Destiny: changes to Atheon encounter designed to prevent “Sherpas”

By Brenna Hillier
29 October 2014 00:37 GMT

Destiny community manager David “Deej” Dague has presented the community’s thoughts on a recent patch to Bungie, and returned Bungie’s response to the community.


Destiny was patched last night with a host of stability fixes (sadly undermined by a coincidental PS4 update and subsequent day of connection horror). The patch also made two major changes to the final encounter with Atheon, the final boss of Destiny’s first raid, the Vault of Glass.

The first change prevents players from pushing Atheon off a platform using grenades, resulting in an easy win. The second, more controversial alteration prevent players choosing which Guardians take on which roles during the battle.

What’s a Sherpa?

The word “Sherpa” refers to “a member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering”, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English.

Sherpas would carry gear, navigate and basically do all the hard work for white explorers determined to conquer summits. Informally, the word is used to mean anyone who shoulders a great deal of skilled work for the reward of others, especially civil servants.

Sherpa is a noun and should not be used as a verb, but that’s the Internet for you. It’s probably culturally insensitive, too.

Many players have voiced their displeasure at this second change, but in a post on the Bungie forums, Deej said Bungie intends for the changes to stop raid groups being able to “carry” newbs through the raid in an act known as “sherpaing”.

“I talked a lot to the developers about your opinions on the matter. I even said ‘Why not just change Hard Mode and leave Easy Mode alone?'” Deej said.

“I was told ‘The Raid is never supposed to be easy.'”

Deej admitted that he had been “carried” through the Raid, and even done his own carrying. This is not what Bungie wants.

“This is an activity that was designed to be undertaken by a hardcore team that is ready and willing to adapt and improvise to changing battle conditions. Like the moment when the Templar shields random players, the Final Boss was supposed to be extremely dangerous,” Deej wrote.

Of course, the changes to the Atheon encounter won’t prevent high-level groups from bringing newbs through if they’re really determined, but it certainly means that each group needs at least four players prepared to play an active role in Relic retrieval, which is a much higher ratio than previously.

Why “Joey”?

Someone on Reddit told a story of an arrogant, unskilled Guardian who had been sherpa’d through a raid and made an arse of themselves. Joey was the pseudonym chosen for this Guardian.

Personally, I’m pretty hopeful about these changes. The raid, in its pre-patch form, was pretty easy with a good crew, but the community is littered with “Joeys” – players who have been carried through the raid multiple times and still have no idea what’s going on, but believe they’re masters of the game for collecting a few bits of raid gear. They’re a right pain in the butt for serious players.

I understand that you want to have a go at the raid in order to get the best gear, but I like the idea that you have to be really skilled, and committed, to do so. As I’ve argued before – twice! – the raids are not for everyone.

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