Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 12/09/2014
So the first big Destiny expansion is finally here. It’s only been three months, but the game’s relative lack of content has made those three months seem like an eternity. With this expansion comes new story, new maps, new strikes, new gear, and a new a raid. Sadly, after the first happy couple of hours comes the crippling realization that you’ve just paid twenty dollars to do the same stuff you’ve been doing since the game first came out. This expansion highlights everything that is wrong with Destiny.
First of all, the story content is just a few missions and some quests that involve wandering around Earth a bit in hopes of finding tougher enemies. The plot revolves around Eris, a warrior who traveled to the heart of the moon in order to stop the resurrection of a Hive god. Her team was slaughtered, she alone survived, and now she wants your help. Much like the main game, this plot is empty and pointless. It’s just “go to this place and destroy this thing”. The only good thing about it is that you get to hear Eris instead of your ghost. I love Peter Dinklage, but Destiny soured him a bit.
The levels themselves have some interesting moments. For example, one mission has you harassed by packs of Cursed Thralls. Pop one of them, and the rest will explode like microwave popcorn. It’s delicious. You’ll also get a pretty nice fusion rifle for clearing out all of the new missions. The downside is that Eris is like a vendor, and the missions are handed out like bounties. You’ll have to go back to the Tower between each mission to get the next one.
I could start talking about the other new content now. It’s new. Some of it is nifty, and you’re sure to get some fun trying to conquer the new raid once you have the gear to actually pull it off. However, there are more important issues to talk about.
With this expansion, Bungie has devalued the efforts of Destiny‘s most dedicated players. For starters, there is new gear that can be bought from the Vanguard. This new gear is undeniably better than the best possible gear you could get before. In fact, you need it to get through the new raid. That means if you’re one of the many people who spent countless hours grinding through the old raid to get the best gear, all that effort can now be considered worthless. Some beginner can walk up to a vendor and buy better gear. Exotic gear can now be upgraded as well, which you’ll need to do to make it better than this new vendor gear. The problem here is that you have to wait until Xur appears on weekends and hope he’s selling your gear. Then, you have to spend an excessive amount of currency to purchase the upgrade. And then you still have to grind bounties in order to earn the experience in order to level it up.
It’s not all that uncommon for massive multiplayer games to do something like this. In order to attract new players, they make it easier to reach the top. However, this kind of thing usually doesn’t happen until years down the line. Destiny came out in September. What’s worse is that players are expected to do all of this again. You’re supposed to play through the strikes, find a team to go through the raid, and spend countless hours grinding for material to upgrade then new best gear. And when the next expansion comes out, I’m sure all of that work will be instantly be devalued again. There just isn’t enough new content to justify this.
Destiny has always played well. The combat is satisfying, the challenge is real, and getting a group together to go through a tough battle is quite fun. None of that has changed. Some of the many patches the game has had have made the game better in ways. Being able to spend crucible marks on things like spin metal is great. It can save you hours of farming. One could be forgiven for thinking that this expansion wasn’t going to be just one big slap in the face. But here we are. If you’re dedicated enough, this expansion is worth it. If you were hoping The Dark Below would make Destiny into the game you thought it could be, I have nothing but disappointment for you. Sorry.
Short Attention Span Summary
The Dark Below is everything that is wrong with Destiny. It devalues dedication and hard work. It celebrates tedium. Ultimately, any good that you get out of this will be instantly negated by the time the next expansion in released. I suppose it could be a shot in the arm for players who gave the game up once they had accomplished everything. However, this is still just another tiny bump in Bungie’s “ten year plan”.