Destiny's big Year Three expansion, Rise of Iron, is out. And it's good. But you're likely to have questions. Destiny is, after all, a complex game, and it only ever twists and shifts its heady form with each new add-on. So what's new, what's changed, and what do you need to know with Rise of Iron? And just what the hell's all that animal talk about? Read on, and we I'll get you good and prepped.
What's with all the tapirs? Why are there tapirs in Rise of Iron?
Funny story, that one. No really, it's hilarious. Bungie has a series of error codes for when Destiny goes wrong, all named after animals, and will tell you which one you've got any time the game craps out. A menagerie of despair, if you will. On the release morning of Rise of Iron, seemingly everyone was getting a 'tapir’ error. It was a stampede of tapirs. Tapirs all the way down.
According to Bungie.net, a tapir error generally means that Destiny is down for maintenance, but given the early situation with Rise of Iron, and the fact that many of the error messages were eventually replaced with a server queuing system - one rarely ever seen in the game since Year One - I'd hazard that in this case it meant ‘The servers are way over capacity and everything's fallen over’. It’s all fixed now though.
Okay, what about Gjallarhorn then? I thought they killed that thing
Yep, nonsensically powerful Year One exotic rocket launcher Gjallarhorn was indeed retired when Destiny's second year rolled around with the Taken King expansion. The problem was that Gjally was so OP that it split the community. Everyone wanted it, not everyone could get it, and some players would just straight refuse to play with others who didn't have it. So Bungie let it atrophy in its old Year One stats while it updated a whole lot of other exotics to Year Two specifications.
But now it's back, in a new, black-and-silver Iron Lord iteration. Bungie's solution to the player split? Give one to everyone. This time around there's a quest-line that will lead to the forging of the new Iron Gjallarhorn. From experience of using it pre-launch, it doesn't seem quite as apocalyptically powerful as it was the first time around - this is a good thing - but it is still a hell of a lot of fun to fire. Because how are tracking cluster bombs ever not?
What formats can I play Rise of Iron on?
PS4 and Xbox One. Bungie has dropped last-gen platforms now, because to add significantly to their versions of Destiny, things would apparently have to be removed. And Bungie doesn't want to do that.
What’s in Rise of Iron then?
For your £30/$40, you will get:
• A new story campaign. It’s shorter than hoped (you’ll probably finish your first run-through in an evening), but very well crafted.
• A new Strike, and two remixed ones from Year One, which see the return of both Sepiks Prime and Phogoth.
• Three new Crucible maps, and one new mode, Supremacy, which sees downed Guardians dropping Crests that furnish double-points if collected after the kill. It’s a lightly strategic, and rather aggressive team deathmatch mode, that gets really anarchic when things heat up.
• A new overworld map area, the Plaguelands. Set way out in the outskirts of Old Russia, it’s distinctly snowier, more mountainous, and more desolate than the Cosmodrome. It also contains Rise or Iron’s new enemy faction, the nano-augmented Splicer Fallen, and a new co-op PvE mode, that mode being…
• The Archon’s Forge. This in-world arena can be accessed via various tiers of collectibles, and will generate different levels of enemy waves, which will furnish various rewards when killed. Think of it as a cross between the Prison of Elders and The Taken King’s Court of Oryx.
• A new perk system, by way of the new Iron Lord artifacts. There are eight of these, each tied to a specific Iron Lord - the long-lost proto-Guardians that Rise of Iron’s story is built around - and you can earn one a week though quests and activities. Each one bestows a ludicrous new perk - double-grenades, overall stat boosts, infinite sprint, etc. - which will free up and completely refocus your existing character build(s). Once you’ve completed the required tasks, just go to the Iron Temple (in the new social hub of Felwinter’s Peak), choose, and equip.
• A new Raid, featuring the Fallen in their first gigantic combat-puzzle appearance.
• A raised Light cap of 385, raising again to 400 once the hard-mode Raid lands.
So what’s the Rise of Iron story actually about?
The Iron Lords were sort of the Traveler’s first attempt at Guardians. They were passionate, dedicated, but not too smart. And they didn’t have Ghosts to resurrect them, all of which conspired to leave most of them very dead, permanently. The one survivor, Lord Saladin - you’ll know him as the Iron Banner representative if you play a lot of Crucible PvP - has sensed a stirring of something greatly unpleasant in the deep wastes of Old Russia, something that might just relate to what killed his brothers and sisters in the first place. And guess who he sends to investigate?
No, of course it’s not Xur. Of course it’s you.
How high does my Light level need to be? I don't want to start Rise of Iron and immediately get my ass kicked
Don’t worry about that. Although I reviewed the game at Bungie’s offices, using a pre-rolled Light 325 character, playing on launch day with a 309 proved no problem at all. Early enemies took a few extra hits over what would normally be expected, but it was far from unmanagable. And once the loot starts dropping, ye gods does it start dropping high. You’ll get a cavalcade of blue gear from the start, but rather than being crap, it will likely be pitched toward the 320 Light area. Granted, most of it won’t be particularly exciting as actual gear, but if you use it as infusion fuel you should find yourself between Light level 320 and 330 within about an hour, wherever your Guardian currently sits.
And if you’re really behind, you’ll find a Spark of Light at the Postmaster, which will boost any sub-40 character right up to the level cap.
What’s the new Rise of Iron loot like?
Aside from the above, we’re not currently entirely sure. It’s too early to really plumb the expansion’s new gear ecosystem, but with a Light cap of 400, and a Raid (with a hard-mode) to plunder, there should be a lot of very interesting, highly destructive, and thoroughly inventive stuff to be had. The details of an early exotic quest have already started trickling out.