Destiny’s Vault of Glass is a hell of a good time

By Brenna Hillier, Monday, 29 September 2014 08:11 GMT

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Destiny Raids are among the toughest challenges co-operative shooters offer. Brenna fearlessly enters the Vault of Glass. Some minor spoilers ahead.


Destiny shipped with one raid, The Vault of Glass, which was locked up for a full week after launch.

Power gamers who hit the level requirement earlier than Bungie’s deadline complained a bit about this, but I think it was sensible – even with the level requirement and the lack of matchmaking, it would have been far too easy for casual players to wander in, have their arses handed to them, and rage quit to a forum where they could air their grievances. That’s pretty bad PR.

Destiny Raid Basics


You need to be well past level 20 to attempt Destiny’s first raid, the Vault of Glass. A fireteam of six is required. There is no matchmaking.

The raid is divided into three stages but many more checkpoints; if you quit, you can return any time before the weekly reset to try again from the last complete phase.

At the end of each of the three major stages, you’ll receive loot. There are also two hidden loot chests. Both chests and loot drops have a chance to award the highest current tier of Legendary gear or Legendary upgrade materials. Both are required to reach level 30. Legendary upgrade material is available elsewhere.

The Vault of Glass is populated by Vex with Void shields, so Void elemental weapons are a huge help.

By giving the game’s user base one week to settle in, Bungie ensured that a significant percentage of those making an assault on the Vault of Glass when it first opened were dedicated players – people who had stuck around after finishing the story content instead of hightailing it away complaining that they’d run out of things to do. These were people who had spent time figuring out the game’s obscure endgame systems, putting together decent sets of gear (a much under-appreciated aspect of Destiny’s post-20 levelling system) and learning how to play their classes at a master level through high level content like Heroic Strikes.

I wasn’t one of these people. I had to go to Tokyo, something I never thought I’d be complaining about. (When I booked this trip, I didn’t yet know I was going to fall head over heels in love with a shooter MMO. It did not seem likely. And yet here we are.)

My clan, POP POP POP, is largely composed of pretty serious gamers; in fact, the core founding group of ten or so almost all work in or around games media. We may not have the hundreds of hours to spare that the highly dedicated managed in launch week, but we were all past level 20 in that first seven days and we’ve been hunting and upgrading Legendary gear most assiduously.

So this Sunday we decided to crack the Vault. I put out a call for volunteers, and two of my fellow clan leaders and I formed a roster based on the most experienced and skilled players – plus me, because it was my idea, and I’m the boss.

Even with quite a large pool of serious players to choose from – we have 33 clan members, and another 30 or so in the Facebook group that started it all who are yet to figure out – it wasn’t easy. You really need to be at least level 27 to be much use at the end of the raid, which is a big ask, and you need decent equipment. You also need to turn up when requested, and be able to stay for however many hours it takes, and guys – have you ever tried to organise any kind of event? Human beings are unreliable as heck. I can’t imagine trying to do this with strangers suddenly vanishing because they realise they don’t actually have however long it’s taking.

Highlights from EvilAngel2020‘s Vault of Glass attempt.

We got a crew together eventually, though, and began our assault. Our fireteam was composed of four Warlocks, a Titan (my housemate) and a Hunter (me) – not through any planning, but because we wanted the highest-level players available. Everyone had been advised to bring whatever Void weapons they could – especially fusion rifles and heavy weapons. Not everybody was able to oblige.

Eight and a half hours later, I called it. We would not be beating the final boss that night. I insisted we break for bed, with the plan to resume on the following evening, hopefully to get it done before the weekly reset wiped our checkpoint progress.

Your level makes a difference

It’s important to remember that your level – increased by the amount of Light on your armour after level 20 – dramatically affects how much damage you give and receive. The early stages of the Raid aren’t too bad for level 26 players, but the final boss and its minions are all level 28.

A full team of five skilled level 28 characters may be able to carry a level 26 through the final encounter, but their underpowered friend won’t be contributing much at that stage. You’d have to be almost supernaturally skilled or have some very, very good weapons to defeat the final boss with a uniformly under-powered team.

What happened during that eight and a half hours – a working day, pretty much, during which we took only a few brief breaks – was a revelation, and one of the most intense and satisfying experiences I have ever had while gaming.

I cannot imagine heading into the Vault of Glass without foreknowledge. Read as many guides as you like before you go in, I say; it will help, but even knowing exactly what needs to be done, it’ll take you a while to nail the execution. Those brave souls who went in blind and just bent Bungie’s puzzles to their will are genuine heroes of gaming, and everyone who follows after owes them a debt of gratitude for their 14 hour slog.

Each step of the Raid is deliberately poorly explained. If you don’t have a guide on hand, you need to figure out what’s going on by a sort of reverse-engineering. (Oh, the scoreboard says eight Vex sacrificed themselves? And that’s bad? Does that mean the Vex are getting to a thing that they’re not supposed to get to? Oh, right, I see.)

The first task your fireteam will face is to open the door to the Vault. If you are under-levelled, underprepared or under-equipped in the courage department this alone will break you. You need to split into multiple teams, each of which must stand within a very narrow circle with little to no line of sight to their opposite numbers. This circle must be held against a relentless assault of Vex enemies, including some shielded foes; if too many Vex breach the circle, you’ll wipe, and you need to hold it continuously, without interruption, to open the door. Without decent Void weapons it can be a nightmare, but if you’re prepared, know what you’re doing and know how to manage your ammo, reloading, and supers, it’s a breeze.

Next: discovering a whole new game of working together as a team.

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