Press Start: ‘Destiny: Rise of Iron’ has hooked me again
“Rise of Iron,” the latest “Destiny” expansion, isn't as dense as “The Taken King” addition that dropped last year.
There are fewer new missions, the raid is more compact and the new play area feels more familiar than not. I'm not sure there's enough new content to tide players over until the rumored “Destiny 2” launches, presumably, a year from now.
But—for now, at least—“Rise of Iron” has successfully re-addicted me to the shoot-and-loot hook, and I'm regularly playing Bungie's science-fiction shooter with friends for the first time in months. That, to me, is a successful expansion.
My favorite content in “Destiny” is the raids, which are long, complex missions that required well-coordinated, patient teams to dominate. “The Taken King's” raid was an absolute blast, full of complicated boss fights and challenging jumping puzzles.
I've yet to complete “Rise of Iron's” raid, but so far it feels like a far more distilled, concentrated experience. There's limited time between bosses, but the encounters themselves, while simpler, are just as entertaining as past raid fights.
In other words, the new raid respects players' time without sacrificing fun. Communicating with teammates to figure out the unusual nuances required to defeat a boss is just as exhilarating as it has always been.
The new story content left me somewhat yearning for more. There's only a handful of new story missions in “Rise of Iron,” all of which can be completed in a single sitting. The new enemy type is nothing more than an old adversary with different-looking armor and new weapons.
The new playable zone, the Plaguelands, is basically one of the vanilla “Destiny” areas with some extra snow. There are some underground areas and hidden secrets similar to those found in “The Taken King's” Dreadnaught area, but aesthetically I was hoping for more than what the Plaguelands offers.
At least the Plaguelands area allows for fun new patrol missions called quarantine missions. These mini-encounters allow players to wield the expansion's new flaming battle ax. It's a blast using this weapon to wreak havoc.
“Rise of Iron” also comes with a new strike (which are basically bite-sized raids) that features an unusual final fight: Players must defeat one boss while avoiding another invincible one that roams around the arena trying to kill you and your teammates. It's a challenging and fun addition to the ever-growing list of available strikes to play.
I love that players now are sometimes awarded skeleton keys that can open chests at the end of each strike. Players must discover which chests might have loot they want and decide whether they want to use a key to open a chest. It's a lottery of sorts that provides a little extra thrill.
In addition to the brand new strike, two old strikes have been remastered. One in particular features an awesome metal version of a song that was an orchestral piece in the original mission. The music overall in “Rise of Iron” is the best the series has had.
Of course, those who love defeating rather than working alongside their fellow Guardians haven't been left behind. “Rise of Iron” features new Crucible, or competitive multiplayer, maps that add to the already robust rotation. And the new private matches feature means friends can finally square off and satiate their personal vendettas.
The new Supremacy mode adds a new twist to “Destiny” multiplayer matches. Players must not only kill their competitors but also pick up crests they drop upon death in order to score points. This creates fast and frantic close-range battles where players are constantly trying to rush for and steal dropped crests.
After you experience all the new content “Rise of Iron” has to offer, which won't take long, you can work on completing your record book. Finishing different objectives in the book, such as killing a certain number of enemies or collecting different items scattered across the game, unlocks different rewards. It's a smart way to make sure “Destiny” players stick around for longer than they might have otherwise.
“Rise of Iron” isn't as in-depth or engaging as last year's “Destiny” addition, “The Taken King.” The new content expands on what made the last expansion great without shaking up the “Destiny” formula the way “The Taken King” did. Fans will probably be asking four months from now for new content, but in the meantime, “Rise of Iron” has me joyfully playing with my friends every night once again. That's all I can really ask for.
Final score: 7.5/10
“Destiny: Rise of Iron” was reviewed on the Xbox One with a digital copy provided by the publisher's PR agency, PMK•BNC.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.