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Destiny, The Dark Below Expansion: Initial Impressions

You’ve waited long enough, but the Destiny Dark Below expansion is finally here. Here’s some my initial impressions….

Destiny Expansion Pack

Well, it’s here. The long awaited expansion to Destiny, the game that has invoked both love and hate, and lots of cursing towards the RNGesus. This expansion brings with it new armor and weapons, a higher level cap, three new story missions, a new Strike, and of course, Crota’s End, the Raid to follow up the infamous Vault of Glass. I’ve now had a couple nights to dive headfirst into the expansion and wanted to share with you my initial impressions.

Destiny Expansion Pack 2

We’ll go through it in the same order my fire team played it. Up first, the three new story missions; where to start? The missions are enjoyable, but short. Not just short, but, for example, we finished the first mission before we realized we had even started it. The other two are enjoyable, and filled with fast-paced action, but are also noticeably short. That is one thing to say for this expansion, it’s no holds barred. Whether it’s the missions, the strike, or the Raid, the general theme is to reign millions of bullets upon your foes. It’s exciting, that’s for sure, and makes us hand cannon users really exercise our trigger fingers. Overall, the missions are fun but leave you wanting more, a lot more, and understandably so.
Destiny Expansion Kit
This brings up the one glaring issue I had with the missions. There is not a single cinematic in the Dark Below. Bungie apparently heard our complaints about not being able to skip cutscenes and decided to give us a big slap in the face.
A Bungie developer maniacally screams:
“You guys don’t appreciate our cutscenes?! Then you won’t get any!”
The mini-story is nice, but I wanted to see somecutscenes where my guardian’s were decked out in their new fresh gear, I’m superficial like that.The musical selection of The Dark Below, is fantastic, which is par for the course. Destiny’s music has been on point since day one. If you haven’t taken the time to appreciate it during the original missions, I highly recommend you go do that. It is quite possibly the best part of the story.

The new Strike mission has you fighting Omnigul, who is one mean wizard. This Dark Below strike has a much different feel than previous strike offerings. Once again, in your face action is the call to order here with the action taking place in much smaller confines than the original strikes. No more long range sniping to prevent bosses from attacking, there’s not nearly enough room for it. Knights run rampant, and Thralls just run, constantly. Sniping is probably not your friend for most of this, but a good fusion rifle is clutch. Once you get to Omnigul, you might as well hunker down, because it’s going to take a little while. Your strike team will stay pinned down in the first room for most of the strike (at least on the higher levels of Weekly Heroic and Nightfall) and Omnigul seems to have a ridiculous amount of hit points. Our Nightfall strike took about two hours.

The strike is very nice, and a good addition to the original strikes, but once again, it just doesn’t feel like enough. This is an expansion pack after all, and my fire team has completed all the new missions and strike within 8 hours of play. Players deserve more.

The original Vault of Glass is what Destiny should have been the whole time. Immersive, engaging, challenging, but mainly, fun. Crota’s End sadly isn’t living up to the first Raid offering from Bungie. Full disclosure, we have yet to complete the Crota’s End, but have attempted it twice now. I have watched videos in addition to play testing, and feel like I can speak confidently on the Raid.

The first part has you sprinting through endless darkness lighting lamps and mowing down thousands of Thralls. It is fun, but the challenge is in the “Weight of Darkness” that befalls guardians. This weight keeps you from running and jumping, and obviously makes running and shooting Thralls much more difficult. It’s an interesting mechanic, but it honestly comes off as more of an annoyance than a fun challenge.

The second part of the raid (which is as far as we got) requires immaculate teamwork. No longer is everything in two’s and you have someone to back you up, this part is going to require flawless execution by all six team members. If your team isn’t a well-oiled machine, you’re going to find yourself repeating this section quite a bit. (If you are curious about the rest of the raid, I recommend doing a quick Youtube search and checking it out for yourself!)

This Raid seems to try and force six man teams to go through, unlike the Vault of Glass which eventually was taken down by two man teams. While I’m completely ok with this (the raid should be very difficult), there is still no Raid matchmaking, which still makes finding a team an unnecessary inconvenience.

With the Dark Below expansion, players find themselves able to obtain new light levels, up to 32. To get to level 31, you’ll be able to buy your way there, and convert an exotic to the higher light level. To reach 32, however, raiding will be necessary. New materials are also required to level up certain pieces, but ascendant shards and energy still have a place. The new armor and weapons look very nice, but it would have been nice to see a bit more variety. A lot of the Vanguard and Crucible armor look almost identical, as well as armor offerings from your respective faction. New shaders look great, and a new weapon mechanic allows some weapons to switch burn types at any time (Solar to Arc damage, for example).

One glaring issue seems to be ranking up with Eris, the main character from the expansion. It seems the only way to level her reputation up is by completing her daily bounties, which seems ok on the surface, but once you dive into it you realize that there is basically a daily cap on much experience you can gain with her each day, meaning that your skill and hours put in will not necessarily put you above other serious players. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone, honestly, because Destiny’s model since day one has been to not reward players logically, but randomly. Your skills matter not, guardians.

To wrap it up, is this worthy of your hard-earned money? Sure, if you like Destiny. If you picked up Destiny early on and it wasn’t for you, this expansion will not change your mind. However, if you are like me, and still play everyday, the expansion is well worth your money. The story is decent, and you get to explore previously unseen places on planets you’re familiar with. The new weapons and armor look and perform well, and will give players plenty to go for. Raiding with five of your friends is always an enjoyable experience, as well, even if the Raid itself is slightly below par.

On the fence about purchasing The Dark Below? We’re giving away a copy of the expansion on the system of your choice! Click the tweet below for details!

Josiah Screenshot

 

Founder & Editor. Email me at kevin@knowtechie.com

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