twists on that super like you can project more of the force forward so it becomes a longer range attack. You can have it leave behind damage in an area so it’s more of an area control ability. That’s true of all the supers. They have different ways to be built. 

A Hunter Focus

Green: The Hunter build that we show off the most is the Gunslinger build. That’s centered around the Ghost Gun ability. Ghost Gun basically allows you to bring out this weapon which you only get a couple shots on, but they’re very devastating thermal damage shots. Very good for taking down high value single targets at a distance. Very much feared in competitive multiplayer. People see that Ghost Gun come out and they’re just like, “Either I’m going to get really lucky or I’m going to be respawning in a second.” Any abilities that support that super are abilities which are about maintaining a standoff distance with your targets. There’s sort of an area control aspect to that build where you can say, “I want to make you come out that door and not that door because I’m going to have my crosshair on that door.” It’s an offensive oriented build with subspecs that are more about standoff and zone control.

Two Warlock Focuses

Green: The Warlock build that we show off is the Circle of Night build. And that build is built around the Warlock ability Nova Bomb. Circle of Night is a really offensive, almost glass cannony build where you have lots of ability to deal damage at a distance and not a lot of ability to take damage.This is sort of true for a lot of our offensive builds that they can specialize for direct offense or zone control from direct offense. Some of those will be better in competitive multiplayer. Competitive multiplayer a lot of times you just want to go for the direct offense, you know, go for the kill rather than the potential for a kill. But you might find that when you’re doing cooperative scenarios that a zone control build is capable of doing a lot more damage. Persistent damage fields are really effective against the AI. They do a lot more damage per ability use. The Circle of Night build can be built in either way for more persistent damage and zone control or more direct damage and burst. There’s one version of Nova Bomb which causes it to leave a persistent damage field, but there are also grenade abilities that cause it to do persistent damage, and then there are passive abilities that will be synergistic with those things, like make those last longer or give you advantages against people who are afflicted by those things. 

I think the other one that we’ve touched on the most would be the Solar Warlock. That’s the Heart of Fusion build. Heart of Fusion is built on an ability called Radiance, which provides beneficial buffs to yourself but also nearby people.And that build is more of a supportive, team-oriented build where it not only benefits you and benefits your allies, but it has fairly good zone control abilities. You can say I want to block that doorway off or I want to keep people at standoff. And the other thing that Radiance does is it can revive other players who have fallen and also buffs them, giving them health bonuses or damage bonuses. 

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