Space is infinite and vast. Adventures wait behind every asteroid and alien civilizations wait for your discovery. However, throughout the newest Destiny expansion, Rise of Iron, Bungie choses to barely venture into new territories, primarily returning to areas we?ve seen before. Instead of the welcome notes of nostalgia, Rise of Iron left me with the dull taste of déjà vu.
The plot of Rise of Iron is fairly simple: Golden Age nanotechology known as SIVA has returned to the universe, threatening to destroy everything in its path. The Fallen House of Devils is using it to augment themselves, and it?s up to Guardians to follow in the footsteps of the Iron Lords to finally stop SIVA once and for all.
Playing through the campaign is a relatively painless experience. I say this meaning not only is it relatively quick to complete the roughly 90-minute experience, but that you will probably not die in the game, even on your first run through. Players will find that with a good rifle they can run-and-gun through Rise of Iron?s story without worrying about strategic positioning, missing anything exciting, or for fear of death. Despite the fact that some SIVA-spliced Fallen have new tricks up their sleeves, the experience is essentially the same that you?ve experienced in Destiny since day one.
Unfortunately, this familiarity is hammered into the plot as well. Over and over Bungie reminds us that Rise of Iron is made of recycled material. Many of the items you pick up will even be such a low light level that they cannot be used. Ghost also makes several jokes that are meant to poke fun at how repetitive game design is, but because of the host of repetition in Rise of Iron, it once again just points out that this game is lacking originality.
For me, this was very frustrating. The previous expansion, The Taken King, had taken the franchise to new heights. I had been engaged with the plot, characters had personalities, and new zones and gear were exciting and everywhere. It seems Rise of Iron simply chose to ignore the aspects that made the previous expansion memorable. This feels like it should have been the expansion to follow The Dark Below, not The Taken King.
But, like all things Destiny, there are a few undeniably bright features as well. Taking a page (pun intended) from the Sparrow Racing League event last year, the Record Book: Rise of Iron helps direct players to what they can do in the expansion. By completing tasks in the book (Collect 15 Dormant SIVA Clusters, Win 10 rounds of Supremacy, etc), Guardians earn ?Book XP.? By ranking up with Book XP, different Iron Lord-themed items are awarded, ranging from armor to ships.
Another really great new addition is that of Iron Lord Artifacts. These eight new items affect the game in ways that we haven?t seen before, leading to new strategies and gameplay styles. For example, Memory of Timur makes it so that your melee attacks may cause an enemy NPC to fight alongside you. Or Memory of Felwinter which removes your super ability, grants you an extra grenade and melee charge instead. This is the sort of innovation that I expected from Destiny as it enters its third year, and I am excited to collect them all.
Customization options have also been added to Iron Banner gear and Exotic Weapons, allowing Guardians to show off their style in a new way. For example, put a Days of Iron Ornament on the Titan?s Days of Iron helm, and it goes from a simple crown to a gaping wolf?s maw filled with fire. Again, these are great ways to show off how much work you?ve put into this expansion. Unfortunately, if you?re looking to upgrade all of your gear, you may be waiting a while (or spending a lot of real-world currency) as these cosmetic options are only awarded at the rate of one per week, or purchased through the Eververse Trading Company.
The new PvP mode, Supremacy, also shines in Rise of Iron. This mode revolves around collecting ?crests? which drop whenever a guardian is killed. Points are awarded for crests picked up, so a large part of the strategy involves not only survival, but also picking up crests of fallen comrades before enemies can snag them. This puts a new emphasis on teamwork in Destiny?s Crucible. I saw groups moving as packs, working to take down solo opponents, or coordinating their specials to take out larger groups. Fights broke out in different areas of maps than before, now favoring spots that formed bottlenecks and could be easily defended. After just a few rounds, I was sold.
For those preferring PvE battles, The new Archon?s Forge experience is a simple and moderately entertaining addition. By presenting a SIVA offering, a wave-clearing mode is entered, very similar to Prison of Elders or Court of Oryx. With limited enemy variation, and only three difficulty tiers, the Forge gets old pretty quick, though. Additionally, the inability to carry multiple offerings in your inventory means you?re relying on the luck of the drop to be able to run multiple instances back to back.
Once you?re able to grind your way up to the higher Light Level tier, however, there is hope. The Wrath of the Machine Raid delivers the type of gameplay that I wish the rest of the game possessed. With puzzles, unique battles, and rewards that can actually help you, it is a shame that this is an aspect of the expansion that many won?t be able to experience due to Bungie?s game design philosophy that rejects the idea of end-game matchmaking. But if you get the chance, hop on Reddit (or pester your friend?s list) and get five others to join you in battle?you?ll have a good time.
Overall, Destiny: Rise of Iron is a middle of the road Destiny expansion: more content than The Dark Below, not as memorable as The Taken King. If you?re still enjoying Bungie?s shared-world shooter, then this is an obvious pick-up, but if you?ve been waiting for something to bring you back into the series, you may just want to wait until the inevitable Destiny 2, whenever that may be.
|Publisher: Activision ? Developer: Bungie ? ESRB: T – Teen ? Release Date: 09.20.16|
While new armor and weapons are sprinkled throughout Destiny: Rise of Iron, we can?t escape the feeling that we?ve seen this all before.
|The Good||Record book highlights everything you can do within the expansion, without twisting your arm.|
|The Bad||Despite there being a new zone, much of the ground is previously tread.|
|The Ugly||The desire to indulge in the game?s microtransactions.|
|Destiny: Rise of Iron is available on PS4 and Xbox One. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Activision for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.|