The Dark Below is a unique DLC pack because it is supplementing content in many different areas, some of which are available if you do not purchase the DLC. The Dark Below DLC most noticeably adds a new quest and bounty giver into the Tower. Eris is the only surviving guardian of an expedition to ensure Crota the conqueror of the Moon does not come back. On face value the things you can buy from her are limited to shaders, name-badges and class marks. The best items you can get from her are in her main quests, not in the ranking and purchasing system unlike Vanguard, Crucible or Iron Banner.
The items you get are more unique than most base items and more in like with Raid gear or exotics in look than the base items. These guns and armor are gifted upon completion of the wide arrays of missions she has for you. All of these can be done alone or within matchmaking. Some novel quest type additions come through finding specific places while in patrol and then having to find named enemies to start a mini boss battle. They even added Blades, Hive Knights who drop swords that you can wield for a limited amount of time within Patrol maps.
In all, the DLC big bullet point addition are, multiple new story missions, a couple of new strikes (one PS4 exclusive) and one new Raid (still no matchmaking though). On the Crucible side you mainly only see two of the maps over and over that are set in the Hive caves and the Blackgarden area. The last one I saw I only saw once and this was with hours of Crucible and that was on the Cosmodrone and it was a long skinny map with Last Light on the Moon and could easily be labeled a sniper map. All three are great maps, but until they have an integrated playlist with the original maps the experience gets boring fast.
The other side of the DLC content is the new purchasable items through Vanguard and Crucible marks that have higher light levels. I have never been able to run a raid all the way through, so I was stuck at lvl 27, but through new armor and some leveling up I was able to make it to lvl 29 with little to no help from friends. This is important because unless you are in a clan, have devoted Destiny friends or know the forums to the higher levels, it’s next to impossible to get to.
Lastly there were some noticeable things changed in free updates. All players now have 10 bounty slots, which really help when you are carrying long lasting exotic bounties. This addition also adds flexibility so if you are in the middle of grinding crucible bounties alone and friends pop on wanting to run some strikes or patrol missions you can keep your unfinished crucible bounties while adding on some vanguard bounties to complete with them. If you like playing the Crucible control playlist they also moved around some of the control points that change the dynamics of those maps. The Last and most impactful free addition or rule change is material exchange.
Before this you could buy Vanguard or Crucible marks with Materials found on each planet during Patrols missions but now you can buy materials with Vanguard or Crucible Marks. Materials are used to upgrade legendary and Exotic Armor and Weapons and come in short supply fast if multiple armor pieces or weapons demand the same material (yes you Helium!). One of the most vocal annoyances of players is grinding materials from each planet, most of the time it is hard to couple this activity with other bounties making it very boring.
If you do not like Destiny then this will not change anything, but if you like Destiny this will give you new things to see and new items to acquire and upgrade. When thinking about DLC it is hard not to compare this to content rich DLC of mainly single player games like Borderlands, Far Cry Blood Dragon, or Infamous Festival of Blood. In that light Dark Below may not have enough content but comparing Dark Below with Battlefield or Call of Duty map packs this DLC is interesting, functional, fills out the world and adds flexibility to different play styles and situations.
While this may only take non-raiders a week or two to “finish”, if you are like me and will keep on coming back for DLC after DLC then the end build up will flesh out the world and activates in a way that will make it a different game for different people and a truly alive world with tons of content.