Destiny has been around for some six years now. In that time, there have been countless updates, conversations with the community, but most importantly, new DLC and expansions. As we come racing up on the release of Beyond Light, it’s a good idea to look back at the content releases we’ve played in the past, and then mercilessly rank them against one another.
Without further ado, here is, in my humble opinion, the official and indisputable ranking of every piece of Destiny DLC (excluding Seasons) released up to this point, ordered from worst to best.
8. Curse of Osiris
Curse of Osiris was the first piece of DLC for Destiny 2. After so much hype and excitement around finally getting to go to Mercury, Curse of Osiris introduced players to a strange version of Osiris that didn’t align with what they’d read in the original game’s Grimoire cards. To make matters worse, Brother Vance went from being this mysterious fellow touting the good ways of Osiris via Trials of Osiris, to this cringe-inducing fellow.
The narrative of Curse of Osiris didn’t help matters much, either. Players had to take down a Vex Axis Mind called Panoptes, who was doing some silly business with simulations. All of this took place on Mercury, a new patrol zone where players were unable to summon their sparrows, which really hammered home how small it was.
The Infinite Forest was also a flop. Players were anticipating it to be this almost roguelike experience with procedurally generated terrain. Instead, it was a glorified hallway between story beats.
And let’s not forget that Curse of Osiris is where the fabled “Two Tokens and a Blue” meme originated.
It’s well considered that Curse of Osiris was a low point for the Destiny franchise. Probably the coolest thing to happen was that players could peek through a crack in a door and see what appeared to be the resting place of the fabled Saint-14. Oh, and Eater of Worlds was a decent raid lair.
7. The Dark Below
Much like the previous entry, The Dark Below was the first official piece of content released for a game in the series, this time, Destiny 1. The game had already taken the gaming world by storm, and although it had its problems, players were eagerly awaiting the first piece of DLC that promised to bring new activities to do.
Likely remembered fondly thanks to the rose-tint of nostalgia, the release of the Dark Below was received poorly. Instead of a bold new step to expand upon the troubled base game, players were treated to four story missions, two strikes (one of which was exclusive to PlayStation 3), and a short and glitchy raid.
To make matters worse, the heavy ammo glitch was still kicking around at that time. This made the raid all the more frustrating, especially given how razor thin the line was between success and failure. For the uninitiated, every time the team wiped in a raid, players would lose part of their Heavy ammo. Part of every viable strategy to take down Crota, the raid boss, was to use Heavy weapons. Thus you had players wiping, losing ammo, and needing to farm up more by tricking the system or using the ammo snyths (something Destiny 2 still desperately needs).
However, though it had its problems, the Crota’s End raid was the first raid players could solo. It wasn’t long before every Guardian and their Ghost had soloed the sword-wielding Hive prince. It’s for this reason that The Dark Below tends to hold a special place in a lot of players’ hearts, despite the release being below par.
Though it might not be much better than the previous entries, Warmind manages to squeak in just above Curse of Osiris and The Dark Below for a few key reasons. But first, let’s talk about why Warmind is certainly one of the worst pieces of Destiny DLC.
After the disappointment of Curse of Osiris, Destiny 2 players were ready for a redemption story. There was some excitement to be heading back to Mars, but it wound up looking quite different to how players remember it. Instead of sand and dunes, there was an awful lot of ice.
For all the story woes of Curse of Osiris, at least there were story missions to play. Warmind had a five-mission story, two of which were Strikes. There was a third Strike, but Xbox and PC players wouldn’t know about it until later in the year.
Where Warmind managed to improve over the previous entries was in its new activity, Escalation Protocol. Yes, it was still plagued by Destiny’s patrol zone matchmaking woes, but if you could trick the game into letting you play with more than two of your friends, it proved to be an activity worth farming.
Then there was the Spire of Stars raid lair, a raid that remains as challenging today as it did when it first released. And if you didn’t have a full team of six to attempt that with, The Whisper secret mission, and its little nod to Vault of Glass, was bound to be an experience you wanted to perfect.
This is almost the tipping point of Destiny DLC. Shadowkeep might not have the same allure as other content releases but it’s certainly nowhere near as anaemic as others. For that reason, it sits at a bit of an odd spot.
Let’s first consider the negatives. Shadowkeep took players to the Moon, an area many had already seen in the original Destiny. The Moon, for the most part, looked relatively the same as it did previously. Sure, it had the Scarlet Keep and some different areas added on to the sides but it was old hat.
As for the new activities Shadowkeep introduced, players had the Lectern of Enchantment to create new weapons and armor, Nightmare Hunts to face off against bosses in mini-Strikes, and the Vex Invasions (though, this could be argued to be the Season of the Undying content). None of these felt like content players had to experience lest they risk missing out.
But Shadowkeep also introduced a lot of good to Destiny 2. It ushered in the fantastic Artifact system, a device that continues to play a major role in build creations. It had the Garden of Salvation raid, a rather challenging and sometimes frustrating experience that took players to a new area of the Black Garden.
That said, what was arguably the most important aspect of Shadowkeep was its story. For the first time, players encountered the Darkness and its Pyramid ships. It felt like the narrative had finally taken a meaningful step forward. Players also got to learn more about the enigmatic Eris and the fireteam she took with her into the Hellmouth.
Ultimately though, while Shadowkeep had its highs, it didn’t really offer the same sticking power as a few of Destiny’s other, more robust expansions.
4. Rise of Iron
Rise of Iron managed to take what was introduced in The Taken King and keep the fun going. It was a content drop of incredible size that expanded just about every aspect of the game. And yet, it’s not often considered one of the best bits of DLC. Let’s talk about exactly what was on offer in Rise of Iron.
When Rise of Iron was released in September of 2016, everyone had a pretty good idea that it was to be the final expansion before a sequel. At this point, it was the fabled Live Team that was taking the helm and it seemed like they were ready to take the shackles off and try new and wild things.
For starters, Rise of Iron introduced an Artifact system that drastically altered a Guardian’s build. Their effects were varied and powerful: lose your Super but gain another grenade and melee, remove sprint cooldown penalty, deflect projectiles with swords, allies’ supers recharge faster when yours is full, and more. The RPG element of Destiny was really taking hold.
All these Artifacts stemmed from the Iron Lords, of which players were given the opportunity to properly interact with two as part of the story. While there weren’t a lot of story missions, Rise of Iron also added new Strikes to the mix and remade some of the older ones.
Then, there was the raid, Wrath of the Machine. It was a unique beast that featured a variety of encounters with the Death Zamboni being an obvious standout. It wasn’t the only PVE activity added, as the Archon’s Forge was another sort of arena fight that took place in the Plaguelands, an expansive new patrol area in the Cosmodrome.
Rise of Iron felt like a last hurrah to Destiny before Destiny 2 arrived. It was a great piece of DLC, to be sure, it just wasn’t one of the most important pieces.
3. House of Wolves
This will be a contentious call to make, as any third spot should be. While an expansion like Rise of Iron has a lot of content for players to consume, I maintain that House of Wolves was the more vital step in Destiny’s history, as it proved that a DLC doesn’t have to be big in order to be important.
House of Wolves, the second piece of DLC ever released, was the first one to launch without a raid – which isn’t saying much given the track record was Vault of Glass with the base game followed by the glitch-riddled Crota’s End. But what it lacked in raid, it made up for with its story, Prison of Elders, and Trials of Osiris.
The story in House of Wolves took players to the Reef, an area they’d only visited in cutscenes. It also introduced Variks, arguably one of the most beloved characters in all of Destiny. This scallywag was there to help players through the main story in pursuit of Skolas, the Kell of Kells that was trying to harness Vex technology from the Vault of Glass in order to bolster his army. There was some time travel goodness and a story rich in lore.
Following these events, players were given access to Prison of Elders. This arena mode gave players a PVE activity that was something other than a raid. It might not have had the same challenge as a raid, but the varying modifiers and bosses demanded players tackle each encounter in a different way.
For those Crucible players, House of Wolves offered some of the best multiplayer maps in all of Destiny: Black Shield, Thieves’ Den, and the near-perfect Widow’s Court.
And of course, let us not forget Trials of Osiris. House of Wolves gave to PVP players the ultimate end-game experience. Every weekend, the Crucible aficionados would get together in groups of three to fight other players in an elimination-style mode. It was intense, it was brutal, and it was super sweaty. It was the perfect distillation of the Destiny multiplayer experience, despite the presence of cheaters.
The release of House of Wolves showed that it’s not about the quantity of new content added, but the quality. It proved to players that a raid wasn’t needed every few months and that new and unique PVE activities could provide challenging experiences. What’s more, it cemented the need for a highly competitive PVP end-game within the franchise.
2. The Taken King
The Taken King is a high point in Destiny’s history. This was the third expansion released, and Bungie was promising an improvement over the previous two entries. Not only that, but things were going to get shaken up in a way that would have long-lasting effects on the landscape of the series.
Enter Oryx, the Taken King himself. This Hive god had pierced into the system, bringing with him a new and terrifying enemy type: the Taken. These twitching abominations are twisted versions of other enemy types replete with new attacks and abilities.
It wasn’t just across the usual planets where players were fighting this new enemy, as The Taken King added an entire patrol zone, the first time this had happened. The Dreadnaught, Oryx’s own flagship, was a knotted and dark area, brimming with secrets for players to discover. It was also where players would find snippets of lore that greatly revealed the nature of the Hive and its violence-based hierarchy.
Beyond a new location and enemies, players also grew in power. Guardians now boasted a third Super per class. Where a class had previously missed out on an element, there was now a new tool to use against the Darkness. Titans became a nightmare to deal with thanks to Sunbreaker, Hunters were the ultimate team-player with the Nightstalker, and Warlocks harnessed their inner Arc energy as Stormcallers.
And where should players use this newfound power? Why, in one of the best raids every released of course. The King’s Fall raid was a truly unforgettable raiding experience. It had platforming sections, complex mechanics to solve, and the always-hilarious piston wall. The final fight against Oryx is an encounter that will go down as one of the most visually striking experiences on offer.
Lost to Light. Three little words that will bring memories rushing back in. It was the first time Bungie tried one of these missions and it only came around every once in a while. Players needed to finish a brutally difficult mission within 20 minutes in order to unlock what was then one of the most powerful Exotics in the game: Black Spindle. It was an activity that proved so popular that Bungie couldn’t help but repeat it in Destiny 2.
While The Taken King stands as the pinnacle of the Destiny experience, there is one expansion that knocks it from top billing.
Forsaken is the best piece of Destiny DLC ever released. It beats out all other entrants, even the mighty Taken King expansion of the original Destiny. Bungie looked at what they delivered with The Taken King and then upped the ante to a point that is unlikely to be matched anytime soon.
Right off the bat, Bungie wasn’t afraid to kill off the beloved character, Cayde-6. It was a harrowing experience that still rattles the emotions of all players. It also set in motion events that would be felt rippling through the story some two years later.
Forsaken took players on a wild revenge story that saw them trek across a brand new patrol zone, the Tangled Shore. This foreign land sits in the heart of the Reef and offered players nooks and crannies to dig into, as well as a great new addition to the cast: Spider.
But where The Taken King added one new zone, Forsaken added two. The Dreaming City was the second area for players to unlock, an area that remains to this day one of the most visually impressive and secret-heavy locations in all of Destiny. There are invisible puzzles to solve, weekly encounters, collectibles dotted around the area, an arena mode with varying difficulties, and it’s the location of two of Destiny’s greatest additions: The Shattered Throne dungeon and the Last Wish raid.
Much like how the House of Wolves’ Prison of Elders proved there was good PVE activities to be found outside of raids, Forsaken’s Shattered Throne dungeon proved there could be raid-level activities for groups smaller than six.
That’s what the Shattered Throne was, a challenging activity with raid-like mechanics and bosses, made specifically for groups of three. But what’s more, Bungie knew players would try to solo it and so built in unique rewards for those who could.
Then there was the Last Wish raid. As one of the most encounter-heavy raids, it proved to be almost insurmountable for even the elite players when it first released. Not only were the encounters unique and extremely challenging to solve (looking at you Vault), it also brought players face-to-face with a character that had only been hinted at in lore: an Ahamkara wish dragon. It was a major payoff and still remains one of the best raids in the series.
Beyond PVE content, there was also a brand new type of activity added: Gambit. This fused together PVE and PVP in a way many players never dreamed possible. It was, and still is, an intense mode where players race to clear AI-controlled combatants while invading and killing the other team whenever possible.
And how were players interacting with all these activities? Why, with nine new Supers of course. That’s right. While The Taken King gave players their missing Super element, Forsaken added an entirely new way to play for every single element type for every single class. It majorly shook up the meta and gave players entirely new ways to interact with the world. We also can’t forget that Forsaken added the bow archetype to the mix – one that our Managing Editor Bill Lavoy will defend to the end of the world.
There was just so much introduced to Destiny 2 with Forsaken that it cannot be denied it’s had a greater impact on the landscape of the game and franchise than that of any other DLC. It’s for this reason it must be considered the best Destiny DLC ever released.
Do you disagree with this Destiny DLC ranking list? That’s too bad, because this is entirely indisputable. I claim this as the official ranking. But, I suppose you should try and convince me otherwise. Go ahead, leave your own Destiny DLC ranking in the comments below.
Sam Chandler posted a new article, The indisputable ranking of every Destiny DLC
I would argue that you can't rank the old ones anymore because they don't exist so their quality isn't observable
Are you from the future?
That's an absurd argument lol
"ammo snyths (something Destiny 2 still desperately needs)"
You're crazy. Those things were the worst. Slow loading consoles where the damn character/inventory screen took seconds to load made them even worse.
Maybe if there were a way to map another key to them it would be ok, but they were just clunky back when they were around.