Release Date: December 9th, 2014
Available On: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Destiny was a weird game of highs and lows. When the game was good it was incredibly good. When it was bad, it was incredibly bad. As everyone expected, we’re starting to see the first DLC release for the game. Sadly, with so little new content offered I almost didn’t even know I had the DLC installed correctly and it makes that a tough sell to people.
The Dark Below revolves around The Hive trying to resurrect their ‘god’ named Crota. A team of guardians was sent to stop them but only one of them, a woman named Eris, survived. With no other choice available, Eris now sends you to try and finish her job. On one hand the extremely simple story basically surmounts to nothing but an excuse to shoot The Hive more. Rasputin shows up at one point, but his role is basically to remind you that he’s still around. Clearly they couldn’t get Peter Dinklage again because Ghost has zero new lines, and the Awoken (or space elves as I’ve taken to calling them) never bother to show up. On the other hand, the pathetic offering is more of a story than the original game managed. It was kind of nice seeing all that lore Destiny never utilized before actually get used this time. If you’ve been paying attention then Crota is a name you should know, and a lot of the story elements will make sense. I just wish that the amazing setting Bungie has crafted actually goes somewhere.
Included in The Dark Below is three story missions, a new raid, a new strike mission (PlayStation users also get a second new strike mission), and three new maps for The Crucible. Most of the hardcore Destiny players are probably most interested in Crota’s End, the raid, and will get the most out of that. Unfortunately it has the same problem that the main game’s raid had: you need to coordinate five of your friends to get together to do this. Still lacking any form matchmaking, I’m once again left out of the raid, so I can’t really say anything about that. So for me the strike missions continue to be the highlight of Destiny. Yet The Dark Below seems to not want me to play this new strike, as before I’m allowed to I need to go through all the new story missions first then, after that, grind out kills of specific enemies and then go into the patrol modes and hunt down targets. It’s weird to put one of the most interesting missions behind such a grindey process, but I guess they were trying to extend the length of the DLC as without it I probably could have finished the whole thing in less than five hours. In what is probably an insult to Xbox players, the new PlayStation exclusive strike is probably one of the best strikes that Destiny has had yet. It sees you returning to the Black Garden and stopping the Vex from reactivating it. It’s intense, has neat scenarios, and ends with a thrilling boss fight.
As for the three story missions, I also had a bit of a problem with those. The Dark Below has clearly expected me to have done some endgame grinding as the first story mission required me to be level 24. Unfortunately for Destiny by the end of the game I hit the natural cap of 20 and never really bothered past that. Bungie was nice enough to send current players enough gear to bump them up to level 22, but it made the new story missions far more difficult than they should have been. After a bit more grinding out the older strike missions, I was able to get enough gear to bring me up to level 26 and manage to get through them. It’s a shame, while the new story missions don’t add anything to change the formula, they’re still built well and are quite a bit of fun. The boss fights at the end of each mission are probably some of the best boss fights to have come out of Destiny so far, and the DLC’s last boss constantly kept me on edge as I toed the line between life and death constantly. I also noticed that there is now a small chance for Hive Knights to drop their swords and lets you turn the game into a hack and slash for a few minutes (similar to one of the best missions in the original game) but it’s not often enough for it to matter much. Otherwise, everything is exactly as you left it: still really fun at the best of times, but brought down by repetitive missions.
Sadly, The Dark Below will not save Destiny if you are not enjoying it, and doesn’t add enough if you do enjoy it. It blatantly pads its content with the need to grind, the gameplay doesn’t add anything new, and the best part of the DLC requires you to coordinate several friends to even access it. Hopefully future DLC for Destiny will manage to do more with the game, but for now it’s just not worth it.