Destiny 2's Newest DLC Embraces The Grind Even More

Illustration for article titled Destiny 2's Newest DLC Embraces The Grind Even More

Today marks the release of the latest expansion for Destiny 2, a video game in which players travel through space trying to buy enough shaders to please Bobby Kotick. In the past, Destiny’s expansions have followed a certain familiar rhythm. The Black Armory is very different.

Rather than release individually priced expansions in Destiny 2's second year, developer Bungie is selling a $35 annual pass that will give you access to a regular stream of quests and other content. Sometimes that’ll mean new activities and even new raids—one of those goes live on Friday—but what it won’t include is new story campaigns, the way that previous DLC expansions like Curse of Osiris and Warmind did. (Given Destiny’s reliance on replayable content and those campaigns’ lack of replayability, the move makes a lot of sense, especially considering their cost to make.)

Black Armory is the first of three planned updates, and if you’re under 600 power (like me, sitting pretty around 535), it won’t immediately offer you very much. The first and most visible quest will take you down to The Black Armory, an alien-looking new area of the tower where a robot named Ada-1 offers up some snark and then sends you off on a quest to unlock the first Lost Forge, a matchmade high-level activity and one of the main selling points in today’s update.


The quest to unlock this Forge—and you’ll have to excuse my language heresucks royal ass. It is a series of time-wasting activities like “get 15 Hive multikills with a Power weapon” and “kill powerful enemies until they drop random items” that players have already found a way to get through as quickly as possible. (Pro tip: as with so many previous grind-heavy quests, you’ll want to farm guards in the first raid, Leviathan.)

Once you get through that step, you’ll be greeted by a 610-power-minimum Forge, where you won’t even be able to do damage to the enemies if you’re anywhere close to my light level. You might look around and see what else is in The Black Armory, only to find that the other quests currently available are also massive grind-fests, like the following:

Illustration for article titled Destiny 2's Newest DLC Embraces The Grind Even More

Surely there will be more interesting quests in the weeks to come—players have already found a secret that will no doubt lead to something cool—but everything available today in The Black Armory is designed for hardcore, high-level Destiny 2 players who don’t mind the treadmill. Bungie has boosted the Prime Engram rate for anyone who’s below 550, making leveling a little more palatable, but it’s still a very long road to 610, the minimum you’ll need to do the first Forge. (And word is the Forge gets more and more difficult as you go, and the boss is 630.)

It’s best not to think of The Black Armory as a new DLC in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s a collection of new reasons to keep grinding your way through Vanguard strikes and Gambit matches. If you’re already enjoying Forsaken and you haven’t given up on the grind, you’ll find yourself with plenty of new stuff to do. But if you’re not invested already, The Black Armory probably won’t bring you back.

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...and behold why I’m ashamed I broke down and bought the base game in the first place last year.

The core action is fun as hell, no question about it, it’s just a lovely game to actually play... but there’s so much goddamn grinding it’s ridiculous. Plus the pay to grind more. And they’re not even bothering to advance the story now?

Yeesh. I swear, Destiny and Destiny 2 encompass the worst elements of the Live Service model: Multiple purchase points, excessive amounts of grinding, the story put on the sidelines, all of it dragging down a shooter that would’ve been amazing as a standalone product...