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Destiny 2’s Scourge of the Past raid trades complexity for homage

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Sometimes, a reference can be just as fun as an original idea

Last week, Destiny 2’s newest raid opened for those who’ve already bought into the Destiny 2 Annual Pass. Called Scourge of the Past, it takes place in an urban environment, a first for a Destiny raid. Unlike Last Wish — the game’s last raid in September, which took players 19 hours to clear day one — Scourge of the Past only lasted about two hours. But this new raid doesn’t truck in extremely complex fights and difficult mechanics the way Last Wish did. Instead, Scourge of the Past is a fun romp through the city with friends — a welcome change of pace.

In addition to just being fun and short, Scourge of the Past also draws inspiration from other video games and even movies, making some fights feel more like fun homages than completely original designs.

The raid starts at night in the Last City, with players jumping around on rooftops trying to find invisible enemies. Because it’s a Fallen-themed raid, the bright lights of the enemies’ eyes and the glowing hum of the Servitors blend in with the neon signs and billboards of the city. It’s reminiscent of the final scenes in Blade Runner, when Deckard and Roy Batty are battling in the rain on the rooftops, surrounded by neon lights.

Once you make your way into the sewers and get through the maze, the game will trap you in a small room. After two players simultaneously punch a button, the gate in front of you opens, while another gate behind you unleashes a giant, flaming Servitor. Not knowing this was there, my crew and I all laughed and shouted as we got on our sparrows and began to ride through the tunnels — with those of us who grew up driving in the Midwest emerging first, of course.

Insurrection Prime, the final boss in Scourge of the Past
Bungie/Activision

This is obviously a sci-fi re-creation of one of the most famous movie scenes of all time: the temple escape from the giant boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark (that’s two for two on Harrison Ford, Bungie). These two homages aren’t particularly subtle, but that doesn’t hurt. After such a unique, difficult raid in Last Wish, fighting through climactic scenes in movie history is a blast and left each member of my Fireteam cackling and joking after every loss.

After a pre-boss fight where you have to unlock the cage holding the raid’s ultimate enemy, the final battle is revealed. Insurrection Prime lifts out of the ground and begins stomping around the battlefield. It didn’t take long for someone in my Fireteam (me; it was me) to just shout, “that’s Metal Gear Rex.”

Yes, the final boss in the new Destiny raid is a giant mech that looks very similar to the final boss in one of gaming’s silliest, most brilliant series: Metal Gear Rex from Metal Gear Solid. Insurrection Prime is a bi-pedal tank with a cannon on one arm and a railgun over the other. Like the others throughout the raid, the reference here isn’t subtle, but it’s certainly appreciated.

Metal Gear Rex from Metal Gear Solid
Konami

All of these fights are fun to actually play, which keeps them from feeling like boring, blatant ripoffs. But the references help make the raid feel fun and unique. It brings a smile to my face when I think about the encounters, rather than the usual scowl when I think about Shuro Chi from Last Wish, and all the time I’ve spent in it since September. It helps encourage the raid’s clear angling toward fun-first design, rather than complexity, and always helps me smile every time I see the giant boulder-Servitor light up in the distance.

Destiny has always been a series that wears its influences and references on its sleeve. For all of Destiny’s originality, it also borrows from sci-fi and fantasy stories past pretty heavily. To see the raid team design something that feels so blatantly meant to reference enemies or scenes from famous movies and games only enhances the experience more.

As I ride my sparrow away from the Servitor of doom, it’s easy to lose myself in memories of watching Raiders with my dad when I was a kid. And when I crash my sparrow into the wall because I was too lost in thought, I look back as the Servitor passes my dead ghost and keeps chasing my friends with a smile instead of frustration. And in that way, Scourge of the Past manages to stay wholly unique in the Destiny raid suite.