Even though Bungie will not go out and say it, one can safely classify Destiny as an MMOFPS, or to complicate things, MMORPFPS (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing First Person Shooter. Whoa that’s a mouthful). Bungie calls it a Shared World Shooter, and while it is not wrong, it does not really explain anything about the game.
Bungie’s 2014 shooter, to please everyone, has been a massive success ever since launch on September 9th. Ever since this date, players have been flying around every inch of the three main planets featured in Destiny, as well as the additional locations which are either spawned for brief periods, such as Mercury, or the locations which have been added for story purposes, such as the Dreadnought. Since Destiny has now officially entered into its third year, Bungie felt it appropriate to provide more content for its loyal fans, me included, who have been going into this interstellar adventure ever since its launch. While Rise of Iron is an incredible expansion, it does not necessarily provide enough content to keep players going for very long.
Rise of Iron is Destiny’s fourth expansion, accessible only to those who have previously purchased all other DLC before. The original plan featured a new title in the series for this time slot, but given some circumstances the new game has been pushed back into 2017, and therefore Bungie thought it well to have some more content for players before the release of the second Destiny. As mentioned before, Rise of Iron is a great expansion, and provides plenty of quality. Basically, a new threat has befallen the guardians. Lord Saladin, commander of the Iron Banner event which many players should be familiar with by now, has realised a great danger is in the process of being awakened, and thus warns you that if this is not stopped, the future of our home planet is in danger.
Many years ago, a group of combatants known as the Iron Lords, was trying to harness a new technology called SIVA, a self-assembling nano-technology which had the potential to become of massive use for humanity. Unfortunately, SIVA turned against the Lords, and in a desperate attempt to stop it, all of these Lords save for Saladin were lost. The efforts of the lords were not all in vain though since SIVA was locked somewhere in the Cosmodrome on Earth. Fast forward to today, the Fallen have found SIVA and are trying to take advantage of its great powers for their dark aims. Saladin thus is here to urge the guardians to take a stand and stop SIVA once and for all, and this is where you come in play.
Rise of Iron features a new location, the Plaguelands. The Plaguelands can be said to be the home of the SIVA-possessed Fallen, also known as Splicers. These Splicers can take the form of previously known Fallen enemies such as Dregs, Shanks, Captains or even Devil Walkers, and while from the outside they may not be much different, they are much more combat adept than their vanilla counterparts. These Plaguelands can be said to be a continuation of the Cosmodrome, since it features a very similar landscape to what we found on our baby steps in Destiny. Still, the environment feels fresh, and one will definitely enjoy exploring the new locations during the missions of Rise of Iron, as well as Patrol. The expansion also brings with it three new patrol missions, namely Quarantine, where you have to kill an enemy Captain and a chance to invade a group of Splicers as well, Assassination, which as the name implies give you a target to kill, and Kill Patrol, where you are instructed to kill anything that moves. While patrol missions are probably the least played missions in all of Destiny, the additions of this expansion are quite welcome, especially since most of the previous patrol missions featured either scouting a location, traversing half a map to get to a specific point or more cross country activities which felt a waste of time at best.
The story missions featured in Rise of Iron, although not taking longer than three or four hours, feel much more story-related than other Destiny missions, perhaps due to a larger focus on story design. Lord Saladin’s voice acting was never really scrutinised due to the fact that he did not carry greater importance than a vendor’s, but in this expansion, he is in the limelight and he definitely delivers. His lines are acted out brilliantly, and instil a sense of urgency in the player, a dramatic effect which Eris Morn goes close to but ruins due to her weird language and expressions at times. The story feels much more concise as well, and with each mission beaten, you will understand better what is happening around you and what is needed from you. One of the strongest point of Rise of Iron is probably this, since you can also start filling in the holes as to how Earth has become this huge wasteland, taking from the story of the expansion. This is definitely the road Bungie wants to continue improving on come Destiny 2, since although vanilla Destiny had a decent story, it sometimes felt all over the place and failed to make sense
Apart from the new Story and Patrol missions, Rise of Iron introduces a brand new six-player raid for teams to tackle. The raid is called Wrath of the Machine, and takes place on Earth, of course. The raid will be 15 Light shy of the new level cap, which is 385. When Hard mode of Wrath of the Machine launches, the level cap will then rise to 400. The raid is one of the few places where you can earn level cap gear, although the road to get to 370, which is the recommended light level for the normal raid, is quite a hard one. I am one of the unlucky ones who did not manage to get enough high level gear to attempt the raid, since I have lazed off after the Taken King and letting my Warlock sit on 280 light. Immediate action has been taken though, and currently he is at 340 Light and counting. Hard mode of the raid features an incredibly beautiful ship, which I must have at all costs, thus my resolve to continue levelling up.
Rise of Iron does not simply contain new locations and story missions, it also features everyone’s favourites: Exotic Weapons and Armor. Specifically, it contains six Year 3 Exotic Weapons, some of which are buffed versions of Year 1 beasts (welcome back Gjally!) and seven pieces of Armor. As always, Xur is always packing exotic gear in his weekend trips to social spaces, which means one should always be on the watch and search his wares for anything of interest. Rise of Iron also brings back Exotic Bounties, which seemed discontinued late last year after Taken King. Exotic Bounties feature some of the best gameplay of the game, meaning that anyone attempting these is in for a treat. These exotic bounties are triggered by handing in a lot of bounties and praying a lot, since this is very much based on luck and randomness. As for Armor, there are seven new pieces of Armor, each with revolutionary elements for gameplay. Last weekend I picked up one of these, the Warlock Transversive Steps, which permit automatic refill of a cartridge upon walking upon that weapon’s ammo. Coupled with a powerful auto-rifle, such as the Zhalo Supercell, it can become a devastating combination. This can also show how developers at Bungie are trying to create a synchronisation between armor and gear, maybe also to implement it fully in Destiny 2. Only time will tell.
Another addition to Destiny which has come thanks to Rise of Iron is the Archon’s Forge, an area within the Plaguelands where players can battle for rewards. The concept is very similar to The Taken King’s Court of Oryx, and while the latter featured Hive enemies, the Archon Forge, naturally, features a lot of Fallen enemies. And Shanks. What a pain in the behind those damn Shanks are, especially exploding ones which come up from behind you. Similarly to Court of Oryx as well, players need to “hand in” a token to participate in this, a SIVA Offering which can be dropped by enemies. You can also come in and help someone already taking part in the Forge, by using a Splicer Key and getting permission to enter the fray. It is a welcome break to patrol action, but it seems criminally underused since I have seen it more empty than full.
We have thoroughly explored the expansion for Single Player, but Multiplayer is also getting a decent improvement. The first of these, which has been awaited for quite some time, is the introduction of private servers, where players can host their own game, complete with preferred game mode and map. This can usher in a new era of competitive gaming, since the only mode available before was Trials of Osiris, which operated on a random basis. The second addition is Supremacy modes, which is not a completely new mode but simply a twist in how other modes go. Apart from not being new to Destiny itself, it is also not new to the genre as well since it is heavily inspired by Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode, but since I have never played the latter, I quite enjoyed the concept in Destiny. In Supremacy, which is available in previous modes such as Clash or Rumble, killing an enemy does not net you a point, but instead when killing an enemy he drops a crest. This crest must then be picked up for your team to get points. Players can also deny crests, by taking the crests of fallen teammates, therefore potentially deducting the points an enemy team can get. It is a very tactical game mode, and it needs more thought than the usual control or clash.
In terms of artistic value, Rise of Iron does quite a lot to help Destiny in general. First of all, you will be greeted with a brand new soundtrack, which just like other Destiny music is amazing. It is quite impressive how Bungie keep adding an incredible score to each and every expansion made, and Rise of Iron is no less. Graphically, the game has also been upgraded a little bit, thus the reason for abandoning last gen consoles. It was a needed step in Destiny’s evolution, since making the game playable on last gen was hindering the potential of the newer consoles. With that out of the way, we can expect Destiny 2 to harness a greater deal of the consoles’ bigger processing power.
As expansions go, Rise of Iron is probably Destiny’s most solid one to date. It does not feature as much content as its previous expansion, namely The Taken King, but it delivers a great story experience, rarely experienced in Destiny before. As mentioned before, I sincerely hope that Bungie focuses on the good of this expansion and detracts from the excessive grinding which Destiny players have become largely acquainted to, on their quest to develop Destiny 2. The foundations are definitely in place, but the remainder is all a question only Bungie can answer.