If you’re looking for a quick way to level up your Guardian in preparation for the upcoming raid in the newly released Destiny expansion, “Rise of Iron,” you could do worse than heading into the war-torn Plaguelands to try out the Archon’s Forge.
In the new arena challenge area, located in the lava-filled Archon’s Keep, players can join a loose group of Guardians to take down waves of enemies and earn loot. If you’re familiar with the last Destiny expansion, “The Taken King,” you may recognize “Archon’s Forge” as being similar to the Court of Oryx, an area on the Dreadnaught ship where players teamed up for quick boss fights against groups of gimmicky enemies. But Court of Oryx required a lot of strategic play, since each boss fight carried a specific requirements to complete. Archon’s Forge, on the other hand, offers more of a fast-paced free-for-all.
Especially in the early days of “Rise of Iron,” Archon’s Forge can be a bit daunting — it’s fully possible to stumble into a battle far beyond your Light level and get trampled by tough enemies, and you can’t even activate the Forge yourself until you’ve beaten the story campaign. But with a few quick tips, you can bend the Archon’s Forge to your will, and earn some great rewards.
How to Activate Archon’s Forge
You’ll find the Archon’s Forge in the Plaguelands while on Patrol — it’s the big room with the domes in it. To activate it and make enemies come fight you, you’ll need SIVA offerings. These random drops appear in your inventory, and are plugged into a console just outside the Forge itself to activate the big fight. What kind of SIVA offering you plug in affects what you’ll deal with in the battle. They come in three difficulty flavors — Fused (easiest), Enhanced (moderate) and Perfected (hard). The difficulty also aligns to the rarity of the drop.
Seemingly, you can earn SIVA Offerings from Splicer enemies in the Plaguelands. Drops seem random, although the rates seem higher when you’re killing Majors, the tougher enemies with the yellow health bars. Here’s the important thing: You can only hang on to one SIVA offering at a time, which means if you grab a common one, you’ll miss the opportunity to pick a rarer variety later.
If you want to save SIVA offerings, you can hold onto a few by spreading them out among multiple characters. Assuming you have three active characters, you can hold up to four at a time (including one in your Vault). A handy way to move them around is to transfer Offerings with apps like Ishtar Commander to save you trips back to the Tower. (Update: Looks like Bungie has killed this capability. You can still have one SIVA Offering on each character, but now you’ll have to transfer them manually, which is a pain).
Know what you’re getting into
It’s easy to overlook a crucial piece of information when you head to the Forge, and that’s the difficulty of what you’re about to get into. Each SIVA Offering includes a recommended Light level for the battle. You would be wise to grab the appropriate gear before jumping in, because these battles can get tough in a hurry. In the early days of the expansion, it’s very likely you can stumble into an Archon’s Forge battle you can’t handle and, without a lot of help from other players, you might get steamrolled. Fused Offerings suggest a Light level of 320, Enhanced Offerings suggest 340, and Perfected Offerings suggest 360, the same number as the Nightfall Strike and “Wrath of the Machine” raid.
SIVA Offerings are also named based the kind of encounter they’re going to summon in the forge. A Fused Dreg offering, for instance, is going to be very heavily on basic Fallen grunts, and everything that comes with them — namely melee attacks, grenades, and pistol attacks. If you use a Servitor Offering, on the other hand, the battle will change significantly. There are five different types of offerings for each level, bringing the total to 15 variations.
The more guns, the better
This may seem like a no-brainer — Archon’s Forge is a public event, after all, and that means it’s meant to be played with other people — but even at lower difficulty levels, it can be tough to handle alone or even with just a friend. No matter what kind of enemies you have to fight, Archon’s Forge’s biggest challenge is the sheer number of enemies it throws at you, so more guns are very helpful.
What’s more, time is a factor. You need to progress through the challenge at a certain speed or faster to earn “boons” along the way. Those boons, like the opportunity to grab the Iron Lord’s battle-axe you get to try out during the final mission of the “Rise of Iron” story campaign, can make the final wave of an Archon’s Forge battle into a fast-paced smash-fest.
You won’t get them, though, if you’re too slow in fighting through a challenge. You only have five minutes to beat any given Archon’s Forge. It’s worth noting also that if you die while fighting an Archon’s Forge battle on your own, you’ll fail it. Hang around and wait for other people to show up, or bring buddies.
It’s worth it to assist others
Archon’s Forge is different from the Court of Oryx in one very important way. Everybody gets rewards. Where the Court had a single treasure chest opened at the end of a battle by the person who activated that battle, everyone who enters the Forge during a fight has a chance to earn new gear. Your specific rewards for completing a Forge fight will appear on your character automatically, so it pays to try to keep high-level equipment on your character during the fight.
That’s different from the way Strike rewards are currently dropping, where you have a chance to equip higher-level gear before you pick up your rewards off the ground, and thus try to push their levels up through Destiny’s loot system that tunes loot to your current level.
You also have chances to collect tons of other engrams as usual, including the “Exotic” engrams you can get by using the Three of Coins item when killing bosses, and lots of green “common” items that’ll junk up your inventory. Try to keep an eye on how many you’re picking up and be sure to get rid of them fast, it’s easy to spend a little time in the Archon’s Forge and start choking your inventory with junk you don’t need.
Unlike the Court, where anybody can just join the middle of a battle by showing up, the Forge actually has a door that seals it off as soon as someone activates it. Because the game cuts players off, there are a few best practices that will keep you from getting locked out of the fight.
First, when you put in a SIVA Offering or someone else does, you want to immediately jump into the Forge to avoid being locked out. Second, don’t hit the respawn button if you’re killed unless you have no other choice; re-spawning manually will bring you back to life outside of the arena.
Third, bring along the Splicer Key drops you find in the Plaguelands. These keys are needed to open the Archon’s Forge door either after the Forge battle has started or if you die and get kicked out. Without keys, you’re stuck waiting for a battle to end. They’re easy to get by killing Brood Mothers and other yellow-lifebar enemies in the Plaguelands, so keep a stock.
Watch out for bosses
To actually beat an Archon’s Forge encounter, you have to kill waves of regular minions until the counter on your screen hits 100 percent, which will activate a boss at the end of the fight. Once that happens, killing the boss becomes the actual goal to end the encounter. While the bosses aren’t like the ones in the Court of Oryx — there are no special gimmicks about beating them, they’re just stronger enemies — they can be very tough, or have unique attacks that regular enemies don’t.
The thing is, because of the way the Forge works, bosses are just stronger versions of the enemies you’ve already been fighting, so it’s possible to not quite notice when you’re toe-to-toe with one until you see its health bar, or it rocks you with an attack you didn’t expect. It’s worth keeping one eye on bosses when they show up (they’ll come out of the big dome in the center of the Forge), especially in the higher-level fights.
And be careful about rushing them with the battle-axe in hand. I was personally in a battle where players got thrashed by a high-level boss as they blindly dashed toward it with melee attacks, only to all get blasted at once.
Fill out your Record Book
One new addition to “Rise of Iron” is the Record Book, which tracks your progress in the expansion across a number of activities and dishes out rewards as you complete them, just like with the Year Two Moments of Triumph or the previous Sparrow Racing League event. There are several events related to doing Patrol missions in the Plaguelands, and two that specifically relate to Archon’s Forge.
The record book rewards you for winning 20 Archon’s Forge battles, and for completing 15 public events in the Plaguelands. Good news, though: Archon’s Forge battles count as public events. So you can chill at the Forge, grind up your Light level, and knock out those two Record Book items at the same time. There’s also a record for killing 2,000 enemies in the Plaguelands, which you should achieve easily through playing normally, but will definitely surpass at the Forge.
Record Book quests are handy because they dish out a few unique rewards, including “Days of Iron” armor pieces that always drop at the 340 Light level. If you’re in need of new gear at that level, you can earn a bunch of pieces as you play through the Record Book. Knocking out the Archon’s Forge records are a quick way to advance, and you should earn some quest rewards and bounties along the way as well. In short. Try to maximize your time in the Archon’s Forge to make progress in lots of directions at once.
It won’t take long to get used to the Archon’s Forge — It tends to feel dense and crazy at first with so many enemies running around, but it’s actually not complex once you get the hang of it. If you spend the time to unlock the Gjallarhorn rocket launcher, it’s a great gun to bring along to the Forge, as are shotguns, swords, and other weapons good for killing lots of bunched-up enemies quickly. With a couple of friends or random help, quick wits, and decent guns, the Archon’s Forge can be a highly rewarding new activity that can help you build your Light level pretty quickly.
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