By now most Destiny players have at least beat the Vault of Glass on normal. In fact, Bungie reports that over 500,000 had completed the raid in the first weeks. But how many of those players have gone through and beat Atheon on hard?
There's no question that Destiny's first raid is challenging on the hard difficulty, but it's by no means impossible. It requires a lot of patience – especially if you're playing with a team of unknowns – and a fair bit of understanding of how the raid works. That's where this post should help.
But, before we get into the tips we should mention that these are strategies and suggestions for beating the raid without any overt exploits (i.e. pushing Atheon off the edge). There are some sections, namely the Oracle portion and the Templar boss fight, that can be beat very easily, but at the same time we feel like including those strategies in the list both calls Bungie's attention to them and gives this post a shelf life. We'd rather share tips that will be as useful today as they will two months down the road. So, without further ado:
1. Be Prepared - Level and Weapons Matter
Although there are plenty of Destiny missions and Strikes that players can make their way through at lower than the recommended level, the Vault of Glass is not one of them. The higher the player's level the greater the damage they can withstand from the level 30 enemies, and conversely the greater damage they will do. For example, where a level 30 might do 100-300 on Vex Goblin (with a max level weapon), a level 29 might do less than 100 per shot. They also won't survive nearly as long either, and surviving is important since on hard their is no reviving teammates (only Warlocks can self resurrect).
Obviously, there will be players who can complete the raid (or portions of the raid) at level 28 or 27, but that is a steep uphill climb to make. Rather, it's better to hold off on even thinking about the raid until hitting level 29. It may not be as appealing, but running the raid on normal to get raid gear is better than struggling through the raid on hard and not getting any drops.
Even then, it's important to make sure that players also upgrade their weapons up to the max before trying the Vault on hard. It may take a few extra days of completing bounties and the daily story mission, but max level weapons make a huge difference. In fact, there are many Destiny raiders out there who will turn away random players (found using a site like DestinyLFG) simply because they don't have max level weapons, or even the "right" weapons for that matter.
Now, everyone has their preference, but there are a few weapons that are extremely useful in the raid. Anything that drops during the raid will be handy because of the Oracle Disruptor upgrade, but there are plenty of non-raid weapons (Suros Regime, Gjallarhorn, Icebreaker) that will do just fine, along with any legendary machine gun, rocket launcher, or fusion rifle. Players just need to work on leveling them up first.
2. Hide, Don't Fight - Protecting the Confluxes
The first big challenge of the raid is the Conflux portion, where players must defend a series of totems (called Confluxes) from oncoming enemies. These enemies will try to sacrifice themselves to the Confluxes and it is up to the team to stop them, first by protecting one Conflux, then two, and then finally, three. While that's a tall order in itself, things get trickier with a couple Praetorians and Hobglobin snipers running around, which is why having max weapons is important. It's also important to separate the group based on level so that every Conflux has a strong player watching it. Then you can match up the level 29s with the 30s.
But the real tip for the Conflux portion comes when the Templar boss – the giant Hydra enemy – calls forth his legions. On normal, most players will simply ride this portion out fighting the Fanatics as they come, but on hard that adds unnecessary risk. Instead it's better to hide during this legion portion and wait, because after a time the enemies will de-spawn. The team guarding the middle and the left Conflux can hide in the elevated cave on the left – the same one that holds the chest with the Spirit Bloom – while the right Conflux team can take cover on a small ledge in the far north east of the board. They just drop down and none of the enemies will attack them.
After the enemies de-spawn, players can return to their positions and protect the Confluxes until the next legion summon. Then lather, rinse, and repeat.
3. Don't Let Him Teleport - Templar Boss Fight
While most of the raid's design in the first few sections is fairly familiar, the Templar boss fight introduces some completely new mechanics. It also forces players to rethink their roles beyond just damage dealer. Essentially, one player needs to grab a shield item called a relic and use its blast to remove a force field from the Templar. Then, his teammates can do damage to the boss while also managing the various Oracles that pop up around the board.
However, once the Templar's shield goes down he will attempt to teleport away to regain his force field. But if players are quick and vigilant enough, they can keep the Templar from teleporting AND keep the force field from regenerating. All one player needs to do is stand in the glowing circle that indicates the Templar's next spot and he will be blocked. This is key because in the Vault of Glass if you aren't taking down enemies fast then they will overwhelm the team. So, keep the force field down for as long as possible and let those strong weapons go to work.
We should also acknowledge that there is an even easier way to take down the Templar, but chances are it will be patched out at some point. So rather than draw any attention to it – since it is a lot easier – we'll just say watch this video. Also, those who do beat the Templar without him teleporting will get an bonus chest.
4. Snipe From a Distance - The Gatekeeper Section
Although we don't have any unique strategies for the portal sections of the Gatekeeper boss fight – you should be sending the strongest players into the portals, though – the first part can be made really easy with a team of snipers. All the team needs do is snipe at the Gatekeeper from right outside the Vault of Glass and then run to either of the two sync plates to raise the portal. Doing so will de-spawn the remaining enemies and then the team can move on to claiming the relics from Mars and Venus. This strategy is made even easier with an Ice Breaker since there is no ammo lost at death. And if the team does fail, you can reopen the door and back down the steps and snipe again. Just watch out for the Hobgoblin snipers while running to the plate.
5. Double Bubble Trouble - Atheon Boss Fight
Gameplay-wise there isn't much difference between tackling Atheon on normal or hard outside of the fact that he puts the non-portal team in a detain shield. Getting out of that is no problem; just a few melee hits or bullets will do the trick. Similarly, tackling the Oracles and enemies in each portal is pretty much the same, although it should always be the level 30 players who take the relic. The level 30 player can take an additional hit should the enemies show up in any funny formations.
Once the Oracles are down, though, there is a strategy that tends to take down Atheon the fastest. Once Time's Vengeance is active the team meets on the platform in the center, stands next to the relic holder (who has the cleanse bubble up the entire time), and fires all they have at Atheon's precision point. The cleanse bubble will not only protect the team but it will also increase weapon damage on top of the Time's Vengeance buff. It's important to mention that the relic holder should be standing off to the right of the platform not in the dead center (there's sort of a mark in the ground there where you should stand). There's a pesky piece of cover on the left side that, for some unknown reason, will let splash damage through the bubble.
Depending on how strong the team is this strategy should take Atheon down in 3-5 teleports, sometimes even less. Each player must also make sure to clear out of the center before Atheon begins his teleport procedure anew. It takes some time to get used to, but it makes for a very fast Atheon takedown. And fast is key.
NOTE: if there are any Defender subclass Titans in the team they can use the Ward of Dawn with the Weapons of Light buff to boost damage even further. A good strategy for this is to have the Titan place his Ward of Dawn at the back part of the platform so each player can jump into the Ward of Dawn and then move under the relic's bubble to do crazy amounts of damage (max level Icebreaker on a level 30 can do close to 17,000 per precision hit). Just make sure that the Titan uses the 'Illuminated' upgrade for maximum possible damage. And, do not use rockets or grenades; rockets will explode inside the bubble and kill the player and grenades make Atheon move. It's better just to have him stand still.
There you have it: Game Rant's 5 essential tips for taking down the Vault of Glass raid on hard difficulty. Obviously, people are going to have their own strategies, but these are some that have proven most successful during our hard runs. But that's the beauty of the Destiny raid: it continues to show new wrinkles to players, which in turn spawn better strategies. The first raid team, for example, needed 12 hours to complete the Vault of Glass but now teams can run it in under an hour. Sometimes those strategies are legit and sometimes they aren't.
Either way, we want to hear how you approach the Destiny raid. Feel free to share your strategies in the comments below.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina