After two somewhat rocky seasons, Destiny 2 seems to have found its footing with Season of the Seraph. And the longer time passes, the more a specific part of it seems to be praised above all else.
That would be Operation Seraph’s Shield. Yes, the mission itself, but also the legendary version that many players run alone. From what I can tell, this might be the most acclaimed non-ultra-endgame PvE content added to the game since The Witch Queen’s legendary campaign almost a year ago. And I think it’s important to realize that these two pieces of content have some very, very important things in common.
The Legendary Seraph’s Shield and the Legendary Witch Queen campaign both feature:
A set power differential – Seraph’s Shield is +10 and the Witch Queen campaign on legend was +15. This creates a position where you can’t just survive for content and make it easier, which wasn’t true of similar previous story missions. It’s a way of presenting challenges without things coming to a full Hard Mode/GM level. The power difference means you don’t grind out top drops or artifact power, it all depends on your build and gameplay.
No champion or battle games – This is the other, extremely important half of this. When it comes down to your cargo, you want the most varied cargo options available. By not having champions or battle shields in the activity, you’re not limited by item type or eliminate two-thirds of weapons from combat because they can’t stun winners. As such, you can run a much, much wider range of fun builds as opposed to being locked into some sort of endgame GM-based meta, which is usually the case for “top” PvE builds.
Solo game – I am not saying that this part is mandatory, but there is a reason why both activities are better played alone. Namely, Bungie hasn’t figured out four-team scaling for legend content, as the more players you add, especially if you get to a four-team of three, enemies get a real absurd amount of health turns everything into a ball sponge and it just becomes a lot less fun than solo. Legend Seraph’s shield also has limited revives and Light Fading for team wipes, another thing that makes soloing feel better because if you die and wipe, at least it’s all your fault.
Now we Think that we’re about to get a new batch of content in this format with a Legendary Lightfall campaign, and I hope it takes all the same lessons this time around, improving the fireteam-based experience so it’s not just solo that feels good.
This also raises larger questions about power level, which we can already see Bungie experimenting with elsewhere. The seasonal activity playlist for Heist Battlegrounds, for example, is a locked +5 enemy power, and as such feels more engaging and challenging than Nightmare Containment or Ketchcrash did. However, it still has champions and I have yet to hear Bungie say they are addressing the build limiting issues that champions and fighting games continue to plague most PvE content. Hopefully we’ll see some changes, but we haven’t gotten any hints in that direction so far.
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