Destiny will upgrade your exotics - but there's a heavy price to pay
Bungie promises fairer loot drops for new raid, but no matchmaking.
Bungie has detailed how Destiny's array of loot will be affected by impending expansion The Dark Below.
Exotic items - the game's top tier of weapons and armour - will get upgrades. But players will need to completely reset their progress with an item to apply its new buff.
The Dark Below's launch will see the game's Light level cap raised from 30 to 32, and all existing exotics will soon be upgradable to this new level - whether you have the expansion or not.
Upgrading exotics will require a visit to Xûr, the game's travelling weekend merchant, who will offer to upgrade a specific handful of exotic items each week.
Each upgrade will require an Exotic Shard, the new upgrade material introduced in the game's 1st December patch which can also be obtained from Xûr for seven Strange Coins, or alternatively via dismantling another exotic item.
This will then unlock the upgraded form of your exotic item with a new upgrade slot - but it will also completely reset all of your progress with the exotic to date.
Some players have expressed dismay at this requirement, and argued that the impending reset makes any current progress upgrading exotics pointless.
Many have just spent large amounts of their in-game Glimmer currency buying and using destination materials to upgrade their existing weapons, using Bungie's just-introduced new method of buying these items over the counter at Tower vendors, rather than spending hours manually farming the game's planets.
Meanwhile, existing legendary items on sale in the Tower will be replaced. New legendary items will feature higher attack and defense values (likely Light level 30, up from 27 but still lower than fully-upgraded exotics at 32).
But to buy it you will also need Vanguard or Crucible Commendations, a new item received when levelling up your reputation rank in either PVP or PVE.
Raid gear from Crota's End, The Dark Below's new raid, will again hold a middle ground between standard legendaries and exotics, with the same higher Light level value as the latter.
Bungie has said that raid loot will drop at a more frequent rate in Crota's End than in the Vault of Glass. Drops will be fairer, too - the game will now track which items you have obtained already and how long it has been since you last acquired a major reward.
Raid gear will also now have its own upgrade currency - Radiant Shards and Radiant Energy - which are only obtained in the raid itself.
Crota's End will be available for level 30 players to explore as soon as The Dark Below launches. Its hard mode, designed for players at the new 32 level cap, will open in January and be the only way to acquire a selection of new raid-exclusive primary weapons.
But there are no plans to implement matchmaking for the raid, Bungie has confirmed to Game Informer (thanks, IGN).
Instead, Bungie prefers that players matchmake themselves via existing methods, such as advertising that they want to join a particular activity via the Destiny app.
To keep up with the new level cap, Heroic missions and the challenging weekly Nightfall strike will all increase by two light levels - meaning that Nightfall will now be level 30.
Game Informer has a little more detail on the expansion's story missions, too.
The DLC will offer three main missions and then two additional quest lines, which will lead players into the expansion's new strike and raid.
These multi-part quests require you to venture into the game's patrol mode and hunt down specific enemies and events.
The new story missions will offer different forms of gameplay, too - similar to some of the added challenges found in the Vault of Glass raid. One mission includes damaging energy circles on the ground to avoid, for example, while another applies a condition named 'A Dark Burden' which removes the ability to jump.
The Dark Below's PVP additions include three new arenas, with two new exclusive competitive playlists which include the new the maps in rotation.