At least that what I had done. I know a lot of people left during “vanilla Destiny” times (the core game) and didn’t bother with the expansions, but I personally played a bit of The Taken King and enjoyed it. I didn’t stick around too long though as I quickly slid away once again due to players advancing so far that I had a long grind ahead of me, and I just didn’t feel like doing it. Then I returned for Rise of Iron and I must say the experience is a bit better.
The first thing I wanted to do was to simply return to the game without the new expansion. I hadn’t unlocked it yet so none of the content was given to me and I was exploring Destiny as one of my characters, a level 32 Guardian. I chose to do this simply to see how returning to Destiny would be for an average user that simply wanted to just give it a go again. Kind of like you saw Destiny laying in your pile of games and thought “what the hell” and popped it in.
The first thing you notice is that your once powerful Guardian is nothing in this new world. During vanilla times my Guardian was a beast. I was normally at the top of the scoreboards, I could breeze through the hardest levels, and be helpful in raids. Not anymore. My Guardian was basically worthless for the first hour or so of my return. Note I played The Taken King so I was a tiny bit further than most people that quit before the expansions. That was my experience though. I was outright struggling. I could hardly compete in harder missions anymore, especially when teammates were breezing through them and leaving me behind. I wasn’t really helping teams I was on, and getting through levels alone was taking forever.
In terms of other players, I felt way behind everyone too. Every person I came in contact with (dozens of people in the Tower) I felt inferior. They had better looking outfits, better gear, and their light levels were probably double, sometimes triple, of my own. Plus they were all level 40’s while I was struggling to get past 32. This also meant that even though I had found new gear to perhaps increase my rank, I still couldn’t use it. All the gear I was finding was for level 40 players, so my level 32 Guardian couldn’t equip it. At all.
I don’t know why I thought it’d be a good idea, but I then jumped into the Crucible and even that saw many changes. Players are a lot more strategy oriented, and the newer maps are completely unfamiliar to me. I used to be a good crucible player that could carry teams, but now I was looking to teammates to bail me out of situations I got into. I was dying a lot more than I wanted and once again that “inferior” feeling came about. That’s when I decided enough was enough and jumped into the expansion.
Destiny released a new expansion titled Rise of Iron and it’s a pretty big expansion, similar to The Taken King, but it brings you up to date with other players rather quickly. The first thing the expansion does is throw a bunch of free things at you. New weapons and vehicles, and some other content if you pre-ordered. It’s a nice little boost, but again you need to be level 40 to use any of it. After rebooting my game 3 times I finally got a “spark of light” which is given to you one time per account (so one character) and helps rank them up to 40 immediately. Upon doing so you are automatically given an assortment of weapons and gear to go with it, so even your “light level” increases. Mine went from just under 200 to 350, a really substantial boost. This of course happens after you learn how to combine Legendary items, turn in orbs of light, and a bunch of new things that have been added over time. Basically the expansion throws you directly into “end game” territory.
After that I felt good about myself. I even went and changed my character’s uniform to fit in with the new kids, but I was still a class not many people seem to be using anymore. I jumped into the missions I thought were hard earlier and I was once again breezing through them.
Then I jumped into the new missions the expansion provided and I was met with something unexpected. I’ll dive more into it with my review later, but these missions felt a lot like vanilla Destiny. We of course get more story now than the core game had, but the missions were challenging just enough to be fun. I could die and not be totally frustrated, but if I tried real hard I could get through them. The new “boost” the expansion provided placed me perfectly on the line.
Then I went and jumped into Crucible again and I felt I was doing well again. I wasn’t getting my butt handed to me on a platter, and the new modes were rather fun. There was still the dynamic changes from player styles evolving over time (single shot rifles got a lot more popular), but it was a cool learning experience for me.
The reason I enjoyed it was because the expansion boosts you to allow you to compete with the people that have been playing, but also allow you to keep up again. So if I were to stick to Destiny again I could keep pace with the community and not be 3 steps behind, but I also had room to grow if I wanted to. That was a problem I had with The Taken King. It’d boost you, but you were still 5 levels behind. By the time you caught up, the core players already moved 5 steps further. For anyone returning, or starting from scratch, it was annoying. The Rise of Iron completely fixes that issue and allows you to at least enjoy the game again. It’s almost like Destiny 2 released and everyone is pushed to the same level for the time being. Of course the dedicated players still have some edge, and they know the game better, but you still have a fighting chance to learn. You are not getting demolished by players double in rank at every turn.
Again I’ll have a full review of The Iron Banner, but if you enjoyed Destiny for what it was this might be the time to jump back in. This expansion is the best shot you have to be put on level ground and be capable of exploring the expanded world without frustration. The core issues, such as rather bland AI enemies, still exist, but if you ever wanted to see more story and give it a go again it is worth a shot.