Published on October 6th, 2015 | by Don Parsons0
Destiny: The Taken King Review
Summary: The Taken King introduces a games-worth of new content, and re-lit the same fire I had last year to ignore all other games and just play Destiny.
In 2014, Bungie released Destiny, which was hit or miss for gamers. Some people, like myself, got sucked into MMO-like grind that Destiny presented, logging in almost daily to reap the rewards of daily and weekly activities. Others just felt disappointment, wondering how the collective team behind the beloved Halo series could design such a messy game. I admit at not being mesmerized by the narrative, but with excellent shooting mechanics and a random (read: painful but sometimes rewarding) loot system, I was hooked.
The first expansion pack was fun, but House of Wolves, the second expansion, was where I fell out of the game. House of Wolves made it easy to max out your gear just by running the Prison of Elders once a week, which was a fun horde-esque mode, albeit tiring after the first few weeks.
Fast forward a year after Destiny was released, and Bungie injects a massive amount of content into the game with the Taken King, and overhauls the base game with the 2.0 update. While this review will focus on new content, I would be remiss to mention some of the game-changing things that Bungie redesigned to make a more streamlined, approachable experience.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, a new story-arch to follow. Those that bailed on Vanilla Destiny because of the lack of story can rest-assured, the narrative is actually easier to follow and, most importantly, enjoy. Several characters in the Tower now have fleshed out characters, including my favorite, Cayde-6. Cayde-6 has a witty charm about him, thanks to Nathan Fillion, and his banter with the various characters had me chuckling several times as I played the story missions.
The characters aren’t the only thing to get a creative spark added to them, as the level design itself it just as stunning. This could be due to the new enemy, the Taken, who are ghost-like variants of the several enemies we all know and love to shoot. Instead of being just replicas though, each has their own new perk, such as the Hive wizards, who now summon shadow thralls, or the Cabal phalanx, who blast you back with a pulse from their shields. The Taken look scary, and when surrounded by them on the harder levels, are scary.
Bungie didn’t just design new levels, because that would just seem typical. After “defeating” Oryx in the main story, several branching story paths open up, all accessible via the new Quest menu. Quests are like bounties, but are more branching, and contain all of the main campaign stories. The Taken King takes players back to several old places to wipe out new Taken infestations, and one point even drop the Wolves back into the party with a new Quest surrounding them. My review would have been up sooner, as I thought I was done with most of the new content, until I opened up the Wolves Quest, and realized more stuff was coming. The Taken King is absolutely enormous when it comes to content. Almost three weeks of very regular play, and I’m still working through these new Quests.
While there is a raid, my crew is not ready for it (though I am), but thankfully the Strike playlist is where everything is at now. Two new Strike playlists are up, one regular and one heroic, and man are they a blast. I didn’t tinker much with the strikes last time, besides doing the two weekly strikes, but I have spent quite a bit of time in both new playlists. Also, one of the new strikes is genius. Once you get to the end, you drop down into a pitch black room and fight the boss. In darkness. As simple as it seems, I have run this strike over and over, and I can’t get enough of this one. Hands down, my favorite piece of Destiny.
The rewards from playing the strike playlist actually make it worth playing, which was the main reason I never fiddled with them before. Part of that is the overhauled loot/Light system. For more in-depth, refer to this amazing article that explains everything in detail. In short, the higher your light is when you decrypt engrams, the higher the possible light you get from the engram, while raid gear is a random light value or 300-310. Couple this with the new Three of Coins that Xur sells, which increases exotic loot drops from ultra bosses, and loot has been vastly improved over Vanilla Destiny.
The Taken King also introduces a new area, which sadly was not Mercury. Instead, after a brief jump to Phobos, you spend a great deal of time aboard Oryx’s massive ship, The Dreadnaught. The Dreadnaught has some neat features, like chests littered around that are opened by randomly dropped keys. After extensive exploration of The Dreadnaught, it has become my second favorite place to patrol, right behind the Cosmodome. There’s so many major events to do, like presenting runes to a statue that summons bosses in the Court of Oryx. Or using codes you pick up to run a quick mini-mission that, if cleared quickly, opens a chest aboard the Cabal ship that penetrated Oryx’s ship. One can spend hours patrolling The Dreadnaught and still stumble across new stuff, it’s thrilling.
Before I jump into the Crucible with you, let’s have a brief moment of silence for the Gjallarhorn, which has now been missing from my Heavy slot for 19 days and counting.
Each expansion usually delivers new maps, and every new map I played I enjoyed immensely. There’s eight new maps, and even though I spent a good deal of time in the crucible since The Taken King launched, I still don’t have them memorized due to the random nature of map selection. My favorite as of this writing is Vertigo, which looks like it’s plucked from Egypt, though it’s based around Mercury. But the close-quarters, combined with open stretches let me flex my auto rifle/shotgun evenly, instead of favoring one over another.
New maps aren’t all there is though though, a new “capture the flag” type mode, Rift, is now a part of Destiny. A spark will charge at the center point of a map and the objective is to take that spark to the opposing team’s base and launch it into a goal. Personally, I prefer the classic modes, like Salvage and Control, but it’s something new if you play Crucible a lot and need a change. But if you want sheer chaos, there’s a new Mayhem setting which turns Clash into a warzone with Super’s and grenades charging at lightning speeds, and Heavy ammo drops coming in sooner. Mayhem is just pure, unadulterated fun.
Between the 2.0 update and The Taken King, my love for Destiny has been revived. I’m still finding new things in The Taken King, and have a hard time pulling myself away from it to play something else.
This review was written based on gameplay on the Xbox One home console, with review code provided by the publisher. For more on our review policy, please read here.