Game: Destiny: Rise of Iron
Console: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
After several attempts and hundreds of enemies slain, I tried once again to protect my Ghost while he repaired the exotic weapon Gjallarhorn from an onslaught of Fallen enemies. Ten minutes later and nearly all of my ammo expended I was gifted with this powerful rocket launcher and then told that there was an incoming enemy force. With reverent glee, I fired round after round at tanks, hover bikes, and enemy squads while conveniently replenishing my ammo from the various weapon’s crates scattered throughout. The level ended with my Guardian surrounded by dead aliens, destroyed equipment, and one badass rocket launcher hefted on my shoulders. This is Destiny’s fourth expansion, Rise of Iron.
It’s no secret that Bungie’s FPS/RPG/MMO hybrid, Destiny, has gone through some serious ups and downs over its now three-year lifespan. While the first two DLC packs were hit and miss, the third expansion, The Taken King, was wildly praised thanks to its better focus on story and adjustment to combat and the loot system. Rise of Iron hopes to carry that torch all the way to the mountaintop and it largely succeeds, but not without a few stumbles along its journey.
The story this time follows the normally reserved Lord Saladin as he tries to cleanse a deadly nanotechnology called SIVA that is sweeping throughout Earth at a rapid pace. The Fallen have begun to use this nanotechnology to not only infuse themselves with new power but to help them mobilize an offensive against the Guardians. While there is not central antagonist like in The Taken King, SIVA feels like a genuine threat to the world of Destiny. Its corruption is spread far and wide and is hauntingly represented through some great creature and level design. While the story this time around is a bit shorter than previous expansions, this is some of the darkest story missions you will encounter in Destiny. There’s a heavy sense of dread, remorse, and misery that sweep through cutscenes and dialogue, lending Rise of Iron a much different feel than your battle with Oryx.
Dialogue is well written and there are some surprisingly touching moments that may have you shed a tear or two. While the stern Shiro is no real replacement for Nathon Fillion’s Cayde-6, it’s Lord Saladin who steals the show this time around. His interactions with the player are fantastic and he acts less like a guide and more of a teacher in your journey to become an Iron Lord. Couple this with the wonderful, if a little bit too scarce, cutscenes and this is one of the best stories that Destiny has to offer.
However, this sadly cannot be said for the core enemies of the game dubbed the Devil Splicers, as they are incredibly disappointing. Not only do they feel, and largely look, like just reskinned versions of The Fallen but the addition of SIVA really doesn’t change their styles of play. Unlike the Taken there is no real nuance or changes to the combat brought about with these new foes, which feels like a missed opportunity.
Most of the time you will be killing these foes in a new section of Earth called the Plaguelands which feel like a barren wasteland corrupted by massive factories. This new area hides tons of secrets which helps encourage exploration for new and old players alike, but you can ultimately see everything it has to offer within a couple of hours. You will also be given a new hub area called the Iron Tower, which gives players a nice aesthetic change from locations such as The Tower or The Reef. While this place doesn’t offer anything truly new, with the exception of a mountain to climb and a bell puzzle to solve, it serves the purpose of collecting new quests and bounties.
Three strikes have been added to the playlist, though two of them are just redesigns of old staples from the original game. This is a bit disappointing given you will be grinding these strikes out for hours in hopes of hitting the now raised level cap of 400. You can always try your luck in the Archon’s Forge, which is a horde mode style event that any player can join if they enter the Thunderdome inspired arena. However, don’t expect to stay long as the stingy drop rates for the SIVA Offerings required to play are few and far between. This is disappointing, especially since you can only have one of any type at a certain time, which makes the Archon’s forge a fun, but limited experience.
This only becomes more apparent as you begin to grind for loot, which is slightly relieved thanks to the usually disregarded Blue Engrams now dropping at higher light levels. The designs for the various armor and weapons all look fantastic, which is only enhanced by the new ornament mechanic that allows you to add some bling to certain weapons and gear. Yet, the actually pool of exotic armor and weapons does feel a bit shallow compared to previous additions, with two of the major weapons just being updated versions of their Year 1 counterparts.
For those looking to test their skills, PvP was given some new maps, the ability to finally create private matches, and a new game mode called Supremacy. The four added maps are well designed and thankfully cater to a variety of play styles and game modes. However, Supremacy is slightly underwhelming as it’s just a reskinned version of the classic mode created by Call of Duty, Kill Confirmed. However, if you are looking to make your own game mode the addition of private matches lets you tweak almost any setting, which can create some chaotic and fun games.
Yet, the crown jewel of this expansion has to be the new raid dubbed Wrath of the Machine. From a design perspective alone this raid feels like equal parts Mad Max and Tron offering one of the most balanced and entertaining raids available. Wrath of the Machine offers a great mix of combat and mechanics, allowing all classes and playstyles to feel like they have a seat at the table. While shorter than previous raids, each section feels lovingly crafted and is just challenging enough to give an uncoordinated team a run for their money. Even with a rather alarming difficulty spike at the very end, Wrath of the Machine is a raid that should be experienced with no knowledge of what’s to come.
Destiny: Rise of Iron is a solid entry into a now fully fleshed out title. Thanks to a solid story, new loot, and a fantastic raid this DLC delivers on a lot of what makes Destiny such a fun game. Though if you are looking for more complex combat you may be sorely disappointed since the Devil Splicers really don’t offer anything we haven’t experienced before. That being said, Rise of Iron is an expansion that’s worth the price tag and has injected Destiny with new life. How long that lasts is still yet to be seen, as this is largely going to rest on the shoulders of Destiny’s Live Team. If you are looking for a reason to return to Destiny, Rise of Iron is a mountain worth scaling.
- Fantastic Level and Character Design
- Interesting, Darker Story
- Wrath of the Machine Raid
- New PvP Maps and the Addition of Private Matches
- Bland New Enemies
- Low Drop Rates for Key Items
- Supremacy Isn’t That Exciting of a Game Mode