When Destiny first launched it was met with fantastic sales and a slightly worse than expected critical response. The gameplay and graphics were fantastic, allowing players to enjoy some of the best run-and-gun action inside of a truly gorgeous gaming universe. However, almost every other element of the game suffered in some way, with the story feeling empty, missions and bounties forcing rote repetition, and the loot mechanic feeling like a grind. Destiny: The Dark Below is a complete amalgamation of these worse elements of the base game, resulting in DLC that serves little purpose beyond getting more cash from the player.
Destiny: The Dark Below, along with the obligatory bounties, weapons and gear, offers the following new content: three story missions, two Strikes (only one on Xbox), three Crucible maps, and a new Raid. This might seem like a decent amount of content for an expansion, but each piece is held back by the same issues that plagued the main game. The Crucible maps are simply more of the same, offering new locations for Guradian vs. Guardian action. No real innovation seems to have went into them, with each map taking place in environments that look the same as others found in the original game. The Raid will likely give dedicated players a new challenge, but without matchmaking its value is limited to those that can organize a group of six high level players. But, by far, the biggest disappointment comes in the form of the Strikes and story missions.
The story missions were said to focus on giving players a more understandable plot, but end up feeling like the same confusing mess that we had before. A single cutscene introduces players to Eris Morn, the vendor who will be supplying your missions. After that it is back to standard operating procedure, with short, meaningless descriptions of your objective playing before each mission. Everything centers around Crota, who apparently damaged the Moon long ago. Very little beyond that is ever revealed to the player, resulting in the usual “this is bad, they want to do this, don’t let them” structure that we all came to loathe in Destiny. Other parts seem to be meant to complete story threads from the base game, but end up feeling as broken and incomplete as they did in the first place. Ever wonder what happened to Rasputin? He comes up again, but with almost no real explanation as to the part he plays in the universe.
After completing the three story missions you’ll be given some of the most asinine bounties that you’ll encounter in Destiny
This would be forgivable if the missions took you to new and interesting places within the Destiny universe, but unfortunately even that was too much to ask. Each mission, including the Strikes, simply takes place in the same environments that Guardians have been playing in for months. Somewhere near the end you’ll encounter a door that you previously ignored. Opening it will take you to the usually single new area offered as part of The Dark Below. There you’ll face another bullet-sponge boss and swarms of the same enemies you’ve fought since the beginning. Some changes were made, such as fewer instances of “deploy Ghost, fight waves of enemies”, and some new enemies that are so similar to others that most couldn’t pick them out as newly added. Worse yet, by the time you complete the story missions you are tasked with bounties that no higher level player could possibly enjoy.
After completing the three story missions you’ll be given some of the most asinine bounties that you’ll encounter in all of Destiny. “Kill 25 Hive Knights” should be a phrase that makes any Destiny player cringe, as it is not new or enjoyable, and they have probably done it a thousand times already for different reasons. And yet in this DLC, which was supposed to expand the game for the most die-hard crowd, this is the kind of mission players will be given. Furthermore, three bounties are given for various enemies that have been sprinkled around the Earth Patrol mission. Little description is given for where to go, or who to look for, so you’d better have paid attention to the names of the places you’ve been shooting your way through, or else you’ll be forced to wander around, killing low-level enemies, hoping to spot the one minor change made in the vast map. Outside of these bounties there is little to no reason for high level players to be exploring this map yet again. It is a blatant attempt to pad the time spent within the DLC to make players feel like they got their money’s worth.
Everything about Destiny: The Dark Below feels as though it was simply meant to provide more of the same. Nothing in this package is new, or different enough to really warrant the attention of high level players. Yet, most will find it utterly necessary to continue enjoying the game. Parts of the DLC allow you to raise your level beyond the current cap of 30, and maps will sometimes be included in weekly challenges, essentially locking you out if you don’t own The Dark Below. This is usually understandable for a game like Destiny, where growing your character and interacting with other players are major parts of the game. However, when you feel forced to purchase something it is better if that content offers enough new things to fully justify itself. Destiny: The Dark Below certainly does not do that, instead relying on time-wasting missions and locked content to get players to feel like it was worth their money.
Players both hoped and dreaded the upcoming expansion, The Dark Below, because it could help make the game feel more like a whole, but it could also show that Destiny was fundamentally broken if it didn’t change things for the better. It seems to have done the latter, with a major focus on the worst aspects of the main game. Players won’t find any sort of story resolution or character development here, and they will end up playing through the same environments, with the same objectives all over again. The Dark Below ends up feeling like a perfect distillation of everything that was already wrong with Destiny, while offering little for players to truly enjoy beyond keeping up with everyone else in the search for new and better loot.
Destiny: The Dark Below
- Available On: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Published By: Activision
- Developed By: Bungie
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- US Release Date: December 9th, 2014
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
- Quote: "Destiny: The Dark Below is a combination of all of the worst parts of the original game. It offers little value to all except the most dedicated of players and revisits the same overused locations that we've seen a dozen times."