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Rethinking Raids: What makes VoG stand above CE and KF (Destiny)

by CyberKN ⌂ @, Oh no, Destiny 2 seems complicated, Friday, July 22, 2016, 19:40 (2164 days ago)

Rethinking Raids: What makes The Vault of Glass stand above it's successors

I've been thinking (and reading) quite a bit about the raids of Destiny lately, and in particular why I find the Vault of Glass to be so much more fun than either Crota's End or King's Fall.

Prior to the launch of King's Fall, I thought I had figured out what was wrong with Crota's End:


And then The Taken King dropped, and we got our hands on King's Fall. It seemed to hit most of the points I thought it needed to hit:


So why do I still feel like VoG was way better?

The first reason is simple: Hive Fatigue. I am totally sick of fighting hive. It feels like they've been the main Baddie since The Dark Below launched (aside from a brief interlude during HoW where it was exotic hand cannons), and it's getting old. There's not much else to say on that front.

The second reason is that Kings Fall's combat encounters feel overly reliant on DPS-checks. A DPS-check is a part of an encounter where players MUST do a set amount of damage to an enemy within a short amount of time, or else they have to restart the encounter because the situation is unrecoverable (or Oryx claps his hands). Forcing the fireteam to restart the encounter because of this sort of design feels un-creative and is demoralizing for the players, especially because of how much focus it places on the players' gear and level, things that Destiny explicitly places out of their control. On the other hand, this might be a purely subjective complaint, and other people I've talked to love this kind of encounter design.

The third and final reason I think VoG stands head and shoulders above Destiny's other raids is this:

First impressions are important.

I only realized how pivotal this idea was when I went back and watched recordings of the first teams attempt to tackle VoG the night it launched.

The excitement and reactions exuded from those recordings is mostly absent from follow-up videos where the same people tackle the subsequent raids. There are exceptions, but VoG does such a good job of eliciting those reactions at the start of EVERY encounter:

(That last one becomes way crazier when you realize the portals go to different time periods (which I know are just different areas, but the conceit of time travel is really cool))

My point is, the Vault of Glass is so memorable because the game is constantly throwing things at you that you didn't even realize were possible in Destiny, as a game or even as an engine. It takes the wholly mundane and familiar encounters you have become used to over the story missions and throws dozens of new mechanics into the mix, and doesn't stop throwing new things at you until it's over. And we LOVE experiencing new things in games.

(One of my favorite aspects of the Vault of Glass is the way the raid hijacks the kill-feed, that little area of white innocuous text above your super bar, and turns it into a super-critical source of important information)

This revelation of new things is part of what dulls CE and KF. We're no longer stunned by the concept of an enemy that can wipe everyone without touching us, or having one fireteam member take up a relic and perform an important role with it. And that lack of "newness" is what makes us look at them as lesser then VoG.

I realize what I'm saying here is that a large part of VoG's appeal is purely nostalgia, but nostalgia is a powerful tool, and it's bolstered by the fact that VoG has many other minor qualities that make it a legitimately fun activity (Hint: requiring extreme precision and timing isn't one of them).

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As an aside, here's an example of how I think the "Pistons" section of KF could have been improved, using existing mechanics that still feel completely "new":

The Piston section is cool, but it's really just a retread of mechanics we've been using (avoiding?) before; Anyone who's engaged a cabal/taken phalanx, in an enclosed space, will know what I'm talking about.

But what if the pistons had been vertical instead? Waiting until the initial unsuspecting guardian walked over top of it (Make it look like a plate!), and then launching them skyward? And then the players have to learn to use the incredible, mancannon-esque momentum of these pistons in sequence to ascend to Oryx's throne room! Destiny's engine is clearly capable of handling these sorts of physics mechanics, but we don't ever see it used to the player's benefit, or as something the player can make use of.

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I know that what I'm asking for here sounds incredibly difficult to deliver, but we know that Bungie is capable of it, and I think the wait between raids warrants that kind of effort. It'll be interesting to see if the Rise of Iron raid has that "new" feeling I crave from the raid experience, or if it just looks like another retread of what we've played before. I hope it's the former.

-Thanks for reading. And raiding!


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