People still play that game?” is a frequent query in our coverage of Destiny; however, while some players were underwhelmed by Bungie’s latest project, others remain extremely committed to the science fiction shooter – and the developer remains equally committed to rolling out fresh challenges for the fanbase. After a year of experimentation and refinement, Destiny: The Taken King released to favorable reviews – encouraging (returning and new) players to jump into the game. A more cinematic story and quality of life improvements reinvigorated the Destiny experience but it was The Taken King‘s new raid, King’s Fall, that has kept players coming back.

Bungie waited a couple days to let the post-Taken King launch dust settle before deploying the game’s new raid but, aside from hardcore Twitch streamers, it still took a lot of dedicated Destiny gamers several tries to defeat Oryx and his minions on the game’s normal difficulty. Weeks later, the studio unleashed hard mode – which added new mechanics and higher enemy levels to an already hearty raid experience. Now, Bungie is set to unleash Destiny‘s toughest “Player vs. Environment” (PvE) battles yet – King’s Fall boss challenges.

For over a month we’ve known that Bungie was prepping a new set of challenges within King’s Fall – fostering speculation around the community regarding exactly how boss encounters might be altered in order to intensify difficulty (and force gamers out of established raid strategies).

Now, in the studio’s Thanksgiving Day Weekly Update, Lead Raid Designer Gavin Irby gave a few hints about how challenge encounters will work. Players should temper their expectations though, since Irby held-back the specifics – focusing, instead, on where the challenges will be incorporated into the larger raid:

Hello again, my fellow Raiders! I wanted to give you a heads-up on an upcoming feature for the King’s Fall Raid: Challenge Modes!

Early in December, one of the King’s Fall bosses will offer their challenge each week. You’ll see which boss when you select the Raid in the Director. It will display next to a skull, just like one of our Nightfall modifiers. They work on both normal and hard mode, and offer rewards to match.

Each boss’s challenge requires that you defeat them in a very specific manner. How, exactly? We’re going to leave that up to you to discover (but apologies in advance to those that run the single-pool strat for Golgoroth).

Good luck, Guardians!

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Again, Irby does not say exactly how the boss encounters will be altered for the challenges; yet, the raid designer did reveal a few key pieces of info:

  1. The King’s Fall raid challenges will arrive early in December.
  2. Specific challenges are tied to individual King’s Fall raid bosses.
  3. Only one boss challenge will be available each week (similar to the Tier 3 Court of Oryx fights).
  4. The raid challenge will be visible upon selecting the raid in the Director (level select) screen.
  5. Challenges will be available for both normal and hard modes – with better rewards for completion of challenges on higher difficulty.
  6. The challenges are designed to make raid teams complete boss encounters in very specific ways.

Irby uses Golgoroth as an example of how challenges will force players to diversify their raid strategies – suggesting that the Golgoroth challenge encounter will shake guardians out of the popular “single-pool” strategy. To that end, players should expect that Bungie has designed (at least) some of the challenges to directly address corners that raiders are cutting – forcing teams to play each encounter under extremely specific guidelines with little exploitation of core raid mechanics.

It’s too early to know exactly what obstacles Bungie intends to toss into the mix – to make an already challenging raid even more demanding. Nevertheless, given increasing popularity of the “No Knight” strategy for Oryx as well as other workarounds, Bungie will (no doubt) be keeping an eye on Reddit, Twitch, and other Destiny communities to determine often-used strategies that the studio can then undercut with modifiers.

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Even if the community finds fresh strategies to overcome new hurdles, it sounds as though Bungie could continue to introduce reworked challenges (if they want) throughout the coming months. At this point, it’s likely the respective challenge encounters will be similar when each boss rotates back around; yet, that doesn’t mean that Bungie won’t continue to remix the challenges over the coming months – to keep pressure on gamers as well as produce new experiences within an established raid.

Furthermore, while the developer hasn’t announced anything, Bungie would be smart to consider challenge encounters for old raids down the line (especially whenever Destiny faces its next content drought) – with the possibility of offering Year 2 versions of fan-favorite Vault of Glass and Crota’s End weapons/armor as rewards for defeating Atheon, Crota, the Templar, and Deathsingers, among other earlier fights. Should King’s Fall raid challenges be a success, why not encourage players to revisit older raids and run them under new guidelines or without exploits (especially for those who cheesed the Year 1 raids)?

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We’ll have to wait for further details on what tests guardians will face in King’s Fall, not to mention exactly when the new challenges will launch, but given Irby’s “Early in December” comment, it’s safe to assume the feature will launch near (or alongside) the December update – expected the first or second week of December.

NEXT: Game Awards 2015: Official Nominations

Destiny: The Taken King is now available for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Source: Bungie