The Dark Below was disappointing. It had some good ideas, but in the end it just felt like it was lacking. Bungie are looking to avoid making the same mistakes with expansion II, House of Wolves.
There are a total of five new story missions, one new strike, The Prison of Elders game mode and the new Crucible mode Trials of Osiris, with 3 new maps to accompany Crucible play (4 if you own a PS4). Which on the face of it, doesn’t sound too bad, but when you actually get in to it, how much content is it really?
As per usual I will always take on the story missions. Up to now the story in Destiny has been a little nonexistent, and there is the ongoing joke of “I don’t have time to tell you.” etc… For House of Wolves they really needed to work on that.
The Guardians have grown strong, and the Queen of the Awoken has noticed. Now she has called upon them to hunt down Skolas, Kell of Kell’s and the House of Wolves, Fallen subjects once loyal to the Queen before their violent rebellion. Meet with the Queen’s emissary Petra Venj at Vestian Outpost in the Reef to exact the Queen’s revenge.
Over the course of the missions you will revisit old stomping grounds on Earth and Venus, but you will also get to visit a few new areas, whilst you hunt down and eliminate the House of Wolves. There is also one mission where you get to visit an old area, but in a very cool new way. I won’t say what it is though.
I actually really enjoyed all of the missions, I don’t know whether it helped because I’ve had a hiatus from the game – it kind of felt fresh and exciting. Or maybe it was just that the story was delivered a lot better than before. They still use the same way to deliver the story – talk to Petra in the Reef to get your mission, then whilst travelling to your location and during, you will get some more information about it. It just felt a lot more polished, and the characters seem to have a lot more personality with more to say too.
In terms of the actual gameplay of the missions, there isn’t really loads of new stuff to see, there are a few new variations of enemies, including a number of new Shanks. There is also a new class of weapon – the sidearm, which you get as a reward for completing a mission. But other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual – which isn’t a bad thing, because the core of Destiny’s gameplay has always been great fun.
So far, the sidearm has been my go to weapon in a lot of cases, partly because I just wanted to try it out properly, but also because it’s actually really good. Sidearm’s are basically the opposite of hand cannons with a high rate of fire with low impact, and Vestian Dynasty – the sidearm you’re awarded, seems very capable of dishing out some serious damage.
The new strike – The Shadow Thief, sounded really cool at first. You have to hunt down Taniks-syn a fallen mercenary and board his Ketch (the huge Fallen ships) and take him out. But in reality you wouldn’t really know any different if you were on a ship or not. It’s just a series of rooms and corridors that could really be anyway. It would’ve been cool to have some parts maybe outside, on a deck of sorts and actually be flying around.
I’ve spent a little bit of time on the new Crucible maps, and generally they seem pretty good. The three new maps are Black Shield – A medium-sized map set on Phobos, Thieves Den – An intimate arena set in the tunnels under Venus and Widows Court, set on Earth – which looks like it just came out of Gears of War. Whilst Widows Court looks brilliant it’s actually my least favourite so far, it just feels a little messy. All the action seems to happen in random places, it just doesn’t feel very fluid.
But more maps are always great to see, and I’m happy to see some more variation to choose from.
The new co-operative game mode Prison of Elders sees you face off against waves of enemies in a tight confined space across a number of rounds. Whilst in the Prison you may have to simply kill all the enemies or complete objectives. As the round progresses the enemies will get tougher with you having to take out a race specific boss at the end.
I’ve only played it at level 28 so far, so it wasn’t that challenging for me, but I can see the higher levels being a lot of fun. Plus you get some pretty sweet loot from the treasure room when you complete it, the only problem is you need a treasure key to open the chest, and they seem pretty hard to come by with me only having one so far…
Finally you have the Trials of Osiris. In this mode you will battle against a team of three guardians to really find out who’s the real legend. Locked to one map each weekend you will try to win nine highly competitive games where your gears matters (just like Iron Banner). But if you lose three games, you’re out, and you will need a new trials passage token to be able to re-enter.
You may think that sounds a little harsh, but the rewards for getting through it are meant to be worth the fight. All the Trials of Osiris gear has a very distinctive Egyptian feel to it. Plus if you manage a flawless run – nine wins and no loses you gain access to the Lighthouse, although what you find, I will leave you for to discover.
Among all the new game modes and story missions, there have also been a lot of changes to the way gear is upgraded. When the Dark Below came along, things got a little confusing. New currencies were introduced, you could only upgrade certain gear from the raid, exotic shards were needed to upgrade exotic gear, there were more shards and energies added. It was all too much.
Now you can simply ascend your gear to get it to the highest light level, and for that you either need an exotic shard – for exotic gear or Etheric Light for Legendary gear. Simple as that. No real grinding for materials (as you can buy them now) or shards. Sure Etheric Light is pretty darn rare, but it’s a much simpler way to handle it.
As always Destiny looks great, but now it feels like Bungie are really starting to bring the whole Destiny Universe together. All in all Destiny’s House of Wolves expansion is a very welcome addition that feels like the game is heading in the right direction. If you’re someone – like me, who left Destiny a while back you might want to think about giving it another go. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Sure, it isn’t perfect, there are still some issues around getting things like treasure keys and the aforementioned Etheric light with people saying they’re are too rare and therefore difficult to obtain. We are getting there though! One step at a time.