It seems like you can't go a single day without seeing someone criticise Destiny. Bungie's shooter has been nothing if not divisive, but for all its flaws, many still enjoy scouring the same missions and maps in the hopes of buffing up their Guardian. If you're one of these players, then it goes without saying that this expansion is built for you.
To actually call it an expansion, however, conjures expectations that The Dark Below simply doesn't live up to. The amount of new content on offer is meagre at best, and attempting to sell it on the same level as what we've come to expect from numerous RPG titles' expansions is obscene. In truth, this is more of a map pack that throws in a handful of missions and tweaks existing bits and pieces.
Even if you haven't put the money down for the add-on, you'll still be able to find its main character, Eris, at the Tower. Without the DLC, she'll still offer bounties, but with it, she'll hand out a series of objectives that act as new story missions. These tasks are of an endgame variety, and if you're playing alone, present more of a challenge than most of the original game.
Chocked full of enemies and action, the three story quests are fun while they last, but the necessity to be a high level means that most players will probably blitz through them in under an hour. Although the structure of these tasks is nothing new or particularly exciting, it's a testament to Destiny's fantastic gunplay that you can still enjoy yourself while holding off waves of foes for the millionth time.
It's a shame, then, that the missions largely take place in locations that you'll have already explored. The first sees you work backwards through an area in Old Russia, for example, but at least the other objectives show off some new spaces, even if they're relatively small and not all that interesting. Sadly, this is really where you'll start questioning just how much effort was put into the release. At times, there's a definite sense that Bungie has done as little as possible, and, much like the original game, stretched out an already thin layer of content to a ridiculous degree.
Once the story missions are over, there are a few smaller bounties to undertake which lead up to the DLC's Strike, which sees you taking on Omnigul – a Hive witch who acts as the narrative's villain throughout the previously mentioned quests. Having a set adversary definitely helps tie proceedings together, especially when Eris is feeding you context via radio, and in that sense, the developer's succeeded in crafting a better plot with The Dark Below. That said, it's still pretentious sci-fi fluff that you'll likely forget seconds after the primary foe disintegrates with one last screech.
Fortunately, the Strike is probably the DLC's best asset. Featuring loads of enemies and some truly chaotic skirmishes, it's one of the best paced co-op activities in the game, and the aforementioned final fight with Omnigul showcases how good Destiny can be when you and two friends are holding off a seemingly infinite stream of baddies, popping off super abilities, and spraying bullets at anything that moves.
Meanwhile, the PlayStation exclusive Strike isn't quite as enjoyable, but like its Hive-based counterpart, it loves throwing hordes of adversaries your way. In this one, you'll be tearing through whole platoons of Vex, which means plenty of weird robotic sounds and crazy visual effects. It's another decent addition to the base release – given that there are only six repetitive Strikes to begin with – but again, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is content that's been slapped together. Old locations, old enemies, and even re-skinned bosses are the order of the day.
Likewise, the new Crucible maps are generally what we've come to expect, although their designs are a little less vertical. It shouldn't take long for seasoned players to get to grips with the new arenas, and there are definitely opportunities for some team-based havoc on the likes of Skywatch, which is a rather open map that's perfect for hectic pike battles. In contrast, Pantheon and The Cauldron provide a slew of choke points and winding corridors, and tend to host matches where reaction times and shotguns are key. If anything, the competitive offering continues to be a reliable source of fun, and the fresh maps mount up as more evidence that the studio still has a flair for creating engaging multiplayer spaces.
If you're really into Destiny, though, the chances are that you'll be attempting the download's six player Raid. The title's second available endgame objective can be just as brutal as the first, as you and your allies try to work out reliable strategies, but by and large, this is more of the same, except instead of shooting Vex, you'll be blasting Hive. Like the rest of the DLC, there are some enjoyable shootouts and a few intense moments that hardcore players will no doubt adore, but don't expect anything out of the ordinary.
It's a good job, then, that The Dark Below's range of new equipment is up to scratch. Nicely designed and sporting some great passive abilities, the pool of new gear is bound to light up the face of anyone who's sunk a good amount of time into Destiny. That said, the DLC fumbles when it comes to reworking a few upgrade systems.
For example, the need to purchase better versions of your exotic weapons and armour and then upgrade them all over again is nothing short of a joke – especially if you've already spent an eternity boosting them to their maximum power in the first place. To make matters worse, Cryptarch engrams – rewards for successfully completing Strike playlists – can now only be obtained by tackling the level 26 playlist which is exclusive to those who have purchased The Dark Below, meaning that regular players are essentially being punished for not buying the DLC.
Which brings us nicely to the 'expansion's' price point. For how much new content is actually on offer here, £20/$20 is almost robbery. For anyone who still plays Destiny day in, day out, grinding for rare materials and the best gear that glimmer can buy, this DLC is unsurprisingly for you – and only you. But if you have gripes with Bungie's creation, we dare say that The Dark Below will do little else other than amplify your scorn.
On a fundamental level, The Dark Below fails to justify its expensive price point for anyone who isn't a hardcore Destiny fan. While the story missions are enjoyable and the Strikes are some of the best, there just isn't enough new content here to reinvigorate Bungie's project for more than a few hours at most.
Destiny is a lazy game. Minimal content, maximum grind.
Great review @ShogunRok! I agree completely. Played it the day it came out, and after my friends and I finished (the raid notwithstanding) we just kind of felt like "oh.that was it?"
@Knocks yeah that's the impresion I got from playing the beta hence why I cancelled my pre-order
not what I was expecting from the guys who made halo
@gbanas92 Thanks Graham. Yeah, I had the same feeling after I finished the story bounties and realised that was it. It's more of the same — the grind — but I just don't see how Bungie can sustain the game for supposedly 10 years with content like this. Something needs changed!
The DLC would have to be a whole lot more than it is to be worth £20....it's a shockingly high price for shallow content...the stripping down of exotic weapons to start all over again and the locking certain things to those who didn't buy the expansion are just more slaps in the face to gamers. I'd imagine at this point Destiny is only relevent to hardcore fans who love the grind and to those who are still enjoying the crucible....personally I'm happy I've moved on to better things, like the Lord of the Hunt DLC for shadow of Mordor ( sold at a reasonable DLC price), but I'm still annoyed by articles I read about Destiny and the choices being made with it.
The game isn't lasting for ten years, the franchise is (meaning more games and expansions). But, great review: Like its older brother it suffers from many of the same problems.
@ShogunRok Exactly! There's simply not enough for the game to sustain itself. This expansion could have been a part of the Vanilla game, and it still wouldn't have had enough content. At this point, if this is how Bungie's going to support Destiny, they'd be better off just not bothering with this one, and making extra sure they get the second one right!
I saw four times the content of this "expansion"(Blizzard and Rockstar say hi) in any random content patch of WoW or even Diablo.
I read an article hypothizing that this is some sort of new "monthly fee" to maintain and produce content without using the word monthly fee, which scares a lot of people.
Should it be like that, i still despise the lack of transparency.
I hope the wave of disappointed reviews will ring a bell or teo in Bungie's ears.
A holes ripping us off. No thanks.
I got into the hype and paid a full 100$ for the digital guardian edition... Now I'm stuck with a bad game that will be uninstalled and never think of again.
Last time I ever give money to Bungie!
For 30$ I got Metro Redux last night, two full games for less than what I paid for Destiny's expansions... Greed is a thing, overpricing hollow content is pure madness!
Bungie R.I.P. 2014.
@Bliquid people are blind to this, been talking to tons of destiny playing friends and they aren't happy with it but they won't stop playing. What do you think the solution is there?
Totally agree with the review. Well done!
Destiny was bad, gotten worst, activision is out of control and bungie is the weapon! Solution here is us, i dislike what activision/bungie is and I make sure I tell every single person what they are.
I love video games too much to see companies do this.
Bye bye destiny it was good whilst it lasted. I'm trading my copy in ASAP and picking up games which have a proper story eg. shadows of mordor, dragon age, grand theft auto or mmos with decent amount of content eg. final fantasy a realm reborn. Will wait for destiny game of the year edition with at least 4 dlcs for under £20!
I'm sorry but a 5 is too damn high for this crap.
@wittypixel : well, i'd say that as long as they have fun (which is why we are here for, after all) with the game, they are entitled to do or feel whatever they please. We here may see it as a "problem" because we can foresee where this Bungie behaviour may lead the industry to if not fought back with wallet votes.
Personally, i'm just disappointed to see this arguably good game waste its real potential.
On a side note, Bungie has large control over Destiny, so these dubious decisions are mostly theirs to blame.
I didn't even do the bounties. I finished the 3 excellent, yet short story missions and said this it? I just can't seem to get back into it after being stuck at 27 for so long. It's a shame really I had a blast playing with a friend grinding out strikes and I'm used to grind being a ex wow player in a semi hardcore guild for 5 years. My back log is huge thanks to black friday sales I have plenty to enjoy lol.
I played it for a few hours and tried to look at everything, watched a bunch of videos, talked to friends that have played it and were up past lvl 24 at the time, they all said and I even watched it as it had a lack of content. These so called DLC is basically Bungie saying "this is the type of company we want to be". I'll happily turn away from any new game in the future from them. These very small and overpriced DLC's show incompetence. yuck. I really did expect more from Bungie, especially after they've talked up the game. I'm waiting to see what Destiny 2 will sell like because I honestly don't think it's going to get the sales that Destiny 1 had, since people now know what they may get.
Seeing as Bungie has started development on Destiny2, I don't think they've got the time to make proper DLC, they'll want to rush Destiny2 out ASAP.
At face value, it does seem like a lot of money for not a lot of extra content. £20 for 3 extra MP maps, 3 new missions, a couple of strikes and a new Raid. Lets not forget a few new Exotics to add to the collection, A whole new set of Raid weapons and Armour too...
Considering Titanfall charged £10 for just 3 new MP maps, both BF and CoD charge more (around £2 extra) for an extra map although BF4 adds more new weapons/vehicles too and CoD adds a new co-op map and maybe a weapon as well.
Maybe the Storyline is weak, it never stopped games like Super Mario 64 being fun and playable. Ultimately though it will come down to if you enjoy what Destiny offers. The additional content does give a bit more variety to the Strike playlists, does give new Exotics to acquire and level up, does give a few more missions to play through and a little more variety to the dailies/weeklies, a new raid with its own set of collectible gear and a few MP maps too. In fact it does add to every area of Destiny - albeit not that much.
In terms of 'value' though, it really depends on how you define it. From my perspective I have many hours accumulated so the cost per hour is negligible
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