Destiny’s The Dark Below Expansion – Is it Worth it?

Welcome back Guardians of all classes! If you are like me, you are excited to hear that the team behind Destiny has released its first expansion. Now we may be excited for two different reasons. You, like many others, are in need of new loot; since you have dedicated so much of your time to your character’s build, new places that offer new stuff will allow you to continue on this track. I, on the other hand, needed this because the game had become quite repetitive and I haven’t touched it since the last iron banner event. No matter the reason, it’s great to see “The Dark Below” DLC added to the game!

For those that don’t know, the Dark Below adds a “decent” amount of content. There are new story missions, a new Strike, Raid, loot and multiplayer maps. It also raises the level cap to 32 and threw in an awesome flame painted tumbler that allows you to do tricks while riding in style. As for the story, these new missions come by way of a new character named Eris. She’s reached the tower in time to warn everyone about the Hive and their plans to summon Crota, a god capable of destroying Earth. It’s up to you and your fireteam to help shut them down before he becomes too much for the galaxy to handle. Sounds good right? Well, unfortunately it isn’t a great as it sounds.

This is tough for me to say a solid yes or no to whether you should get the DLC, especially if you were looking for more story. It seems worth it for those who can’t get enough of shooting enemies and hunting for Ascended shards.  The problem for me though, is it’s pretty much the same old stuff we had before. The first moment you jump back in, you get the initial excitement you had when unboxing the game when it originally released. Shooting waves of Hive enemies with your friends and their awesome weapons is still pretty cool. But as I played through it, I finished asking, “Why wasn’t this just included in the original game?” The original story ended with such ambiguity, that I felt like this could have just made more sense to the game if it were there originally. This brings up one of my many issues I have with companies using DLC to get more money from gamers.

There were some good editions to come from the DLC. In an effort to pave the way to the Dark Below, Bungie made some sweeping changes via patches to the game. One change allows the purchase of materials to improve your armor and weapons. Places like “The Loot Cave” existed because Destiny made it exceptionally difficult to upgrade armor. With the gaining of experience changing after you reach level 20, your whole days would be spent farming to find gear and then farm materials to upgrade them (which in turn leveled you up). Now items like Spinmetal and Helium Filaments can be purchased from vendors in the tower.  This erases some of the tedious grinding and allows me to have more time enjoying the crucible and raids. At least…at first that was the case.

Bungie added new upgrade materials for the raid/legendary gear. These new materials only drop from the raid and are really scarce. What makes them bad though is that the legendary gear has been upgraded (the vendor’s now sells better versions) but at the expense of their previous high ranking. For instance, if you have a really good weapon leveled up completely using the old materials, you won’t be able to raise the level any higher without resetting its progress – removing all of the work you put in with the old materials in order to replace them with the new ones. To get your weapon ready to take on the new raid, you’ll have to re-grind new materials and experience as well as pay for it to get reset in the first place. Basically, it’s a bad way to reward long time players.

When you are finally ready for the raid, well…things get much better. As it stands, it’s one of my favorite/most hated parts of the expansion. I say that both because it is fun and FREAKING DIFFICULT! Even with six level 30 players, it took me hours to finally complete it. With wave after wave of Hive enemies with different weaknesses and strengths, by the time we had finally defeated the final boss I wanted to run outside and scream to the heavens that I had saved the moon and the galaxy could breathe again once more. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone by giving the play by play but I will give you this advice. Teamwork and communication means more than ever with this raid. No one class is strong enough to take on this challenge alone* and Bungie/Activision did a phenomenal job at balancing that.

The tough pill to swallow is that many of our friends may not have this expansion. After promises of a huge game experience that ended up becoming pretty linear, I expected the people behind the game to at least give some DLC to their fans. Many of us were promised a game that would travel the stars with endless exploration. Yet, we have this final product and nothing has happened to compensate the fans that still play even though they were sold on “another game”. That alone should be enough to allow everyone in on this DLC – as of this writing gamers without the DLC are locked out of the weekly/nightfall activities when they feature the new content. This will be made worse when the next batch of DLC rolls out as there will be more instances where new content will be bundled with these challenges, forcing continuing players to purchase the Pass. Bungie should give pass holders something else exclusive that won’t hinder people from enjoying their game. Of course, I’m sure I am speaking ideally so pardon my rant.

Like I originally said, it really depends on the person on whether it’s worth you getting it. If you plan on playing for the foreseeable future, with the way things have changed and not wanting to be locked out of activities, you will need to get the DLC.  Personally, I could have lived without it because it didn’t change how I felt about the game at all. Even with the new multiplayer maps, the strike and raid, it just doesn’t feel like a big enough upgrade for me to pay another $20 for. Either way, I still think what is offered in the Dark Below should have just been in the game from the beginning!

*Yes, I know about the player “The Legend Himself”. Though he was able to complete Crota’s End by himself, that isn’t the norm – most of us will require a good team to make it through! 

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