When Destiny came out, I played through the story, bounced off the game, and didn't return until The Taken King—a full year later. When I asked friends what I should check out, the answer was universal: raids. Raids are meaty, multi-hour affairs, combining the game's best-in-class shooting with layered puzzles and some deeply calibrated teamwork. And while I'd dumped dozens of hours into The Taken King, I didn't have a group I regularly played with, and even if I did, it seemed unlikely I'd find six hours to dedicate to figuring out a raid. My solution came from an unexpected place: a fan whose group agreed to be my raid Sherpa.
Their pitch to me was pretty simple. Their group ran the latest raid, King's Fall, all the time. At this point, beating King's Fall was straightforward, routine, and a way to pass the time in search of more loot. Because everyone was so well-versed in King's Fall's setup, bringing along someone who didn't know what they were doing wouldn't have much impact.
Outside of my inability to pull off the raid's trickier jumps, it was an incredible experience. A little over two hours after we started, Oryx had fallen. Yeah, the heavy lifting was done by the people around me, but it didn't matter. I wasn't playing with them to have the deep satisfaction of having solved King's Fall, I was tagging along to get a glimpse at what made a raid special. By the end of it, I was itching to check out the other raids. (At the time, Bungie hadn't remixed the old raids, which means I was too high level to enjoy them. They've since changed that.)
This is the moment where I'd start publicly thanking the person responsible for ushering me through the raid, but it's been lost to the sands of Twitter. If you are that person, hit me up!
I was lucky, though. As someone with a huge following on Twitter, it wasn't hard to connect with someone willing to help. But it's a much thornier situation for the average player in the same situation. Bungie made a deliberate—albeit long-controversial—choice to disable matchmaking for raids because they didn't think grouping up with random people would lead to folks having a good time in a setup that was all about teamwork:
"I think rather than say 'Yeah, we're going to make matchmaking for raids,'" said Destiny lead designer Luke Smith to Game Informer back in 2014, "the way I'm thinking about this problem is how we're going to create that kind of content and create those kinds of emotions in matchmade activities. I think that's the challenge. It's not how do we change the raid-design philosophy to allow for matchmaking."
It's been several years since then, and while Bungie has hinted it's rethinking their approach, it remains the case that participating in a raid requires personally hooking up with other players.
There are websites where people can announce they're looking for people to play the raid with, but I found myself turned off by these websites because they seemed to attract the most hardcore players of the game. Though my desire to play a Destiny raid was high, I don't know that I (or anyone) would have much fun if I got matched up with a group who expected me to know what I was doing, only to find that I was a complete drag on the whole run. That sounds like a nightmare.
"What's the harm in trying to let more people see what they're missing?"
So here's what I'm hoping from Destiny 2, a game that's been formally announced but one that we still know precious little about: I want the game to formally include the idea of Sherpas.
My guess is there's tons of people who'd absolutely love to be an in-game guide, especially when it comes to the high-level content like raids. What if someone—or a group of players—could brand themselves as Sherpas, and get access to unique rewards for being useful members of the community? It dulls Bungie's concerns about people having a bad time, and encourages folks to help others experience some of the coolest stuff Destiny has to offer.
It's possible Bungie will give up fighting players on the concept of raid matchmaking entirely, but even if they do, I hope there's enough granularity given to the system that allows for Sherpa-like concepts to become part of it. No doubt, some sections of the "git gud" community won't want anything to change, or will fear efforts to make raids more accessible might hurt what made raids special in the first place, but I'm hopeful there's somewhere in-between.
After all, it's stuff like the raids that have helped Destiny develop its fanatical base. What's the harm in trying to let more people see what they're missing?