Feature Article

Iron Banter - This Week In Destiny 2: Ager's Scepter, All About Uldren, Season 16

A new Exotic trace rifle, an excellent Trials of Osiris, some serious family drama, and a look at Bungie's plans to improve future seasons all happened in Destiny 2 this week.

Just about every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it's story beats, new activities, or interesting new combinations of elements that let players devastate each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what's going on in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what's drawing our attention across the solar system.

Let's all take a moment this week and celebrate the fact that, thanks to the excellent new Trials of Osiris changes, I got my first Flawless run and trip to the Lighthouse this week, with the help of GameSpot's own David Ahmadi. Everything Bungie has done for Trials with this revamp is excellent, and while it still needs one more big tweak, the developer said in this week's TWAB that it's already working to address my concerns. Truly nice work here, Bungie.

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Now Playing: Destiny 2 Players NEED To Play Trials of Osiris

I'm itching to dig back into Trials today, so let's hurry up and take a look at all the other, non-Trials stuff going on in Destiny 2 this week. Before we move on, though, you should know that Xur has some amazing Legendary guns this week. He's in the Tower. Go clean him out.

I'm Going To Become The Joker Mr. Freeze

After a few weeks of seeking out whatever Atlas Skews are in the Dreaming City, we've finally seen the culmination of this season's Exotic quest and claimed its reward: Ager's Scepter. If you're still hunting the new Exotic trace rifle, check out our Ager's Scepter guide to speed you along. Meanwhile, let's talk about why this is the best Stasis weapon we've yet seen.

Ager's Scepter is, effectively, a freeze ray--in fact, it's almost exactly Mr. Freeze's gun from Batman: The Animated Series, where he just zaps people with it and encases them in ice. Ager's Scepter does something similar, dishing out damage to enemies while slowing and eventually freezing them solid.

What makes it awesome, though, is the way it chews through lots of enemies very quickly. Every time you land a final blow with Ager's Scepter, the baddie explodes in a burst of cold energy, slowing everything around them. What's more, with every Stasis final blow you land, Ager's Scepter gets reloaded from reserves. So firing the gun into groups of weaker minion enemies in PvE allows you to create a cascading wave of freezing death, annihilating enemies fast. It was great in this week's Shattered Realm (which has new Ascendant Mysteries, if you missed them--they're the best secrets we've yet seen in the activity).

Here's the thing, though: With the right build, Ager's Scepter becomes a Stasis powerhouse. Throw on your Stasis subclass and pair it with something like the Exotic Warlock chest armor, Mantle of Battle Harmony, and suddenly Ager's Scepter is a generator for your Super. It also synergizes extremely well with various Stasis fragments, like Whisper of Fissures, which expands the explosive impact of Stasis crystals, and Whisper of Bonds, which provides Super energy for defeating frozen targets.

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For PvE activities, Ager's Scepter is pretty excellent; I've had less luck with it in PvP, although I want to do more testing. It seems like a gun that could excel in modes like Iron Banner, where lots of Guardians are running around and the cascade Stasis effect of the gun could be more potent. In smaller 3-on-3 matches, though, the gun feels like it runs out of ammo before it can be fully effective, making it less reliable. Still, it seems like Ager's Scepter provides a ton of build possibilities, and in the right hands and with the right team, it's already clear that it can be devastating in tough activities.

Plus it's a lot of fun to just sweep through enemies like you're a Gotham supervillain.

I Am Tired Of This Family; Their Matters

In broad terms, this whole year has been All About Uldren, but each week, the train with "Crow learns some messed-up things about his past and loses it" written on the side barrels a little closer to flying off a cliff, Back to the Future III-style. This week really gives an indication of how much the future hinges on Crow, in fact. Mara and Petra are working very hard to keep Crow away from Savathun, who, in Crow's estimation, was the Osiris who befriended him and helped save him from mean Guardians who hated his Uldren Sov face. Eventually, Crow is going to get to Savathun, and who knows what happens then--but it really seems like Crow could find out who murdered him, who betrayed him, who let him become what he is, and get a little...upset about it.

It's not just Savathun that has plans for Crow, though. In both the Ager's Scepter quest and in this week's dialogue and lore drop, we're seeing more of what Mara has in mind for the man who used to be her brother. Crow doesn't know his past, but Mara seems to be slowly trying to manipulate him into learning more about who he was. It's really sounding like her ultimate goal is to bring something of Uldren back in Crow, maybe to hone him into the ally and weapon she always hoped he would be, but as we learned in Tracing the Stars and A Hollow Coronation, that he was never quite capable of being.

I enjoyed this week's story because it complicates Mara some. She has seemed very cold, callous, and calculating, and a lot of her comments about Uldren made it sound like she thought of him as a weak and easily manipulated fool. That carries forward with the Crow situation--Mara is all about accruing power, and a super-loyal Guardian brother would help her become very powerful. But dialogue on the radio this week, and other lore drops like that in the Ripples book, suggest Mara isn't quite so heartless as her moves might make her seem. She's mad about what happened to Uldren, and maybe struggling to come to grips with her role in it. Mara's got some kind of greater plan going on here, and it sounds like vengeance for Uldren--against the Vanguard, even--might be part of it.

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Oh, and hey--what if that wish Mara is planning on making with her Ahamkara egg is to give Crow his memories of being Uldren?

Speaking of vengeance and family, Savathun sure said some weird and scary things this week, huh. We're seeing a deepening of the relationship between Savathun and Xivu Arath--provided, of course, we can believe anything Savathun says--and she suggested that everything she's done has been for family, in some regard or another. She also mentioned that she's not so different from us, that she would do anything to avenge her family, likening it to our quest for vengeance for Cayde-6 back in the Forsaken campaign. Again, that was a campaign for vengeance against Uldren Sov. We're headed for a breaking point in this story and who knows what will happen with Crow when everything comes to light.

We killed Oryx way back in the Kingsfall raid in Destiny 1's expansion, The Taken King, after we also killed his son, Crota, in a different raid. Then Savathun and Riven messed with Uldren's mind and he killed Cayde-6. Then we hunted down Uldren and killed him. Now Mara's making plans about what she's going to do about it. Looking at it this way, we've got a huge, intense circle of murder and retribution going on between us, Savathun, and Mara, and it's not clear how past resentments and anger and grief are coloring the actions and agendas of anyone involved.

There is also a lingering theory in the Destiny community that Savathun (and maybe Xivu Arath) are secretly executing a long-term plan to resurrect their brother, Oryx, the Taken King. Savathun's comments might give a hint that that theory is on the right track. We know that Savathun lies a lot, but also that she likes to pepper in truth as part of the misdirection. My Name is Byf actually did a great video this week that focused on a lore entry on the Chrysura Melo auto rifle, which points out all the clues Savathun left as part of her deceptions over the last year or more. This discussion of her devotion to family jives with lore entries about Savathun and her feelings of missing her siblings; she might be telling us her real plan right here, daring us to realize it.

Anyway, read the Chrysura Melo lore entry when you have a second, because it also gives us a look at how Savathun's Song actually works, and that feels like it'll soon be relevant, too.

Season Of The Witch

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Last week, I mentioned an interview I did with Destiny 2 director Joe Blackburn and general manager Justin Truman. We talked about a lot of stuff in a relatively short time in that interview. I already wrote about what we can expect from The Witch Queen expansion based on that conversation, and this week, I've got some insights from the bosses of Destiny about what we can expect from the seasonal model in 2022.

To me, the seasonal content model has been really impressive this year, and it sounds like Bungie is pretty happy with the way it's been able to lay down bits of story and new activities each week. In Season 16, which will launch alongside The Witch Queen, it we can expect adjustments to how Bungie handles loot and rewards with seasons. Blackburn and Turman said they want to make sure that seasons are just as rewarding as activities like raids, dungeons, and new story campaigns, so you're not just feeling like you can skip on seasonal content in favor of other things.

It'll be interesting to see how that shakes out in practical terms, but Bungie has been firing on all cylinders with this year's seasons--the guns are good, the activities are good, the story is good. I'm very excited to see how things can be improved further in February. So check out the interview about Season 16 and beyond.

As always, there's a lot I'm glossing over from Destiny 2 this week, so leave your thoughts in the comments below.


philhornshaw

Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw has worked as a journalist for newspapers and websites for more than a decade and has covered video games, technology, and entertainment for nearly that long. A freelancer before he joined the GameSpot team as an editor out of Los Angeles, his work appeared at Playboy, IGN, Kotaku, Complex, Polygon, TheWrap, Digital Trends, The Escapist, GameFront, and The Huffington Post. Outside the realm of games, he's the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero's Guide to Glory. If he's not writing about video games, he's probably doing a deep dive into game lore.

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