A Look Behind the Scenes of Destiny’s Wrath of the Machine Raid

Bungie held one of their “ride along” streams over on Twitch and gave viewers an in depth look at why we have the mechanics that are in the wrath of the Machine raid and the stories from the creators.  Destiny’s newest and only raid over the last year has had a ton of secrets that have provided guardians tons of loot and dangerous encounters.  Hosted by Destiny community manager Deej, Raid Project Owner Joe Blackburn and Environmental Artist Rusty Derbin provided the guided tour as Bungie’s own raid team took on the Heroic mode of the Wrath of the Machine raid.

It was really neat to learn that there is a raid team at Bungie that specifically tests the raids being developed.  This raid team – known as Velveeta after the famed cheese since their job is to find the cheese – spends hours testing mechanics and difficulty prior to a raid’s release.  According to Joe Blackburn, the raid building process involves taking an overall idea and building the heroic mode raid first, than changing it to the normal mode.

The entrance to the Wrath of the Machine raid was about teasing a raid boss right away out in the open environment.  Joe Blackburn mentioned that the original idea was to just protect the foundry spinners to produce SIVA bombs but felt that the previous raid King’s Fall had too many moments where you weren’t moving around.  The charging mechanic was added to give players the chance to move freely but still working on accomplishing a goal.  Every piece of the environment that is at least 2m tall is there for a reason to either have cover or jump on.  The foundry area that is the entrance of the raid in the lore of Destiny is where the splicers make the SIVA grenades that the Fallen use as well.


With the second encounter with Vosik, the layout of the room was in fact designed for a 3 lane style with 2 players in each lane.  The original design for Vosik was the have you bring him down to half health when you first fight him and then he would still be half health when you fight him the second time.  The issues was the amount of health he would have wasn’t as rewarding so they used the concept of SIVA healing him.  The SIVA bombs and monitors were used as a way to make players not focus on the enemies that are constantly coming at you.  Another key focus on this encounter – as well as all the fights in the raid – was that players weren’t time gated in progress.  With the more power you have as a player, you are able to destroy enemies and bosses that much faster.  Challenge mode was originally planned to have all the monitors light up after the damage phase and if you shot all them you didn’t have to run to the clean rooms.  This was scrapped due to the idea it wasn’t fun losing the clean room mechanic which was a key point to the fight.  The Destiny community has been very vocal with how difficult this encounter is on the heroic difficulty.  The earliest builds of this encounter had the monitors with much more health where you absolutely needed 6 players shooting the monitors.  The version that we actually have is much easier than what was originally planned.  Thank you for not ruining our hopes and dreams Bungie.


The Siege Engine encounter is the most expensive entity in Destiny.  The sheer size and amount of moving parts take more memory in the programming than anything else in Destiny, along with the total of enemies that you fight as well.  The environment was inspired off of Mad Max but added a beautiful winter theme to keep players enjoying the area around them.  Again a running theme was how hard this encounter used to be before it was released.  Comments were made internally about how easy it was that Bungie changed all the enemies to major yellow health bar enemies that had team Velveeta begging for how things used to be.  For heroic mode, the spider tank that players face is actually a different variant of what players are used to.  Bungie created it with less health to make it more rewarding in a timed environment to destroy it as a team.  A neat fact was the moment the Siege Engine splashes into the water at the bottom of the wall is the loudest sound effect in Destiny.



Another key area is the Server Farm.  There is no boss fight here but it is home to the famed SIVA solution puzzle.  This puzzle was much harder originally  The original idea was to have the 2 monitors that are used for the column and row instead be used to provide 4 digit binary values that would need to be combined and deciphered quickly providing the quadrant, column, and row all at the same time.  Thankfully this was scrapped and we were given one the best puzzles in Destiny.  This was a really proud moment for Bungie.


Aksis, the Archon Prime, was originally known as Meeksis.  Those who know that name know that Meeksis became the name of the captain who captures the Siege Engine.  The turrets in the heroic mode raid were originally a normal mode mechanic.  Those familiar with the 1st phase of Aksis know when enemies come, there is a yellow health bar Vandal at the beginning and the the cannon wielding Captain at the end.  In the original design had 2 yellow health bar enemies come out with the Captain but it was incredibly difficult which is why we have it how it is today.   The epic scale Bungie wanted on this fight couldn’t be done in a single fight which is why is it in the 2 encounters we have now.

A key to give an element of surprise was to conceal the fact that Aksis had spider legs and would be a mobile boss. For the fight, they wanted a rodeo style for damage of jumping on Aksis’ back and hitting him with a shotgun.  This was what inspired the empowered mechanic.  Those who are experienced with the raid also know that Aksis doesn’t drop exotic engrams through the use of Three of Coins.  This is due to Bungie using the spider tank asset to make Aksis so the game reads him as a spider tank.  The raid development team were not aware the tanks don’t work with Three of Coins drops.

Zone defense was the other inspiration for damaging Aksis.  This comes from needing to spread out the empowered guardians for where he may teleport.  The supercharge mechanic was created late in the process to prevent the need for just standing around.  The fact that the empowerment is completely random is another way that Bungie purposely keeps people moving.  As popular as swords have become in the Wrath of the Machine, a tester early on was criticized for using the Dark Drinker sword.  This has become now a staple since it is now one of the best ways to damage Aksis.  Multiple weapon type usage was a key factor in the entire raid.

Big shout outs to Bungie for a very informative insight to the Wrath of the Machine raid.  What do you think of Destiny’s latest raid?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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