‘Destiny: Rise of Iron’ (PS4) review: Failing to rise to the occasion

Much-hyped expansion doesn’t offer much, especially story-wise

If you feel, after you played through a solid chunk of the new material in “Destiny’s” latest expansion, a certain sense of deja vu, a nagging belief that you may have played this content before, you’re not the only one.

With a main storyline clocking in at a mere 90 minutes and the rest of the cooperative multiplayer elements completable with just a dozen or so more hours (mainly of grinding), “Rise of Iron” feels more like a throwaway addition before “Destiny 2” comes out next year rather than its own worthwhile endeavor.

The shame of “Rise of Iron,” the latest expansion to Bungie’s multiyear first-person shooter project, is that it contain hints of something better, a wisp of a story worth investing some time in. Instead, we’re teased with knowledge that hovers just on the periphery, enough to compel you to finish the handful of story missions but not enough to actually answer any questions you may have.

That’s not to say, though, that “RoI” doesn’t provide its $30 worth of entertainment. For “Destiny” fans (this critic included), more missions, strikes, Crucible match types and a new raid can only be celebrated. A slew of new weapons and armor give players reason to grind, not to mention the increased Light level (an attribute pegged to weapon and armor that serves as a de facto in-game level) that begs to be reached.

But for those who were hoping “RoI” would finally add a decent story-based element (the game has been criticized since its release for its lackluster plot), you’re in for a world of disappointment.

“Rise of Iron” tasks your Guardian to assist the last of the Iron Lords, Lord Saladin, in destroying SIVA, a type of nanotechnology that went haywire and wiped out most of the Saladin’s compatriots. (The tech was worked on during the Golden Age of humanity, and its purpose was to break down and reconstruct matter through its own volition.) Hidden away for centuries, the virus-like SIVA makes a violent splash back on Earth and takes no time whatsoever to start causing chaos in a blood-red hue.

But as mentioned earlier, it takes less than two hours to complete the main storyline. And if you’re thinking, “Well, how much you could learn about SIVA and/or the greater world of ‘Destiny’ in two hours?,” join the club. You do glean some intel on Saladin, the man behind the competitive multiplayer Iron Banner. And, to be fair, the missions do nicely set up the late-game material.

Early on during the main campaign, you gain access to Felwinter Peak (yes, it’s starkly reminiscent of “Game of Thrones” in both title and design), the game’s new social hub. There you’ll find several new NPCs that offer quests and items you can only get there. (Plus you can take selfies with wolves.) Also, the expansion mostly takes place in the Plaguelands, a new free-roam area on Earth covered in public events and SIVA-infected baddies. (Beware, they are much stronger than they look at first glance.)

For the competitive multiplayers out there, “RoI” offers a new game mode: Supremacy. It basically functions as Clash with a twist: When each player dies, he drops a Crest. In order for your kill to count toward the score, you have to collect the orb. (Your teammates can collect it, which will add to your team’s score, or your opponents can pick it up, denying your team the point.) It’s not exactly the essence of creativity, but it does provide for a chance of pace in Crucible matches. What’s most impressive, however, are the new maps. They all seem to contain a mix of regions that will cater to all game play styles (shotgunners and snipers alike will find something to like).

But don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the same old grind you were in before pretty quickly. Players completed the raid the first day it was accessible. The story missions took no time at all. Strikes and the Nightfalls (a souped-up strike) remain more or less the same (minus the higher-leveled enemies). The newest patrol area offers a few collectibles, but not much else. Before long, it’ll feel like the same “Destiny” you’ve spent the last year playing.

In the end, “Destiny: Rise of Iron” doesn’t so much offer new content as recast its existing material and add a blood-red tint to everything. You’re not really exploring new areas or fighting new enemies, just stronger versions of creatures you’ve fought before. It seems there’s something compelling just hidden under a layer of rehashed adventures, which is a shame, because “Destiny’s” last expansion, “The Taken King,” didn’t feel that way. Here’s hoping “Destiny 2” rises to the occasion.

Two “Wait, why did that happen?” stars out of five.

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