When Destiny 2 was unveiled, I was a little disappointed to see that it wasn’t more of a departure from the first game’s ideas. But as I played it, I grew to appreciate the lessons learned, and how Bungie had reacted to criticism. It’s still not a perfect game, but it’s a massive leap in the right direction. The game’s first expansion pack, Curse of Osiris? It’s more of a stepping stone to greater things.
Visiting the planet Mercury, your guardian is faced with some angry Vex and the return of a key character from Destiny lore: Osiris, a powerful Warlock who acted as a mentor to Ikora Rey. Following in the footsteps of the main game, it’s a light-hearted romp, but the narrative and content ultimately feel a little thin.
After his exile from The Last City, Osiris spent his years exploring the Infinite Forest—essentially a massive Vex computer. An endless plain of possibilities and simulations, the Forest is rendered in-game as a series of linear shooting galleries and platforming segments. It’s far more exciting on paper than in play, and its nature as a sort of hub for the expansion’s story content quickly wears thin. You leave and return so many times over the expansion’s already-short runtime that it becomes an inconvenience to keep running down the same prefab hallways.
It also further illustrates Bungie’s inability to write a consistently menacing hostile faction. In Destiny 1, the Vex were the ultimate end, the unstoppable force and immovable object. But they’ve repeatedly fallen for the same old tricks, the triple-attack boss fights and finishing moves. They’re no more threatening here than in the countless Adventures, Patrols and Quests—the “next big threat” cycle of Destiny villains totally blunts any urgency this DLC’s narrative possessed.
Mercury itself is a small but picturesque patrol area, and includes the game’s best public event so far. Made for larger groups of players, Crossroads spans an entire lateral chunk of the world and pushes you to work together. It’s frantic, and requires a solid understanding of Destiny mechanics, but the rewards make it worthwhile.
Underwhelming and spread thin, Curse of Osiris fails to deliver on a promising setup. Fortunately, it’s the additions beyond story content that make it a less frustrating DLC.
Alongside the expansion came the first of a few major patches. The December 5th update introduced tweaks to balancing, progression and the UI. The max level has been raised to 25, while the power level is up to 330 (or 335 with equipment mods). Rewards for Crucible matches have also seen a buff, with rare and legendary gear dropping more frequently. It’s a big patch comprising many smaller changes, but they add up. A second, even larger patch is dropping on December 12th, bringing a host of new features and progression mechanics.
Curse of Osiris also brings a new strike, with a second coming down the line in an update. A Garden World is a reconfigured story mission, featuring a fast-paced attack on a malfunctioning Vex mind. It’s perhaps the hardest strike I’ve done thus far, and while it is another delve into the Infinite Forest, it’s a lot more fun with a group and amped difficulty.
On the Crucible front, Bungie have delivered two new maps in Pacifica and Radiant Cliffs. The former is a tightly-packed series of corridors and labs on Titan, while the latter is a winding labyrinth on Mercury, littered with open arenas. I’ve enjoyed my time on both maps, but the PlayStation exclusivity of third map Wormhaven makes CoO a less valuable package on other platforms.
Instead of a fully-fledged new raid, this expansion includes a “lair” that unlocks on the 8th. Eater of Worlds takes place on Leviathan (the pre-existing vanilla raid) and is designed to be a raid-adjacent activity with a minimum power level of 310. Bungie have promised that while it is shorter than a raid, it will offer a similar experience with the same hardcore difficulty.
And there’s one major sticking point—one that impacts the main game and those who choose not to buy this DLC. With its release, Bungie have effectively paywalled existing content and priced first-months players out of things they’ve already shelled out for. By increasing the power requirement of endgame activities, it is no longer possible for vanilla players to access them, which in turn makes it impossible to achieve the platinum trophy without buying Curse of Osiris. It’s an incredibly scummy move, especially coming just over 40 days after the game’s release.
Curse of Osiris is a transaction: you can put in all the time (and money) in the world, but ultimately what it’ll do for you depends entirely on whether “more Destiny 2” is an exciting proposition. Like the main game before it, and its predecessor’s expansions before that, this content rides on the same habits and prefabs as ever. It’s brief and beautiful in equal measure, and what it does for the overall Destiny 2 experience is pretty meaningful, but Bungie’s design decisions ruin an otherwise promising DLC.