Posted on December 22, 2014, Phil Hornshaw Destiny: The Dark Below DLC Review: Crota’s Grind
For additional coverage of my experiences with Destiny, check out The Destiny Diaries, which offer some context to (and more jokes than) this review. The Destiny Diaries are first and foremost meant to be entertaining, however: this review is a more stoic look at the game’s merits.
There are two kinds of people who will be interested in Destiny’s The Dark Below expansion content — and one of them is going to be disappointed.
The first kind is already a die-hard Destiny fan. They like the strong, Halo-like shooting, they’re into a lengthy loot grind, they’ve found friends in the Crucible and the late addition of Strike mission voice chat. For this player, The Dark Below means more Destiny, and if that’s all you need, then there you go. The Dark Below has more Destiny.
The second kind is hoping that Destiny’s first $20 downloadable content drop will bring major change to the game. They like Destiny well enough, but they’ve stuck around through a loot grind that’s more frustrating and boring than it is fun. They’ve participated in the Crucible and found problems in its balance, they’ve fought through Strikes and decided they were all too similar to be especially satisfying, and they’re hoping some of the slick ideas of Destiny’s first raid, the Vault of Glass, would find their way into more of the regular content.
For the second kind of Destiny player, it’s a sad realization that The Dark Below is not the savior of Destiny. It’s an incremental improvement, bringing a lot more of the same and a few nice new ideas. But Destiny is still Destiny, and the complaints that haunt the vanilla game are not banished when players strike out into the darkness waiting under the Moon’s surface.
Destiny: The Dark Below DLC
Platform: Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: Dec. 9, 2014
Crota’s minions tend to have a few extra interesting things going for them, but by and large, it’s pretty standard Destiny fare.
The Dark Below is one of two DLC expansions announced for Destiny before the game launched, set to pick up and run with one of the story threads started in the vanilla game that was abandoned by the title’s confused narrative. Players meet a new character in the Tower hub, Eris Morn, who is all riled up about Crota — a god of the Hive, the spooky necrotic monsters that have taken Luna and turned it into a fortress of catacombs.
If you take the time to read the Destiny Grimoire cards related to The Dark Below, those little bits of story attached to virtual trading cards that are only available on Bungie.com, you’ll learn that Eris Morn was part of a huge Guardian army that attempted to kick the Hive off the Moon. That battle was lost to Crota, an invincible warrior who ravaged everyone. In response, Eris and five other Guardians plunged into the Hellmouth in an attempt to destroy Crota on their own. Eris is the only one who made it back alive.
That drama thinly translates into a few story missions in which players hunt down various Crota faithful in an attempt to stop the Hive from resurrecting him. There are three story missions to that effect, along with a new Strike mission, a few bounties, and a culminating raid called Crota’s End. And as content goes, they’re all solid, if mostly unremarkable.
The story missions are more of the same from the vanilla game, in that players generally drive to a place, fight their way deep inside, and kill a boss-like character or fight a large, tense battle. Crota’s minions tend to have a few extra interesting things going for them, like a sword you can grab to fight with in third-person mode, or some area debuffs that change the nature of the battle. But by and large, it’s pretty standard Destiny fare.