Four Hours, Six People, And One Raid

It may have taken us twice the amount of time we were initially told it would take (though, to be fair, my roommate was very clear about leaving room for it to take longer), but we managed to clear the Leviathan Raid in Destiny 2. For those of you who do not know what this is, the Leviathan Raid is a sort of dungeon. Your team of one to six players (it is almost always six as there are parts that are nearly impossible to do without six players or the best two or three players in the world) has to make their way through a series of challenges to reach the final boss, all while earning special gear that gives you bonuses while doing the raid. Upon succeeding, you are given more gear, various extra rewards, and some small side missions to unlock even more gear. Basically, you’re raiding the lair of a Big Bad Evil Guy for loot and bragging rights. On the surface, it seems pretty simple and, at least to me, boring.

Thankfully, it is not nearly so boring in practice. In practice, you and your team receive an invitation to visit the palace of the most powerful member of an alien race, The Cabal. There, you are basically given a royal guard to the main chamber of the palace, whereupon the emperor tells you that he wishes to see your strength. Your team is challenged to unlock a series of doors, take on some challenges, and eventually make it to the emperor’s throne room in order to take him on in combat after proving yourselves worthy. Every week, when the game’s challenges reset, so does the raid, which means you can only complete it once a week but you have all week to complete the raid if you only get partway through before your group needs to stop. There isn’t a lot of plot to it, but then there isn’t much plot to the Destiny games in general. You show up, kill some stuff, some alien out to get your power gets angry about it, you kill them, and then it turns out a god of some kind was behind them the entire time so now you get to add “god killer” to your list of titles. The games include various powers and small RPG elements, but they’re mostly straight-forward shoot-em-up games with little real choice or plot beyond good versus evil.

The raids, though, were the first real puzzle-solving elements of the game. There are other puzzles you need to solve, things you need to find, during the rest of the game, but there was always a quest marker to guide you to where you needed to go or explain what you needed to do. There was no difficulty other than when you got caught without cover in a giant swarm of enemies. Even then, you usually just respawn a few seconds later a short distance away. In the emperor’s palace, though, there are no explanations. No quest markers. No hints aside from what is posted online by other players and the occasional little line of text off to the side of the screen. Even if you look up a guide video on YouTube, there’s still a huge difference between knowing what needs to be done and being able to do it. Even though one of the puzzles was incredibly easy to figure out, it still took our team a while to be able to pull it off.

Thankfully, the raid is just as forgiving as the rest of the game, when it comes to death. If the entire team is killed, you just start the particular room you’re in over from the beginning. Anything you’ve already completed stays done. If just one person is killed, the team has the chance to revive them, though each person only has the ability to revive someone one time. If you fail to revive your teammate in the specified amount of time, then the entire team is killed and you must start the room over again. This mechanic allowed us to restart rooms as soon as we realized we’d messed up, which saved us a lot of time. If we’d been forced to attempt to play out every attempt we’d screwed up, we probably wouldn’t have finished the raid that night. Hell, there was only one room in the raid where screwing up didn’t result in all of us instantly dying, so it was usually pretty clear when we missed something or someone had forgotten one of their assignments.

All six of us have known each other for a while, at least in passing. My roommate, the organizer, is the common thread that connects us all right now, so I was worried there would be communication issues because we weren’t used to each other’s voices, play styles, or communication styles. Despite that, we all got along really well. There were a few tense moments where frustration with our repeated failure or a repeated gripe resulted in a few disgruntled words, but that was about it. Even then, most of it can be chalked up to all of us not playing together as a group and not really seeing each other’s skill levels aside from the few windows provided in the raid. For the most part, there wasn’t time to sit around watching how your allies played. Your only gauge of their skill was their success or failure at their assigned tasks and they were difficult enough that even the most experienced among us struggled to perform them correctly. We all learned a lot about each other’s abilities that night, but only in specific areas.

Our communication, though, was amazing. We all fell into our roles naturally, we had clear lines of communication, and we constantly refined our short hand for call-outs, directions, and affirmative responses. There were a few times when the leader had to ask someone to shut up, but it wasn’t ever more than once. Everyone listened patiently, everyone was willing to help out, and everyone had good suggestions for how to make things easier. We may still need to work on our understanding of each other’s over-all abilities and play styles, but we definitely established a rapport with each other that will make future group gaming easier than ever.

Unfortunately, due to our scheduling issues, we won’t be able to repeat the raid more than once a month. In my opinion, that’s plenty. Maybe, once we’ve done it a couple more times, it’ll feel like less of a time-sink to run through it. I know just thinking about it is tiring me out again… It was still a ton of fun, though, and I’m really looking forward to doing it again. I’d love to recapture that feeling of hard-won success when we finally defeated the raid boss.