Everything you need to know about what’s coming to ‘Destiny’ in ‘Rise of Iron’

We’re closing in on two years from the initial release of Destiny, developer Bungie’s persistent world shooter. The game has come a helluva long way since September 2014: At first, it was kind of a dull mess wrapped around a solid shooter core. But with the help of two downloadable content add-ons and one major expansion, Destiny has been transformed into a pretty solid game that’s even pretty damn fun.

In its upcoming expansion, Destiny: Rise of Iron, Bungie is out to drop one more big bunch of improvements on players. New missions, new weapons, new systems and new improvements are on the way. Here’s everything awesome that’s coming to Destiny when Rise of Iron drops this next month, along with the most useful info we can give: It’s coming out September 20, and you can buy it as a standalone expansion for $30, or as part of Destiny: The Collection, which compiles the base game and all the expansions, for $60.

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A Brand New Story

Rise of Iron’s biggest change is a new story that adds a list of new stuff for to do in Destiny. The gist of that story is that players will assist Lord Saladin, the character who usually runs the “Iron Banner” multiplayer event in the game’s social hub, the Guardian Tower. The Iron Banner is named for the Iron Lords, a group of space-magic superheroes that fought aliens before the Guardians, or alien-stomping player characters. Unfortunately, those Iron Lords all got wiped out at some point, except for Lord Saladin.

The crux of what wrecked the Iron Lords was nanotechnology called SIVA. When it falls in the hands of the evil scavenger aliens called the Fallen, players have to become Iron Lords themselves to deal with the situation in a new area on Earth called the Plaguelands. Your mission: Recover the tech, destroy the bad guys, and save the solar system from certain destruction (again).

So that means a new story campaign, which will undoubtedly send players through a number of missions to explore all the new content. It’ll also feature new characters and cutscenes, according to Bungie’s video documentaries about the new expansion.

New Places to Go

Rise of Iron will ship with new multiplayer modes and new player-vs-environment stuff to do —like a big new Raid, traditionally the best stuff Destiny has to offer— but beyond that, it also has new locations for players to visit and just, uh, hang out.

The first of those is Felwinter Peak, an Earthside mountaintop where the Iron Lords used to hang before they were all killed, apparently. You will fight the Fallen there — in the middle of a blizzard, which is new for Destiny — but it will also function as a new social hub, like the Tower and Queen’s Bay in the Reef, where you can meet up with other players, switch out gear, visit shops and, most importantly, pick up new quests.

Expansions often bring changes to existing in-game locations, and in Rise of Iron that means changes to the Cosmodrome, the rusting space shipyard players have been running around for two years on Earth. The nanotech SIVA is reshaping the place and the enemies in it in some key ways.

There’s also the Plaguelands, a previously off-limits Earth area near the Cosmodrome. Wrecked by the efforts of a group of the Fallen, the Devils, to locate SIVA, it’s basically a ravaged post-apocalyptic landscape. It’s got lava, it’s got Fallen fortresses, and it’s got gross SIVA nanotech shifting it into something new and creepy. Undoubtedly, players will spend a lot of time there, just like the Dreadnaught location in The Taken King. And, like that place, expect the Plaguelands to pack a bunch of its own unique activities.

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Brand New Things to Do

What kind of activities we talking about? It seems that, like with The Taken King, Bungie is adding a host of new missions at every level of Destiny. The game includes a number of little things to do, like “patrols,” minor on-the-ground missions that increase your standing with certain in-game factions, and “bounties,” collectible mini-missions that have you killing a certain number of enemies or accomplishing certain tasks, and Bungie said there will be new additions to both.

Rise of Iron will also add new and updates “Strikes” —Destiny’s slightly longer, three-player dungeon-type missions. In the new strike, “The Wretched Eye,” players fight SIVA-mutated Fallen in the Plaguelands to disrupt their plants. In addition to the new Strike, Bungie is “reprising” a few older ones, reinvigorating them with new… Something. Bungie said “The Devils’ Lair” and “The Summoning Pits,” two Strikes that have been with Destiny from the beginning, will receive some kind of overhaul. It’s not quite clear how they’ll be changed, but since “The Devils’ Lair” is all about the group of aliens at the heart of the whole SIVA conflict, it makes sense that it would change to reflect their new abilities.

Then there’s the “Raid.” Destiny’s six-player mega-missions usually take hours to complete. With multiple boss fights and vast locations, they’re always the coolest things the game has to offer. They also require the most commitment, because Destiny raids are top-level content—you need to get your character as strong as they can be in order to stand a chance. If you’ve got six friends and enough commitment to get that good, though, Destiny raids are pretty much the most fun the game offers.

Rise of Iron’s new raid is called “Wrath of the Machine” and takes players through a new swath of the Cosmodrome. It’ll take players through the giant wall that rings the Cosmodrome —it’s basically where new players start the game— and eventually on top of it. And of course, you’ll fight multiple awful bosses with idiosyncratic requirements for beating them. Start getting your friends together now.

Lastly, there’s also an area in the Plaguelands for cooperative multiplayer battling called “Archon’s Forge.” Similar to the “Prison of Elders” from The House of Wolves, or the “Court of Oryx” in The Taken King, it’s a Thunderdome-style public boss fight arena where you’ll fight off waves of Fallen to earn special rewards.

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New Modes to Play

After years of waiting, Rise of Iron will give Destiny players the ability to create private competitive matches. Though it isn’t as flashy as the new story content, the new feature make it possible to able to invite friends, change the rules of Destiny’s competitive multiplayer, and generally enjoy more freedom.

The “Crucible,” Destiny’s competitive multiplayer, will have a handful of new maps, and a new competitive mode called “Supremacy.” Like the Call of Duty series’ game type “Kill Confirmed:” You kill an enemy player, then pick up a “crest” they drop when they die. Unless you pick up the crest of your fallen enemies, the kill doesn’t count toward your team’s score; if a team manages to grab the crest of one of its members, it denies the kill to the opposing team.

The new maps coming to the Crucible include “Last Exit,” a Venus location that puts the fighting inside the area’s vast underground transit tunnels; “Floating Gardens,” an open map in the Black Garden, that spooky location on Mars from the end of Destiny’s original release; and “Skyline,” a Martian map set atop that planet’s massive skyscrapers.

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New Stuff to Get

The Taken King introduced the ability for players to get swords; in Rise of Iron, you’ll get a big giant battle ax.

That’s not the only new gear coming, though, obviously. Destiny is all about leveling up your loot, and there will be a whole mess of new armor and weapons to collect, as videos and screenshots have made clear. A lot of what we’ve seen looks like it’s moderately on fire, so that’s cool, too. As in every expansion, Bungie is amping up the “Light level” cap, so you can get even more powerful gear and become even stronger, but hasn’t said by how much yet.

There will also be a bunch of new artifacts, a set of equippable loot introduced in The Taken King. In Rise of Iron, there are several special artifacts you can earn that give you special abilities — Bungie mentioned in its video documentary series that some of the new artifacts can negate certain kinds of damage, give you infinite sprint, or the ability to mind-control Fallen enemies and make them fight for you. There are several of these to earn and they’ll change on a weekly basis, so players will have new artifacts to chase down after finishing Rise of Iron’s story campaign, presumably for quite a while.

Like every expansion, Rise of Iron will add new special armor sets in all of its major events: You’ll find awesome armor (and weapons) throughout the Raid, in Iron Banner multiplayer events, and the “Trial of Osiris,” Destiny’s super-tough three-player multiplayer tournament-like mode. There are also new one-of-a-kind “exotic” weapons and armor coming. You can only equip one piece of exotic armor and one exotic weapon at a time, and they usually take a lot of effort to find or create. It’s not quite clear how much of all this stuff to expect just yet, but there will likely be enough to keep players busy as they try to collect all the best gear.

The best part of new equipment is looking awesome, though, and that’s where the new “Ornaments” system comes in. Ornaments add a new cosmetic layer that let you customize your gear to make it look even cooler, with add-ons that give your armor flames, change the paint job, and more. It looks like every piece of armor will be customizable, like Destiny’s existing “shader” system that lets you change your armor’s colors, you’ll be able to mix-and-match armor and ornaments for the coolest look.

Oh, and everyone’s favorite rocket launcher, the Gjallarhorn, is coming back in a big, beefed-up way. This exotic weapon was a mega-beast in the earliest days of Destiny, firing heat-seeking explosive shells that then shot off a bunch more little explosives that also tracked enemies. Later Destiny expansions that added stronger weapons sort of left Gjallarhorn behind, eclipsing its power level and taking it out of the rotation for high-level players. Those who’ve been craving some wanton destruction will be excited to know he gun’s back in a new form — sleek black and silver — but it’s currently being offered as a Rise of Iron pre-order bonus.

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Brand New Important Details to Know (Like Console Support)

For some players, the most important change for Rise of Iron is purely technical: You can’t play it on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. If you’ve been going through Destiny on legacy consoles, it’s time to upgrade.

The good news is that the upgrade path will be painless for most players who decide to upgrade for Rise of Iron. If you’ve taken even a couple of weeks off from the game, your progress will automatically transfer over from Xbox 360 to Xbox One, or from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4. If you’ve played the game since August 16, you will be able to transfer your character easily between consoles once you upgrade.

Even if you’re on PS4 or Xbox One, you will also need all of the previous Destiny expansions to play Rise of Iron. If you aren’t up to date, Bungie is issuing a new version of Destiny called “The Collection,” which packs all the expansions including Rise of Iron. The whole package will cost you $60 — the same price as the original Destiny when it launched two years ago. When they came out, the first two expansions went for $20 each, and The Taken King went for $40. So that’s a deal.

As we noted at the top, if you’re going for Rise of Iron separately, it’ll cost you $30, which is less than The Taken King, but more than the first two expansions, The Dark Below and The House of Wolves. It’s tough to say whether the price point is useful for making a judgment about the amount of content in Rise of Iron as compared to the other expansion: It’s definitely bigger than the first two, and seems comparable to The Taken King.

It’s also important to note that there is some exclusive Rise of Iron content on PlayStation 4. As noted by Bungie on the PlayStation Blog, grabbing the PS4 version gets you an exclusive story quest line in Rise of Iron that’ll take you to the Cosmodrome, and rewards you with a new ship you can’t unlock any other way. The PS4 version also packs an exclusive multiplayer map called “Icarus,” which takes place on the often-mentioned but rarely visited planet of Mercury. This content may eventually make it over to the Xbox One version of the game, but not until “at least Fall 2017.”

There might be more cool stuff in Rise of Iron we don’t know about. The Taken King actually had quite a few interesting secrets spread throughout it, like quests to unlock exotic weapons that only popped up during specific daily missions and the like. Bungie has two years of figuring out how to do Destiny well under its belt. If you’ve been waiting to check it out until it was improved, Sept. 20 might be the time.

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