If you've been getting your teeth kicked in by the bosses in Destiny 2's new Ghosts of the Deep dungeon, well, things are working as intended: Bungie wanted to make this dungeon extra hard in part because the Lightfall raid was "not delivering on the aspiration" of endgame content.
In a recent roundtable interview, raid and dungeon design lead Brian Frank addressed complaints around how punishing and grindy Ghosts of the Deep can be, especially as a solo player trying to get a one-man-army dungeon clear. In response to a question from my colleague Phil Savage at PC Gamer, Frank confirmed that Bungie went extra hard on Ghosts of the Deep by balancing it with full fireteams in mind, hence the brutal solo experience.
"It was a conscious decision for us to prioritize the fireteam tuning," Frank said. "This release happened in the context of our game director saying publicly, 'we're gonna bring the challenge back to Destiny.' We had a lot of conversations surrounding [the Lightfall raid] Root of Nightmares and its day-one experience not delivering on the aspiration of the event. Similarly with Spire of the Watcher, we track initial completion time and those sorts of analytics, and it maybe fell below our expectation. So we definitely pushed into testing the waters, no pun intended, of increasing challenge here."
"Given the conscious decision to tune for the fireteam, we saw solo and solo flawless among the most challenging achievements in Destiny and wanted to preserve that as an aspirational accomplishment," he adds. Looking to account for the new powers, weapons, and strategies that will inevitably make this dungeon easier in the future, Frank says the team "took a bit of a leap of faith in putting that tuning in ahead of time so that it's there for players to overcome and achieve."
We heard something similar following the release of the Duality dungeon last year, which was also tuned to be harder than usual. Ghosts of the Deep surpasses even Duality with a significantly tankier and more mechanically demanding final boss, so it's no wonder many players reckon it's a better raid than the actual Lightfall raid. I am happy to see Destiny 2 step up the challenge, and my normal team has gotten the dungeon down to clean two-phase boss kills. At this point, the opening encounters are the hard part; they look great but drag on a little too long, and with no real way to speed things up.
In the same interview, Destiny 2 writers responded to criticism of Lightfall's story, explaining that the expansion setup was a bit of an experiment and assuring players that the answers they want are still coming.