Destiny 2 Leviathan Raid Impressions – A Gilded Labyrinth of Puzzles

September 15, 2017Written by Chandler Wood

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Leviathan has been conquered, new maps have been issued, and players everywhere are scrambling to discover every last secret hidden the this Destiny 2 raid. Having myself just come from Calus’ grand chamber—unsuccessful but hopeful for a victory later this week—I felt the need to relay my thoughts on Bungie’s latest endgame challenge.

The mighty Cabal Emperor Calus has come to the Sol system with his enormous Leviathan ship, a vessel that has been kindly nicknamed the World Eater. Posing an invitation for Guardians to come aboard and undertake his challenges, Calus’ Raid is unlike any other. We’re not dispatching an inherent threat (although one might say that the World Eater vacuuming up Nessus counts as a credible threat to the system). The journey onto this ship is a proving ground. Honor guards stand to the side as my fireteam and I made our way up the massive steps to the front door of the grand palace perched atop the Leviathan, a bizarre sight considering Cabal are usually shooting at us.

Destiny 2 leviathan raid

Walking into a raid blind is one of the best experiences in all of Destiny. Not knowing the mechanics, bosses, or environments that await is second only to guiding someone else through on their first time. Devoid of many big bosses—besides the final big bad—the Leviathan Raid takes a unique approach in a number of ways. First of all is the massive hub area, where each of the four main encounters branch off from this room. While it’s a bit annoying to complete the hub encounter four times (once to enter each door), apparently there are a number of secret passages that can bypass it and get teams directly into each puzzle.

Raid Redux

What struck me most about this Raid was how many elements it pulled and twisted from previous Destiny Raids. In the three years it was out, Destiny had four total Raids, so it’s not surprising that some general mechanics are being reused. It actually makes it a bit easier to communicate what to do with veteran players, saying things like “think of this part like the Totems from Kingsfall,” or “this is basically the Gorgon maze from Vault of Glass with a twist.” The only encounter that felt wholly original to Leviathan was the Gauntlet, an insane marathon obstacle course that has everyone working together to help two players navigate an outside ring of the arena.

At first I was disappointed that there weren’t more boss encounters. From a lore perspective, it feels very much like each encounter doesn’t lend that much, contrary to the way traversing the depths of the Vault of Glass or taking on Oryx’s guards do. The Collector’s Edition booklet hinted at taking out a number of Calus’ betrayers, so not even seeing them represented as the leaders of each encounter, let alone not getting to kill them, is a little anticlimactic. The Gauntlet is one of the most fun puzzles to overcome in the Raid, but leaves much to be desired in terms of answering why exactly we are doing that. Is it just to entertain the mighty Emperor? To prove our worth?

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That’s just the Destiny lore nerd in me though. The entire reason you are on this ship, not to mention the reveal during the Calus fight, has plenty of lore implications to consider. Apart from the lore, the raid is just plain fun. Mixing classic elements with new mechanics requires a hardened team coordination that will likely make this Raid tough for groups of random players coming together, but will be an excellent test for the upcoming Guided Games program that will allow solo players to match up with clans.

Fewer bosses means fewer DPS (damage per second) checks. I can’t count the number of Raid encounters that we’ve failed simply because we couldn’t get the DPS on the boss. We’d have the mechanics down without a second thought, but those damage phases ended up hurting us. Only the final boss will result in a DPS check, and even that is likely to be overcome as more players gain strategies and better ways to take on the encounter. Everything else is about learning mechanics and executing them with everyone on your team.

Golden Palace

Visually, the beautiful gold and white gilded hallways are unlike anything we’ve seen in Destiny before, and certainly a surprise given that it doesn’t really match with the Cabal’s militaristic aesthetic we’ve seen so far. We’re finally getting the chance to see how the other half of the Cabal live. The weapons, armor, and shaders earned from the raid all take on this same royal look of gold on white, a lavish style that implies a grand luxury for the mighty Emperor and his loyalists.

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As I mentioned above, the Leviathan has a network of tunnels connecting each encounter, though the labyrinthine passages snake deep into the heart of the ship, allowing players to get lost for hours in content that isn’t even part of the main raid completion. Filling the ship with secret passageways, doors, levers, and chests just ensures that Destiny 2 players will be going over every bit of the World Eater inch-by-inch to discover the secrets within. I’ve barely explored these secrets myself, but I’m sure the Destiny community will come together to solve the mysteries that lie in wait.

My first impression is that Leviathan stands tall as one of the best Raids Bungie has ever done. They’ve taken some of the more frustrating aspects out to make it accessible to everyone, while at the same time keeping it challenging and communication based. All six players will need to be in sync with each other to overcome the Leviathan and meet Calus in his throne room, but strategies can always be adjusted. No player is forced into taking on a role that they aren’t comfortable with (empowerment, anyone?). It seems Bungie built this raid with the players in mind, wanting them to not only work together, but to each feel like an important and crucial part of conquering the puzzles within without needing a specific character class or weapon to do so.

Our scored review of Destiny 2 is coming soon. For now, you can check out our review-in-progress.