Destiny: Rise of Iron is just around the corner. Those of you that have your pre-orders secured are eagerly awaiting your Iron Gjallarhorn and Gjallarwing no doubt, while others yet to pre-order the latest expansion still have a small amount of time.
Information regarding Bungie's latest foray for Guardians has been coming out in a steady stream, and while the developer has remained pretty tight-lipped about certain aspects of the DLC, there's still a decent amount of info around to prepare players for what's to come next. Because there are more than a couple of Destiny fans here at GP, we've scraped together every bit of information we could find for returning veterans and level one noobs alike, from story and crucible, to release time and new items. Enjoy.
Note: very light spoilers for previous expansions are found beyond these here words, so if you'd prefer to go into Rise of Iron blind, read no further. You've been warned...
Who can play?
Rise of Iron marks the game's departure from PS3 and X360, with the expansion only releasing for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. To get access to RoI players must own all previous titles: Destiny, The Dark Below, House of Wolves, and The Taken King. If you're a newcomer wanting to get into the fray, we recommend grabbing Destiny: The Collection, which will pack in all two years of content and cost you less than NZ$100.
Online services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live are also required, so make sure your subscription is up to date – we'd hate for you to be left stranded on release day.
With that all sorted, where does Rise of Iron take us?
Oryx is dead. Hooray!
Good job, Guardian. The Taken King is dead, and mankind is safe once again. But while his lifeless corpse drifts off towards Saturn, things have taken (no pun intended) a turn for the worse back on Earth. A hundred years ago, the Iron Lords sacrificed themselves to contain a technological plague known as SIVA within the heart of the Cosmodrome. More recently, the Fallen's House of Devils have sent their Splicers out. Those careless little buggers have gone and unearthed the SIVA virus, and now it's threatening the existence of humanity. Way to go Fallen – no wonder the Traveller abandoned you to the Darkness.
So what is SIVA, and why is it such a threat? Essentially, it's a self-replicating nanotechnology born out of the Golden Age. It's already infected those pesky Fallen that went snooping where they shouldn't, and the result is a mutated race with some nasty new weaponry.
Of course, with SIVA rearing its head again, the last of the Iron Lords, Lord Saladin has come a-knockin', and since you're the badass that sent Oryx packing, he's looking to you to become one of the new Iron Lords and send the SIVA plague back whence it came.
Along the way we're sure there'll be some new loot to score, new jump puzzles to fail at, and new Strikes and Raids to run. Speaking of which...
Amongst all the SIVA madness, a Fallen Archon called Kovik the Splicer Priest thought it would be a good idea to pluck the eyeball out of a Hive Ogre and stick it on the end of his gun. He's currently residing in a Strike known fittingly as the Wretched Eye.
Naturally, Guardians are tasked with giving him the what-for. It may sound easy, but we recommend you stay on the look out – that Ogre we mentioned is walking around blindly and is understandably pissed off. He might just stomp, smash, or swing at you in a fit of rage while you're fighting Kovik.
One new strike might seem a bit anaemic for an expansion (The Taken King had at least four), however Rise of Iron will be using a variable playthrough mechanic, meaning fireteams will get a different encounter each time.
The original Summoning Pits and Devil's Lair Strikes will also be retuned, with new intros, dialogue, and boss encounters.
Similar to Vault of Glass, Wrath of the Machine will begin in a public space, this time in the new Plaguelands area. Unlike previous raids however, WotM will feature a fair bit of outdoor action. The raid will go live on September 23, which is just three days after the expansion launches. Those looking to chase the World First title will have less time than previous expansions to get raid ready.
One feature that will not be added in Rise of Iron is the much requested Raid Matchmaking. According to Bungie, raids are intended for teams with a high skill level and good communication. Still, if you're without a clan or just like to run as the lone wolf, there are still third party sites.
Bungie are yet to confirm whether the raid will include Challenge Modes that made King's Fall so fun, but given their success in TTK, one should expect to see a return after the release of Heroic Mode.The developer has divulged that Wrath of the Machine is less about mechanics, and more about skill and gear. As with previous releases, what's actually in the raid is left a mystery for players to find for themselves. So far we know there's an encounter that's being referred to as the 'Death Zamboni'... we'll let you interpret that as you please.
First and foremost, there's a new game mode coming to Crucible. It's called Supremacy, and is a kill-confirm type mechanic where points can only be scored by collecting the emblem of a fallen enemy. The new mechanic opens the doors to a kind of 'support' class within PvP, where those that aren't the fast twitch-based player that rack up the kills can still contribute by collecting emblems to help the team score.
However, the biggest PvP feature coming to Rise of Iron has to be Private Matches. Not only will it allow for tournament style competitions, but clans looking for some more controlled social events can host matches for up to 12 players. Game modes, score counts, time allowance, Light level, and more are all customisable, and all Crucible maps will be available.
Good news for Grimoire fiends too: Private Matches will help progress your Grimoire. So once Rise of Iron launches you won't have to grind out 100 wins in Rumble against some randoms with terrible connection and a penchant for tea-bagging. There's going to be a whole new set of gear for Trials of Osiris to strive for. This also means that Year 2 gear is about to disappear for good. Those wanting to complete their sets had best hurry up.
We're also getting some fun new maps. Floating Gardens is set on Venus, and is a symmetrical three-lane map that offers a bit more close-quarters combat than the similar setting of Pantheon. Last Exit will also be set on Venus, but is set in a subway terminal of the Ishtar Sink area. Again, there will be more close-quarters combat with a lot of tunnels and stairways. Meanwhile, Skyline is set on Mars and is reminiscent of Blind Watch. It features a lot of vertical space and tight corridors, so you'll be wanting to make use of your jumps, glides, and boosts.
Those on PS4 will also have access to Icarus, which is set on Mercury in a huge solar collection station created during the Golden Age. There's going to be a nice balance of long corridors and open space for this one, however expect some rather harsh lighting.
Iron Banner will be getting a considerable overhaul in Rise of Iron. The tempered buff that gave players more rep as the event progressed will be removed in order to encourage guardians to get involved earlier in the week. That won't mean reputation will be harder to gain, in fact quite the opposite. Furthermore, Guardians can play in whatever gear they like; there's no need for emblem, shader, and class items to be equipped in order to maximise your rep gains.
Instead of getting a reward at ranks 3 and 5, players will get a weapon or armour piece every time a bounty is completed. No more interrupting matchmaking to rush back to the tower, yay!
Rewards will keep paying out once a player hits rank 5, meaning there's more reason to keep playing during the event. If you have multiple characters, the rubber band effect will still occur to make ranking up even easier the second and third time around.
Winter has come to the Cosmodrome, and its effects, coupled with the work of the Fallen Splicers has changed the landscape of the zone as we know it. On top of unlocking the Plaguelands area, there's going to be a few fun changes to the original zone (including lots of snow) that will make for some fun new adventuring.
There's no new levels to be gained beyond the current 40, however max-Light will be increased from 335 to 385 at launch, and then again to 400 upon the release of the Heroic Raid.
There's also a Rise of Iron record book with a bunch of tasks to complete as part of the content. As players complete various parts they'll be rewarded with emblems, gear and more in a fashion similar to the Year Two Moments of Triumph. If you play more than one class, you'll be glad to know that rewards will pay out to all three classes. So if a helmet dropped as a reward, a player would receive a helmet each for Hunter, Warlock, and Titan.
Those with the need for speed can also look forward to the return of both sparrow racing and the Festival of the Lost events.
The community was all abuzz shortly after the release of Taken King when players stumbled into a secret area of a daily quest, rewarding them with an epic time-based challenge and an exotic sniper rifle called the Black Spindle. Bungie has said there will be more cool secrets in Rise of Iron but haven't confirmed if they'll be attached to weapon quests, daily missions, or just really well hidden in patrol.
Another piece that will feel mechanically familiar will be the Archon's Forge. A nice mix between Challenge of the Elders and Court of Oryx, players will enter a shared co-op arena and defeat waves of enemies for rewards.
Whilst in patrol, Guardians will pick up SIVA Offerings in varying qualities (SIVA Actuator, Splicer Key etc) that will trigger various levels of encounters in the Forge. Anyone that's played through Court of Oryx can compare these with the Antiquated, Stolen, and Reciprocal Runes. The Forge is much less about strategy and mechanics, and more about brute force and damage.
After presenting a SIVA Offering, the encounter will begin, and players will be on the clock. Waves of enemies will need to be defeated before a boss will spawn, however if too much time has passed, the event will subside without a boss showing up. Again, this mechanic is similar to the Taken invasions players have encountered whilst on patrol.
If you're killed during the encounter, be sure to wait for a revive from your teammates. Players that respawn will find themselves outside the arena and unable to rejoin – so it's best to sit tight for a few seconds, unless you prefer to sit on the sidelines and let others do all the work for you. Gear from Archon's Forge are going to be a lot more rewarding than Court of Oryx, and will payout weapons and armour that will get players raid-ready.
The original home to the Iron Lords will become the new social area for Guardians to congregate, get bounties, use their vault, and more. There's plenty to see and do at Felwinter Peak, starting with a mission to reclaim the area.
Lord Saladin will be taking up permanent residence within Felwinter Peak, meaning the Iron Banner event will operate from here, instead of the Tower. Other new characters include Tyra Karn (more on her later), and Cayde's buddy, Shiro-4. Shiro will be offering some weekly Iron Bounties that will give more purpose to patrols and events like Archon's Forge.
Fun fact! The wolves seen around Lord Saladin in the original reveal trailer were mo-capped by the same epic beast that portrays Ghost on Game of Thrones. So when you look at the state of the Cosmodrome in Rise of Iron and mutter the phrase "Winter is coming...", you'll be more meta than your friends will ever realise. Within the game, those wolves can be found in the new social space known as Felwinter Peak. Less fun fact: you can't pet the wolves.
There's also some fun bells which Bungie are hinting at unlocking something cool when wrung in a specific order – but of course, that's all they've said about it so far. They could be joking, but given Bungie's love for secret areas and moments, we're thinking this is for real.
SIVA Fragments are littered through the Plaguelands for those keen for a good scavenger hunt. There won't be as many to collect as the Calcified Fragments (thank god), but we're expecting them to be linked to an exotic quest line similar to the Touch of Malice in Taken King. There's also plenty more dead ghosts to collect throughout the game, which are sure to add more lore to your Grimoire. And for trophy and achievement hunters out there, there will be a new set of feats to accomplish.
But what about the l00tz?
Destiny is kickin' it old school, taking the first weapon you ever pick up and making it an exotic. The Khvostov 7G-0X will feature different rates of fire, toggling between 450RPM and bonus range, and 900RPPM and bonus stability. The gun can also be switched between automatic, burst fire, and semi auto firing modes.
More classic exotic weapons are making a return, with the much sought-after Gjallarhorn and pesky Thorn being brought into Year Three. They'll be getting their own quest lines, like that of the Sleeper Simulant in Year Two so they'll (hopefully) feel more epic when a player receives them. Those quests will help flesh out the lore surrounding the items, which is pretty awesome if you've bothered to read the Grimoire cards.
Lord Saladin will also have his fair share of loot, including Iron Engrams, which will offer players Year One and Two armour, presumably in a form that can be infused up to a light level for end-game content. Year One Iron Banner class items will also be making a return, so those that missed out can add those pieces to their collection as well. Although Vault space won't be getting any improvements, so best think carefully about how much you really need to hold onto.
Faction packages will reward you with gear of a higher Light level, and give you a choice of what items you receive, whether that be armour, weapons, or chroma. Chroma will be represented less in gear, but can still be gained from Sterling Treasure. If you're looking to complete a certain colour, drop by Eva Levante in the Tower, as they'll now be available to purchase.
Radiant Treasures will replace the Sterling Treasure chests. Those sick of receiving the same gear from these chests will be pleased to know that items from Radiant Treasures can be turned into Silver Dust instead of Chroma. Silver Dust can then be used to purchase items from the Eververse Store, including the Gjallarwing sparrow (non pre-order version).
Those that love getting the Strike specific legendaries will be pleased to know that farming those items just got easier. Skeleton Keys will unlock chests at the end of Strikes to give you a better chance at Strike-specific gear. You will only be able to hold five at a time, so be sure to use them frequently.
A new character known as Tyra Karn will be offering some new artifacts that hold some pretty cool abilities. Modelled after the Iron Lords, one artifact gives a player's melee attack the ability to mind control a low level enemy, while another makes its holder immune to the burn effects of weapons like Thorn (take that you Crucible scrubs!)
After completing missions assigned by Tyra, guardians will be rewarded with a token called the Iron Lords' Legacy, which can be redeemed for one of the three artifacts on offer that week. With a total of eight artifacts available, it should take you a couple of months to collect them all.
Weapons and armour will be getting a new level of customisation with Ornaments, which will change the actual geometry and appearance of items. They can be found in the final frame of an items upgrade section, and can differ from a sweet paint job, do an incredible hologram overlay.
So far we've seen them used in weapons like the Zhalo Supercell, Invective, Khvostov, Telesto, Hawkmoon, and Mida Multitool, but don't be surprised if there's an ornament for every Year Three exotic.
Ornaments will also add special effects to perks, as has been seen with Hawkmoon, meaning the appearance changes will extendsto gameplay animations. Some are said to be hard to come by, possibly by going flawless in Trials or completing challenge modes in Wrath of the Machine. Meanwhile, others will be available for purchase with Silver Dust from Xur, when he arrives each weekend.
But what if I'm not getting Rise of Iron?
Still on the fence? Don't have the NZ$50 to shell out at the moment? Had an alien remove the 'fun' section of your brain?
Of course, the majority of people not getting Rise of Iron will be residing in the PS3/X360 (AKA legacy consoles) and won't be getting any further content for their versions of the game. We feel for you, and hope you'll be joining the rest of us on current-gen consoles as soon as you can. For the time being though, all the content that's in the game will still be available for you and those not grabbing the expansion. You'll still be able to reign chaos against Oryx and his minions, and Bungie has confirmed that Taken events will still occur during patrols.
Furthermore, a weekly playlist will be available for Taken King Heroic Strikes, so it's not like you'll have your existing content put behind a paywall similar to when TTK launched.
OK, I'm all set. What now?
Launch day is almost here, but chances are you won't have to wait 'til then to see some of the new stuff. Bungie will be releasing patch update 2.4.0 on September 8, after a lengthy maintenance. During that time, the companion app will have limited functionality, and Clan details will not be represented. We'd also recommend checking that your console has enough space for the upcoming patch. We don't have a specific size requirement, but it never hurts to do a HDD clean up, right?
Once that's all sorted and you've got the new patch, we're expecting a few fun highlights for the week leading up the release of RoI on September 20. Chances are there'll be a showcase of Supremacy within the Crucible playlist, and going off previous expansion and DLC launches, there'll be some fun encounters to take part in during patrols.
On September 20, the switch will be flicked at 9pm NZT (typical daily reset time) and from there all Guardians will be begin their journey to becoming an Iron Lord, take down some mutant Fallen, and save humanity once again. We hope to see you there!