Rise of Iron is Bungie’s last shot at ROI.
Destiny expansions have been a mixed bag. The Dark Below and House of Wolves (each $20) both had their bright spots, but were ultimately on the disappointing side. The Taken King ($40) reinvigorated the game with a huge burst of content and quests, and also addressed some lingering quality of life issues, making it easily worth the steep asking price. Given the history I was curious how Rise of Iron, which sits right in the middle price-wise at $30, would compare against the others. It takes some cues from Taken King but it’s ultimately closer to the earlier expansions, and the game’s final chapter is less than memorable.
Rise of Iron introduces Siva, a sort of biological/machine hybrid technology that turned into a plague, wiping out all of the Iron Lords except for Saladin, who players will recognize from the game’s frequent Iron Banner PvP events. After years of containment the Fallen have found Siva’s resting place and are using it to enhance themselves, presenting a new and deadly threat. Saladin tasks the guardian with eliminating Siva and claiming their place as an Iron Lord.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), XB1
This is the second Destiny expansion to feature a new area (a significant one anyways), opening up The Plaguelands on Earth. Having some new scenery is nice, but even still for seemingly half of ROI’s disappointingly short campaign it was classic Destiny, where I was running through the same areas that have existed since the game released, only this time the path was backwards or otherwise altered slightly. It’s an unfortunate but probably fitting that the last story quest I did was a minorly modified version of a Year 1 strike. The content overall is sparse. At the end of The Taken King’s storyline I had almost a dozen active quest lines still, with ROI I have little more than a couple of quests that can be repeated weekly for different rewards.
The Plaguelands patrol area offers some verticality that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the game and some new patrol types, but generally speaking they fall into the same categories as the existing patrols. It’s also home to the Archon’s Forge, which is ROI’s version of Taken King’s Court of Oryx. But where players could carry stacks of CoO runes for summoning, only one Siva Offering can be carried at a time. That means I could run one Forge event (which takes maybe 5 minutes depending), and unless another offering dropped I was done. I get that the idea is to do it with other players, but finding a populated instance is hit or miss, and even then the drop rate is low enough that a large group can run out pretty easily. It’s a pointless and arbitrary restriction, and I hope it’s addressed in an update because as of right now Archon’s Forge is simply not worth the hassle. (UPDATE: A recent hotfix has increased the drop rate, but I have not seen enough to say how effective it is)
Loot is the driving force in Destiny, and here ROI makes some strides forward. Engrams almost always decrypt at or above the player’s current level, so I had a steady stream of fodder to upgrade my gear… at least until I hit 340. The only way to get higher light gear is from running strikes (further making the Forge pointless), where drops seem less plentiful, so progression slows to a crawl. I’m still not at the recommended light for a Nightfall strike (360), and the raid carries light recommendations as high as 380. ROI has a sort of achievement book (like the years one and two moments of triumph) that rewards 340 legendary drops for leveling up, but past the first couple of levels I was geared better than that already, so aside from a quick way to gear up alts it’s not especially useful.
Rise of Iron has its moments. The Gjallarhorn quest is fun, and the game has some fun with its reputation as a super-powerful weapon. The Supremacy crucible mode is fun, but the PvP still has the occasional maddening lag that makes it hard to commit to. I can’t get away from the irony of the ROI name and its relationship to the business term “Return on Investment”, because that’s what this feels like. With at least a year until Destiny 2, Rise of Iron feels like a last opportunity to make money off of existing assets, and give players a long grind designed to last them most of the way to the next release. Destiny itself is undoubtedly fun to play, but this expansion is hard to recommend for the price.
P.S. – As with previous Destiny expansions the real winners are people who haven’t played the game yet. The game and ALL expansions are now available for $60 (Destiny – The Collection). That’s an absolute steal for anyone who still hasn’t played yet.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.