Destiny is one of the most expensive games of our time, proving that the budget of a project will not reflect the final product. However, that business model wasn’t designed for a rigid game, but a flexible one, capable of expansions, patches, events, and sequels. This is what led to the critically acclaimed Taken King expansion, which added some much needed story to the game, while also showing off the blurred lines between technology and magic that Destiny offers in its universe. Riding on the wave of popularity drummed up by Game of Thrones, Rise of Iron adds a more medieval theme in the latest expansion with a new raid, new quests, a new social space, and of course new gear to outfit high level Guardians.
So let’s put Rise of Iron on the chopping block and see where it stands compared to other expansions of Destiny, as well as other games as a whole.
Rise of Iron is an interesting experience for a player who hasn’t touched Destiny in quite some time. I actually sat out for much of Taken King, only spending a few weeks in the vanilla version of the game, so when I was asked if I wanted to review Rise of Iron I was skeptical to say the least. Anyone who follows my work by now knows what sort of games I’m into, games that have been on my shelf for twenty years or so, as pieces of art etched in the great tablet of gaming history. Games that always have to be connected to the internet usually are not my cup of tea.
Yet, while working at a game store, I kept seeing all of these awesome looking trailers and images from Rise of Iron, which lead me to dig up some research before the game launched. In turn, I became intrigued by Destiny in a way I hadn’t before, as it hit all those mythic science fiction notes I love so much. So, I agreed to play Rise of Iron for review and my findings are as follows.
The main character of this expansion and poster child that brought me to learning about this add-on is Lord Saladin, the last of the Iron Lords. These guys were basically Guardians before Guardians were a thing, a brotherhood of powerful knights who stood between humanity and darkness. Their armor is trimmed with fur, the Lords wielded swords and axes alongside their firearms, and their bond was as fierce as Russian winters. Saladin keeps wolves at his side, his lone wolf story full of somber tones and retribution. The overarching plot of Rise of Iron hits a lot of notes that fans of fantasy tales can get behind, while still resting calmly in that epic space epic niche.
Now, while I do enjoy Rise of Iron’s themes and characters, this is Destiny. Story takes a backseat to the shooting of aliens as it always has. However, the few cutscenes and interactions with this new cast is memorable and certainly has some epic moments. Being inducted into the Iron Lords filled me with pride. I felt Saladin’s pain as he tells the story of how his squad was wiped out by the dreaded force known as Siva. Siva’s presence sat in the back of my mind as a pool of evil destroying Earth, with the only hope of keeping this Nanotech virus in check in the hands of the Guardians.
Speaking of, Siva is the main nemesis of Rise of Iron, taking the form of wicked red tendrils and spires that split Earth in grotesque ways. The deeper Guardians go into Siva’s lair, the more vile these areas become. This change in atmosphere is awesome in a game like Destiny, which has a tendency to turn into an arms race to get sweet loot and shoot all the things. I spent a lot of time in these tunnels walking slowly, enjoying the dark lighting and the ambiance of the mission at hand. Taking the time to approach these early missions and dark moments in the game’s presentation alone is definitely worth it.
Unfortunately, players who have been dumping tons of hours into Destiny won’t be impressed by the Siva controlled Fallen enemies. In an attempt to use Siva, the Fallen have merged with the nanotechnology, creating wicked looking Devil Splicers with the goal to become machine gods. These Devil Splicers do have some interesting twists in their mechanics. For instance, sometimes the life energy of an enemy will burst out and fly at the player to detonate. It was an exciting surprise at first and can lead to some tense moments as each unit type has its own new quirk, but it does get old after a while.
Thus we come to the general criticism of Destiny as a whole. Playing for a long time gets repetitive. Sure, we’ve all heard that tagline before, but it still remains as true today as when it launched back in 2014.
I hear the new raid is interesting, but finishing the one raid kind of leaves nothing else to do, but pop over to PVP to waste some time. I never found enough friends online at the same time to even attempt the raid, as we’re all fairly busy these days, but I’ll eventually tackle Siva and I’m sure it will be a ton of fun. However, after beating that raid, I don’t see myself doing much else in Rise of Iron.
All in all, the new content in Rise of Iron isn’t as plentiful or game changing as it was in Taken King. Siva makes for a really interesting shadow in the plot, a dominating force of nature that permeates the new quests, but battling Oryx was more akin to taking on a special character that was the antithesis of the Guardians trying to take him down. Siva lacks the personality found in Oryx, which means Saladin has to take up the slack. While Saladin is interesting, he is more brooding and his actions mean less overall. His design is sweet and using the Iron Lord weaponry is a blast, but there’s just something missing in Rise of Iron. This is driven more so when playing a few Taken King missions alongside Rise of Iron’s quests. Taken King’s plot felt more dire, more driven.
Overall, Destiny is still worth picking up on sheer mechanics alone. Few games of this generation nail teamwork as well as Destiny does. Raids require a full team, all fine tuned to the same goals, communicating all the while. Building a Fireteam of close friends to hit up some quests remains one of the best parts of the game, it’s more of a social outlet than a full blown universe to explore.
Now, I will admit that everything Destiny has been doing for the past couple of years is laying the groundwork for something that could be truly amazing. This new genre of shooters spliced with RPGs mechanics is still being experimented with, but soon we will see a development team nail this style of game. That game could be one of the ages and that game could be Destiny 2. I do find myself craving something more open,with larger environments, and a larger focus on the game’s universe. Imagine a mostly single player game like Mass Effect, but set in Destiny’s galaxy. Being a Guardian in that blissful dream of a game just seems more interesting.
As for Rise of Iron, if you’re a Guardian itchy to pull the trigger a bit more or if you want to reunite the old Fireteam, it’s a must have. If you’re new to the game, there is the option of getting the Destiny: The Collection, which has the base game and all the expansions ever made for it for the price of a new game, no additional cost like we saw when Taken King came out. Other than that, maybe try out Taken King’s excellent missions and then move into Rise of Iron if it piques your interest. Yet, if you grew tired of blasting baddies in Taken King, you probably won’t see the need to travel alongside Saladin.