Destiny — SRL returns with The Dawning

Three months on from the Rise of Iron release, the Destiny Live Team drop another update to tide players over during the dark winter months. This fairly large release — due to go live on Tuesday 13th December — sees the welcome return of the Sparrow Racing League, as well as a number of other strike updates and quality of life improvements.

It’s been over a year since the introduction of the Eververse store — Bungie’s micro-transactions hub for Destiny that promised to fund free content through their live team in lieu of season pass style DLC’s. And for the most part, Bungie have delivered, with the April Update earlier this year and now The Dawning update coming next week — in addition to the smaller holiday themed updates at Valentines and Halloween.

These are not £25-sized releases — expansions of that magnitude will still cost cold hard cash and deliver significant updates to the Destiny universe. But The Dawning is not to be sniffed at, with 2 new SRL tracks, 3 updated Strikes, “Strike Scoring” (a new points-scoring strike mode similar to Challenge of the Elders), and the obligatory influx of new weapons and armour. Players will also receive a new record book to track progress and unlock rewards.

If Bungie can deliver this update, as well as another April Update in 2017, the Eververse store may have succeeded in it’s goal of keeping Destiny ticking over while a sequel is developed. Evil micro-transactions or not, it has given this shared world shooter a significant shelf life.

Sparrow Racing League

Approached with caution when it made it’s debut in 2015, this fortnight long break from shooting minions of the darkness proved to be a huge hit, and Bungie have resisted calls since then to reinstate it full time.

It returns with 2 new tracks — giving a total of 4 — and 8 new record book objectives. Players who didn’t complete their 2015 record book last year can, allegedly, continue to make progress to tick off any unfinished goals. When the event ends, Sparrow Racing will remain, albeit only as an option in Private Matches to play with friends.

Last time out, the Sparrow Racing League events offered a route to gaining high Light Level items (specifically, helmets and class items) and so this activity will likely offer character progression as well as being a fun side-event.

Strike Scoring

Perhaps the most significant part of The Dawning update is the introduction of points scoring objectives in Strikes. It’s unclear from the info released so far whether this is a permanent change to the Strike playlist, or a completely separate activity, but we know it operates in a similar way to scoring in the Challenge of the Elders — where kill sprees and melee attacks, for example, grant bonus points compared to regular gun kills. Players will be challenged to achieve high scores, and a weekly bounty from Commander Zavala will grant Nightfall level rewards.

In addition to the new Strike Scoring, The Dawning sees the welcome update and return of three strikes, including the Nexus, which has been absent in strike playlists since The Taken King dropped in September 2015. The returning strikes are:

  • Taniks Returns (was: The Shadow Thief)
  • Omnigul Returns (was: The Will of Crota)
  • Nexus Returns (was: The … Nexus)

These Strikes will be updated to include SIVA and Taken enemies, as well as new Strike Specific Loot from Skeleton Chests.

Weapons and Armour

As ever with a Destiny update, more gear to collect gets thrown into the mix. Some of that will be SRL exclusive gear, while some will be new or returning exotics. The highlight, though, is the Ice Breaker.

One of the truly exotic weapons from Destiny’s first year, this sought after sniper rifle regenerates 1 of it’s 6 shots every few seconds, and causes targets to spontaneously combust when killed. It was a genuine game changer — for better or worse, it competely changed the way players approached high level activities. It was perhaps left behind for so long due to how it encouraged patient play at the back of maps slowly chipping away at enemies. It remains to be seen what changes, if any, Bungie have made to mitigate this.

The Dawning also sees the Arc-damage Exotic Machine Gun “Thunderlord” get 2 friends, in the form of a Solar version named “Abbadon” and a Void version named “Nova Mortis”. Why Thunderlord has been chosen in particular is a bit of a mystery — but the Void machine gun is at least a welcome break from the seemingly constant influx of Exotic Solar weapons.

Quality of Life

In amongst all this new content are a few ‘quality of life’ changes, designed to improve the experience without adding new content.

  • The drop rate of Skeleton Keys has been increased
  • The Nightfall activity will now grant 1 Skeleton Key per account per week
  • Once level 40, common / green Engrams will automatically dismantle upon collection, granting the player weapon parts or armour materials without clogging up much needed inventory space
  • An Ornament kiosk will be added to The Tower, allowing players to buy Ornaments directly. This is a significant change from the existing RNG behaviour of the Eververse store, allowing players to choose which Ornament they want to receive before parting with their cash
  • New Ornaments available for Thorn, The Last Word, Black Spindle, Red Death, and the new Ice Breaker

The Dawning offers plenty to be excited about as a Destiny fan, and for many comes at a time when the limits of the Wrath of the Machine raid are being explored, and new content is required. It should add enough to hold interest over the Christmas period and into the new year, but Bungie will need to produce more to keep players engaged until Autumn of 2017 when the fully fledged sequel in Destiny 2 is anticipated for release.

Destiny: Rise of Iron — The Dawning releases on 13th December, with the Sparrow Racing League event and daily holiday gifts running until 3rd January.

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