So it’s been one week since Destiny‘s newest expansion “The House of Wolves” hit the galaxy, and I have to say that it’s a big step in the right direction. We were given a set of story missions that told an actual story (and a pretty decent one, at that), we were given two new gaming modes that offer new and engaging ways to snatch up the latest loot, and, overall, we were given a glimpse at Destiny‘s true destiny.
I don’t think I’m alone in my criticism of Destiny‘s patchwork of a story. At launch, we didn’t have much reason to zip around the galaxy slaughtering hostile aliens. When “The Dark Below” came out, the story involving the detached Eris Morn and her unsuccessful encounter with Crota had its own set of problems (sure, I’ll destroy this crystal that houses Crota’s soul. That should do the trick. Whaaaa? He got out? And now we have to kill his body too? Drag.)
The story behind “The House of Wolves” involves a fanatical Fallen leader named Skolas who is on an idealistic quest to unite the individual Fallen houses under his banner. I think my favorite thing about this story is that it’s not focused on the Traveler or Guardians–it’s just a simple case of stopping a tyrant before he gets too powerful. The story only gets more interesting as you delve into the history behind the House of Wolves. According to the Destiny Grimoire, The Queen of the Reef led an assault on the House of Wolves, killed their kell, and took control of their house. As the story isn’t extremely fleshed out, it’s easy to see Skolas’s uprising as a kind of redemption story. In the scheme of Destiny‘s rogues gallery, the Fallen have always seemed like a race of scattered rejects who have turned to piracy and guerilla tactics to survive. Skolas’s attempt to unite the Fallen houses after his own house has been enslaved by the Queen could be seen as the actions of a zealot with a god complex, but they could also be seen as the actions of a revolutionary hero.
The story mode also introduces a bunch of new characters and vendors through opening up the Reef to Guardians. The two most prominent characters, Petra Venj and Variks the Loyal, inject a refreshing dose of personality into the story missions. Venj’s enthusiasm about being back on the battlefield is contagious, and Variks is an enigma all to himself. He’s endearing because of his weird, Fallen mannerisms, but at the end of the day, he’s turned on his own kind to help those who would see them kept under a boot. Plus, I harbor animosity towards him for his challenges in….
The Prison of Elders
There was a nice buildup to this terrible place during the Winter’s Run strike on Venus–it’s where that damned Aksor, Archon Priest was held captive. In “House of Wolves,” players team up to face increasingly difficult waves of enemies for fortune and glory. It kind of reminds me of the multiplayer in Mass Effect 3. As the enemies get tougher, Variks also throws some objectives like disarming mines or eliminating priority targets. While it isn’t quite as fun as the ME3 stuff, it’s still a nice addition to the quest for shiny loot that makes Destiny so addictive. I also like how the challenges in Prison of Elders change every week–that damn Cabal encounter on level 32 was a bi-itch.
“The House of Wolves” also fixes a problem that many people have had with the weekly strikes. From now on, the Nightfall and Weekly Strikes are different! No more do we have to play the same strike six times every week! It’s amazing how much that little change makes me more psyched to tackle them weeklies.
I haven’t played through any of the Trials of Osiris–I’m relatively new to Crucible, so the intense, 3v3 combat in Trials scares the hell out of me right now. As soon as I get my nerve, I’m going to hit this pretty hard.
I remember being upset that there wasn’t going to be a new raid included with “House of Wolves,” but it more than makes up for it by expanding the sheer amount of stuff to go and do in Destiny. I find myself more interested in the Queen’s bounties, and feel like the world of Destiny has expanded quite a bit.
My one big gripe is the rarity of Etheric Light, a new resource required to level up previous armor and weapons. Example! Last night, I knocked out all three Nightfall strikes hoping for at least one drop. Instead, I got two Ice Breakers (first world problems). I’m going to have to prioritize the level 34 Prison of Elders–I hear you’re guaranteed one every week from there.
Anywho, “House of Wolves” appears to have fixed a lot of things that were causing Destiny to sour for myself and many others. It’s hopefully a precursor to what the game can become, and it’s nice to see that Bungie seems to be listening to the feedback of its fans.