Back at its initial launch, Destiny was recieved mixed reviews. On one hand, it was a sprawling semi-merge of FPS and RPG systems set in the vastness of space…but on the other hand, it was slammed for its convoluted, meandering storyline and incessant grinding. As time wore on, playing Destiny became semi-divisive in the gaming community; some played it specifically to grind up levels, farm rare gear and interact with the community at large–even though squads (or “FireTeams”) are limited to three members.
Still, many argued that the squad limit lead to tighter team interaction, and replaying the same levels/enemies aided in combat mastery (like a low-end Dark Souls). And regardless of the flack, Destiny’s online community continued to get stronger, no doubt bolstered by the two mega-DLC sets: The Dark Below and House of Wolves, which offered new strikes, new bosses and new weapons/customization options.
Yet, despite constant updates and changes, many diehard players fell off, simply due to the redundancy of the campaigns and missions.
So imagine our collective surprise when, in lieu of a whole new game (IE Destiny 2), The Taken King was announced; a DLC set which would retail for $40, and would also come in disc form, alongside full game and prior DLC for $59.99.
Shockingly, core fans were none too pleased, mostly due to their prior investment in year one, which may have well set them back somewhere around $90-100 depending on when they purchased it.
In any case, a few short hours after launch, the Taken King DLC somehow managed to silence nearly every prior criticism. The entire system was revamped, from top to bottom, and it looked and played better than ever before.
It was a trip to re-invest in, because we hardly touched it since House of Wolves–mostly due to the aforementioned monotony and raid issues. In any case, jumping back into Destiny was astounding; the map system has been re-done, the questing aspects are streamlined (complete with additional flavor text and icons) and the overall aesthetic is a LOT more user-friendly.
Plus, there’s a nice bonus for players who have yet to venture to the planets of Destiny–all copies of Taken King include the Spark of Light, a SINGLE, one-time-use item that will increase your level to 25, which is the minimum level to play the Taken King missions.
Now, learn from our mistakes, as we decided (mostly for shits and giggles) to check how a “fresh out of the chute” character would fare in the newly expanded universe. SPOILER ALERT: it was seamless. Our brand-new, baby Titan destroyed in Crucible matches and cut through the Taken King campaign like a BOSS.
Unfortunately, we also had a Hunter class that we were going to use the Spark of Light on…but it’s a one time, single use item…so whichever class you’re looking to boost, make absolutely sure that it’s what you want. Sorry Hunter…you’ll have to grind the old fashioned way.
Of course a HUGE part of our success was the addition of subclasses. During the Taken King campaign, each class will unlock an incredibly slick subclass, each with its own spiffy special attacks:
Warlocks get Stormcaller, arguably the slickest of the new subclasses–basically when utilizing the Stormtrance special, you hover in the air, surrounded by and throwing lightning (read: essentially Force/Sith lightning).
Titans get the Sunbreaker, which powers up the Hammer of Sol–essentially a flaming Mjolnir that makes short work of armies of enemies.
Hunters get the Nightstalker subclass, which powers the Shadowshot–a controlled, arrow made of Void energy, which can slow, tether and silence a group of enemies, giving your fireteam ample time to pick them off.
There’s also a whole suite of new Light bonuses in the Taken King, most notably in the form of equippable items. The craziest is a suite of Ghost shells that can add extra defense/buffs to your character. Oh, and the “post 20 level tied to gear and Light levels” aspect of yesteryear’s Destiny is pretty much done now–and players will level through the cap (raised to 40 for Taken King), so you won’t be barred from accessing content due to lack of Light.
Grinders will no doubt be miserable when they see the weapon changes. Due to the level raising and Light recalibration, higher levels will see better green weapons…and fair warning: greenies which may outrank your previous hard-fought weaponry from year one. Of course, it stands to reason that the Legendary/Exotic weapons and armor will likewise raise, thus all of those weapons you scraped and scrimped to upgrade their exotics might find them grossly underpowered, comparatively.
Luckily, you’ll be able to rebuild (and even possibly improve) your “Year 1” exotics by deconstructing and rebuilding your exotics via the massive, wall-mounted iPads throughout the Tower.
Upgrading has also been significantly streamlined, which means less materials to worry about collecting. Add to that, Vanguard and Crucible marks have been combined into Legendary marks and can be used at (nearly) any merchant.
There are also a ton of new quests and single-player-designed tasks to complete, many of which will help flesh out some of the inexplicable lore from Year 1. Plus, you’ll stumble into lots of scannable objects throughout the planets, which will also shed light on Destiny’s bizarre narrative.
The absolute highlight of Taken King, however, are the Taken themselves. On paper, the Fallen seem like a lazy addition, simply because they’re just twisted versions of Fallen, Hive, Vexx and Cabal troops. But in execution they’re terrifying; imagine souped up versions of the weak enemies you’ve been slaughtering easily since level 10, only with the ability to “glitch” strafe, which can often render your zooming abilities useless. Captains are the worst, hurling a massive slow-moving ball of Darkness, which renders Guardians almost completely blind and deaf. Taken Psions self-replicate, Taken Wizards can spawn Taken Thralls. Taken Vandals and Goblins can spawn massive power domes which can both heal enemies and provide invulnerability to attacks. Taken Knights throw giant “puddles” of fire. Taken Acolytes have a chaingun attack…in short, nearly every Taken enemy is beefed up considerably, and can require a whole new plan of attack.
I’m not one who usually gets weirded out by sci-fi enemies, especially from Bungie…but the Taken genuinely make my skin crawl, and getting in situations where you’re surrounded from all sides with multiple enemy types throws a whole new monkey wrench in the “creeped out claustrophobic” moments in Taken King.
Like all other aspects of “Year 1 Destiny”, Crucible matches have been revamped, and now include a different take on Capture the Flag, which has you fighting to place the Spark (which begins in a neutral zone) in the enemy’s base, and detonate it. The kicker is that it self-detonates after 75 seconds, so you won’t be able to camp/lurk around the enemy base waiting to score.
Arguably the most fun addition, though, is Mayhem which rapidly replenishes Super abilities, grenades and Heavy ammo. It’s chaos, pure and simple…and makes the regular deathmatch mode utterly boring. Of course, Mayhem is tossed into rotation with the other modes, a la Nuketown, so in order to play it multiple times, you’ll need to commit to some marathon sessions.
I know it’s been bandied about since Taken King came out, but it honestly does feel like a fresh game. Seriously take it from me: I hung up my Destiny spurs shortly after House of Wolves simply due to it’s annoying repetition. Does Taken King have repetitive elements? Sure. It IS Destiny, after all. Still, there’s more than enough content to keep you coming back, and both the frequency of Legendary and Exotic drops, as well as upgrade materials and currency makes it not feel as grindy. And the Taken? Ugh. Just thinking about them gives me gross goosebumps. So, in other words, yes Bungie has finally made a creepy, noteworthy group of enemies. Oryx himself, while somewhat cool, still has that Dead Souls feel about him, but the rest of the Taken are almost annoyingly creepy.
In short, yes, Destiny finally feels like the game that we should have gotten the first time around. I can honestly say I’ve looked forward to playing it during the review period, simply because it just plays better. If you were on the fence prior, or especially if you’ve never picked up the game prior. And if you’ve been turned off to it in the past, it honestly feels fresh and new. So yeah, check it out…especially for the Warlock class’ “Force lightning”.