- Vast improvement from last DLC
- High customization and variety
- Fun new game modes
- Short story that only marginally improves upon the last DLC
In Bungie’s latest expansion to the Destiny universe, we hunt a traitorous Fallen House. After being betrayed by the prisoners of war she showed mercy to, The Queen of the Reef has called upon the guardians to eliminate those who have crossed her. Skolas, a ruthless Fallen Kell has set out to bring the other Fallen Houses under his boot, and become the “Kell of Kells”.
In his attempt to become this figure of Fallen legend, he calls upon the House of Wolves to attack the Queen in her own domain. Guardians will work with the Queen’s most trusted Emissary, Petra Venj, to track down these traitors and put an end to their nefarious plans.
In comparison to Eris Morne, the cast of House of Wolves is a breath of fresh air. Not only do you work with Petra to bring down the House of Wolves, but also Variks and Brother Vance.
Petra Venj is charming, at times humorous, and even jubilant at the prospect of more war and action. I most often compare her to Eris Morn, who was an extremely one dimensional character.
Throughout my playthrough I found myself wanting to hear more from Petra, especially with HoW’s new method of storytelling, in which non-player-characters interact with one another. Rather than listening to depressing or creepy anecdotes from Eris Morn, Petra and Variks accompany you throughout entire missions, chiming in with humor, essential information, and much needed backstory. Their presence is never annoying or overbearing like that of Eris.
Story missions are challenging and fulfilling. Rather than being fed exposition about past events, players can feel that what you are accomplishing in the present is just as important. While some of the areas are recycled, it is not nearly as much as in TDB. Areas in House of Wolves feel much more carefully curated. Areas that are reused are places we have been to only once, or rarely visit.
I was also appreciative of Bungies attempt to use story as a teaching tool for the games endgame content. The Vault of Glass raid is the crown jewel of Destiny, but many players found it too daunting or difficult to understand. Rather than further alienate these players, Bungie has incorporated pivotal mechanics from the raid into the story missions themselves, and a mission even takes place in the Vault.
Variks is a member of the Ancient house of Judgement, a group of Fallen who has condemned Skolas and his forces for their actions. This wizened Fallen ally acts as a translator and aid to Petra and guardians as they face the House of Wolves. He also acts as Warden in the queens “supermax” prison, The Prison of Elders. His odd sense of humor and unique voice and speech pattern rapidly made him my favorite voice to hear in the game.
He serves not only as a narrator to the story missions but also in the prison. His dialogue is always entertaining and somewhat varied, with a hint of malice masked behind his words.
And finally, among the new faces in the Reef, is Brother Vance. This disciple of Osiris, will help lead players through the intense 6 player competitive game mode, the Trials of Osiris. This character is not too helpful in your search for Skolas, but his wares will definitely help players in the upcoming weekly PVP event.
The trials run from Thursday until the following Tuesday, the games weekly reset. In this high stakes player versus player mode, guardians will fight for some of the rarest and most powerful gear Destiny now has to offer.
Rather than seeking out new playable spaces and experiences, I found myself hunting gear more than ever before. Not just simple reskins, the myriad of new House of Wolves gear is vastly varied. With a new distinct Fallen style, each new piece of armor and weaponry feels unique. Players can now “Reforge” their new weapons, effectively resetting its perks. This added customization will add to even more variety among Destiny fans.
The shadow thief is a fresh take on an old formula. A strike’s usual fare consists of facing small waves of enemies, and then most likely dealing with some sort of wave engagement. In the Shadow thief, the final enemy will confront you multiple times, taunting you all the while.
This hide and seek, almost guerilla approach culminates into a final battle. In stark contrast to the Dark Below’s strike, much of the new areas are completely unique to House of Wolves rather than recycled spaces.
The aforementioned Prison of Elders is a penitentiary facility created by the Queen, in order to house the galaxies most nefarious villains. You and two other guardians must survive 3 waves of enemies within a given round, with 5 rounds in total.
During these wave style engagements, random objectives will appear. Players may be required to down a particularly strong enemy unit, capture a point, or destroy mines. Should players fail to complete these objectives in a specific time limit, you will all be forced to restart the round. In the final round, guardians will encounter a final boss. Should you survive this challenge, access to the Queen’s treasure room. This gold and chest filled room is deep below the Prison complex and hold large caches of loot for players strong enough to reach it.
But how does Prison of Elders play? Many fans were angered upon hearing that this activity would replace a conventional raid. These sprawling teamwork intensive instances have become the cornerstone of Destiny’s endgame.
I found that Prison of Elders is just as communication and teamwork intensive. Random modifiers and enemies really add to a sense of variety within Destiny’s endgame. Where preparation and previous experience were pivotal to raids, adaptability and communication is incredibly important to the Prison. Personally, with all the new content available, especially the ability to bring past gear up to the newest level cap, I do not miss raids at all.
House of Wolves feels much more like a labor of love than a cash grab. After playing The Dark Below, many gamers felt slighted, even robbed of their money. But it seems that with this DLC, Bungie has sought to right previous mistakes.
For the first time in Destiny, I feel I have too much to do, and do not know where to start. If this new approach is a preview of what is to come in their final content release and subsequent sequel, then I am a very happy fan indeed.