If you’ve been following our coverage of Rise of Iron over the last week, you know that we’ve been pretty hyped for the continued stories of the guardians’ fight against the darkness here at PlayStation LifeStyle. We’ve covered our impressions of the first mission taking back Felwinter Peak. We took a look at the new Crucible mode, Supremacy, and the four new maps coming with Rise of Iron. We also gave you a bunch of videos looking at the new social space, Plaguelands patrol, and Archon’s Forge gameplay. It’s a small bit of Destiny: Rise of Iron that we were able to get in our day-long preview of the new expansion at Bungie’s studio a couple of weeks ago, but because of the limited time, and the long, endgame nature of Destiny, we didn’t want to issue a full scored review prior to its full release. You can expect our final review early next week, after the raid has released and we get time with Rise of Iron’s endgame loot gain activities.
When I looked at the first mission of Rise of Iron, I noted that it was a much more deeply personal story than those we’ve seen so far. While SIVA is definitely a massive threat, this is a story of redemption for Saladin and the fallen Iron Lords, heroes that set the foundations for the Guardians that we are today. It fills in some of the gaps in the history of the fight against the darkness, but doesn’t move the larger story forward, leaving things like the Stranger, the Traveler, and what comes next for the Guardians as a big mystery before the sequel. This is at least the case in the main five missions. There may be things revealed in the exotic weapon quest lines and post-game missions that advance some of those things, but seeing as Rise of Iron is a stopgap to fill the time until Destiny sequel makes an appearance next year, it’s hard to expect it to pick up threads that will likely be addressed much more directly in Destiny’s next title.
Such as it is, Rise of Iron is a nice departure from the grand adventure that we’ve had, travelling to Saturn’s rings and to otherworldly dimensions to take on grotesque alien beings. It roots things on Earth, with a threat that is entirely technological, yet makes the whole thing feel like something out of Dragon Age, Game of Thrones, or another high fantasy setting. Felwinter Peak is a primary source of this feeling, the new social space with a gritty stone facade, and very little in the way of technology in sight. Filled with Rise of Iron’s haunting new soundtrack, Felwinter Peak becomes the staging area for Saladin to guide the Guardians against the SIVA threat, culling feelings of being one of the original Guardians — of being an Iron Lord.
When the Hammer Falls
As for what comes after the story, there are a variety of quests that supplement the main narrative. One new strike and two remixes of two of Destiny’s first strikes round out the content offering, each offering new ways to fight back against the Devil Splicers. The original versions of these remixed strikes haven’t been part of the endgame rotation for over a year, and with their SIVA upgrades, they practically feel like new content. The new strike, called “The Wretched Eye,” gives players different paths and objective points each time that they play, meaning that repeated iterations in the Heroic Strike Playlist to gain high level rewards should remain somewhat varied and interesting each time it comes up.
The new patrol area, the Plaguelands, is a massive addition to the existing Cosmodrome on Earth, but doesn’t actually add on to the current instance. The Plaguelands is its own patrol zone, with at least some of the Cosmodrome added on, now filled with a fluttering snow and wreckage of the SIVA plague infecting it. The flurries that obscure the screen and steaming hot molten liquid near the Archon’s Forge offer visual fascination unlike other aesthetics seen in Destiny. A large part of this is undoubtedly due to dropping last generation consoles, which afforded Bungie the ability to do more with the visual effects than previously possible. It’s quite the noticeable change too, and my very short time exploring the Plaguelands only gave me an itch to hop on my sparrow and explore further, which I will certainly be doing now that Rise of Iron is fully released.
A Touch of Nostalgia
New exotics are also being introduced, including the return of a Destiny year-one fan favorite: The Gjallahorn rocket launcher. Instead of relying strictly on random drops for these much sought after exotics however, Bungie has decided to assign exotic quests to some of them, giving players a series of challenges to overcome before they can get their hands on such power. In my time at Bungie, I didn’t have a chance to play any of these postgame quests, with the main missions, strikes, Crucible, and patrols taking up our full day, so I can’t yet say how these quests play out when looking to get your hands on the likes of Gjallahorn and Thorn.
I’ll forego diving too much more into the Crucible here, as you can read my original preview linked in the first paragraph. I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about once I’ve played it in a live environment though, so stay tuned for more on Supremacy and the new maps at that time. Just one day wasn’t nearly enough to parse out how this expansion will fit into Destiny in the long run. Our full review will also dive more into the mechanics of the drops, ease of leveling and getting gear to endgame levels, and of course the new raid, Wrath of the Machine. Rise of Iron seems to hold an indelible bit of content on initial playthrough, and I’m excited to see how it holds up under pressure of full release and repeated scrutiny.
Destiny Rise of Iron review code provided by publisher. Destiny Rise of Iron review in progress played on PS4 at Bungie, with travel accommodated by Activision. Our full review will publish next week. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.