Guardians bake their own cake.
The Vault of Glass - the first raid ever added to Destiny all the way back in September 2014 - has been added into Destiny 2. It's something that the players of the game have (mostly!) been looking forward to enormously. Now, it's finally here. It's been updated with a lick of paint and some spit and polish, and it's all set to live up to its reputation.
So... Does it?
Well, to answer that I really need to take a journey back in time. The original launch of this raid... blew people's minds. A first-person shooter had quite simply never had anything in it on this scale before. A massive labyrinthine underground area, requiring careful exploration and platforming skills to navigate. Boss encounters that not only required phenomenal amounts of DPS to be hurled forth by a six man fireteam, but also that a series of mechanics be overcome in the face of more enemies than we'd ever had thrown at us at once before. There was no signposting of where to go, little provided in the way of clues as to the mechanics to overcome - other than useful (if cryptic) text that would display on the bottom left of the screen. Just getting through the raid required planning, and perseverance, and tenacity. Hell, opening the door was its own challenge at first.
I sat in a strange place with Vault of Glass when it first came out. I was already a dedicated Destiny player, if not yet the hardcore player I became for a while. Reading the tales of the difficulty, and the mandatory requirement of a large team (that I didn't have, at the time) put me off - and I didn't actually end up entering the raid for the first time until shortly after the launch of The Taken King. At that point in time, I wanted to raid in Destiny so badly that I put my awkwardness in groups out of my mind and found a clan - many of the members of which I still run with to this day, albeit with very different clan tags.
I guess I don't view VoG through the same rose-tinted glasses that a lot of Destiny players do. I was stuck at 29 light - but for me, the possibility of going beyond it didn't really exist, so I don't consider myself to be a part of the 'Forever 29' elite. Even when the raid was re-factored and brought up to speed for the Age of Triumph event toward the very end of that first game's life, it never became a favourite for me. Given the choice, I'd always vote to run King's Fall or Wrath of the Machine instead, only begrudgingly running VoG when it was the weekly featured raid, or if outvoted by my raid team. For these reasons, I honestly wasn't really all that interested when Bungie announced that the Vault of Glass would be making a comeback. My response was a muted 'meh.'
Here we are, a couple of months after that initial announcement - and VoG has relaunched with a bang. Bungie aimed to walk a fine line between celebrating the original version of the raid, and adding bells and whistles to it so that it would remain a challenge for Destiny 2 players. With our Guardians now considerably more powerful than they ever were in the first game, and with more and more ridiculous exotic weapons and armour available (not to mention new weapon types, armour mods and the Stasis subclass!), it was obvious that dials would need to be turned and levers pulled to ramp the content up to our current level. The pleasant surprise is that Bungie have managed it. The updated version of Vault of Glass delivers on their aims with a spectacular focus. The physical layout of the raid has changed very little - while the mechanics have been subtly tweaked and adjusted in ways that few of us anticipated.
Going into the raid with the day one 'contest mode' enabled was... eye-opening. The power creep present in Destiny 2 has been slow and insidious in retrospect. We went into the opening area expecting a challenge, but ultimately to open the door to the raid without too much difficulty. What we were confronted by was utter chaos - and we hadn't had our asses handed to us like that by content in Destiny 2 for as long as we could remember. We made it as far as the Oracles that night before checking out - we couldn't get the rhythm of the encounter down. The old muscle memory had faded, and the experience was different enough that it may not have helped us along much even if it hadn't. We returned a week later, and did much better. I got my first clear with the assistance of some buddies I have in an awesome US based clan called V4 Vengeance - who spend a phenomenal amount of time helping Guardians through end game content. They took my son and I through together (his first ever run through VoG), and the experience had an effect on me I hadn't expected.
I fell in love with Vault of Glass.
In comparison to the raids that have followed it - particularly those that have been a part of Destiny 2 - there's something very pure and distilled about it that I hadn't noticed until we hit it again this time around. The mechanics of it really force every member of a team to play a constructive role in each encounter; while carries are possible (hell, they happen all the time), the most fun to be had rolls up when everyone's involved. Unlike most of the raids in Destiny 2, it also doesn't offer up much choice with regard to who does what - I'd forgotten the part that random selection plays in some of the encounters in this raid. It prompts everyone to know what's going on, in case you get teleported and have to do something essential to the success of the attempt.
While this can lead to some unfortunate (and hilarious!) wipes, it also offers up learning opportunities at every turn - and let's face it. Completing a raid is nice... but completing a raid that you've been instrumental in the success of is a far more rewarding experience. Vault of Glass acts as a reminder of this - it's something that more recent raids have lost to an extent, and I really hope that it's something that comes back in future raids.
So to return to my original question - does the updated Vault of Glass live up to its reputation? Yes. Yes it does. I for one am actually enjoying this revamped version far more than I did the original one. It's a graceful update to a wonderful piece of content - and while I'd still love to see a new raid, this is so good that it's making me look forward to the revamps of the other raids from the original game. It's made me look forward to my next run of it - and that alone feels like a minor miracle. If guardians do indeed make their own fate, we'd do well to dream up something as fun as this for ourselves. Roll on King's Fall... but for now I'll be happy to hunt down a Vex Mythoclast.
Have you played the updated Vault of Glass raid? What did you think? Does it have the magic you remember? Or are you experiencing it for the first time? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!