Destiny House of Wolves Interview - Asking the Burning Questions

Destiny House of Wolves Interview - Asking the Burning Questions

Lee Bradley

Over the last few weeks, Bungie has revealed details about Destiny’s upcoming House of Wolves expansion. It’s packed with new content, including a new social space, a fresh PvP event called Trials of Osiris, a new PvE Arena mode called The Prison of Elders, a new Strike, a handful of new Crucible maps and loads of new loot. We’ve covered it all in great detail, but some questions remained.

With this in mind, we jumped at the opportunity to chat with Destiny’s Senior Designer Derek Carroll (PvP) and Creative Director Chris Barrett (PvE) to fill in some of the gaps. Expect chatter about the future of Raids, weapon balancing, how Bungie is taking a slightly different approach to story delivery in House of Wolves, the solution to Crucible lag and a few other bits besides.

Oh, and we also asked about achievements and trophies. Destiny’s last expansion, The Dark Below, did not feature any achievements or trophies and it looks like House of Wolves will be the same. We’ve been promised an answer and an explanation about that soon, so keep an eye out.

House of Wolves feels like it has a lot of content compared to The Dark Below. I defended The Dark Below's price at the time, but House of Wolves put it to shame.

Chris Barrett: Yeah, we’ve had the luxury of a little bit more time between releases. The Dark Below was put out pretty quickly after the release [of Destiny] so we had a little bit more time to see the community and look at what they’re excited by and where we want to focus our efforts, so it was really important to add as much value as possible after release and provide new stuff for PvP, for PvE, new endgame stuff, new story stuff. It was definitely a goal to add as much into the game as possible and keep people excited.

We’re both players ourselves. Almost everyone [at Bungie] goes home and puts in hours a day, or plays every week. Personally it’s a little bit selfish. I want stuff to do myself! So the more stuff we can get in there, it’s awesome. We’re excited. I think there’s a lot of great content in House of Wolves and I’m excited for players to delve in soon.

One of the big things that’s missing, despite the large amount of content in the DLC, is a Raid. Was it ever your intention to include a Raid in House of Wolves?

CB: We’re always evaluating the content we have, where certain teams are at, that kind of thing. We knew when we started development intensely on House of Wolves that the Raid was going to be part of a future release and we needed to make a new activity for House of Wolves. We decided there was a big hole for the kind of activity that was like an arena - more combat focused, different every time you play. That was really exciting for us to add that kind of experience to the game, so yeah, it was an opportunity at the same time as it was trying to fill a place for a new endgame activity. Does that answer your question?

Kind of. Let me come at the Raids from a different angle. You’ve said that there’s another Raid in the works and it will be arriving at some time in the future. How will that be delivered? On its own or with other upcoming stuff that you’ve got planned?

CB: We haven’t announced specifics. Only that it will be part of a future release, so that’s about as much as I can tell you.

With regards to the story in House of Wolves and the way it’s delivered, can we expect the same thing as The Dark Below?

CB: So, similar to the Dark Below you’ll have story characters. Petra Venge, who we’ve introduced, will be leading you through the core of the main story content. There’s also a few other characters who will be part of that as well, so you’ll notice we kind of expanded the cast a little bit with House of Wolves.

Something that is very unique to House of Wolves is the setting. We wanted to really create a new area, a new place to expand the world, so by introducing The Reef and opening that up to players, that sets a really great wrapper for the story and I think it adds to the narrative of the story itself, so that’s something we’ve tried to include that’s different than The Dark Below.

As always, our storytelling is evolving, the way that we tell those stories is evolving, so hopefully you’ll see some continued evolution of our story content with House of Wolves. I certainly think it’s turned out pretty cool. So we’ll see in a week how players react to it. It’s something that we’re constantly trying to improve and I think we’ve got better.

Will there be any cutscenes?

CB: What we wanted to do is something we didn’t have in The Dark Below - a new cinematic that set up the state of the world. What is the story that’s just about to happen? Why do you care? It’s a call to action for Guardians. The cinematic kicks off the experience and really sums up the whole story. We haven’t released that yet, but it’ll be one of the first things players see when they begin the experience. I think it turned out pretty cool.

You’ve said that the new House of Wolves Exotics will be added to the existing Raid loot tables. Have you considered introducing increased difficulty level versions of Vault of Glass and Crota’s End? What can be done to keep Raids vital?

CB: It’s a thing we’ve talked about. I think refreshing the existing Raids is something we’ll maybe do in the future, but right now what’s exciting for me is that by adding the Ascendant system - being able to ascend weapons - all of that gear and all of the weapons from both of the Raids, and really any of the legendary content from the game, is still worth collecting.

I don’t have a Fatebringer, for example, so I’m going to be running Vault of Glass to try and get it, to bring it up to Level 34. I think also - it’s not talked about too much - the looks of the armour from the different activities is very different. So it’s pretty cool, if people want to look like the Vex, they can go get a full set of that and wear it around in House of Wolves. There’s plenty of reason to go back and play the Raids.

I think [introducing new difficulty levels in the existing Raids] is something we’ll consider in the future, as the game evolves and we continue to ensure the existing content remains interesting.

How happy are you with the weapon balancing at the moment, as it stands? Specifically in relation to auto rifles, because there’s a lot of grumbles about them following the nerf a few weeks back.

Derek Caroll: Auto rifles were fairly dominant for a while. Especially the Suros Regime. So [following the patch] Pulse Rifles came up to their proper place and auto rifles - especially the high rate-of-fire auto rifles - are not as effective in PvP as they were. I can’t really speak to the PvE side of it. Our Sandbox Team is always looking at the data and seeing what people are actually using and how effective they are with it. We’ve made a couple of different balance passes over the last nine months, and those guys are gonna keep looking at the data and making tweaks.

All of the feedback on the forums, the team is very aware of people’s reactions and how they’re feeling about the different weapons. And they’re players themselves so they’re constantly evaluating that stuff, so it’s something they’re always monitoring.

Presumably the goal is to reach a stage where everything is balanced, but I’ve enjoyed learning to use new weapons as updates have made them more viable. I was all about high impact auto rifles, then I progressed to scout rifles and then hand cannons. Pulse rifles got a look in for a while too. Is that part of the plan?

DC: I would say it’s a bit of a myth that the goal is perfect balance. That’s not really attainable with different weapon types. Really the goal for the Sandbox Team, or one of the major goals, is to fulfill the fantasy of using that weapon. Like a shotgun is never going to be equal to a scout rifle. They’re just different, they’re just different weapons. So you can’t really balance those two things. You can balance damage over time or total effectiveness or number of kills, but they’re very different tools. So there are certain questions of balance that are just not solvable. There’s a variety of challenges for the Sandbox Team, but making every weapon equal in some big master thing is not really the primary goal. The primary goal is to make the entire sandbox fun and interesting.

And yeah, moving people around when things change is part of the fun of a living game.

Still on the subject of weapons, House of Wolves introduces sidearms. What are they and what gap do they fill that was there previously?

DC: So the hand cannon is a very slow rate of fire, high damage pistol weapon. A sidearm is kinda the opposite of that, it’s a high rate of fire, low damage. A lot of it is kind of a style thing. We have a Fallen one and a Queen-themed one. They look cool, they sound cool. It’s just another tool if you have a maybe a scout rifle as your primary, maybe you want a high rate of fire short range sidearm as your backup.

PvP is getting a lot of love with the increased rewards coming with the patch, as well as the new content in House of Wolves. But there’s still some lag issues. Trials of Osiris is tackling this by basing matching teams based on connection strength, but what can be done about regular Crucible and Iron Banner?

DC: The internet and networking in general is a very tough problem. I think sometimes… I would need a networking engineer to really go through it, but the networking in Destiny is the best we’ve ever done, so problems that you may experience in Destiny would be problems that you would get in any game. And certainly any game that Bungie’s made. The more you Fireteam up and the more you… with streaming and stuff, the more load you’re putting on your network, that can certainly make things worse.

But yeah, not being a network engineer I can’t really speak to the details, but as with everything in Destiny we’re looking at the data and we have really good tools for looking at that, the networking team has made a bunch of fixes that will be coming with 1.2.0 that address certain issues that some users were experiencing. It’s an ongoing thing, we’re always looking at it, and if we find a magic bullet for speeding up the internet, we’ll certainly use it.

Are you allowed to comment at all on the rumoured Comet expansion?

CB: No.

DC: It’s called The Taken King. *starts laughing*

Alright, so you confirming that The Taken King is Comet?

DC: No.

Heheh. Okay, thanks for your time.

Destiny’s second expansion, House of Wolves, is out on May 19th.

  • So I guess that's confirmation that the Raids aren't getting buffed with the release of the new DLC, which is a bit disappointing. Maybe they'll add it down the road during the dry spell between DLCs. I'm kinda surprised Barrett said that the looks of armor isn't discussed much considering transmogrification is one of the most requested things I hear from the community. It's great that any Raid-tier gear will get you to the new max, but being able to completely pick your own style is preferable.
  • Well this new upgrade is (kinda) like transmogrification, it will give a lot of combinations and we still can use whichever we want in regular crucible (at least I do lol) the think I most want in destiny at the moment are more interesting sparrows (and more actually uses for them) and more exotic exotics (more interesting ones, like the vex, a exotic sidearm that you hold 1 in each hand as a primare weapon is my dream atm ) and the 3rd subclass or a entire new main class... More exposition on the cabal and to play have a 4th character as a fallen are a distant dream...
  • No thanks I'm done with destiny forever no sequels no dlc no more grinding pointless bounties everyday and same strikes over and over
  • They kids love this mediocrity still. What a sad day in gaming.
  • and its delayed because of Witcher 3... i mean bug(s) they recently found? only keeping destiny installed because I got the guardian edition. one play through of the new stuff and that's id.
  • Mr. Lee Bradley, at the very end you say that the Dark Below releases on May 19th, may wanna change that.
  • @6 Mr. Yoda 91192. Changed! Thanks! I'm an idiot! But you probably knew that already!
  • HoW's got alot of content next to TDB ? that statement is like saying an ½ glass of wine's got more than a ¼ one, its still far short of a full glass and not worth the rrp. Plus its got 1 less strike and lacks an end game raid (surely the only reason to warrant its lvl cap increase), so possibly untrue.
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