Instanced PvE is arguably one of the most engaging activities in the game. Throughout the life cycle of two games in the series, it seems like the developers have had a love/hate relationship with it. This is most evident with each new raid. The first-ever raid, the Vault of Glass, was supposed to be the most challenging activity Bungie ever created. It was set to take hours to complete, unlike regular Strikes that take around 30 minutes tops. When we think about the first raid, it’s now like a huge nostalgic throwback to some of the most challenging puzzles, unique enemies, and boss fights we’ve seen in Destiny. Mechanics like time travel played a crucial part in that raid. However, despite the nostalgic feeling it gives us, its structure is rather simplistic compared to later raids. The Crota’s End was the shortest raid in the first game, with only 4 encounters. It felt more like a Strike than a full-fledged raid. Then there were the King’s Fall and the Wraith of the Machine – both spectacular instances with a huge amount of story-driven encounters, secrets, and amazing loot.
The Sequel’s Exploration And Experimentation on Raids
Now, how did the sequel’s raid started out? The first game definitely ended on a high note in that regard. Leviathan offered a new take on what the Destiny 2 raids should be like. The location was so huge, it could very well be a separate Destination within the galaxy’s map. That being said, the raid only had one boss, while the other encounters were serving as challenges. It was also the first raid to incorporate cut scenes and voiceovers. It also was the first raid to feature Cabal as the main enemy.
Thanks to the unique structure, the raid encounters could be taken in any order. I also featured a system of shortcuts to the encounters, much in the style of Naxxramas from WoW. But then, the developers decided to introduce the raid lairs – smaller raids, and the first one was the Eater of Worlds. It only had one boss and a couple of jumping puzzles. So, by all means, it wasn’t your typical raiding experience. The Spire of Stars was merely another raid lair of the Leviathan ship, once again featuring only one boss encounter. Although the final boss had more mechanics than any other raid boss, making it very hard to find a group for, it was still small in scope. Many actually enjoyed the challenge, but not everyone believed that this was the way the raids should be evolved. But then the Last Wish came out and beat all other raids in terms of scale. This was another raid with a very strong story narrative implications associated with it. Although it was more linear in structure than Leviathan, it took 18+ hours for the first team to clear it.
After that, there were 4 more raids, each of which varied in size, complexity, and structure. This begs the question – what made some later raids worse than older ones? It’s an open topic. Some fans believe this was due to the difficult relationship between Bungie and Activision. Others blame it on the fact that Bungie tasked a third-party company to design the instances. Whatever it may be, it definitely looks like now, finally, we see a steady improvement process with each new raid. Which leaves us wonder – what’s the next best raid will be like?