In the run up to the launch of Destiny: The Taken King, developer Bungie has been no stranger to social media. As they learned with the release of House of Wolves, Destiny players will feed on any morsel Bungie chooses to release, no matter if it’s a bite-sized reveal or a fully-fledged walkthrough.
For this week, Bungie was set to give players a closer look at one of the new strikes included with Destiny: The Taken King called ‘Shield Brothers.’ This particular strike takes place on the Dreadnaught, Oryx’s massive Hive ship that’s holding quarter within the rings of Saturn, and featured a showdown with two Cabal bosses.
As viewers can see in the archived stream above, Bungie’s main goal with Shield Brothers, and all of The Taken King strikes for that matter, is to deliver something a little more dynamic than what was seen in vanilla Destiny. Most overtly, Bungie has realized that idea by including dynamic enemy encounter rooms throughout the strike. So while fireteams may encounter Cabal during one Shield Brothers strike run, they may end up fighting Hive during the next. This all feeds back into the idea that these strikes are going to be run dozens, if not hundreds, of times by Destiny players, so Bungie wants to ensure things feel slightly less familiar from one moment to the next.
To that point, Bungie has also revamped their strike boss encounters to be more than just bullet sponge-heavy wars of attrition. Rather than hide in a corner and fire endlessly at a boss, the gameplay in the Shield Brothers strike supported getting into the thick of battle and considering a wide variety of enemy attacks.
And when the titular Shield Brothers, Valus Thu’urn and Valus Mau’ual, did finally make an appearance, they too were more than just average Destiny bosses. Valus Mau’ual, for example, is a more aggressive Cabal boss, complete with a short-burst jet pack for quick enemy charge slams. While Valus Thu’urn preferred to stay back and try to pick off Destiny guardians with his back-mounted energy cannon.
However, when the fireteam does eliminate one of the Shield Brothers, in this case Vlaus Mau-ual, then the other will take on his signature weapon. It’s a small touch, but one that still feeds back into the idea that these bosses are more than just generic bullet sponges. The fireteam was also forced to develop new strategies, as their final target was now capable of melee and ranged attacks.
If there was a legitimate disappointment during the strike walkthrough it’s that we didn’t get a close look at the sword gameplay in action. Whether that was by design or a live editing miscue, when community guest Mr. Fruit brandished the new weapon class we only saw it in action for a second. And even then, what we saw wasn’t enough.
It’s also true that the strike was a little shorter than the average 3-player mission in vanilla Destiny, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One of Bungie’s primary goals with The Taken King has been to make the game feel like less of a grind, and while they have increased the grind in some ways, this strike appeared to b a more involved encounter.
We should also mention that strikes will now carry their own unique loot, which will let other Destiny players know that you’ve survived an encounter with the Shield Brothers. How useful that loot will be in the end game King’s Fall raid is unclear, but at the very least these new drops offer incentives to replay the strikes.
And that, in a nutshell, appears to be what Bungie is going for; they want Destiny players to continue to have fun with these strikes 10, 20, or 100 runs down the road. We’ll see whether they can deliver next month.
What did you think of the new Shield Brothers strike?
Destiny: The Taken King releases September 15, 2015 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.