Destiny arrived, and proceeded to be the mediocrity that was expected to be a masterpiece. Holding out hope, those of us that did their best to love Destiny despite its major flaws awaited what they hoped would be the turning of the tide in their first expansion, which we look at in this Destiny: The Dark Below DLC Review.
High off of the Vault of Glass being such a masterful experience (ridiculous bugs aside). What came, however, were only slight improvements. Baby steps in the right direction, but baby steps they were.
Note: These reviews are being written a week prior to the release of The Taken King. Screenshots captured will reflect characters at Level 34 (the current cap), whilst the views will be written through the vivid recollection I have of the events I’ve done so often throughout the year.
The biggest criticism levied at Destiny was its story. Myself, I went deeply in to just why it didn’t work and why it hit fans of Bungie so hard in our initial review. With The Dark Below, fans had once more hoped to see a story worth telling but now with a huge amount of skepticism. Let’s begin with a bit of positivity: this DLC brings with it a cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end. Granted, you still need to grab five other friends to experience this end, but an end it does have. You’re up against a Hive Prince known as “Crota”. Crota has decided that the Moon wasn’t good enough for him – perhaps a little too grey for his tastes – and now he has set his sights on Earth. The new “protagonist/narrator”, Eris Morn, has appeared in the tower after going up against Crota and failing, clearly still reeling from the situation. She informs you of your goals: to thin the ranks of his army on Earth, and head to the Moon for a final confrontation in the “Crota’s End” raid.
What I did appreciate was that we had a clear, focused goal. It’s Light vs Dark. Guardians vs Hive. This focus allowed for a more personal approach to the “bad guys” in a sense. I found myself wanting to take down Omnigul in the new Strike. I wanted to explore Crota’s End and save the world from Crota’s darkness. It certainly made a hell of a lot more sense that killing Atheon. I still don’t know why we had to kill him, but then, the Vex are an evil so evil that it despises other evil (no, I will never let that line go).
That said, the DLC, at £19.99, is extremely short on content. Three main missions, one strike, a raid and two Crucible maps. Playstation players also received an extra Strike: “The Undying Mind”. There’s also an extra mission by following an Eris Morn quest-line, but the quests themselves are tedious and the reward isn’t worth the effort. The new level cap is 32, but requires some serious grinding to reach.
As usual, the raid was the real highlight. The Thrall Maze in the beginning was really unique, and as skilled Hunters learned to solo it with their invisibility skills, we began to enjoy it even more. Building the bridge was intense, holding the plates and going over one at a time, and the Ir Yut battle brought us to many an unexpected wipe. Crota himself was incredibly satisfying to work out how to kill, and running the sword is the best experience a player can have in the game at this moment, if you’re a fan of the Player vs Enemy content.
There are a host of new weapons, but most are inconsequential, and the most unfortunate of those are the new Exotics. Exotic gear is something we all look forward to in Destiny, and The Dark Below really let us down. They’re almost deceptive, and some have cool ideas (like the Necrochasm) but wind up falling flat due to their poor stats, or lack of tracking in the case of “Dragon’s Breath”, which could have been amazing if the solar residual area were larger than the average solar grenade effect. Luckily, if you’re one of the few that make it to raid status, you can acquire some pretty awesome weaponry.
I must, of course, mention Black Hammer – a sniper rifle that allows unlimited ammo as long as you can pull off consecutive critical shots. It won’t take ammo from the chamber and it doesn’t even require a reload animation – you can let loose and destroy the bullet sponges of days gone by (looking at you Valus Ta’aurc). Then there’s the Hunger of Crota: a legendary Solar rocket launcher (another solar one…. really?) that acts almost as a Gjallarhorn Junior. Perfect for those times when you need to use your Icebreaker with a decent RL in the Heavy slot. Then, as a reward from Hard Mode, The Fang of Ir Yut is an Arc Scout Rifle with a great impact and stability, though its special perk could have been more useful. It allows you to mark an enemy you shoot, but the marking isn’t that obvious – the highlight should be greater to indicate to other Fireteam members that’s who we’re shooting at. Perhaps that’s a personal gripe, but otherwise, the Fang of Ir Yut, the Word of Crota and the Abyss Defiant are standout raid weaponry.
In regards to armour, much of it won’t be replacing the current gear you have, but the “Don’t Touch Me” gauntlets, allowing a Hunter to auto-cloak when hit with a melee strike, are a game changer for PvE content. I can see that being the Hunter’s go-to Exotic.
The new Crucible maps provide a close-quarter contest in the form of “Cauldron”, and a mixture of long and short range play in the “Pantheon”. These maps are actually a lot of fun, and I’m glad to see them in the rotation, though the narrow corridors in Pantheon often get abused. Sometimes by me.
In summary, The Dark Below isn’t what we wanted it to be, but it’s a better version of what we already have. If the trajectory is to be believed, we might see significant improvements by the time “House of Wolves” is released. For now, however, enjoy the raid, because that’s pretty much the only reason to keep playing once you’re done unless you’re obsessed with crucible, and there’s no successor to the Gjallarhorn in sight. Happy Grinding, guardians.
Destiny: The Dark Below DLC
Review Format: PS4