Destiny Rise of Iron Review: Not Enough Rising

Well September has come and gone, and Destiny Rise of Iron has now been with us for a little more than a month. After having a little time to return to space wizardry, we are now getting back into the swing of being Guardians, exploding alien heads, and complaining about a game we've probably played more than any other. If you've stayed away from this DLC so far to wait and see how it is received read on for some details of the good, the bad, and the dusty.

Loot and Progression

For starters, loot and progression have not changed as much as in past updates. The Light cap has gone up, but Light levels work pretty much the same as they did before Rise of Iron dropped. Infusion also sticks with the more recent system that the light level of the item infused is almost always the level that the item to be infused will achieve. In rare circumstances, you even get a little bonus of an additional single digit increase in Light as well. Character levels are still capped at 40, and the time when they matter will still feel distantly in the rear view mirror for most Guardians, so much so that you might even forget you have a character level.

Loot, as ever in Destiny, is plentiful. At first "Green" is the new "Purple" and you'll rapidly find gear upgrades with dropped off of every alien foot soldier you defeat. After a few days of focused playing you'll likely start slowing your rise in Light level, and by then the grind will feel pretty similar to the April Update. Welcome back to the treadmill, Guardian.

Pro Tip Infusion can get a little expensive during the grind to the first soft cap, so make a point of running the Daily Heroic and Daily Crucible to bank some extra Legendary Marks. There are of course plenty of other ways to get them, including other activities and sharding old gear - but running the Dailies is one of the faster ways to build your Legendary Mark bank.

Campaign and PvE

Let me say up front that PvE is definitely far from broken in Rise of Iron. It has pretty much everything you remember from the last time you played Destiny - patrols, bounties, quests, and a campaign spattered with a few cut scenes and plenty of new dialog. The thing is, there is so much you remember from previous installments, because it doesn't feel like there is enough that is new. The campaign missions actually introduce a fairly interesting nemesis, but despite some significant foreshadowing the end result feels rushed, too short, and ultimately hollow.

Of particular offense, to me, in this expansion, is a long string of fourth-wall-breaking references and jokes which poke fun at the games re-use of assets and mechanics. I should probably be more bothered that content is being recycled in the first place, but for some reason what makes it ten times worse is hear the same tone deaf jokes repeated by NPCs or my ghost over and over as I grind through the same events and areas. With the precedent of previous DLCs and the price point for Rise of Iron, Bungie has started to solidify what can be expected from mid-cycle DLC updates in the PvE department. It won't be enough to turn away super fans like myself, but I'll offer no defense to those that feel like it isn't enough to justify the purchase by itself.


An interesting bright spot for Rise of Iron is the PvP elements, which seem to be firing on all cylinders. Balance changes that went into effect with Year 3 seem pretty fair, unseating some of the imbalance of snipers and shotties in recent metas of the past. As time passes, new uber combos will surely be found, but for now a large number of variables changed (new gear, returning guardians, new balance) have created a lot more variety in what you see match to match.

The new game type "Supremacy" is essentially "Kill Confirmed" from Call of Duty, but that had always been a game mode I enjoyed, and it works for Destiny pretty much just as well. The game mode encourages team play possibly better than any other I've seen, and it tends to be enjoyable win or lose, with many close games in my recent experience. My only slight gripe is that the Shaxx "mercy rule" doesn't seem to kick in soon enough when you taking and extreme beating from a well coordinated team, but hey at least it isn't Rift...

Also new for Rise of Iron is an entirely new Iron Banner system. Experience buffs are almost completely eliminated, as are daily bounties. End of match rewards seem to be the most generous possibly ever. All this spells what might stand as the best Iron Banner formula we've seen since launch. Considering this and the other PvP improvements, Rise of Iron might start sounding like a better buy if PvP is your scene.


Full disclosure, I haven't played that much of the raid first hand because some in my old raid group (..cough... agent86ix) have taken a while to grind their light up. That said, I've dabbled in it, and watch enough videos, to say that it sits pretty close to The Taken King in terms of length and complexity. There are plenty of cool new mechanics and large spaces to explore. Boss fights still involve a lot of shooting, but they seem to be layered with enough interesting mechanics to still feel like a challenge I'll enjoy doing for a while. Much like PvP, agent and I don't aspire to be the hardest of hardcore raiders - so a medium challenge is just right for us, and that seems to be about where Wrath of the Machine sits. Of course some teams are already speed running it in absurd times, but that has never made other raids any less enjoyable to me.

Controversies and Surprises

Like I alluded to earlier, what would Destiny be without some complaints and controversies? Well Rise of Iron has a few of them. Firstly, while no obvious time gates have cropped up yet (excluded the standard staggering of Raid modes and Trials as is now Bungie's custom) - there is a clear "soft cap" that emerges as your character reaches the limits of what the general grinding can get you. Basically, gear can only decrypt to a certain level - and after that just about all engrams except Exotics are nearly useless for raising your light. This can start to have quite a sting if you don't Raid or PvP much, and you get the "middle finger" reward options from a particularly challenging Nightfall. Earlier this week a patch raised this "soft cap", but the basic mechanics remain. I'm not sure how Bungie manages to keep getting this wrong - but there is clearly some "extend the grind" philosophy underlying it all which I can't quite comprehend.

On a seperate, and probably more vitriolic note - Rise of Iron has further extended the now myriad cosmetic items in an effort to squeeze a little more blood out of every stone that gets cornered in a dark alley. Because Bungie loves currencies, "Silver" can now be converted into "Silver Dust", which is used to attach what are effectively collectable "weapon skins" to particular Exotic items. Reddit seems at times overflowing with rage about this particular addition to the expansion, but for myself I can't manage to get too worked up about it. Premium upgrades seem to permeate just about all games similar to Destiny at this point, and as long as noone is making me buy it directly or indirectly I'm find with it existing.

To finish on a bit of a high note, Rise of Iron does feature several new and interesting Exotics including the return of some old favorites like Gjallarhorn. Standing out among these is Outbreak Prime, which is obtainable only by a bizarrly complex ritual performed inside the raid that starts a lengthy follow up quest line. The process to obtain it seems every bit as much of an accomplishment as Black Spindle or No Time To Explain, and the gun itself has some cool abilities and otherwise stands out as a fair good acquisition. Little "secrets" like these are something I really enjoy about games like Destiny, and I'm pleased that a few of them made it into Rise of Iron.

So what do you think of Rise of Iron? Did it meet your expectations? Do you think you got your money's worth? Leave a comment below and let us know!