Destiny: Rise of Iron Review

By Jonathan Barnes, 3 months ago
When Bungie launched the The Taken King last year, many players (myself included) praised the Destiny expansion for crafting a coherent and compelling narrative, a reworked Light system, and a retooled base experience dubbed "Destiny 2.0". Since then, Bungie has done modest updates to Destiny and created some short, special events, but hasn't injected new content that is sorely needed with a game of Destiny's scope and ambition.

Last week, Bungie finally gave players another content drop with "Rise of Iron". While the content does scratch the itch for "more Destiny", does it reach the high bar that Bungie set with "The Taken King"?

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Veteran Guardians are no-doubt familiar with the semi-regular Iron Banner event, which enables level advantages in the Crucible. "Rise of Iron" puts the Iron Banner's host, Lord Saladin, at the forefront of the story, chronicles the last fight of the Iron Lords, and tasks Guardians with finishing the Lords' final fight and taking on twisted versions of old foes.

The largest addition included within "Rise of Iron" is the new patrol area, The Plaguelands. A separated section of The Cosmodrome on Earth, The Plaguelands have become infested with SIVA and SIVA-spliced Fallen. Players will also have a new social space to play in, The Iron Temple. While neither of these new areas has the same gravitas as the Hive Dreadnaught, they certainly gain high marks for visual splendor and variety.

Who's a good boy!?Who's a good boy!?

The campaign for "Rise of Iron" primarily sticks to The Plaguelands and features some nice variety in mission structure. In particular, the final mission presents a high mark in design for the game. Unfortunately, the campaign is incredibly short and can be completed in a few short hours.

Once completed, The Plaguelands opens up as a patrol area. The best new addition to the patrol is the "Quarantine" patrol mission. Quarantine missions start with the player taking down a mini boss and transition into a short, wave-based challenge that are made a bit easier with the addition of the new power weapon from "Rise of Iron", the huge, flaming axe of the Iron Lords.

Axes... not just for chopping down trees.Axes... not just for chopping down trees.

Infesting The Plaguelands are the new SIVA-spliced enemies. After the work that Bungie put into the Taken variants from "The Taken King", it's disappointing to find that these new enemies feel like reskinned versions of old enemies. The new enemies' attacks may look slightly different, and they may be slightly harder to take down, but their behaviors and tactics are relatively unchanged from their classic counterparts.

In addition to the short single player campaign, "Rise of Iron" also features an increased Light maximum, one new Strike, one revamped Strike, a new Raid, and a new Crucible mode, Supremacy. Supremacy is a Deathmatch variant that challenges players to pick up Crests that are dropped by slain Guardians. It is a nice addition to the Crucible, but doesn't reinvent the wheel with innovation. Another recent Crucible change is the addition of private matches, which will make playing with friends/clan members much easier.

As one would expect from new Destiny content, you're going to get some shiny, new toys to help in your quest. The addition of new exotics and legendaries make swapping in new gear easy, but an initial increased drop rate for rare and uncommon gear make the task of micromanaging gear and light levels more of a chore than ever before. Fortunately, the infusion system put in place with "The Taken King" still allows you to hold onto and goose up the power on your favorite bits of gear if you'd rather not part with them. Furthermore, Bungie has done players a favor and increased the likelihood that encrypted engrams will decrypt to a higher class item. In my time with "Rise of Iron", I had at least two engrams decrypt into exotic gear.

Guess who's back? Back again.Guess who's back? Back again.

The highlight of "Rise of Iron" from a PvE experience, is the new Archon's Forge arena. Similar to the Court of Oryx from "The Taken King", Archon's Forge requires players to find "SIVA Offerings" and present them at a terminal outside the arena. Just like Court of Oryx, the SIVA Offerings are found at three different, recommended light levels: Fused Offerings at 320 Light, Enhanced Offerings at 340 Light, and Perfected Offerings at 360 Light. Unlike Court of Oryx, once the challenge has begun, the arena is closed off, stopping new players from entering. Once the arena is closed, the only way to enter into the challenge (or re-enter, if you die and respawn outside) is to use another new item, Splicer Keys. Success in Archon's Forge rewards players with unique loot from the Forge. The one drawback to Archon's Forge is that players can only hold one SIVA Offering at a time.

This drawback of limited resources and access also extends to the new Strike rewards. At the end of each Strike in the new Strike playlist, players will be presented with a chest that can only be opened with a Skeleton Key, much like the chest at the end of Prison of Elders. Skeleton Keys are a random drop, however, so it's tough to tell when you will be getting them and are made all the more precious by their current scarcity.

On the achievement front, "Rise of Iron" features nine achievements. Of the nine, three will be difficult to unlock: the two for beating the new "Wrath of the Machine" raid on both normal and hard difficulties and one for activating all of the Iron Lord artifacts. There is also one secret (and rather unique) achievement that will require a fireteam and some coordination to unlock, but that's better left for discovering. The rest should be unlocked through normal play in the Crucible and solo questing.

Archon's Forge is the highlight of Rise of Iron.Archon's Forge is the highlight of "Rise of Iron".


Summary

Much like "The Taken King" before it, avid fans of Destiny are already playing "Rise of Iron" and enjoying the new content. If you're one of the few shooter fans who hasn't tried Destiny yet, the value added by "Rise of Iron" makes the new Destiny - The Collection an easy recommendation as well. Those things being said, "Rise of Iron" feels thin in content and quality, especially when compared to last year's "The Taken King". The campaign can easily be completed in a few hours and the addition of just one new Strike, one new Crucible mode, and a new Raid make the expansion feel smaller.

Destiny 2 is most likely on the horizon in the next 18 months. If "Rise of Iron" is Bungie's last injection of content into Destiny, it is underwhelming and will need serious support to sustain the player base for the rest of this year and next. That being said, if you want more Destiny (but not much more), "Rise of Iron" is for you.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • More Destiny
  • Archon's Forge is a fun PvE arena
  • Still one of the best shooting experiences this generation
  • Wolves!
Negatives
  • ...not MUCH more Destiny
  • Content lacks depth
  • Cannot pet wolves
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 20 hours with the content, completing the single player campaign, new strike, and testing the PvP content. Through his snowy wanders, he unlocked four of the expansion's nine achievements. A digital copy of the DLC was provided for the purpose of this review.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.