As we entered year-3 of Destiny, things have come a long way since the “vanilla” release back in 2013. Loot has been redone, gameplay has been tweaked, and all our Guardians have been hard at work saving the galaxy from the darkness. We have taken down Atheon, Crota, beat Skolas in the House of Wolves, befallen the Taken King, and now we face the SIVA. Destiny: Rise of Iron is a whole new adventure, but at times it could feel much smaller than the past expansions to date. However, Destiny: Rise of Iron has enough meat to chew on, that will keep us busy for months ahead.
The Iron Lords have always been in the background of Destiny lore, but in Rise of Iron, we finally get to see what happened to them as Lord Saladin ventures beyond the wall on Earth. The Fallen have taken control of SIVA, and now they plan on using it to build weapons, and help modify themselves. SIVA is a living organism that gives its wielder great power, but at the same time can destroy them.
As a Guardian, it is now your mission to head into the Plaguelands, and stop the threat from growing. This is the setting for Rise of Iron, and as much as it sounds like an epic adventure, unfortunately, the story falls flat as missions are not clear, and the backstory is overshadowed by the great set pieces. Destiny: The Taken King was filled with great action, both in the missions, and between thanks to the CG cinematics, but Rise of Iron relies on you piecing the story together, and this is where you might feel a bit lost.
Thankfully Rise of Iron carries much of the activities from year 2 across with it, along with the weapons and armor. This means that if you had perks on your weapons, you will not need to toss them away like you did when Taken King released. There are also exotic items to find that are new to Rise of Iron, such as the Nemesis Star, a heavy machine gun with a pulse rifle burst fire. The Warlock class has finally got an exotic pair of boots too, these automatically load ammo into your weapons when you pick it up. As much as the new gear is fun to hunt for, we could not help but feel that there should have been more to collect. With a couple of armor pieces, and a handful of new guns, it lacks that hunt experience that we got in The Taken King.
The Plaguelands is the new open area in which you can explore and complete activities. These range from the usual public events, Archon’s Forge, to Splicer Key rooms that see you opening up a door and collecting a handful of resource materials. Sure, the new area is a great marvel to explore, with SIVA control all over the place, but the issue is that the activities in the area are boring and a waste of time. Archon’s Forge for example requires SIVA offerings to access, but these barely drop, and when they do, the event barely yields any rewards. The reliance on Archon’s Forge for bounties makes this even worse, as you will really need patience and time to complete them. We honestly do not see us doing any of them in the next few weeks due to the poor lack in drop rates, and time it takes to do the bounties.
When The Taken King released, we were overjoyed at the new sub-class that came with it, however in Rise of Iron, you will not find any sort of character development opportunities. There are no new class quests or sub-class abilities to learn. This again makes Rise of Iron feel like a shorter and smaller package than The Taken King. There is a logbook that tracks all your activities across the game, and when you rank it up you will unlock the Iron Lords armour.
There is much more to the game than the short campaign and the mundane new patrol. We have the Wrath of the Machine Raid, and a few new strikes, new Crucible maps, and a new Crucible mode to play, called Supremacy. Starting off with the Crucible mode, Supremacy is very fun and more casual than the other modes. You have to run killing the opposing team, and pick up the orbs they drop. The mode feels great, and instead of raging about lag and the mechanics, you are so busy running around picking up orbs, that you run yourself into a frenzy.
The new strikes consist of one new one, and two old ones, that have been rebuilt with a SIVA story behind them. We have always loved the strikes, and they offer a great experience in Rise of Iron. There are new gear drop mechanics that see you collecting a Skeleton Key to open up a Strike Chest. Would we farm the strikes for months? We do not think so, but the new Skeleton Key system lets us be in more control of what gear we want from what strike.
Destiny: Rise of Iron’s biggest selling point is the new Wrath of the Machine Raid, and it is one the best that Bungie has ever built. The raid takes you across the Cosmodrone as you head into the heart of SIVA to destroy it. Mechanically, the raid is easier to understand and relies less on an individual and more on an entire team to work together. From start to finish, it will always surprise you as you go from running away from a giant machine-eating contraption, to the underground depths of the SIVA heart, which looks absolutely stunning. We can see ourselves running this raid three times a week as it is extremely enjoyable.
Destiny: Rise of Iron might not feel as big as The Taken King, but it will keep those of you who have been playing for years busy for a long time. The new raid is really the best thing about it, but in order to experience it, you will have to put up with the game’s weak leveling system, and lackluster campaign.