Destiny: Rise of Iron Review

By: Ryan Cox | September 29th, 2016

Destiny: Rise of Iron is Destiny’s second major yearly expansion. The DLC initiates the third year of the game’s lifecycle. While many were expecting Destiny 2 to be released this year, Rise of Iron was announced and released after nine months of development. Rise of Iron introduces a new cinematic campaign, new PvE activities, new Crucible PvP content, and more. While the $30 expansion without a doubt will reignite the passion of the Destiny player base, it swings and misses within a few aspects of the full package.


Story

Rise of Iron’s story revolves around an existing piece of Destiny’s lore – the Iron Lords. Since the Beta in 2014, players have become familiar with Lord Saladin, the host/vendor for the competitive Iron Banner PvP event. Through Grimoire and flavor texts on Iron Banner weapons and armor, players vaguely learned of the Iron Lords, mysterious names and figures with an untold story. Destiny: Rise of Iron sets out to answer the question: Who were the Iron Lords, and what happened to them?

Destiny Screenshot 47

The main antagonist and conflict that players will face in Rise of Iron is SIVA – a Golden Age self-replicating nanotechnology that took down majority of the Iron Lords who were attempting to obtain and use the technology. Now, a Fallen House has found SIVA in an area known as the Plaguelands and is using the “plague” to augment their weapons, their technology, and even themselves.

The player is guided through the story by a cast of new characters in the Destiny universe: the familiar Lord Saladin, the calm and collected Vanguard Scout Shiro-4, and the new Archivist Cryptarch Tyra Karn. These three characters are all well developed and each contribute to the story in different ways. Lord Saladin longs for vengeance for his fallen comrades, Shiro-4 is a lone wolf scout that has teamed up with the Vanguard and the Iron Temple, and Tyra Karn is a returned ally who shares information with the player regarding SIVA’s history. Shiro-4 in particular is one of my favorite characters in Destiny thus far.

Destiny Rise of Iron Fireteam

Destiny: Rise of Iron’s story is short… very short. However, its rhythm and pacing is in my opinion some of the best narrative work in Destiny to date. The campaign, complete with a small amount of both CGI and in-game cutscenes, contains a clear beginning, middle and end, something Vanilla Destiny was clearly lacking. While Destiny: The Taken King completely reinvented Destiny’s storytelling, I felt that the TTK campaign significantly fell off after the first act, utilizing few cutscenes and slipping back into old Destiny trends. Rise of Iron changes this by carrying its momentum throughout all five story missions.

Rise of Iron features great set pieces, an absolutely stunning musical score, and excellent characters and voice acting, but it does suffer from one confusing flaw. SIVA as an antagonist is not clearly defined or explained. It is made clear to the player from the beginning of the expansion’s campaign that the Splicers are just a distraction; SIVA is the real threat at hand. But what makes SIVA this significant foe?

Captain Rise of Iron

At one point in Rise of Iron’s cutscene content, Lord Saladin mentions Rasputin (a Human war AI featured throughout Destiny’s story) as the cause of the Iron Lord’s downfall, which threw a wrench in my understanding of Rise of Iron’s lore. Is Rasputin corrupted by SIVA? Has he controlled SIVA since its creation? Are we trying to destroy Rasputin? None of these questions are ever really explicitly answered, and it takes a lot away from the driving force for the player to continue battling this evil entity. Nonetheless, there still is an evident threat, which is something Vanilla Destiny barely included.

Rise of Iron’s story concludes with a shocking boss fight and an epic final mission that many believe can be unanimously called the greatest mission in Destiny to date. I’d say that’s a fair evaluation!


Gameplay

Rise of Iron’s campaign does not attempt to reinvent Destiny’s style of story combat missions. The expansion’s missions offer by-the-book objectives: taking down targets, defending locations, retrieving objectives, disabling/destroying items, and more. While the mission objectives become a bit monotonous, they are all relevant to the story, and the new characters and enemies joining the fray help enrich the gameplay experience throughout the campaign.

The Devil Splicers (SIVA-augmented Fallen enemies) offer a refreshing take on standard combat with Fallen enemies, but do not differentiate far from the original design of the bug-like enemy race. Tracking projectiles chase the player after killing an enemy with a headshot, Dregs toss SIVA-infused bombs, and many Fallen weapons received new projectiles or enhancements. While the Taken from The Taken King offered a much more diverse experience in terms of combat, the Splicers proved that Bungie could add slight variations to current enemy races in order to add a spin on an existing enemy race while maintaining the same atmosphere and feel of their combat.


Content & Endgame

After reclaiming the Iron Temple, Rise of Iron’s new social space, the players will continue the cinematic campaign and reach the conclusion of their journey. However, once the story is completed, players will have the opportunity to complete a small handful of additional quests and missions.

Rise of Iron includes three strikes: one newly crafted mission and two remastered fan favorites (Sepiks Prime and Phogoth, The Hive Abomination). While the amount of Strike content is extremely lacking when compared to the four new Strikes delivered in The Taken King, these new experiences still do a fairly good job of freshening up Destiny’s PvE content.

Guardians Rise of Iron 3

Additionally, there are four new exotic questlines that all offer exciting missions and experiences. A fair amount of other exotic weapons and armor, story quests, Crucible maps and modes, and more are included in Rise of Iron which all help to feed the Destiny community what they have been clamoring for since the midyear of The Taken King’s lifecycle – more content. Majority of the content feels well thought out, and I can’t pinpoint one quest or activity in specific that stood out as frustrating or unimportant.

Wrath of the Machine

Destiny’s newest raid is Wrath of the Machine, a journey through the Fallen territory of the Cosmodrome with the end goal of taking down the machine gods created by the Devil Splicers. Destiny’s previous raid, King’s Fall, was enormous in scale, and many agree was the best raid to date, but Wrath of the Machine can definitely compete as one of the best.

Wrath of the Machine takes the approach of focusing on player power and Light Level, as well as communication, compared to King’s Fall’s mechanic-heavy adventure.

Destiny Rise of Iron – Raid Armor

Wrath of the Machine features three distinct sections and combat areas: The Archpriest, the Siege Engine (Death Zamboni) and the Archon Prime. Each of these encounters and bosses focuses around different mechanics and themes. The Archpriest requires fast execution and strong damage. The Siege Engine requires strong player roles and creative puzzle solving. And lastly, the final boss requires immaculate communication and player movement.

I’d pin the difficulty and length of this raid right around that of Destiny’s original raid, Vault of Glass. What I appreciate so much about this raid is the requirement of communication alongside fellow fireteam members. The final encounter requires constant player movement with strict timings and fast acting damage phases. Without every member of your team communicating buffs, debuffs, and enemy spawns, you will not succeed.

My main complaint for Wrath of the Machine is its focus on allowing players to power their way through the experience with stronger gear. Players were able to power-level their characters within the first week far above the recommended Light Level of the raid, which makes some feel as though the first teams to beat Wrath of the Machine were less deserving than those who discovered and understood the puzzles and mechanics within the raid. While I do believe that better gear should give you an easier time within the experience, I feel as if there needs to be checks and balances to prevent the encounters from becoming instant wins for those who pump more hours into the game or cheese certain activities for better loot.

As an example, the final fight of King’s Fall requires players to perform the mechanical cycle four times before taking down Oryx. In Vault of Glass or WotM, with strong enough gear, you can kill the boss early on in the encounter. I believe that if Bungie can find a nice middle ground between mechanical phases and a focus on power, they will have an amazing experience on the table.

As I was writing this review, the Destiny community uncovered one of the craziest mysteries in gaming history – the quest for Outbreak Prime, the Exotic Raid weapon. Give our guide a read, because that mystery alone is a testament to some of the awesome game making that Bungie is capable of.


And that about wraps up what I have to say about Destiny’s newest expansion, Rise of Iron. Rise of Iron’s story is short and has a few misfires, but features a decent narrative and great character introductions, and the PvE and PvP content that is included help round off the expansion nicely. If you are looking for a package equal in size to The Taken King, you won’t find it here. RoI is significantly smaller in size, but it delivers well designed content that freshens up Destiny for players to come back and enjoy new activities and adventures.

3-outta-5

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