Avatar

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 (2209 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:

  • It was shorter
  • There were pacing issues (less down-time between fights)
  • The final fight was dang-near impossible if you went in at the recommended light level (I've only seen ever one video of a successful team as all Level 30s)


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:

  • It's longer then VoG
  • It has no less then three non-combat sequences (Jumping Puzzles!)
  • We were able to take down the final boss before reset, despite being technically weaker due to light-level.


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:

  • "Are we playing Control against the AI?!"
  • "What the hell is a fanatic and why is it green?!"
  • "I'm Marked for Negation! Is that a good thing? Everything is very green now!"
  • "There are lights! and they take damage!"
  • "I got a shield thing! Wait, it's a third-person game now?"
  • "Hey, a Gorgon! Hey, we're all dead!"
  • "Great, now we're playing Megaman 2"
  • "Help, I'm going blind! I'm being eaten!"
  • "I went through the portal, and now I'm in the past?!"

(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).

---

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":

  • Rotate them 90 degrees.

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.

---

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!

Avatar

Rethinking Raids: What makes VoG stand above CE and KF

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Friday, July 22, 2016, 21:12 (2209 days ago) @ CyberKN

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.

Yes, if you go way back and look at my posts about VoG the morning after it opened up, I was absolutely floored, because none of it was expected, or even something I thought was possible. It was one of the best gaming experiences ever, because there was so much new to discover. It was like stepping out of the Lifeboat onto Halo times 100.

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.

We have 8 more years of this. I'm actually starting to anticipate a time when the raids might not even excite me anymore… Which is another reason why committing to something for 10 years may not completely pan out for the entire time. But for now, I am looking forward to the next one.

Avatar

Rethinking Raids: What makes VoG stand above CE and KF

by dogcow @, Hiding from Bob, in the vent core., Friday, July 22, 2016, 21:29 (2209 days ago) @ CyberKN

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:

  • It's longer then VoG
  • It has no less then three non-combat sequences (Jumping Puzzles!)
  • We were able to take down the final boss before reset, despite being technically weaker due to light-level.

So why do I still feel like VoG was way better?
The first reason is simple: Hive Fatigue.

So much this. I'm tired of the Hive.

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.

I hadn't realized it before, but YES! So much this. It can be very demoralizing. I'd say a lot of KF's mechanics end up being demoralizing, plus it's just so FREAKING LONG! Take the fatiguing length of the thing and add in demoralizing mechanics and people tired of it.

On the topic of KF being SO FREAKING LONG... I know I've said this before, but I think KF would have benefitted from being 2 separate raids. This just occurred to me, perhaps it could have been 1 non-linear raid 'space' and you pickup quests to take down certain bosses. The first time entering the raid you would get the first quest, which would unlock the 2nd quest (and geometry) which would unlock the finale. After unlocking a quest it would reset and be available to you each week. Each quest would give "known" random rewards.

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":

  • Rotate them 90 degrees.

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.

I love this idea.

Avatar

Rethinking Raids: What makes VoG stand above CE and KF

by Revenant1988 ⌂ @, How do I forum?, Friday, July 22, 2016, 23:17 (2209 days ago) @ CyberKN

Interesting thoughts, but I do have one question-


Is it possible that VoG is your favorite simply because it was first, and Destiny was still new and shiny?


(I mean, even with new content out and some tweaks to economy and RNG, the subsequent raids don't have the element of 'surprise' that the first one did)

Like in the sense that a movie sequel is rarely better than the original.

Just curious.


Your other points are more than valid from a game play perspective.

Avatar

Yes.

by cheapLEY @, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 00:17 (2208 days ago) @ Revenant1988

Is it possible that VoG is your favorite simply because it was first, and Destiny was still new and shiny?

I think he covered that pretty sufficiently at the end of his post:

First impressions are important.
(snip)
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).

I do agree that nostalgia and VoG just being so unknown and unexpected are huge parts of why it's held up as the best raid. I don't think that's everything, though. I still think it's almost perfect in both difficulty, fun encounters, and length in ways that the other two raids aren't. It's mechanics and encounters stand head and shoulders above the rest just in terms of being fun, while still requiring teamwork. Confluxes to the Templar fight is some of the most fun Destiny has ever been, and I don't know that anything in Crota's End or King's Fall comes even close to matching that set of encounters.

Just as important, and maybe even more so, is that the entirety of Vault of Glass flows and feels much more connected as a complete experience than Crota's End or King's Fall. It feels like a more coherent "story" from start to finish. King's Fall largely feels like a large set of completely disparate encounters smashed together with no real reason.

Avatar

Yes.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 00:23 (2208 days ago) @ cheapLEY
edited by Cody Miller, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 00:27

I do agree that nostalgia and VoG just being so unknown and unexpected are huge parts of why it's held up as the best raid. I don't think that's everything, though. I still think it's almost perfect in both difficulty, fun encounters, and length in ways that the other two raids aren't. It's mechanics and encounters stand head and shoulders above the rest just in terms of being fun, while still requiring teamwork. Confluxes to the Templar fight is some of the most fun Destiny has ever been, and I don't know that anything in Crota's End or King's Fall comes even close to matching that set of encounters.

I think that is because it was up to you to come up with your own solution to the challenge. So you have all the Legions of Fanatics that appear and threaten to overwhelm you. There's no one specific way to deal with that. So maybe you focus on making orbs during the conflux phase by the stairs so that you can chain supers to kill them as they spawn (what my group did the very first time). Maybe you move around and fight them off. Maybe you are cheap and hide. But the solution was not so specific. Same thing with the Gatekeeper fight. You can do it however you want.

Even the templar had variety. You could try to block the teleport.

I think the next raid should eliminate fights where the solution is very specific and unforgiving. Definitely punish players if they mess up, but give them an opportunity to make up for it. Too often in King's fall, a tiny mistake is a wipe.

A tiny mistake should have a snowball effect, which eventually would lead to a wipe if you don't stop it from rolling.

I guess the takeaway is:

Flexibility
Discoverability
Recoverability
Mystery
Challenging (different than difficult)

Avatar

Yes.

by cheapLEY @, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 00:28 (2208 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I think that is because it was up to you to come up with your own solution to the challenge. So you have all the Legions of Fanatics that appear and threaten to overwhelm you. There's no one specific way to deal with that. So maybe you focus on making orbs during the conflux phase by the stairs so that you can chain supers to kill them as they spawn (what my group did the very first time). Maybe you move around and fight them off. Maybe you are cheap and hide. But the solution was not so specific. Same thing with the Gatekeeper fight. You can do it however you want.

Even the templar had variety. You could try to block the teleport.

I think you're exactly right. King's Fall is fun to learn, not all that fun to do repeatedly.

I think the next raid should eliminate fights where the solution is very specific and unforgiving. Definitely punish players if they mess up, but give them an opportunity to make up for it. Too often in King's fall, a tiny mistake is a wipe.

A tiny mistake should have a snowball effect, which eventually would lead to a wipe if you don't stop it from rolling.

That's what I'm really hoping for. I don't want Bungie to get to where they're just trying to one-up the previous raid by cranking up the difficulty through timing requirements, damage checks, and super precise encounters with zero room for error. If it gets much worse than King's Fall in that regard, my interesting in doing raids will drop significantly.

Avatar

Yes.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 10:54 (2208 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I think that is because it was up to you to come up with your own solution to the challenge. So you have all the Legions of Fanatics that appear and threaten to overwhelm you. There's no one specific way to deal with that. So maybe you focus on making orbs during the conflux phase by the stairs so that you can chain supers to kill them as they spawn (what my group did the very first time). Maybe you move around and fight them off. Maybe you are cheap and hide. But the solution was not so specific. Same thing with the Gatekeeper fight. You can do it however you want.

Even the templar had variety. You could try to block the teleport.


I think you're exactly right. King's Fall is fun to learn, not all that fun to do repeatedly.

I think the next raid should eliminate fights where the solution is very specific and unforgiving. Definitely punish players if they mess up, but give them an opportunity to make up for it. Too often in King's fall, a tiny mistake is a wipe.

A tiny mistake should have a snowball effect, which eventually would lead to a wipe if you don't stop it from rolling.


That's what I'm really hoping for. I don't want Bungie to get to where they're just trying to one-up the previous raid by cranking up the difficulty through timing requirements, damage checks, and super precise encounters with zero room for error. If it gets much worse than King's Fall in that regard, my interesting in doing raids will drop significantly.

Yeah. Again, raids should be high on challenge, not nessesarily difficulty.

Avatar

Yes.

by SonofMacPhisto @, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 14:04 (2208 days ago) @ Cody Miller

I think that is because it was up to you to come up with your own solution to the challenge. So you have all the Legions of Fanatics that appear and threaten to overwhelm you. There's no one specific way to deal with that. So maybe you focus on making orbs during the conflux phase by the stairs so that you can chain supers to kill them as they spawn (what my group did the very first time). Maybe you move around and fight them off. Maybe you are cheap and hide. But the solution was not so specific. Same thing with the Gatekeeper fight. You can do it however you want.

100% correct

One of my favorite Destiny experiences was running VoG and just wrecking face during the Templar fight, whether that was holding down one side on my own as a Defender or just roaring through mobs as a Obsidian Mind V'Walker.

The other raids haven't really had moments like that for me, which is just to show how VoG had a lot to offer for many kinds of players.

Avatar

Rethinking Raids: What makes VoG stand above CE and KF

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 00:04 (2208 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.

Avatar

Rethinking Raids: What makes VoG stand above CE and KF

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 01:00 (2208 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

Loved your breakdowns of each Raid. I like all three of them but agree that a Raid should have some non-clockwork challenges. VoG had some strict clockwork sections (most notably the opening where you build the Spire) but did a good job of allowing comebacks during most of them. If you missed an Oracle you could get cleasened. If you got caught by a Gorgon you could kill it. If something happened to the away team someone from the home team could go through the portal and save the day. There are very few opportunities to save the day in King's Fall.

On the other hand, King's Fall does a good job of giving everyone a important but manageable task. In the Vault of Glass, far too often the battle against Atheon ended in a wipe because three people who were afraid of the Relic got transported then stood staring at each other. I don't miss that at all. Being torn during the Sisters is the closest thing King's Fall has to that, but even that is just making fairly easy jumps instead of having to learn new control combos like all non-Strikers had to do with the Relic.

Avatar

Standing around vs. moving

by Durandal, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 10:25 (2208 days ago) @ CyberKN

My impression is that all 3 raids have good and bad points. I agree that one of KF's biggest problems is the raw DPS check, but also, as I've mentioned before, the raid mechanics in KF are too obvious and video gameish.

VoG's mechanics are very well tucked into the story of VoG and game lore. The time travel, the oracles, everything is mysterious and has kind of an Indiana Jones feel too it. The reason for the relic, it's operation, all seem tied into the story seemlessly. The mechanics also encouraged some movement. You generally didn't need to stand in one place for very long, once you opened the gate you were finished.

CE was similar, but more straightforward. It seemed the only real mechanic was the sword and plate. While I feel that Crota was an epic fight if you were the sword bearer, it really was dull to be anyone else. The bridge encounter as it was intended to play also could be interesting, but CE's biggest failure was that it was so simple to cheese everything that no one played it straight.

KF fixes CE's solo issues, but really misses the feel VoG had. Every boss encounter requires you to stand in one spot for most of the encounter and shoot. The difficulty is entirely in the DPS per "round". While it probably requires the most coordination of all the raids to pull off, it just seems far duller and arbitrary then Atheon's or Crota's fight. Why are these plates here? Why does jumping counter clockwise on them work but clockwise does not? Why does Oryx pound them instead of doing something more effective? What the heck are the little pack man orbs? About the only mechanic that made sense to me was the corrupted light.

Oddly, the maze in the middle is something more of what I expected, and it of course a part pretty much everyone skips now. It's dark, mysterious, and has the secret plates. It reminded me of the light maze in CE, which was always hectic and fun, if a little frustrating when under leveled.

I think players need movement, shooting skill and teamwork to get the most out of the raid. VoG's Confluxes and Oracles, which mechanically essentially are intercept target/destroy mines yessssss, work well in that raid and give that feel. You are moving, communicating and trying to cover each one as players go down. KF it's really, you stand in one of two places, shoot mobs, then focus the boss.

Avatar

Standing around vs. moving

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 12:40 (2208 days ago) @ Durandal

Nobody has mentioned that King's Fall is essentially a boss rush. There is only one section where you are fighting enemies and not a boss: the prove your worth section. In contrast, the other raids have you fighting regular enemies most of the time.

Avatar

Standing around vs. moving

by Kahzgul, Sunday, July 24, 2016, 07:10 (2207 days ago) @ Durandal

I agree with this sentiment quite a bit. The best parts of destiny are the character movement and the shooting. If you take away one of those parts, it's not the same game. KF is entirely that. Jumping puzzles without shooting or shooting dps checks without jumping. It's far too constrained in terms of where the player *has* to stand. That isn't nearly as fun as VoG which gives you the means, but doesn't expressly force you to stand in a certain spot or prevent you from leaving your spot to help someone else.

VoG gave players the opportunity to make a clutch save in a way that CE and KF do not.

Back to the forum index
RSS Feed of thread