With the launch of The Dark Below less than a week away, Guardians around the globe are looking for the inside scoop on what to expect from the first Destiny expansion. We've been promised new gear, new multiplayer maps, a new strike (or two if you're on a PlayStation console) and even a new 6-player Raid — here's all the info you need ahead of release.
New Story Missions and Quests
First up, the new story content on offer; players will be receiving guidance and quests from a new Tower character, Eris. This vendor will have new bounties, new items and she'll have three story missions for you — two on Earth and a third that takes place on the moon — that will see players preventing a Hive attempt to summon a god to destroy Earth.
- The Dark Below – Eris Morn has landed in the Tower with fears of recent Hive activity. Something is waking on the Moon. Help her stop the rise of Crota.
- Siege of the Warmind – Find Rasputin’s bunker. Defend it against the Hive attack.
- The Wakening – Go to the Temple of Crota and destroy Crota's soul.
That god is Crota, the final boss of the expansion's Raid, Crota's End. You might recognize the name from the early Moon mission titled 'Sword of Crota' from the base game — but, rest assured, the big bad of this expansion has kitted himself out with a new blade (you'll be wielding a sword too in The Dark Below) and looks set to make the second Destiny Raid as tough as the first.
In an effort to address the criticisms for lack of story and characters in Destiny, The Dark Below expansion aims to introduce Quests - a new method of storytelling that's "experimental in nature."
They are multistage tasks that culminate in a reward, similar to the Exotic Bounties you may have experienced. Unlike Exotic Bounties, the Quests in the Dark Below can be completed by players who are solely focused on the cooperative story content of The Dark Below.
For example, one Quest creates a continuous chain of multiple tasks that culminates in the “Will of Crota” Strike. Another may simply ask you to return to Earth to take down the surging Hive threat.
A New Raid and Strike(s)
The story goes that Eris and five other Guardians traveled to the Ocean of Storms to try and deal with Crota — but she was the only one to make it out alive. To succeed where she failed and tackle the Crota's End raid with five of your companions you'll have to journey into the Hellmouth itself, and there's speculation that you'll do so via a leap of faith directly into the chasm.
For the Crota's End, a level 30 character is recommended for a normal playthrough (check out our guide on how to power level to 30 if you haven't already), and a level 32 character will be all but required if you're planning to attempt its hard variant. Unlike the Vault of Glass, there'll be no waiting around for access to Crota's End — it'll be available to players as soon as the expansion goes live.
As well as the Raid, there will be brand new strikes to play through. The Will of Crota would seem to tie into the main storyline of the expansion, while The Undying Mind will see players travel to the Black Garden once again to face an enemy that strikes fear into even the unflinching Vex. The latter strike is a timed exclusive for PlayStation consoles until the fall of 2015.
There will also be a new higher level strike playlist dubbed Vanguard Dragon that will using matchmaking to put three players into a fireteam to tackle a random strike at level 28. We can only assume this higher level playlist will reward players with even more Vanguard Marks and gear for playing.
New Crucible Content
Players looking for more competitive multiplayer content to take for a spin in the Crucible have three new maps to look forward to; Skyshock set in Earth's Old Russia, The Cauldron on the Moon and Pantheon, which is situated in the Black Garden. The three maps look set to cater to a range of gameplay types; The Cauldron and Pantheon are intended for on-foot combat, and are asymmetrical and symmetrical respectively, while Skyshock is a playground for vehicle and objective based play.
However, it's not just new maps that are being added to the Crucible. You can also expect new playlists, with recent datamining revealing a 2v2 'doubles' gametype and new variants of existing playlists without motion trackers. Modified multiplayer modes like SWAT were hugely popular during Bungie's Halo years, so it's interesting to see how the studio expands upon the playlists available in Destiny.
For the hardcore PvP participants, The Dark Below will also host a new Crucible-focused event like the Iron Banner, this one dubbed the Trials of Osiris. It's another mode where level balancing is disabled and it only takes place on the The Burning Shrine map on Mercury. This one's tricky since players can only gain entry by earning a "Tournament Ticket" that we believe only comes from winning consistently in The Crucible. Once you're in, if you lose three times, you're out and need to buy yourself back in. The mode comes with its own emblems, shaders, including the only legendary emblem in the came, the "Eye of Osiris."
Destiny: The Dark Below adds a new set of consumable drops to go with the Glimmer-boosts currently available in the core game. These new consumables function in a similar way, added enemy-specific bonuses for a limited amount of time.
- Bone Trinkets - 10-minute XP boost from Fallen
- Campaign Medals - 10-minute XP boost from Cabal
- Spent Displacer - 10-minute XP boost from Vex
- Void Shackles - 10-minute XP boost from Hive
- Infusion of Light - 30-minute XP boost
A large part of the appeal of a game like Destiny is the loot that's on offer, and thankfully The Dark Below does add plenty of new rewards for players wanting to beef up their Guardian. Clearing Crota's End will earn players Legendary weapons and armor, with some intriguing new upgrade perks like the ability to cut through a Hive Knight's Wall of Darkness. Much like The Vault of Glass raid has unique "raid gear" which includes an Oracle Disrupter feature, the legendary raid weapons for The Dark Below's new raid (Crota's End) also feature unique enhancements that'll help on replaying the raid and tackling it on hard:
- Dark Breaker - Projectiles will overpenetrate through Hive Knight Wall of Darkness.
- Target Mark - Enemies hit by this weapon are briefly highlighted.
- Hive Distruptor - This weapon deals bonus damage to stronger Hive enemies.
- Lifestealer - Three rapid kills in succession will heal a small amount and start shield regeneration
New exotics are also on their way, but it's difficult to tell from the datamined information what content is set to hit with The Dark Below and what is being saved for The House of Wolves (the upcoming second expansion). Bungie themselves have teased some of what's to offer in their promotional materials, and we know that with the Light level cap being raised to 32, there must be some gear capable of helping players advance — here are the most notable weapons that we know for sure will be a part of The Dark Below (we're not listing all of the regular Vanguard/Crucible legendaries):
- Abyss Defiant (Auto Rifle) [Raid Gear]
- Aidolon Ally (Auto Rifle) [Raid Gear]
- Word of Crota (Hand Cannon) [Raid Gear]
- Oversoul Edict (Pulse Rifle) [Raid Gear]
- Fang of Ir Yût (Scout Rifle) [Raid Gear]
- Necrochasm (Auto Rifle) [Exotic]
- 347 Vesta Dynasty (Scout Rifle) [Exotic]
- No Land Beyond (Sniper Rifle that takes Primary slot) [Exotic]
- Light of the Abyss (Fusion Rifle) [Raid Gear]
- Swordbreaker (Shotgun) [Raid Gear]
- Murmur (Fusion Rifle) [Raid Gear]
- Black Hammer (Sniper Rifle)
- Lord of Wolves (Shotgun) [Exotic]
- Sweet Business (Shotgun) [Exotic]
- Song of Ir Yût (Machine Gun) [Raid Gear]
- Hunger of Crota (Rocket Launcher) [Raid Gear]
- Dragon's Breath (Rocket Launcher) [Exotic]
There's plenty of new armor on offer in The Dark Below, with some very cool visual designs as well as new perks to ensure it's an upgrade from what you're wearing at present:
- Moment of Power - Gain a temporary increase to weapon damage while Oversoul’s Gaze is active.
- Moment of Speed - Gain a temporary increase to reload speed while Oversoul’s Gaze is active.
- Swordbearer’s Touch - Gain a temporary increase to Agility while carrying the sword of a Hive Swordbearer.
And here is the full list of new armor being added in:
- Deathsinger's Gaze
- Unyielding Casque
- Willbreaker's Watch
- Deathsinger's Mantle
- Relentless Harness
- Willbreaker's Resolve
- Deathsinger's Grip
- Dogged Gage
- Willbreaker's Fists
- Deathsinger's Herald
- Tireless Striders
- Willbreaker's Greaves
It's also speculated that the Manus Celer Dei ship and the S-99 Dawnchaser Sparrow will finally be available to players once The Dark Below launches — although there's no indication just how we'll be able to get our hands on these Exotic vehicles, the first of their kind.
The Dark Below also introduces a new game mechanic that will allow for weapons to be involved into something far more powerful forms using new types of upgrade materials. It seems that Eris will be key to this process, offering both the materials and some of the weapons — she'll also have a host of emblems, shaders and other gear that players can earn by completing quests and raising reputation levels.
New items like Radiant Energy & Radiant Shards are rumored to allow rare gear to become legendary and new weapon-specific materials called the Crux of Crota, Embalming Orb, and Runed Core will be used to convert The Dark Below's new legendaries weapons into exotic weapons. Hang on to those Hive drops, the Black Wax Idols, since they'll be used at the new vendor (Eris) to acquire some of these things. There are a few other mysterious drops (Eyes of the Forsaken, Hive Ember, Hive Rune, Seething Mist, Embers of the Lesser, Dried Crimson) as well that could be used for new missions or bounties.
There are several new shaders that'll be available from Eris in the tower, and according to leaked info, potentially shaders for ships and sparrows as well. That would certainly explain why most of the rare ship schematics found in chests are all the same color and why the two current raid ship rewards are both a boring grey color.
The strength of Exotic weapons has been a contentious issue since Destiny launched, but yesterday Bungie finally released their exotics update which boosts the base damage number on all exotic weapons and alters their upgrade trees, adding a new required material to the game. The weaker, less practical exotic weapons have also been approved to at least make them worth trailer (looking at you, Bad Juju).
Fans still playing daily (including some of us here on Game Rant) are eager to sink their teeth into The Dark Below — the only question is how much this first expansion will do to silence complaints about a lack of content in Destiny. Of course after the well-received Vault of Glass raid, all eyes will be on Crota's End to see if the game's second Raid can top the first.
However, the new Strikes, Story content and Crucible maps and playlists look to flesh out this expansion quite nicely — which part of The Dark Below are you anticipating most feverishly? Let us know in the comments section below.
Note: Even if you don't purchase The Dark Below expansion or are waiting until later, the new content will benefit you as well. All Destiny players regardless of DLC gain:
- Some new Weapons and Armor
- New Daily Bounties
- Five additional Bounty slots
Destiny is available now on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The Dark Below is set for release on December 9, 2014.