Three months seems like a drag in Destiny. Since the game launched, the repetitiveness of shooting and looting has occupied us around the planets many times. The bounties, dailies and weeklies have become way too familiar, while the descent into the Vault of Glass Raid has gone from “Yeah guys! Let’s try it!” to “I need shards. Let’s run through it real quick”. It seems hypocritical to criticize that a game I’ve spent well over 100 hours playing is running short of things to do, but such is the attraction of MMOs: they take over your life no matter how you try to get away from it. MMOs are a special type of drug, and Bungie took advantage of that formula.
Sadly, three months is not a long time in game development. Destiny’s first expansion is a good step, introducing several new story missions, a Strike (two if you’re on PlayStation), a Raid, multiplayer maps and a number of weapons along with numerous armor pieces. Sounds like a lot of material to refresh our interest and excitement about Destiny, right? It is, for about a week.
The preliminary point for The Dark Below is Eris Morn, a new NPC who arrives in the Tower with news that the Hive are trying to awaken Crota, whose sword you got to dwindle with on the Moon. Instead of scattering new missions around the galaxy map, Eris gives you continuous tasks that resemble the game’s exotic bounties. As well as giving out quests, Eris is also a vendor for items and materials, also you need to level her up to obtain rare items to upgrade certain weapons and armor.
On top of all that, as Eris hands out daily bounties don’t forget to hit up the Crucible as well, where the new maps seem to be the new favorites. Skyshock is a new vehicle map set on Earth, where its wide open spaces, rolling terrain and scattered buildings mean it’s a hot spot snipers. With Cauldron and Pantheon, a tight pair of maps, respire new life into Rumble and Clash. I am a primary sniper in Crucible, so Skyshock was definitely my favorite. The moon map doesn’t get picked online, so I love how I have several different options to land a headshot.
The missions themselves are varied. Most of the expansion is about pursuing Omnigul, a fierce Wizard who gets chased through Earth and the Moon until you corner her in the Will of Crota Strike. Although, there is dissimilarity in the traditional Destiny mission formula, it’s interesting. The first mission’s boss robs you of your boost jump, by taking away gravity. Wizards cover the ground with glowing circles called vestiges that inflict damage whenever you touch into them, just like fanatics in the Vault of Glass.
Elsewhere, the bar for elite players has been raised again and the only way to hit the new level cap of 32 is to obtain a set of gear from the new Raid, Crota’s End. As with the Vault of Glass, it’s a hell of an undertaking, requiring a fireteam of six friends to coordinate their efforts against imperious challenges. To give you an example, one section involves splitting your team in two and tackling a pair of Wizard and Shrieker combos on opposite sides of the battleground simultaneously, all the while you’re being hacked up by super high-level Knights, before breaking into a central chamber from both sides to wipe out a mini-boss, who will kill your entire team instantly if you haven’t done all of this quickly enough.
It feels unusual that Destiny players who have spent many hours levelling up legendary and exotic gear see that progress ultimately voided out. New legendary items, available from all vendors, claim higher damage and light levels, which none of your existing equipment can be upgraded to. Even gear from the Vault of Glass and Iron Banner is now efficiently outdated. Xur will sell upgrades for your exotics from time to time. When it comes to raid gear you will also need new ascendant materials only in The Dark Below raid to unlock them. It’s hard enough to get excited about repeating dailies, missions, and regular content, but that’s before you consider that the next expansion may have the same formula. Repetition.
The Dark Below feels like a misstep for Destiny. Crucible fans will appreciate the new maps, the bounty-style quest steps are refreshing. Unfortunately, in a game where the content has grown old so quickly, taking away our gear that most have just finished fully upgrading is a frustrating move. It may be the accepted knowledge in typical MMOs, but it doesn’t suit Destiny. Bungie will now have to find another formula that suits the players.
This expansion is $20 USD. Personally, I think it is a little overpriced for what it contains. Resetting my gear is frustrating, but that wasn’t what drove me to try and hit 32. My friends getting higher than me in light is what drove me to virtually go back to 0. The story missions took me a day to complete, and even though it was fun and refreshing, it didn’t give me that long lasting drive. My opinion would be to offer 4 Destiny expansions for $10 that come out every 3-4 months. That gives you a constant refresh for well into the year, or maybe even over.
At the end of the day, The Dark Below is fun and exciting, but it isn’t exactly what I was expecting. It just brings back the frustration of “I have to do this again?!”. There is improvement definitely made in this expansion, but there is also some work that needs to be done.
- Smaller missions
- Bounty-like missions are refreshing
- New raid makes players shoot for a new level of difficulty
- Horrible upgrade system for exotics
- Brings back more repetitive formula
- Not enough content for money's worth