Destiny 2

Long, boring post about Champions’ identity, and improving the system

destiny2 7 - Long, boring post about Champions' identity, and improving the system

Champions have only been around for a short while; obviously, they're not a perfect system. However, I think they do have the groundwork to be much, much better than they are.

I'd like to preface this by saying this is merely meant as something to promote discussion. Hell, I don't even know if I should post it or not, but I'm gonna do it anyways because I don't see enough people talking about how champions can be improved, just that they're boring.

Some of this might come off as a bit radical in terms of ideas. However, I think if Bungie put in the time to improve upon their current champion design, they would not only have something that benefits them, but also benefits us as players.

I wanna kick this off by saying that Vex have some astonishingly cool gameplay aspects that are often far overlooked by many players. One such example is the rank-and-file Goblins and Hobgoblins.

They're not interesting because of weapons, or model design or anything like that, but because their counterplay is affected by how you actually fight them. Hobgoblins are notorious for turning immune whenever they take too much damage. However, a surefire way to prevent this is simply to knock their heads off before they have a chance to. This also changes the way they behave, as they start rushing and firing blind until getting close enough to you to use their melee weapons. Goblins also do this to a lesser extent, when being shot at center mass, they curl up to protect their precision damage area at their Radiolarian core.

With that in mind, isn't that more interesting than just firing random rounds into BFE expecting things to die? Isn't that more interesting than waiting for Unstoppable Rounds to load in, or using a mod to artificially inflate the time to kill on some random Ultra by just giving it a second shield?

In a general sense, they don't evoke feelings of their namesake. Champions feel little more than "bonus mobs" which is quite ironic because in Nightfall: Ordeals they are effectively just that—Gigantic heaps of bonus score. They change the way you approach them in a very minimal fashion, most of the time you just Super them or Falling Guillotine.

Champions need more identity. I'd very much like them to feel like real, exigent threats rather than simple mobs with tacked-on mechanics. For the longest time, when I envisioned champions, I thought of things like the Renewal Wizard in Escalation Protocol. Flies around and heals other Hive enemies until you cold-clock its shit in.

Like the Renewal Wizard I mentioned, Champions' effects shouldn't necessarily be limited to just bum-rushing you and doing damage. They can and should do other things. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

Overload Champions

Overload champions are… interesting, to say the least. If you lack the burst capabilities due a lack of Heavy ammo, or just poor burst potential in general, they can be nearly impossible to kill with non-exotic primaries unless using the appropriate mod. Circumventing champion interplay is not only something people can do, it's REQUIRED if you want to use a loadout that you like, and don't feel forced into.

So, what is the core, central theme here? Suppressing fire. Overload champions shouldn't just take one overload round to stop dead in their tracks. It defeats the purpose of it. Overload rounds should operate like Anti-Barrier, wherein they're always active but you need to hit a threshold in order to disable them. In this instance, Overload precision hits could have more effect than hitting body-shot rounds. A debuff begins stacking on the Overload Champion: Overload x1, for every Overload shot landed on the body, and x2 for every precision hit scored.

Ideally, if we were to do away with the mod system altogether, how would Overload be handled then?

Think of the giant Cabal tanks. Each time you blow off parts of their main hull, they lose an incredibly substantial amount of health. Three different areas on each mob. One on their torso, one on their head, and one on their hands, shoulders or feet depending on their race and size. Shooting at the node repeatedly causes it to change color, eventually—Ding, we have a winner—Overloading the node. Each node blown off causes their health regeneration to lower considerably, and eventually reducing it to none and causing a stagger, allowing you to easily dispatch them.

Obviously Overload mods and the system I just described without it don't functionally differ much, but that was the point: Retain the functional identity of Champions while improving upon their layout and trying to constructively improve upon their interplay.

If that idea wasn't too nuts for you and you're somehow still reading this, I applaud you. If you plan to stick around, strap in. I've only just begun to inflict my opinions on you.


Barrier Champions

Barrier Champions have a neat concept to them. Something that immobilizes itself to generate a shield but only when threatened. There's room for improvement there, not only in the way they react but the way the barrier itself functions. I especially like the way the Cabal Colossus archetype is: Stand in one place with a shield up and hammer you with a slug thrower.

Barriers are used much in the same way that Hobgoblins function. After taking a significant amount of damage, Barrier champs bunker down and generate a shield that reflects all incoming damage, allowing them to negate… "frickin' everything", pretty much. In the way of constructive feedback while keeping in the theme of "Improving Champion mods vs removing Champion mods" I don't actually have much to say for Barrier champions in their current format. I think making them functionally similar to Vex Hydras (Why are the Vex so well-designed in this game?) would do them a great service, allowing people without the mods to combat them even more effectively. The rotating shields offer an interesting perspective on counterplay.


Sidebar: I like that Barrier mods also allow you to simply outright bypass Vex Hydra shields altogether. This should be the common standard that anti-champion mods are held to; They are worth taking not because they're required, but because they increase the quality of life in combat against said champion. Don't wanna deal with the Overload champions I described? Just take a mod and auto-stagger them to make dealing with them that much more easy, or if you want to find a middle ground, just increase the potency of each weapon against the champion it's intended to counteract.

Obviously, the theme with Barrier champions is the same as fighting anything heavy: Punching through armor. This can be improved upon in a number of ways, not the least of which is with the enemies themselves. Obviously this would constitute an extreme redesign, but I didn't come here to spit anything but thermite-hot takes.

When I think of barrier, I think of those Phalanxes that love to kill us via Architect. Not that part of it, but the theme: Giant ass shields. In order to stay on the side of gameplay conveyance, we could keep this simple. Let's say the mod has to stay, and we need it to continue counteracting barriers. This could be changed to operate in a fashion where only frontal shields are generated by barrier champions, allowing others without the mod enabled to flank and deal damage to an unprotected area of the champion. However, blowing through the frontal barrier is always an option and the stagger would remain the same.

On the side of "denecessitating" (That's not actually a word) the mod, you could go the anterior route of creating a champion that requires you to knock off pieces of its external armor first. Chipping away at it creates gaps, or allows rounds to punch through and deal damage. Helmet, arms, chest, whichever you decide to shred first. Barriers could also be changed to allow non-barrier weapons to deal damage to a segmented, Vex Hydra-type barrier. Each piece of it would break, allowing you to shoot through the holes damaged into it. Explosives, which are ironically never used against barriers, would have a more concise place against them, allowing large areas of the barrier to be blown off at once to allow to for more freedom of aim. In the spirit of making mods more "quality of life," you could just slap on a mod to negate the Barrier entirely and rain hell on its face through the barrier anyways.

I admit, I gave this one a lot of thought but ways to effectively increase its engagement only end up in convoluted gameplay that would be far too difficult to expect your general audience to pick up on easily.

Unstoppable Champions

I think out of these, they have the most concise counterplay, but are also uniquely the only one of the champions that absolutely does not require a mod to kill without using a special or heavy weapon. They just take an absurdly low amount of damage. However, finding ways to do damage has never been an issue for the Destiny community. Looking at you, Whisper. Countering them is straightforward, you just give them a concussion. Be that with your fists as a Titan, or using unstoppable rounds. I really don't think unstoppable champions can change much and that's because they're a victim of the circumstances surrounding their creation in the first place. They unarguably have the most roundabout methods of being dealt with though, with Inferno Whip returning once again and now with the new Unstoppable Pulse mod being an Arms Slot mod instead of a weapon one, you're left with the options of actually using Outbreak Perfected and still retaining the ability to cripple Unstoppable champions.

But let's say that we were to change them anyways. After all, this is just constructive conjectural feedback, right? The theme with Unstoppable Champions is pretty clearly that they're rampaging bastards who no regard for their surroundings. What would be a logical way to deal with them without the mods? Just kill 'em. Like mentioned before, they have no intrinsic need to be dealt with in a different way, they're just tankier. However, playing up their capacity to blow your ass up would make them a lot more interesting. I remember when Shadowkeep launched, the Unstoppable Ogre that my friends and I first faced chased us all down and completely murdered every one of us. That's a cool memory that I'm gonna have for a long time, but that kind of hectic chaos is what makes that enemy so remarkable. So, in that essence I like to think of what an ideal Unstoppable Champion would look like. It runs at you, dealing insane damage if you let it get too close. Proximity is key, here. Swapping aggression, making sure that it's targeting someone who either has Sentinel Shield up and is able to block damage, or someone with a sword who can tank it. Then, after it spends a considerable amount of time chasing you, it tires out and enters a period of vulnerability, leaving its enrage state and losing its damage reduction.

Ultimately, the chaos that ensues an Unstoppable Champion is what makes them so engaging in my own opinion. It's simply put, one of their greatest strengths, the second of which is the fact that they outright don't require their mod to be killed at all.

So, if you've made it this far, I applaud you. This is very stream of consciousness, and I barely even attempted to format it. The ideas here were taken from a lot of discussion over the course of Shadowkeep. I realize that Bungie, by and large, doesn't have the tech to pull some of these things off in Destiny yet. They may at some point in the future, or we may simply see the Champion system scrapped altogether. It's unknowable at this point.

Thanks for reading this horrid amalgam of a post. Please, leave your thoughts below, even if it's that you think I am absolutely batshit insane. You deserve it for sitting through this.

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