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What Can We Expect from Destiny's Rise of Iron Expansion

This week, Bungie will unveil their new expansion DLC for Destiny, Rise of Iron. Nothing has been confirmed by Bungie yet, and all we know about the expansion comes from a leaked poster (which revealed the title, and an apparent starring role for Lord Saladin, of Iron Banner fame), and from follow-up from Kotaku’s Deep Throat Bungie sources.

Some fans are freaking out because they think that such an early official reveal of the new content means that the Rise of Iron DLC is coming sooner rather than later, as usually with these sorts of streaming events, the DLC ends up being out within a month or so after its unveiling. But all signs seem to indicate that Rise of Iron is going to be coming in the fall, and the reason Bungie is doing this is probably to get out ahead of the E3 news cycle.

It’s unclear what Bungie’s presence will be like at E3. While Activision doesn’t have their own showcase, their games will appear in other stage shows, no doubt, and because of their deal with Sony , Destiny has frequently shown up on stage with PS4 at E3. It’s possible that this livestream reveal could indicate we won’t see more from Rise of Iron at the show. Bungie may not reveal any more Destiny content at E3 at all, or they could be showing the DLC now, and perhaps make a blockbuster announcement of the much larger Destiny 2 on stage. That game is supposed to come out before E3 2017, after all.

But for now we’ll focus on Rise of Iron, and what it might contain. Destiny has seen its community revitalized after the April Update made changes to infusion and light leveling that the playerbase seemed to happily embrace. But what that update didn’t have, and what Destiny has not had since last fall, is a large amount of new PvE content. And that’s finally going to change with Rise of Iron.

Right now, estimates put Rise of Iron as a bigger expansion than what we saw from The Dark Below and House of Wolves, but no one seems to be saying it will be larger than The Taken King, Destiny’s $40 “expansion,” which is technically the last major piece of content release for the game.

Being larger than TDB and HoW is kind of a low bar. The Dark Below had a raid, yes, but had precious few story missions/strikes/other activities, and made fans nervous about the volume of content they should expect from future DLC. House of Wolves was quite a bit meatier, with a lot more PvE content, but it did lack a raid, and players weren’t exactly enamored with the new Prison of Elders endgame mode.

The Taken King was where things were finally taken to another level. It featured not just a new raid, but an enormous slate of new story missions, exotic quests, strikes, multiplayer maps, a new enemy type and most importantly, an entirely new playable zone, the Dreadnaught.

So what does it mean for Rise of Iron if it falls in between these different levels of DLC?

We know without question that it’s going to have a new raid. That much has been confirmed by Bungie through leaked ads for the game. The raid, like the DLC itself, is supposed to be Fallen-focused, which would make sense because A) we have not yet had a Fallen raid (PoE doesn’t count) and B) we just finished up fighting mostly Cabal, Hive and Taken in the last expansion. I also expect a fair number of new story missions, strikes and multiplayer maps, more than what TDB and HoW each gave us.

But we doubt that we'll see from Rise of Iron is a new playable zone on the scale of the Dreadnaught. Nor a new enemy type on the scale of the Taken. At best, we’ll see a few new areas “expanded” (probably Russia, given the promotional art for this expansion), and maybe there will be a couple new enemy types (Captain Snipers!), but certainly no new “race.”

Why not? Surely with a “gap year,” Bungie has the ability to give us all that and more, right? After all, The Taken King was made in the same year as two other significant expansions, and it gave us all that stuff.

Yes and no. Keep in mind that The Taken King was full of content and ideas that were actually cut from the original game, so it wasn’t as if everything there was being built from scratch. There is more cut content in the wings, including a rumored Mars raid that could actually end up showing up here, theoretically.

Also it’s important to remember that Bungie almost has to have the bulk of its team working on Destiny 2, or whatever they end up calling it. They’re under pressure to deliver a new game that Activision can charge $60 for, and that means a whole bunch of new content. We also doubt that it means three new classes, four new planets, etc, but something bigger than anything we’ve seen before. That’s a pretty huge commitment.

This has always been the problem with Destiny. Fans simply want more content than Bungie is able to produce. The original schedule of: Base game > DLC 1 > DLC 2 > Big Expansion > DLC 3 > DLC 4 > Sequel was what everyone was hoping we’d get, but as it turned out, that simply wasn’t realistic so it’s now more like: Base game > DLC 1 > DLC 2 > Big Expansion > Year of microtransaction-based events > Medium Expansion > Sequel, which is what fans haven’t found particularly compelling. But given that this is the way things are, it’s important to manage expectations and understand what Bungie was working on before, and what they’re working on now.

The potential lore already has me interested, if nothing else. That first poster with Lord Saladin and a flaming battleaxe surrounded by wolves is enough to make any Destiny fan’s mouth water. It would be pretty cool if they were able to actually use PvE content to flesh out an aspect of the game that’s been primarily PvP (Iron Banner). The Iron Lords, both new and old, appear frequently in Destiny lore from Grimoire entries to gun names, but it’s going to be neat to learn more about them through actual story content, or an entire raid.

Now we are curious of the pricing of it. Presumably, there’s some pressure to have a “big fall release,” and $15 DLC certainly wouldn’t cut it for shareholders. But if this is less content than The Taken King, the playerbase isn’t going to stomach another $40 asking price. So where are we then? $25? $30? That’s going to be an odd sort of balancing act.

Now these are all speculations at the moment. Let's just see what Bungie reveals on June 9th on their official livestream.

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