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Destiny Built from scratch by ex-Halo studio Bungie, Destiny's game engine was designed to scale across the next decade, says the studio.

It’s been awhile since I visited Bungie’s Destiny, the last time being when I slipped quietly past level 20 back in September. I’d done all I needed to, seen the rejiggered solar system’s sights and saved humanity, just like you…and whatever subset of the nearly 10 million players Activision claims have registered the game actually polished off The Black Garden. I’m a story guy, not a grinder, so with The Divisive Mind in my rearview mirror, I set the game aside.

Until today: the first expansion, The Dark Below, is now available to download (it’s $20, unless you’ve already purchased the Expansion Pass for $35, which gets you the second yet-to-be-released content extension). Here’s the breakdown of what’s on offer.

You can raise your Light Level to 32

The official level cap remains 20, but Bungie’s concession to grinders involves letting you clap pieces of rare armor on that, if you do the math properly, can boost your stats as if you were in fact leveling beyond 20–all the way up to Light Level 30 before the expansion.

The Dark Below adds two more Light Levels, meaning there’s new rare armor that’ll let you armor-buff your Guardian a trifle more.

You can square off with a god

Or what The Hive call a god, anyway, according to the new story intro’s melodramatic narrator (The Hive, in case like me Destiny‘s jargon’s already dissolved from your brainpan, are the race of burrowers living on the Earth’s moon).

I’m assuming you get to do battle with a specific big bad: technically the tagline reads “tasked with stopping the resurrection of an ancient god, Crota.” One of those “hopefully you fail the stop-the-resurrection test, so you can actually fight something devastatingly cool,” in other words.

Your new ride’s a Legendary stunt bike

Meet the EV-30 Tumbler Sparrow, a Legendary-rated, level 100 durability stunt-hovercraft that’ll let you drive faster, fly across chasms and pull off midair tricks. You get this automatically when you pick up the expansion.

Here’s the rest of the new stuff

Next to the story content, there’s a new cooperative Strike, “The Will of Crota,” where you and your Fireteam can do battle with Crota’s number one as she tries to expand the Hive army.

There’s also a new six-player Raid, “Crota’s End,” staged in the Hellmouth (a preexisting location in the Ocean of Storms on the moon) with new enemies and ways to fight them.

And you get three new competitive multiplayer arenas: the Pantheon (a maze-like Vex temple situated in The Black Garden), Skyshock (an interplanetary defense array designed for both vehicle and infantry combat) and The Cauldron (a Hive site tailored for close quarters fighting).

PlayStation owners get exclusive content

Sony’s Destiny-plus arrangement with Bungie extends to The Dark Below: PlayStation 3 and 4 owners get an extra cooperative strike, “The Undying Mind” (level 20, on Mars), as well as a new exotic shotgun, dubbed The 4th Horseman.

The expansion may be locking out some players

I had something akin to this experience myself, but not because I bought The Dark Below: I inadvertently let my PSN membership lapse, which firewalls some (though not all) of the game’s content.

The actual bug (according to various Reddit users by way of GameSpot, anyway) locks players out of the game entirely upon purchase of the expansion, presenting them with a countdown timer instead, and preventing some players from bypassing it.

I’m checked with Bungie on the issue, and I’ll update this point if they get back to me.

That Paul McCartney Destiny music video isn’t required viewing

It’s surreal–I’m not saying in a good or bad way–watching Return of the Jedi-light-enveloped Paul McCartney superimposed over Destiny‘s planetary theaters, singing and gesticulating amidst small squads of seated Guardians.

See for yourself.

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Write to Matt Peckham at

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