Destiny 2’s Leviathan Has an Identity Problem

I’ve played a lot of Destiny, whether that be in Destiny or Destiny 2 form. This of course means I’ve also done everything Destiny has to throw at me. Being someone who likes Destiny means you’ll probably end up grinding toward the be all end all raid content for whatever iteration the series is on. Destiny 2 has a serious problem, though, and it’s its raid Leviathan and what it exactly it wants to be.

Having done every previous raid in the first Destiny, it was exciting looking forward to the first raid for Destiny 2. What would it be thematically? How would it operate with challenging a fireteam of six? What would the loot be? Would it be so fun that it would call Guardians back for multiple run throughs? And then Leviathan dropped. It looked spectacular, challenging and unlike any raid seen yet. It was a freaking massive space fish eating a planet; it screams ominous!

While not able to pull a fireteam together that initial first day, something I’ve managed to do with all other raids in the past, I was content to watch others attempt this beast of a raid. It was exciting to see the first fireteam complete it in just six hours and reassuring. Then talks began to crop up and not the good kind. Here were the best of the best saying that it would take everything in a fireteam’s power to pull off this raid. And why? Apparently because it was the most demanding raid out of all Destiny raids. They aren’t wrong.

That same week the raid dropped, I was able to pull a fireteam together for the weekend, landing epically on Leviathan’s Golden walkway towards the gates of opulence we made our way in. Having watched and read up on what to do because we didn’t feel like messing around with figuring out mechanics, the Bath House was up first. We did not succeed on getting it that first night and spent a number of hours just trying to get coordination down, eventually calling it and deciding to try again the next day. Meeting up the next night we aced it no problem, coordination was up, fatigue was gone and we were on point. Next was the all too known (by now) Pleasure Gardens. Stealth isn’t Destiny’s strong point and that’s all that will be said on the matter. What did cause us grief was attempting this freaking room for the next four hours while the dog (bosses) continually got more glitchy. They would cut in and out, reset their paths, see one of us even though they were facing another direction and it lead to general frustration among the whole group. We had figured out what to do but the game mechanics weren’t helping, especially when they constantly kept breaking. At this point we had already spent nine hours banging our heads against just two rooms. The fireteam called it quits for the second night and a third night seemed less hopeful.

The third night rolled around and with four of us ready to go we waited hoping the other two would join. They did not. Understandably so, Leviathan was proving to be slow going. Instead the four of us ended up exploring the Underbelly a fantastic piece of the raid that made it feel like not a total wash. The four of us could fight the enemies with ease and enjoy getting lost in a labyrinth of ship innards. As we explored we talked about what was difficult about the raid, the best ways to approach where we were and why Leviathan wasn’t proving fruitful. That’s the beauty of Destiny: it’s a fun game so long as friends are at your side, even if it’s a bit soul crushing.

The next week the raid reset and all Destiny 2 players learned something new about the raid: not only did the raid reset, but the order of the rooms was different. This is a smart design, allowing players to take on challenges they are unfamiliar with or maybe were having trouble with the week previous to improve upon them. Dogs were now first; this was fantastic news as the same fireteam could tackle the raid and knock out the part that had been challenging us, first. Unfortunately the same fireteam couldn’t all make it, instead the four that did show (myself included) ended up playing Trials of the Nine. We did try everything in our power to fill the two spots putting out lines throughout our friends list and even and other sources, but we gave up after a few hours at this. No raid this week it looked like. This is not a new problem for Destiny, with Destiny 2’s new feature of Guided Games it seemed some of this searching for party members stress could be alleviated.

Note: all of us were in a Clan (some different), but even that didn’t help.

At the time of this writing, Guided Games is still in beta for Leviathan and with good reason, which will be discussed in a moment. The third week due to everyone having a life outside of video games, even fewer people could make it which meant it wasn’t happening with the group that we had been trying to attempt Leviathan with. Of my own volition I was determined to complete this dang raid. I turned back to and what I found was a pattern seen in Destiny’s community all gaming communities for far too long — elitism. Before reading any further, go to right now and put the search to the Leviathan Raid either LFG or LFM…OK done? Did something stand out? Was it that most people searching said something along the lines of “LFG must be 305 PL quick run must know what to do” This will be the most common thing seen on this website: elitists looking for other elitists to run with and the challenge of Leviathan doesn’t help in the slightest. This not only deterred me, a Destiny vet, but probably deters many new guardians as well. Why even try the raid if those who want to run it only want the best of the best? While I know Sherpas exist (people who will take the time to run new folks through the raid) — I’ve even run in a few Sherpa groups myself — they are few and far between. Only eleven percent of Destiny 2 players have completed Leviathan and I don’t see that number climbing much faster, but only time will tell. When Destiny 2 launched around fifty percent of players in the first Destiny had completed some sort of raid content, which was after a three-year period with the game. Where does this leave Leviathan then? Not looking good and it doesn’t speak well to PvE endgame content for the future of Destiny 2.

Having gotten fed up with trying to find an appropriate group to run with from, it was time to turn to the new feature that seemed like it would deliver better results: the new Guided Games. Guided Games makes players jump through some hoops with good reason trying to create the most toxic free environment for play that it can, it sort-of works. First, Guardians will spend a token to get into GG, then players agree to the Guardian Oath stating they will be friendly, helpful and dedicate the time. Then if you’re a seeker, which I was, it gives an extra-long waiting time to make sure that the player is in it to win it. My first group I ended up waiting over an hour for. After some general party chat confusion and actually doing the banner part without talking in the fireteam I had grouped with, we finally figured it out and we could talk. This did not help either.

It was the third week which meant the Gauntlet room was up first; a room I hadn’t encountered yet. The mechanics were explained and I felt good with the ease at which this seemed like it could be done. The Gauntlet room only echoed what the world-firsters had stated; those seeking to guide others through the raid were going to have a hell of a time. A certain party member who also was a seeker wasn’t talking much throughout the two hours spent trying to get coordination down. They kept wandering off, not listening and generally being unhelpful. It ended with them dropping out of the fireteam never to return even with party invites thrown their way. It was time to call it quits. Defeated the third seeker and myself thanked the Clan that had been the guides for their time and parted ways.

Then thoughts of what Bungie had envisioned for Guided Games began cropping up in my head. When Bungie announced Guided Games, it seemed exciting. Here was a feature that would ease the stress of finding a group and knowing that group could be handpicked by the seeker. It meant not having to sift through toxicity, feeling a bit closer to strangers and maybe making a friend or two along the way. Guided Games has a long way to go and needs some serious refinement. I was not about to spend another hour waiting for the next group, for fear of having the same thing happen all over again. Destiny 2’s Leviathan was proving to be more of a monster than first imagined.

Where does this leave Leviathan then? Answer: Not in a good place. Out of all Destiny raids this might be the least fun yet. With plans of still completing it, now having joined a Clan I feel confident in, especially when it comes to gaming positivity I know it can be done. What sucks is the time, emotional energy and all feelings that get rolled into trying to complete this raid. Once I do finish it, that’s it, it will never be attempted again, because it’s just not worth it. Bungie stated they wanted to create a raid that would draw more people in to the ultimate end game content, Leviathan is anything but inviting, even if Calaus is literally inviting you on to his opulent ship. It’s hands down the most deterring raid every created for Destiny. Which is why Bungie’s messaging on what this raid was going to be could have been a bit clearer. Why say it’s going to be inviting when also saying it’s going to be the most challenging raid ever? That’s just an oxymoron. Who is this raid made for? The ultimate Guardians (streamers) that Bungie knows will complete it or the players they say they want to join in the end game content? The messaging is mixed and muddled with leaving little hope for the future of end game content.

While thinking about all of this, one other raid consistently keeps popping into my head, Vault of Glass. Ask any veteran Destiny player and they will probably say Vault of Glass is one of the best, if not best raid Destiny has ever had. It was a perfect blend of platforming, puzzles and bosses that created a ridiculously fun raid that could be played with ease over and over again. Even when taking new people in, it was understood that the longest it would take was minimum six hours. Leviathan was a false sale. Guardians struggle with it even when knowing the strategies for each room, the rewards are the most lackluster yet with no armor or weapons dropping to even give the slightest sense of accomplishment, and new players will probably not want to touch it because it requires a level of communication and coordination that only close friends, professional streamers or elite gamers really have.