If you know me or have read this blog at all, you know that I play Destiny.  I’ve written about it more than once.  All in all, it was a fun game when it came out but didn’t live up to the hype.  I honestly don’t know if it could have.  I went back and played a few months ago to some welcome improvement, but Bungie still hadn’t got Destiny to where it could be.  I normally don’t do DLC at all, but I decided to give Destiny another go with the latest expansion, House of Wolves, which released two weeks ago.

I feel safe in saying that Destiny finally feels complete and full.  If you’ve been waiting to play or burned out in the past, the wait is over.

The Reef turns everything up to 11.
The Reef turns everything up to 11.

  • TL;DR: Bungie’s shared-world shooter is at it’s best
  • Platform: PS4
  • Hours Played: 20
  • What I Played: Story mode, new strike, Prison of Elders about 10 times, Trials of Osiris twice
  • Should You Play It?: Definitely.  It’s worth your time.

In the main story of Destiny, you briefly visit The Reef, an area with the awoken Queen and her douchebag brother.  The Reef is a new social area in House of Wolves, jam packed with new vendors and activities.

First off, there is a new story chain in House of Wolves.  Skolas, a Fallen Kell, is on a warpath to claim power for himself.  The missions take place on both Venus and Earth, winding through previously inaccessible areas which help make the planets feel bigger.  The famously-dull voice of Dinklebot your Ghost is replaced with Petra Venj, an awoken warrior working for the queen.  Her voice is a welcome change and gives some actual energy to the comm system.

As with the first Queen’s Wrath timed event way back when, finishing missions for the queen grants reputation for her which can be parlayed into emblems, shaders, and ships.  The story lasts about two hours, including the new Shadow Thief strike, which is fun, and a detour through parts of the Vault of Glass.  I ran the story once and would gladly do it again, which isn’t something I’d say about the base story.

Skolas, Kell of Kells, leads you through a pretty entertaining story.
Skolas, Kell of Kells, leads you through a pretty entertaining story.

Special bounties can also be performed for the Queen once a week.  Fallen dropships patrol each planet, dropping waves of enemies until a boss Fallen pops out.  These guys are tough and definitely require at least one partner.  If you take one down, not only do you get a pretty good chunk of reputation and experience, but you also get a 90 second ether key.  Ether keys open up the randomly-located chest that spawns in the dead Fallen leader’s area.  They have set spawn locations but are still tough to find.  If you do find it, though, you can hop on your sparrow, exit the zone, come back, and get the chest multiple times.  My record is four in the commonly-farmed area in Skywatch.

These bounties are by far the most fun social thing I’ve done in Destiny.  Popping onto a planet to do six random bounties for 50 Vanguard reputation is kind of boring and a pretty solitary experience, but with the Fallen packs dropping in every so often, it’s fun as hell.  All of a sudden, you’ve got three or four players hammering away at a group of enemies and frantically searching for a chest.  Bungie did a great job with the Queen bounties.

The chests are only a cog in a wheel.
The chests are only a cog in a wheel.

Ether key chests don’t have great loot, but they can contain treasure keys which are used in the Prison of Elders, Destiny’s new cooperative PvE arena mode.  It’s a take on the classic horde/wave mode.  Teams of three take on five rounds of three waves, each featuring a different enemy race and heroic modifiers like extra melee damage or increased grenade cooldown.  Some of the waves also have sub-objectives like killing a VIP target before it reaches a set location or dismantling mines before they explode.  The last round is always a strike boss, which is a fun way to experience them if you haven’t played many strikes (i.e. if you are me).

Prison runs end with a Scrooge McDuck-esque treasure room, littered with piles and piles of gold, two small chests, and a large chest.  You can always open the small chests which almost always contain motes of light and strange coins, but the large chest can only be opened with treasure keys.  The large chest always has, at least in my experience, one or two legendaries and sometimes an exotic.

There are four difficulties for the Prison of Elders.  The lowest, level 28, can be done via matchmaking while the other three, levels 32/34/35, cannot.  I understand Bungie’s reasoning behind it since they definitely require some tactics and communication, but for someone like me who only knows two friends that play, it makes it a hassle.  I don’t understand why the option for matchmaking isn’t at least there.  Quick aside — the level 32 prison is pretty damn tough.  It took us 45 minutes for the final boss wave alone.

Praise it's eternal glory.
Praise it’s eternal glory.

The two highest level Prison runs give you etheric light, the new resource used to increase the light value of armor.  To reach the new level cap of 34, you’ll need an exotic (42 light) and three ascended legendaries (36 light + 6 from ascending).  The higher Prison runs also give you weapon and armor cores which can be traded with the House of Judgment vendor for gear.  I wasn’t a fan of tying levels to gear drops before, but etheric light essentially brings it back to gameplay.  If you complete end game content, you’ll be the highest level.  A great side effect of etheric light is that gear combinations become endless.  Since any piece of gear can now have the max light, you aren’t shoehorned into wearing four of the same nine pieces of armor as everybody else.

While the Prison of Elders is the new end game PvE content, the Trials of Osiris is the new PvP content.  The Trials are only open from Friday through the weekly reset on Tuesday and again have no matchmaking.  You form a team of three and compete in skirmish — no auto respawn, team wipe = loss.  Games are first to five.

Each Trials run tracks your wins and losses, with a max win count of nine and a max loss count of three.  The longer your win streak, the better prize pack you’ll get.  I can’t speak to what those prizes are because my two Trials runs ended with a net win count of zero.  If you can manage to finish a Trials run at a flawless 9-0, you’ll gain access to a new secret area on Mercury called The Lighthouse.  I’m guessing this means that Mercury will be the next planet in Destiny, hopefully in the rumored giant expansion later this year.

Bungie devs showing off Trials of Osiris prior to launch. Yes, buying that buff can let you go 0-4. Source: I did it.
Bungie devs showing off Trials of Osiris prior to launch. Yes, buying the “forgive one loss” buff can let you go 0-4. Source: I did it.

Overall, I think Destiny is in better shape today than it has ever been in.  There is definitely some low-hanging fruit out there, like an in-game grimoire and map, but between the new story missions, two new gameplay modes, and item reforging/ascending, there are many new things to do in Destiny.  If you’re one of the “I’ll wait for all the DLC to come out” people or you burned out on Destiny in the past, House of Wolves is a great reason to jump in.

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