Raids are the best part of 'Destiny' -- and we've ranked them all

Raids are, by far, the best activities in “Destiny,” the first-person shooting game from the original makers of “Halo.”

They require six players (but can be accomplished with fewer), lots of coordination, lots of time, and lots of shooting and puzzle-solving. They’re challenging, thrilling, and reward you with some of the best loot in the game.

Now, I’ve played over 1,000 hours of “Destiny” since its 2014 launch, but on Wednesday night I finally tried (and beat) the latest raid in “Destiny,” called “Wrath of the Machine.” You can play this new raid if you’ve purchased the latest “Rise of Iron” expansion, which launched in September.

With Wrath of the Machine, “Destiny” now has four completely different raids, so I thought it’d be fun to rank them all. I’ve rated these raids based on their difficulty, their rewards, and the overall experience. You might have different opinions based on your own personal experiences — and I’d love to hear them! — but here’s what I came up with.

4. KING'S FALL

Bungie

What is it?

King's Fall was the raid exclusive to 'The Taken King' expansion, which launched last September.

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What's the goal?

Your goal in King's Fall is to storm the Dreadnaught, a massive alien warship, and kill its leader: Oryx, a.k.a. 'The Taken King.'

Bungie

What's it like?

The King's Fall raid has nine separate areas -- some platforming areas, some puzzles, and lots of shooting -- and four bosses. All the bosses, and many of the other activities as well, require a great deal of coordination. It's not for the faint of heart.

Bungie

The good:

The atmosphere feels truly epic. With so many obstacles, barriers, puzzles, and enemies, it really does feel like you and your team are breaking into a heavily-guarded fortress to overthrow its king. Some of the jumping puzzles are tough but rewarding. And the finale, where you face off against Oryx -- a creature as big as a 3-story building -- is pure spectacle.

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The bad:

King's Fall is probably the most time-consuming raid Bungie has ever created. Every playthrough I had required at least 3 hours or so. Multiple areas, including some of the jumping puzzles and the final boss area, are too difficult for many people. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people depart mid-raid just because they got too frustrated with something as simple as activating totems.

Bungie

The rewards:

You get some really nice gear that's inspired by the Hive, Oryx's bug-like alien race. Some of the raid weapons, like Grasp of Malok, are player favourites.

YouTube/Corbantis88

The verdict:

King's Fall has some fantastic moments, but is a bit too long and challenging overall for most players. If you have a regular raid team, this will be much easier; if you're playing with a random pick-up group, though, you'll be lucky to finish the whole thing in one piece. There are better raids on this list (obviously).

3. CROTA'S END

Bungie

What is it?

Crota's End was the raid exclusive to 'The Dark Below' expansion, which launched in January 2015.

Bungie

What's the goal?

You jump hundreds of feet into a massive hole in the moon to hunt down Crota, the son of Oryx (y'know, The Taken King), to destroy his soul once and for all. Crota's End is essentially Bungie's take on an action movie.

Bungie

What's it like?

Expect lots of running. Once you start the raid, you'll run through a massive labyrinth in pitch-blackness, lit only by pillars that explode after several seconds. The next area is one big puzzle, which leads you to the final room where you must destroy Crota. The whole shebang probably takes less than an hour.

Bungie

The good:

This raid is short and sweet, which is great if you're strapped for time. Also, many parts of this raid can be beaten by just one person, so if you have bad players on your team, they don't necessarily drag you down too much. And the final act, where players shoot Crota as one player grabs a magic sword to chop down Crota's health, has fantastic music and a satisfying ending.

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The bad:

Though I enjoy Crota's End for its brevity and the fact that one player can essentially carry the whole team, many other players believe these two aspects to be the weakness of this particular raid. To them, it's too easy and over far too quickly. Also, the final boss tends to be a bit buggy, which often means your team can die as the result of a simple glitch. This bugginess was particularly bad when the raid first came out.

Bungie

The rewards:

In the first year of 'Destiny,' some of the best rewards dropped from the Crota's End raid. Two particular highlights: The Black Hammer, a powerful sniper rifle, and the Crux of Crota, a random reward from the Hard Mode version of Crota's End that players would use to create the Necrochasm, one of the rarest exotic weapons in 'Destiny.'

YouTube/DestinyTheGame

The verdict:

Crota's End is a fun albeit brief raid, but its structure was extremely divisive among players. Some liked how one person could carry the whole team, but others resented the fact that people were never be forced to become familiar with the raid's core mechanics, putting a lot of pressure on a small number of players that did know all the puzzles and secrets. Still, you can't beat that epic finale -- and on a personal note, this was the raid where I received my very first Gjallarhorn, the rarest and best rocket launcher in 'Destiny' (at the time).

2. WRATH OF THE MACHINE

Bungie

What is it?

Wrath of the Machine is the newest raid in 'Destiny.' It's exclusive to 'The Rise Of Iron' expansion, which launched in September.

Bungie

What's the goal?

In 'The Rise of Iron,' your goal is to stop an alien race from exploiting a forbidden technology called SIVA. In the Wrath of the Machine raid, you and your team dig deep into the Earth to find and stop the source of SIVA once and for all.

Bungie

What's it like?

It's a pretty quick raid. It only has four main areas where you face off against three main bosses, but there's a ton of intricate hallways and puzzles to find more hidden goodies and rewards. Each activity requires a good deal of coordination, but there's nothing that's entirely too difficult here.

Bungie

The good:

I love a good challenge, but I appreciate the fact that nothing is too difficult here, and less-than-perfect coordination isn't too punishing like it is in King's Fall. The boss fights are simple but satisfying: You shoot things, you smash things, you throw bombs -- it's fun. And it's also not very long: An experienced group, like the one I raided with on Wednesday, can breeze through the raid in less than two hours, which feels like the right amount of time for a raid.

Bungie

The bad:

Wrath of the Machine has a fantastic pace for two-thirds of the raid. The final third, where you must defeat the final boss in two separate stages, can really slow you down. Teams have the most difficulty staying coordinated in this area, where, yes, a simple mistake can force your whole team to start over. In my first go, my team completed the rest of the raid in about an hour, but spent the next hour just doing that final part. It might get easier as more players get more experienced, but it can be frustrating to fight in the same room for over an hour.

Bungie

The rewards:

I absolutely love the rewards from Wrath of the Machine. All the raid gear (which you can see above) looks fantastic and comes with some sweet perks.

Also, there is one exotic weapon you can earn from completing a hidden puzzle within the raid -- the weapon itself is cool, but the journey you take to get it is absolutely epic, and easily the best Easter egg Bungie has ever created for a video game. You can learn more about that intricate path to get the Outbreak Prime here -- it's a video made by Datto, a popular 'Destiny' YouTuber who was the first person to find this exotic gun.

Bungie

The verdict:

Bungie has learned a ton from the three previous raids it'd released, and Wrath of the Machine is proof of that. It has a brisk pace with plenty of variety, and it's all fun. The final boss fight can be a bit challenging if your teammates aren't communicating, but it's easily one of the best adventures in 'Destiny.'

One particular highlight of the raid: The Death Zamboni, which you can see in the photo above. I'd rather not ruin the surprise but it's a giant tank that actually moves through the level with you. It's an extremely impressive setpiece, and there's plenty more surprises in Wrath of the Machine.

1. VAULT OF GLASS

Bungie

What is it?

The Vault of Glass is the very first 'Destiny' raid. It was made available to anyone who bought the original game in September 2014.

Bungie

What's the goal?

The Vault of Glass is all about unravelling a mystery that's stirring beneath the surface of Venus. You and your team visit Venus, open the Vault, and descend into its depths to fight the Vex, a group of machine-like aliens that have discovered how to control time and reality.

Bungie

What's it like?

You start outside the Vault of Glass, where your team must stand on three separate plates to create a Spire (that holographic-looking box you see above), which is used to unlock the Vault. Once it's open, you descend through its sprawling caves to find the secrets of the Vault and confront Atheon, a beastly machine that teleports you and your team members to different points in time. To beat the raid, you must use time/reality portals to get back into the Vault of Glass and destroy Atheon. It's epic.

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The good:

The Vault has a wonderfully intricate design highlighted by beautiful, geometric architecture and massive chasms where it's easy to fall to your death. And you need to master several different mechanics to beat this raid: Besides running, jumping and shooting, you'll need shoot balls of exploding light called Confluxes, run and hide from deadly indestructible Gorgons in a massive labyrinth, and most importantly, learn to master the Relic, an object that can both heal and destroy. When the raid first launched, Bungie called it 'the most challenging experience (we've) ever created,' which would take 'hours and hours to complete.'

Bungie

The bad:

The Vault of Glass, like King's Fall, is not for the faint of heart. You'll need players who are patient and calm enough to help others get through certain parts of the raid, especially the areas where you must avoid the eyesight of the Gorgons, or the areas where you must use the Relic to heal other players and kill bad guys. It's a complicated system that will take a few run-throughs to master. The Vault is literally filled with secrets, so research and practice are your best friends here.

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The rewards:

The rewards from The Vault of Glass were second to none. All of the following weapons, which are huge fan favourites, could only be obtained from the Vault of Glass: the hand cannon Fatebringer, the sniper rifle Praedyth's Revenge, the machine gun Corrective Measure, and the exotic fusion rifle Vex Mythoclast (seen above) are all widely considered to be the best weapons in the first three years of 'Destiny.' Personally, I used Fatebringer more than any other weapon in the first year of the game.

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The verdict:

The Vault of Glass is the original 'Destiny' raid, and you really can't beat the original.

I've also given this one the top ranking for sentimental reasons: Vault of Glass was my first raid experience of any variety. My older brother was kind enough to invite me to his raid group, even though I was underleveled and unprepared, and they were all patient with me as I died countless times throughout the raid. I was literally holding people up from eating dinner, being with their families, etc. But hours later, when we finally downed Atheon, I was totally ecstatic.

Yes, Vault of Glass has a steep learning curve, and it can be brutal if you're not aware of the various mechanics, but once you master them, it is the most satisfying experience in all of 'Destiny.' There's nothing quite like that final boss battle, where you get teleported to a different point in time, only to beat the enemies there and run through another portal to get back into the Vault of Glass, only to unload all your aggression on Atheon.

If you're somewhat new to 'Destiny,' I highly recommend finding a pick-up group and unlocking the Vault. It's one of my favourite video game experiences ever, and I wish everyone would try it.

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