|System: PS3, Xbox 360, PS4*, Xbox One|
|Release: May 19, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Violence|
by Travis Huber
Before I get started, let me first say that I am a fan of Destiny. I have been playing this game since the very beginning. But after The Dark Below DLC came out, I started to lose steam. I found myself playing less and less and finally not at all. But then the promise of House of Wolves was more story content and new missions, as well as new weapons and lots of other stuff. But truthfully, I was less excited than I was about The Dark Below. Destiny had become nothing more than a giant, online grind-fest that I found myself playing only when I had nothing else to do. Even after beating Crota, I still felt like I hadn’t really gotten anything out of The Dark Below.
So with the release of House of Wolves, I was cautiously optimistic. I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to give me a reason to love Destiny again. So I loaded it up and plugged in my headset, grabbed my teammates and headed to the Tower to see what was shaking. I had played through the Queen’s hunts the week before the DLC dropped and was impressed at how intense the battles were. So I was hoping that I would be met with more of the same in House of Wolves.
Once the team made it to the Reef, we were taken through the obligatory mission to scout the place out and find where all the NPCs and amenities were. After completing what was an oddly enjoyable walkthrough of the Reef’s version of the Tower, I realized that things felt different. Not just new, but different. The characters seemed to have more life and seemed genuinely intrigued by their queen suddenly allowing Guardians into their place of solace. Then the missions began.
The first thing I noticed was that a lot of the levels were recycled from previous missions. The landscapes seemed familiar but rearranged. I wasn’t really put off by this, but it felt a little disappointing at first. Then I found my first taste of “new” in this DLC, the heavy pike. This mine-flinging beast of a ride was more powerful and harder to kill than the standard pike had been. It was slower and a little more clunky, but it was a nice touch seeing as how you had to take on an elite walker nearly immediately after mounting up. An elite walker surrounded by tons of lesser enemies as well as other elite Fallen warriors, so the extra firepower was most welcome.
As we carved our way through mission after mission, I noticed that everything felt just like it had before only more intense. Disappointment again set in. I thought, “Here we go. Let’s just add more enemies and hope that no one notices that the game is essentially the same.” But as we progressed, I started to notice something else, something that I really hadn’t paid attention to. My ghost was completely absent from the game. Peter Dinklage was nowhere to be found. Two new voices had replaced him in my headset and I found them far more engaging than my ghost had ever been.
The story as told by your two new operators feels far more fleshed out. Petra Venj is an enjoyable and emotive break from the often bland ghost that followed you before. Her enthusiasm to be working with the Guardians translates well due to the fact that the actor playing her didn’t feel fake or stale. And Variks, a Fallen defector turned against his own kind, is hands-down my favorite new character. His creepy, sleazy voice keeps you wondering what his true motivations are and his narration of your missions is nothing short of awesome. So while the levels may only be ramped-up versions of the same old game, the way they are presented is far more immersive than they had been in the past.
The graphics haven't really changed that much. I did notice some frame rate issues immediately after install, but they ironed themselves out quickly and I had no further issues the rest of the way through the DLC. Everything seemed a bit sharper to me. I couldn’t tell you if that was just my mind wanting things to be a little sharper and smoother, or if it was actually an upgrade that had gone unnoticed. Whatever the case, the DLC did seem much smoother in scaling and movement.
One of the big things that has changed is the way that you level things up. Of course the level cap has now been raised, so being a level 32, maxed out guardian puts you on an even playing field with the enemies you encounter almost immediately. But now instead of having to follow predetermined paths, you can choose how you level up your character and his/her equipment. The ethereal light system is much less heartbreaking than the hunt for radiant shards was after The Dark Below. Honestly, if I had to try and farm any more freakin’ radiant shards, I was going to throw my PS4 out the window, so thankfully there's none of that this time around.
Another thing that I like is the vast amount of gear that just seemed to fall out of the sky as I played through the story missions. Legendary weapons are not in short supply as they were in the past. The beauty of this is if you have a character who hasn’t hit the big time yet, you can bank that stuff and break it down to plus up your lesser characters and fast-track them into higher levels. The new weapons seem very functional and less superfluous than some had seemed in the past. I especially the Vestian Dynasty sidearm. This secondary weapon deals awesome amounts of arc damage to the Fallen and has some crazy cool buffs as you level it up. This is the first weapon you get from completing one of the earliest missions and it definitely got my hopes up for whatever else I might find. All in all the newer weapons were pretty great, but the ones I already had were so far leveled that it wasn’t really practical for me to keep them, so I banked most of them for my lower characters.
Let’s get into my favorite part about The House of Wolves - the Prison of Elders. I am a huge fan of wave-based combat arenas, so fortunately the Prison did not disappoint. The waves are insane and the buffs and debuffs that pop in and out of the rounds, as well as objectives having to be completed while in combat, made it an awesome and completely enjoyable experience. Also, the loot gets better the higher the level, so it’s best to get buffed up and hammer your way into the higher levels of play. But make no mistake, crybabies need not apply here. The Prison is for seasoned vets of the game. Noobs, you’ve been warned.