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Destiny: House of Wolves
Score: 55%
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bungie Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 12 (Online Only)
Genre: First Person Shooter/RPG/Online


Arguing that something is "less bad" than its predecessor isn't exactly the same thing as a glowing recommendation. And to be truthful, I'm not sure it's a completely fair assessment of Bungie's sophomore DLC effort. But I still have next to no praise to offer what I consider to be the gaming industry's masterclass in unwarranted hype. The world of Destiny remains a shockingly hollow shell of what should be a fascinating science fiction universe full of interesting lore and histories. And to be fair, House of Wolves is a step forward from The Dark Below, and in terms of narrative quality, it's also a step forward from the core release. But in the end, these are baby steps, not the long strides necessary to pull this extremely disappointing game out of the rut it's been wallowing in since day one.


If you're still waiting for something even resembling storytelling competence from Destiny, you'll have to keep waiting; while Destiny: House of Wolves introduces a handful of new areas (most notably a new hub world), there's nothing going on that will get you invested. If you remember Queen of the Reef Mara Sov (the extremely rude blue person with the extremely rude blue brother), you might remember that she promised to call on you in the future. Well, the time is now; the fallen House of Wolves, formerly sworn to her, has declared war against the Reef under the guidance of Skolas, who has declared himself "Kell of Kells" and is currently trying to shore up the necessary support to unite the Fallen under his own rule.

So you'll be contacted for a few story missions by Queen's Guard member Petra Venj, and invited out to the Vestian Reef. The Vestian Outpost is essentially the Tower for the Awoken; they have their own vendors, postmasters, cryptarchs, and bounty providers. Like the rest of the known Destiny universe, it's an extremely beautiful place, but in the end, it's still largely an empty and uninteresting one.

So you'll take on Skolas and his Wolves over the course of a few story missions, all of which might take you from an hour to an hour and a half. Some of these take you back to overly familiar areas, and a few give you new areas to explore. Is it enough? Unsurprisingly, no, it's not. But there are a few new toys to play with. Sidearms make their debut; you can assign them to your special weapon slots. Perhaps the most fun addition is that of the Scorch Cannon, a power weapon that fires orbs of bright orange energy; as you hold the trigger, it builds up explosive energy, which is released in a satisfying burst when you release the trigger.

Bungie has added a new gameplay mode in Destiny: House of Wolves; Arena gameplay. When you gain access to the Prison of Elders, you'll have the opportunity to fight off waves of varied enemies under unique conditions for special rewards. Most shooters have included modes like these since Gears of War 2 popularized it. The reason the addition is kind of dubious here is because most of the core game itself was made up of exactly this kind of gameplay; remember deploying Ghost to interact with terminals, only for the Fallen, Vex, and Cabal to conveniently choose that time to attack? The addition of modifiers that switch out between rounds force you to play in different ways, and though the illusion of variety is welcome, it's contrived.


Three new Crucible maps round out the primary content in Destiny: House of Wolves. None of them take place on new planets, but they're well designed to accommodate various multiplayer modes.

Black Shield is located on the Martian moon of Phobos; particularly in Firebase Thuria. Chasing enemies through the craggy, red landscape and through the smattering of industrial areas is fun and lends itself well to more straightforward engagements.

The ravaged European deadzone hosts the eerily empty Widow's Court map. Gothic architecture and general ruination make this labyrinth of crumbling buildings memorable, and learning to navigate it is fun. I've always found the competitive multiplayer harmless, but never anything more.

Finally, Thieves' Den returns you to the Ishtar Sink on Venus. I've found Venus by far the prettiest artistic work in Destiny; between the mountains and the luminescent pools, I have a hard time taking my eyes off of it and focusing on the action. But in this map, the natural is merged with the artificial; an interconnected underground complex weaves its way throughout, making for a more claustrophobic experience.


I bought Ori and the Blind Forest, one of the year's best games for $19.99. It's long, it's replayable, and it's rewarding. I can say none of the same things for Destiny: House of Wolves, though it has the audacity to offer itself for the same price. It's much better than The Dark Below, but still doesn't come close to warranting its asking price. If you're still playing Destiny, you probably own House of Wolves already. But if you've written this game off long ago and are curious to see if this new expansion has enough to pull you back in, you can rest assured that it doesn't, and just move on.

One of my good friends is positively mad about Destiny, and I've been trying so hard to figure out exactly why -- I really do want to love it. But when faced with so many far superior alternatives, I have a hard time even liking it. Ultimately, I think it's going to take a trip back to the drawing board in order to save this series from being anything more than a tepid pool of mediocrity.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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