Bungie's first-person shooter and MMO hybrid has experienced glorious zeniths and crushing nadirs over its three-year lifespan, largely brought about by its three previous DLC packs. Of The Dark Below, House Of Wolves and The Taken King, the latter was leaps and bounds ahead of the former two, prioritising narrative and adjustments to combat over lacklustre loot and a smattering of new missions. Happily, Rise Of Iron is cut from similar cloth, forging ahead with purpose, swagger and a heavy dose of what made Destiny so compelling to begin with.
Players follow Iron Lord Saladin on a mission to cleanse Earth of SIVA, a nanotechnology that's allowed the antagonistic Fallen to gain an edge over the player-controller Guardians. This nonspecific threat might be less immediate than that of The Taken King's overt Big Bad, but you can see the influence of SIVA in tainting every new area you come across. This is a darker side of Destiny that, and it feels very appropriate.
You'll spend most of your time at Saladin's beck-and-call, exterminating a new race of enemies known as the Devil Splicers and purging the Plaguelands: the expansion's new locale. It's a barren wasteland, ravaged by factories and infested with Devil Splicers, giving you plenty of incentive to bring up your crosshairs and take a careful look around.
The Plaguelands' new hub area, The Iron Tower, offers a welcome change from The Reef or the (regular) Tower, and you'll be able to pick up both new quests and bounties without traipsing elsewhere. As far as further content goes, three additional strikes have been thrown into the mix. The first of which, 'The Wretched Eye', proves a solid addition to the roster. Unfortunately, the remaining two are revitalised versions of previous encounters, proving something of a let down. However, the presence of Archon's Forge, a new mode inspired by Gears of War's Horde mode, does somewhat makes up for the lack of entirely original content.
Elsewhere, Supremacy is the new PVP mode, and the Light Level cap has been raised to 400, but where Rise of Iron truly shines is the newest raid encounter: Wrath Of The Machine. It's shorter than you may be used to, but the mix of tricky encounters and taxing puzzles overlay some inspired level design and even a few surprises that we won't ruin here.
Rise Of Iron is the adrenaline shot Destiny badly needed. New quests, loot, raids, and a reinvigorated story should give flagging players the incentive to dust off their exotic weapons and dive back into the fray. It most likely wrings the very last drops from Bungie's ambitious-yet-flawed shooter, but for long time Destiny players, this is as rewarding an expansion as they could wish for.