Destiny: The Dark Below review
Rather than looking to silence critics who bemoaned the lack of content in the core game, what Bungie offers with The Dark Below is simply a microcosm of Destiny
itself – all of its shortcomings, all of its strengths and all of its controversial decisions squished together into one overpriced, undernourished yet quality slice of interstellar shooty-bang action.
On paper, it’s not hard to see why people have been up in arms about the odd ratio of content to cost. A single new Strike joins the playlist, along with a couple of brief story missions that largely retread old ground, three new multiplayer maps and the main course that is Crota’s End, the new six-player Raid that renders just about everything you were lucky enough to find in the Vault Of Glass obsolete.
If all of that were all-new content – new locations, enemies and gameplay variety – then it’s unlikely that people would be quite so upset with Bungie. But with the only two ‘new’ enemies being the Strike and Raid bosses (themselves just larger versions of existing Hive enemy types) and 90 per cent of play areas being ripped straight from the core game, it’s that much harder to defend or justify.
Or at least it would be if what is presented here wasn’t so damn enjoyable. If you’ve stuck with Destiny long enough to see in the launch of The Dark Below, you’re probably invested enough in the game to bite on the expansion regardless. And you’ll find a lot to like here, from the chaotic swarm-based firefights of the new Story and Strike missions to the oppressive Raid in the very depths of the Hellmouth. Quality isn’t in question here and while we’d certainly have liked to see more genuinely original content, we’re not going to make the same mistake as those who slapped Destiny with every negative under the sun at launch – buying The Dark Below is an ongoing investment that we’ve only seen the start of so far.
At the time of writing, the Hard version of Crota’s End is still locked and we have literally no idea what surprises Bungie will spring on the community on a weekly basis. Data mining means we already know of at least one more event in the Trials Of Osiris (an invitational Crucible contest where players rack up as many wins as possible before being eliminated after three losses) and there are sure to be more added in the coming weeks and months, which you’re likely to need the expansion to enjoy. While impossible to judge at this early stage, this ongoing support must be factored into the cost and value of this expansion – right now, it’s fair to say that it represents pretty poor value for money but with months of extra content scheduled to join what is there from day one, it’s a little easier to stomach, particularly if you’re already rinsing the game on a near-daily basis as so many still are.
While opening up pretty much the full new arsenal to all players was pretty generous on Bungie’s part, locking occasional daily or weekly events behind a paywall remains a bit of a dick move. Sure, it needs to tempt people into dropping the cash on the update, but we’d argue that there are far better ways to do this than simply asking for cash in order to enjoy the same features and modes they were playing regularly until The Dark Below hit. Weekly and Nightfall even have used DLC content again since the launch week outrage, and daily Story missions continue to retread expansion ground to the dismay of those yet to dive in – materials are hard enough to come by without having one guaranteed way to earn them made exclusive to expansion owners.
On face value, then, there’s not all that much to The Dark Below, but what is there is once again pretty much best in class from genre masters Bungie. While we look forward to seeing what ongoing support does to the perception of value for The Dark Below, we also sincerely hope Bungie looks to implement a few more immediate fixes in the form of new missions, Strikes and events when House Of Wolves lands, if not before. They say that all publicity is good publicity but when many outlets are slamming this additional content for being an outright ripoff, Bungie clearly needs to look to appease those who aren’t so addicted to Destiny or so understanding of its long-term plan if it is going to keep this community alive.