The final expansion to Destiny was released earlier this week. Rise of Iron brings with it a number of updates to the base game and adds a solid new campaign. In addition to the campaign the Light level has been increased to 385, a new raid, 1 new and 2 updated strikes, and Archon’s Forge, a public event, have all been added. There have also been changes to the crucible as well as quality of life upgrades.
The most impactful change of this expansion is Bungie kicking into another gear with their storytelling. With Rise of Iron Lord Saladin and the Iron Lords make for a compelling piece of lore already established in the game to flesh out and weave a tale around. It was always clear there was more to this stoic guardian than he let on. To finally be able to pierce the veil and find out about his backstory was a very rewarding experience. The use of in game cutscenes, cinematics, as well as mission dialogue work to tell a solid story on a level that has previously eluded Bungie. I never felt that grimoire cards were used as a crutch like they have in the past to tell a story about the game that should have been told in game.
While discovering Lord Saladin’s history and that of the other Iron Lords players run into SIVA and a new breed of Fallen, the Devil Splicers. SIVA is a golden age nanotechnology that is being wielded as a weapon (or is it wielding the splicers as a weapon?) In the past the Iron Lords thought that they could use SIVA for good, but they learned a hard lesson that this would not be the case. While all the other Iron Lords fell, Saladin was left to carry their torch and guard against the threat of a SIVA resurgence.
This expansion literally expands the playable space on Earth. You’ll spend time in Felwinter Peak, the new social space you liberate after the first mission, as well as the Cosmodrome. You’ll also push past where the walls of the Cosmodrome used to be into the Plaguelands. It is here that you can truly see the devastation that SIVA has wrought upon the earth. It also shows the passage of time on Earth. This all works toward keeping the game from feeling static.
Destiny has always been a great looking console game but with this latest update it is also a great sounding one. It takes a lot to move the needle for me with ambient sound and sound effects. Typically games are something to be played while talking to another person or listening to a different background music. However, to ignore the sound design in Rise of Iron would be a shame. It really struck me about halfway through the expansion while travelling across the Plaguelands while a ship was being shelled by artillery in the background. The music was just haunting. It really pulled you into the scene. I’ve never been grabbed by sound effects like I was at that moment. It’s also a shame how many people will be talking to their friends and never notice this highlight in game.
It’s not a secret that this expansion didn’t get as much planning as the previous updates. Rise of Iron really didn’t start into pre-production until January of this year. The fact that a year 3 update was released at all is a testament to Bungie being able to crank out a pretty decent piece of content in a short period of time. However, even with this release being on a short fuse I don’t think that excuses just how small this campaign truly is. While it is of very high quality it is equally short and additional quests at the end that send guardians to retread mission areas doesn’t feel as well done.
While custom matches for PvP may grab the most attention the new supremacy mode is my favorite crucible addition. It really changes the dynamic of PvP. Players dropping crests that have to be recovered by the killer so they can earn credit for their kill, or for the defenders to collect to deny the kill is a lot of fun. The impact of physics upon the crest also mean that you aren’t guaranteed to find the crest right were the guardian died.
Year three of Destiny has been uplifted with Rise of Iron and this expansion has breathed fresh air into a game that desperately needed it. While Destiny has continued to grow and improve over the years, and there are a number of quality of life improvements with this expansion, it still fails to stick with me. After playing through the main campaign twice I can say that it was fun for a bit, but not something that will keep me hanging around. It's clear that this expansion may be hampered by the fact that the team is now working full bore on Destiny 2. So, let's see what the sequel brings, and if it can win over people like me for the long term.
A review copy of Rise of Iron was provided from Bungie’s PR team.
FINAL SCORE: 7.6
- Engaging story
- Improved storytelling
- Supremacy Crucible mode
- Custom matches
- Social features are improved but still need work
Gameplay: 8 | The core shooter of the game still handles as tight as always. The new addition of Supremacy and Private Matches to PvP are fantastic additions.
Visuals and Sound: 10 | The game has always looked great on the PS4 but now it sounds even better. Some of the audio in certain stages is just haunting.
Polish: 8 | People still love Destiny as was apparently with the server Kerfuffle on the first day. Since then things have mellowed out and I wasn’t sitting in a queue by the next day.
Longevity: 5 | 90 minutes to get through the main campaign. New PVP stuff is great, but not worth the price of admission alone.
Value: 7 | $30 for 90 minutes of campaign does not feel like a great value even with a new Strike and a new Raid. The two new modes of PvP help offset this but you can still feel that this expansion was made in a short window of dev time.