Destiny 2’s new Black Armory add-on was never promised to be an expansion, at least in the way that Bungie has done them in the past. While we’re currently unsure what to call it — hence our own reference to it as an expansion or mini-expansion in the past — it’s certainly different from the traditional content drops of Destiny. Instead, Destiny 2: Black Armory feels like a promise that more is to come after just a small taste of new content.
Black Armory doesn’t feel like an expansion, it feels like a subscription to an MMO.
When I first started Black Armory, I was sent down to talk to the Spider from Forsaken, who then sent me to the Tower to meet Ada-1 — the new vendor from Black Armory. Ada, while reticent to work with the Guardian, sent me on a quest to build a weapon frame for her. I killed Fallen, a specific boss and some powerful enemies — all as I was instructed. When I returned, Ada sent me and my fireteam of three down to the Volundr Forge, a brand-new activity in Black Armory.
The Volundr Forge — and presumably all of the forges to come — is a wave-based mode. I know you’ve probably heard that one before, but so far this forge is the most fun I’ve had in one of these modes in either Destiny or Destiny 2. The goal is to kill specific, glowing enemies while fending off an army of otherwise normal foes. The ones that glow drop batteries, which you’ll need to charge the forge — this is done by hurling the battery through the air and into the forge itself, which is somehow fun every single time.
The catch is that the mode is timed, and you only have a minute to put 20 batteries in. Each glowing enemy killed and battery deposited adds time, but the clock is tight. However, the more powerful you get, and the more you learn the mode, the faster you can get. Modes like Blind Well and Escalation Protocol have felt like waiting around for enough enemies to spawn to progress once you reach a high power level. But so far, the forge allows you to move as fast as your skill permits and always engages you by tasking you with manually throwing the batteries.
After completing my first forge, I was awarded the Hammerhead, the first legendary machine gun in Destiny 2. At that point, I unlocked Ada as a vendor and new options opened up for me to pursue. I could work through bounties and keep playing the forge in order to craft the legendary auto rifle — which can only be done after building another frame, a lengthy process. Or I could guarantee myself a randomly rolled Gambit or Crucible weapon. Each of these Black Armory weapons has randomly rolled perks on them, meaning that you have a reason to forge the same thing a second, third or 50th time.
The forge itself isn’t only the most enjoyable of these new features, it’s also the most rewarding. Through my time playing, I found multiple reasons to go through again, and I’m eagerly awaiting my chance to forge a new Hammerhead better than my last. The forge offers the perfect amount of varied gameplay and commitment paired with exceptional and exciting rewards.
Interestingly, the forge is also the extremely high level at the moment, making it pretty difficult. The first of the three waves — with the third wave culminating in a boss fight — has a recommended power level of 610, scaling up to 630 before the forge is complete. For those not around for the past few months, that’s 10 power levels higher than the end of Destiny 2: Forsaken as a baseline.
Starting Black Armory at 600, my team was still able to complete multiple runs through the forge on day one. However, there was a lot of trial and error in-between. While plenty of players are frustrated by this — just check out the replies to any of Bungie’s recent Black Armory tweets — this power escalation is a great addition for late-game players. It offers a challenge that players who’ve been sitting at 600 for weeks have been missing. There is tons of content in Forsaken to play, and for those who’ve reached the cap and exhausted it, Black Armory is here to bring more.
And ultimately, that’s what Black Armory is: more content for those that have run out of stuff to do. Right now, there is only one forge available and that’s all. I’ve seen everything that’s known in the expansion already. But that’s OK because another forge is coming in a few days, along with a new raid.
Black Armory and the Annual Pass isn’t for players who have yet to hit 600 — they probably still have so much Forsaken to do. Right now, Black Armory is a drip feed to keep longtime players like me excited to come back to Destiny every Tuesday and see what’s going on. That’s a feeling I’ve been missing these past few weeks. For the players still grinding through Forsaken, all of this will still be here and ready for them in a few weeks.
When you pay for the Annual Pass, you’re paying for a way to play Destiny for the next nine months, not at all at once. It’s similar to paying for a World of Warcraft subscription, with the promise of patches with more content to keep you invested over the next few months. Black Armory isn’t finished, it’s just beginning.
Destiny 2: Forsaken rebuilt the game into what it should have been in 2017. It created an incredible base that still has players interested months later. Black Armory and the Annual Pass aims to grow that base in a new way. That’s going to cause some pain — especially in terms of player expectations. But from the very little I’ve seen, I can’t wait to log into Destiny every week for the next year and see what new stuff I have to do.