STAFF REVIEW of Destiny: Rise of Iron (Xbox One)

Friday, September 30, 2016.
by Kirby Yablonski

Destiny: Rise of Iron Box art Destiny, Bungie's current franchise, has been quite the ride since its release over two years ago. In 2014 it released to quite the fanfare only to be received with mixed results. Some loved the ability to play a FPS on consoles in an MMO-like setting while others found it to be devoid of any story and an empty experience. During the first year a couple of expansions were released that, again, found mixed results from gamers and critics. In 2015 Destiny got its biggest DLC, called ‘The Taken King’, and critics and fans mostly praised it as it made some major strides in gameplay and Destiny become more of the game people hoped it would be when it first launched. Well, it’s 2016 and the next major expansion for Destiny has been released. Rise of Iron has been playable for over a week on the Xbox One (sorry Xbox 360, you were left behind this time) and in a nutshell it’s a fairly solid piece of content that Destiny fans should enjoy.

Rise of Iron’s campaign focuses on Lord Saladin, the last Iron Lord on Earth. He is the keeper of the Iron Temple (the former home of the Iron Lords and new social space for Rise of Iron on Felwinter’s Peak) and overseer of Destiny’s monthly PvP event called Iron Banner. Before the guardians existed the Iron Lords protected Earth. Unfortunately, Lord Saladin is the last of that breed alive and the reasons for such are somewhat explained. It’s a story that has a lot of lore behind it, and although it does indeed enlighten fans a bit as to what happened, it could have been fleshed out so much more.

The single player campaign takes about 2 hours or so too complete, with a total of 5 missions for you to participate in. During the story you’ll find yourself back in one of Destiny’s first experienced environments, the Cosmodrome, in a new area called the Plaguelands. You’ll discover, and learn, about a self-replicating nanotechnology called SIVA and you’ll fight a new group of Fallen called Splicers, who are SIVA enhanced. They have new weapons and new strengths that make them a little more challenging this time around.

The missions are typical Destiny fare, as you venture through the SIVA laden and snow covered levels, and through a few familiar levels too, but the 2 hours you play just seems too short. Personally, I wish that the campaign was double the size, as it would have allowed the ‘lore’ of the Iron Lords to be truly expanded upon. Heck, many of the weapons and gear you earn in Iron Banner are named after some of the Iron Lords who once protected the Earth and it would have been awesome to know who each weapon or piece of gear is associated with and why. In some way it seems like a missed opportunity for a deeper story, like that which was developed for The Taken King. That being said, what story is there is complimented by great voice acting and awesome cutscenes to watch.

One has to remember that Destiny is not all about a story mode for you to just venture through, as it still is about online play with other people, and that is where Rise of Iron continues to provide content that should keep fans happy for a while. Along with the new story campaign comes two new strikes and a new raid. One of the strikes is an original strike (Devil’s Lair) remastered with a SIVA twist. The other strike, “The Wretched Eye”, is brand new and features some typical Destiny battles. You’ll have to coordinate your plan of attack in this one given the fact that you’re dealing with two enemies at the same time in the boss stage. All in all, the new strikes are a nice addition, even the remastered one, but as with anything you do over and over, the can feel repetitive at times.

There are also new quest lines (4 new exotic weapons), new bounties and a new strike list (SIVA Strike List - recommended light level of 350) for guardians to complete. It’s nothing new for veterans of the game; however, the reward of Rise of Iron gear and weapons is the hook. Of course you’ll be aiming for a higher light level this time too (max level is 400), so the addiction of finding that one piece of gear or that one weapon with the right “roll” and higher light level once again rears its head. The addiction to have something new and something that your friends may not have yet will push veterans, and even those new to the game, to play that one extra strike or finish that one more step of a quest line. Something I have really come to learn during my venture up the path for a higher light level in Rise of Iron is that your reputation level amongst all the vendors in Destiny (from Eris to Variks to even the Queen's Representative (Petra) from the Reef) will play heavily in your climb. You’ll need these vender’s rewards to continue leveling up your new weapons and gear, as you’ll need the boost from these via infusing to get your new gear higher....and it’s different from playing the SIVA Strike list over and over again.

New to Destiny, via the Rise of Iron DLC, is Archon’s Forge. The best way that I can explain this is that it is similar to the Court of Oryx in such that it is a series of challenges that you start with Siva Keys you’ll find throughout the Plaguelands. As of writing this I have experienced three different levels from easy (fused - green), medium (enhanced - blue) to hard (perfected - purple). If you are going to attempt the hard challenges make sure there is a large group of people hanging out as it makes them so much more manageable as you’ll be swamped by a large number of enemies. These battles can get quite intense and chaotic and are a nice way to pass time when you just want to kill a bunch of enemies. What you will also find though is not a lot of people stay in the Archon’s Forge, but when there are a lot there seems to be quite a number of people using their SIVA keys to do the challenges.

One of the main treats to Rise of Iron is the fact that there is a new raid called Wrath of the Machine. As with the other raids in Destiny it is a six-person affair that takes coordination and planning to beat. It consists of five stages that requires guardians to take on their own role within. All team members will find it best to learn all the mechanics and how their individual role will help to advance and eventually complete your teams effort. Having spent some time talking with the ‘crew’ that I run with, especially those that levelled up quicker than I did and managed to play the raid a few times from when it was released, the consensus is that it is a raid that provides some excitement and variety because each section seems more involved and it feels more rewarding this time around.

Finally, we can’t forget PvP. There is a new mode called Supremacy, which is enjoyable. Best way to describe it is that it is similar to Kill & Confirm in COD. Put down a guardian on the opposite team and they drop a “crest” that matches their class and grab it and you get points for your team. First team to reach the score limit wins. There are also some new maps which are fairly well designed and look good. The new levels are Last Exit (Venus), Skyline (Mars) and Floating Gardens (Venus) and these are playable on the Xbox One. Each one has the same environmental specific look that other maps have, and if there is one thing I can always say, Bungie sure makes there PvP maps look good. They are solid additions to the world of adversarial multiplayer in Destiny and are a welcome addition.

Destiny’s strength, that of the addiction to find the right light level gear and weapon, plays to many, it may also be a weakness to others. This genre lends itself to “the grind”. Looking for better weapons with better stats, looking for better gear (e.g. armor) with higher levels, and looking chests to open or for areas and ways to obtain special items to allow you to complete special quests are highlighted in Destiny. Many people do not have the patience, or the online friends, to consistently do this with, and unfortunately Rise of Iron does not fix this fact. Does it make it a bad addition, not necessarily. I run with a consistent group of players (up to about 10 of us online at one time). I always find that I can do strikes, complete quests or bounties, finish patrols, or do many other things that are Destiny related, including those tasks found in found in Rise of Iron, while socializing online. With that in mind many others are in the same boat so to speak and this should not be too much of an issue, if any, for those diehard Destiny players.

Overall Destiny: Rise of Iron is a fairly solid DLC package for the price. The addition of a short, but fairly cool storyline is appreciated, as you learn more about Lord Saladin. The endgame has lots to do too, with new areas to explore, new items to find, and new adventures to be experienced. We can’t overlook the new raid either, as it seems to be a hit amongst Destiny fans out there with some highly sought after rewards. All in all, I think that Destiny fans will enjoy, and appreciate, this newest DLC and will grind their way to the highest light level without much, if any complaints. And for those that have yet to experience Destiny as a whole, there is a ton to enjoy just not here, but in the whole collection. See you in the Plaguelands Young Wolf.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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