The Dark Below is the first expansion for Destiny, the MMO-like first-person shooter from Bungie. It is a chance for Bungie to expand on the world and lore it created for its first foray into the online scene. Though Destiny was generally well received, many felt that it didn’t live up to expectations and was a bit light on content. The real question here is: does The Dark Below fix the woes that plagued the game or does it manage to bring it closer to the game that was promised before?
The Dark Below tasks you with thwarting a plot by the hive to overrun Earth. They are threatening to summon a terrifying god and it is up to you to track down and eliminate all threats. The mission will not be easy but you will have the chance to obtain more powerful tools to help you on your journey.
At first glance, The Dark Below looks like a simple expansion. You have your new story missions, new crucible maps, and new gear just like you would expect. But the content is much different than probably anticipated. While the developers could have easily gotten away with providing a few missions that play out like what you’ve already become accustomed to, Bungie chose to go the extra mile. Playing it safe is often the way to go, but it seems as if Bungie decided it was due time to mix things up.
Destiny does many things, but there is one thing that it does very well and that is its shooting mechanics. From the feel of the weapons to the responsiveness of the controls and abilities, the game proved itself to be a solid shooter. Unfortunately Destiny was so busy playing multiple roles that the star of the show often took a back seat to uninspired mission design. The Dark Below manages to change that.
From the very first mission that sends you back to Old Russia on planet Earth, you are treated to a game that focuses on solid gunplay and intense confrontation. Where the base game had you moving from location to location at a slow but steady pace, The Dark Below has you constantly watching your back as you push through hordes of hive enemies. All of which is set in stunning new environments that capitalize on Destiny‘s art style.
Mission design has been streamlined in order to keep you constantly engaged and quickly strategizing with your fireteam. While there are still waves of enemies to take down you no longer feel locked down as your ghost struggles to unlock some inconvenient door. Speaking of your ghost, his voice is notably absent as you make progress in your journey. No corny one liners this time around, you are on a mission to maintain peace and there is nothing to distract you.
Enemies are not only more abundant, but they also work better together in order to capitalize on your weaknesses and maintain the upper hand. The Dark Below manages to provide a suitable challenge to those who have already dedicated countless hours to perfecting their guardians.
Of course there is more to the expansion then some well-made story missions. Many fans of Destiny have already learned each strike like the back of their hand and have dominated Atheon several times over in the Vault of Glass. For such players, The Dark Below introduces a new strike and a new raid that tests teamwork in a whole new way.
The Vault of Glass required critical thinking to solve its puzzles and get through its mazes. This time the raid found in The Dark Below, Crota’s End, requires you and your team of 5 other guardians to quickly navigate and overcome obstacles while under the constant threat of Crota’s army. There is hardly any reprieve and only the toughest fireteams who can manage to strategize quickly and efficiently will come out victorious.
For those who have been waiting to thrash their rivals in the crucible in a new setting you can rest assured that you were not forgotten. New crucible locales will take you through new areas in familiar spaces. No need to worry, none of the maps are just reorganized versions of old maps. From a map in the Black Garden that challenges guardians in both closed and open areas to a small map located deep within the moon, each one offers new opportunities to wreak havoc on your fellow guardians.
And then there’s the gear. The developers were kind enough to introduce new, more powerful weapons to help deal with the threat of Crota’s rise. This includes new armor to help you withstand even the toughest hordes and still come out on the winning side. There is something for everyone and every play style.
While there were many valid complaints levied against Destiny after its release, the developers have taken many strides in bringing the game closer to the promised game. The Dark Below is one more step in that direction. It adds focus to the core gameplay that just wasn’t found in Destiny beforehand. From vastly improved mission structure to challenges that feel worthwhile, it is a huge testament to what a bit of time can accomplish for a new IP.