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Smashing Glass, Penetrating Crota

A while back I stopped playing Destiny. I just ran out of incentives. I wanted to get to level 31 but I had no idea why I was trying to get to level 31. I also didn’t have my armour exotic, which you have to have to fully upgrade to get to the heady heights of 31. I’d also scrapped two armour exotics I’d regretted scrapping. I’ve now learned you always put exotics in storage, never delete, as you just never know. Basically, I felt like I was waiting for Xur to sell an armour exotic and running endless strikes and bounties to level up gear, the purpose for which seemed a bit abstract.

Now things have changed as we have a fire team of six comprising of relations (brothers, nephews and nieces) and partners which means we are self-sufficient for raiding! New content. New challenges. A reason to play and level. Around this time Xur also turned up selling the exotic helmet I wanted. Win. I now have a purpose and once this exotic helm is levelled a bit more I’ll be level 31.

On this basis we’ve started smashing Vault of Glass and penetrating the early areas of the Crota’s End raid.

I’m enjoying Vault of Glass. It’s a raid behind so many people discount it as the gear is old. We have better legendary gear than drops in the raid. The exotics that drop are still useful as there is an upgrade path for exotics. It’s also a bit ironic that now we are in Vault of Glass, a source of some regular ascended shards, I don’t need any! Still, it’s not about the loot, we are happy to see new places and experience new challenges.

Crota’s End is a bit more frustrating, but then it would be, as it is the level appropriate raid. The first section is very clever though, and shows how the best game elements of Destiny are hidden within the raids that very few people actually access. It also shows the potential in an FPS raid. An FPS is game is free-flowing, it’s in constant motion. It isn’t about relatively static movement, rotations and cool downs. The first part of Crota’s End involves running through a complex tunnel system from ‘energy lamp’ to ‘energy lamp’ while being constantly hounded by a horde of enemies. While running you are de-buffed (it slows you down and can be layered) and this can only be cleared by the lamps. This results in a complex sequence of events involving constant movement, strategies called in the moment, timing, best use of powers (keeping an AOE for each lamp, etc). It’s fast, frenetic, and yet, you need to bring order to it. While currently frustrating, it is a very clever bit of game design.

The potential for setting up challenging scenarios is wide open, as they’re nothing stopping a raid down the line separating the team for some time and having them coordinate in totally different areas of the raid! It’s much more fun than the typical MMO set-up.

I like the feeling of progressive challenge. True, it’s horribly frustrating when you first try it. It seems chaotic. Lacking any sense of order or control. You feel distant from ever being able to do it. Then you slowly wrestle some sense of order out of the chaos and gain control of the various elements of the raid and that is a great feeling. It is very rewarding when what was once frustration and chaos personified starts to feel like some well oiled machine in which all the parts are coordinated, communicating and working well. That’s the feeling we have now in these raids, but obviously Vault of Glass is progressing more quickly.

The raids are also spectacular in terms of visuals. I think I’ve said this before when we experimented with Vault of Glass sometime ago. The graphics aren’t some pinnacle of 4K graphics, but the design put into the architecture of the raids is astounding. They manage to to be inspirational, sending your imagination off in all sorts of directions (not always a good thing), while also being realistic. The tunnel system of Vault of Glass is more like epic potholing than it is moving through dungeon corridors. It feels like a realistic cave system, which just happens to be one floating around in some odd extra-dimensional space out of time. It’s all great stuff.

There is some negatives to the raiding, the main one being the pressure to play the game outside of the raid in order to support it. This isn’t as bad as it is in many other MMO games, which involves crafting, fixing armour, farming materials and whatever else. The raiding economy is quite low really, but you do need glimmer. The only thing you need for raids are the ammo packs, it just makes things a bit easier to know you’re not entirely reliant on ammo drops. They’re a bit like potions for your guns, they give you ammo but they’re on a 5-minute cool down. They are quite expensive at 900 glimmer a shot. This means you tend to feel the need to do bounties, missions and strikes in order to harvest the glimmer (essentially money). One major bonus with Destiny is there isn’t a death penalty or armour degradation.

This is a good thing.

It’s a bit of a dilemma moving forward as I’d like to complete Vault of Glass, but Crota’s End offers level appropriate loot. I just hope we don’t get stuck between the two raids. The energy for Vault of Glass being dissipated because we’ve tried and got into Crota’s End, but in turn the Crota raid becomes frustrating and difficult because we’re actually doing it at its most challenging level.

Personally? I’m not convinced I’m interested in ‘progression’. What will it get me? To level 32. That’s it. I’m already going to be level 31 with the gear I have. Chances I’m already above the level the new material will be when the next expansion comes out. It seems to me to be a lot of effort for little reward. What seems to be important to me is seeing the place, experiencing the raid and finishing it. I’m not sure the final leap in level is worth the effort? Really. It’s too small a step, for too much effort (and it doesn’t really access more content) and too narrow a time window to be useful.

If I’m going to do anything just for the sake of getting there, the better bet would seem to be a raid behind.

About Ian O'Rourke

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