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Destiny 2: Vow of the Disciple Raid Review – Story Focused Gameplay

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Despite what many say about how little there is in Destiny 2 content, there’s plenty that players can choose from to go through that offers challenges and loot. Crucible, Gambit, Nightfalls, Trials of Osiris, Grandmaster Nightfalls, PsyOps, Dungeons, Lost Sectors, Public events, etc. and that’s not including seasonal content like grinding for a variety of weapons and armor during the season of the lost (Halloween) and season of the dawning (Christmas).

Not surprisingly, any MMO’s biggest focus though is primarily being Raid/End-game ready. Destiny 2 has seven raids out now and one more recently added with the new Witch Queen expansion that was released in February. Vow of the Disciple raid is the culmination of what all Destiny fans have wanted, story-focused gameplay. Bungie has outdone themselves with the story and how it is explored through a deeply rich, detailed environment and dialogue with their seasonal content strategy. Now raids can be put on the same pedestal that brings a story to the forefront of the battle between light and dark. Keep in mind, that this is NOT a raid walkthrough but rather my impressions on the entire raid and how Bungie has evolved its raid design and development.

The Unknown Darkness

Vow of the Disciple starts you off exploring the dark depths of The Witch Queen Savathun’s throne world to find a mysterious black pyramid known to house the powers of the Darkness in other pyramid locations. This Darkness is of unknown origin but is represented by those pyramid ships found throughout previous Destiny content and lore. We enter the pyramids to find a museum of knowledge and mystery.

This museum houses many species, artifacts, and weaponry, dissected and experimented on for unknown purposes. The guardians are met with the forces of the Scorn, resurrected Fallen/Eliksni enemies, and followers of the Darkness. As you make your way through, you encounter the Caretaker boss who tries to protect the pyramid, its knowledge, and its final boss Rhulk, the disciple of Darkness.

As you make your way towards the top of the pyramid, you find yourself nearing closer to a massive Worm God that powers the Hive species and a weapon of destruction hovering over it, siphoning the Worm God’s powers to destroy the prison Rhulk is trapped in, the pyramid itself in Savathun’s Throne World. If Rhulk destroys the throne world, the Earth and the Traveler are next. This giant device is where the guardians head to face Rhulk, the device known as The Upended.

What’s The Big Deal?

Vow of the Disciple introduces not only a new enemy but a new species, civilization, and possibly the motivations of the Darkness and the form it embodies, The Witness. Yes, I will admit it leaves more questions than answers. As a player, I want some questions to be answered first before you introduce more mystery to the story. Bungie has used this raid to set up the future of Destiny, but many fans still need to rely on written in-game lore to iron out the details. This raid does not make the entire story clear, but rather fills in some blanks and keeps you intrigued about what the future of Destiny holds.

This is Bungie’s failure when it comes to content. I understand there’s only so much dialogue and so many cinematics they can use to fit in one game with such a deep and detailed story. There’s not just the battle of Light and Dark, but of guardians, the enemy species, the Awoken, and the mysterious Nine. Unfortunately, many would think the raid to be devoid of the story because they don’t explain the deep text lore within each weapon, armor, and item. So even though the raid does not have a thousand lines of dialogue for story exposition, what it lacks in dialogue, it excels in environmental storytelling.

The puzzles of each encounter throughout the raid insinuate what it means to be a part of the darkness and the light. The influences between both aren’t clear-cut and guide a fine line as to whether we are on the right side or not. Makes me wonder who is really the big bad villain in Destiny…is it the Darkness, or the Traveler?

The raid also gives players challenges each week for extra loot and…. well challenges. Every raid has an exotic weapon to try and earn through their RNG system and a chance at a successful drop increases the more you complete the raid each week. Although communication is key to this raid since there are a ton of callouts, it’s not a difficult raid. Once you get the hang of what each encounter requires, all that is really needed is to stay alive through the massive amounts of enemies thrown your way. Every raid requires players to learn new mechanics, sometimes introduced briefly in story missions.

It is never just a “shoot until dead” boss fight. Deep puzzles and precision callouts and maneuvering are required. This makes raids in general the best and most challenging aspect of D2. This raid is no different. It’s fun, fast, and frantic. With the help of the clan Working 9 to Hive, we had a blast learning and going through each trial. There are many communities in Destiny that are willing to teach, you just have to know where to look. If you ever need a sherpa, message me on Twitter!

Final Thoughts

Vow of the Disciple is great storytelling in general for an MMO and I hope Bungie does more of this environmental storytelling in-game, not just in raids but through future seasonal content like dungeons, nightfalls, and strikes. I would be insane to think Bungie can fit everything lore-wise as gameplay and cinematics so I am grateful that they can at least fit in the core story elements into such a delightful raid everyone can enjoy.

The game is more accessible now than ever to newer players and can get to raid appropriate power levels quickly. Check out my review of the Witch Queen expansion to find out if the game overall is right for you as a new or potential Destiny player.

This review was written based on a digital review copy of Destiny 2: The Witch Queen for PlayStation 5 provided by Bungie.

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