34 days 7 hours and 33 minutes. That’s how much time I’ve sunk into Destiny. I’ve broken Atheon and its hold on time, slayed the rising threat of Crota, defeated the renegade Skolas and, snuffed out the corrupted light of Oryx. Not to mention the fact that I’ve unleashed a reign of terror in the Crucible and Iron Banner, (as of writing) blacking out the light of 26151 Guardians — 2501 of those coming from a single Iron Banner tournament. I’ve seen and done it all to the point I thought of hanging up my cape for a bit, but then along came a new expansion in the form of Rise of Iron and lo and behold, I’ve been drawn back into the world of Destiny for this new adventure and let me tell you, what an adventure it was. In fact, it was was pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Pretentious (hashtag) humble brags aside — the story of Rise of Iron starts off with you being tasked by the Iron Banner’s Lord Saladin with stopping a branch of the Fallen known as Devil Splicers from assaulting the Iron Temple on Felwinter Peak. The Temple was once home to the legendary Iron Lords who gave their lives to stop a dangerous self-replicating technological plague known as SIVA — something Saladin thought wiped out, but the Devil Splicers have somehow found and used it to augment themselves and now, it’s up to you to stop them and prevent SIVA from being unleashed on the world. The story will take you from Earth to Mars to new areas such as Felwinter Peak and the Plaguelands, as well as bringing you into conflict with enemies both new and old as you battle this new threat in an effort to save the world once more and prove yourself worthy of the Iron Lord legacy.
[pullquote]..It’s the formulaic with the standard, “Go there, shoot, scan, shoot”…[/pullquote]
Sadly, the story of Rise of Iron might sound like it spans dozens of missions which takes you across the cosmos, it’s surprisingly short, spanning only 5 story missions, however, the limited missions you get are pretty interesting and although yes, it’s the formulaic with the standard, “Go there, shoot, scan, shoot,” it’s still pretty fun to experience and that’s the key to Destiny‘s longevity: it might be repetitive, but it’s fun. You won’t be left an emotional wreck or lose any sleep thinking about the story of Rise of Iron, but let’s be honest, you really aren’t here for the story. You’re here to shoot things with fancy space guns.
Gameplay remains unchanged, with you still using a variety of — new and improved — space guns to shoot — new and improved — space enemies in their space faces or using the various — still pretty much the same — abilities of your class of choice (Hunterz rule and every other class droolz) to shock, incinerate or, uh, purple void-y the aforementioned enemies into the sweet abyss.
[pullquote]Rise of Iron is big on flames and fire…[/pullquote]
However, there is a new badass flaming axe of death you can pick up in certain patrol missions or in the new Splicer cache rooms (“hidden” in the world) to flaming Hulk smash your foes to (violent) death with and although it’s on a timer, it’s just such a delightful weapon to wield — just so delightful — all while being a fabulously stylish little Guardian with the new gear you can get — especially the new Iron Lord sets, which are just the concrete definition of badass… Assuming you microtransact or grind your way to the tokens and Silver Dust needed to activate the flaming ornaments of badassery on them… Actually, Rise of Iron is big on flames and fire, it seems. I guess you could say that it’s… lit, fam — wait, I’m sorry! Don’t leave! I swear I won’t use those words again!
Speaking of which, the new gear and weapons introduced (both exotic and not) aren’t really all that in a bag of air potato chips, but there is one big addition in the form of the Lords of Iron artifacts, which bring game-changing abilities to your Guardian. For instance, one allows you to lose your Super, but gain an extra melee and grenade charge. Another allow your sword to deflect projectiles, including rockets and Ogre eye blasts (take THAT >censored< Wretched Eye Strike) or even once which turns enemies against their brethren with a melee strike and you can watch them fight for your honor… TO THE DEATH!… Or at least for 30 seconds. These are hard to come by, so think carefully when the opportunity arises for you to make your selection.
In terms of the world, Bungie has introduced a new area called the Plaguelands and have also overhauled sections of the Cosmodrone to give it a light SIVA makeover, and while you adventure through here, you’ll find rooms you can unlock with special keys (obtained through killing special named enemies) to get the Flaming Axe of Pwnage and Utter Rektitude™ as well as other new areas — such as the Court of Oryx of earth known as Archon’s Forge, where you’ll battle waves of Splicers all in the name of the almighty loot (hallowed be thy loot) and it comes in three flavours of escalating difficulty. The Forge is difficult, but you’ll need to partake in it not only for loot, but also because many of the new quests require it — and although the story is short, there are dozens of new quests to keep you more than sufficiently busy, so there, complainers.
[pullquote]Multiplayer has received just as big a boost, with a fair amount of maps being introduced…[/pullquote]
Oh, and the raid? Let’s just say it’s more about your might than your brains this time around. Not as complex as the previous raids in terms of mechanics, but you’ll need some big guns and some strong Light to overcome the giant — well, no spoilers here.
Multiplayer has received just as big a boost, with a fair amount of maps being introduced as well as a new game mode called Supremacy, which is basically kill confirmed. Kill a Guardian and collect their crest to score or pick up a fallen Guardian’s crest to deny the other team a point. Never in my life have I seen such teamwork in the Crucible, as Guardians actually stick close together instead of branching off and this leads to exhilarating clashes as people try to steal and deny crests in tight spaces and it’s just blissful anarchy. Not the most original mode by far, but with Destiny’s unique weapons and abilities, it’s actually quite refreshing.
But how does it all look and sound? Destiny is just a beautiful looking game and it still rings true here, but the Rise of Iron expansion takes you away from the majestic sunsets and sunrises with picturesque backgrounds to the snowy, Silent Hill-type infected Plaguelands and there’s a stark contrast to what we’ve become accustomed to. The SIVA infection intercuts the snowy industrial areas with red tendrils of hate and anger to create a beautifully twisted dark fantasy (Kanye pls don’t sue) land in most areas whereas another is a T-1000’s worst nightmare, with molten magma and metal everywhere — one thing I have to hand Bungie is a, “Damn, dat lighting, tho” award. It is phenomenal what they’ve done with the lighting in this game.
[pullquote]…It’s just a damn good expansion…[/pullquote]
On the audio side, the only thing of note to speak about is the fact that Saladin and his smooth as ice (ice, baby) voice finally get to shine and shine bright they do — with the few other characters introduced also pulling off a great job. Special kudos also goes out to Nolan North and the writing team for making the “new” Ghost a whole lot more fun — especially true with the one scene after a certain exotic mission where he reminisces about your adventures thus far. It was touching. But I’m a big boy and big boys don’t cry, Franklin Ocean.
Rise of Iron doesn’t bring a whole lot when it comes to story, but there’s enough new content to keep you busy for hours upon hours — as it has me — chasing new loot and exploring new areas. It plays great. It looks great. It sounds great — it’s just a damn good expansion, so what’re you waiting for, Guardian? You’ve got a Machine God to take down. Get at it.