In my time I’ve been both a Destiny fan-girl and deserter, so when Pat and I sat down to review The Taken King there was a lot of hope and expectation. We’d heard a lot, planned a lot and read a lot of what was to come, but there’s nothing like playing it for yourself. The Taken King was both for current and returning players as well as players new to the game and it’s fair to say success isn’t measured in quite the same way for each. As a returning player I had hoped for the things I’d been missing – for a story that felt significant, content to expand and inspire and tweaks and changes the enhance the experience and better reward players.
New players found themselves in a more immersive plot, getting to know the npc’s and their history and personality on a much greater level than launch date players ever did. The addition of quests enables players a more step by step means to progress through the game. It helps you explore your abilities as a Guardian and within your class and makes levelling up a faster experience. Expansion quests from The Dark Below have been altered to be playable simultaneously with much of the original story and Eris Morn and her woeful, foreboding words a feature from the beginning. When you finally get to the Taken King content she is key and her interactions with other characters are a source of constant amusement – but more on that later.
While new players were given a spark to level to the Taken King quests right away to do so felt unnecessary – the joy is to be found in playing through the highs and lows of the original quests as they were meant to be. The players ability to play through these quests at different levels has changed and it felt more important than ever to try and play with a natural progression. That being said when you factor in time spent on patrol, in bounties and the crucible I found I over levelled too fast and the story missions became too easy. When you pick back up at the Taken King story you’ll find yourself again immersed in a huge number of challenging levels. You’ll also be trying to upgrade your sub class at the same time with some fun new abilities to explore.
Somewhere along the way I began to notice Destiny was funny. I don’t understand what happened exactly but I was listening and then I was laughing. It wasn’t just that. Suddenly there was personality. Zavalla wasn’t just a voice that commanded attention, he was a Titan, a defensive genius, a man who had carried the weight of a city. Ikora, keenly intelligent, a little impatient but unfailingly devoted to the defence of the city and understanding the threats it faces. My favourite, even when I’m not playing my hunter, Cayde-6 has a keen sense of humour and a larrikan-esque chill about him despite the post-collapse he finds himself in. He cracked jokes, the very best being at Eris Morn’s overly serious, brooding expense (anyone else notice he was wearing an Eris mask over Halloween?) and lightened the mood. Destiny had felt too heavy, too serious in its universe, without the depth of story to back it up. Now it’s lighter, but has more depth than it ever did. This has struck a balance and makes for a better game overall.
The actual slaying of Oryx in the story mission feels pretty routine and anti-climatic. It was just too easy. But there’s so much left to do so you can move on and forget about it, until the raid at least. The addition of quests and a large amount of new story missions means there’s so much to keep you occupied that even so late after launch players are still finding they have something to do. It’s not just the same things on repeat either, there’s a lot of variety of activities and the open world give you such a feeling of freedom it’s been hard to go back to regular shooters. The Taken King has created something pretty special and it’s going to set the standard for some time to come.
I was particularly fond of Variks and his continuation of the Wolves story. It shows to an extent how lacking the previous expansions were in content. The Taken King has so much story it keeps you consumed and playing long after the main storyline is done. It’s not just passing the time, it’s playing out the rest of the Destiny universe and filling in the gaps. The House of Wolves doesn’t just stop because Oryx shows up and it adds to the feeling that’s here’s always more to do.
Strikes have had a facelift, with Taken dropping in whenever they feel like it, changing up the gameplay on levels we’ve all played through countless times already. It felt like treason initially – they don’t belong there! No that’s not how it goes! It wasn’t long before I got used to it, enjoying the change, especially when dropped in on the same level multiple times consecutively. The raining of engrams at the end of a level is extremely satisfying, and the new strikes make for more variety overall. There’s better incorporation of puzzles into strikes, requiring more teamwork to get to completion and the Restorative Mind strike is enjoyable for this reason. My other favourite is the Shield Brothers heading to destroy the core. It’s a challenge, there’s a tank, a bit of mayhem, enemies with some seriously damaging abilities. The ability to level up gear through infusion makes a huge difference, make a run of strikes, decode the engrams, level up! Finally there’s more control over what level you are and a way to consistently get better gear. It’s what the players wanted and it’s safe to say we feel satisfied.
There’s also been some extra changes I’m a little less sure about. The addition of Eververse felt rather cheeky. As many of us did, I have only just forked out for the legendary addition of the Taken King when suddenly there was a new in game currency. Once I went and had a look at what they were stocking, and assured myself that you couldn’t buy your way to levels or achievements in the game I felt better. Emotes are there for fans that want a bit extra, they range from the useful, the silly, to the downright ridiculous and fit perfectly with the new and improved, lighter side of the game. I don’t intend on buying any, my wallet has been exhausted enough, but hey each to their own.
If you’ve played over the last week you might have noticed the Tower looking a little festive, with candy, masks and spooky decorations. It’s the Festival of the Lost, fitting since Guardians are essentially undead zombie warriors (think about it). Extras include festive masks and collecting candy and other goodies. Ultimately this is unfortunately a ‘buy your way’ event, with no way of collecting all the masks available in their legendary form without spending some real world currency. Sure you get can get them in the rare, paper format, but it’s expires at the end of the event without glue to make them legendary. Without any stats being attached to the masks at the time of writing it seems like a pleasant, but ultimately useless diversion and certainly not worth dropping cash on.
The Taken King gives us some great content and the universe looks set to only get better as times goes on. This is an expansion that revolutionised the original game, hooked old and new players and continues to reward and challenge. Let’s hope that they continue to engage with the community to improve the game and micro-transactions *shiver* remain of only superficial value.
You can find Pat’s review here!