The Multi-award winning franchise from publisher Activision and developers Bungie, Destiny evokes mixed emotions within the gaming community upon the mere mention of its name. Like many I got caught up in the hype that was Destiny and bought the Legendary Edition of the game. I’ve already played The Dark Below and House of Wolves and felt they were substandard. Does The Taken King bring anything new to the table or will it be as lackluster as the previous expansions?
I found out quickly it was going to be far more interesting than before. I have three profiles with each class that were already in the mid-30s of light. Though, that’s irrelevant now, as I was immediately nerfed to level 32 as the new game mechanics came into play. If you start a new profile you get a spark of light that you give to the Speaker granting you immediate level 25 status. You can now level up to at least level 40 though there is the mission for level 42 so I suspect you could get higher with enough grinding. Your equipment level governs your Light level. You have the standard Weapons and Armour now joined by the newly added Ghost shells, Class Armour and Artifacts. Each with their own perks to upgrade and defense levels that affect your overall Light value. The higher the Light level the more difficult the challenges in the solar system you can take on.
There is more control over your equipment as you can now specialize. If you are particularly fond of a piece of equipment and the perks it gives, say, a weapon you like? Then a weapon shows up with a higher value in attack or defense you can now press the yellow ‘Infuse’ icon in the upgrade menu. This gains you a power level close to the less desirable but more powerful item consumed at a fairly low-cost on materials. This makes weapons and armour only as limited as the most powerful in the game. This allows you to craft armour and weapons to your playing style and stop you from feeling you have to start over with another piece of equipment just because it’s got a high power value. Everything now has a purpose and there’s a way to customise your character to a degree.
The Taken King starts by selecting a mission on Mars’s Moon Phobos. Immediately we are treated to a spectacle of a beautiful rendered battle scene that could have rivaled Star Wars. The basic synopsis is that Oryx is not too pleased with his Son’s death at your hands. The Queen of the Reef Mara Sov has sacrificed much of her fleet attacking him and now it’s up to you to step in and stop him. After Phobos we move on to an entirely new zone, The Dreadnaught in the rings of Saturn.
The levels are all new content within the main campaign except for the level where you get the new character subclass. They comprise mainly of PVP levels but I’m ok with that due to how it’s implemented. These are each different depending on which class you are playing with. The new subclasses are awesome in their own right. The final missing elemental power allows you to exploit any enemy with elemental weaknesses instead of having that one you we’re powerless against. I would’ve liked to see more class specific levels as it gave purpose to playing as all three.
The main campaign starts really strong with well presented rendered cut-scenes that give us an insight into life of the Tower with the Hunter Vanguard trainer Cayed-6. Sadly these seem to drop out about half way through and the game suffers for it. I was enjoying getting to know the world around me, at last! After an entire Year of knowing next to nothing, things were explained and I was engaging with the characters that inhabit the world around me then it simply stopped. Upon beating Oryx in what was a fairly interesting boss battle reminiscent of Diablo there’s a final rendered sequence and the game opens up to grinding missions.
That’s no bad thing as there’s plenty to grind for. Of particular interest after completion is getting one of the three legendary swords. Well worth getting and are balanced by using heavy weapon ammo for each attack. The amount of ammo can be upgraded increasing the amount of attacks you get. Eventually they become weapons that can wipe out entire armies.
The materials you need are in the Dreadnaught that has other missions like setting up beacons, discovering new locations, two Strikes and a Raid. One of the best things in the Dreadnaught is the Court of Oryx. Up to 6 random players in the area can join a dynamic public event. All it costs is a rune to start it and the person who used the rune gets the main rewards and usually another rune. This will be a more powerful rune charged by the souls of enemies summoned with the weaker rune. So you can really grind here against varying levels of tough and interesting enemies that scale. It’s both rewarding and lots of fun. In the other maps you can now push big events with Taken Lieutenants by making your presence known. If you dominate an area by killing everything the Taken start to teleport in escalating the level of difficulty in a dynamic way.
Everything feels like it’s had the leash removed and there’s a universal approach to things now. Changes to armour materials so it’s all one material that can be shared between classes but it’s something that should have been there from the start. Legendary marks replace Crucible and Vanguard marks so no matter what activity you get maximum points. These marks have no limit so you can grind for them doing strikes or crucible matches to your heart’s content. You still need reputation, so if you want Crucible armour you will still have to play Crucible to at least rank 3. You can also just sign up with one of the three factions at the Tower and collect points for them too without needing to change your class item. However, these are all are more like patches than actual content.
Although the Ghost is more prevalent in the expansion as it’s used to see invisible objects and to scan objects that give you more information on the world. I felt it still needed to be implemented further. The left and right d-pad keys could easily be made into hot keys for replenishing ammo. As any Raider knows it would be far less annoying than clunky system that’s currently in place. You have to remove yourself from the action and go through menus at the worst possible moments this usually makes you very dead. So it’s long overdue an overhaul.
Overall, The Taken King expansion finally gives us the Destiny we wanted a Year ago. Missions tend to lead into missions and now there’s plenty more to explore and discover. Bosses now throw out loot like piñatas when they die. There’s a definite Diablo feel to the loot system now and that’s a good thing. However, do I commend an expansion for finally giving us the game we should have had a Year ago? As it stands now, it seems more like a complete game but one that has cost us over the odds. A lot of this feels like you are paying for patches yet, there is some very good content here even though it starts to fizzle out halfway through the main campaign. Even if this game were more in line with US pricing of $40 that’s closer to £27 instead of the inflated £39.99, which is just over $60, I would still struggle to justify the price tag.
The hardcore Destiny fan will most likely have already bought this without a thought as the game becomes fairly unplayable if you don’t. The more discerning that haven’t already sold or tried Destiny and looking to see if it’s worth trying or going back for this I’d say wait for a discount and then pick it up because it is definitely worth playing. Destiny: The Taken King is well presented, fun, expands slightly upon the Universe and brings long overdue changes that I appreciate. It’s just not worth the asking price considering actual content outside of the patch fixes.
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