Wrath of the Machine Is A Testament to Destiny's Potential

Destiny has had a shaky past, but Wrath of the Machine shows us a promising future

No one can argue that Destiny hasn’t had its fair share of problems. With lead writers leaving Bungie, developers sending the community into a frenzy after some poorly chosen words, and long lapses between content drops, it can come as a surprise that Destiny is still played by millions of people. However, if the recent Wrath of the Machine Raid is anything to go by, the future of Destiny is going to be bright, hectic, and to a scale we've not yet seen.

Destiny has only just received its latest piece of DLC, Rise of Iron, that introduces players to the world of Lord Saladin and all he has endured. It’s a small expansion, sitting somewhere between House of Wolves and The Taken King in terms of playable content. However, one particular aspect of this DLC can be viewed as a testament to what can be achieved in Destiny, and that is the Wrath of the Machine Raid.

Typically, with every new major expansion, a Raid is included for the players. A Raid allows up to six players to fight through a series of boss encounters culminating in one final stand against the main antagonist of that particular content drop. Without diving into spoiler territory, the main baddie of Rise of Iron is a nanotechnology called SIVA. This piece of tech appears to have formed a kind of sentience or hivemind and is growing stronger by the minute. After completing the main story, players can access the Wrath of the Machine Raid, where the goal is to venture into Fallen territory and rip whatever remains of SIVA out of their grasps.

Vault of Glass
Vault of Glass

Recently, the Raids in Destiny have been underwhelming. The first Raid, Vault of Glass, was one of the best pieces of gaming content I had ever played on my couch. It was a vast and mysterious experience that strung together several challenging arenas with silent moments of awe as players pushed deeper beneath the surface of Venus. But then Crota’s End was released, in what felt like a half-baked attempt at a Raid. It was glitchy and cheesy, with players quickly finding ways to skip entire sections. My main problem with Crota’s End wasn't the poorly tested fight, but the use of teleporters to transition between areas. In Vault of Glass, the sense of depth and the crushing weight of the world above you was amplified as you had to physically move beneath the ground. Crota’s End, as well as the more recent King’s Fall, abandoned this progression and replaced it with teleportation systems and hallways that didn’t seem to fit together.

Wrath of the Machine: Siege Engine
Wrath of the Machine: Siege Engine

Wrath of the Machine returned to the glory days of Vault of Glass, utilizing a single location that you push through called The Wall. There are no teleporters instantly moving you around a map. Instead, you must physically move along the stretch of The Wall yourself. The simple act of running across an area, instead of teleporting across it, makes for a greater sense of size and severity. It’s almost as if Bungie realizes that their Raids are an opportunity to show more than just a great boss fight. How a player moves through a space can be just as important as the objects and activities within it. Had the Wrath of the Machine utilized the King’s Fall or Crota’s End style of transitions by using teleporters, the scale of The Wall would have been lost, along with its sense of grandeur.

Claustrophobia sets in
Claustrophobia sets in

Wrath of the Machine revels in its spaces, fusing claustrophobic twists and turns with cavernous metal caskets. It wants you to explore and it wants you to understand its sheer size. You spend your time battling through the internal guts of The Wall, trying to avoid all the wires, metal, and other obstructions, only to come up for air on the top where there is no cover, making you suddenly miss the cramped rooms below. Not since Vault of Glass has a Raid's transition areas felt worthy of exploration.

There was a firefight!
There was a firefight!

Aside from impressing upon the player a sense of scale, the Wrath of the Machine is able to push the console’s hardware to the limits. I can see now why the choice was made to leave behind the previous generation of consoles. The experiences and engagements in Wrath of the Machine would have been significantly hampered if they were to be played using the meager specs of the Xbox 360 or the PS3. During one section of the Raid, known among the community as the "Zamboni" section, my current-gen console struggled to keep up with the on-screen demands, be it because of the seemingly endless waves of Dregs or my propensity to enact a “scorched earth” style strategy by hurling Solar Grenades across the field. Whatever the case, the chaotic moments in Wrath of the Machine create a feeling of intense panic as the enemies begin to build up, an emotion that would have been lost on the old architecture where mobs were limited to a handful of units.

Going forward, if Bungie can continue to push the limits of how they want players to interact with their content, Destiny is going to be one of those few games that continues to improve. Wrath of the Machine, and all it brings to the table, helps to solidify the idea of the game that Bungie sold me on back in 2013. It’s taken a long time to reach a point where the content quality stabilizes, even if it has been almost a year since the last major release. As long as I get more Raids as polished as Wrath of the Machine, no matter how long it takes, I’m going to be one happy Guardian.

Sam Chandler

Australian writer who has a penchant for Souls games, an addiction to Destiny, and a love for the indie.

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