The beta for Destiny is now over, and players of Activision’s ambitious online first-person-shooter will have to wait until Sept. 9 to get back into the action. Many participants in the beta leveled up at least one character class to level 8 where the beta’s level cap stopped them from progressing any further.

When the game actually arrives, that cap will be raised, and players will have the opportunity to progress to level 20. Activision and Bungie want players to continue on the adventure after they finish the story-based campaign and reach the initial level cap, and in an IGN interview, Bungie’s Luke Smith discussed what players can expect after the first 20 hours.

Smith states that the game’s endgame content will begin as soon as players complete the campaign. “As soon as you see the way we wrap up the sort of first piece of the adventure that we're going to tell because we want to set you back out into the world to keep going. We want to try to align your motivations as the player with the motivations of the character who you've been pushing around this world,” states Smith.

Unavailable in the beta, six-man gauntlet runs called Raids will be an important part of the endgame content, and Smith refers to them as “one of the pillars of the game.” These challenging missions will take six friends through a long, difficult series of battles that require skill, teamwork and communication, and culminate in a battle against a massive boss character. Team coordination is so important in these missions, in fact, that online matchmaking is not available; players can only play with friends.

Whereas Strikes, 3-man mini missions found in the beta, would take 20-30 minutes to complete, Raids will be significantly longer, taking several hours to finish. Strikes gave players a taste of what to expect from Raid bosses, explained Smith, but they will be more challenging than their Strike counterparts; “The raid bosses are different: they're still big monsters, much like what you're going to see, they're still scary, but they have a bunch of abilities that are unlike anything you've really experienced in a shooter before.”

While Raids will involve plenty of combat, the E3 experience video for Destiny showed us that other elements, like platforming, will also be included. Smith explained, “The jumping puzzle is just one part but it's this interesting representation of the philosophy behind a bunch of the raiding which is taking something simple, something that you've done, you understand, and then asking six of you to do it together. In a nutshell, that's some of the philosophy that was driving raid design as we were building the first raid in Destiny.”

Bungie struggled with Raids, and how to differentiate them from raids in MMOs like World of Warcraft. Smith says that the team wanted to avoid the chaotic, undesirable aspects of MMO raids, stating that, “You end up battling against the UI. You're battling against your add-ons. You're battling against clicking. It's not kinetic; it's not an action game.” MMOs certainly inspired the game mode, however, so Smith and the Bungie team worked to “leverage all of the feelings of the raiding that we understand from a game like Warcraft or EverQuest: cooperation, relying on each other, teamwork.” Part of their strategy is making sure each class, sub-class and individual player has a distinct role within the Raid.

Raids won’t be the only activity available for endgame players. Smith states that daily activities and PVP content will also bring players back to Destiny; “A lot of what's going to drive you is going to be logging in every day, seeing what's in that featured activities pane on your director, and then going into the Tower to get your bounties for the day.” Smith also mentioned daily and weekly Nightfall activities, which are extremely challenging missions that yield powerful, exotic weapons and gear, and described them as an “extremely high gameplay investment challenge…it's both the toughest guys we can throw at you that's going to require the best gear, and it's going to have a bunch of modifiers on it that make it even harder.”

Luke Smith acknowledges that making Raids such a huge part of the endgame content may not please everyone, stating, “It's a bit of a risk. Because the activity requires you to have a group of five other friends to play with,” but believes that the strength of the challenging content and the loot that players can obtain will keep people coming back day after day; “Like, if the worst thing that happens is you get your group together and you all have a great time, and make your way through the first difficulty level of the raid? Wow, that's going to be awesome. I bet you'll want to come back. Hopefully the gear makes you want to come back.”

Destiny will be available on the PlayStation and Xbox platforms on Sept. 9.