Destiny got a bad rap last fall when it released to less-than-stellar reviews and complaints from players ranging from the insipid story, Peter Dinklage’s voice, strange weapon imbalances, communication issues, to even a level-up system, that still, to this day, didn’t make much sense. But underneath all of that, Destiny was a fun, flawed game that served as a precursor to a universe that developer Bungie was trying to create, and the fruits of those labors are now blooming in the latest expansion release, The Taken King.
Almost all of the previous issues have been addressed by Bungie and fixed, via weekly patches and during expansion releases for The Dark Below and The House of Wolves. The Taken King is the period — or exclamation point — on the opening sentence that is the Destiny experience. We have solid, story-based gameplay, weapon balance, and a leveling system that’s based on skill and experience, not on what exotic weapon you might find in a strike or raid. Destiny: The Taken King is what the core game should have been last fall, and thankfully, gamers have it now and the call for veterans to come back and see what’s new is warranted.
Destiny: The Taken King is the story of Oryx, The Taken King, and Crota’s father, who’s not too happy that his son was killed in the final raid of The Dark Below. He comes to our universe with his shadow army, called The Taken, to take revenge of course, and from the opening, jaw-dropping cinematic, players know the fight will not be an easy one. These new enemies are shadow-selves of former enemies (Hive, Cabal, and Vex) and they move with frightening speed and have some very powerfully weapons — weapons that can even shoot around corners.
The Taken King expansion brings with it eight story quests, all part of the greater “Taken War,” of which the Taken King story is but one part. This new content comes in story quests, raids, strikes, crucible maps and new weapons and armor for the Year Two players. Peter Dinklage has been replaced by Nolan North, and the Ghost is much more personable now, adding story elements when needed, and the ability to scan random objects to give backstory. The level cap has been increased to 40, and light levels are based on both offensive and defensive attachments, and the light level works to make the guardian stronger. The Taken King also delivers a whole new location: The Dreadnaught. Oryx’s Dreadnaught is his massive ship that looks amazing and the environments are stunning. It was a real treat exploring every square inch of this new locale.
All in all, there is well over 20-25 hours of fresh content — not including grinding raids for exotic weapons and armor, and the new crucible maps for online multiplayer. Each class also gets a new subclass, which comes with a new weapon (a cool new light bow for Hunters, a powerful hammer for Titans, and Warlock’s get a new lightening attack). Leveling up the new subclass also takes a bit of time, proving that The Taken King is less of a second-year expansion and more of a full-fledged sequel.
The storytelling in The Taken King is more linear and less abstract. There is a clear cut reason why things are happening and the NPCs work to help tell that story. The player knows what needs to be done. And it was nice being able to fight Oryx solo, and not to have to rely on five other guardians. Does this make Crota more powerful than his father? That’s debatable. The end of the Taken King storyline also ends with some shadowy shenanigans possibly setting up the next DLC expansion, or even Year Three content for next fall. I can say that it left a smile on my face.
I enjoyed Destiny last year, but stopped playing when the story ended and I reached the level cap (I did play enough to get my light level to 24, but then I stepped away). I wasn’t too interested in post-game stuff, and the broken leveling system was a huge turnoff. All of that has changed with The Taken King, as I have truly fallen in love with the game again, and its lore, and now look to build up my guardian — post game — so I’m ready for the next trouble that will hit the galaxy.
Last year, developer Bungie promised an epic, decade-long play experience with Destiny, and The Taken King proves that they are on the right track. While there are some issues still, Bungie has proven that they are listening and they are working to make things right. Now if they can only figure out the confusing cost structure on new releases (forcing players to re-buy the core game repackaged as a “Legendary Edition,” or only selling the new Taken King content if you previously own the core game and BOTH expansions is not good form), then maybe finally, the war to return light to the galaxy can be fully embraced by gaming as a whole, and we can all work together in this common goal.
And it has to be said that for new players, The Legendary Edition is an absolute steal as it comes with everything released (core game, both previous expansions, and The Taken King), including some cool bonuses and an item that will automatically raise one character to level 25 to initiate the Taken King content. It’s the veteran Destiny players who are seemingly getting the shaft here. Hopefully, Activision can address this in the future, because if this is any indication of how good the game will be going forward, people need to be playing it.
Until that time comes, know that The Taken King is well worth coming back for, and it is a solid gaming experience that has reignited my love of the game — and of shooters in general. Oryx, The Taken King wants revenge. It’s time to re-join the fight and send this threat back to where he belongs. Who’s with me?
Destiny: The Taken King is available now for the PS4, Xbox One, and PS3 and Xbox 360. This review is based off a review code of the PS4 version, provided by the publisher.
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