Destiny 2 Black Armory Final Impressions
It appears we’ve reached the interstellar space in between annual pass content in Destiny 2. Black Armory went out with a bang with the controversy over the Bergusia Forge unlock and the big break up with Activision. There’s still The Last Word quest, but more or less, Black Armory is done.
Some fans are taking small breaks as they way for the Season of the Drifter to begin and kick off Joker’s Wild, the next annual pass update which will have a focus on Drifter lore-inspired content including changes to Gambit itself.
So, this is kind of our last chance to look back at Black Armory one last time before it becomes old content. Fortunately, Bungie did a really nice job of ensuring that it won’t be dead content.
Some mini-expansions, especially Curse of Osiris, suffered from having nearly all of the content available right at launch and a lot of it centered around a story that only lasted a few hours.
Bungie admitted that the amount of time needed to develop the story missions and cutscenes took up a lot of time, and likely it impacted how much actual endgame-focused content they could add.
The lack of content, combined with how neutered all the equipment was in year 1 Destiny 2 nearly sunk the game. Black Armory is nothing like that, and that’s a major accomplishment worth commending Bungie for.
Black Armory is the content update for hardcore Destiny 2 fans. You (at first) needed to be at the old max power level to make any headway unless you were carried. So if you were slacking prior to its release, you had to get grinding.
Once you actually get to the point where you could complete the first forge, Volundr Forge, you are greeted with more stuff to grind for. Namely, forge weapons and new forge locations.
In order to complete the forge weapon requests, you have to complete a grocery list worth of tasks that require killing specific enemies, in a specific way, sometimes on a specific location.
You complete a frame and hope that you get the rolls that you wanted. If not, it was back to the drawing board to try it again.
It might sound unappealing to some, but this is actually the kind of content that lots of fans in hardcore community have been asking Bungie for: repeatable content that takes some effort and skill to complete (even at max power level forges still can sometimes end in failure if you get paired with a terrible team), and with rewards that are worth the time invested.
Curse of Osiris had the Lost Prophecy weapons, which was kind of similar, but they were static rolls that you only needed to get one time, and even then, most of them weren’t that great and not worth the effort.
The Black Armory weapons are almost all great – some of them like Blast Furnace being “OP” with the right rolls in PvP – and are fun to use. Plus, you have the added bonus of possibly getting lucky with an exotic drop like Le Monarque.
The forge weapons are the most non-problematic part of Black Armory, however. The way in which the forges were unlocked, and delivered however bothered some people.
Time-gated content is the band-aid that Bungie has devised to fix the major problem of players running through stuff in an extremely short amount of time, and getting bored and going to play something else.
Realistically, without the time gate, hardcore players would have probably burned through everything Black Armory added since December in a few days or less. Everyone else that was at least close to 600 at the start probably would have taken them a week or two.
Time gating most of an entire content update is pretty lame, there’s no way around that. However, grinding out forge weapons, armor, and bounties though was a decent distraction though to help take some of the heat off Bungie during Black Armory.
If something like Curse of Osiris was handled this way, it would have been a disaster considering how uninteresting most of the content in that expansion was.
Black Armory skated by with only some minor cuts and bruises because there are a lot of cool rewards, but Bungie needs to be careful trying this again in the future because it might not go as well.
What is the strangest part of Black Armory though is how little impact the raid had. Usually, the raid is the star of any content expansion in Destiny 2. Bungie said Scourge of the Past wasn’t a raid lair but most Destiny 2 fans will tell you that it is effectively a raid lair.
The top clans were able to beat it in such a short amount of time compared to Last Wish, and the community followed suit.
Scourge of the Past served its purpose of buoying the endgame content a bit for people who got tired of grinding out forges, but it’s probably not going to be remembered as an all-time great raid.
Finally, there was the Niobe Lab fiasco which attempted to spread the drama of a world first raid run around to the average player.
Clans attempting world firsts like Datto’s Math Class are used to going up against the odds to try and complete content well ahead of schedule and claim the glory while the rest of us hang tight, and watch it all unfold.
When Clan Redeem completed Last Wish and unleashed the curse onto The Dreaming City, lots of fans and media all thought that was pretty neat. So it seems like Bungie was emboldened to try something similar. It didn’t work out the same way.
The difference with the raid is that while everyone knows that only the top teams have a shot at claiming world first, at least there’s nothing stopping you from trying.
With Niobe Lab and Bergusia Forge in Black Armory, most players didn’t want to solve a hyper-complicated puzzle (that ended up being broken anyway), they just wanted to get into the final forge.
Waiting and waiting for this puzzle to be solved to play content they already paid for proved to be too much for most Destiny 2 players to take.
Bungie reversed course, released Bergusia Forge to everyone, and then fixed the puzzle which was eventually solved.
While Bergusia Forge could have been handled better, I do worry that Bungie has been spooked from trying more hardcore-focused content. Between complaints over Volundr Forge’s initial difficulty and Niobe Lab, I hope that Bungie doesn’t read that as people don’t want difficult and grindy content.
I enjoyed having something to work for. When Black Armory launched, I was around 560-570 power or so. I needed to actually play the game, and didn’t have the new endgame stuff just handed to me. I liked that, and it’s how a lot of similar games operate.
Perhaps putting it literally at higher than the max power level was a bit too much, but I certainly preferred that approach than handing a bunch of easy content overall to us at day one, being done with it in a few hours of play, and having almost nothing to show for it.
In sum, Black Armory did a lot with a little. Time gating it has helped it survive, that’s for sure, but the core of what Black Armory is/was, semi-high difficulty content that required a bit of grind but had great rewards is just what Destiny 2 needed.
Something that bridges the gap between the “casual” content like strike/crucible/gambit playlists, and the raid.
Hopefully, Bungie is encouraged, not discouraged, by what they achieved with Black Armory and we get a similar, but more refined version of what we saw in future content.