Back in May, I had the privilege of attending the Destiny 2 gameplay reveal event. While there, I got to look at the new classes and even use one of them, the Dawnblade (think the Warlock Sunsinger only with flaming swords of destruction in place of self resurrection). While the event gave us plenty to take in – there was a strike, some single player action, and even a few matches in the new multiplayer mode – the other new classes, the Arcstrider and Sentinel which belong to the Hunter and Titan respectively, were unavailable to actually try out. Instead, we were given the chance to try updated versions of subclasses from the first Destiny game. But here at E3 2017, I got the chance to try one of those elusive classes, the Arcstrider.
At first glance, some of you may notice that this new subclass looks an awful lot like the Bladedancer from the first game, and that’s because this is the Hunter’s replacement Arc class. Destiny 2’s new subclass does more than just look like its predecessor; it actually shares a lot of the same elements outside of the same elemental burn. For starters, the agility and jumping abilities are almost identical. You have a double jump (self explanatory), a strafe jump (double jump with more control), and the Blink ability has been replaced with a triple jump (throw physics out the window). The shared elements continue with the Arcstrider’s grenades which are the Bladedancer’s Flux, Skip, and Arcbolt grenades.
To be honest, I wondered at first why Bungie even bothered with the renaming. If everything was going to be pretty much the same, why mask it? But then I tried the new super that Arcstriders make use of in Destiny 2. The Arc Staff (maybe not the most creative ability name, but it gets the point across) lights up just like the Arc Blade, yet that’s where it all the similarities stop. Where the current subclass super available in Destiny turns Hunters into a murder machine that isn’t as graceful as one would expect from a class with “dancer” in its title, the Arc Staff is all about skill, offering two distinct paths that both make the Arcstrider a beautiful force on the battlefield.
After the Destiny 2 gameplay event I had spoken about how the developers are giving each of the game’s three classes more distinction. This is something that permeates every element of the available Guardians, even their super abilities. While the Golden Gun definitely fit the Hunter’s ranged inclination, the Arc Blade was tanky, and sort of clumsy. You lunged haphazardly at players over a short period of time, and sometimes it wouldn’t exactly do what you wanted to do. Sure, there were times when you did manage to wipe a team, but it all felt sort of cheap. It lacked that finesse you would expect from Destiny’s most agile class. However, the Arc Staff rectifies these issues by being a precise, beautiful state of being.
The Arcstrider super has two paths, with the first, called Way of the Warrior, focusing on combat. It rewards players who dance close to danger with a recharging dodge on kills, extended melee reach, and double damage thanks to the Lethal Current perk. You can even obtain a lightning strike with the Shocking Blow perk which sees the hunter emit lightning after connecting with a hit. The second path, Way of the Wind, focuses more on speed and large combos. You still deal an incredible amount of damage, but you can also stun a target, leaving them open for your fellow Guardians to finish them off. It also offers a sort of risk/reward charging perk called Battle Meditation. With this active, your abilities will recharge faster the lower your health is. These paths help to make your Hunter more useful in certain situations. With the Warrior path, you’re ready for any single player action, but the Way of the Wind makes you a rapidly moving element on the field that opens up opportunities for the rest of your fireteam. There’s more versatility on offer, while still maintaining that incredible damage output during tricky fights.
One of the elements I really appreciated about both paths was that the Hunter isn’t suddenly virtually unkillable when the Arcstrider’s super is triggered. Yes, it’s admittedly odd for a player to not want to be invincible. But I’m looking at it from both sides of the fence. Sure, it felt great to be a killing machine that almost couldn’t be stopped. But on the other side it felt cheap and sort of like a cop out. Instead of capitalizing on the amazing movement that’s afforded to Hunters, they just took tons of damage. We’re not saying that the Hunter gets no type of defensive boost at all, but now survival falls on the shoulders of the player. You’re given an exceptional set of tools that let you dance through maps as you embarrass enemies with your staff. But those who see it as a quick way through an obstacle that requires no thought process or skill will be sorely disappointed.
The Arcstrider speaks to the new role that Hunters can fill, one that they’ve been filling for some time. They’re fast, powerful, and extraordinarily helpful. They’re fireteam linchpins, but that comes with the cost of needing to rely on those they support as well. Don’t worry, though, they’re still the best at running through entire maps and quickly dispatching enemy players in PvP. The big, and welcome, difference is that they can do so much more than just that. Everything that makes up a Hunter – the speed, power, and skill – is epitomized in the Arcstrider in a way that fits the world and the lore and just adds to the beauty of the class. Bladedancers in Destiny certainly have something great to look forward to when Destiny 2 hits PS4, Xbox One, and PC later this year.