Destiny: Rise of Iron Review
Destiny: Rise of Iron Cover Art
System: PS4, Xbox One
Dev: Bungie
Pub: Activision
Release: September 20, 2016
Players: Online Multiplayer
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Animated Blood, Violence
You Say You Want an Evolution
by Becky Cunningham

Destiny has been a long, strange journey. Bungie's post-Halo project has had plenty of highs and lows, culminating in last year's The Taken King expansion, which presented a compelling vision for this MMO-shooter that probably should have been there from the start. It's now been a year since there were any meaningful additions to the game, though, and the player base has been wearing thin. Is Rise of Iron the final expansion that will bring all the kids back to the yard and get us pumped for Destiny 2?

Well, yes and no. Rise of Iron takes us back to Earth, but not to a new, exotic location. We're still in wintry Russia, albeit with a new area to patrol and a "new" foe to fight (more on that later). There's a brief campaign, some post-campaign story missions, new Strikes, a few additions to the PvP Crucible, and a new raid that launches on Friday. And, of course, there's new gear. The never-ending gear treadmill seems to be the biggest thing that keeps Destiny's true believers hooked, but it's also the thing that keeps other players away.

Rise of Iron's campaign story is certainly told better than any before it. As the most casual of casual Destiny players, even I had a good idea of what was going on. My Destiny fanatic friends spent the campaign gabbing about obscure tidbits of lore that added a few things here and there to the game's torturously convoluted backstory, but you don't really have to care about that. On the surface, this is simply the story of Lord Saladin, a former Iron Lord who guarded the Earth from the Fallen. It's a story of misguided ambition, an old warrior forced to face his past, and a supercomputer gone haywire. Hey, it wouldn't be Destiny without a supercomputer gone haywire.

It's also a rather brief story, told largely through cutscenes. Sure, the missions themselves have some cool set-pieces. I particularly enjoyed a treacherous gondola ride in the first mission and the final battle, which is set up masterfully. I won't tell you what it is, I'll just say it had my fireteam saying, "Oh god, you KNOW what's about to happen now." In a good way. More than once.

Destiny: Rise of Iron Screenshot

The whole thing will be over in an hour or two, though, even if you run solo. After that, what's left is pretty much... more Destiny. You can patrol the Plaguelands, do some post-campaign story missions, run small group Strikes, or get your kill on with Supremacy Mode in the Crucible (it's like Call of Duty's Kill Confirmed – you pick up crests from fallen players and try to keep the opposing team from getting your team's crests). The Wrath of the Machine raid will be out on Friday, but frankly, if you're super excited to know all about it, you've already bought Rise of Iron. What are you doing reading this? Go play.

Destiny: Rise of Iron Screenshot

For most of the rest of you, the lapsed Destiny players, how does Rise of Iron end up working out? Well, a warning to the super-casual: you're probably at the level cap of 40 if you played The Taken King and messed around a bit with other content afterwards. You'll also know that leveling is quick and easy in Destiny. It's "light level," aka gear score, that takes a bit longer. Rise of Iron recommends a light level of 280 for starting its new campaign, and you can't even knock on the door until you're over 260 or so. That means grinding out some Strikes with your fellow scrubs or impatient veterans, patrolling the Dreadnaught, whatever you need to do to pop that light level up with stronger gear. There's a bit of a gap between the story campaigns, made more absurd by the fact that your light level will pop right up to 320 just from random drops in the short Rise of Iron campaign. It's not a particularly welcoming system for newbies, particularly with the main gear focus of all the game's vendor NPCs having switched to Rise of Iron levels.

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