This morning Bungie rolled open the giant steel blast doors on the upcoming Destiny 2 expansion Warmind. As part of reveal stream on its Twitch channel, we got our first look at Hunter Gunslinger Ana Bray, scion of the Clovis Bray Corporation of the Golden Age, as well as the new Escalation Protocol horde mode, details of the Warmind campaign, weapons and armor, and big changes to Exotics coming in season 3.
Warmind will see players travel to Mars to deal with an awakened Rasputin, the "Warmind" of the title who has set off a system-wide chain of events that's causing the planet's polar icecaps to melt. The good news is that the receding frost has revealed some unexpected secrets, including an ancient Clovis Bray facility that's been entombed on the planet since the collapse. Naturally, there's where Ana Bray gets involved: She's a "cornerstone" character who will serve as both a vendor and a "mentor" to the character in the expansion, and hopefully play a far more integral role than Osiris did on Mercury.
Expansion players will be able to dive into a new raid lair, but the surprise addition is a major new end-game activity called Hive Escalation Protocol. It is, as suspected, a horde mode triggered by Rasputin that pits teams of players against seven multi-stage waves of Hive enemies, including the new "Frozen Hive," each culminating in a boss fight. Ultimately players will square off against one of five unique bosses, who will rotate through the mode on a weekly basis. Players will earn unique rewards including chests that spawn at the end of waves 3, 5, and 7 that can contain special vanity rewards, and also take advantage of event-specific weapons with their own unique perks.
Fans of the original Destiny will no doubt be happy to hear that the mode will also bring back the sword wielded by Hive Knights, who will drop them on their demise during Escalation Protocol. Less nostalgic but more impressive is the spear-like 'relic' weapon that Bungie teased yesterday. It is in reality a "magical spear rocket launcher" called the Valkyrie, a short-lived weapon accessible through "armory codes" that appears absolutely devastating up close or at range, akin to a super but not timer-dependent and open to all classes.
Access to the Escalation Protocol mode will require Warmind ownership, and you'll need to have finished the campaign to take part, although you'll be able to get in early if you team up with someone else who has completed it. It's basically a public event that doesn't stop, and it's tough: Bungie warned that it's aimed squarely at high-level players, and that "failure may be the default state" for newcomers. Coordination of class abilities and loadouts will also take on a greater significance in this mode than it has previously, particularly in the later waves.
Bungie also went into greater detail on some of the changes coming to all players in Destiny 2's third season, explaining the separate Valor and Glory ranks that players will earn in the Crucible as well as the private matches system that will enable players to select game type, map, time and score limits, and respawn time. Changes to several exotic weapons were also showcased: Some, like Graviton Lance, we've already seen previously, but others are new.
The bouncing rounds of Hard Light, for instance, will now do double damage with each ricochet. You obviously won't want to be stuck in a crowded hallway when someone starts hosing it around, but skilled players could also aim in front of enemies instead of directly at them, bouncing shots off the floor to earn the damage bonus—Tricky but hugely effective if you can make it work. Sturm is also getting a big boost with an increased ammo capacity—from 12 rounds to 20—and bonus damage applied to the bonus rounds, and Crimson, the hand cannon that's as sexy as it is useless, has been tuned to put it on par with the aggressive hand cannon archetype.
Exotic weapons will also be upgradeable with "catalysts," a new slot for exotics that can be filled by completing various quests. The Huckleberry catalyst, for instance, as seen in this MoreConsole video, is available through Nightfalls, and will unlock special bonus perks when applied. It sounds a lot like a Masterwork equivalent for exotics, although it's not clear whether catalyzed weapons generate orbs as Masterworks do.
Also important (to me, anyway) is the upcoming Emote wheel, seen in action during the livestream, which promises to enhance Destiny 2's sexy dancing game. Busting caps is easy—busting quality moves is the real next-level game.
Destiny 2: Warmind comes out on May 8. The full reveal video is yours to enjoy below.