By this point you have either spent 500+ hours on Destiny (and hate it), 500+ hours on Destiny (AND LOVE IT! OMG) or have spent significantly less than that and are completely ambivalent and wonder what the fuss is about. But regardless of your current state of mind Bungie are going to keep on churning out content and throwing it in your face. Next year we may well have the proper sequel and there is some kind of insane ten year plan that has to happen or Chthulu will rise up and swallow the planet. Maybe.
Rise of Iron is the latest expansion, and possibly the last big one for vanilla Destiny, so hopes were high that things could go out on a bang. However, it feels like more of a damp squib.
Let's tackle the story first of all, always a bug bear with Destiny fans new and old, as there is both good and bad be be discovered under the hood. First of all we get to se emore of Saladin the gravelly voiced boss of the Iron Banner events. He seems to live on a snowy mountain with a whole host of wolves that are really good at someone hiding their poop. He also has a traumatic backstory involving his posse of Iron Lords and a secret buried below the Cosmodrome. Oooooooooo!
What this actually translates to is a series of interesting and unique story quests that actually play out remarkably differently to anything you've seen before, with a number of unique and interesting set pieces and boss fights that really do impress. Unfortunately the whole thing spans only a few missions and can be seen, shot and exploded within a couple of hours - even at a leisurely solo pace.
The other issue ties in with the "new" enemies, which are just essentially reskinned Fallen with slightly different abilities. Some of them can revive health, or drop an annoying tracking explosive when they die, but other than that they act and react the same way the Fallen always do. It would have been nice to get a whole new faction to tangle with rather than one of the weakest ones again but with a few new tricks.
The big new Plaguelands area is impressive though. It branches out from the Rocketyard area of the Cosmodrome and includes a new strike and Raid location as well. There are a number of big zones to explore but very little to actually find in them, other than SIVA clusters (the expansions new mystery collectible) and Archon's Forge which is an alternate and more fun version of the Court of Oryx. Though the new random story quest for some rare exitic weapons, including the much desired Gjallarhorn, are a blast to play at least once.
There are a few hidden areas that can only be accessed by keys, randomly dropped by killing enemies, but the treasure in them feels hardly worth the effort of trekking out - being restricted to Spinmetal, glimmer and some bog standard engrams.
Indeed engrams, and levelling in general, are the major problem here. As in order to access the Raid and new Nightfall strikes you'll ideally need to be 360 light or more. But getitng there is painfully slow. A fact made worse by the fact encrypted engrams at blue level are capped at a mere 340 light so soon become worthless (unless you get lucky with a Legendary/Exotic drop). With the story being so short and little other content to occupy you, it soon boils down to grinding either the Forge or Strike lists to get strong enough to do anything else, which is a real shame as it feels like a much larger level leap is required this time around to tackle the meaty stuff - almost as if the grind has been made to make the thin on the ground content feel more substantial.
The Raid itself is much shorter than previous incarnations too. It has it's moments and the boss fights are typically challenging and interesting, but it never quite hits the heights of Vault of Glass or King's Fall. In fact the whole package suffers by comparison to the Taken King, with a massive new zone, new quests, easter eggs, a great Raid - all of which feel a lot smaller and easier this time around.
For die hards this is more Destiny, which will always be a good thing, but after teh impressive Taken King content this feels more like grindy filler material to keep us going until the sequel proper emerges. Considering how repetitive it gets after only a few hours, it may be a long wait to see something truly impressive in Destiny once again.