The final expansion for Destiny, Bungie’s seemingly deathproof shooter/RPG/quasi-MMO hybrid, is almost here. While it doesn’t look like Rise of Iron will move the needle forward as dramatically as last year’s expansion, The Taken King, was able to, it is exactly the kind of content refresh that Destiny needs right now. With a sequel set to arrive sometime in 2017 and a full year since The Taken King’s release, Destiny has been suffering through a bit of a dry spell over the last half year or so, despite the occasional small update from Bungie. While it remains to be seen whether or not Rise of Iron will be enough to revitalize the game and its community, it’s set to deliver a number of interesting additions to the Destiny experience that should prove difficult to resist for die hards and lapsed players alike. With exactly a week to go before Rise of Iron’s September 20th release, here are the 10 most important things you need to know about Destiny’s new expansion.
10. Private Matches
Fans have been requesting the ability to host private multiplayer matches with friends pretty much since Destiny first launched back in 2014 and Rise of Iron will finally be adding this feature. Players will be able to create their own Crucible matches with friends, where they can choose the map, mode, score limit, time limit, Light level, and even time of day. Unsurprisingly, private matches won’t allow you to earn Legendary or Exotic loot drops, so they can’t be exploited to try and earn high-level gear fast, but they will still count towards the daily Crucible bounties. Other multiplayer additions to Rise of Iron include a new mode called Supremacy, that plays out similarly to Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode, as well as three new Crucible maps: Last Exit and Floating Gardens on Venus, and Skyline on Mars. Unfortunately, Rise of Iron will continue to offer PlayStation 4 exclusive content, including an additional map, Icarus on Mercury.
9. Xbox 360 And PS3 Are Out
While most Destiny owners play the game on either PS4 or Xbox One, Bungie has continued to support the last-gen versions up to and including The Taken King. Rise of Iron will be the first Destiny expansion not available on PS3 and Xbox 360, as Bungie has decided to stop creating content for legacy consoles. Although this news surely upset PS3 and Xbox 360 Destiny players when Bungie made the announcement back in June, the developer’s reasoning for dropping support is hard to argue with. For one thing, there aren’t that many people playing the older versions, at least relative to how many players are on PS4 and Xbox One. According to Bungie’s Eric Osborne, around 90% of Destiny’s player base is on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It also wouldn’t have been possible to introduce Rise of Iron on legacy consoles without compromising the core experience significant, so Bungie decided it was better just to opt out.
Unfortunately, if you didn’t make the jump to PS4 or Xbox One before the most recent patch was released, you will no longer be able to access your character as progress is now split between legacy and current-gen consoles. To be fair, if you didn’t make the jump from the PS3 to PS4 or Xbox 360 to Xbox One version of Destiny at some point in the last two years, you probably weren’t ever going to.
8. New Social Space
Unlike The Taken King, Rise of Iron will introduce a brand new social HUB space similar to the Tower and Reef. Located in the Plaguelands (more on that location in a bit), Felwinter’s Peak is a new social space that players will have to take back from the game’s new enemies, the Fallen Devil Splicers, before they’re able to use it as a HUB. Once Felwinter’s Peak is reclaimed, players will be able to purchase weapons and gear from new vendors, as well as pick up new bounties to complete. Other details are a bit hazy right now, but the expansion’s creative lead, Christopher Barrett, made assurances to Game Informer that Felwinter’s Peak holds many secrets for players to discover. “There are lots of secrets. There’s this whole portion of Felwinter’s Peak that is normally locked, except during special events. There may be some secret ways to get back there.” So it’s safe to say that Felwinter’s Peak sounds like a cool place to hang out with your Fireteam, but there is one downside: Xur, everyone’s favorite exotic weapons and armor vendor, will not be including Felwinter as a destination on his weekly trips. Maybe he just doesn’t care for the cold?
7. The Plaguelands
The new playing space being introduced in Rise of Iron, the Plaguelands is a location infested by the Fallen that branches off of the Cosmodrome on Earth. The Plaguelands will not only house Rise of Iron’s new social space, Felwinter’s Peak, but will also be the setting for the expansions new storyline, which sees Iron Banner quartermaster Lord Saladin, the last of the Iron Lords (basically a band of spacefaring superheroes that predate the Guardians), recruit the Guardians in order to put a stop to the Fallen’s activities in the Plaguelands. As you may have guessed, the Plaguelands are a desolate wasteland but a surprisingly varied one at that, complete with lava and Fallen fortresses. If the Plaguelands can offer the same level of mystery and fun exploration elements as The Taken King’s Dreadnaught, it should make for an engaging new setting, despite the rather off-putting name.
6. New Artifact Abilities
One of the more interesting additions that Rise of Iron is set to introduce is an overall renewed focus on artifacts, which have been largely useless items in Destiny up to this point. According to Game Informer’s massive Rise of Iron cover story put out back in August, there will be eight new artifacts introduced that are based on the new Iron Lords faction, and each one of them will have their own unique properties that will have a noticeable effect on gameplay. For example, one artifact lets you melee an enemy and gain their allegiance for a short period of time, while another will eliminate your super, but give you two grenades, two melees, and an increase in all stats. The best part is that unlike previous artifacts, these new ones will. be class-agnostic, meaning that you’ll be able to equip them on any one of your characters. The new artifact abilities are by no means game-changers, but they should add a welcome new wrinkle to the game and also give players a reason to actually hunt down artifacts.
5. Axes For Everyone
When The Taken King introduced swords as a weapon class, some players were a bit skeptical of how viable a melee weapon would be in a game dominated by ranged firearms. Of course, once people actually got their hands on a sword and realized how powerful they were, all of that doubt went out the window. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that the Destiny community will welcome Rise of Iron’s introduction of axes with anything less than open arms. Axes are part of what Bungie is referring to as “Relic Weapons” and function similar to “encounter specific” weapons such as the Scorch Cannon. Unfortunately, this means that Lord Saladin’s axe will not be part of your regular inventory, which admittedly is kind of disappointing, but considering there are already a fair number of weapon types to balance in Destiny, perhaps it’s for the best that the axe only shows up at certain times to help Guardians lay fiery waste to their enemies.
Don’t let the odd naming choice fool you; ornaments are not holiday-themed doodads that hang off the end of your guns, but rather Exotic weapon and armor skins. For a game that is so heavily-based on loot acquisition, it’s surprising that it’s taken Destiny this long to get proper weapon and armor skins, but based on some of the images Bungie has shared in the lead-up to Rise of Iron’s release, it looks like the developer is doing it right. Ornaments will be found in the newly introduced Radiant Treasures, which can be earned by playing the Vanguard Strike playlist, or purchased through the Eververse Trading Company, Destiny’s in-app storefront. Much like the Sterling Treasures, which were added to the game earlier this year, you will only be able to earn a set number of Radiant Treasures per week. In total, there are 22 known Ornaments to collect, with more likely to be introduced over time.
3. Iron Engrams
Rise of Iron will introduce a new type of Engram in the form of Iron Engrams, which will drop Year 1 & 2 weapon and armor pieces. You will be able to purchase these items from Lord Saladin and they are being introduced as a way to earn old loot that was awarded in previous Iron Banner tournaments. So if you’re just jumping into Destiny for the first time with Rise of Iron (if so, what the heck took you so long?!) or simply didn’t bother playing much Iron Banner, the Iron Engrams will be a good way to get loot you previously missed out on. Unfortunately, Bungie does not have any plans to upgrade vault space with this new expansion, so you’re probably going to run out of room quickly for all of those new weapons and armor sets.
2. Archon’s Forge
Located deep in the Plaguelands, Archon’s Forge is Rise of Iron’s new arena mode and seems to be a cross between Prison of Elders and the Court of Oryx. Players will have to face waves of enemies, similar to Horde Mode in the Gears of War series, and if they can defeat a set number of waves fast enough, a boss will appear. Defeating the boss will drop Archon Forge-specific loot, with a chance that that loot will drop at the highest Light level (Rise of Iron increases the cap from 335 to 285 (400 when Wrath of the Machine’s hard mode is released shortly after launch).
Archon’s Forge also introduces an interesting new wrinkle in that if you die and respawn, you’ll be kicked out to the entrance to the Forge, which will be locked. This means that you’ll want to team up with some friends or a group of random players, as they’ll be able to revive you from within the Forge (like Court of Oryx, Archon’s Forge is a public space, so you will encounter random players quite frequently). From what’s been shown so far, Archon’s Forge looks to be a fun, challenging new mode that also gives players a viable way to earn high level gear outside of raids.
1. New Raid
While a sizable portion of Destiny players have never even completed a raid due to the challenge and time commitment required, any player who has will tell you that they are the best part of the Destiny experience. Naturally, the hardcore Destiny crowd is chomping at the bit for a new raid after The Taken King introduced the excellent King’s Fall and it looks like Rise of Iron will deliver a worthy follow-up with Wrath of the Machine … although it might end up dividing fans based on what Bungie has revealed so far.
Details for the raid are obviously still rather scarce considering that Bungie doesn’t want Rise of Iron’s centerpiece bit of content to be spoiled before people even get a chance to play it, but the developer has noted that the raid will not be as technically demanding as King’s Fall was. Basically, the higher your overall light level, the more manageable the raid will become. Knowing Bungie’s track record, Wrath of the Machine will likely still prove to be an enormous challenge for players to overcome, but time will tell whether it stands alongside King’s Fall and Vault of Glass, or gives Crota’s End a run for its money as Destiny’s weakest raid.
For a more in-depth read, be sure to check out this awesome Reddit thread that collects pretty much every bit of information released so far about Destiny: Rise of Iron.