by CJ Streetman
Reviewed on Xbox One
Destiny: Rise of Iron is the last expansion to Destiny, also kicking off Year Three for the long-living console game. Rise of Iron comes following the tremendously well-received The Taken King, and frankly, it’s a pale shade of an expansion following the massive adventure aboard the Dreadnaught.
Back to what you know
The single strongest point of Rise of Iron is the heavy emphasis on Destiny’s strong core gunplay.
From the very first mission every moment is about motion and marksmanship against an aggressive horde of enemies. There are significantly fewer arena fights than in previous expansions, which gives a feeling of constant forward momentum through each and every moment.
Even the arena fights are significant shakeups of the previous formula of shoot enemies until they stop spawning. As an example, the final mission of this expansion, which may be the best single mission in Destiny, puts a very special weapon into your hands for the duration of the arena fight.
Even the new raid, Wrath of the Machine, focuses on one or two new mechanics with very little in the way of puzzles and a whole lot in the way of shooting baddies. Contrary to last year’s Kings Fall, Wrath of the Machine is infinitely more about execution than puzzling out the scenario you find yourself in and genuinely deserves consideration alongside the brilliant Vault of Glass as the best raid in Destiny.
In the same field, the new Crucible mode, Supremacy, is excellent in that it forces players to rush into dangerous situations. The only major failings of the new mode are the heavy emphasis on Titans, with their advantage in close-range and the forced uselessness of sniper rifles, due to their long range.
I actually like these people, I guess?
I cried over a character in Destiny, which is something I genuinely never expected.
One of the major failings of Destiny over the last two years has been an inability to ground the player in the universe, lore, and characters with whom they interact. The closest thing to a great, world-building triumph in Destiny until now had been the genuinely excellent Books of Sorrow.
Where Taken King dipped into that field, by humanizing characters like Cayde-6 and Eris Morn, Rise of Iron dives straight in. I found myself genuinely caring about characters like Lord Saladin.
Perhaps most telling of all is a moment with Ghost. As the two of you overlook the place where he found you two years ago, he reminisces about the search for you. In the most shocking moment of Rise of Iron, wherein you fight horrific SIVA perversions and become a hero of an ancient order, I cried over a character in Destiny, which is something I genuinely never expected.
Sounds like a good vacation spot
The Plaguelands is the new area directly connected to Old Russia’s Cosmodrome. It’s terribly unimaginative and small, so that doesn’t really lend itself to exploration. The hidden alcoves all just reveal temporary weapons or collectibles, and the patrol missions become tedious faster than in the other patrol zones.
The bright spot of the Plaguelands is definitely the Archon’s Forge, which itself is a rather shaky experience. The new PVE arena is an unreasonably hard feature to activate that, for all intents and purposes, replaces the Court of Oryx, where players can only carry one SIVA offering item at a time as opposed to upward of 100 Runes in the Court of Oryx. This leads to a very disjointed experience in the arena, where between bursts of exciting and intense gunplay, everyone pauses to check their inventory to see if they even have one of the ignition items to start another round.
UPDATE: After the time of writing, Bungie uploaded a hotfix that fixed the economy of the Archon’s Forge. More patrols guarantee SIVA offerings and the Forge itself is much more likely to reward the player with SIVA offerings. While only being able to carry one offering at a time still leads to frustration, it’s much more likely that a fireteam will be able to start another round of the Forge immediately.
That’s a lot of glimmer
Now let’s just talk logistics.
Rise of Iron costs $30, the two Year One expansions cost $20 each, and The Taken King cost $40.
In my opinion, the biggest sign that Rise of Iron is a letdown is that I have never previously felt like I’ve been shorted by Destiny, and that’s coming from someone who actually shelled out for Silver, the game’s premium currency that allows the player to buy emotes and other aesthetic items.
Rise of Iron includes around six missions (more to be revealed as you discover exotic quests), one strike, one raid, a new mode, three new maps, and one decent area.
This is unavoidably compared to Taken King’s 20 story missions, three new strikes, a raid, three new subclasses, two new modes, eight new maps, a raid, and an intricate and exciting to explore new area.
Frankly, Rise of Iron feels like one of Year One’s short DLCs except overpriced and overhyped.
What is in Rise of Iron is excellent and possibly some of the best content in Destiny so far. Unfortunately, what is there is so incredibly small that I will be genuinely shocked if I find myself playing Destiny in even a few weeks. It’s worth noting however that, in modern Destiny, the worst piece of content is still incredible fun.
+A return to focus on Destiny’s incredible gunplay
+Heavy focus on character development
+The moment with Ghost in the quest for Kvhostov
+New raid is fun and straightforward
-Campaign is maybe 3 hours long
-Price feels too high for the amount of content
-Archon’s Forge is disjointed and hard to start
-The Plaguelands are fairly dull