Destiny: Expansion II – House of Wolves | Review

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Destiny released back in September, and has been the topic of many polarizing conversations. From the positive to the negative, as a whole, Destiny in general has been agreed upon as “eh, alright.” I can’t explain why I love this game so much, though; with over 200 hours to my name and 50,000+ kills on my main Guardian alone, I can’t help but wonder why I love Destiny. Again, I can’t explain, but I have reasons why I both love and hate Destiny now, and I can simply tell you why by reviewing the most recent expansion.


 

House of Wolves aims to add more content for players, while optimizing content that has been released over the past year. Weapons and armor can now be “ascended” to the current damage and armor stats (365 for weapons, armor varies based on if it’s Legendary or Exotic). Meanwhile, the once-useless Reef now becomes a staple area to access most of the House of Wolves content. On every planet except Mars, there are now new story missions that allow players to access new areas. Although small, the missions take players to areas in each mission that are very often skipped in casual play, further expanding the world.

This expansion also adds Wanted Bounties, a special bounty where players are sent out to a specific area and are meant to kill a target. These targets are usually placed in areas that are out of the way from the beaten path. The bounties are coupled with new public events that, upon completion, grant you a buff that lets you open Ether Chests. These chests have a chance to give you a Treasure Key, but we’ll get to that later.

Now, these Ether Chests are wonderful and all, but there’s one serious issue with these chests, and it’s that they give you Special Ammo Synthesis. In theory, this is great, but in execution…well, I have three stacks of them now, and you can’t delete them ever. You have to use them. “Put them in the newly expanded Vault space you have now,” I hear you say. Well, that’s a temporary solution to a troubling problem.

Remember those Treasure Keys I mentioned? Well, they don’t stack. So each Key takes up one Vault space. You’re probably also using that Vault space for Shaders, Emblems, upgrade materials, among other things. Eventually, you’re going to run out of space if you keep grinding for Treasure Keys and fill up your space with Synths. “Well, then they’ll increase the Vault space!” They’ve already done it once, and people have already filled that extra space up; again, temporary solution to a troubling problem.

Now, onto the meat of the Expansion. House of Wolves adds several story missions that expands the story and lore of the Fallen and the Awoken in the Reef. Remember that one mission you had to do in the Reef in order to move the story along? Yeah, me neither. Anyways, the Fallen House that once stood beside the Awoken have betrayed them, and now the Queen has opened the Reef to all Guardians.

You will take missions under Petra Venj, who follows under the Queen’s Wrath faction that was in rotation literally once or twice before The Dark Below launched. She will also send you out to the many places that the Fallen reside; and those extra places I mentioned before. You’ll also be sent on missions with Variks, The Loyal, who translates the Fallen language for you (in a Rated T manner), and also gives you rewards for completing the Prison of Elders.

You’ll be granted a brand new weapon type from the get-go, a Special Weapon sub-type called “Sidearms.” These are the handguns players have been wanting for a while, since the only semblance of a handgun since launch have been of the Hand Cannon variety. Sidearms pack very little punch, but can be fired incredibly fast. This thing tears enemies apart, from my experience; goes right through Arc shields and can kill an at-level Elite in a magazine or two.

Besides that, just like with The Dark Below, there are Legendary weapons that are themed to look like Fallen weapons. As for the armor, it follows suit; with some alterations, so the armor looks like a mix between Fallen armor and the armor of the Queen’s Guard.

After the story missions are all said and done, you get immediate access to the Prison of Elders. Where Strikes and Raids require cooperation and coordination, the Prison of Elders requires adaptation and teamwork. In the Prison of Elders, players have to survive four rounds of enemies with a boss round at the very end; starting from Round 2, a random Modifier will be added to the mix, either beneficial or detrimental.

Anyone who’s played Destiny since launch will know that grinding has been the bane of many players. Fear grinding no longer, since the Prison of Elders makes grinding fun simply by making the whole run random. Each round is randomly chosen (at the Level 28 PoE run, anyways), along with modifiers. The level 32, 34, and 35 Prison of Elders modes are set templates, although the 32 and 34 runs are rotated out weekly.

After surviving five rounds, you get treated to two small chests with a large chest in the middle. The large chest requires those Treasure Keys I mentioned earlier, and can guarantee impressive rewards. The small chests grant very good rewards as well; Strange Coins and Motes of Light, specifically, are the items worth noting. “Motes of Light are only useful for getting emblems and Class Items from the Speaker, right?” You can use them for that, yes, but you’d be wasting them.

After getting an Expansion II weapon (Vestian Dynasty exempt), you can take it to the Tower’s Gunsmith and re-roll its upgrade tree and damage type for a Mote of Light, a handful of Glimmer, and some Weapon Parts. This allows players to keep the weapons they love and still have an upgrade tree that fits their play-styles.

This compounds with the Speaker’s new use, which is the ability to convert materials. Say you need a bunch of Radiant Shards, but only have Radiant Energy; take them to the Speaker and you can convert them to Radiant Shards with no extra cost, and if you need to convert them back, you can do that with the same result. Wonderful addition here, although this is a general addition and not exclusive to House of Wolves.

Once you’re done upgrading your weapons and armor, why not take it out for a spin in the new multiplayer maps and the brand new competitive mode, Elimination? The multiplayer maps, as usual, are very neatly designed and have a unique setting that is exclusive to that map.

Elimination is the gametype that is used in the all-new Trials of Osiris; it works like “Last Team Standing.” Two teams of three duke it out, and the goal is to kill the enemy team while keeping at least one member alive on your team. Victory is awarded to the team who wins five rounds; once a team gets three rounds won, then there will be a round where Heavy Ammo spawns.

This sounds amazing in theory, but in execution it’s infuriating. I consider myself competent in PvP, but when I entered the Trials of Osiris, there was always the trend that made PvP terrible. Players would exploit the easy way out; stuff like Felwinter’s Lie or Thorn, maybe a Red Death here and there, and you are immediately doomed if you think you can strategize your way out of any of these situations once the enemy team has the advantage.

Before you can start, you need to buy a Trials Passage. On these cards, you have nine yellow circles, which are wins, and three red, which are losses. If you get three losses, the card is immediately complete, but getting wins allows you to get special rewards from the Trials merchant. I tried to play Trials of Osiris the entire weekend it was active, and I never won once.

The rewards are hefty, too. Special gear that is themed in an Egyptian style and very powerful weapons with unique design awaits you, but if you fill a Trials card with nine wins and zero losses, you get to go to a very special social space on Mercury. A chest awaits there with extremely rare loot, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube showing the social space. Sadly, I won’t get a chance to see it, but that’s just how it goes. The Trials of Osiris rotates with the Iron Banner event.

Written by: Tyler Busler

I'm an adept gamer with 15+ years of experience in the best and worst of gaming history. I've always believed that gameplay is the most important part of a video game in most instances. My favorite games are Super Mario 3D World, Journey, Yoshi's Island, Paper Mario, and Dust: An Elysian Tail.