If you’re positively bewildered by the madness you’re seeing here and would like some additional context, a link to previous parts in this series can be found at the end of the article.
What with The Taken King now vaporised, we now march onwards to The Rise of Iron. There’s even a quest called King of the Mountain seemingly there to usher in the new age of Iron. With a great deal of excitement to leap into this new content, I go to click on it and…
…Oh! There’s a light level requirement! Let’s check my light level, I’m sure I’m not far off…
So I have 71 light levels to go, something this entire part is about. Although before we get into the happenings, I best explain what this Light counter is.
You may have noticed all the gear has a big number which represents quality. This quality usually shines through either damage done or damaged reduced. A weighted average is performed of all the gear I have (either 12%, 10% or 8%) to give the total average light level. This in turn has several effects. One of which, as you can see, is it acts as a mission qualifier once the maximum level has been hit. This not only avoids players getting their insides liquefied via acid, but also prevents boosting (i.e. a higher levelled person carrying a team for a lower levelled individual).
It also has another effect I might have alluded to in the past and is a somewhat controversial idea. As you gun down the Fallen, Taken, Hive, Vex, Cabal, 2016 American supernatural film The Darkness or any other group named after a vaguely associated English word, you pick up Engrams. These will tell you an equipment slot and rarity, and that’s it.
Like a child clutching onto hundreds of vouchers from the arcade machine, you must then go to the prize desk to swap these engrams in. Based on your current light level, you’ll then get a new item that fit the rarity and slot of the engram. Theoretically this works as a fantastic way to avoid getting swarmed by equipment too low level to consider, therefore rendering missions non-level specific and not beneath players.
Which ended up making fighting lower levels tedious, rather than a colossal waste of time.
The problem rears its ugly head and belts out a cruel cry only upon what this system means. As you are required to use only the best gear to reap the best rewards, it discourages using lower levelled gear. Again, sounds like not much of a problem, until you factor in playstyles and weapon variation. You may want to use a sidearm to rapid-shot people in the face, but the light level may force you into using a shotgun. This shotgun being unhelpful if you need a sniper rifle in a range-heavy area. There is also the weapon levelling mechanic that plays into it, but we’ll cover that mechanic a later time.
There is also the problem of multiple engrams. You must hand in each engram one at a time, each one based around your current light level. Which means using an engram, opening up your character screen, comparing the light level of your trousers to see which one is the brightest, equipping it, and then using the next engram. It makes it busy work for multiple efficiency, something that could be avoided by measuring maximum potential light in inventory than equipped light level.
Oh well, this potential alternative doesn’t change reality. Speaking of, this part will have an ongoing count of my light level. So you can see how close we get with each quest we conquer. We’re starting on 209. So it’s a long way to the top, we better get going.
So, for those who have arrived late to this party: Crota is dead and his father is dead too. However, in contrast to how hive-minds usually work (i.e. a central brain in the leadership, or no leader ever due to shared consciousness), this hierarchical group still goes on without a leader. “Well, what do we do then?” I ask Robo-Phillyman. “Well, I guess shoot their Wizards that are mulling about being a nuisance?”. To be even more awkward they’re clouded, so I have to turn off the “Darkness taps” by shooting them.
Thanks Nolbot. You are a fountain of knowledge.
Then, wordlessly, it is off to go kill specific lieutenants dotted around Neo-Russia. Which led to a lot of waiting, lots and lots of waiting. Enough that I decided to abandon it in the quest for a sword. This would involve material gathering (which I did research of where to get). After the immediate confusion, I actually got into a nice routine of where to get the required items as they respawn. Before I knew it, I had the required 25 Hadium Flakes which I traded in for a nice sword. As a bonus, I got the one that requires Spinmetal to upgrade which I was drowning in accidentally.
Then I went back to trying to kill the lieutenants, until I met one that just kept shooting my face off in the Rocketyards. While normally I’d count on the general public to help, they just simply weren’t coming to this backwater. So I bothered a Destiny vet until he was willing to come to my aid the following day. I then took a break for the night. The following day it took about ten minutes to fell the giant and move onto less frustrating ventures.
We’re up to 238 by the way. A hell of a leap, no idea why really. Maybe all that wall-bashing with my skull has toughen up the muscle around it?
While I was getting help, said vet lent some kind advice, something to help speed the process up. “If you do Strikes, you’ll always get some gear that improves your light level!”. I was tempted to ask when I should equip the higher levelled equipment (as I was trying to level my weaker sword up) but I felt fearful of bothering a professional with my simplistic amateur questions. So I equipped the unfamiliar and dived into the first random strike.
So we stormed into a Cabal HQ and shot the leader in the face. “What next?” I inquired. Well, apparently a Restorative Mind is trying to link the broken network that might have been caused by the Black Garden Incident. So it’s off to shoot the Restorative Mind so it doesn’t repair the time link. Hopefully there isn’t something to restore the Restorative Mind (like its past self), creating an endless stream of repairing. Don’t think too hard.
Up to 241 light level now. So it’s a slow crawl now.
Apparently, Cayde gave bad intel about the Wizards having a run of the show. His plan this time is to track down a Knight who has been running around the Cosmo being a general pain. So it’s time to shoot the Knight for that. I don’t think I managed to find him, but I found a bigger prize. After a bit of a hunt, turns out the root of all this are echoes of Crota. How many echoes are there? Maybe hundreds? Well, time is a finite resource so I guess it’s time to hunt them down one by one.
So let’s hit up Venus. Remember that time I went to that place where the Awoken queen got off her high-horse? It’s time to crawl back up there. There’s an Echo of Crota that is playing with time, because Bungie keeps playing with time. Time-manipulation being something rarely represented well, and Bungie’s writing team has yet to show any sign of doing anything good with the concept.
Can we go back to the days when your humour.exe program wasn’t installed? Because it must have corrupted.
To say this boss stomped on my head like a trampoline would probably be doing disservice. I did spend a good hour or three on this, as I just kept being over-run. Eventually, after trial and error, error, error, error, mistake, rage-quit, break, error, error, I managed to break through. With a relieving sigh and the hope that this was the final boss. Sadly, not the case.
Light level 245 now.
Now it’s off to take the fight to Mars, deep within the railway network that lurks underneath the city like a spider’s web. Which oddly…Led to finding the Black Garden again. For a garden, we’ve never run through the fields of flowers. Never spied a forest to dart within for cover. Never a grand battlefield deserving of the “garden” label. Just always linear stone corridors.
I guess I was day-dreaming, as I was then snapped out by Nolbot pointing something out: The Vex were now partially controlled by The Taken, and therefore may now possess the knowledge said Vex held (e.g. the magical heart and the manipulation of space timey wimey wibbly wobbly). Although how we were going to stop them since The Taken had the power of a self-replicating force, and we couldn’t reasonably defend a site, was beyond me. I guess shoot the echo again? Sadly, it got away, although not before I managed to take down a significant Taken Cabal member in the process. Little things.
Light level 248.
Time for something a bit more open and peaceful though. The mission I was given was to kill lieutenants on Mars, which occasionally spawn across the land at fixed places. While I did it, I was more focusing on collecting as much delicious iron as I could. As I could then inject it into my weapons to power them up.
“Yeah, just get a handful of that red rock and jam it into your pocket. Should be enough.”
It was then onwards to the source of all this, hopefully. Coincidentally, this was found at the beginning of this sordid mess: within the atmospheric Cabal base. Now with the mystery unveiled, this base was now more of a run-n-gun performance. This was something reasonably simple but tricky, up to the boss. I guess being swarmed in cramped quarters (like last time) was not enough. You also have a boss that can hit like a train. You have an area where you’ll lose health if you tresspass. You also have vents of fire that go off every so often. All this within narrow corridors that hold little cover and a lot of mines.
So I tried. I really did try 25+ times, and I failed. So I walked off, hoping to maybe return with bigger and meaner tools. I then pondered on the best way to get them, since my questing had hit a wall. Then I remember the veteran from before. “Ah, yes, of course, random strikes”.
A houseless Fallen is now working for a house. Specifically the House of Wolves, I think. So its time to stop him plundering The Hive’s ruins the only way my character knows how: With fire, steel and headshots.
Then Variks leaned close to me and whispered in my ear: “Hey, you know we have a prison?”
“…Want to use them for sport?”
I know you’re not human, but does that excuse a lack of humanity?
At first I didn’t know what to say, killing prisoners for fun seems barbaric. Then Variks assured me they were used up and were probably going to be gassed anyway and suddenly it was okay. I mean, when in Rome, use prisoners as a blood-sport. Basically you do four rounds with two other people that each have an enemy type across three waves. Sometimes there are bonus objectives which if not done you die. Then you do a fifth round focusing on killing a boss. Once completed you can get some prize goodies for your troubles.
As much as I spit on it, if I could I’d definitely throw a lot of hours into this place. It has a defined reward, it has a survivalism angle and you’re tackling it with two others. The only thing I do wish about it is if the side missions were optional. Which would lead to an interesting risk-reward dynamic. Even if it just dropped a torch cannon, it’d be a risk to help make the rest of the round easier. Still, overall, I definitely dig it. Especially the variation.
So we get to light level 254. Just over half way to seeing the iron Destiny has seen rise up against it. We’ll have to leap into the last 26 levels next time. See you next week!