Before I bought my PS4 last year as a Christmas present to myself, I spent many years away from console gaming. At the risk of dating myself, I hadn’t owned a console since the PS One. Now, at 33 and needing an outlet to channel my aggression, I put a controller back in my hand and my first experience with current gen gaming has been Bungie’s ambitious MMOFPS, Destiny.
Most other games I’ve picked up have fallen to the wayside fairly quickly, but Destiny has easily been the experience that has consumed the lion’s share of the 1000+ hours I’ve spent glued to my chair. I bought this game with every intention of having it be a casual hobby that allowed me to take my frustrations out on computer generated alien invaders after work or to pass time between projects in the same way an app game occupies me during my commute on the bus. If my PS4 could laugh at me right now, it would. Such responsible, tepid aspirations were quickly dashed. I’ve been late to dates because I was halfway through raids and play PvP “Crucible” runs during the in-between moments of my life such as waiting on my Uber and commercial breaks when I’m watching television. I’m a bit addicted, to say the least.
Rise of Iron is a big deal because we haven’t had a legitimate expansion since last year’s Taken King. Since then, we’ve merely received the occasional updates that have included a handful of new gear and a small jump in max light level, but now we’ve got a whole new layer added to a constantly building world with a story that delves into one of Destiny’s more enigmatic characters. The main storyline deals with Lord Saladin (you’ll know him as the guy you have to talk to for rewards in the monthly Iron Banner event) coming out of retirement to combat an ancient enemy that he needs your help to defeat. It seems that a long time ago before the events of Destiny, the Iron Lords discovered SIVA, a nanotech meant to aid mankind in colonization. However, as most nanotech does in sci-fi, it turned on its masters and the Iron Lords (except Saladin) sacrificed themselves to seal it away near Earth’s core. But now, a cabal of the Fallen have unearthed SIVA and mean to use it against the Guardians. Sounds pretty epic, right?
Well, don’t get too excited. The main “Rise of Iron” storyline is short. It took me about two hours to complete the primary story missions and that’s because I took a break to eat breakfast and shower. If you’re a truly dedicated Guardian, the whole affair will probably take about an hour. It would have been nice to get a couple more cinematic scenes that elaborate on the mythology, but a lot of the details on this SIVA mess are narrated to you in the transition “in orbit” scenes via the perpetually sullen Saladin and your new Vanguard commander, Shiro-4. You don’t get nearly the amount of humourous banter you’d get with Commander Zavala (Lance Reddick) and Cayde -6 (Nathan Fillion), but you’re given the impression that these characters come from a different generation where defending Earth is much more serious business than what we’re used to. Now that I mention, it would have actually been more awesome if we’d received more insight into what seems like the Iron Lords more exploratory inquisitiveness from back in the day and how that will gel with the present day way of things now that Saladin seems to be resurrecting his long dead institution.
For all the “end is nigh” talk, SIVA is interesting but not nearly as menacing as the alien warlords we’ve shut down since Taken’s inception, but the missions are still pretty fun and we’re awarded a new patrol zone known as the Plaguelands. This map is pretty fun too, particularly to do with “public events” (there’s still few things as satisfying as shutting down a giant walker alongside relative strangers), where you go around and assassinate a few Cabal priests to add notches to your belt in the form of a shiny new progress book for Year Three that earns you some sick Iron Lord gear for your trouble.
The thing that has consumed me the most about the Rise of Iron content is easily the new Crucible mode, Supremacy. Essentially, the idea here is that it’s not enough to just kill your opponent. For the kill to count on your team’s score, you have to collect a “crest” from their lifeless body. In many cases, this means taking your target out at long range and having to risk life and limb to retrieve the crest. The matches are equal parts delightfully sweaty and highly infuriating. The best way to go about the match is to go the “strength in numbers route” and mow down as many enemies as possible.
Visually, Destiny is still one of the most gorgeous games on the market. The new Rise of Iron theme music sounds utterly majestic and heroic. If you don’t hear that orchestra and find yourself believing that you and your flaming hammer could take down a intergalactic demigod, I want to submit you to a Voight-Kampff test because you MUST be a robot. The new weapons are mostly well balanced and still have outlandishly entertaining names.
The downside….the big, gaping downside to the new content is the new light level cap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always down to get more powerful and it’s no secret that Destiny is a game where level grinding is basically mandatory, but the overall grind to achieve 370 light is nothing short of a part time job. See, to get your light level up, you have to collect high numbered items and to collect high numbered items you have to play some particularly difficult daily or weekly missions. Certain colors drop certain items in certain number brackets. If the explanation isn’t clear to you, it’s because this is the result of trial and error on my part because THE GAME DOES NOT EXPLAIN ANY OF THIS IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER.
And make no mistake…you WILL need to get to 370 if you want to stand any semblance of a chance in the new raid which is, by far, the most substantial, time consuming aspect of the expansion. Granted, it’s not as complicated and infuriating as King’s Fall was and it’s a lot more focused on teamwork and killing bad guys like it should be. I can’t tell you too much more outside of that about Wrath of the Machine because I have not even remotely come close to finishing it because, as we established, becoming powerful enough to not get mowed down instantly takes longer than Donald Trump does to say something nice about someone other than himself.
Bottom Line: With some new additions, a few new layers of mythology, an anger inducing new PvP mode and a raid that takes as long to get prepared for as it does to actually execute, players that have liked this game previously will continue to be it’s loyal, willing servant. Those hate players who raid comment sections and complain non stop about a game they play religiously will undoubtedly find new things to fan-whine about. However, with the serious upgrades in quality to an already sweet looking game….they’ll be a little harder pressed to do so.
4 Roided Up Space Marines about of 5