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Destiny’s best, most sought after rewards are up for grabs next week

The hard difficulty for the Crota’s End raid in Destiny is set to launch next week, on Wednesday, January 21, according to Bungie. The normal difficulty version of the raid was released in December 2014 as part of the game’s first downloadable content pack, The Dark Below, but hard mode gives high-level players an opportunity to earn some of the game’s most powerful gear at this point in its life.

Destiny‘s raids are long, sprawling quests that are meant to be tackled by a full fireteam of six players, all of whom have managed to reach the game’s highest experience levels. There’s no matchmaking for the mode either, which means that raid groups need to be assembled manually, among friends (or using online resources). Bungie set things up this way because the raids require lots of teamwork, communication, and group puzzle-solving.

Related: Destiny: The Dark Below DLC review

In return for tackling and defeating these Herculean challenges, players have the opportunity to earn the game’s most potent gear. Armor earned in Crota’s End is one of only two ways in Destiny to reach the current level cap of 32 (the other requires a talent for competitive multiplayer during limited-time “Iron Banner” events). In the case of Crota’s End, hard mode is the only place that players have a chance to earn the raid’s primary weapons. Note that in order to play, you need to own The Dark Below DLC.

Related: Conquer Destiny‘s Vault of Glass raid with our handy guide

Destiny‘s raids are meant to be puzzles, so Bungie doesn’t have much information to share beyond the date of hard mode’s launch and a rundown of the sweet, new rewards players stand to earn. The announcement does drop a few small hints, however. See here:

Prepare to take better care of your teammates. You’ll have fewer options for healing yourself, and each other. The enemies you’re about to face are stronger and more prone to temper tantrums. Be brave!

Those already familiar with Crota’s End can probably see where the hints are. The normal raid’s final boss encounter puts limitations on the automatic healing that is present throughout the rest of the game, and it sounds like hard mode carries those limitations over to other sections as well.  As for the reference to “temper tantrums,” it’s likely an indication that tougher Hive enemies, like Knights and Ogres, are more prone to enter their dangerous berserk state.

That’s all we know for now, and all we’re likely to know until the hard difficulty launches next week. Prospective raiders should pay a visit to the weekends-only vendor Xur this week. He’s selling the Ice Breaker sniper rifle, which is a must-own item that’s useful in any of Destiny‘s PvE modes (but especially the raids).