All the way back in the hazy days of the Destiny alpha, complaints about the download's co-op based Strike mission were rife. Many argued that it was too hard compared to the other co-op activities, while others simply put forward the opinion that the big boss enemies of this hectic challenge were far too beefy, and that their total health needed to be cut down to size — indeed, there's no denying that fighting that Death Walker halfway through the mission can easily become more than a little tedious. Fast forward to the closing days of the beta, and these complaints are still pretty prevalent – but then, I've got a feeling that a lot of people just don't know how to work as a team.
Make no mistake, I hate sounding like an elitist, but if I had a penny for every time that I've seen a hapless Guardian charge at a certain six legged mech, I'd be a rich man. As it stands, the beta's Strike mission probably provides its toughest challenge other than facing off against skilled players in the Crucible. It's a gauntlet designed for a team of three, and it doesn't pull many punches for anyone who's unfamiliar with the foes that rear their ugly heads.
It's pretty lengthy, too. On average, it takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to get from start to finish without being slowed down by multiple squad deaths, and if you really take your time in bringing the aforementioned Death Walker to all six of its knees, it can drag on rather uncomfortably. And I suppose this is where new players' distaste comes into play, as they spend huge amounts of time trying to fell bosses – but it's honestly not as hard as some may think.
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If you've played games like Monster Hunter or Toukiden: The Age of Demons, then you'll know that it takes practice before you can take down large enemies with relative ease, and the same is true here, except that there's a more obvious co-op perspective at work. You may need to watch and learn from more experienced players, or make a mental note of the telling signs of a boss' powerful attacks. You need to think and play differently to when you're easily mowing down Fallen grunts with headshot after headshot.
Indeed, it's unlikely that you'll come across a regular opponent that can take away your entire health bar with one blast of a mega cannon. There's an emphasis on movement in Destiny, and all of the best Guardians make darn good use of their agility. Once you've unlocked the ability to double jump, things generally become a lot easier, as you can reach high places or leap out of the way of enemy fire. And in Strike missions, you definitely need to keep moving.
As well as looking out for a Death Walker's red laser pointer and flashing blue rocket pack, you'll also need to contend with a host of lesser foes that are unleashed upon the battlefield at regular intervals, and that's usually where a team mate or two will hit the dirt – especially if they're not keeping a close eye on the ever-useful movement tracker at the top left of the screen. Needless to say, if you get caught between two groups of Fallen grunts, a Fallen Captain, and the big spider-tank itself, you won't last long, so it's always best to space out and look for an advantageous position where you can regain your composure and line up a few shots from a safe distance.
Speaking of Captains, these slightly burlier opponents can be a real pain, too, if you let them control the shootout for too long. Before the clashes with bigger foes, you'll have to carve a path through a battle between Fallen and Hive troops in a somewhat enclosed space, and it's this task that proves to be the first real test of a team's skill. Again, movement is key. Do nothing but try to pick off enemies by sitting behind the object that your Ghost is busy hacking into, and it won't be long before you're overrun by pesky Dregs and annoying Shanks.
Of course, being heavily focused on teamwork, a lot of these scenarios are quite a bit easier if you're well coordinated. Much of the satisfaction of playing a Strike mission comes from working as a cohesive unit, pulling off tactical approaches like catching a bunch of opposition in crossfire, or closing off choke points with a well placed grenade or two.
The beta already throws out a few very entertaining battles over the course of fifteen minutes, so I can't wait to see what kind of situations the full game will drop us into. Thankfully, something tells me Destiny is going to be more than a bit popular, so with a little luck, it shouldn't be too hard to find a few friends who'll journey into the darkness with you. Co-op craziness is one of the game's biggest talking points – if not the biggest – so let's try our best to get together and have a good time, regardless of ridiculously chunky health bars.
Do you enjoy the beta's Strike mission, or does its sudden difficulty put you off? Would you make any changes to this co-op based venture before Destiny's release? Let us know how many times you've been blown to bits in the comments section below.