Destiny 2‘s second season expansion pack, known as “The Season of the Drifter”, features an upgraded version of the innovative PvP experience Gambit.
Gambit Basics Brush-Up
For those of you that are new to the scene, Gambit is an 8 player (4v4) PvE/PvP hybrid match in which you slay enemies from the Destiny franchise that spawn in 1 of 3 distinct zones on your map. Once defeated, they drop little glowing triangular tokens known as motes. Upon collecting 5, 10, or 15 motes, the player must deposit them into a bank which in turn sends a blocker to the enemies’ map. Blockers prevent a team from depositing motes, and create a bit of mayhem in the middle of the map. The primary goal of the game is to gather enough motes to summon a huge bullet sponge of a final boss called a Primeval, which the fireteam must then defeat before the other team can summon and defeat their own. “But where’s the PvP?” you ask? Well, at certain points along the progress bar of depositing motes, one player can travel to the other team’s map and attempt to slay them. By doing so, they can force enemies to drop motes, or heal their Primeval depending on what phase they’re in.
Gambit Prime Changes Things Up
Gambit Prime turns this progression up to 11 by introducing a few twists to this formula. First off, the teams must deposit 100 motes. If any blockers stay on their field for a prolonged time, they begin draining motes from one team to the other. The Primeval can only be damaged after 3 envoys are slain prior to the “damage phase” of the round, during which, guardians can stand in a well of light left behind by the final envoy. In addition, players are encouraged to assume “roles” within the game. The roles consist of: Reaper, Collector, Invader, and Sentry. Each of these performs a role that pertains to their name, and gains bonuses when donning the role-specific armor earned in The Reckoning.
Gambit Prime in and of itself is a really nice change of pace for the looter-shooter. It combines the frustrating inevitability of being stomped in PvP by players that have way more time to play than I do with the tooth-breaking fury of cussing impotently at sweaty randos, all of whom seem to always be on my team. I will acknowledge the fact that like most PvP, this is not for everyone. There are a number of headaches that accompany a new, mechanic-heavy mode like Gambit Prime. Primarily, it seems like most players skipped the tutorials, opting instead to play the mode very closely to regular Gambit. It’s a tricky line to walk here, because you could realistically play Gambit Prime JUST like regular Gambit and do pretty alright (alright, alright!). The major difference comes down to player strategy, and the willingness to do a little bit more critical thinking during rounds.
While Gambit Prime is the main focus of the expansion, the Reckoning is phase 2 of the progress loop that players are expected to farm out. The Reckoning, in brief terms, is a pretty challenging PvE arena in which players face off against a large number of Taken enemies, with the end goal of defeating yet another massive bullet-sponge of a final boss. Players are encouraged to “wager” a mote before playing that corresponds with their chosen role. Upon defeating this boss, players are rewarded the role-specific loot that pertains to their playstyle of choice if they wagered a mote.
More To Come
In terms of mechanics, the expansion is solid. It’s a great alternative to the typical formula of a new story-based linear storyline wherein, once again, you have to save the Traveler/Light/Cayde-6. Bungie is drip-feeding the content in the form of weekly submissions, and challenge tier escalations (see: The Reckoning). There’s a sinister undertone to the narrative this time around, and the Guardians are forced to take sides between the enigmatic Drifter, and the steadfast Praxic Order. I won’t go too deep into lore, but the basic idea is that the Drifter seems to be experimenting with the Taken, the ever-present bio-weapon harnessed by Oryx himself. The Praxic Order aren’t a big fan of this, seeing as their fundamental creed is to fight the darkness, rather than concern themselves with its nature.
The Season of the Drifter is an interesting choice for Bungie. PvP does not carry the wide appeal that PvE content does. It also creates a rather large barrier to entry in the form of skill being the dictating force behind difficulty. It becomes a test of PvP snap-decisions and ability to outplay other Guardians rather than a more forgiving test of memorization and mechanics that is a hallmark of Destiny’s raid content and skill challenges. That being said, Gambit Prime is a healthy mixture of all of these, but I fear that without refreshing the content here and there, it’s going to quickly become a slog. The weekly bounties and mini-quests all center around the PvP game mode, which limits the amount of content that isn’t explicitly accomplished in Gambit. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll be going back and doing all the Black Armory content because the gear requirement for that was way higher than it needed to be.
I’m sure many Guardians may be hanging up their handcannons until the next season due to the fact that the first 2 weeks of this event have been somewhat frustrating. However, in time, even the most poorly practiced Guardian will understand the complexities of Gambit Prime like depositing motes when the Drifter repeatedly announces “Fill the bank to summon a Primeval” 16 times.