Below is a concept for a Destiny activity to shore up some of the game’s continuing weaknesses – replayable, dynamic combat encounters with additional pressure and competitive elements, inspired from the success of the Lost to Light secret mission.
Hybrid Vanguard/Crucible Activity
- Frenzied cooperative-competitive activity
- A fast-paced, high-energy skill test for:
- PVE wave clear efficiency
- boss efficiency
- rapid cost-benefit decision-making
- PVP skill
Something that was shown in The Taken King was the value of high end PVE content for smaller groups of players – the Black Spindle Lost to Light secret daily mission addendum was met extremely positively by the community and at least for the first couple of appearances, provided an answer to a question that had been present since Destiny’s launch – I like PVE, but my whole team isn’t on. Now what can I do to keep going? It was an extremely challenging set of encounters, but the most effective way to keep the tempo up was the timer. Even in a historic run that ended with 4 minutes left on the clock, it’s a breathless sprint through the fights where it feels like you never have time to pause for even a second. There is nothing else like it in the game – there are hard fights, but the timer means something. It brings value that just isn’t present otherwise.
But the Spindle mission wasn’t evergreen. It was a static challenge that offered no reward, no reason to return once you had cleared your three loot runs. Its shelf life was limited by the static encounters, by the standard formula for success that teams eventually arrived at and clung to. Gotta have a titan, gotta have Raze-Lighter. Clear these rooms in this way because it’s our time-tested best way to do it. And then it becomes rote, as static PVE does when you’ve exhausted it. Maybe that’s inescapable, but maybe it isn’t.
Arms Race applies the core principles that made the Lost to Light daily successful in a more structured and varied context. This is a multi-fireteam activity with three distinct phases. While Lost to Light, as an activity designed for the very hardcore, was able to use a timer and be more punitive, here we would use soft time gates and a consistently-effective speed motivator — competition. It’s a race.
Phase One – The Test of Speed
This phase of the activity is analogous to the Ketch progression in Lost to Light, with each fireteam spawning into their own wing of the level. The teams are instructed to race to the waypoint and must fight their way through difficult encounters towards a central arena. Crucible-style scoring UI is in effect, and each AI kill grants a certain number of points – this is important to the overall structure and ranking system of the activity. Throughout this phase, a clock counts up from 0, measuring the team’s current phase completion time. At various points in each wing, the teams will be able to gauge the other team’s progress and see them clearing their wing through windows, viewscreens, or some other indicator (a stylized progress bar like you would see in a racing game). Side chambers could hold minibosses that grant your team a stat buff that lasts through the rest of the activity, forcing players to make a decision between spending that time on the boss for the buff or moving forward more quickly. Once the team reaches their arena entrance, which serves as the final measuring point, their timer stops. Based on tiers of par times, a multiplier is applied to their PVE kill score and that is set in the Ghost menu as the Phase One Score.
Phase Two – The Test of Might
At this point, the two teams are at an entrance to a large, cavernous room – potentially similar in size to the Prison of Elders arena. The structure of the arena entrance can differ between each map. In some instances, it may be valuable to separate the two teams and have them enter through separate doors across from each other, but in other cases one large, monolithic door with the teams intermingling would make more sense.
The door opens and the activity’s AI boss is introduced, again in a similar fashion to those in the Prison of Elders. The scoring UI has updated, and now in addition to scoring points from kills, your team can score from boss damage. The two fireteams work in cooperation to down the boss and clear the room from waves of enemy fodder, each trying to maximize efficiency for scoring purposes. At specific points on the map, players can trigger traps that spawn additional enemies for the other fireteam to deal with, in hopes that they are overwhelmed and die – there is a score penalty for player death, but you also run the risk of feeding points to the opponent. At this point, you cannot directly engage the other team.
The boss will drop to combined fire (with the last hit getting a small number of bonus points), and the phase ends. The scores are tallied, and we move to the next phase.
Phase Three – The Test of Cunning
This phase is a digital win-or-lose situation – it prevents any possibility for ties at the highest possible level of play. Phase Three directly pits the two fireteams against one another in a single round Elimination match. It’s not just elimination, though – the traps from the previous phase are still active (assuming they were not used), letting you distract your enemy by throwing AI at them to deal with. Standard Elimination revive rules apply. Since the same arena is being used for both Phases Two and Three, it must be able to properly work for both.
The hope is that since so much of the activity is focused on PVE efficiency, the core set of optimal PVP weapons will not become the standard for this round – ideally, there would be very little time to pause and prepare for the competitive portion without risking a wipe to an early rush. Instead, you would see a greater variety of tactics and equipment as people try to meet both needs as best as they could.
The team that successfully eliminates the other gains a large points boost, and the final scores are tallied. Rewards would exist in three tiers – Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or their equivalents. Each of these tiers would be assigned a score gate (ex: 15000 for Gold, 12000 for Silver, 9000 for Bronze) The teams are then awarded based on their performance – it would be possible for both teams to receive the highest tier of reward, but the winning team would also be guaranteed an additional Silver tier package. This way, an extremely close games don’t feel like a bust for either team, but the winners are getting more for their victory.