Destiny’s Rise of Iron expansion kicks off the third year of the game, delving once more into the game’s vast backstory. This time it focusses on Lord Saladin, the last remaining Iron Lord and one of the first guardians of earth. This is a character who has notably featured in the past as the head of the Iron Banner tournaments in Destiny’s online Crucible, but with the emerging threat of SIVA and the resurgent Fallen, his origins and his knowledge of this are brought to the fore.
His interest is sparked when the Fallen are seen to be regrouping and actively searching in an area known as the Plaguelands. He knows that SIVA is a major threat, a machine-like organic virus that can be manipulated, but can also be very difficult to control. As it soon becomes apparent, Fallen Splicers – the mad scientists of this alien faction – have been experimenting on themselves and other races, using SIVA to carve up the land’s resources and use it to augment their own abilities. Without giving too much away, SIVA is the reason is why Lord Saladin stopped guarding the Iron Temple originally.
The Rise of Iron campaign is short, but sweet and extremely rewarding, while still offering new large areas such as the Plaguelands and the new Iron Temple social space to explore. The campaign does a good job at tying up a lot of loose ends from the game’s lore, answering questions players might have had over where some of the mythical weapons they now use come from. There are less than ten missions and strikes, but your quests and potential bounties will take longer to do than those missions for some cases. The missions for the most part are really nostalgic due to the fact this is to be Destiny’s last major expansion.
As with the Taken in The Taken King, the SIVA infected enemies both appear different and behave differently to their vanilla counterparts. Fallen Servitors have gained a new appearance, Captains have different elemental shields, and some enemies can now send a homing death blast heading your way when you kill them. It’s partly because of this that SIVA can be a pain, rather than a joy to fight. A lot of them rely on burst fire, and with certain modifiers active, they can be unpredictably cruel to deal with, especially when doing challenges and bosses.
The new Iron Temple social space is perhaps the most beautiful one yet and full of nice secrets. Wolves are sat all around – they’re snarling constantly, for some reason – which ties in nicely to the Iron Lords and the Iron Banner tournaments, however, dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that you can climb high above this area, as Bungie tease you into feeling like you’re breaking out of the game’s boundaries. It’s also very apparent that Bungie wanted to make the player feel like they were becoming an Iron Lord, rather than just earning gear to look like one. While it does feel still cheap that Bungie still hasn’t added another planet to explore, the game does well in refining what it has considering the restrictions of being a last generation game.
Gone are the days of waiting weeks to increase your character’s level based on completing end-game activities. There are few new exotics to collect, but the ones you do collect are totally worth the not-so-difficult grind. Legendary weapons and armour now drop more frequently both in PvE and PvP and are usually equal or above whatever armour or weapon you have equipped at the time. You can also buy your way to 350 Light using Vanguard Marks, and then go beyond that from drops that occur during the toughest Strike playlist. Of course, to be ready for the new raid, which goes live this evening, you’ll want to get north of 360 Light if possible, which will require a serious investment of time.
The crucible has a lot to offer in the Rise of Iron. For one, a legendary weapon now seems to drop every two or three public games and it’s actually a quicker method for getting fast levels if you’re pushed for time. There is one new Crucible game type called Supremacy, which is Bungie’s own spin on Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode. In short, the objective is to kill your opponents and collect engram-like items that drop from their bodies to confirm the kill. It’s quite fun, but the new maps feel somewhat uninspired compared to what went before. I would have thought that the content would have more than three new maps, considering the DLC is dedicated to the Lord of the Iron Banner.
Of course, what so many players are aiming for is the Wrath of the Machine raid which will go live at 6PM UK time tonight, the fourth of its kind in the game. As before, this will be the pinnacle of the game’s cooperative experience, with six players battling against overwhelming odds and trying to figure out the puzzles that lie before them. The raid experience is easily the thing that drives Destiny players to this game every year and with the recent changes, and I for one am really excited to earn the new raid gear with my friends.