It was a solid base
When designing the King’s Fall raid in Destiny, the developers noted that they created Hard Mode first, then went to Normal.
It makes sense, then, that the two would basically be the same. I just have mixed feelings about the loot system.
My fireteam was ready to go once the Hard Mode clock struck, and we got all the way up to Oryx pretty handily, in about an hour.
Starting off, the relic run is the same fight but with slightly stronger adds, and you should be able to easily clear it with a fireteam of 300s. As a note, the first bit doesn’t give you any loot if you’ve completed normal mode. The ship jumping puzzle however has been altered just a bit, as the “rail” checkpoint on the far left has been removed entirely. Now, you’ll have to do the entire puzzle in one go, which takes roughly two minutes. I like this change, but it’s rather minor as you can get by with a few people quitting and returning if they can’t make it.
Totems are mostly the same, as is the Warpriest fight (he shoots a few extra bubbles now after the rune explodes, which are easily avoided). Sure, the adds do more damage, but I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary that couldn’t be done by a normal fireteam. The first real alteration comes at Golgoroth (the suggested Light requirement also jumps from 300 to 310 here), where one party member obtains a debuff once they’re stacked in the pit, forcing them to jump out within a 10-second time limit, lest they wipe the raid with an area-of-effect explosion. It’s a simple change and very easy to account for.
The Daughters of Oryx fight — again, they’re about the same. There are a tad more adds and they pack a wallop, but our group had no issues clearing out the fight in 10 minutes on our third run. For this encounter, we had five Guardians shooting the first witch with Touch of Malice from the center, and the sixth focusing entirely on adds to clear them out. It worked quite well.
Oryx, on the other hand, is a lot tougher, and the only real stark contrast in terms of a Hard Mode. The healthbar for adds is actually red, and you’ll need to take down more Knights during the transition relic phase. Also, the Ogres are far stronger now, so your roaming team better be at least Light 310 or above and pack a punch. If you can get through all that, you’ll still need the firepower to stagger Oryx and take down the Shade. I have a feeling that once groups upgrade by way of the new items, they’ll acclimate just like the rest of the raid, but for now, a group of 300s won’t cut it.
In terms of the loot, the Hard Mode difference is a tad disappointing. Items are simply recolored and declared “Harrowed,” and the Light ranges all the way from 310 to 320 — so for people who have been raiding since the first week, you still have a chance to get a 310 non-upgrade in some cases. For the rest, it’s infusion fodder and a handful of subpar weapons. The “random Light” system is starting to grate on me despite how well King’s Fall holds up in general, as it feels like a mechanic solely designed to keep players grinding out months on end for 320 gear. Since Moldering Shards are also out for Hard, it’s possible to get nothing from certain chests — lame.
There seems to be less of a point to grind out Hard Mode unless you want 320 Light (read: for easier Hard Mode raiding), as well. Bungie’s Luke Smith has confirmed that elemental primaries are a thing of the past, so there’s no real Hard Mode-specific items outside of the Harrowed 310+ variety (that we know of yet). This is a stark contrast to the Crota raid, where players would have to complete Normal and Hard to get every item possible, including the covetedFang of Ir Yût. As a Vision of Confluence lifer until recently, I’m torn on this news. I get it from a design perspective, but these items could have easily been balanced.
So far I’ve completed Oryx once and up to him another run, and I’ve netted a 315 sniper, 310 Ghost, 317 machine gun, 319 Warlock class item, 310 Titan class item, a 320 Harrowed Anguish of Drystan,and a 316 shotgun. All in all that’s not bad for roughly two runs. I’ll be working on my Hunter over the weekend once I have more time. For now, it’s back to other review work!