A Queen’s Vengeance
Over the last few months Bungie’s FPS-MMO hybrid Destiny has been getting better and better. With the feedback from the original launch and the first DLC pack, The Dark Below, Bungie has been constantly evolving the game through updates to ensure the game keeps delivering the best experience for players.
The first notable addition comes in the form of the new social space in the heart of the reef, part of the Awoken Queen’s settlement. This hub world is packed with everything a Guardian could need, from a Cryptarch to a postmaster. Xur even visited in the first week. It’s a really sleek new place to explore, leading into the new things to do like Prison of Elders and the Trials of Osiris – more on those later.
After visiting the Reef Hub, you meet with Petra Venj and Variks, two new mission givers that see you embark on a short series of narrative missions across the Earth and Venus. Quite refreshingly, these segments use sections of the world rarely visited, as well as a few new components, to stop it feeling like a repetition of the past.
Chasing down the Fallen leader Skolas across the planets was quite a compelling narrative, exploring the fall of the tribes and the different groups that make up one of the forces of darkness. For lore junkies, there’s plenty more ghosts and grimoire cards to find, as well as quite an interesting look into the backstories of these alien races.
The final mission sees you assault the spire in the middle of Venus, ending up playing like a mini raid of its own. A jumping puzzle and boss battle close out the story but open up one of the best aspects of this expansion – you’re granted access to the ancient Prison of Elders to fight for glory and the riches of the reef.
The Prison of Elders takes the place of a formal raid in House of Wolves, instead pitting teams of three Guardians against five stages of horde mode style combat. Jumping in with a team of friends makes this quite a fun pass time, fighting off waves of enemies while completing a variety of objectives. You’ll also face off against some of the toughest bosses in the game thus far, requiring a good and communicative fireteam. One of our foes with a particularly troublesome regenerating elemental shield took my fireteam almost a half hour to defeat!
Completing each level allows you access to the treasure room – quite a grand space. You’ll have access to two normal chests and a single locked loot chest, offering better drops in return for using a ‘treasure key’. This is a really cool system because even without a key you can run the prison multiple times on multiple difficulties and score some loot from the side chests, but collecting more and more keys means you can revisit for better rewards. The one thing I learnt quickly was to always save a key – when you complete the level 35 mode more rewards like exclusive ships and gear are introduced, and you’re going to want a shot at nabbing those.
My one complaint with this mode is that the level 28 Prison of Elders matchmaking is removed. While I understand the reasoning, especially with a spike in difficulty, it would be nice to have the option to jump in solo and tackle a few rounds without having to gather a full fireteam.
Over the course of the regular weekly activities, adding four levels of Prison of Elders to the extensive list of raids and strikes, it’s a whole lot easier to land some shiny new legendaries and exotics for your guardians. In the first week I was lucky enough to receive atleast one DLC item for each of my armour slots, as well as a few of the new weapons.
Special mention here goes to the addition of a sidearm for my guardian, something I never knew I needed until Bungie gave me one. Taking the special weapon slot – usually reserved for a sniper or shotgun – Petra gifts you a nifty little shock pistol with bonuses against Fallen enemies, and it quickly became my favourite weapon out and about.
The new light system where you can ‘ascend’ armour to fourty-two light (the requirement on each piece to reach the level cap) is a brilliant move to add much needed variety and customisation to players Guardians. At the cost of an ‘etheric light’, a reward dropped on Prison of Elders level 34 and level 35, you can bring any legendary piece up to max, allowing a large range of combinations between sets old and new, as well as exotic combos. This is one aspect that’s hugely improved since launch – it feels like Bungie has listened and found a really streamlined way of fixing an issue.
While most of the player vs player content has stayed the same, save for a few new maps – one in particular showing post darkness Europe being particularly exciting – the Trials of Osiris challenge adds a whole new dynamic to the game. Playing much like previous three vs three matches, the challenge pits your fireteam against another in tense and teamwork filled combat, with each team trying to score nine wins in battle before losing two and ending their scorecard. A completed scorecard can be turned in for loot, but the ultimate reward of finishing a card with nine wins and no losses gives you access to the ‘Lighthouse’, a treasure room with a chance at exclusive and rare gear.
It’s these sort of new ideas that really help House of Wolves to shine as a full content addition to Destiny. There’s a focus on team play and interaction, with the focus on grinding lessened a little. It feels like a much more substantial experience than its predecessor, with a bit of its own flavour thrown in for good measure.
House of Wolves makes Destiny an immensely better game. It takes the strong foundations of the past and pulls together eight months worth of feedback and updates, delivering an expansion that makes me really optimistic for the future of the game. If you’re still grinding away at Destiny then chances are you’ve already devoured this new offering, but if you’ve dropped off or never really got into the game, this pack is the perfect experience to satisfy your looting and shooting desires.
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One (Reviewed)