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Raid Night Epiphany

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Since the original Destiny, raids have been a fixture in Bungie’s space oddity. The hours-long, puzzle-infested activities have drawn in players with mythical loot and many wonderful midnights of passing orbs and crossing swords. I am ashamed to say that I have passed on this gold mine for far too long.

Being more of a solo player, I tended to focus on strikes and other PvE modes, leaving PvP and the infamous Raids alone. That was the case until I met my spirited clan, who were hard-pressed to complete every raid in preparation for Shadowkeep. Ignorant of the mountain of late-night grinding involved in just a single raid, I agreed, eager to finally experience what the community was always buzzing about. So, we dropped in to where it all began: The Leviathan. Perched atop a shining, planet-devouring death ship, we gazed out upon the rising horizon of gold, dotted with enemies waiting to rip us apart. I remember the exact emotion the whole scene evoked: being utterly and completely screwed. Although it makes as much sense as a man admiring the colors of the bus that he is being hit by, it left me with a deep appreciation for Bungie’s work.

Throughout every raid I’ve been on, this feeling of intimidation mixed in with a biting hopelessness has always been festering in the background. The settings are massive and foreign (even for Destiny), and the bosses give away no secrets on how to easily dispatch them. The Spire of Stars raid, especially, beat that lesson into our heads. We spent two weekends trying to understand the sequence of orbs, the right symbols, and the correct timing. From Val Ca’uor to Riven herself, the idea that you are fundamentally, soul-jarringly screwed is essential to Raid design. However, Bungie can’t keep doing that if we can keep plopping down with Wells of Radiance and Outbreaks and setting up shop.

We’ve seen this issue with Whisper of the Worm. Powerful weapons like this can cause a damaging cycle: Guardians have their fun with the weapons, bosses are shredded and the content is burned through far too quickly. Encounters become simple and boring and the scope of weapons players want to use is closed up to specific loadouts. While it is true that players have access to other weapons, select guns are preferred and nigh-required for certain encounters. This degrades the loot we get to simply checking a box in collections and tossing in the Vault. And we’ve seen this once again with Outbreak Prime.

This is not Destiny. Destiny is the terrifying bosses that the developers tease and the community clamors over. Destiny is the late-night raid teams as well as the random LFGs we stumble upon. But if every team wants nothing but outbreaks and every boss is melted in a matter of moments, we feel robbed of our fun. Destiny is its immersive world and warm community, not a point-and-click to kill boss adventure.

With all of the talk about gun changes, cutting automatic reloads and banning flaming toasters, it’s easy to lose touch with what Destiny is really about. Destiny is about wonder. It’s about Guardians surviving in a foreign world that is doing everything it can to smear them out of existence. Every player craves this feeling of powerlessness because it feels all the better when they can annihilate that yellow bar into a pile of burning dust.

But I haven’t felt that way for a while. The gunplay is blazing and the world is rich, but it lacks challenge. Not the sit-behind-a-barricade-well-with-Outbreak challenge, but blood-pumping, down-to-the-red-of-my-health exhilaration. Love it or hate it, Shadowkeep is about ramping up the difficulty, and that can’t happen without change. Granted, there is a wide array of shotguns, swords, and fun little machines designed to punch holes into your enemies, but the other half of Destiny is its world. If we keep burning through every planet faster than a thrall in a woodchipper, we won’t be able to enjoy any content.

Bungie has shown us that they are committing to deeper customization in both armor and weapons. To do this, Bungie has to break the cycle of the same old weapons and armor to open up a wider potential world of weapons and enemies.

Image Source: Twinfinite

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