The Iron Banner – Or How to Find The Worst Parts of the Current Destiny Meta

Destiny Lord Saladin

Once again we’re back in Destiny – but this time we’re looking at what’s supposed to be an end-game activity: The Iron Banner. I’ve written about the Iron Banner a long time ago – way back during it’s first appearance. It pops up pretty much every other week these days – using the more updated settings they implemented months ago. This week is my first journey back into the Banner since I’ve come back to Destiny, and I am in for a long PvP week. Let’s talk about why.

First and foremost – the current meta is terrible. I’ve written about it, along with just about every Destiny streamer, blogger and YouTuber. The margin for error is basically nonexistent, and requires you to use certain specific weapons or archetypes. Normally, in the Crucible, you’ll see a few hold-outs – using weapons that don’t benefit from the current meta for a variety of reasons. My reasoning is that I don’t like contributing to the issues, so I refuse to use Thorn or Last Word; but I can’t turn down Red Death, because of the prevalence of those guns. Other may like using other weapons for challenges – especially streamers and YouTubers (AKA the No Land Beyond users). Because the normal Crucible doesn’t have level advantages enabled, the margin for error, as slim as it is, is a bit bigger. You can make a few more aggressive moves and still survive. Because it’s not considered an end-game activity, it also helps foster some experimentation. Try out different builds – armor, weapons, perks – in the Crucible and then apply them to Trials of Osiris. That doesn’t happen in Iron Banner.

Destiny Thorn

Iron Banner was considered an end-game event – it used to net you max level gear. Now the gear you buy will only get you to level 33, you’ll still have to Etheric Light your way to 34. The loot drops from completion are I believe higher tiered, but that’s relying on RNG – an unreliable method at best. But it still holds that air of end-game. You are encouraged, because of level advantages, to bring your strongest gear. And because of that, you’ll pretty much only see those absolute top-tier weapons. In a few hours of Iron Banner yesterday, I think I can count on one hand the number of people that weren’t using either Red Death, Thorn or Last Word. Add in that I was consistently the only Titan in the game – not only on my team, but in the game – and it’s really easy to see exactly what the current meta rewards. Warlocks and Hunters have always been the best PvP classes – Blink/shotgun basically ensures that remains the case. Even though most of us playing Iron Banner are already Level 34 with good gear, there’s still a desire to try to get those perfect rolled weapons. And that reinforces the Thorn/Last Word/Red Death primary weapon trinity. If you use anything else – with the exception being the other Top-Tier legendaries (Messenger) – you’re at a disadvantage.

Iron Banner, and the Crucible in general, is actually a lot of fun. Because Bungie has done such a great job of putting in the foundation with the action, PvP is a blast. When it works. Unfortunately, the current meta just doesn’t work. Even way back at launch – when Suros reigned supreme – the overall picture was a lot more even. And as a result, it was a bit more fun. I found myself having a lot more fun then than now. Now I have to play to counter very specific tactics/weapons; as opposed to using whatever I want to have fun. In truth, the only real reason that I’m even playing Iron Banner is for those Etheric Lights to buy – that way I can max out a few last pieces of gear before The Taken King makes it all obsolete.

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Destiny – Looking to the Future: Or, What the Reddit “Leak” Really Is

DestinyOnce again I find myself writing based around a post I saw while browsing the Destiny subreddit. Today, it’s one that actually getting some play around the web in general. Hell, even Forbes has commented on this particular post. And it’s because it’s getting some serious views on the Reddit – because it supposedly is a detailing of specifics that the OP has obtained about not only The Taken King, but also Destiny 2. The fanbase is craving for details – The Taken King is only about a month and a half away and we still don’t know a LOT of details. But there is something a little off with the post – Forbes does a good job of breaking that down, so I don’t want to beat that horse. Instead, I want to talk a little about why that post exists, and then maybe do some speculating of my own about the future.

To me, the biggest giveaway that it’s a total sham post is that there’s specifics for Destiny 2. We’ve literally heard nothing even addressing a sequel for the game yet – and while I don’t doubt that it’s pretty deep in development, I actually hope it is – I doubt that Bungie employees at all are talking about it. This community perhaps more than any other in the current gaming sphere should be well aware of how much a game can change quickly. Destiny looked completely different when it was still a year out from release – hell, that game is still one that a lot of us would love to see. Any “concrete” details about a sequel now are just a fan’s wishes. And when you look at these “details” about the future, you really just see it’s exactly that. Activision has a notorious track record for pricing content – early Guitar Hero DLC was more expensive per song than Rock Band (it didn’t help that there was a new game every year, with no chance to transfer songs); Call of Duty charges for cosmetic DLC that literally impacts gameplay in no way at all. The idea that they will abandon paid DLC – especially the kind that the playerbase is dying for – is absolutely insane.

I get that we’re moving forward as an industry, and DLC is going through some changes. We’ve seen more substantial free DLC this year than any year I can remember recently. Titanfall added in the Frontier Defense mode for free, along with the Black Market; Dragon Age: Inquisition has had a bunch of free multiplayer DLC; and Halo 5 has said all map-packs will be free. None of those are Activision games though. The only free DLC that they’ve done for Call of Duty is add in a couple weapons – which still pale compared with the Bal-27 and ASM1. In an age where free MOBA games routinely are in the top played games, I think DLC in general needs to be looked at for multiplayer games. It’s been such a cash-cow for years though, so any growth or changes will be slow and painful. Destiny 2 – whenever it comes out – will probably not be that lynchpin game.

Destiny Taken King Collectors Edition

When it comes down to it – what this post really speaks to – is a community that is rabidly searching through any and every pixel of the trailers for details. As much flak as Destiny has earned over this first year – some rightly so – the community is still really strong, and very loyal. It’s very easily my most played game of the last year – by far. I’m in that same boat – I want to learn all about the upcoming schedule and content as possible. But you have to have a certain level of skepticism about “leaks” – even more so of ones with no concrete proof. The leak back in January that showed off the DLC schedule had some truth to it – thanks to the image that it contained. Add in that it had some truth behind it with the content that had already been released, and it was easy to take at face value. In the end, it was pretty accurate – sure a few details changed here and there, but it has so far been pretty much spot on with the schedule and content. In particular we knew House of Wolves was coming spring time, and we knew about The Taken King (then as Comet) as well as DLC 3 and 4, which are included in the second expansion pass.

Image from @LittleBigOkey

All of that adds up to an environment that is susceptible to these sort of posts. Bungie doesn’t help the case by playing their hands really close to their chest. We’re still a little far from when I would expect to see the floodgates open – that comes within the last month before launch – but I still would love the details to come a little more frequently. As it stands now, we get one or two little tidbits in each weekly update. The updates also are focused around The Taken King – which is what I want, but they’ve basically left the current game stand for a long time, which is frustrating. I’ve written already a few times recently about the current state of the meta, so I don’t need to keep beating that horse.

As far as looking forward, there are a few specific details that I am really hoping for. Of the points in the “leak,” the big one that I want is increased customization. I hate that the only option for end-game play is pretty much homogenized. You wear Prison of Elders armor, or Trials of Osiris armor, until you earn a bunch of Etheric Light to level older armor; basically amounting to using Raid armor that you’ve used for most of the year. That ends up with everyone in the Tower looking the same – even using the same handful of shaders. Adding in more options for customization is needed I think – it would help refresh the feeling of the game. The other point that I really want to address here is supposedly a new way to ascend gear to Year 2 levels. On the surface, that sounds great – but if House of Wolves taught us anything, doing that is a terrible idea. Bungie needs to show us that they’re adding in weapons that would make us abandon the older weapons – House of Wolves didn’t, so everyone ascended Vision of Confluence/Fatebringer/Black Hammer/Gjallarhorn, and really, that’s all you need. The Taken King is exactly what the game needs – a chance to do a bit of a reset with the weapons and armor. Put everyone back on the same playing field, take away the crutch weapons, and reshape the meta. Adding in a way to ascend gear to Year 2 levels would ruin that, and could potentially ruin Destiny in the long run. Datto has a fantastic video that talk about this – especially as it pertains to power creep – which explains it better than I can today. If they do add in ascension, there’s a real good chance that power creep might get to the point that it can’t be fought and could permanently impact the universe. I honestly think that ascension is actually even in the game because of the fanbase raising hell after Dark Below kinda rendered Vault of Glass gear less relevant.

If there’s one thing I can take away from this first year of Destiny, it’s that the game has been one of, if not the most, talked about games. The community is passionate, the game’s building blocks are super tight, and that’s always a good combination. It will probably never be the game it could have been – and in truth it might never have been able to, even without the changes pre-launch. But I still think that Destiny will probably go down as being one of the first true “next-gen” games – and will have a community that plays it for years.

Destiny Quick Hitters – AKA I’ve Been Reading Too Much Reddit

DestinyJust like the title says, I’ve been digging around the Destiny subreddit again, and it really doesn’t take too long for me to find a post that gets my blood pressure up. Generally it’s a lot of posts about the current weapon meta and how Bungie isn’t doing their job because they have the audacity to be making a major expansion due out in two months. I’ve spent plenty of time writing about the current weapon meta in various ways, and while I do agree more frequent communication and updates would be a good thing; I do understand that they’re super busy right now. So today I want to address two other posts I saw this week, instead of beating a dead horse about updates that are four months overdue.

WEAPON PARTS ARE ALREADY GRINDABLE
This is the first one that really got me a little hot earlier this week. Essentially it was asking for the ability to buy weapon parts with planetary materials. Here’s the real issue – the reason that weapon parts have shot up in value is because of reforging. As a result, people have been re-rolling weapons to try to get a perfect set of perks, primarily on those weapons that are top tier in the current meta. For example, the new Party Crasher +1, introduced in House of Wolves, is already a sort of Felwinter’s lite. The problem is that it’s a reforgable weapon – which means you can dump all your glimmer and weapon parts to get a perfect roll. Making them purchasable would just exacerbate the current issues in the meta. And here’s the crazy part – they’re already grindable! All you need is a little patience and hop in the strike playlists. You’ll be rolling in engrams, which can be dismantled into parts. The community already seems to love bitching about balance issues in the game, especially in PvP. Making weapon parts purchasable – with any currency (since they’re all easily grinded) – would just make every unbalanced situation that much more so.

Shadow Price Destiny

TRADING – A TALKING POINT SINCE DAY ONE
I saw another post this week calling, yet again, for trading to be a part of Destiny. This has been something that has come up within the community basically since the beta. Since Destiny draws some inspiration from Borderlands as well as Diablo – and both those games have trading systems in place – it wasn’t a particularly hard stretch to want to see it here. Here’s the issue though – those games have way more variety in their loot. Borderlands has such a tremendous amount of variables for the individual weapons that can change their behaviors, making it difficult for truly overpowered weapons to appear. Thus, trading doesn’t potentially break the PvE experience. Destiny doesn’t have that luxury. The variety really isn’t at that same level – really we’re talking about perks, and even then, an even smaller subset of weapons and armor. No one is out there grinding out hours for blue (rare) weapons – with the exception of The Stranger’s Rifle, which is given after finishing the story missions. Instead everyone is looking for a very small select group of weapons – most of which are end-game legendaries, or the exotics. Trading those weapons not only stands to break the PvE AND PvP metas, but could also evolve to serious exploits. Let me explain. Any game that has that potential can also have the potential for a certain group that is willing to get those weapons, and then sell them off to the highest bidder. Even if that system isn’t in-game, with how easy the web is now, auction sites would pop up instantly. How long do we really think it would take for a site auctioning off Gjallarhorns to pop up? Trading could end up killing the game outright – any sense of balance would be gone in an instant.

At the end of the day, these posts I don’t think actually represent the feelings of the whole community. Sure we’ve all been frustrated when we’re hundreds of hours in, with no sight of Gjallarhorn. The same is true when you get a top-tier weapon, with a terrible roll. You want to make it competitive, because that’s the only way to be in the current meta. I get it. But there are definitely more important issues in the game that need to be addressed. Reputation packages draw from way to wide a loot pool – especially when there are items with no real bearing on gameplay (shaders/ships) that have a lower drop rate than any other item. Getting my Revenant shader was more exciting than just about any new weapon I’ve gotten in months. That’s an issue – the actual gear should be worth more than cosmetic items. We have a couple months until The Taken King, but I don’t think we’ll see any actual update to the game until September. Hopefully though in those weeks, we’ll get a few more glimpses into the mindset of Bungie moving forward. This first year has been a great first year, but it is time to start looking critically at the game and its future.

Why I Still Play Destiny

DestinyOver the last couple weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about Destiny again. Bungie has been revealing the new content for next week’s House of Wolves expansion slowly – which, while that’s excruciating as a fan/writer, it’s a seriously smart business move. The game is coming up on its tenth month online and I think it’s fair to say saw the player base hit a wall a bit a couple months ago. I know I did after I had hit level 32 on my main character. Repeatedly running the raids was more trouble than not, with trying to get the whole group together; and back then the Crucible was still a struggle, since it was before the 1.1.2 patch.

That said though, as soon as the House of Wolves tease came out, I got the same feelings I did last E3 when I saw Destiny. Bungie has always done trailers well – going all the way back to their Halo days – and Destiny is no different. Just seeing the release date was enough to get me interested in playing again, if for no reason other than to shake off the rust. That was before Bungie showed anything. Once I saw the direction that they are taking House of Wolves, it changed my approach. It got me thinking more critically about Destiny again. Why do I still enjoy going on a game, grinding through the same bounties and missions on three characters, this long after launch with a game that has pretty noticeable flaws?

Destiny Flawless Stiker

The short answer is pretty simple – it’s just a fun damn game. Even this long after launch I still enjoy doing the same things that excited me on September 9. There’s something pretty visceral about the action – across all three classes/six subclasses – that makes the gameplay seem fresh still. Anyone that’s launched into a Fist of Havoc on a huge group of enemies to clear out a threat knows that it’s a pretty damn awesome feeling. It gets even more so when you’re playing with your friends and that Super keeps the game going.

The long answer to that question though is a little bit tougher. Is Destiny perfect? Not even close. Much has been made – here and across the web – about the poor storytelling decisions, and the disconnect between world-building lore and gameplay. Does Destiny have pretty glaring issues? You bet. On-disc DLC is a pretty hot-topic these days – while I don’t really know exactly how guilty Destiny is of that, it’s hard to argue against the presence of it. There are still plenty of areas – on all the planets – that clearly are gateways into future zones. Easy examples to pick out right away would be The Junction on Venus and King’s Watch on Earth. King’s Watch is particularly notable, because it actually has content already in it. Enemies will spawn and there are ghost shells there. Now, King’s Watch could actually appear in House of Wolves – just based around Fallen as an enemy type. The same could be said for The Junction, although I think that’s more likely going to be saved for even further content – possibly The Fallen King, whatever that may actually end up being.

The problems with the game are there – they’ve been brought up in just about every article about Destiny. But – again, going back to that question of why I still play it – there’s something else about the game. If we look at the game in super simple terms, we can break it down into four pillars: story, gameplay/action, music, and visuals. Three of those four pillars are, quite possibly, the best I’ve seen in recent memory. Killing the game because the story fall flat right out of the gate does a disservice to the other three aspects. The game is one of the best looking games in action – the environments, weapons and armor designs, and FX all are incredible. The music, despite the somewhat rocky departure of Marty O’Donnell, is so perfect in its role. It’s subdued generally, but when you notice it, it’s because it’s awesome. And the actual gameplay/action across the board is as close to perfect as I think is possible. The guns sound powerful, feel powerful and look powerful. The grenades all feel like they have some impact behind them – and behave differently enough to pick them apart. The movement all is pretty damn precise, for each class. It’s the best action in a shooter that I’ve played in a couple years.

Destiny Titan

Destiny is a strange game that I think still hasn’t quite found its legacy. Generally there’s a good sense of what a game’s legacy will be after this long. I can tell you right now what Advanced Warfare’s legacy will be (better than Ghosts, great debut for Sledgehammer Games, and ultimately one of the stronger entries in the franchise, albeit with some flaws). But with Destiny, it’s still murky. It’s an incredibly fun game, that has serious gaps – but still has a devoted playerbase. The world-building that takes place outside of the actual game is amazing – the Grimoire is fantastic. There’s such an incredible base to build off of, and I think Bungie is aware of their shortcomings and have been trying to fix them as best they can. When we look back at Destiny in a couple years, it’s possible we could say that Destiny was a landmark game. Or that it was the framework for a classic franchise. Or that it was a testament to what could have been. It’s hard to say because each option really could be the result. And ultimately, that’s why I love playing it still. It’s an enigma that I’m going to figure out.

Let’s Talk About That Destiny Leak

Destiny The Dark BelowOver the last couple weeks there’s been a picture floating around on the Destiny SubReddit, that apparently shows the plan for the next year or so with Destiny. I haven’t actually taken the time to talk about what the image supposedly shows, and beyond that, how I feel about the leak.

Let’s start with my thoughts on the leak, cause there’s less there to talk about. Leaks are part of the game these days, and generally the info tends to be either outdated, or in accurate. Usually the leaks come from second parties, people that are one step away from the actual development of the games. In this case, the leak seems to have come from a source inside Bungie – perhaps a former employee. To me, that lends a bit more credibility to the info. So to me, this leak maybe holds a bit more weight than the typical internet “leak/rumor.”

As for this particular leak, the info is piecemeal, but I think it shows some really cool potential content coming out later this year and into next year for Destiny. The image shows the content that’s included in the base game in terms of strikes, patrols, planets, raids and PvP maps. It then shows the same thing for the future DLC – starting with the Dark Below pack that just came out in December. The pertinent info for players now is that the image shows off the coming DLC. It looks like the House of Wolves is going to be coming out in March, adding in the Reef as a location. Bungie has said that the raid for House of Wolves is going to take place in the Reef, and based around the leak, it looks like the strike will take place there too.

Image from @LittleBigOkey

But we already knew that info – Bungie had already talked pretty in depth about these first two DLC packs. The leak also shows off a bunch more new info – the most interesting new bit is the new DLC set for September of this year apparently named Comet. It looks like this content is going to be a bit bigger, with the current thoughts/rumors putting it at a pretty hefty $60 price point. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen – my guess would be we’ll learn more at E3 this year. From what we can tell from the image, it looks like this pack is adding a whole new Patrol zone. My initial thought was that it was going to add a new planet, but from the high res image that’s on the Sub Reddit, it looks more like the new Patrol will be on the Hive Ship, which it looks like is the new area added. What that actually means, who knows – but it would be the second content pack that deals with Hive enemies. The other two packs, which are still a ways off look to deal with the other two enemy types – Vex for the “third” pack and Cabal for the final one. I say “third” because it’s being called the third, but in reality the Comet pack will be.

Destiny has been a game that’s got a fairly divided fan base – the story issues are definitely pretty well documented, but there is still a pretty good player base. The game still is fun, if a bit repetitive and grindy. The DLC packs are a good way to breathe some new life into the game, at the very least for a few months or so. Hopefully we hear a bit more about the new content soon – at the latest at E3 though for sure.

Destiny Crucible Status – The Arena Three Months Later

DestinyThe last time I really sat down and looked at the PvP multiplayer in Destiny was way back around launch, and again for the Iron Banner. Well since I’ve been grinding out Crucible marks so I could pick up a new set of Future War Cult boots, I thought I would put down maybe some of my more recent thoughts on the state of Crucible play.

BUILDS
One thing that I think is really clear is that the Hunter classes are clearly the best PvP class. Either super really doesn’t have a true counter, aside from a pure headshot or another super. Golden Gun is all but a guarantee for at least three free kills, and Arc Blade can be just as dangerous, albeit with a little bit less protection. Add in the fact that Hunters can use Blink jump, which is pretty insane, and I don’t think it’s a surprise that there are tons of Hunters online. With that in mind I don’t really think too much has changed from my original thoughts on Hunter builds – for Gunslingers, Tripmine grenade is great, as a Bladedancer, I like the Flux grenade still. In general, you’ll want gear to get your super back quick, and actually melees too – throwing knife is great with Burn added, and Blink Strike is a good mid range melee.

Destiny Hunter

Warlocks are a tricky beast – they’re not quite as powerful as Hunters, but a close second thanks to a couple really nice abilities. For Voidwalkers, you’ve got a real solid class that’s based around big damage in short bursts. Axion Bolt is a fantastic grenade, and Nova Bomb is a great AoE attack to clear enemies, that adds in pretty solid damage resistance while tossing it to keep you alive. But all things considered, I actually think I prefer a Sunsinger in PvP. Radiance’s Phoenix ability lets you revive yourself instantly, which can get you a quick shot at revenge. You’ll want a discipline build for sure, so you can just throw tons of grenades while Radianced. I think really any of their grenades work, but the Solar might be the best bet. Finally, Scorch turns into a one-shot while you are Radianced, which really helps your survivability in close range.

Destiny Warlock

Finally, we reach my chosen main class – the Titan. When I say that they’re underpowered in PvP, I don’t mean that they’re weak. They have some really powerful weapons on their hands, but compared to how certain parts of the other two classes, they underperform just a little. Super-wise, Fist of Havoc is still great – you get a nice defense buff while using it, and Aftermath and Shockwave both are viable, although I really prefer Aftermath for sure. Pulse and Lightning grenades are great for area control, and can catch people off guard to get some “cheap” kills. The problem comes when we talk about melee – Storm Fist is not a one-hit, and has no extended range unlike either of the other two classes. It may sound like whining, but when my best melee attack is one that I have to sprint for a few seconds first to use, its usefulness is really limited. It just needs a little buff, and it would be fine. Defenders are a bit different – Ward of Dawn is nice, but having the Helm of Saint-14 is almost required to really make it worth using. Their melee attack, Barrier Strike, is nice since you get an overshield out of it, which might keep you alive; and having Magnetic grenades is a great option.

Destiny Titan

WEAPONS TO BRING IN
This is where my thoughts on the Crucible have really changed. At launch, I was all about particular weapons, partially due to my lack of having a lot of Legendary or Exotics. Things have changed a bit, and my loadout has definitely changed since then. With the latest patch, hand cannons have become beasts in PvP – Thorn and The Last Word in particular. Thorn is almost a two shot – if one is a head shot, it is with the damage over time. The Last Word is just a pure power weapon, with the ability to fire it really fast – it’s a three shot kill regardless, so that boost helps a ton. Obviously Vex Mythoclast is still a crazy weapon for PvP with its behavior to fire super fast and deal insane damage; you just have to get the drop luck in the Hard Vault of Glass. Special weapons are where I get a little off with what I see people using a lot. I don’t care for Fusion Rifles, but they definitely shine online – their damage output at mid-long range is insane right now. Plan C is great, Murmur is a beast and Light of the Abyss is definitely good with a quick charge time. For my Special slot though I run with Found Verdict – the Vault of Glass shotgun, or Invective still. My mid-long range is covered with my primary, so I have to make my shots count – if I want to use Specials, I have to push to close range, which fits with my Striker build. Sniper-wise, Patience and Time is great, Praedyth’s Revenge is too thanks to high rate of fire and low recoil. Icebreaker is a good choice, just for not having to worry about ammo. Heavy weapons I’ve also switched my loyalties – I used to be a Machine Gun guy, but I like Truth or either Gjallarhorn or Hezen Vengeance now more so.

Destiny Thorn

My former thoughts on weapons were more on controlled damage output – decent rates of fire with high stability. Now my thought is more about quick damage in as few shots as possible. High impact shots – scout rifles like Another NITC, Vision of Confluence both are solid choices; any hand cannon is great now too – help your time to kill drop, and keeping you alive. The Crucible hasn’t changed a ton, but since it’s been active for three months now, you’re going to see a lot of high level weapons. With Christmas noobs right around the corner, just keep that in mind before stepping into the arena.

Destiny: The Dark Below – Crota’s End Raid Thoughts

Destiny The Dark BelowIt’s been just about a full week since the release of the first Expansion for Destiny, The Dark Below, and within that week my fireteam was able to squeak out a completion of the new Crota’s End raid late last night. I went over the Vault of Glass after our first completion of that raid, so I thought the same idea was in order for this new raid. There’s still stuff to learn with it, including whether there’s a third raid chest that appears, but in terms of the general content of the raid, I think there’s some good stuff to talk about.

Let’s first hit the level requirement – in order to really have a chance at beating the raid you need to have a team that’s at least on the track to level 31. Bungie had said that in order to launch the raid your fireteam leader had to be 30, but you can enter it at lower levels – I entered the raid at 29, but I don’t know quite what the low end is. The nice part is that the first checkpoint (actually entering the dungeon) is incredibly quick – just create the bridge and jump down. The real good part about this is that the first raid chest is just beyond the landing – meaning that you can grind it on three characters really quickly. While it is a raid chest, the current thought is that the chest doesn’t have raid armor in it, aside from the class item; but it is able to drop radiant material as well as possible exotics. With that in mind, and taking into account how easy it is to grind, there’s really no reason to not grab it on all three characters, if you’re able.

Moving on to the meat and potatoes of the raid itself, I think that the Vault of Glass had more in the way of novel gameplay ideas. The first major section of that raid – inside the dungeon – is the Templar fight. You’re tasked with defending confluxes, then clearing Oracles before using a relic to fight the actual boss. With Crota’s End, the first section is much more straightforward. Your team must make their way through massive section of darkness – which adds the debuff Weight of Darkness, limiting your mobility – while being onset by waves of thralls. To combat the debuff, your team can use large lanterns to pull the darkness off you, before the lanterns explode. The best way ultimately is to just keep pushing forward – watch out for holes in the floor, but just always move forward. After you finish the lanterns, you’ll have to group up and extend a bridge – this is where a Defender helps to give you a bit of a break from the onslaught coming your way. Finishing up this part grants you the first true checkpoint, and loot drop.

Crotas End Darkness

Which brings us to the first real puzzle section of the raid. To cross the expanse, you’ll need the bridge extended – but to cross the bridge you’ll need to carry a sword across. This requires you to kill a Knight Ultra with one, cross the bridge and kill the Gatekeeper Knight that spawns, all within the time limit for the sword. At the same time, your team has to keep two totems from flipping red and wiping the team – while watching for swordbearers, and making your way across the bridge, one at at time. It’s a section that is pretty intense from start to finish – and every enemy is level 31 now, so you might start seeing some damage drop off. But it’s a super cool area, visually, and the actual puzzle/challenge isn’t super difficult, once you’ve got a pattern down. It’s all about team work and communication. After everyone is across the bridge, two Hallowed Ogres spawn – killing them gives you the checkpoint, and a loot drop. While you’re in transit to the next section, you’ll fight a couple Shriekers along with tons of Thralls. There’s some discussion as to whether the second Shrieker or a specific Cursed Thrall triggers the door closing, which shuts out the second chest. Either way, as you progress through the hallway, you should have someone sprint forward toward the chest in order to grab it and open the door for the rest of the team.

Crota

Which now brings us to the final two sections – first we have to clear out Ir Yut, the Deathsinger. There’s not really anything too clever with this fight – you essentially just have to kill everything, and kill them quickly. Ir Yut will sing her Deathsong after 3 minutes, wiping the team. The timer starts when you first shoot at any of the enemies in the room. You’ll need to kill her two wizard guards, two shriekers that open after the wizards die, then kill Ir Yut, all while dealing with the other enemies too. This is where you’ll want lots of level 31 players, since enemies have reached 32 now. Maxed out weapons are all but required here to deal enough damage to Ir Yut – she had a massive amount of health. But once you’ve cleared out the enemies, you’ll be ready to finish the raid. Your team gathers around the crystal, which then spawns Crota – who has a few tricks to deal with. First, he has a shield that protects him, and when it drops, he drops to a knee and can only be hurt with a sword picked up off a Swordbearer. Second, should any player die, he will summon the Oversoul – the huge planet looking thing behind him – which wipes the team after 10 seconds. The good news is that a level 31 with the sword can deal just about a quarter of his health in one attack phase – which is good because you probably will only manage four rounds before his enrage timer ticks off and it gets unwinable. The final issue to deal with, which currently does have a workaround, is that Crota prevents you from regenerating health. In order to do that, you’ll need to hold the Chalice of Light – which only one person can hold at a time.

All in all, I think Vault of Glass is a more complicated raid, which requires a bit more outside the box thinking in certain parts; while Crota’s End is much more combat focused. All section in Crota’s End put you up against ridiculous odds, and the margin for error is pretty slim. Both raids in general are the shining elements of Destiny‘s game design, and continue to be a lot of fun. While the RNG for loot can be a bit frustrating, the actual content of the raids make it fun to still play them.