Destiny developer Bungie unveiled its first big addition to Destiny since The Taken King this afternoon. Rise of Iron is the interplanetary shooter-MMORPG's next expansion, and it's being released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 20th for $30 USD. (It's the first Destiny content that isn't being released for last-gen consoles, i.e., the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.) Bungie dove into Rise of Iron for the first time with a Twitch stream this afternoon, one that introduced the game's new playable area — the Plaguelands, a devastated and dangerous part of what used to be Russia — and the mutated Fallen enemies that call it home.
Rise of Iron details have been leaking for weeks
Hardcore Destiny players have known about Rise of Iron since mid-May, when a leaked poster featuring Iron Banner head honcho Lord Saladin appeared on Reddit. Kotaku's Jason Schreier reported the expansion would include a new raid and more content than each of the game's first two DLC packs, The Dark Below and House of Wolves. The project sprung a few additional leaks yesterday thanks to the official Destiny website and an Xbox Store listing, revealing the game's release date and a great deal about its scope. And when a full-length trailer for the expansion popped up on Snapchat early this morning, it stole Bungie's thunder by revealing that the much-loved Gjallarhorn rocket launcher is becoming a viable weapon again, one you earn with an in-game quest or by preordering the expansion.
There's more pressure on Rise of Iron than your average expansion pack for a two-year-old game. It has to meet the high expectations set by The Taken King and sustained by Destiny's recent April update, a quality-of-life tweak that sent many old players back to the Tower for the first time in months. It also has to tide those players over until the release of Destiny 2, a game that was rebooted and delayed into 2017 earlier this year. The reveal stream promised a cinematic new campaign, new patrol areas and social spaces, new PvP content, and a new raid; it won't take long for fans to gobble up every last activity.
I'm more excited about Rise of Iron's narrative potential than any new gameplay elements it has to offer. The greatest weakness of the original Destiny was its failure to use and communicate the game's extensive lore, relegating all of its characters and stories to trading cards that lived online. The Taken King did a much better job of tapping into the game's mythology and figures and weaving them into players' daily adventures. If Rise of Iron can do the same with the human heroes and ancient technology that give the expansion its name, it'll have the staying power needed to carry Destiny into 2017 and beyond.
What will Bungie show off at E3?
The end of the reveal stream left one specific question hanging in the air: what is Bungie going to show off next week at E3? Destiny's had a major presence at gaming's biggest event for the last two years, and The Taken King's announcement gobbled up a prime slot at last year's Sony press conference. Bungie and Sony have partnered for timed exclusive content over the last few years, and PlayStation's Rise of Iron players will enjoy the same sort of deal. "At launch, PlayStation games will also get access to a collection of timed exclusive content for Rise of Iron," reads a Bungie press release. "Content and timing of exclusivity to be announced at a later date." I'm willing to bet that "later date" will be Sony's E3 press conference, but we'll find out either way in less than a week.