I was very excited to jump back into Destiny. Having played through the game multiple times and eaten up its previous expansion, The Taken King, I was eager to get back into the swing of things with its latest (and probably last) expansion, subtitled Rise of Iron. So far it’s been an interesting ride, but it’s a little too early to tell, so first up let’s talk the new campaign levels.
The added story, part of an over-arching campaign that didn’t deliver as well as fans hoped early on but has evolved into something bigger over time, is a short but snappy affair. That’s all I’ve completed so far, having waited a little longer than expected to get into the game following the release of the game later Tuesday afternoon here in Perth. Thanks to some overloaded servers, caused by just about every Destiny fan wanting in on the action at the same time, a lot of people were left waiting just to get past the title screen or held in a makeshift queue to try and loosen the servers up a little. Once myself and my party of three were finally all on at the same time, the situation became clear. Rise of Iron wasn’t going to follow the exact rules of The Taken King.
The greatest criticism to Destiny in its two and a half year run was its story. Every fan knows the development woes the team found themselves in before the game launched, causing the entire story to be re-written after a late game change. That, in turn, left the first year of Destiny feeling rather hollow, almost unfinished, with an expansive world that held plenty of secrets but not enough meat on the initial bones. Much of that criticism has slipped away as Bungie have slowly built upon the foundations, adding new characters, locations and cut-scenes to paint a broader painting of the world they had created. Rise of Iron adds a little bit more to this world, though for some it might feel a little too short in the process.
The actual levels are entertaining, with plenty of action and new things to marvel at, at times feeling rather hectic and at other times cramped and foreboding (in much the same way the Dreadnought felt when we first explored its innards in the Taken King). They tell the story of the Iron Lords, the first ‘Guardians’ of Earth who fell to a mysterious creation that could have torn the galaxy in two, sacrificing themselves to protect us. The story picks up with the last of the Iron Lords, who hears of strange goings on near where his former friends fell.
Unfortunately it doesn’t take very long to finish the main quest line, a few hours at best, though there are plenty of side quests, strikes and the like to keep the story going beyond that. The new raid won’t hit the airwaves for a few days yet, which will wrap this new story up completely, but for now I feel like there could have been so much more. What’s here is entertaining but, unlike the previous few DLC packs, this doesn’t have the same strong ending it could have had. Uplifting, perhaps, but it felt a little rushed.
Again, it comes back to that day one issue. I’ve loved every minute I’ve played Destiny, and I’ll report back on all the other content to this new DLC as I go through it, but I’ve always felt like there’s something missing. Here’s this unique, colourful and at times remarkable new game world, an IP that could be mined for all sorts of amazing stories and adventures, and yet in two and a half years it feels like we’ve only just scratched the surface of that potential. That’s both a positive and negative outcome, positive in that Bungie I’m sure feel the same way and are hard at work on Destiny 2 as we speak, negative in that there are so many other IP’s out there that have achieved a lot more in that same space of time (The Witcher 3 comes to mind).
So without spoiling anything, where does the Rise of Iron leave us? Wanting a lot more, of course, but it does make me curious as to what Bungie may be planning going forward. We’ve put a ton of hours into our guardians, so it makes sense that the next game will allow us to continue that journey with them. But where will the story take us next? Will we venture out into other planets, far reaching solar systems? What other threats will there be (Rasputin was supposed to be the main villain of the peace, perhaps that will finally get its time to shine next time around)? More importantly, will Bungie put a greater effort into its storytelling and re-enforce their creation with some branching, expansive content? Time will tell.
I will say this though, the new social space is gorgeous. Massive mountains, beautiful internal architecture, it’s easily the best thing Bungie has designed so far. I’ll talk a little more about this next time, but there’s a sneaky little bonus in this area that really drives home that feeling that the development team are listening to the fan base as best they can. Look to your left and up from where you spawn, and you might see a few fellow Guardians climbing the side of the mountain…
For now, the story of Rise of Iron is a welcome if short addition to the universe, with the promise of holding so much yet delivering (so far) a few punches without the much needed roundhouse kick to end it. It’s fun, and at harder difficulty settings should appease those looking for a new challenge. I’ll be back soon with my impressions of the new Patrol areas, Strikes, Weapons and eventually, the new Raid.
Mark Isaacson is the editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson