Destiny 2 was supposed to be out this month. That’s no secret. Instead, on Sept. 20, we get Rise of Iron, another expansion to the original Destiny, which, incredibly, is now two years old. And although I’ve said this before, it’s as true now as ever: This is the best time ever to get into or return to Destiny.
Pushing Destiny 2’s release date back created a conundrum for developer Bungie: The studio gets extra months to make Destiny 2 awesome, but in the meantime it has to keep existing Destiny players—notoriously always hungry for new content—satisfied in the meantime. That’s where Rise of Iron comes in.
So will there be enough in the new Destiny expansion to interest new and returning players alike, or is it really just a half measure meant to buy Bungie time?
Destiny got off to a rocky start, disappointing many players who picked it up when it launched in fall 2014, and the community has maintained healthy skepticism about the game even in times of great hype like this one. From launch until now, it seems like there have always been problems—persistent bugs, infrequent updates, not enough new content and general player dissatisfaction with a million tiny things.
But Bungie, famous for creating Halo, has been steadily improving Destiny for the last two years, through both frequent small free updates and large, paid-for expansions like Rise of Iron. And these updates—The Dark Below, House of Wolves, The Taken King, even the smaller, free update released last April—have shown a consistent trend: Destiny keeps getting better.
Rise of Iron doesn’t only need to improve Destiny; it needs to provide a new foundation for whatever forms Destiny will take over the next year as players anxiously await Destiny 2. So what exactly is included in Rise of Iron? What does it add that justifies the $30 price tag?
Rise of Iron introduces a brand new storyline involving a technological virus and the Lords of Iron—characters we’ve heard about in Destiny before but never seen. (They host the monthly “Iron Banner” tournament in the game.)
While this means new story missions, strikes and patrols, most important is the new raid—Destiny’s fun and challenging six-person missions that take hours to complete and award the best loot. The new Rise of Iron raid, Wrath of the Machine, launches the Friday after the expansion comes out. It’s currently being kept tight under wraps, but if it’s like the previous three raids it’s going to provide many, many hours of frustration and triumph.
Destiny is really all about the gear, and it wouldn’t be an expansion without a whole arsenal of new crap to play with. You can see a ton of the new gear, including new exotic weapons and armor—plus a preview of the new “ornaments” system that will let you bling your equipment out—in the official video above.
In addition Bungie recently detailed many of the changes coming to the game, including tons of weapon balance changes that will make old gear feel new again. That update is actually live in the game now, so if you haven’t picked Destiny up in a while it should start feeling fresh again already.
Rise of Iron includes three new multiplayer maps, plus a new multiplayer mode: Supremacy. If you’ve ever played a Call of Duty game’s “Kill Confirmed” mode, then you know what this is: When a player is killed they drop a special item, called a “crest,” and the points for the kill don’t count unless someone picks that crest up. It heightens the stakes, since you can steal points from other players or deny them from the other team, and it makes everything more up-close and personal. I played both the team and free-for-all Supremacy modes at Seattle’s PAX convention recently. They’re a lot of fun.
In addition, Bungie is introducing private matches to Destiny. Incredible as it is that the game has never had this feature—one that was available in the original Halo 15 years ago and many other games before and after—it will still be nice to be able to boot up a custom multiplayer match and just have fun with your friends. Better than playing with strangers and constantly worrying about getting no-scoped from across the map by some hyperactive 14-year-old.
A YEAR OF PROMISE
More than anything else, Rise of Iron represents a promise from Bungie to players: Although Destiny 2 isn’t here yet, the developers will continue to make Destiny one of the best games out there for the next year—or however long it ultimately takes them to release the sequel.
Plus everyone’s favorite Destiny weapon, the sexy rocket launcher known as Gjallarhorn (pictured above), is finally coming back into the game. For a lot of people, that’s reason enough to pick up Rise of Iron when it launches on Sept. 20 for PS4 and Xbox One.