Destiny’s previous expansion, The Taken King, was a bit of a relief. It simplified the space odyssey’s more frustrating elements, meaning, for example, that when you finally obtained a much-sought after piece of gear (one that you had killed countless sentient beings for) you could start using it right away, rather than having to collect yet more piles of stuff – or, worse, repeat the very same mission all over again – in order to level it up.
On this firmer ground developer Bungie releases Rise of Iron, heralding the start of Year Three of its ambitious online-multiplayer shooter, which is exactly the cloudburst of new content fans have been craving, without stepping too heavily on the toes of what’s come before.
Having seen off many a megademon in the first two years, this time around the threat is from new enemy-type the SIVA nanotech-virus. This opens up a new area of Destiny’s lore and it genuinely feels like a new chapter in the story.
Bungie always likes to showcase something new in the early campaign missions. In Rise of Iron it’s introduced snow effects (perhaps facilitated by dropping last-gen consoles) and the proviso that in order to access social area The Iron Temple, you must do so by force. Some of the areas in these levels have been beautifully realised, especially the cavernous tomb in the story’s final battle.
At around four hours, the new campaign feels short, which is also true of previous expansions, but it triggers the replay-loop that keeps people coming back night after night (a friend of mine has clocked up over 3,000 hours since launch).
The new strike isn’t a classic, with a muddled beginning and a controller-smashingly difficult end (at least at lower progression levels), but the boss design is original, with a blind Ogre and a Splicer Priest whose gun is powered by blasts from the aforementioned’s missing eye.
There's a new six-player raid, which kicks off with the traditional “gateway” puzzle/fight followed by a new jumping-puzzle. This too is slightly underwhelming, far less inspiring than the opening sections of previous raids Vault of Glass (kill megarobot), Crota’s End (kill megademon) and King’s Fall (kill megademon’s dad). These are early days for raiding though, and the hard-mode version is still to come.
Player-vs-player is beefed up a little, with the option to host private matches, and a new game-type called Supremacy, which is essentially the same as Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode, in which you must retrieve an item from the corpse of your victim.
Perhaps best of all for those among us with a touch of OCD is the addition of a virtual record book, which collects quests into a colour-coded virtual record book so your progress can be tracked by category, with rewards given for ticking off each item.
One last reason to to update is the return of an old friend, Gjallarhorn (every Destiny player remembers the first time they got this legendary rocket-launcher, which was more or less down to good luck). Year One’s iconic rocket launcher is being made available to all players via an in-game quest, which is effectively another campaign in itself. Players will be glad to set about this new collection with a full-powered Gjallarhorn back in hand.