14 October, 2016

Review – Destiny, Rise of Iron

Can one lone Guardian succeed where the entire order of the Iron Lords failed? Of course, it’s a videogame after all! But will you care about the Iron Lords by the end of it? I have my doubts.

Review – Destiny, Rise of Iron

Rise of Iron

Despite releasing a full year after The Taken King, itself a substantial, highly regarded expansion that enhanced as much as added, Rise of Iron feels far closer to the earlier expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves. The problem is not necessarily scale or longevity, rather Rise of Iron exhibits little vision of its own, and in several ways fails to build upon that of The Taken King.

Much like The Taken King, Rise of Iron’s main story spans only a few missions, then breaks into a delta of longer, multistage missions largely based in the new patrol area, the Plaguelands, and group content. The premise is serviceable; the Fallen are trying to wield an ancient replication technology called SIVA, locked beneath the Cosmodrome by the Iron Lords some years ago.

The Iron Lords are the problem; Lord Saladin, the guy who occasionally shows up in the Tower demanding players grind out Crucible matches, is the last of them. The don’t really matter, the Iron Lords, Rise of Iron no more cares for storytelling and character than Destiny – the base game. The cinematic ambitions of The Taken King and the personable portrayal of its quest-givers, have been forsaken.

Review – Destiny, Rise of Iron servitor
The inconsequentiality of it all isn’t help by the exceedingly short length of the ‘story’ content, made particularly distressing, by the tantalising mysteries forever ostracised to the Grimoire cards. But make no mistake, Rise of Iron’s fatal shortcomings are in its gameplay; once again missions are formulaic in structure, the very first mission being the only real exception – it’s got a cable car and everything. As ever, Guardians are thrown into ten-to-twenty minute engagements, capped off with an elongated fight, which while physically engaging never requires too much thought.

To compound this repetitious malaise, the ‘new’ Splicer enemies are reskinned Fallen, who act a hell of a lot like the originals. In The Taken King, the Taken, a collection of reskins from all four enemy groups, were remixed; they fought differently and had new abilities, significantly altering the way the player might approach a given combat scenario. The Splicers fight exactly like Fallen, some send out player-seeking missiles occasionally, but that’s literally it.

Review – Destiny, Rise of Iron splicer

The vast majority of Rise of Iron takes place in Old Russia, on Earth, featuring some existing areas of the Cosmodrome, once again reskinned and reused. Though the completely new areas; snowy mountains and SIVA infected facilities, are distinct and detailed – the look and sound of Destiny remains strong.

There’s only one entirely new strike, but the game’s very first strike, Sepiks Prime has been revisited and remixed, adding swarms of Hive and Splicers in place of the regular Fallen. Succeeding against all odds, to make the strike interesting again for at least one run, sadly you do nothing only once in Destiny. Being a more casual Guardian, like the vast majority of Destiny’s player base, I did not complete the new raid, Wrath of the Machine.

Review – Destiny, Rise of Iron plaguelands

The Crucible has been bolstered with new maps, which are of course as pretty and inoffensive as all the rest. Supremacy, the new gamemode is an adaptation of Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed; death match, in which slain players drop a dog tag equivalent that must be collected to score. In Call of Duty, Kill Confirmed actively puts the best players in the open, ripe for my poorly aimed shots, whilst also allowing wily runners to snatch up points, making it one of my favourite gamemodes. Such action is far less pronounced in Supremacy however, owing to Destiny being a shooter paced far more like Halo than Call of Duty, with most combat happening at a perpetual midrange. Bringing down a target in Destiny usually requires sustained fire, which isn’t the most conducive for opportune killings. I found it best in the brutality of free-for-all, where player murdering happens faster than point collecting.

Review – Destiny, Rise of Iron 2/5 poorRise of Iron is every bit the diseased relic its story centres on, evoking the earlier piecemeal expansions as it does. The lessons learned by The Taken King have been largely forgotten in Rise of Iron, what’d worse is that it doesn’t even push in its own direction, merely defaults to the style of old Destiny; slight, repetitious content, connected a thread of narrative, more promise than substance. The reuse of old environments bothered me less than the reuse of the Fallen; the Splicers are really little more than a palette swap.

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