Players who have committed more than twenty hours or so to sci-fi first-person shooter Destiny know that it is the kind of game that demands new, exciting content as frequently as possible. The game's loot and experience grind is a lot of fun, but like most MMOs, hardcore players find themselves very quickly revisiting the same content repeatedly to hunt down gear and materials to upgrade said gear. Three months after launch, the available end-game content is getting a bit old and players are ready for a new challenge and a change of scenery. The Dark Below attempts to feed that need with a $20 DLC pack.
The Dark Below introduces several new but short story missions (only two of them replayable), a new Strike, a Raid, and three new multiplayer maps. There is also a bundle of new gear and for PlayStation users, an additional Strike. The new bosses supposedly offer a nice challenge and the new content should fit nicely into the rotation of end-game grinders who are eager to pick up some new armor and weapons.
Destiny launched to mixed, yet generally positive reviews three months ago, but the two consistent complaints were that the game lacked variety and was short on content. We spent a lot of time mastering the available end-game, so we've been anxious to find out if the The Dark Below is able to solve the game's few glaring problems. We'll have our review up shortly (we've been putting some serious time into the new content), but so far the general consensus seems to be that the content isn't quite substantial enough to flesh out the repetitious world of Destiny.
Eurogamer (Tom Bramwell):
Multiplayer fans will appreciate the new maps, the bounty-style quest steps are a good idea and there is certainly plenty of stuff to do and unlock, but in a game where the content has worn thin so quickly, taking aim at our precious loot just at the point we finish upgrading it is a huge mistake.
Destructoid (Chris Carter):
Alas, The Dark Below needed more to truly sell itself to most of the fanbase. Four Strikes, not two, would have been about right. Crota's End is fun, but I feel like it was shorter than Vault of Glass, and it was a bit easier to pick up. I'm not too sure on the longevity of this raid either unless Bungie has something special up its sleeve for January's hard mode.
For now, there's an easy test to judge whether or not you should pick up The Dark Below: did you play Destiny from launch all the way up until the first expansion? If so, you'll want to get it as soon as possible. If your enthusiasm has faltered over the past few months and you never really got into the first raid, you can wait or pick up the Season Pass at a later date after more incremental improvements have been made.
Polygon (Samit Sarkar):
I've gotten all the way to this point without mentioning The Dark Below's price of admission, a steep $19.99. The problem isn't just that, and I wouldn't feel much better if the cost were much lower. The Dark Below is thin on content, and it fails to expand the scope of Destiny in any meaningful way. Bungie has adopted language from the MMO genre to describe this DLC as an "expansion," but the studio doesn't establish any legitimate claim to the term.
Polygon followed up with an opinion piece on how the DLC punishes the game's most important players.
Ars Technica (Steven Strom):
It has all the trappings of the most abusive, microtransaction laden mobile game: time gated content, infuriatingly random drops, and multiple currencies that change in importance on a whim. No matter how enjoyable the shooting and jetpack-fueled bouncing, it's that slow drip of gear and the promise of a new level I'll probably never reach that's kept me addicted this long. The only difference is, instead of microtransactions, Destiny has The Dark Below—a $20 promise of a new level 30 that I'll probably never reach.
Are you surprised that the reviews seem to be so harsh on the lack of additional content in The Dark Below? How many additional Strikes and Raids do you think twenty dollars should earn you? Is the economy and progression system (the grind) too punishing? Let us know in the comments.
Destiny: The Dark Below is now available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.