Destiny hit consoles in 2014 with a bang. The audacious combining of the MMO and FPS genres, brought to you by the folks who made Halo a thing, was just the perfect recipe for an amazing gaming experience. Unfortunately, small details held the series back at launch, and after two add-ons that first year, Bungie came back with the simply stellar expansion, The Taken King, last fall. As the first phase of Destiny winds down, Activision and Bungie have released the last expansion for the core game, Destiny: Rise of Iron, and players are introduced to a new faction, a new location, and a new threat.
Destiny: Rise of Iron is centered mostly on Earth, in the Russian tundra known simply as The Plaguelands. This is an area that once held great industry, but the carbon footprint left there turned the icy lands into one of ruin. Add to the fact that sworn protectors, the Iron Lords, came across something evil, a techno-virus called SIVA, and in trying to protect humanity, gave their lives. One of humanity’s newest enemies, The Fallen, have found this dangerous techno-plague and used it to create a new kind of soldier, with even bigger ideas on how to use it to rule the galaxy, and without the Iron Lords to stop them, Lord Saladin, the last Iron Lord, recruits your Guardian to save the galaxy. No pressure.
The Destiny: Rise of Iron expansion contains a cinematic story quest, told in 11 parts, with five rather lengthy combat missions. I will say that the final battle was one of the best in the series so far. Once completed, as in previous add-ons and DLC expansions, other sub-quests open up, giving gamers plenty to do post-story, and there is even a new PVP Crucible mode, Supremacy, where Guardians can duke it out on new Rise of Iron-inspired maps. A new Raid, called Wrath of the Machines, and a new Strike gives Rise of Iron some meaty goodness where it needs it most. There is even a new social space, Felwinter Peak, which, as you might have guessed, is located around the Iron Lords temple carved into the side of a mountain. If you hate yourself and love to be frustrated, the mountain can be climbed to the top, where a reward awaits. I did it, and it took me about an hour of falling off over and over, but I did get there. Have fun with that.
The Light Level cap has also been raised to 385, and with new weapons and gear to collect, with radical new designs meant to take advantage of the tribal, warrior-like art direction of the Iron Lords themselves, players can truly customize their Guardians into some very bad-ass looking hombres. In short, while not as game-changing as The Taken King, Destiny: Rise of Iron is a suitable final chapter in this phase of Bungie’s 10-year plan for the franchise.
There is one big issue to take into consideration before jumping into the new Rise of Iron content. The new story campaign is Light Level locked at 280, meaning it can’t even be played unless a Guardian is at least Light Level 250 (with the new missions being listed as “Very Hard” in a dark red color). Casual players, who only jump on to play during add-on releases may be forced to do some quick grinding for higher-level gear. Once a player qualifies, the mission rewards and dropped engrams will quickly push the Guardian to the correct level going forward in the campaign, but getting there might be an issue.
While not a deal-breaker, it should be noted before going in that Destiny: Rise of Iron is not as pick-up and play as previous installments. Bungie does include a level 40 token for players to use on a Guardian to quickly get them to level, but that doesn’t include Light Level, and that will take some time.
When Bungie first announced Destiny to the world, fans new and old were thrilled. While the franchise somewhat stumbled out of the gate, constant tweaks to just about every facet of the game, and some great add-ons in “The Dark Below” and “House of Wolves” helped set up last fall’s The Taken King expansion, which seemingly fixed so many of the bigger issues. It’s almost like creating the perfect pizza. Destiny in Year One was like a boring cheese pizza, but with each add-on and expansion, Bungie has turned that insipid old pizza into something gourmet. Destiny: Rise of Iron is the final topping, and now this is a pizza that everyone can enjoy. And even come back for seconds, and thirds, and so on. After three years, if this is what Bungie thinks Destiny can be, I cannot wait to see what comes about in Destiny 2, the true sequel to the franchise, rumored for next year.
For now, the last Iron Lord calls, and the Guardians will answer, and the SIVA threat must be stopped or the entire galaxy is in trouble. The Iron must Rise again.
Destiny: Rise of Iron is available now as both a stand alone for $29.99, and as part of Destiny: The Collection, which collects the entire game, each add-on, and both major expansions, The Taken King and Rise of Iron. Destiny: The Collection retails for $59.99. Both versions are available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This review is based off a PS4 review code provided by the publisher.
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