Year 3 for Destiny officially begins with the launch of the latest expansion, Rise of Iron, and with it a decent amount of content that many Guardians have been anxiously waiting for. The last expansion came out about a year ago in September of 2015, which was The Taken King. This was the only expansion released in year 2, but it not only added plenty of new content to the game, it overhauled many major features. Year 1 gear was rendered useless, replaced by a whole collection of year 2 weapons and armor. The way light level was approached changed, the level cap was increased, and an entirely new area was added. The Taken King was an expansion that satisfied the committed player base and brought back players who felt Destiny was missing too much, being widely considered the best Destiny expansion to date. Sadly though, that still holds true.
Rise of Iron feels substantially different than The Taken King. There is a clear emphasis on content that caters to the loyal fan base, instead of trying to pull reluctant players back in. Many elements of the expansion seem to touch on the nostalgia of year 1 by bringing things back including the quest for year 3 Thorn, a quest for the well known Gjallarhorn, and trips back and forth to where the game originally started. Although the nostalgia trip was a neat aspect in the expansion, it was both a positive and a negative. It was a negative because Rise of Iron feels less like a new experience and more like a small addition to bring the guardians back one last time before Destiny 2. Even the short lived campaign gave me the same feeling.
When you start the first mission in Rise of Iron, you are taken to Felwinter’s Peak on Earth. Before the mission starts, a cinematic plays which is actually very well made and entertaining, but most importantly, it was interesting. Rise of Iron brings the demise of the Iron Lords to light, and finally offers much needed back story to the Destiny universe. However, the campaign only has about 5 missions, and is easily completed in a couple of hours at most. The story starts off strong, but feels rushed by the last mission, simply pushing you along to the next piece of content that Rise of Iron has to offer. That might have been fine had there been more content, but you are introduced to missions and bounties that require hours of grinding instead. One example is the weekly quest to complete good deeds in the Plaguelands, which is basically picking up patrols, killing enemies, or fighting in the Archon’s Forge. The Archon’s Forge is essentially a more casual version of Prison of Elders that requires offerings to fight and receive loot. By completing the good deeds you are rewarded with an artifact from one of the old Iron Lords, which have unique and powerful perks like unlimited sprint or grenades in place of a super. Though the artifact is cool, there wasn’t any actual new content and most of the expansion is like this after completing the main quest line.
After about two days of playing I had completed most of the Rise of Iron content, and all I was left with was the raid called Wrath of the Machine. I was at light level 340 and I had to get upgraded gear to prepare for the raid. The majority of my time in Rise of Iron was spent grinding heroic strikes to acquire gear with more light. Most of the the strikes in the playlist though were strikes from last year. There is actually only 2 new strikes in Rise of Iron, with one being a re-skin of the Sepiks Prime strike. The one completely new strike that is offered in the game is called the Wretched Eye, and takes you through an old missile silo in the Plaguelands. It’s a fun strike to run through but no more unique than any other strike in the game. However, the new addition of skeleton keys did make the endless grind slightly less monotonous. Skeleton keys are a drop that you can get in strikes that allow you to open a chest at the end of a strike, with strike specific loot, but most of the loot is gear that was already in the game. Once I ran about 50 strikes and obtained a few skeleton keys, I was at light level 366. I now surpassed the light level of blue gear from heroic strikes, and the only way to increase my light to a max of 385 was to get legendary engrams or exotics. Before I did anymore grinding though, I decided it was time to attempt the new raid.
Wrath of the Machine is the new raid in Rise of Iron, and is certainly the redeeming feature of the expansion. Yet again we are treated to a well crafted adventure full of unique bosses that require strategic tactics to take down. There are 3 bosses in the raid (4 if you include the entrance fight) and each has its own distinctive fight mechanics. I enjoyed every minute of the raid, from jumping around the platforms on the way to bosses, taking down a boss after one too many wipes, and of course getting the raid loot to make my guardian even stronger. Wrath of the Machine is a great balance between Vault of Glass and Kings Fall, giving us a raid that is more welcoming to all Destiny players but retains the intense boss battles we all love.
Although the Wrath of the Machine raid was fantastic, I can’t say the same about the rest of the expansion. The campaign brings in some interesting lore with new exotics being added as well. However, the campaign is too short and even the new Plaguelands area feels more like a snowy skin for earth. There isn’t enough new and unique content added in Rise of Iron to bring back old players, especially for $30. The loyal fan base on the other hand may find that Rise of Iron does expand on what The Taken King started last year, and nostalgia is a clear theme within the expansion, but more could have been done for this long awaited content.