There’s nothing quite like the journey of completing a raid in Destiny or Destiny 2. Gathering your six-person fireteam, heading into the unknown, and working together as a team to overcome mechanics and bosses. My fireteam and I have completed every raid that Bungie has ever put forth and, as we’ll all likely agree, some are better than others. Having just finished the Leviathan raid in Destiny 2, I wanted to take some time to review it. I won’t be providing a score as the TL;DR Games’ review of Destiny 2 did. Instead, we’ll talk at length about what works and what doesn’t in this Leviathan raid review.
Leviathan Raid Review – Embarkment
When we first arrived on the Leviathan, I really had no idea why we were there. We’ve since learned that there’s an Adventure called Invitation from the Emperor on Nessus that details things a bit. Why couldn’t Bungie have better explained the reasoning for Guardians boarding this giant ship? I have no idea. A simple quest-marker on one of the Vanguard reps that led to a cut scene would have sufficed. I think an Adventure that rotates weekly and could be missed by Guardians was the wrong choice.
What impressed me, though, was the size of the ship. It certainly looked like something that was fit for Cabal royalty. Everything made me feel small, which is consistent with the Cabal enemy type. They are some big, angry, ground-stomping fools that can dummy you faster than a Hunter can blink.
It wasn’t until a week or two later that I learned about the underbelly of the Leviathan. There are three access doors located in he Embarkment section that allow Guardians to travel to different points of the raid without messing with the Castellum repeatedly. The underbelly is likely my favorite thing about the raid.
Leviathan Raid Review – Castellum
I remained impressed as my team headed from the Embarkment to the Castellum. The idea of opening a door to get to a section of the raid was cool. It was even cooler when I realized that each raid section was just off this courtyard of sorts and, each week, Bungie forced fireteams to start on a different section. I think this was a smart move, as it allows fireteams stuck on the first section one week to try a different section first the following week.
The Castellum is also home to about the toughest fight that you’ll get in the entire Leviathan raid. The act of killing Standard Bearers and Standard Liberators, all while defending the Standards, is more intense than any other combat moments you’ll find in the Leviathan raid. That doesn’t feel right to me somehow.
I continued to lose my love of the Castellum when I realized that you had to repeat the fight with the Standard Bearers and Standard Liberators multiple times per run. This disappointment was short-lived, though, as my team and I soon discovered the underbelly was the best way to move around. The Castellum quickly became a necessary evil when starting the Leviathan each week, only to be ignored the moment we opened the door to the first section. It’s kind of like the Farm in that way. It’s cool and all, but it feels like Bungie could have done more here without being too repetitive.
Leviathan Raid Review – Royal Pools
Anyone who completed the King’s Fall raid with Oryx will recognize the mechanics at work in the Royal Pools. It involves Guardians standing on plates, rotating out before buffs expire, murdering enemies, and then completing a damage phase. The damage phase wasn’t in the Oryx version of these similar mechanics, but that one did have more intense fighting.
The Royal Pools are a joy when they pop up first for the Leviathan raid. They’re quite easy to complete, with team wipes only occurring when one or two Guardians fall to the various enemies. The damage required to destroy the lanterns in the middle room is easy to output, and before long you’ll be headed to the underbelly to access the next section. That’s the problem, though. The Royal Pools aren’t a joy because I love the mechanics, the experience, or the loot, it’s because my team and I can push past them in a hurry and get on to other matters.
Leviathan Raid Review – Pleasure Gardens
The Pleasure Gardens is probably my favorite section of the Leviathan raid. It will remind people a bit of the Gorgons in the Vault of Glass, but with a few more twists. The area requires you to work with your team, involves some sneaking, a few damages phases, and it’s all set in an environment that I quite liked.
In the Pleasure Gardens, your team will find Royal Beasts. Six of them, to be exact. Your team must work together to gather a buff while remaining undetected by the Royal Beasts, and then enter a damage phase that can go well or terribly depending on how potent your buff happens to be. I thought it mixed stealth, teamwork and damage better than any other part of the raid.
I also really enjoyed the fact that there are three entrances to the underbelly from the Pleasure Gardens. Each one takes you to a different section, and they are all very well hidden in plain sight. This allows the clever fireteam to travel the Leviathan efficiently, and I feel that the Pleasure Gardens was the perfect balance of challenging and interesting.
Leviathan Raid Review – Gauntlet
As my Leviathan raid review continues, we arrive at the Gauntlet. It’s got a game show feel to it, requires perfect communication and coordination, and even has some jumping mechanics for those that enjoy such things. There are a few enemies, but for the most part you succeed or fail here based on how precise you can be with your teamwork.
I enjoy the idea of the Gauntlet in theory, but I feel that it falls short in execution. At least on the PS4, there are lag issues in the Leviathan raid. These happen most often when enemies are exiting their spawn points and teleport to places that wreck your flow, but can also occur to the runners on the inside of the obstacle course. I’m cool with a raid requiring precision communication and cooperation, but don’t insult me by requiring perfection from my team when your team failed to deliver the same on the development side. Seems reasonable, right? Who wants to lose a good run because of wonky mechanics?
The Gauntlet, in my opinion, would be the second easiest (or second hardest) portion of the raid. It’s the middle child. If your team is on the ball and Destiny doesn’t Destiny you, it shouldn’t take you more than a run or two to pass through here.
Leviathan Raid Review – Emperor Calus
The Emperor Calus fight, like most other portions of the Leviathan raid, forces you to split your fireteam into two groups. One group heads into a purple skull-like world, and one group stays in the throne room. Communication is key once again, and the group in the throne room has a tough go of it in terms of staying alive and dealing with enemies.
This fight is another example of Destiny 2 requiring precision communication and tactics which are not matched by the game. As someone who makes their way into the purple skull-like world, I find myself floating into Calus’ giant Cabal mouth for what appears to be no fault of my own. It’s probably my fault, but there is no clear feedback that explains what I’ve done wrong, and I’m quite familiar with what I need to do to stay alive.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing in the Calus fight, though, is the lack of ammunition. This is a problem through the entire raid, but it’s more noticeable here. I don’t like losing because I don’t have ammo. That seems like a cheap way to defeat a fireteam during the final boss fight of a raid. It’ll probably be resolved in a later patch, but for now it sours the experience.
After Battle Report
As I read back through, most of what I’ve talked about here is boring. I’ve picked apart mechanics instead of focusing on lore, loot, and the raid’s story. That, unfortunately, is not something I can fix. The reason I’ve focused on the mechanical bones is because there is no flesh. The loot drops during the raid are terrible. At no point do you get an expanded explanation of why you’re there. The story introduction to this activity is nearly non-existent.
In hindsight, the mechanics of this raid aren’t better or worse than those that have come before it. Bits of it are inspired by old portions of raids in Destiny, and we didn’t have beef with those. The difference is there was an abundance of lore that surrounded Oryx, and an incredible world to explore inside the Vault of Glass. What I feel has happened with the Leviathan, is Bungie left us with nothing to focus on except mechanics. It’s a small example of what is wrong with Destiny 2 as a whole.
I’m not going to give this Leviathan raid review a score. We’ll save that for games. Instead, I’ll tell you that it is my least favorite raid across both Destiny and Destiny 2. That’s a shame, too, because I think the ship itself and the underbelly are brilliant environments, but that’s where the raid fun stops.