Destiny: Rise of Iron - Everything You Need to Know

Bungie's sprawling online shooter Destiny is still going strong two years after its release, largely thanks to a steady stream of content updates that continue to give players new lands to explore and aliens to kill. Destiny: Rise of Iron promises to be one of the game's biggest expansions yet, delivering new gear, new challenges, a fresh story and, most importantly, a badass-looking wolf. If Rise of Iron has you thinking about diving back into Destiny, here's what you need to know about the $30 expansion before it hits on Sept. 20.

What's new in Destiny: Rise of Iron?

A whole lot. Rise of Iron introduces a new story campaign set in the Plaguelands, a new, gassy-looking location on Earth. As with any Destiny add-on, there are a whole bunch of new weapons and pieces of armor to earn, and the game's maximum Light level has been increased so that you can make your Guardian even more powerful.

Rise of Iron also contains a new cooperative Strike mission, as well as a new Raid for Guardians seeking another multi-hour challenge with five other friends. Competitive players can look forward to new Crucible maps and modes, as well as a private match option ideal for setting up tournaments or just practicing with buddies. There's also a snowy new social space called Felwinter Peak, where you can simply hang out, accept quests and get your dance on with other Guardians.  

What's the story of Rise of Iron?

Long story short, the game's nefarious Fallen species have broken through a wall on the border of Old Russia and unearthed an ancient plague. It's your job to team up with Lord Saladin, learn about the Iron Lords that once protected Earth and squash out all those scaly humanoid aliens trying to do really bad things.

Rise of Iron is especially cool because it gives a backstory to Saladin, who was previously just someone you went to to get multiplayer-related quests. Unfortunately, you won't get to play with his really awesome-looking wolves.

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Do I need the original Destiny to play it?

Yes. Rise of Iron requires you to own Destiny and all of its previous expansions, including The Dark Below, House of Wolves and The Taken King. You'll need about 14GB of free space to download it.

Fortunately, if you're new to Destiny, you can get the game and all of its add-ons (including Rise of Iron) as part of Destiny: The Collection, a $60 package that also launches on Sept. 20 for PS4 and Xbox One.

Destiny: Rise of Iron

Can I play Rise of Iron on PS3 or Xbox 360?

Nope. Rise of Iron is the first piece of Destiny content to leave the older consoles behind, so you'll have to be on PS4 or Xbox One to play it. Older Destiny content will remain playable on PS3 and Xbox 360, but those versions of the game will no longer receive major updates.

On the bright side, if you own The Taken King for PS3 or Xbox 360, you can upgrade to the PS4 or Xbox One version of Destiny: The Collection for $40. The deal will last until Jan. 31, 2017.  

Is there any console-exclusive content?

The PS4-exclusive Icarus map.

The PS4-exclusive Icarus map.

As part of an unfortunate tradition, PS4 owners continue to get the better deal when it comes to Destiny. PS4 players will get exclusive access to a Crucible map called Icarus, a spaceship called the Timeless Tereshkova, and a special quest line called Show of Strength. These items likely won't land on Xbox One until late 2017.

Should I play Rise of Iron?

From the original Destiny through last year's The Taken King, Bungie's popular online shooter has gotten significantly better with every major content update. We haven't tried Rise of Iron for ourselves yet, but its story campaign looks super interesting, and its new competitive multiplayer options add an element that's been missing from the game since launch. If you've burnt out on Destiny over the past few months, this looks like the shot in the arm you've been craving.

Rise of Iron also marks the best time for new Destiny players to get in on the action, since The Collection gives you a whole lot of space-shooting for $60. We'll be playing a bunch of Rise of Iron once it hits on Sept. 20, so stay tuned for more coverage.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.