The Black Armory DLC has quite a number of enjoyable experiences to offer but Bungie could have done a much better job at implementing them.
When Bungie announced their Year 2 plans for Destiny 2 after the release of the Forsaken expansion, it divided the year into four “seasons” with each containing both free seasonal updates as well as new content for annual pass holders. The first season, which covered Fall 2018, included the launch of Forsaken and all of its planned content. The next three seasons were announced to be called the Season of the Forge, which covers December to February, the Season of the Drifter, which runs through Spring 2019, and a yet to be named fourth season covering Summer 2019.
The current season, the Season of the Forge, includes several seasonal updates including new weapons, new crucible content, the return of the Iron Banner, the return of the holiday-themed The Dawning event and more. It also saw the release of the Black Armory DLC for annual pass holders, which introduced the three Black Armory Forges, the new Scourge of the Past raid lair, new exotics, new legendaries, and a whole lot more.
"The staggered release schedule for Destiny 2 content not only gives people time to prepare for them, as content like the Forges and the new raid come with either Power Level requirements or recommendations to clear them, but it also gives players something to look forward to throughout the season."
Bungie didn’t release all the content for Season of the Forge all at the same time though. The four Lost Forges were released in stages, with the first two being released only three days from each other while the last two were separated by several weeks. The same goes for the Scourge of the Past raid lair and the new exotic quest The Draw, with the former released back in December 7 while the latter scheduled to release later this month on January 29.
The staggered release schedule for Destiny 2 content not only gives people time to prepare for them, as content like the Forges and the new raid come with either Power Level requirements or recommendations to clear them, but it also gives players something to look forward to throughout the season. The end of the season does look very thin but given the difficulty curve of the Black Armory Forges, the earlier release of the fourth and final Forge might have been for the better.
The Black Armory Forges, namely the Volundr Forge, Gofannon Forge, Izanami Forge, and the still to be unlocked Bergusia Forge. All the Forges have similar Horde-type mechanics wherein players need to kill endlessly spawning enemies in three waves, with the final wave also summoning a boss. To complete the first two waves, players will need to ignite the forge by depositing orbs that drop from blue-glowing enemies. Killing these enemies will also increase the event’s very limited timer.
One of the new and interesting mechanics that the Black Armory and its Forges have introduced are shield drones. The boss of each Forge and the world bosses called Forge Saboteurs that players can kill during the process of unlocking the Volundr and Gofannon Forges are protected by drones that players need to kill to deactivate their shield and damage the boss itself. It’s an interesting new shield-based enemy mechanic that gives players an extra challenge during fights as the drones are rather small and revolve around the boss.
"The Forges aren’t impossibly difficult, especially when played with a coordinated Fireteam, and isn’t entirely a unique experience as it’s just another iteration of the popular Horde mode, much like the Dreaming City’s Blind Well."
When the first two Forges were initially released, the power levels of enemies that players encountered ranged from 615 to 630. But after community feedback, Bungie lowered those numbers by 5, making the Forges more accessible to those who have just reached 600 but a power level of 610 is still the recommended minimum. While increasing one’s power level may be a bit harder from 600-650, the differences between increases start becoming more apparent so even increasing one’s power level by 5 can make running the Forges more manageable.
The Forges aren’t impossibly difficult, especially when played with a coordinated Fireteam, and isn’t entirely a unique experience as it’s just another iteration of the popular Horde mode, much like the Dreaming City’s Blind Well. But like the Blind Well, the Forges are still quite enjoyable and provide a good challenge for players who are grinding their way to the current soft cap of 650. The one major criticism of the new Forges though don’t lie in the events themselves, but rather in the way you gain access to them.
Unlocking the first three Forges requires players to go through a long and incredibly tedious questline that involves killing a whole lot of enemies in different ways, sometimes using only Power weapons. The questlines don’t really provide much substance to the game’s story or lore and feels like a senseless grind just to make it troublesome for players to get into the Forges. Luckily, the fourth and final Forge could possibly be unlocked the same way the Dreaming City content was, wherein once the event is unlocked by one player, it’s unlocked for all.
For those who are tired of grinding the Forges though, the Black Armory DLC also includes the aforementioned Scourge of the Past raid. While this new raid isn’t as long and complex as the Last Wish, it is definitely much more enjoyable. Rather than providing a difficult challenge, it gives players a chance to simply enjoy the content with their Fireteam, with the raid featuring quite a number of pop culture references not only in its environment but also in its encounters. The raid only lasts about two hours but it’s definitely the most fun piece of content of the current season so far.
"The Season of the Forge and its Black Armory DLC are a weird mix of good and bad ideas."
Overall, the Season of the Forge and its Black Armory DLC are a weird mix of good and bad ideas. The Forges themselves are interesting to run, the raid is short but sweet, and the new exotics are great. On the other hand, the Forge questline is unnecessarily tediousness and, in spite of how fun it is, many might have hoped for a longer, more challenging raid experience. Additionally, the Black Armory didn’t exactly launch well, with Bungie having to change things, such as the difficulty of the Forges, as feedback started to come in.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
The Lost Forges are an interesting and fun Horde experience; The new Scourge of the Past raid is short but sweet; The staggered release schedule was smart.
Tedious questline to unlock Forges; Raid might be too short for some.
The Season of the Forge and the Black Armory DLC does many things right and could do a number of them better. Understandably, an expansion like Forsaken is incredibly difficult to follow up and Black Armory doesn’t necessarily do a bad job at it. Hopefully Bungie has learned a lot from the Season of the Forge and is able to improve how they release and implement the rest of Year 2’s content.