Escalation Protocol is a guardian-initiated activity that can be triggered as a Public Event on Mars, where a team of Guardians defends a series of towers against waves of Hive. There are seven waves of increasing difficulty before teams can engage a final boss and end the event.
Found in the Hellas Basin region of Mars, players must trigger the Escalation Protocol event by approaching and interacting with the first tower plate. The tower will extend, and the event will begin. The players must then eliminate seven progressively harder waves of Hive enemies before facing the encounter's boss. After each incursion site the fireteam will have a chance to redeem a reward chest before continuing with the event.
Some waves will include the added challenge of having to locate and disable Shadowrifts by standing within them and shooting Void crystals, similarly to the Witches Ritual public event on Titan. Certain enemies also drop Hive Cleavers, which Guardians may then pick up and use against remaining enemies.
Escalation Protocol features five weekly-rotating final bosses, each with its own unique gameplay mechanic, similar to the Court of Oryx event from The Taken King. The event also includes unique weapons and armor that can not be obtained elsewhere.
These bosses appear in a set order in Levels 1 through 6 and do not have any unique mechanics tied to them.
- Choking Blade–a Vanquisher which appears as the boss of Level 3.
- Deafening Blast—a Knight which appears as the boss of Level 4 and appears alongside another one in Level 6.
- Renewal Wizard—a Wizard surrounded by an aura that heals all nearby Hive, including the bosses.
- Shambling Torrent—an Ogre which appears as the boss of Level 1 and spawns alongside another one in Level 5.
- Soaring Keen—a Wizard which appears as the boss of Level 2.
These bosses rotate weekly and appear at the end of Level 7, each with their own unique mechanics.
- Bok Litur, Hunger of Xol—a black Knight with an extremely high amount of health. No major mechanic, but requires extensive firepower to take down.
- Damkath, the Mask—an Ogre that may only be damaged by shooting the growth on its back.
- Kathok, Roar of Xol—a Knight surrounded by an immunity shield that can only be destroyed by using Ascendant Swords dropped from Severing Knights.
- Naksud, the Famine-a mutated Ogre that can be healed by waves of Cursed Thrall, which should be immediately destroyed.
- Nur Abath, Crest of Xol—an Ogre that is surrounded by an aura that grants him an immunity shield whenever any Hive passes through it.
Escalation Protocol Rewards
Players may earn rewards from participating in Escalation Protocol, including rewards exclusive to the activity.
- Players have a chance to earn exclusive rewards for completing the third and fifth Escalation Protocol levels.
- Successfully defeating the final boss will spawn a loot chest and may also drop some additional exclusive rewards.
- All Escalation Protocol loot chests will spawn at the tower that was active during that level.
- The loot chest from the final boss requires a Decrypted Cache Key and will reward players with exclusive Escalation Protocol armor and cosmetics.
- The Escalation Protocol armor rewards will be granted for the character class that opened the chest.
- The armor rewards are guaranteed to be an armor piece that the character has not yet received until all pieces of that class set have been acquired.
- Escalation Protocol is the sole source of the IKELOS series Legendary SMG, Shotgun, and Sniper Rifle. These weapons will infrequently drop directly from the corpse of the boss, and each boss drops different weapons.
Decrypted Cache Key
A Decrypted Cache Key is needed to open the loot chest from the final boss of Escalation Protocol.
- After completing the Warmind campaign, players will begin receiving Rasputin Key Fragments from the following sources: Heroic Adventures, Heroic Strikes, Nightfall Strikes, and the Raid or Raid Lairs.
- Once per week, players can turn in their collected Rasputin Key Fragments to receive an Encrypted Cache Key.
- Players must complete Escalation Protocol levels to turn the Encrypted Cache Key into a Decrypted Cache Key.