Bungie released the hard-mode version of Destiny's Crota's End raid this week. The new challenge isn't entirely unfamiliar, so the world-first completion took only about half an hour. But you and your friends are probably not as good at Destiny as those guys, and the hard mode scales up the difficulty of the raid considerably.
Like the hard-mode Vault of Glass before it, the rewards here are tantalizing. But this difficult six-person challenge can be the most frustrating thing about a notoriously frustrating game. It's best to approach this with a plan, some patience and a little bit of perspective.
Since Destiny's best practices can sometimes be counterintuitive, here are some suggestions for how to tackle the content.
Be level 32
The Destiny subreddit and Bungie's forums have recently seen a sizable contingent of Guardians arguing that players don't need to reach Destiny's highest level to be adequately geared for the hard version of the raid.
It may be technically possible to clear the raid if you're level 31, but it will be unreasonably difficult. Don't put yourself through that.
The normal version of Crota's End starts at level 30 and scales to level 32 for Crota, the final boss. The hard mode is level 33 all the way through.
Destiny's leveling system applies a flat percentage-based penalty to all the damage you deal when you are at a level deficit relative to an enemy. A one-level deficit reduces your damage by about a third, and a two-level drop cuts your throughput in half. It was possible to muddle through the normal Crota's End raid with a lot of level 30 players on your fireteam, but it wasn't easy, and hard-mode raids do not permit any resurrections of dead players.
In order to reach level 32, you must obtain and fully upgrade raid gear for three of your four armor slots, and you must have a fully upgraded exotic armor piece in the fourth slot. This is why I encourage players interested in engaging Destiny's toughest challenges to consider rolling multiple characters of the same class.
If you are still level 31, stick to normal mode until you get the gear you need. There are only five weapons exclusive to hard-mode Crota's End, and this raid will probably be current for at least a few months — there is still no announced release date for Destiny's next expansion, House of Wolves. Even if you need to spend a couple more weeks raiding normal mode before you are ready to tackle the hard mode, you will probably still have time to get everything you want.
Use The New Weapons to Defeat Crota
Those first two battles are certainly tougher than on normal mode, but the jump in difficulty isn't as great for them as for the final boss. Luckily, those two guns have special perks that can make the Crota fight a bit less punishing.
A one-level deficit reduces your damage by about a third
On the normal Crota encounter, two Hive Knights with boomer guns spawn in the towers on either side of the boss arena every minute or so, and fire on the raid. After they're dead, a Knight with a melee weapon leaps from the tower and runs toward the raid. However, a good sniper with a rifle like the Ice Breaker can keep them under control — a single headshot from a level 32 Guardian will take them down.
In the hard version, the boomer Knights are updated to major status, which means they now each take six sniper rifle headshots to kill, and the melee Knight is replaced by a major Wizard.
This means that, instead of an easy task for a single player to contain, these spawns now require the full-time efforts of two raiders, and probably some help from the rest of the group, which makes it much more difficult to focus on killing the Swordbearer and taking down Crota's shield.
Oversoul Edict, however, can penetrate the Knights' defensive Wall of Darkness, while Abyss Defiant can confuse the Wizard, making him much easier to take down. If you got these guns from the first encounters, and you're struggling to defeat Crota, it might not be a bad idea to take a break for a few days, run some bounties to upgrade these weapons, and reconvene your raid later in the week to use your new tools to annihilate the enemy.
If your weekly playtime is limited, you should try to complete the first two loot events on all your characters rather than spending hours failing to kill the last boss.
Bring gear that can heal you
The Crota encounter afflicts all players with a debuff called "Presence of Crota" that disables your passive health and armor regeneration. On normal mode, there is a relic called the Chalice of Light that allows you to heal, but this boon is removed on hard mode, so everyone in your raid must equip gear that can heal them.
The exotic Red Death pulse rifle and Suros Regime auto rifle can heal you when you kill enemies, but equipping them means you can't equip one of those new raid primaries or an exotic secondary or heavy weapon like Ice Breaker or Gjallarhorn, respectively.
Some talents, like the Warlock's life-steal or the Titan's transfusion, can trigger healing, but these are tied to melee attacks, which can be difficult to use during the Crota fight. Titans also heal when they use their Defender spec's Ward of Dawn super, but you don't always have that available.
So your best bet is to equip a helmet with the "Infusion" perk, which heals you to full every time you pick up one of the orbs of light that spawn whenever Guardians kill things with their super abilities. The Crota's End raid helmets can randomly have this perk, and you can always get it on these exotics:
- the Hunter's Mask of the Third Man
- the Titan's Insurmountable Skullfort
- the Warlock's Apotheosis Veil
- the Warlock's Light Beyond Nemesis
Crota's End on hard is punishing for players who attempt it without the right gear, but if you're prepared, and follow these rules, you should be able to defeat Crota and claim his sweet, sweet loot.