Destiny’s House of Wolves Quick Review

WHAT UP INTERNET?!

Every time I think I’m free, they rope me back in….

The latest expansion for Destiny dropped last week and despite my concentrated efforts to finally put down the controller and walk away from the game, I opted to give Destiny another chance. Like many other Bros I was intrigued when combing through the various preview materials regarding the expansion, chiefly the new cooperative game mode, Prison of Elders. After spending a week trudging my way through the new content I’m here to give you my impressions of the latest expansion. In case you haven’t got tons of time to read the entire review, let me just tell you: This Bro thinks it’s a good time to get back into Destiny.

One of the primary reasons I opted to put down Destiny was the tedious upgrade system: I’d fully upgraded my exotics only to have to redo them and was forced to get rid of armor and weapons I was fond of in order to increase my light level. With the House of Wolves expansion this grind has been eliminated and now guardians are free to upgrade whatever gear they choose via the new Etheric Light system. While I personally have yet to obtain Etheric Light, I have only played through the Prison of Elders twice and have not yet took on the most difficult challenges the expansion affords.

Sweet new gear

Sweet new gear

Additionally, Exotic shards now allow previously fully-upgraded exotic weapons and armor to reach the new damage/defense cap, thereby allowing Guardians’ progress made to stay intact. I’ve already hit light level 33 using only one Exotic shard, and believe a few more runs of the Prison of Elders at the higher difficulties will yield dividends which will allow me to hit the new cap of 34. If Etheric Light (Which is also available as a reward in the Trials of Osiris) proves difficult to come by, given Bungie’s track record of updating Destiny to eliminate issues, I believe they’ll do their best to improve the coveted items’ drop rate (unlike Gearbox who finally decided to increase the drop rate of Legendary items in Borderlands 2…two years after everyone put the game down).

Also, the ability to reroll weapons instituted with the House of Wolves expansion (and presumably weapons introduced in the future) is another interesting change. While somewhat limited in scope (as it’s only weapons-not armor-and you’re unable to reroll weapons obtained prior to the new expansion), this does allow for the creation of customizable load outs, to an extent. This ability was previously limited to Iron Banner weapons and opens up the avenue for customization (similar to Etheric Light) all Guardians desire.  A Bro can hope this ability eventually makes its way to armor and all weapons as well, providing for an unprecedented amount of customization and the level of uniqueness we all crave.

With the upgrade system improved significantly, suffice it to say I was ready to immerse myself once again in the light-on-story-but-amazing-gameplay world of Destiny. A couple of my Bros had already plowed through the story once I finally got around to doing so, and since we were talking with one another throughout our play session,  I’d occasionally miss pieces of voiceover dialogue during the missions (but heard enough to recognize Variks sounds like a total creeper). I for one, am a fan of the voiceover method of storytelling Bungie began with The Dark Below-the lengthy cinematics instituted in Destiny’s primary campaign did little to progress the narrative, so I prefer the simple voiceover narration which allows me to continue my gaming uninterrupted. The characters of Petra and Variks are unique, and for once after playing through the story I was able to understand and relay to someone the story of House of Wolves. While the story isn’t nearly as fleshed out as I’d prefer (and I’m certainly not going to look up cards on a companion app or website) and there were only a handful of new areas to explore, both the new strike and story missions kinda-sorta provide a story that’s easy to follow. It’s a nice path for Destiny to begin going down, and I suppose the old adage “Better late than never” is appropriate.

My man Variks

My man Variks

As I stated earlier, the main thing I was looking forward to in the House of Wolves expansion was the introduction of the Prison of Elders game mode. I’ve a big fan of cooperative gameplay and prefer PvE over PvP any day of the week (sue me; I’m not an Illuminati-No-Scope-Master).  After running through the game mode I was not disappointed in the slightest. The multiple rounds with unique modifiers add a degree of planning previously unseen in Destiny, as you don’t know who you’ll be squaring off against and whether the condition for the round will be in your favor or not. This encourages Guardians to not only switch between multiple gun types depending upon their enemy, but multiple armor types to ensure they’ve got every advantage they can muster over the enemy. Cooperation and planning is key and the ever-changing modifiers ensure a level of replay ability Destiny was sorely missing as far as cooperative PvE players are concerned.

The biggest rewards are obtained from the treasure chests you visit once you’ve dominated the Prison of Elders and you need a treasure key to obtain the best gear. I’ve only managed to obtain treasure keys from patrols where you have to square off against the random packs of “wolves”, and the method of doing so (Kill the wolves, get etheric key for a little bit, find the glowing treasure chests, rinse and repeat) isn’t ideal. That being said, I imagine the process will be perfected down the line to not only discourage farming but to provide players with multiple avenues to obtain the coveted keys. The need for grinding was one of the biggest reasons the TruBros clan stopped firing up Destiny every day, but the new cooperative game modes and introduction of various upgrade materials seems to be drawing us back in one by one.

Prison

Although I’m not big on PvP, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the new competitive game mode, Trials of Osiris. The 3v3, elimination-style game mode encourages a level of cooperation reminiscent of Counter-Strike (we spent a great many nights on CS back in the day) and requires your team to be in constant communication while equipped with your best gear. The Bros have always been fans of the run-and-gun style of multiplayer, but the added layer of cooperation, caution and strategy the Trials of Osiris demands makes the mode interesting even to us. Couple this with the substantial rewards gained from winning such as the new social space and some of the best gear in the game, and the weekend-only playlist is something to look forward to for fans of PvP.

Overall, the House of Wolves expansion contributes significantly to Destiny as a whole. The addition of Prison of Elders and the Trials of Osiris inject some much needed life into the gameplay, as for far too long the game has suffered from a lack of variety. Although no additional worlds or spaces were added to the general playable area (save for the Reef), the story missions and new strike provide a semblance of storytelling, which is something this game could use badly. The changes to the upgrade system alone are substantial and the ability to reroll new weapons is a welcome bonus which will hopefully one-day be expanded. Although many could argue Destiny is finally becoming the game it should have been at launch (and they certainly wouldn’t be wrong), the constant tweaks and additions to the world of Destiny mean now is as good a time as ever to get back into it. Until next time, Bros!

 

Disclaimer: All pictures stolen from twitter.com/DestinyTheGame

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