Raids are Destiny. Plain and simple. They are the truly unique piece of Destiny’s vast puzzle. I can’t think of a console video game that has undertaken such a different, team-based activity as Bungie has. Raids are what make up a large part of what makes Destiny, Destiny. So let’s explore this a little.

By now we are all familiar with how the raids in Destiny are. Wrath of the Machine is good, Crota’s End sucks, Vault of Glass was the best and King’s Fall is, well King’s Fall. But let’s dive a little deeper into this. Does each respective raid deserve the praise or criticism that they get? I recently asked my clanmates what the best raid in Destiny was after I did some soul-searching myself. The answers I came to surprised me a bit. As did some of the responses from my clanmates. It’s easy to say Vault of Glass is the best, and that is the answer you’ll get from most people. The Vault was not without its flaws though, so let’s go through the raids one by one. And for ease's sake, we’ll go in launch order.

Vault of Glass

“Without question Vault of Glass. My memories of those first tries are awesome. The mechanics were just complex enough to be difficult but not crazy frustrating. Plus, the whole idea of raiding was brand new and shiny. It was the start of something excellent.” - Grayfox OG

Before Vault of Glass, if you were talking about raids in video games you were mostly likely talking about MMO’s. Raiding on consoles was unheard of, at least as far as I know. That was something that was very appealing to me. Here was something new that I, being a console gamer, could get into and that was exciting. I joined a clan so I could have people to raid with as I was not prepared to short-change myself on my Destiny experience. I wanted to do it all. It took me and my friends a little while to finally be raid ready where we could finally get in and actually succeed. After about 5 hours we finally did it (a couple of our team had already done it before). It was great. A true sense of accomplishment. We beat the hardest content in Destiny. Naturally, we celebrated.

I think this is where most people are with VoG. It being the first will ensure a special place in most people’s hearts. I mean, we all remember our first right? That said though, it’s easy to look at VoG through rose-colored glasses. VoG was notorious for glitches, terrible RNG, and it was cheeseable at almost every stage. Remember pushing Templar and Atheon off the ledge? Audio during Oracles would cut out. Detainment shields wouldn’t work. Relic disappearing. The list goes on. Not to mention the incredibly frustrating “Forever 29” meme tied to poor and inconsistent gear drops. To this day I still don’t have Praetorian Foil, and it took over 2 years for Praedyth’s Timepiece to drop for me. On the flip side of the coin I received countless Found Verdicts and Praedyth’s Revenge. Not to mention the countless times I walked away with nothing but shards and energy.

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All that said though, VoG is a solid experience. Like Grayfox said above, the puzzles were just hard enough. The raid wasn’t too punishing and even on hard mode it could still be completed with a couple fireteam members dead. Gameplay wise - and let’s face, that’s what really matters - VoG is a pinnacle of gaming. Raiding on console was impossible and here Bungie made it work. And the experience was amazing even with the problems mentioned above. Topping it seemed impossible. Enter the next contender, Crota’s End.

Crota’s End

“I love the Crota’s End raid, but really was a six man strike not a raid.” - LibraSlave

The Dark Below dropped about 3 months after the initial release of Destiny and brought with it a new raid, Crota’s End. And unlike VoG, it was available to play immediately. Knowing that in advance brought the grind for my raid team as a couple of us were still needing gear to hit level 30. I needed a helmet and gauntlets on my Warlock main or a helmet for my Hunter alt. The week leading up to release we played hard VoG on both my characters. On the Saturday before launch I got the helmet for my Hunter and the following Monday, the day before launch, I hit level 30. I’ve been a Hunter main ever since.

By this time, my raid group was well established and we made the decision to go in blind. Truly one of the best decisions we ever made. It allowed us to have an even greater sense of accomplishment when we finally finished - a week later. My group is many things, but hardcore staying up all night raiding is not one of them. So we chipped away at it piece by piece. Got to the bridge the first night. Deathsinger the next and Crota himself took a couple more. But we did it. All by ourselves. With no outside help or influence. And actually it is the only raid that we were able to that with, but more on that later.

The raid itself, well this is where things break down for many people. A flawless execution of Crota’s End can take less than half an hour. That combined with a new mindset with the raid being far more action oriented instead of mechanical led many to think that it was inferior to VoG. The bar was set incredibly high and Crota’s End just never seemed to reach it. Throw in much of the same glitches and cheeses that VoG suffered and it made for a combination that can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Crota is the worst raid in Destiny just because it doesn’t feel like a raid. Compared to all the others, it stands apart. It sticks out like a sore thumb but I’d argue that is its biggest strength now. Look at how the community has embraced it for what it is: an activity in Destiny. And arguably one of the finest in the game. What other activity in the game offers so much variety. From a team of six to a lonely solo player, Crota has something for everyone. Want to do a flawless run? Run Crota. Want to do one of the most challenging solo activities in the game? Run Crota. Is it a great raid? Well no. As shown above, one of my clanmates referred to it as a six-man strike, but we did all agree it was a great activity.

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Sure, it was not without its flaws. Cheesing Crota was taken to new heights as new exploits were taken advantage of, to avoid encounters even though some of them actually took longer to do than doing them as intended. I won’t even go into the whole pulling the LAN cable cheese for Crota himself. But there were some better points too. Gear drops were far more frequent even though after countless normal and hard runs on all three of my characters I still have yet to get a Swordbreaker shotgun and the Crux of Crota to make Necrocasm. RNG is still RNG. But that’s Destiny for you. And it’s only going to get worse. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you King’s Fall.

King’s Fall

“Kings fall for sure. The mechanics, the puzzles and the weapons were a perfect mixture of challenge and fun.” - SwiftBuTtErS

House of Wolves skipped a raid and instead brought us the Prison of Elders so we had to wait for The Taken King Expansion and the start of Year Two to get a new raid. Having been patiently waiting for all that time, my group was chomping at the bit to dive into the new raid. Instead of releasing right away like Crota’s End did, Bungie held off until the Friday after launch to release King’s Fall as a way to allow players to level up as Year Two brought the new light level system among many other things. My group was lucky enough to be more or less raid ready for release so we jumped into it blind as before. But this is where our luck ran out. Where for Crota we were able to chip away at it over the course of the week, we just couldn’t get that momentum going for King’s Fall. We didn’t finish that first week, if I recall correctly we didn’t even get through Warpriest. Early on, we heard King’s Fall was a true successor to VoG as it was truly a team activity. And boy is it ever.

Where Crota’s End has few mechanics, King’s Fall requires flawless execution for its many mechanics. If someone died during Confluxes in VoG, you could work through it. Sure it would be harder, but it was possible. Someone dies during Glyphs before Warpriest on hard, well that’s a wipe as your auras get all messed up and then the totems will activate. There’s very little room for error in King’s Fall and that can be very frustrating. My team had Crota pretty much on farm mode early on in The Dark Below, but it wasn’t until after the April Update that we could say the same about King’s Fall. We’re no slouches when it comes to raiding, but there was just something about King’s Fall that never really clicked for us until much later in its life.

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Part of that was probably due to the fact that King’s Fall was actually worth playing again after the April Update. Up to that point, the raid suffered heavily from double RNG: RNG on your gear drops paired with more RNG for it’s light level. It was incredibly frustrating to grind the raid week after week for no light level increases. If I had a dollar for every chest piece that dropped that was worse or just as good as the chest piece I was already wearing, I’d have quite a few more dollars jingling around in my pocket. The April Update solved this thankfully and allowed us to enjoy the raid. For all of its mechanical depth, when done efficiently King’s Fall was fun and a good raid. Gear from this raid was actually pretty decent too. I mean firefly could roll on a pulse rifle. Yes frickin’ please. And for the first time I was actually able to receive every raid weapon. I still use my Harrowed Qullim’s Terminus (with god-roll Persistence perk) to this day. It’s my favorite heavy machine gun in the game by a considerable margin. So with leaving King’s Fall on a high note, where is there to go?

Wrath of the Machine

“I would give WOTM a very close 2nd. Only because it's so mechanics heavy, and the only raid I've ever really "mastered" and have successfully Sherpa'd people through.” - MARKxTHExLINES

Rise of Iron brought us Wrath of the Machine, our first Fallen themed raid after one had been rumored going all the way back to House of Wolves. With it living in our minds for so long there was a lot of anticipation for this raid. And I’m happy to say it lives up to its hype. Wrath of the Machine just might be the best raid in the game. It is a true successor to VoG. Mechanics driven, yet not as unforgiving as King’s Fall was. VoG reborn. VoG Perfected if you follow SIVA circles.

My team was riding high going into WotM, and we completed it in the first week. We were blind until the final Aksis fight where one of our team had completed it beforehand with another group. Oh well.

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Gameplay-wise, WotM is very good. It has unique encounters that can be completed with a member or two down if need be. The Siege Engine encounter just might be one of the finest in the game. And for the ultra adventurous Warlock, the Aksis fight can be soloed if you don’t mind banging your head against a wall for a while. There’s a lot of variety here, just like Crota’s End. And if Wrath of the Machine can be compared in a good way to Crota’s End, does that mean Crota deserves all the negativity it gets? Which brings us back to the original question: Does each raid deserve the praise or criticism they receive?

“I have mixed feelings on this one. It could be VoG because it was the first raid I ever did back in the day, and was awesome to have the different mechanics that actually taught us some of the better ways to play the game. It brought a lot of the clan closer in my opinion, although I felt like the guy who just tags along and does what he’s told for a very long time before I finally became a better player and got a grip on things. On the flip side, I had the opportunity to take Crota from blind runs day one the raid was active all the way to multiple hard mode completions. It didn't have quite the mechanics, but I always felt like I was a vital contributor in different aspects since I was comfortable enough to hold my own in certain situations. It was more of a growing as a player in my eyes.” - GrunT3O3

This quote struck a chord with me. It says a lot about not only the player but the game as well. VoG was a learning experience for most of us. It set the stage for what Destiny would be most well known for. Raids are Destiny. Sure, some haven’t been as good as others, but if we look at them for what they are - end-game activities - it becomes easier to accept the fact that they are all good and fun. And isn’t that the point of video games, to have fun? In Destiny’s case, the most fun to be had, in my opinion anyway, is during a co-op activity. The growth that we’ve had as a player base because of raiding is a shining light on the whole experience of gaming, and we can trace that all back to our first trips into the Vault of Glass: the start of something much bigger.

For as much as I love VoG for being first, I still love Crota’s End. I have more Crota completions than any other raid. It is also the only raid I have ground raid armor sets for on all three of my characters. Not to mention we got Flawless Raider on Crota too, and I’m not talking now at 400 light (which I was able to sherpa some clanmates through recently) but as a lowly level 32 when Crota was the hardest activity in the game. I’ll always look back fondly at Crota’s End even if it's just a glorified strike. It was and still is a great activity.

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For me, picking a favorite raid is like picking my favorite child, it can’t be done. They are all quite good at what they strive for. Vault of Glass is a great introductory raid. Crota’s End has frantic moments as would be expected from a Hive-centric raid. King’s Fall is methodical to a fault, just like Oryx himself. And Wrath of the Machine takes what works from all of them to make a greatly satisfying experience. How can I fault any of them when I have spent over half of my time in Destiny playing them? Needless to say, I’m hopeful that Bungie will bring them all up to current light levels with the spring update this year. I’d love to rock the old VoG set again.

So what do you think? What is your favorite raid and why? I encourage all of you to really think about the answers. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised like I was.

Until next time Guardians.