Destiny The Dark Below Review Roundup: Bungie's First Expansion Adds Fun Content, But Makes Progression Frustrating

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Dec 16, 2014 07:44 PM EST

Destiny's first expansion launched earlier this month, bringing with it new gear, missions, and a second raid. Unfortunately, several of the changes Bungie made to add length to the game has artificially increased the amount of time you'll need to spend grinding and resetting the gear you may have upgraded. The new missions, raid, and gear are good, but frustration with how Bungie has handled progress is evident in reviews:

Polygon, 5/10: "There's so much good game design in the raid that it makes the rest of The Dark Below look even weaker. There's a sense that with The Dark Below, Bungie is further complicating the confusing, poorly explained systems that make up Destiny. Every new currency or upgrade token that the expansion introduces - and there are more than a few - is just more fodder for grinding through two additional Light levels.

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"I've gotten all the way to this point without mentioning The Dark Below's price of admission, a steep $19.99. The problem isn't just that, and I wouldn't feel much better if the cost were much lower. The Dark Below is thin on content, and it fails to expand the scope of Destiny in any meaningful way. Bungie has adopted language from the MMO genre to describe this DLC as an "expansion," but the studio doesn't establish any legitimate claim to the term."

Eurogamer, 6/10: "The Dark Below feels like an early misstep for Destiny, then. Multiplayer fans will appreciate the new maps, the bounty-style quest steps are a good idea and there is certainly plenty of stuff to do and unlock, but in a game where the content has worn thin so quickly, taking aim at our precious loot just at the point we finish upgrading it is a huge mistake. It may be the accepted wisdom in other MMOs, but it doesn't suit Destiny, and Bungie will now have to find something else that does. In the meantime, the developer will need to hope that this expansion, which should have reinvigorated the game as players grew bored of it, doesn't send them on their way instead."

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GamesRadar, 3/5: "Similarly, the minimal number of Vanguard options - lessened further once you remove the first Story mission, and the second Strike, if you're an Xbox One player - leaves a healthy amount of leveling to do over a rather scant number of new activities. Factor in the notion that if it follows suit, next year's House of Wolves expansion may provide a similar leap-frog over the current new gear, and you're suddenly left wondering what the point may be in even trying.

"By taking the tack it has, while The Dark Below does provide some utterly fantastic, individual experiences, it also feels more like an incremental update or map-pack than a full-blown expansion, and one which - through several ill-thought-out attempts at balancing and compensation - actually removes almost as much as it gives."

Destructoid, 6.5/10: "Alas, The Dark Below needed more to truly sell itself to most of the fanbase. Four Strikes, not two, would have been about right. Crota's End is fun, but I feel like it was shorter than Vault of Glass, and it was a bit easier to pick up. I'm not too sure on the longevity of this raid either unless Bungie has something special up its sleeve for January's hard mode.

"For now, there's an easy test to judge whether or not you should pick up The Dark Below: did you play Destiny from launch all the way up until the first expansion? If so, you'll want to get it as soon as possible. If your enthusiasm has faltered over the past few months and you never really got into the first raid, you can wait or pick up the Season Pass at a later date after more incremental improvements have been made."

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