Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

Destiny 2’s Pantheon is Great, But Isn’t Sure What it Wants to Be

A few weeks ago Destiny 2: Into the Light released its highly anticipated raid boss rush mode, Pantheon. At release it was something I was cautiously optimistic about. As fun as the mode was, the overall response from the community, and reward structure left it in an unusual position. With all of the Pantheon stages now available, I wanted to touch on my experiences with the unusual mode.

When Pantheon first released my biggest concern was the community. On paper Pantheon speaks to the upper echelon of players. A series of boss fights the community is familiar with, just at a higher difficulty and a couple unique twists that entice players with the promise of unique cosmetics. For many that was enough, but Bungie decided to go a step further and make it a quasi-raid catch up mode as well.

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Finishing every challenge Pantheon has to offer gives something crazy like 33 red border weapons, 29 Adept weapons, an armor and weapon drop from each encounter (that can be farmed with five Spoils of Conquest for good measure), two raid exotics, and enough Spoils to effortlessly hit the cap. This number if so overwhelming I know one person who finished half of Deep Stone Crypt’s craftable weapons on their quest to get the title, Godslayer; and another who went from having a couple Root of Nightmares Adepts to being one short of every Adept weapon that drops in Pantheon.

This duality unsurprisingly caused a rift in the community. Inexperienced players were enticed by the overwhelming number of possibilities Pantheon offered; contrasted by the reality that Pantheon simply isn’t the best place to first experience this content. While I personally understand the frustration, as I had great runs and utterly hopeless attempts, it was disheartening to see an overwhelming number of players attempt to discourage hopeful new players from even trying to experience what many would consider Destiny 2‘s peak.

Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

At its core I am not entirely sure where I would say the line is. After a few runs Atraks Sovereign lost all of its bite. I knew the tactics to get a high score, people were familiar enough with the encounter, and even casual runs were optimized to 30 minutes or less without overwhelmingly stacked teams.

Oryx Exalted suffered a similar fate. Initially it felt a lot easier due to the encounters being fresh in people’s mind. Oryx offered a new challenge, one that would ultimately be eliminated due to the increased potential of the newly crafted Whisper of the Worm offered. Simply taking a random off LFG, and another of unproved mettle proved entirely doable in an hour or less.

Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

Rhulk Indomitable is where things started to get bumpy. Most of this was Rhulk, who gained the delightful doppelgänger, though unfortunate design choices revealed a cheese that basically ensures many Guardians opt to banishing him to the void. Still, even doing it legitimately with a couple less than stellar players never felt impossible.

The breaking point was unsurprisingly Nezarec Sublime. There the weight of each player could be felt, a choice I don’t entirely mind. None of the main rewards, namely the two guaranteed exotics, and the overwhelming majority of drops, were placed in such a way that it felt like Bungie’s best attempt at aspirational content, a term commonly used for things like Contest mode raids.

Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

No one was ever discouraged from the journey, just each encounter offered a new potential wall that forced players to adapt, possibly regroup, and strive to overcome. Unfortunately, this approach had an outcome that feels similar to the problems present in Root of Nightmares.

Aspirational content works best when you need close to the perfect mixture to concoct success. Having some of the best gear across a wide variety of situations, coupled with the exotics that enhance specific play styles as needed. In a lot of ways Pantheon did this, it’s just none of it proved to be much of a barrier.

Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

With over 84,000 Guardians holding the title, a sum that makes it more common than the latest four raid titles, it loses a lot of its perceived prestige. This isn’t something that bothers me, as I also helped several on their journey, but rather I am left unsure who Pantheon is ultimately made for.

It’s ultimately a rather demanding mode that offers an overwhelming amount of value to new and returning players. I don’t think this is bad, in fact it corrects a lot of the long standing issues with the rotator system, and not getting bogged down in having to run approximately 100 raids to have all these crafted guns. However, I think if this was the intent Pantheon would likely be better off being forthcoming with this and alter where the sense of accomplishment comes from.

Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

It shouldn’t highlight my own individual ability to beat these encounters proficiently, but rather encourage me to share my light with the community. This is already a requirement of Flawless, the endgame PVP title, in the form of Safe Harbor. Once someone goes flawless they are asked to assist at least three more on their journey.

A potentially recurring Pantheon would be perfect for this concept. Less experienced players can enjoy the loot, as experienced players slowly work towards a rather unique raid title. It would help better explain the mode, instead of just having a little for everything and resulting in a wide array of experiences.

Destiny 2's Pantheon is Great, But Isn't Sure What it Wants to Be 34534

All this being said, I still think Pantheon is an undeniable success. It shows Bungie is willing to address the overwhelming raid grind, along with radically redesign certain encounters. In fact, players are already asking for these changes to take the place of the Master version of each raid. Even if that doesn’t happen, I do hope a potential return fully commits to a specific demographic.

Some people will undoubtedly be disappointed, but I genuinely can’t remember the last time so many people were fired up about raiding. From the start it’s what made me believe in Destiny as a franchise, and has remained one of the best aspects. Anything that ultimately builds the community further is something I would love to see. Be it this, something similar, or an entirely different style of event.

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