We are probably just a few hours away from finishing up donations for Empyrean Foundation, with the final goal being to hit 9.7777777 billion in the end. All we know for sure, confirmed by Bungie, is that this will unlock the title and shader, but not any story quest (which should come later), and it’s unclear what, if anything, else might happen on Mercury.
But forget Mercury for a minute, as I want to head over to Mars. We know that the theme of season 10, Season of the Worthy (unless they change that name), is going to be a showdown between Rasputin and Osiris. We already know that Osiris will have his day in the sun when Trials returns with new Egyptian armor and guns, most likely, but what about Rasputin?
The most logical explanation for how the PvE side of the playerbase could be entertained for this season probably has something to do with a rework or revisiting of Escalation Protocol. This could be some brand new EP “arena” Bungie builds that goes away at the end of the season, or it could use the existing patrol zones the way it works now. If this is meant to be a “lighter” PvE season, I could see them just doing that, but how much of a rework would be required to make a recycled, reskinned EP be rewarding?
I love EP, still do, to this day, and would welcome a refresh for it. As such, here are the ways I think this could work and satisfy PvE players (at least those who won’t complain about “another horde mode” whatever ends up being added).
Actual, Dedicated Instances
While right now it’s easy to two or three-man Escalation Protocol because it’s stuck about 200 power level below everyone, that would not be the case for a new version, most likely. And I think a core problem of the original EP (and why I didn’t run it until months later) was the fact that it was tied into a patrol space where you can only go in with a fireteam of three. Then you would have to add and kick people in various, complicated ways to get a 9 man team going.
If the new EP is using the old Mars map, what I would want to see is essentially a separate, “blank” instance of the Mars map used for it. As in, it’s somewhere you can launch to directly so you know you’re going to have a full six man team for it, and not be stuck with random blueberries or hit with public events or what have you.
Maybe you put “light gates” on all the exits of the zone to shrink these instances, but however it works, it would need to be extracted from patrol. Maybe patrol keeps the current version (that would be weird, but if not, it would sort of be removing paid content), but I would want the refresh to be a new, separate, challenging thing you can matchmake for directly.
A few ideas for weapons here:
Obviously, giving the four current IKELOS guns, the shotgun, sniper, SMG and hand cannon random rolls is a must. Players have been asking for that forever, and if there was ever a time to do that and balance them, it’s now.
Past that, I think you would need to add probably at least 3-4 more IKELOS weapons to the loot pool for EP. There are 7 Saint guns this season, if you’re including the brought-back Perfect Paradox, so that seems like a total that’s about right. Would love to see an IKELOS auto, sidearm, sword and grenade launcher, personally (Perfect Paradox pretty much is an IKELOS pulse already, Sleeper an IKELOS linear fusion). Also, like Season of Dawn, hopefully a few new weapon perks to play with too.
Finally, just like Dawn also brought back a few Prophecy weapons with random rolls, you could also give us the Braytech weapons with random rolls, the Nilfheim Frost, Winter Wolf, 18 Kelvins and Frigid Jackal. The Osprey could stay as strike loot I guess, though it should get random rolls too.
And of course, we would need some sort of way to target farm the drops we want. That could be a combination of “ranking up” in EP through Ana as a vendor maybe, stuff to do with battle pass unlocks, etc. But yes, a way to pick rewards rather than random drops, as everyone wants that now.
Obviously I think most Destiny players would agree that the EP armor set is one of the best in the entire game. With armor 2.0, we got the ability to farm it with slots now, and yet that has sucked because well, the stats suck. So obviously the first course of action is to make sure we can get high stat drops on this armor more often with enough grinding (or you know, ever).
Secondly, I have an idea for something cool the season could do with ornaments. Ana could have some sort of rank system for EP (which I just mentioned) and part of the rewards for that could be different ornaments for each piece of EP armor. They would not necessarily have to be “total transformation” ornaments, or universal ornaments, but tweaks for EP gear specifically like Crucible or IB sets have had in the past. That could mean new textures, new glows, small new additions to make them cooler. Whatever. Players have been complaining that all ornaments are stuck in the battle pass and Eververse, and this could be one cosmetic compromise that players could actually earn through enough gameplay, even if it was lower key and not universal.
Even though it’s kind of going against the core of the concept of the mode, I think in order to make a refreshed EP feel less same-y than the original, you have to scrap the Hive as enemies. If it’s just the same Hive with small tweaks and a higher power level, I definitely think it will feel too similar. So, who does that leave?
Cabal: Given that they are the only other race on Mars right now, though we just had a Cabal-heavy activity in Sundial.
Vex: Given that they’re tied to Osiris, but we dealt with them in both Sundial and Vex Offensive.
Fallen: Whose “turn” it is to be featured in a season (they haven’t been featured since Black Armory), but it’s hard to know how this would work from a story perspective unless maybe you bring SIVA back or something. This is my pick.
Taken: Hell no.
So yeah, those are the broad strokes. I get that it would be recycling, I get that it would be another horde mode, and yet I am still excited by even my own fantasy of what reworked EP could look like. We’ll see what Bungie is doing soon enough.