Oryx’s attempt to avenge the death of his son Crota has failed, and his army of Taken has been scattered across the stars. Guardians have been looking for a new threat to challenge their dominance for over a year, and it just so happens that they didn’t need to leave Earth to find the latest threat to the galaxy. The most recent expansion, Destiny: Rise of Iron, adds plenty of new content, including new story quests, a new Crucible mode, and a new raid, all of which help solidify Destiny as one of the best first-person shooters for both cooperative and competitive multiplayer.
The Iron Lords once sought to use SIVA to advance humanity's colonization effort further due to its self-replicating nanotechnology. The SIVA plague turned against them, and it cost the lives of all, but one Iron Lord - Lord Saladin. With no way to destroy the supposed saving grace of humanity, the Iron Lords sealed it away, deep within the core of the Earth. The noble Fallen House, The House of Devils, has somehow unearthed SIVA and begun to use it’s power to their advantage. Lord Saladin leads the Guardians against the Fallen Slicers, who are using the power of SIVA to improve the technology of their Fallen brethren. It’s not quite the same type of transformation players saw in The Taken King with the Taken, but it does add a new coat to a traditional enemy. Bungie has taken to heart the criticism from Year 1 Destiny and follows up the highly cinematic narrative from Year 2 with another winner. Although only five missions deep, which can be completed in a manner of hours, it does set the stage for the remaining content in Rise of Iron.
Completing the Rise of Iron campaign is only the begin for players, as you’ll unlock many more missions, unique exotic weapon quests, and the highly anticipated new raid: The Wrath of the Machine. As mentioned, there are multiple exotic weapon quests, including the return of the best rocket launcher in the game, the Gjallarhorn. To earn it, however, you must complete a set of different missions that will probably take you longer to complete than the main narrative. Others are not so easy to find, one of which is randomly given to players as they complete bounties, and another requires players to revisit old areas of the Cosmodrome. Along with new legendary and exotic weapons to collect, Rise of Iron includes new armor sets, including the Days of Iron set, earned by completing tasks in your Rise of Iron book. Think of it as the new version of the Moments of Triumph record book at the end of Year 2 of Destiny.
While chroma existed in Destiny prior to release, allowing players to add neon glows to different pieces of armor, Bungie has added ornaments for exotic weapons and the Days of Iron armor sets. The Days of Iron ornament lives up to its name, adding raging flames to armor piece. Trust me; it's cool looking. Exotic weapons have two different ornaments to alter the design of the weapon, giving players two new options for some of their favorite weapons. They are only available through Radiant Treasure boxes which can be bought using Silver (the currency purchased with real money). You can also earn a single Radiant Treasure each week, by completing whatever task is assigned to it; play a certain Crucible mode, complete a Heroic Strike, etc..
Previously, Artifacts have been nothing but an additional armor slot, but with Rise of Iron, they now serve a much more important purpose. Obtained by completing weekly quests (you can earn three a week if you have three characters), you’ll collect new artifacts that add various bonuses to your character, such as unlimited sprinting, or turning Fallen enemies temporarily into allies after a melee attack.
The new Plaguelands zone is located on Earth and is currently my favorite area to explore in the game. Not only is their perpetual snow falling, but SIVA and the Fallen have altered the environment, and it looks stunning. Using the nanotechnology to their advantage, the Fallen Splicers have resurrected one of your toughest foes you fought early in your journey in Destiny (a nice touch for Year 1 players). The new Patrol area doesn’t have as many secrets as the Dreadnaught, but it is a much more attractive location to explore. Don't get me wrong; there are secrets to be found, but most of them require you to have special keys that randomly drop after killing certain foes. The new arena style activity, similar to the Court of Oryx on the Dreadnaught, Archon’s Forge is well designed. However, it is terribly located in the Plaguelands. Bungie hoped players would flock to these public events, but it is so far out of the way, tucked away in the corner of the map, that you don’t come across players wanting to complete the tasks as often as you would like. Not to mention, you can only carry a single key to start the event, with no promise that all players participating will have a key for subsequent turns.
In typical fashion, Bungie released the new raid, The Wrath of the Machine, a few days after the release of the expansion. Whatever your feelings are regarding this time delay, The Wrath of the Machine is the best raid in the game. Instead of focusing on bosses that are nothing more than bullet sponges, communication and working as a team is paramount. At one point, you’re staring down a massive siege engine, and the next, you are facing a machine entwined with the power of SIVA. The encounters are more forgiving than The King’s Fall raid (From The Taken King), and your fireteam can easily recover from one or two mistakes without any major issues.
One thing that Destiny does not lack is an increasing number of competitive multiplayer modes for players. Supremacy comes in both team-centric and free-for-all varieties and feels more akin to Kill Confirmed from Call of Duty. Enemies drop a crest upon death, and you’ll gain an additional point if you can collect it, but it can also be picked up by the enemy team to deny your side from the point. I’ve given up prime positions, just to try and run for the nearest crest, which then turns into even more crests as teams try and stop each other at the same time. For this reason, you do see more close-ranged combat, so almost everyone is using Shotguns. I still believe that they have too much accuracy and range, but that’s the nature of Bungie constantly trying to balance all the weapons in the game. It’s more exhilarating than any other PvP modes, and I’ve certainly felt adrenaline coursing through my veins when I’ve gone on some impressive streaks mid-match.
Replaying Heroic Strikes now have greater meaning, as treasure chests will appear upon killing the Strike boss. The loot is unique to each strike, so if you are looking for a particular type of item, you’ll want to replay that Strike as many times as you can. Of course, you do need a Skeleton Key to open the chest, which you’ll have to grind Strikes to try and obtain them. Currently, I have only seen a single key for only one of my characters.
Destiny: Rise of Iron continues the Destiny tradition as it moves into its third year of content. Some may see it as a step back from last year’s The Taken King as it doesn’t feature new playable subclasses, but there is much more beneath the surface to Rise of Iron. This, along with making older Strikes relevant again help elevate Destiny once again without alienating any of its core player base. While the new raid was completed only a couple hours after being released, the Hard Mode and Challenges have yet to be revealed and should offer additional content for those players looking for the ultimate challenge.
Note: The review for Destiny: Rise of Iron is based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.