So, I got solo flawless Harbinger. I tried a lot of different strategies, and I think I can safely say I have a general idea of what’s successful. I’ve decided to share this most valuable knowledge with people who want to get this achievement (worth a whopping five Triumph score by itself) before it is removed when the next big expansion launches in… probably nine months.
Introduction and Necessary Information
This will probably be more time consuming than most of the mission, given that there’s a lot of very specific equipment I used. For starters, here are a lot of the things in the mission we have to keep in mind:
- There are four Unstoppable Champions
- There are all kinds of elemental shields, and Match Game is on
- Enemies hurt a lot
- There are a lot of snipers
So, now we know we need all three kinds of elemental damage, some sort of long range weapon, and preferably some sort of mod to stagger the Unstoppable Champions. However, as I would like to enlighten you, you do not need to stagger these Champions! As many of you probably already know, Unstoppable Champions are the only kind of Champions that do not regenerate health. This means that they can be gunned down without using any anti-Champion mods. This will be important, depending on the loadout you choose, and what anti-Champion mods are available that season. Also, if you have Taken Spec, use it. It provides a larger damage boost than Minor/Major/Boss Spec (even if it is a tiny amount) and, more importantly, applies to all Taken.
So, you might be wondering, what are the ideal weapons for this mission? Well, here’s what you should have available for each slot:
- Kinetic – A sniper of some kind, preferably not a Rapid-Fire Frame
- Energy – One weapon (using primary ammo) of each element, preferably with some decent range; one of them should be a weapon with an anti-Unstoppable mod if you are concerned about the Unstoppable Champions
- Power – Anarchy and/or Xenophage; otherwise, a Machine Gun
Edit: Arbalest appears to have some strange effects in this mission, as, in spite of Match Game being on, it will still one-shot elemental shields. It can also function as a sniper, and is probably easier for most people to aim than a lot of other snipers, not to mention more consistent.
With that in mind, what I used, and what I believe to be one of the best loadouts available for this mission, is as follows:
- Kinetic – A Succession, and not even all that great of a roll; I also used a pretty decent Sacred Provenance towards the end of the mission
- Energy – A really bad Gnawing Hunger, a decent Trustee, and a random Posterity
- Power – Anarchy and Xenophage
I didn’t go with anything specific (beyond reserves and scavenger for grenade launchers and snipers), except for Protective Light with Taking Charge. This allowed me to have an extra layer of safety whenever I got to low health, and probably saved my life a decent few times; if you have them, I recommend using them. I also used Wrath of the Warmind, Global Reach and Cellular Suppression. Since Xenophage can spawn Warmind Cells if you have Wrath of the Warmind equipped, this can be a very potent combo for (almost) completely halting all incoming fire if you find yourself in a bad place. Oh! I almost forgot (I needed it that little) that I used the seasonal Unstoppable Hand Cannon mod for my armor. Since this will (probably) be unavailable in future seasons, use any other appropriate mods for weapons that you are using, if they are available.
Class and Subclass
I would recommend an Attunement of Grace (Well of Radiance) Warlock. This subclass offers great survivability, and, combined with a Healing Rift, will allow you to survive a lot more situations than you probably would have otherwise. You have two panic buttons: your Super, Well of Radiance (assuming you aren’t high in the air, in which case you will often die before you hit the ground with the Super if you are at low health), and Divine Blessing. Your Healing Rift will also act as an extra layer of protection (especially with high Recovery), and, if you are comfortable with it, you can use your grenade to try and spawn a Warmind Cell (if you have Wrath of the Warmind equipped). If you use something like Phoenix Protocol or Lunafaction Boots, you can get a lot more out of your Well and/or Rift.
Alternatively, Nightstalker Hunters would probably also work due to their invisibility. I am not the most experienced with Hunters, especially Nightstalkers, and thus do not know which subclass branch would be the best. Titans would probably benefit the most the most from using the Sentinel subclass, particularly Code of the Protector branch for Ward of Dawn. A funnier (but far from effective) choice would probably be a Code of the Missile Striker, due to Ballistic Slam having situational use, and Thundercrash being a semi-effective way of running away or dealing a lot of damage to an enemy (or a group of enemies), and can be used to close the gap with snipers during some parts of the mission.
Well, that just about concludes this section, except for the requisite mental preparation. Be confident, but don’t be cocky. You do not have to go fast; there is no time limit in this mission. If you use appropriate mods, you are unlikely to run out of ammo for your Power weapon or Special weapon if you don’t use them like they’re primaries. Furthermore, you should not swap around your Special weapon for another Special weapon, or your Power weapon for a different Power weapon (with perhaps one exception, which I will cover later), even if it may seem tempting with how the combat in the mission varies.
Beginning and Parkour
Make sure to enter the mission with your sniper, a Void weapon, and preferred heavy (preferably Anarchy) equipped. The mission starts with a pretty linear path, and then proceeds to some parkour. There is a single Taken Hobgoblin here; if this is your first run, you may want to get shot by him once or twice to understand just how deadly enemies in this mission can be. The next few paragraphs will be a guide through the potentially confusing parkour section here, so if you don’t need that, skip to the next header.
When you get to the Hobgoblin, kill him, and then jump onto his platform. Look down and towards the dam, and you should see a fallen tree laying out over the lake. You need to jump onto this tree. From here (stay with me, this might sound a little absurd if you’ve never played the mission before), you have to jump onto a tiny ledge that runs along the dam, near the lake. If you have a tough time seeing this ledge, a good solution would be to jump towards one of the drains, stand on the platform there, and then fall down against the wall onto the ledge.
There will be two big “cutouts” in the dam not too far past where you first landed; jump up the first of these, as there is a short series of small platforms. Basically, stick close to the wall as you ascend, and be careful not to fall. Once you reach the topmost platform, look around the corner (to your left if you are looking towards the boss arena from Lake of Shadows). You should see an entrance with a grate serving as a platform over it. Be careful here; you can clamber into the entrance, although it is not entirely reliable. As with most parkour, the key here is being careful and taking your time. I’ve lost more runs than I’d like to admit because I hurried a little bit too much on this section, and wasn’t careful at the wrong moment.
Turbine Hall: Scaring the Harbingers
Once you get inside of the dam and follow a few corridors, you’ll reach a large room, which I will refer to as the turbine hall. Immediately to your left will be a Taken Wizard; if possible, strip his shield with your Void weapon and stick him with Anarchy. Be careful. You are going to want to stick close to cover; depending on where you are, at least one sniper (often two snipers) will be able to hit you, and, combined with the Wizard and the ads spawning around her, you are likely to die quickly.
If you managed to drain the Wizard’s health in a quick and effective manner, such as by using a Void weapon and Anarchy, good job! The rest of the ads (minus the snipers) will despawn after a few seconds. If you didn’t, it is best to clear all of or most of the ads with your primary and sniper before getting the Wizard to half health, at which point she will become immune and teleport away. Only now is it advisable to kill the snipers, who will be on suspended platforms, since previously the Wizard was a major threat that could kill you in just a few seconds.
Depending on the layout of this area each week (it changes, although not a ton), you may want to immediately pursue the Wizard and take her down (which I will cover slightly later), or you may want to proceed to the other two Harbingers. I will be assuming that the former option is not available, since it very well may not be, and proceed with the latter.
You will want to use the elevated platforms to move towards the Centurion, who will be to your right (from the perspective you had when you entered the room), or about in the middle of the turbine hall. Before engaging him or getting close (which will spawn ads), you should kill the rest of the snipers in the room.This will make your life much easier going forwards; once you have done this, go ahead and engage him. If you have Anarchy, this is easy; stick one or two shots around the Centurion to drain his shields, and then stick a third shot to him to get him to half health. If you do this, the ads – like with the Wizard – will despawn, except for the snipers, if they are still alive.
If it ends up being a prolonged engagement, go to the far side of the platform when the Centurion spawns an Axion Dart; typically, this will make his Darts get stuck under the platform, and thus unable to hit you. Seeing as how the Darts do a lot of damage, this is practically a necessity until the ads are dead. Speaking of which, you should take care of them in the same way as you did those around the Wizard; note that, while the Centurion has Arc shields, the ads include Taken Acolytes with Void shields, so it is advisable to keep your Void weapon on, even if you do not have Anarchy or another Arc damage heavy weapon.
As with the Wizard, you could either immediately pursue the Centurion once his health is drained, or continue to the Captain. Like before, I will assume you cannot pursue the Centurion immediately for one reason or another, and, as such, will continue on with fighting the last Harbinger: the taken Captain.
While not the most overtly threatening due to only having melee weapons, the blinding Darkness Bolt that the Captain shoots does almost as much damage as a sniper shot, and has an odd tendency to do damage twice at once. An exceptionally risky but fast strategy for taking the Captain down is, if you are a Well of Radiance Warlock, dropping your Well on top of the Captain (literally), and then hitting him with a charged melee. This will deplete his shields. Then, lay into him with your Power weapon to drain his health quickly. Being in the Well of Radiance will allow you to ignore any shields that the Taken Goblins attempt to put up. However, this can go wrong in many, many ways; you can fall off if the Well of Radiance placement is off, enemies can kill you through the Well of Radiance if you are don’t move enough or are just unlucky, or – if you are particularly bad at ad clear, or focus too much on the Captain but are unsuccessful at draining his health – your Well of Radiance might run out, with you in the middle of a crowd of Taken.
A more reliable strategy would be to use a Solar weapon or Solar grenades to strip the Captain’s shield, and then stick him with anarchy, or try to damage him before a Goblin can shield him. if that proves unfeasible, stick to the elevated platforms, take out the ads one by one – again, there are Taken Acolytes with Void shields – and then eliminate the Captain.
Branching Paths: Hunting the Harbingers
Now for finishing off the Harbingers. There are many side passages where they can go; these can be found by a new enemy that spawns after a Harbinger teleports away. Sometimes, these are snipers, which can be bad if you are at low health and the sniper spawns nearby. These paths vary from week to week, and so I cannot say definitively where they will be, and thus cannot give a specific strategy for every area.
When proceeding down these side paths, be careful. Enemies can sometimes be in very annoying places, so just be patient and take it slowly. The hallways are narrow, so it is easy for Taken Goblines to make each other immune and block your path. If this happens, be patient; you will eventually get an opening to shoot the Goblin doing the shielding and kill it.
The rooms in which the Harbingers hide are greatly varied, although they all have two things in common:
- There is always a path to retreat if you don’t push too far in
- The rooms are all very small, and the Harbingers will usually gravitate towards lines of sight from the entrance to the room or just inside of the room
Due to this, it is advisable to stand in the doorway, pick off ads, and use Power ammo to take down the Harbinger themself, while retreating when and if you take significant damage. In some rooms, there are snipers as well, or shielded ads; unlike in the Turbine Hall proper, these ads will not despawn if the Harbinger dies. However, you do not need to kill them either.
The Wizard and Centurion are typically easy if you use a Void weapon with some sort of sustained fire for the former and Anarchy (or an Arc primary plus a Power weapon) for the latter. It was often the Captain that gave me the most difficulty; the same strategy as before, however, can be employed to eliminate the Captain if you are an Attunement of Grace Warlock. Lure the Captain into the hallway, and then drop your Well and immediately hit him with a charged melee. This will drain his shields and leave him vulnerable, at which point you should use your power ammo.
You will also find a Feather of Light in each path that a Harbinger takes that week, although these have varied from week to week thus far, and, as such, I cannot definitively say where they are. If you need the associated Triumph, or need to complete the Bird of Prey quest, there are plenty of guides out there for that; this is just for the solo flawless Triumph.
Once all of the Harbingers are dead, a Taken Phalanx will spawn in front of the path leading to the next section of the mission. This is sort of in the middle of the room, on the opposite side of the central gap from where you first entered (if I recall correctly; it is easy to lose your sense of direction in this room). Be prepared for a tough fight, and make sure to go around looking for whatever ammo may be left over from your fights across the room if you need it.
Note that the order you kill the Harbingers in does matter. I elaborate more on this in the next section.
Here are some random incoherent notes on this section that you may find useful:
- Taken Vandals will use their bubbles aggressively; be patient when they do this
- Taken Hobgoblins appear to regenerate their Retaliation Swarm faster than normal, although this may very well just be me misremembering
- Psions multiply fast, but not uncontrollably; they multiply about as fast as in Prophecy, but it seems there is a definitive cap, so if you find them guarding one of the Harbingers, it is generally not worth it to take them all out unless you can create a Warmind Cell
- Enemies inside of the Harbingers’ rooms leash a lot; they will not go too far outside of the room, although many – especially Captains, including the Harbinger, as mentioned before – will pursue you a bit more than other ads
- Other possible subclass ideas for this area include Attunement of Sky for Warlock if you are feeling particularly daring and speedy, or Attunement of Chaos for a Voidwalker Warlock if you are having trouble with large clusters of ads, due to the Nova Bomb and the ability to overcharge your grenades
Before You Begin
As mentioned at the end of my sections on the opening, you will want to gather ammunition to the best of your abilities, and wait for at least your grenade, melee, and Class ability to recharge. Once you get to the room, you can hop around on the upper platforms, but do not touch the floor until you are ready to start the encounter.
Take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with the arena. My suggested holdout spot, especially for Warlocks, is the suspended platform on the far side of the room to your right (from the doorway you enter through), or, if you can’t find it from those instructions, the platform connected to a bunch of rubble by the massive opening in the wall by a fallen girder. Some of you may recognize this as being near the Lake of Shadows cheese spot that was used and abused during Season of Arrivals; however, that spot has been blocked off by a rather aggressive barrier that will teleport you back to the middle of the room after five seconds.
Understanding the Encounter
This encounter follows a pretty basic course. There are three waves, each being a different kind of wave, which I have named after the “leaders” of that kind of wave. The waves are:
- Wizards – This wave has two Taken Wizards and a bunch of Taken Thrall that are periodically reinforced; the reinforcements will stop coming after the second Taken Wizard is killed
- Captains – This wave has two Taken Captains supported by a lot of Taken Goblins; some of them have Taken Torch Hammers, making this a particularly dangerous wave, and, as with the Thrall in the Wizards wave, the Goblins will be periodically reinforced until both Captains are dead
- Centurions – This is arguably the most dangerous wave of the bunch, as it demands strict ad control; there are two Taken Centurions supported by respawning Taken Vandals around the room, which, together, can basically cover the entire room, and will respawn until both Taken Centurions are dead
Ad clear before taking out the “leaders” of each wave is generally not important except for the Taken Vandals that spawn with the Centurions and any particularly aggressive Taken Goblins with Torch Hammers that support the Captains. The former is always a necessity, as these Taken Vandals will rapidly drain your health, and have some ridiculous sightlines; if you let too many spawn, your run is effectively over. The latter should be done as needed, since the splash damage from a Torch Hammer or two can be lethal if your health was already low.
It should also be noted that, with each wave in a sequence, the rank of the “leaders” increases; for instance, if the Wizards are first, they will be normal Taken Wizards. The second wave is then the Captains, the Captains will be orange bar (Elite) enemies, and then the “leaders” of the last wave – which would be Centurions in this case – will always be Major (non-boss yellow bar) enemies. It is also important to note that all three types of shields are present in a short span of time here; swapping around your primary is advised, as, if you leave a few of the ads alive (especially for the Captain and Wizard waves), you will have an opportunity to collect ammo, as the next wave will not spawn until all enemies from the previous wave are dead.
Three of the mission’s four Unstoppable Champions appear on this section; one of them will appear on the second wave, and two will appear at the start of the third wave. So long as you use the elevated platforms and generally stay in cover, these enemies will usually not pose any sort of major threat. If you have Anarchy, three double tethers and some additional fire will take them down, even without staggering them; otherwise, you should use some sort of anti-Champion mod for this section, preferably on your primary. Another note here is that the Unstoppable Champion(s) can be shielded by the Taken Goblins that are part of the wave with Captains; if this happens, be patient, and wait for an opportunity to take out the Goblins, since the Unstoppable Champions will generally move to a position where they think they can hit you, which is generally out in the open.
The old version of this section has been replaced for being incorrect.
As I was informed, the order of the waves is neither random nor set per week, but rather depends on the order in which you kill the Harbingers; the Harbinger you kill determine the “leaders” – and thus the type – of the first wave, for example, and the same applies for the second and third wave.
What this means is that you can generally control the flow of the encounter; as such, much like the aforementioned comment, I recommend hunting down and killing the Centurion Harbinger first so that you won’t have to deal with snipers while fighting the Champions in later waves, and the Centurions will have less health, so you will have to deal with fewer Axion Darts. Killing the Captain second is a good idea, although not completely necessary; it’s a matter of dealing with one immune Unstoppable Champion versus two. It also helps that the Captains have less health if you do this, meaning that it won’t take as much effort to stop the flow of their annoying Darkness Bolts.
The strategy for this encounter is pretty simple: snipe off any major issues (Taken Vandals for the Centurion wave and Taken Goblins being aggressive with Torch Hammers for the Captain wave), then focus on the wave’s leaders and the Champions based on whatever is the most threatening at that time. Remember to crouch here; it will save your life a lot more than you’d think. Enemies can sometimes shoot through cracks in the floor, so be careful where you stand on the platform; while this goes both ways, it is unlikely you will have a chance to shoot back through the floor and kill an enemy unless you are using your sniper.
Use your grenades – depending on your subclass – Power weapon and/or Energy weapon to drain the shields of the “leaders;” try to kill them quickly afterwards to avoid wasting too much time and ammo. The “leaders” will often try to retreat if their shields go down as well, so make sure to be quick with whatever follow up you have planned.
Axion Darts from the Centurions and Darkness Bolts from the Captains are, of course, an issue, as is the machine gun-like firing pattern of the Taken Wizards (although this can be interrupted by breaking their shield). As already mentioned, try to stay in cover. This is one of the areas where overconfidence is guaranteed to get you killed, especially if it’s the Captain or Centurion wave. Take it slow, but also try not to waste too much time; there’s a decent bit of the mission left to go.
Leaving the Area
Once the section is over, you can claim your reward from a chest, before heading out through an elevated door on the opposite(-ish) side of the arena from where you first entered. Getting to this door will require jumping from the elevated platform that is the closest to it, although sometimes the jump can be a little annoying. Head down some hallways and then enter the Taken portal that appears, although sometimes it takes a few seconds to spawn even once you get to where it’s supposed to be.
Getting to the End
Things to Know
This may be the last place you need a sniper in the mission, so keep your sniper equipped. Also, try to have a longer range primary weapon, although I believe there is a Taken Wizard and/or a Taken Acolyte towards the end of this section, depending on the week, so also be prepared to deal with Void shields.
Enemy snipers will often spawn once you have already started going through a section of this jumping puzzle, so be prepared for that; furthermore, you do not have to kill every sniper, so sometimes running is preferable to fighting.
The exact path varies each week (as far as I know), although if you remember the mission to obtain Hawkmoon itself, or are able to do a practice run with a team, it is generally very easy to remember.
Aside from dealing with snipers, this section is relatively light on combat, save for one or two smaller fights. The first is a fight that I believe you can avoid: about four Taken Goblins and two Elite Taken Phalanxes guard a platform, while supported by two Taken Hobgoblins (one of which is generally shielded by its own separate supporting Taken Goblin). Snipe whatever you can before proceeding forwards; the Phalanxes generally will not hide, but the Goblins very well may. The Hobgoblin-Goblin duo is often not visible until you push ahead, so be wary; once they are, prioritize the Goblin, since it will usually shield the Hobgoblin (if it hasn’t already) unless you kill it in one shot.
Progress along the path the duo were guarding. I do not recall if it is the case every week, but there is often a Taken Wizard and some preexisting Shadow Thrall at the end of the passageway here, so be prepared for that. Further up ahead, one or two Acolytes’ Eyes will spawn, as well as two more Taken Hobgoblins. Kill them all and then proceed to the platform to your left, which will lead towards a large room; however, there is a large Taken barrier in the way. Landing on this platform will make both a regular Phalanx and an Unstoppable Phalanx – the last Unstoppable Champion of the mission – spawn. Take out the Unstoppable Champion as you did before, and the accompanying Phalanx should be easy to kill unless you let him knock you into the abyss.
Do not proceed ahead until you are sure you are ready to deal with the final encounter of the mission, and the only thing standing between you and your Triumph.
The Final Boss(es)
Each week, there will be a different boss encounter, with its own gimmick. Each is quite different from the others, although the difficulty also varies greatly.
The first boss is a Taken Knight. While the fight gets chaotic, it is arguably the easiest; this boss seems to have the least health out of the three, and the only gimmicks are that you have to clear ads in between damage, and Taken pusher-things (like those on the walls; for once, I don’t know the technical term) appear on the floor across the room. Basically, for this one, hang back and be careful, and – barring the odd frustrating sightline that shouldn’t exist – you should be fine.
The second boss, and the most difficult in my opinion, is the Taken Captain. His Darkness Bolts do more damage than those of the Harbinger and other Captains earlier, deal two ticks of damage more consistently, and often pass through cover they really shouldn’t. For this reason, pushing into the room can be a good idea, given the right equipment. The ads that spawn are all Psions of the same fast-replicating, low-cap variety as seen earlier, although they do have some support from unshielded Acolytes and Acolytes’ eyes. This brings me to the boss’s main gimmick: its shield. The unshielded Acolytes will drop orbs which can be thrown at the boss; it takes two to take down the boss’ shield, which won’t regenerate until a third of the boss’s health is drained. It is possible to stockpile all available orbs, since they don’t seem to ever despawn, and the ads won’t respawn if the damage thresholds aren’t triggered. This allows you to clear out the ads and set up comfortably for a damage phase, and then get into a safe position for the next wave of ads. Repeating this will eventually down the boss, although you have to be exceptionally careful, since it is a very tough fight.
The third boss is actually two bosses: two Taken Centurions with Arc shields and exceptionally high health… and nothing else special about them. Really, this fight is all about taking out just enough ads to comfortably do as much damage as possible. Anarchy is great for this fight in particular, although an Arc Energy weapon plus Xenophage might also do really well. Be careful of their Axion Darts, however; as before, Axion Darts do a lot of damage, and can sometimes come from seemingly nowhere. Finally, to prevent players from leaving the general boss room, a wall appears near the entrance; thus far, this only happens for this particular boss fight, and only solo, although if it happens for all boss fights in the future, I will make sure to update this guide.
The constants of this fight are primarily the arena itself and the safe spots. When I refer to the left and right sides of the room, I am speaking from the perspective of if you were looking into the room from the way you came.
For most of the fights in this room, the rocks by the entrance are your best friend, especially the ones on the left, as they provide excellent cover. For all bosses thus far except for the Centurions, you can retreat back the way you came, where there is much better cover, and you are out of the range of most enemies. However, enemies can kill you while retreating, so be careful if you choose to do this.
Another risky but viable strategy is to charge straight through the room as the boss(es) and ads spawn and jump up onto the rearmost part of the right side platforms. Here, there are generally minimal ads, and you will be able to maneuver to avoid most incoming fire. If the Centurions are the week’s boss fight, one will spawn nearby; if it jumps down to you, jump up to where it was. This is one of the places where Well of Radiance really shines, as well as Xenophage and Warmind Cells, since they all allow you to clear out ads with almost terrifying efficiency.
Either way, you want to generally be conservative; unlike during the holdout section, it doesn’t seem like a lot of ammo drops, so you may wish to swap out your sniper for a longer-range primary; I personally swapped my Succession for a Sacred Provenance, although I did not end up using it a lot, outside of sniping a few particularly pesky enemies.
Really, the boss fights are all rather easy once you get a feel for the arena and ad spawns. So long as you use cover, and don’t get cocky, you will most likely survive; as with the holdout section, overconfidence is a guaranteed death sentence, and you will have to restart the entire mission if you want that solo flawless Triumph.
Death here can be infuriating and/or demoralizing, especially if it is by seemingly unpredictable or inconsistent things (such as the Captain’s Darkness Bolts sometimes going through cover, and sometimes getting stopped by the slightest blockage). However, the key here is perseverance; try and keep a level head, and, if you feel yourself getting overly angry or frustrated, step away from the mission or game and do something else for a while. Remember, this mission and triumph will be around through the end of Season Fifteen, so there really is no rush.