Published: Sep 6, 2016 12:00:00 PM

destiny-rise-of-iron-title-card.gifIt's been two years since Destiny's launch. It's been two years of misunderstandings, re-writes, re-casting, content gaps, improvements, expansions, and bad marketing. It's been a living tapestry.

The 2014 review on http://www.ghostlittle.com described Destiny in one sentence: "A $60 bookshelf." It's there for you to fill with stories. Put Destiny in your home and you'll catalog history as it happens.

Drawing to the close at Destiny's second year marks the arrival of its second major expansion, and fifth overall, Rise of Iron. Be warned: as was the case in the past, Rise of Iron could be a rather short affair upon arrival.

How many campaign missions are in Destiny: Rise of Iron?

Per the gigantic press release disguised as industry-reporting that Bungie arranged with Game Informer, there will be five campaign story missions in Rise of Iron. Factor in the single new strike mission and the new raid, that's not a great deal of cud to chew on at first glance.

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Despite the sticker-shock when seeing those numbers, there are positives to consider, in particular when you recall The Dark Below had four story missions, House of Wolves had eight, and The Taken King had eight.

Remember that there were tangentially-related missions after the "ending" boss fight against Oryx in The Taken King. Remember there were opaque puzzles to noodle out in past expansions not counted in these press releases, such as the breathless Black Spindle secret mission. Remember deciphering the Sleeper Simulant quest line.

How will the meta balance in Destiny: Rise of Iron?

This is a question nobody has the answer to. But you do have the evidence to balance your expectations. The expansion's $30 worth of "content," whatever you qualify as content, will bend and flex in unimaginable ways.

Depending on how players engage Rise of Iron's Wrath of the Machine raid, you'll see favoritism develop in certain weapons. That will wash over into the PVP Crucible, The Iron Banner PVP events, and Trials of Osiris. That will call for balancing, and Bungie may have to modify or add weapon and armor perks to stabilize the entire game.

It ebbs and flows. Keep an eye on the raid for signs in how the PVP will balance. I know it's an odd thing to say, but suppose if the raid demands aptitude with medium-range burst-fire sidearms, you could see that bleeding over into PVP, considering the time people spend with them for the raid. That can force the meta.

Something to consider.

How much will Bungie update Destiny: Rise of Iron?

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Odds are, Bungie will keep Rise of Iron up to date for the rest of 2016 and 2017. They'll hold the Festival of Light in October, which is Halloween event in the Destiny universe. Sparrow Racing is coming back in December. They need to keep this machine humming with consistent hooks.

For example, two strikes from Vanilla Destiny are being remade with new story context: The Devil's Lair, and The Summoning Pits. I recall playing The Devil's Lair strike in the First-look Destiny Alpha years ago. You can see Destiny's living soul in that strike. It's a piece of bespoke action-game design. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to climb back into that mission and chow down on the thing by the fist-full.

With that, who is to say if Bungie might revive other strikes? The Nexus strike on Venus remains the only mission that hasn't been re-addressed since The Taken King launched in 2015.

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One last thing to consider: anticipate extra missions set within small chunks of the King's Fall raid to start popping up after Rise of Iron's launch, if not sooner. Bungie knows how much effort it takes to design an environment. They have gigantic data-tracking tools to examine which locales players are spending time in. I promise you they looked at the numbers for Vault of Glass and Crota's End raids and agreed that more than 5% of the Destiny players needed to see those levels they built.

That's why Bungie was motivated to pop you into missions in those environments for mini-missions in The Taken King.

It wouldn't be relevant to the story for Rise of Iron to dump you in the Taken's Dreadnought, so they'll likely appear in post-story challenges.

Okay, but when will Bungie announce Destiny 2?

Bungie, and its publisher, Activision, are nothing, if predictable. The original Destiny was revealed in February, 2014 for a release in September of that year. The Taken King expansion was also revealed in February, for a release in September. Same deal for Rise of Iron: it was officially revealed in February, demoed at E3 in early June, for a release in September of the same year.

Expect official news of Destiny 2 in February, 2017, likely with a late September, 2017 release.

You heard it here first.

-- Alex Crumb
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