Yesterday was the launch of the second DLC expansion for Destiny, so I spent a good portion of time messing around with the story content that was added in to get ready for this post. I’ll get this out of the way first – House of Wolves is head and shoulders above Dark Below. It’s probably the best thing that Bungie has done with Destiny since opening up the Vault of Glass all those months ago.
Now, I haven’t really messed around with the Prison of Elders, nor the Trials of Osiris – my fireteam was scattered last night – but I did complete all the story content, including the new strike. My biggest issue with Destiny has always been the story – the framework is there for a masterpiece, and it just wasn’t quite executed right. Some of the same limitations are still present here with House of Wolves, but in general the new missions are much stronger across the board. Yes, you’re retreading old areas – although I did call the use of King’s Watch and the Juncture for story missions – and yes, the missions themselves don’t really vary beyond “go here, shoot bad guys, continue shooting bad guys, mission end;” but the new enemy types, the new weapons, and the new voice work is incredible and makes playing them fun. I’m actually looking forward to playing the missions multple times – not only across all three of my characters, but in the future for Daily Heroic missions and bounties.
The new mission specific areas run the gamut from tried and true – including the very beginning of the game outside of the Breach – to pretty spectacular new vistas, especially the final story mission on Venus. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it really does look unlike any other mission in the game. My favorite part though has to be a mid-phase mission that actually brings you into the Vault of Glass to track Skolas down. Seeing the Vault in a mission get used, not just for the raid is super cool to me – it shows Bungie doing some new thinking here. And at the end of the day, really bodes well for the future of Destiny.
In terms of new gear, each vendor has a full new set of armor, that will get you at level 32 right away, then all you’ll need is Etheric Light to get to 34. The new weapons look interesting, with cool new perks as well as new designs for the guns – in particular I love the new look of the Vanguard sniper rifle. There are new class armor choices for each faction as well that, to me, look better than the last set did. The actual new gear – the Prison of Elders and Trials of Osiris – looks really cool, at least the pieces I can see without diving in. In particular I like the new auto rifles – the Fallen one looks cool – but it’s more because they actually have different stats than just max RoF and min Impact. It makes auto rifles a viable option across the board again.
That said, of all the new gear that I actually got my hands on yesterday, far and away the coolest thing was the Vestian Dynasty. It’s the first example of the new sidearm style special weapon – essentially a pistol. It’s not quite a hand cannon – with a 15 shot magazine and higher RoF and lower Impact – and really fills a role that I think is closer to a pulse/scout rifle combo. It’s not super accurate at longer ranges, but at mid ranges, it actually melts enemies pretty damn well. Sure, it’s tailored to fight Fallen, but I actually think it will end up being a go-to special weapon in the Crucible. It gives you more range than a shotgun, more flexibility than a fusion rifle at the same range, and is easier to use a close range than a sniper. Since it’s only a Legendary tier, it also frees up your Exotic slot for a different pick – Vex, Thorn, Last Word, Red Death or G-Horn all come to mind.
After a day playing the new stuff I really have a great feeling with House of Wolves. It’s a major step-up from Dark Below, and I think is a big step in the right direction moving forward. There’s definitely more coming with Destiny – odds are on a fall release that acts as a major expansion – and this is a great primer for what we could see. The new content is fun, stronger on the whole than the previous expansion, and I think appeals to both casual and hardcore players. If you maybe had bowed out of Destiny grinding, I actually really recommend diving back in. The grind is nowhere near where it used to be, and I think you’ll find the fun again.