Destiny is something of an enigma. As a gameplay experience, it's right up there with Bungie's other efforts: finding new guns and gear is just as addicting as ever, the various weaponry are incredibly fun to play with, the different Supers are an absolute blast to use and battling through the different Raids and Strikes is almost worth the price of admission on its own.

On the other hand, Destiny is a deeply flawed experience. Player-versus-player modes are completely unbalanced, there's not nearly enough content to keep players engaged and fighting the game's different bosses can be downright boring. More so than any of Bungie's other modern games, Destiny is something of a mess.

However, if there's any one issue that's dogged the game since launch, it's the story. On Day One, players are presented with a mess of a plot - and, sadly, the game's DLC didn't help much. With Rise of Iron now officially out in the open, it's time to ask: can Bungie finally give Destiny a story worth caring about?

When looking at Destiny's narrative, it's easy to find a long list of reasons as to what went wrong - but when you really boil it down, Bungie failed in two major ways: context and presentation.

Context, Or Lack Thereof

Destiny's first major shortcoming is how it handles context: simply put, the game throws way too much at players without really taking the time to explain it.

Most other first-person shooters don't feature much of a plot. Destiny, on the other hand, features its own glossary of different terms, events, concepts and characters. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as many games feature something similar, it's just that Bungie never takes the time to explain what's going on. The game just keeps building on itself, regardless of whether or not the player has had time to understand what's happening.

For instance, an enemy known as the Vex can manipulate time itself. Normally, that'd be a big deal - but, not only does Destiny barely address the fact that the enemy can travel through time, but the story immediately starts adding layers on top of it. Soon, players are being told that the Vex can move through time and change how things happen and improve themselves by learning in the future - needless to say, it's all incredibly confusing.

What's worse is that this attempt at storytelling permeates through all of Destiny. Nothing carries any sort of dramatic tension or impact, simply because everyone's still trying to figure out what's going on: if players can reach the final boss of the game without really understanding why it's important, something has gone wrong.

It may sound impossible, but the DLC was even worse about its storytelling. To be fair, House of Wolves wasn't all that tough to follow, but The Dark Below basically assumed players already knew what was going on before the story even started. It's all lore, and no narrative: who is Eris Morn, and why does she look like one of the enemy? If the Guardians are tasked with taking down Crota's soul, is he already dead? And, if he's already dead, why is he alive and well during the Raid? And, for that matter, since when have the Hive been anything but mindless space zombies?

None of these questions are answered in-game, save for a few throwaway lines here and there. If players have no context as to what's going on, how can you expect them to care?

How (Not) To Tell a Story

Destiny's story doesn't fall flat simply because of the lack of context: the way in which the plot is presented to players certainly doesn't help at all. If there's already too much information being thrown around for players to follow, the last thing a studio would want to do is present said information in a boring manner.

Sadly, that's exactly what Destiny does. Aside from the game's opening cinematic, most of the cutscenes in Destiny feature a pair of people talking at each other and then leaving to go fight something. It's boring, plain and simple: in-game cinematics should be used to up the tension, not watch someone have a conversation with someone else. On top of that, the cutscenes don't do anything to explain the plot, so players are left watching a boring conversation that they can't understand.

In-game radio chatter isn't much better. Most of the time, players are met with more conversation after one of the cutscenes ends - the problem with this is that, not only are players getting more information on concepts they might not understand, but they're getting said info in the middle of a gunfight. Having more story won't matter if it's all incomprehensible.

The House of Wolves expansion is a perfect example of this concept. Players are constantly being told about how bad this Skolas guy is, but the game never gives any real reason as to why he's such a bad guy. At one point, players are tasked with killing three members of a Fallen meeting - and, considering Destiny doesn't give much context to the mission, it makes the Guardians sound more like assassins than the champions of righteousness.

Compare this to The Taken King: Bungie's third expansion carried far more weight than either of its predecessors because it took the time to show and explain what was happening. For example: the first half of the expansion's opening mission is players wandering through a Taken-infested base with zero combat. It allows for actual tension, as well as the time required to show players how and why everything is going wrong.

Sure, the story of The Taken King isn't perfect, but the fact that Bungie gave the plot some time to breathe makes it the best piece of the overall narrative by a wide margin.

Forged In Iron

So, what does any of this mean for Rise of Iron? Well ... that depends on Bungie.

The Taken King was basically Destiny 1.5: aside from all of the major story improvements, Bungie made some radical changes to how the game itself functioned. It wasn't necessarily enough to call it a sequel, but The Taken King was clearly more than just a content update.

Of course, House of Wolves and The Dark Below were very much about adding in new content. Yes, they brought their fair share of changes, but Bungie was obviously more focused on giving players new content than changing how Destiny worked. Sadly, this meant that the story ended up being more of the same, and players were quick to criticize the expansions' flawed narrative.

From what fans have seen, Rise of Iron seems to be more on par with the game's first two DLC packs than something like The Taken King. Hopefully, that doesn't mean that Bungie is giving up on the techniques it implemented in the game's third expansion - otherwise, players could be stuck with yet another boring, confusing, ultimately disappointing story arc.

At the very least, let's just hope that Nathan Fillion gets some more screen time in Rise of Iron.

Bungie may have shown off some of its next expansion a few days ago, but fans should expect to see more of Destiny: Rise of Iron at E3 2016. At any rate, a full sequel is due out sometime next year.

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