After two somewhat rocky seasons, Destiny 2 seems to have found its footing with Season of the Seraph. And the longer time goes on, the more one specific part of it seems like it’s getting praise above all else.
That would be Operation Seraph’s Shield. Yes, the mission itself, but also the legendary version which many players are running solo. From what I can tell, this might be the most-praised bit of non-ultra-endgame PvE content added to the Destiny 2 game since The Witch Queen’s legendary campaign nearly 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.
Legendary Seraph’s Shield and the Legendary Witch Queen campaign both have:
A set power differential
– Seraph’s Shield is +10 and the Witch Queen campaign on legend was +15. This creates a position where you cannot just over-level for content and make it easier, which was not true of similar past story missions. It’s a way to present challenges without things getting to full-on Hard Mode/GM level. The power differential means you’re not grinding out pinnacle drops or artifact power, it’s all reliant on your build and Destiny 2 gameplay.
No champions or match Destiny 2 game
– This is the other, extremely important half to this. When things come down to your loadout, you want the most diverse loadout options available. By not having champions or match game shields in the activity, you are not restricted by element type or eliminating two-thirds of weapons from contention because they cannot stun champions. 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 normally the case for “top” PvE builds.
Destiny 2 Solo play
– I’m not saying this part is mandatory, but there’s a reason that both activities are better-played solo. Namely, Bungie has not figured out fireteam scaling for legend content, as the more players you add, especially if you get to a fireteam of three, enemies get a truly absurd amount of health making everything a bullet 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 solo feel better because if you die and wipe, at least it’s only your fault.
Now, we think we are about to get another fresh batch of content in this format with a Legendary Lightfall campaign, and I’m hoping it takes all the same lessons this time around and improves on the fireteam-based experience so it’s not only solo that feels good.
This also raises larger questions about power level, which we can already see Bungie experimenting with in other places. The seasonal activity playlist for Heist Battlegrounds, for instance, 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 state that they’re addressing build-limiting issues that champions and match Destiny 2 games continue to inflict upon most PvE content. Hopefully, we’ll see some changes, but we haven’t gotten any hints in that direction to date.