Press Start: Playing the ‘Destiny 2’ raid blind is its most satisfying
Anyone who follows my column knows raiding is my favorite part of any "Destiny" game.
There's something so satisfying about gathering a fireteam of six friends and entering a long, grueling mission together. It often takes hours of flawless communication, coordination and cooperation to beat these punishing challenges, and it's immensely rewarding when you do.
"Destiny 2's" first raid, The Leviathan, released last Wednesday, and after days of chipping away at it, my friends and I conquered it Sunday. It would have gone faster, but we tried something different: playing it blind.
Raids aren't normal missions where you simply go where the game tells you to go and shoot bad guys along the way. Raids are made of several puzzle-like challenges that require constant communication—and that's after you know what you're doing. It usually takes plenty of trial and error to figure out how to best these encounters, and you slowly get better and more confident of what you're doing until you win.
Normally after a "Destiny" raid releases, teams of elite players dive in and conquer it within hours. These groups are the best of the best, and fans eagerly follow their live gameplay streams. Less than a day after a raid is beaten, most members of the "Destiny" community know how to conquer it themselves because of such videos and simple word of mouth.
My friends and I decided we didn't want to beat the raid that way. Instead, we went in not knowing anything and figured it out on our own—for the most part, anyway.
I'll admit I had my doubts. We've tried beating raids blind before, but we've always gotten impatient and eventually looked things up to make it to the next part of a raid.
Not this time.
The Leviathan is made up of four encounters: three puzzles and a boss fight. Before each encounter, a room leading into it must be unlocked by placing staffs on a plate in the ground. That was our first challenge, which we bested quickly.
The first encounter featured a bathhouse with four plates and several pods. Black water covering each of the plates damaged anyone standing in it unless they had a protecting buff that slowly diminished over time.
After a few test runs, we discovered four players had to simultaneously stand on the plates and constantly swap out with the two remaining players to avoid succumbing to the water. After standing on the plates long enough, the pods became vulnerable. We destroyed them, and the first encounter was beaten.
The second encounter was probably my favorite, and it took our group the longest. In a foggy garden full of roaming dogs, four players had to grab four orbs and sneak to different plants. Once close enough, one of two players navigating the group through the dog-invested garden would shoot the plant, coating everyone in pollen.
After doing this several times without getting caught, we had enough pollen to severely damage the dogs. We first tried to kill the six dogs a few at a time as a team. When that didn't work, we all killed one dog each by ourselves, and the challenge was done.
The third encounter didn't take us as long to figure out, but it was a lot of fun to complete. Two players ran through a circular obstacle course while four others shot specific, called-out pads to clear the way for the runners. The obstacle course got progressively harder, and on the last run, all six players ran it together.
Finally, there's the boss, Emperor Calus. We got the basic concept down ourselves, but we were eventually teamed up with random players who gave us the final clues we needed to finally conquer the boss.
Victory never tasted so sweet.
The first team to beat the raid took more than five hours. I estimated it would take our team 15, and at least one teammate thought it would take us only 10. In the end, we spent at least 12 hours over several days playing the raid to completion, and that was with some minor help at the end.
It's far from over, though. Next month, "Destiny 2's" harder prestige mode releases, and that means we'll likely have to beat the raid with tougher enemies and no way to revive each other during encounters when someone inevitably dies.
I can't wait to give it another go.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing email@example.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.