When I think about encounters, there are several factors to consider when tuning difficulty. Player ability. Player management. Boss management. Traversal. With the announcement of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep - I wanted to explore a possible raid encounter in the Black Garden that would demonstrate an age old encounter design that has been largely lost on the Destiny meta. No adds. For years, we have had many encounters that rely too heavily on the involvement of adds or trash mobs. You go from one phase to the next, dealing with adds, and then onto the damage phase. So, for Black Garden, I wanted to design an encounter that was centered very heavily on boss mechanics and pattern recognition. Could you design an encounter that relied heavily on the difficulty of the boss, and not the overwhelming nature of horde mode mentality? Let’s find out.
Encounter Design - Black Garden Raid
KABR, AEGIS MIND CRONOMICON
Kabr. Thought to have lost his mind to the Vex during the first breach of Vault of Glass, has resurfaced. His mind consumed by Vex presence. He is now part of the Vex Collective Leadership. In his final act as a Guardian, he constituted a weapon capable of breaking The Templar’s shield, Aegis. Now, as part of the Vex Collective, his knowledge of the Vanguard and Guardians poses a huge threat. As part of the raid on Black Garden, players must stop Kabr before he unleashes the Vex counterpart to this weapon on Earth; Aegis Cronomicon.
For so long, Guardians have had to deal with endless waves of adds and trash mobs in order to progress in any encounter within the Destiny world. Now for the first time, Guardians will not only fight another Guardian (outside of Crucible) but a legendary Titan consumed by the Vex Collective and all of its abilities, without the presence of adds. Kabr does not need help.
Kabr is preparing to fire upon the Earth with a devastating planetary weapon conceived with the help of the Vex, Aegis Cronomicon. Guardians must destroy this weapon and stop Kabr before he has the chance to destroy their home. Kabr will be unleashed into the arena and begin fighting Guardians with his arsenal of weapons and abilities. With his Aegis weapon shielded off by a radiolarian shield. There will be a meter on-screen showing how much the weapon has been charged. Guardians must defeat Kabr before the weapon is fully charged, and destroy the weapon itself.
Kabr will be unleashed into the arena and begin fighting Guardians with his arsenal of weapons and abilities with his Aegis weapon shielded off by a radiolarian shield.
(Not in order, Kabr will use a combination of these abilities at will)
Aegis Artifact - Kabr has the ability to shield himself from frontal attacks intermittently using the Aegis Artifact. He will continue to chase down Guardians to strike them down.
Objective - Players must damage him enough from behind to stop his onslaught. An attack from the Aegis Artifact is a one hit kill on Warlocks, Hunters, and two hit kill on Titans. Kabr’s enmity will favor Titans.
Radiolaria - Kabr summons a Fist of Havoc and slams into the ground causing it to flood with radiolarian energy. This is a lethal attack, and standing on this ground will cause Guardians to lose life exponentially the longer they stay on the ground.
Objective - Players must use pulsating platforms around the arena while this ability is in effect to avoid lethal damage. While players are platforming around to avoid touching the ground, they must also damage Kabr to stop the attack.
Cronos Magna - Kabr will jump to the center of the arena and summon pylons of Void energy that will crackle through the arena from the ground up and swirling in a clockwise or counter clockwise direction.
Objective - Platforms now remain visible and players must traverse through the platforms to retrieve a Cronos Reactor from random locations in the arena and slam them onto Kabr to interrupt this ability. Getting hit by a pylon will result in death.
Vision of Confluence - Kabr will summon energy to use the venerable Titan ability Thundercrash. This is an instant kill on the entire raid party.
Objective - Vex portals will appear throughout the arena. A number of players must go into these portals and successfully complete an obstacle course level in order to gather Cronos Reactors and return to the arena to charge them into a pylon located in random cardinal positions in the arena powering up a shield. All players must get inside the Cronos shield to avoid the Thundercrash.
Well of Power - Kabr will concentrate a well of power into his weapon.
Objective - Players must shoot down this giant orb to prevent it from reaching the Aegis weapon. Damage slows movement.
Upon the cast of Vision of Confluence, if players are successful in summoning the Cronos shield and avoiding Kabr’s Thundercrash, Kabr will kneel down and be stunned. At this point players have a moment of reprieve from his assault and will be able to damage him critically.
Phase 2 (75-20% health)
Having been met with severe resistance by the Guardians, Kabr now resorts to a hail mary. And begin to use abilities in combination with each other. He is no longer restricted in movement while abilities are in play.
Aegis Radiolaria - In conjunction of “Radiolaria”, Kabr will resume chasing players down with his Aegis Artifact.
Objective - Players must damage him from behind to stop his pursuit while avoiding the ground on pulsating platforms.
Well of Power Redux - Kabr will shoot small orbs rapidly, throughout Phase 2 to power his weapon.
Objective - Players must shoot these down while avoiding mechanics.
Fatebringer - While Kabr summons Void pylons to rotate through the arena, he will summon a Thundercrash.
Objective - Players must retrieve Cronos Reactors and summon a Cronos Shield to avoid Thundercrash. His stun is severely reduced during Phase 2, allowing only moments of damage.
Final Phase (0-20% health)
Kabr’s Epilogue - While many of his combo mechanics are happening, Kabr will now summon Solar bombs to appear throughout the arena. Getting hit with a Solar bomb inflicts direct solar damage and debuff “Consumed.”
Consumed - This debuff slows movement and does damage over time. After 5 seconds, it builds another stack up to 5 stacks. After 5 stacks of Consumed, the debuff turns to True End.
True End - Upon building up 5 stacks of Consumed, afflicted Player will explode within 10 seconds causing raid wipe.
Objective - Players must avoid getting hit with solar bombs. In the event a player is hit with a solar bomb, they must take their stacks of Consumed to a Well of Power located randomly within the arena. To remove True End debuff, players must locate another Guardian without the debuff and pass off the debuff to another player which passes on as Consumed and will continue to build up to another True End.
Strategy - Consumed can be cleansed. True End must be passed from one guardian to another to reset it to Consumed debuff in order to avoid raid wipe. Multiple True End debuffs will be very difficult to manage for any raid team. This means players will be infinitely Consumed, and will suffer decreased movement speed and DOT. Avoid solar bombs at all costs.