Destiny might not be quite the game that many people expected when Halo developer Bungie announced that they would be creating a loot-focused first-person shooter, but it has still managed to cultivate a dedicated fanbase who enjoy the game for what it is, rather than dismissing it for what it’s not. Why do I enjoy the game for what it is? Well, a large part of why I’m still playing Destiny eight months after its release can be attributed to the game’s competitive multiplayer, so in a departure from most reviews on House of Wolves that you you might see, I’m going to talk about the multiplayer component of the newly released DLC first.
Taking new weapons and gear into the crucible can be an addictive past time, and a nearly endless cycle of effort and reward. If you feel the same, you should know that House of Wolves provides PvP fans with several reasons to be happy about this latest DLC. These include three new competitive multiplayer maps -four if you’re on Sony platforms – and a brand new game type that actually rewards skilled players for a change.
The new mode is called The Trials of Osiris and it plays a little like a mixture of the existing game mode Skirmish and a one-life-only type game mode, such as Search and Destroy from the Call of Duty series. It’s a three on three mode featuring two minute rounds and no respawning. If you’re killed during a round, the only way to get back in the game is to have a teammate revive you.
There’s no matchmaking here so you have to be in a party with your two teammates. The first team to eliminate all three players on the opposing team wins. If the round isn’t over by the time the two minute timer has expired, a capture point will appear in the center of the map and the first team to make the capture wins the round. The first team to win five rounds wins the match. After a win or loss, your team will be taken back to orbit to be matched with a new team.
You can lose up to three matches before your team is eliminated and has to restart the competition. If you’re not eliminated, you can win up to nine matches. Each win increases your chances of earning better rewards upon the completion of the competition, and winning enough matches will guarantee specific rewards.
The new maps are all pretty enjoyable, but I especially enjoyed Widows Court and The Timekeeper, the latter of which is the Sony exclusive map. Widows Court takes place in an unspecified area of Europe and features ruined castles, old-fashioned stone churches and other worn down looking structures. It’s a pretty big change from the look of most Destiny maps but it’s a joy to play.
The Timekeeper is perhaps the smallest map in the game, but it’s a lot of fun and still manages to have some longer lines of sight for you sniper and scout rifle fans. You can even shoot from A to C when you’re trying to capture points in a game of Control.
Bungie has also been kind enough to release the multiplayer maps from their first DLC add-on as free maps. This is good news for all Destiny players, as it will be one less way that the community base is segregated. Of course, this also means that if you mostly only play Destiny for competitive multiplayer, it’s probably a better idea to completely ignore the first DLC/season pass and just pickup House of Wolves by itself. This is especially true if you have no desire to play the Dark Below’s Crota raid.
Speaking of raids, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, House of Wolves doesn’t include one. In a move that upset many, Bungie decided to release the second half of this season’s additional content without including a six player activity. This might not have been much of an issue, if it were not for the fact that raids are the only way to play Destiny with more than three players, save for competitive multiplayer.
In place of the usual raid, players have been provided The Prison of Elders, which is essentially Destiny‘s first arena mode. Throughout the event, players fight off waves of enemies as random modifiers, enemy types and bosses mix things up a bit. You can’t simply fight from behind cover for the entire match, either, thanks to objectives that require players to disarm or destroy explosives before they cause you to start the round again. There are four standard rounds and then a fifth boss round.
At the end of the event, players are given entry into a treasure room where they can use a special key to unlock a massive loot chest that can unlock all sorts of legendary and exotic weaponry and armor. It’s kind of like golden keys in Borderlands, except Bungie actually provides keys to players through the game itself, rather than using them to gather E-Mail addresses or get people to follow their game on Twitter or Facebook. Then again, the vast majority of Destiny lore and story explanation can still only be found outside the game itself – thanks to Bungie’s Grimoire system – so perhaps I shouldn’t give Bungie too much credit when it comes to keeping their content in the game itself.
That loot chest is no joke, though. Players can get their first key from completing the story and my first time opening the chest resulted in a legendary pulse rifle, a legendary shotgun and an exotic. Okay, the exotic was No Land Beyond, but at least I didn’t have it yet. Exotic or not, the legendary weapons were even better. The pulse rifle I received puts Red Death to shame, aside from that exotic’s health regeneration perk. It’s important to note though that players should be at least level 28 to enter the lowest level version of The Prison of Elders and need to have completed the story first.
Speaking of the story, it has a fairly interesting setup. The rift Queen – the same one seen in the original campaign – shows mercy to her defeated Fallen enemies in return for their sworn loyalty and she is thanked for her kindness by their betrayal. It’s at this point that you repay your debit to her by hunting down the traitors.
The few story missions included with The Dark Below DLC were easily the low point of that add-on, and while the same can be said with House of Wolves, the story missions here are much better than in the first expansion. There’s still a large amount of content repeated from the standard game, but it’s a bit less noticeable this time around. New enemy types are especially helpful, even if they are only variations of existing enemies, and there are several new areas to explore.
A new strike and social area are also included with the House of Wolves and they’re definitely two of the highlights. There’s a lot of new content in the strike, where you’ll be chasing your target throughout his ship until he finally confronts you in an area that’s absolutely filled with enemies. The new social area is located in the reef and is home to several new characters offering brand new bounties, class items, emblems, shaders, ships, weapons and more.
You can also now trade many forms of currency and upgrade materials, and the path to upgrade your weapons and armor to the new maximum is far less painful. It seems that Bungie took player complaints seriously about The Dark Below and the need to re-level gear and re-earn perks after upgrading your weapons and armor. Now you can simply earn a consumable called Etheric Light from end-game content and ascend your gear to the maximum level allowable in year one. You can also now “re-roll” your perks on any of the new House of Wolves exclusive legendary weapons, which is a nice addition for players who have experienced the annoyance of getting a good weapon with bad perks.
All in all, while there’s no raid here, by every other measure of quality, the effort put into House of Wolves clearly surpasses The Dark Below. As with that DLC, if you only care about the main campaign missions in Destiny, I wouldn’t recommend picking up this add-on. Buying either DLC episode or the season pass simply isn’t worth it for the story missions alone. However, if you continue to be swept up in the loot quest, or you’re still having a blast with the competitive multiplayer, then Destiny‘s latest expansion is definitely worth checking out.
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, which was provided to us for review purposes.
If you're still playing Destiny on a regular basis, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you pick up House of Wolves. Between the new arena mode and the additional competitive multiplayer content there's a lot to do here and it should keep you busy for some time.