Over the past couple of years, I have had an interesting relationship with Bungie’s co-op shoot and loot, Destiny. There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way, and I’ve seen the game change in pretty incredible ways. While Destiny: Rise of Iron is a fairly solid experience overall, a few design decisions in the expansion left me wondering just what Bungie was thinking when they put it all together.
Rise of the New Iron Lords
Way back when, before our time, there were no Guardians, just Iron Lords. They weren’t very smart, thought they could control an ancient and powerful technology, and they made a lot of mistakes that ultimately ended with them all dying, save for one. Now that technology is back, rediscovered by a group of Fallen, and it’s a pretty bad bit of business overall. That’s the basic gist of the story, as Iron Banner leader, Lord Saladin–last of the Iron Lords–tells his tale and leads Guardians everywhere in a fight against the all-powerful SIVA. It’s an interesting premise overall that feels a bit wasted as the narrative is outrageously short.
However, it is also a story that fits pretty well into the Destiny narrative, and while the campaign is a bit on the short side (only two hours taking your time), it’s a pretty good indicatior of the expansion as a whole. There’s a new social area, that only contains a few of your staple vendors, which means you’ll still be making constant runs back to The Tower. The new raid is unique, and offers up some really cool mechanics–much like King’s Fall did a year ago–but it feels lacking overall. There's only so much a new raid can accomplish at this point.
(For disclosure I should note, though, that I haven’t quite finished it yet. The grind for Light Levels is intensive, so even with all my hours logged my crew can't quite make it to the end.)
Splicing Things Together
The biggest disappointment of the expansion comes in the form of the new social arena, the Archon’s Forge. Billed as a mix between the Prison of Elders and the Court of Oryx, Bungie made some unfortunate design decisions when putting the forge together. They’ve since fixed one of those, making it easier to get SIVA Offerings (which you need to activate the forge), but the instanced event still suffers from a lack of connected players. This is one event that feels like it would have been better used as its own instance in the game (like the Prison of Elders), but instead the Court of Oryx approach leaves a lot of players to tackle their Offerings on their own, which defeats the entire purpose of the encounter. This makes it tougher to take on the more difficult events in the Forge, which has been a huge turn-off for a lot of players so far.
Another big issue with the expansion is the scale of the threat portrayed throughout the four or so missions that make up the campaign. In the story SIVA is made out to be an apocalyptic force, but in the end it’s taken out easier than Oryx and his Taken army. It almost feels like the campaign was spliced together quickly, with portions and plot holes abounding every way you turn. It’s not a terrible addition to the Destiny storyline, and while we weren’t expecting an eight hour campaign like last year’s The Taken King expansion, I did expect a little bit more given that it's the only expansion this year and Destiny 2 may not be coming until late 2017.
Destiny: Rise of Iron is a solid expansion to Bungie’s shoot and loot universe. While the campaign itself did feel a bit short, and the plot felt like it was paced too quickly, the new enemies, restructuring of old strikes, and the new raid all make up for the expansion’s short comings. The new social arena, Archon’s Forge, could still use a little work, but when you have other players around it is just as fun as the Court of Oryx was to blast through Offering after Offering, taking down the Fallen’s strongest commanders. While it might not be as big as last year’s The Taken King, Destiny: Rise of Iron still offers a good deal of new content for players to dive into and enjoy.