After playing the game consistently for about three months, this last weekend I finally attempted Destiny 2’s raid Leviathan. I’d done raids in the original Destiny and they weren’t very fun experiences. There were plenty of spots where confusing enemies and instant kills made progress slow and frustrating. I was not really looking forward to playing the raid again. I was happy to discover that the new raid is a tighter, more engaging experience than I ever experienced in the first game. Here’s what I learned playing through the Leviathan raid.
Destiny’s raids make no effort to make sense
These raids are not easy for beginners, mostly because what you’re expected to do is so vague and arbitrary. In Wolfenstein, when the game wants you to go somewhere, it will give you a logical reason why you need to do so. The game designers will want you to go down a hallway, so they’ll put a key you need at the end of the hallway. They’ll want you to explore a new area so they’ll but a lever you need to press in that area. Destiny’s designers feel no such need to make their game make sense. Why do you need to a “buff” in order to stand in toxic water? Because you do. It’s a mechanic that makes no sense, appears no where else in the Destiny universe, and is completely counterintuitive. Why do screaming dogs mean instant death? Because they do. It makes no sense and occurs no where else in the Destiny universe, but here it means an instant death. Leviathan is already difficult but even more so because of these little weird mechanics. You’ll figure it out eventually, but it’s gonna take a lot of trial an error.
You have to do your homework
Before playing the raid, I looked up some videos and some descriptions of what I’d need to do in the raid. As useful as Youtube and IGN were, they really weren’t enough. Raids require research, at least if you want to be effective in your first run through. I thought I had a grasp on everything from the videos I watched but understanding how the dynamics unfold in real time is much more complex. If you’re going to play these raids, you need to do your homework, watch the videos, and make sure you know what to expect. I found that with my group of gamers, there were a lot of unspoken tricks and effects that they didn’t think to mention and were easy to forget. In The Guantlet, for example, two players run through a maze and call out targets that must be shot quickly to open passageways they need. Getting those passages shot is imperative but then you have to run up and punch out a “Counselor” who appears and can end the entire run. Forgetting small things like that can end a very well-coordinated run and, trust me, you don’t want to be that guy.
Gamers are surprisingly nice, patient people
This was my first time through the raid and, by any measure, I was our team’s weakest link. Destiny is great about tracking your stats and I was always the lowest on the list: fewest kills, most deaths, etc. I was pretty nervous that my team might decide to eject me from the raid and try to find someone a little more experienced to help out. Fortunately for me, that never happened. As frustrated as they got, they patiently explained the mechanics of each section and rotated me to simpler spots if I was struggling in any particular area. They got a little tired of losing, but they never took it out on me. I can’t guarantee that your experience will be as strong as mine, but gamers seem to be willing to support one another through these adventures. If you’re reluctant, like me, about playing with strangers, let me recommend that you give these strangers a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Destiny knows how to stick the landing
I wasn’t too impressed with the final battle in Destiny 2. Sure, it was cool to be on the Traveler battling that guy who beat you up earlier, but the fight itself was mostly just a run-and-gun affair. I ran, shot, and hid for about twenty minutes until I finally got the better of him. It wasn’t particularly heroic. The battle against Emperor Calus is much better. It begins when you shoot a goblet out of his hands, which is a cute glove-slap. Calus separates your team for much of the battle, imprisoning three in a stormy netherworld where they can be killed very easily and fighting the other three in the throne room with hordes of enemies. In the end, though, all six players reunite in the throne room and stand together on a platform unloading ammunition into the Emperor. It’s a moment that works; after all of the trials and errors that came before, you stand shoulder to shoulder with your team and unload on the boss. It feels like the end of Ghostbusters, or The Avengers, or Justice League (but better). Destiny 2’s ending may not have rocked my world, but the raid’s finale definitely did.