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

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 00:04 (2827 days ago) @ CyberKN

Lots of great points, Cyber.

Personally, I think the way I feel about the raids is influenced by a few main factors: the raids themselves (judged in a vacuum, if you will), and how they fit into Destiny's end game.

Judged in a vacuum, I enjoy all 3 raids very much. They each have their own distinct theme and "feel", which is great. VoG is certainly my favorite, but I appreciate all 3 for the unique experiences they all bring.

Where things get problematic for me is what happens to the raids when they are weaved into Destiny's end game. Mainly, Destiny's end game is built around replaying these raids over and over and over. I think VoG and CE hold up very well under such repetition, KF not so much.
Then there's the issue of Light Levels and how those effect each raid. In this regard, I think Bungie has made things progressively worse since VoG. While the VoG loot drop rates were not great, they got a few things right. Once you reached the minimum light level (26), you could very realistically finish the entire raid without needing to go up in level during the raid. King's Fall throws this out the window, which is a big mistake IMO. Crota's End Hard Mode was problematic because of the over-levelled enemies, at least until HoW (which, IMO, is when CE finally lived up to its full "fun" potential). But King's Fall is just stacked against the player in so many ways. For all but the very best teams, it was impossible to finish the raid at the same level at which you'd begun the raid. You needed loot drops from the first half of KF to have any hope of completing it. And since the drop rates were so crappy, you needed to repeat the first half of the raid A LOT before you were levelled up high enough to kill Oryx. And the Heroic Mode does the same thing all over again.

When it comes to the unique "identity" of each raid, I think the inherent nature of King's Fall work's against its replayability as well. To me, VoG is about mystery. The atmosphere and art design of the caves under Venus does do much for that raid. It is enigmatic, begging to be explored. And that carried through to the combat design as well. The encounters in VoG are so deep, with so many possible ways to tackle them, that I build an entire website dedicated to discovering and cataloging them. As demanding as they are, each encounter allows plenty of room for improvisation. That's the main reason it is so endlessly replayable.

While I don't think Crota's End is quite as good as VoG, I still absolutely love it. It was rough in places when it first launched, but by the time House of Wolves came along I enjoyed it almost as much as VoG. To me, CE is all about momentum. It has a more urgent pace to it. There's a great ebb and flow over the course of the raid where your fireteam pushes forward, then is required to pause and defend, hold out as long as you can, then use that urgency to launch yourselves back on the offensive. CE repeats that flow of holding your team in place and then launching you forward over and over again, and I think it works beautifully well. It's fast, chaotic, requires plenty of coordination, yet (much like VoG) it allows plenty of improvisation and moments of heroics. And as I've said many times, I still think the Bridge section of CE is the best encounter in the game.
The one thing that really works against CE IMO is the location. I was HYPED for a raid that took us down into the depths of the moon. But once we get transported into a different dimension, the raid looses some of the plausibility or believability for me. For all the impossible things going on in the depths of VoG, it felt like a believable place that could really exist under the surface of Venus. Crota's End was the first time a location in Destiny felt like something that could clearly only exist as a videogame level. The art design was no longer disguising the fact that these play spaces merely existed as arenas for the player to fight in.

The theme of King's Fall, to me, is "clockwork". Every encounter is a machine that requires the fireteam to perform a precise series of actions in perfect sync with each other. I really enjoyed the process of learning how to complete these machines with my fireteam. The first time my group got the timing down on the relay that leads to the warpriest was thrilling. But once you've done it a few times, that's all there is to it. Little or no room for improvisation, almost impossible to recover from mistakes. Combine this with the length of the raid and the light level/loot frustrations I mentioned above, and KF becomes the most punishing raid in the game by a very large margin. I also feel that King's Fall takes the same problems I have with the visual design of CE, and triples them. There isn't a single location in the entire raid that feels like it has any real reason to exist, aside from being a gameplay challenge for the player. None of it makes any sense as a real location. It makes for fun gameplay, but it fails to produce any sense of immersion in the surroundings; something that VoG did exceptionally well.

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