As the minutes ticked by and midnight approached way back in September 2014, I was getting more and more excited. As the clock struck midnight I clicked on that Destiny icon on my Xbox One, opened up Twitch and hit that broadcast button to be one of the first to stream Destiny as it unlocked and New Zealand became the first country able to play the game. For the rest of the night, right up until I was due to go to work I was captivated by this world that was so full of potential, completely immersed in the Destiny experience. That captivation continued for the next couple of weeks as I completed the story and hit the level cap of 20 and started my journey on increasing my level further by getting my hands on rare and the ever elusive legendary items required to increased my “light”. By the time I’d reached about a month of playing Destiny I was losing interest, the grind was just getting too cumbersome for me and I was left with the sense that Destiny would forever remain a game that would never quite reach its full potential.
My pre-ordered edition of Destiny came with the two expansion packs but when they were released there just wasn’t enough there to convince me to go back and give Destiny a second chance. I was adamant that whilst there was some new story missions, strikes and raids, the grind would return all too quickly. When the Taken King was announced, it was the first time that I started to look seriously at Destiny again. For the first time I got a sense that some of that unfulfilled potential may start to be realised, so when the chance came to review The Taken King I downloaded the update and entered the game cautiously optimistic.
The Taken King is the third expansion to the Destiny universe and by far the biggest. First and foremost, all of those good points about Destiny remain. The Taken King is an expansion, not a completely new game. There was a lot that Destiny did really well over the past year, the rock solid FPS controls, excellent array of weapons and upgrades and the well implemented social aspect that allowed gamers to explore the universe with people from all over the world, seamlessly I might add. All of those elements remain but this expansion goes beyond just building a bigger universe and adding in some new story elements. The Taken King has gone about improving the core Destiny experience and creating a game that is more accessible and rewarding.
For the newb’s out there, accessing The Taken King content requires players to be a minimum of Level 25. In the past that would have taken a fair amount of grind but there is an engram included that can be used to take you straight to Level 25. For the seasoned Destiny veterans this engram will be rendered useless, but for someone like me, who left at Level 23 or someone who is new to the game, this engram is a great leg up that avoids the grind and allows players to get right into the meat of Destiny.
I was never a fan of the level cap being increased by getting better gear to increase my light level so I was pleased that getting to the levelling system had been replaced by the more user friendly XP system. The level cap has been raised to 40 which is attained through XP and after that point light once again becomes the means by which to improve. Whilst light is still an important part of the game, this shift back to improving through XP creates a much more rewarding experience and makes Destiny seem like much less of a grind.
As a ploughed through The Taken King content I started to find my love of Destiny returning. At one point I even started to question why it took me so long to start playing the game again, although it’s fair to say that before The Taken King expansion, there wouldn’t have been enough improvement to keep me engaged for too long. I managed to lose an entire weekend to The Taken King content and didn’t regret a moment of it. Even as I hit Level 40 and again had to focus on searching for better gear it was a much more pleasant experience. Rare and Legendary engrams have started to become more common to find and I’d even manage to find the odd exotic whilst scouring the Universe. There is still a grindy feel to Destiny at times but with a system that is now much more rewarding by just playing the game rather than farming it, the whole experience just feels more natural and less contrived.
The Taken King is more than just an update full of gameplay improvements, there is actually some really solid content to be found in the game. The 8 story missions are accompanied by well produced cut-scenes and expand upon the Destiny legend. When I first played through Destiny I thought there were times during the story where it felt disjointed and left me with more questions than answers. Thankfully The Taken King, telling the story of the fight against Oryx, is much more cohesive and enjoyable to playthrough. Even after you finish the story missions, the accompanying raid manages to highlight that there is more than meets the eye to this formidable foe.
Once the story missions are complete there is enough post-story content to keep players interested. Xbox owners get three new strikes, PS4 owners get four and everyone also benefits from some remastered strikes form Destiny V1. A part of the game I find myself really engaged with are the Quests. Quests offer rewards aplenty, some including Exotic gear and again reward players for just getting in there and playing the game. Some quests can be completed just by killing a set number of enemies, others require parts of the story to be completed or areas of the universe to be explored. It’s a bit like the bounty system on steroids and it’s a lot more rewarding, at least that’s what I think anyway.
For the PvP minded Detsiny player eight new maps feature in The Taken King and the weapons have been tweaked to try and improve the balance once more. A lot of the original weapons have been left behind to make way for Year 2 weapons which means that for most, they will have to start all over again as they seek to build the most powerful weapons possible. The veterans still have a bit of an edge over newbs but the PvP environment is a more accessible and less frustrating for the casual gamer.
The three classes in Destiny now have a second tier that features three sub-classes. The sub-classes change your class attributes and each come with their own pro’s and con’s. Your choice of sub-class will affect your single player and PvP gameplay so there is an extra element of strategy added in now.
The Taken King may be an expansion to Destiny but it manages to transcend the meaning of expansion. Yes the universe is expanded and yes there is more weapons and gear but Bungie have worked hard to improve everything about Destiny. Whilst there is still room for improvement The Taken King takes a solid platform, improves on it and showcases a game that takes Destiny from being a game that “has potential” to a game that is now knocking down the door of it’s potential.
- Much Needed overhaul to Level Up System
- Cohesive Story
- More Rewarding
- Elements of the Grind Remain