Destiny: Everything You Need to Know Before You Play The Dark Below

Destiny's first DLC, The Dark Below, arrives tomorrow. Here's everything you need to know before jumping back in!

Destiny’s first expansion, The Dark Below, drops on Dec. 9 and contains three new story missions, two new Strikes (one, “The Undying Mind,” exclusive to PlayStation 4 for now), and one new Raid, “Crota’s End.” In the Raid, the player takes to the Moon and enters the Hellmouth to stop the Hive from summoning the dark god Crota. The expansion also introduces three new Crucible maps: Skyshock, the Cauldron, and Pantheon, and raises your maximum Light Level to 32.

You’ve probably already heard of Crota if you played through all of the launch content. The Sword of Crota appeared in the eponymous story mission on the Moon. The sword was said to be corrupted, since it was used to kill so many Guardians when Crota first tried to drive humans off the Moon, but the player character could use it well enough to slay the Hive guarding it.

That might just sound like a lot of capitalized words to you. Destiny’s story is sparse, with lore sprinkled throughout the game and the browser-based Grimoire app. Bungie knows that players want more story and so have also introduced Quests, which seem to repackage old content such as Bounties in a more captivating way. But another type of Bounty might not be enough. Hopefully, gateway character Eris Morn introduces some more emotion into the story.

Meet Eris and Crota in this trailer:

A bit of recap…

In the story so far, the player awakes to find him or herself on an abandoned road on Earth. The Guardian’s AI companion (Peter Dinklage) explains that you were once a warrior who died, and has now been reborn into the society of Guardians. The Guardians live in the massive Tower in the last city on Earth. They come from one of three species – tough humans, mystical Awoken, and mechanical Exos – and are generally seen as a force for good by the remaining civilians.

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Armed with the power-boosting Light and lots and lots of guns, Guardians serve as a mixture of vigilantes and soldiers, protecting the solar system from four malevolent alien races – the Fallen, the Hive, the Cabal, and the Vex. Both the AI, called Ghosts, and the Guardians receive power from the Traveler, a floating edifice that appeared on Mars.

The Traveler both destroyed and created a Golden Age of technology and space travel for humanity, but it was being hunted by a mysterious entity known as the Darkness, and when the Darkness attacked the Traveler, it retreated to the Earth and fought the Darkness off. After that fight, though, humanity was weakened and the Earth scarcely populated. Except for the Ghosts, which continue to revive Guardians, it is silent. The Speaker, who gives the Guardians their most important missions, senses this. The Traveler is either healing or dying.

Some fans speculate that the Traveler was originally designed as a malevolent entity, and its Guardians unknowing pawns. This story might have been scrapped in development, or just meant as a secret that hasn’t yet been revealed. Some of the lore even suggests there’s more to the Traveler than the little that meets the eye: “The chase leads you where you need to be, you believe. Unless…you are being pushed.”

Another bastion of power is the Reef, where separatist Awoken live under the leadership of the prickly Queen of the Reef. Although we haven’t learned much about the Queen, she pops in and out of the story to give us new objectives. Mostly, she uses us to her advantage.

Beyond that, the story is thin. The player is lead from battlefield to battlefield by the mysterious Exo Stranger, a warrior without a Ghost. You must complete each mission and defeat several enemy strongholds in order to revive The Traveler by…well, we’re not really sure. The story falls a bit short in logic and the missions don’t seem to have much of a connecting thread except that you’re in all of them.

Perhaps this will help (maybe): 

The culmination of the player’s story is the Black Garden, a strange, Vex-made labyrinth of right angles located on Mars. There the player destroys the heart of the Garden, decreasing the Darkness. In the Vault of Glass, a team of six Guardians faces the Templar, a devious Vex.

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So by the time the player reaches The Dark Below, he or she is an accomplished warrior. If not exactly allied with the Queen of the Reef, the player is accepted by her, and maybe by other Guardians. That’s where The Dark Below begins: with a Guardian now comfortable with, even ensconced in, their second life before they meet Eris Morn…

What’s New in The Dark Below


The Guardian Eris Morn is a sole survivor. Erin was one of six Guardians who entered the Hellmouth and caught the first glimpse of the evil Hive god Crota. You can guess how that went since only Eris survived the journey. In any other game, she might be the protagonist. Instead she’s the mouthpiece of The Dark Below, offering new bounties, gear, and missions. Eris is a former Guardian, but one thing about her doesn’t appear human: her three eyes. Was she mutated in some way? 

The Destiny team have said that they know players want more story, and The Dark Below could provide some of that under Eris’ watchful eyes. For some reason, she spent three years hiding on the moon before telling Commander Zavala, the leader of the Titan class, that Crota needed to be stopped. Yeah, you might want to get on that, Guardian…

The Hive’s Plan

An undead species, the Hive have four limbs and an exoskeleton. Although they reside on the moon, and are therefore one of the first types of enemies you encounter, they’re also one of the oldest races in the galaxy. The Hive travel through space in a magical stasis that keeps them alive for millennia. As with most things in Destiny, their technology is a mixture of magic and science, with the Wizards overseeing it all.

Like the other races, the Hive are broken into sects operating with similar goals under different banners. The Spawn of Crota seek to bring the undead king Crota to power on the moon. Then there’s the Blood of Oryx sect, which serve, appropriate enough, Oryx – Crota’s father. The Blood of Oryx sect has been busy writing their dark lord’s name in Hive rituals. We’re not sure whether the other sects were okay with this vandalism. We might get to see some infighting between the Hive sects if Bungie decides to develop this.

Crota, son of Oryx is considered to be a god. Really, knowing the Hive, he’s probably one of the oldest of the space-undead, and a master of the kind of Hive rituals that power the Wizards’ creepy science. After falling into stasis some time after his conquest of the moon, Crota now aims for Earth and wants to kill humans, presumably to ensure Hive domination.

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We don’t know much about Oryx yet except that he’s thought to be the master of all Hive sects and the source of their powers. It doesn’t look like players will encounter him in The Dark Below. Whether he’s Crota’s literal father or more of a member of a line of succession might or might not be revealed.

First, you have to keep the Hive forces from growing stronger. Beneath the Cosmodrome, the site of your Guardian’s rebirth in what used to be Russia, lies the Jovian Complex. This is the realm of Omnigul, a Wizard expanding the Hive’s army in advance of her master Crota’s return. You’ll have to defeat her to get out of the new Strike, “Will of Crota,” alive. 

Then, you must stop the Hive from raising Crota from the dead before he can spread his darkness across the galaxy. Again, we’re still not sure what the heck the darkness is, but we have a feeling that it’s bad stuff. Jump into the Hellmouth just in case.

You’ve probably seen the Hellmouth before. A huge white pit with blue liquid boiling within it, it’s linked to other major Moon locations like the Anchor of Light. The Hellmouth was one of the first areas designed for the Moon. Environment Artist Sam Jones said in a Bungie Weekly Update that the Hellmouth was designed to embody the traits associated with the Hive, like “mystery, darkness, evil, strength, and militarism.”

If you’ve played through the Venus Raid, then you’re probably aware that you’re going to die a lot in the Hellmouth. The “Crota’s End” Raid will have a difficulty of level 30. Its hard mode, which will be set at the level cap of 32, won’t open until January. Bring some friends.

Patch 1.1

The 1.1 update was patched into the game over the weekend, and the biggest changes concerned Exotic weapons and resource farming. First and foremost, there’s been a big tweak to natural resource farming in the game, which previously countless boring hours searching for items in Patrol missions. Now, you can purchase resources such as Helium Filaments and Spinmetal with Vanguard and Crucible marks. Thank the maker….er, Traveler?!

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Along the same line, Exotic weapons will no longer need Ascendant Shards and Energy to upgrade. Instead, a new upgrade material called “Exotic Shards” will be needed to get your Exotic weapons to the highest level. The best part? You don’t have to farm the damn things. You can obtain Exotic shards by dismantling unwanted Exotic weapons or by buying them from Xur for 7 Strange Coins each. The convenience is killing me.

Bungie also buffed many of the Exotic weapons that players thought didn’t deliver on their promise. That includes weapons such as the hand cannon Thorn, the fusion rifle Vex Mythoclast, and the PlayStation-exclusive auto rifle Monte Carlo. So you can stop complaining about your guns now, and go shoot things with them. Oh, and all Exotic weapons’ base attack levels have been raised from 260 to 274.

You can check out the complete 1.1 patch notes at Bungie’s blog or check out this preview.

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