I’ll give it to Bungie – they stick to their guns. Their multi-platform blockbuster, Destiny, was going to change the digital landscape by combining the blasting joys of the FPS with the never-ending exploration possibilities of a MMO, and they’ve kept the expansions coming. Despite criticisms of a lackluster improvement with their first DLC expansion The Dark Below, their newest foray The House of Wolves plays off as a more substantial game polishing and bug fixing than adding real content.
With no new raid addition for level-cappers to conquer, Wolves stitches up a lot of the grinding elements and lays groundwork for a future content patch somewhere in the nether of Destiny “Year Two”.
First and foremost, Bungie continues to prove their commitment to listening to the community, as fan grievances are addressed. The daily grind has been infused with new surprises and it’s a delight, even after a dozen hours spent with the expansion. What really makes House of Wolves fly, though, isn’t to be found in the laundry list of what’s been added; it is acknowledging the stark difference between making shooter with personality and zeal and simply adding more to the end.
The story might technically have a few more missions tacked onto it compared to the last DLC, but they’re just as banal and boring from previous missions. The return to the reef is a welcome addition for players, as the Queen still remains Destiny’s most interesting character, but half of the missions are direct replicas of previous ones masquerading as new content. One mission is quite literally the same exact patrols on Venus you’ve done ad nauseum. Another is the exact same sequence as the first mission, just in reverse. As for the Strike, it’s not simply another Archon Priest – it’s the very same one you’ve killed hundreds of times in the Venus strike.
House of Wolves doesn’t fundamentally alter the grind, but it presents a game that’s more generous with its spoils, and one that hurries you through to the level cap. Level 34 is attainable relatively easily, and unlike the somewhat limited progression of The Dark Below you can now hit it a number of ways, maxing out your existing gear and weapons by ascending them using some of the new materials. More importantly, you won’t be stuck waiting every week for Xur to show up for a mere chance at upgrading your exotics to the next tier and grinding their experience all over again, fixing what has perhaps been Destiny’s most glaring problem since the launch of Dark Below.
Trials of Osiris is Destiny at its most hardcore, a multiplayer variant available only on the weekends which builds upon the existing Elimination mode. Teams of three face off against each other with respawns disallowed. With only a single map being playable over any weekend, there’s an emphasis on teamwork and intimate knowledge of the map. It’s punishing, but thrilling to enjoy many times over.
While certainly not as substantial in content as The Dark Below, Destiny’s second expansion House of Wolves is evidence that Bungie is preparing for a far greater update down the line. Although how long we have to wait is still a mystery, Wolves proves that Destiny isn’t going away from our collective screens any time soon. How many players that choose to see their plan through, however, is much more up in the air.