MMO’s tend to follow a specific pattern. They release, people play it, along the way we lose people to other games and the dedicated players un-turn every stone, grind through the game and all of its endgame content and then the developer announces an expansion to give those players new content to prevent the old game from getting stale. And while Destiny is no different in that regard, The Taken King expansion has set a new benchmark for MMO expansions and gives a clear indication for the future direction of the series.
Very few games acknowledge their faults and take feedback on board to revamp their product to the level destiny did, as The Taken King and Destiny 2.0 brought about fundamental changes to the Destiny systems and gameplay as well. All that said, while this game is improved and you can forget everything you knew about Destiny, it still has it’s faults.
The game launches into a story which assumes that you have completed the original Destiny and previous expansions, including the Crota’s End and Vault of Glass raids. At the start of Taken King, Oryx (Crota’s father) has come to our solar system seeking vengeance for the murder of his Son. Following a destructive battle with the Awoken, his ship (known as the Dreadnaught) takes position in the rings of Saturn. An explosive encounter with Oryx’s new army, The Taken, then pushes the Vanguard of Earth to step in and rid the world of Oryx and his dark army.
As said before, The Taken King introduces a new enemy time known as The Taken, which are basically corrupted versions of all previous enemy types. When I first heard this I was very sceptical as to what to make of these enemies, elluding to the reskinning and renaming of mobs seen all throughout MMO games. But little did I know the shock I would be in for. While resembling a shadow of their former selves, each taken enemy type comes complete with new shocking new abilities. From the Taken Psion (which can multiply and devastate with numbers if left unchecked), to the Taken Captain (which can plunge your vision dark temporarily) and the Taken Goblin (which can make other enemies invincible); these new abilities not only present a hefty new challenge but force veteran players to change up tactics.
Speaking of new abilities, the enemies aren’t the only ones with new tricks up their sleeve. Each class type in destiny is given a new class ability after reaching level 25 (when the Taken King content becomes accessible). Each guardian is given a unique quest for their class which will take them through discovering, obtaining and controlling a new ability. For the Warlock, there is the Arc based Stormcaller sub-class, which will allow the user to cast chains of lightning at enemy foes. The Void based Nightstalker subclass awaits Hunters, equipping them with a bow and arrow of light which tether enemies to one location and assist in crowd control. And Finally, Titans with the new Sunbreaker class can rain down on enemies with their new solar infused hammer of judgement. And it’s worth mentioning that the quests to achieve these abilities are some of the most fun I’ve had in the new Destiny Campaign. These new subclasses also change up the roles in a fireteam making Warlocks get up close and deal damage, make Titans attack from a distance and make Hunters take on a supporting role.
From the outset, this campaign is different from previous expansions and even most of the original game, with a very cinematic introduction and story driven experience. What’s particularly great is the VO work, with notable mention to Nolan North (Taking over as the voice of your companion ghost) and Nathan Fillion (who voices vanguard hunter Cayde-6, an Exo NPC who acts as a key player in this new campaign).
Beyond the story and the new enemies and abilities, there is a further smorgasbord of new changes and updates. Things like a new questing system and quest tracking making progression and quest completion easier, bounties being able to be turned in without returning to the tower, New weapons, armour and vehicles to unlock and more exploring to be done. Further to that, some currency and crafting changes are also present, with vanguard marks becoming legendary marks and being used at a broader variety of vendors as well as Hadronic Essence, Plasteel Plating and Sapphire Wire becoming the universal Armor Material, which makes sharing materials between characters a possibility for armor upgrades. Finally one of the biggest changes is that Light on your items is no longer required to level past 20, being summed up in a different total which affects your attack and defence stats as well as a benchmark for Raid and Strike accessibility.
For the crucible, two new modes are now active dubbed “Rift” and “Mayhem”. Rift is the more strategic of the two, offering a destiny spin on the bomb running mechanic seen in other FPS multiplayer modes. A spark ignites in a central location, teams fight to capture it and then run it to the other teams rift to score. It’s a fun and tactical balance between offence and defence, but in my experience these matches tend to last a long time as they have to run til the timer runs out. The second mode, Mayhem, is just as the title states giving players boosted light recovery, instant respawn and faster heavy weapon drops. This makes for team based combat with more explosions and calamity in what feels like an anyone can win and be great scenario, where lucky shots are favoured more so over skill.
While Bungie have made significant adjustments to the core of Destiny, forever changing the game and forging ahead with a new chapter of it’s lifespan, it’s still not without it’s faults. The biggest fault is that this new update has rendered much of the previous content useless or inaccessible to players without the new expansion. The weapons and armour sets, while still looking quite awesome, do not hold up stats-wise against some of the gear available only to those with the expansion. Much of the content such as weekly/nightfall events and raids are now locked behind higher light level requirements, many of which are hard or impossible to reach without the extended level cap and the new items that are obtained with it.
While change and expansion are inevitable in an MMO, this kind of change rattles right to the core and locking previous content makes playing the game without the expansions seem a little more futile. Destiny is also lacking some key features such as trading between players, which is something that is seen as a staple for most other MMO games. I can understand the want to earn something but when you are trying desperately to get one exotic item only to get 5 of a different one, it gets frustrating when you cannot trade with someone in the opposite position or gift an item to a player trying to get better gear to play with friends. In my mind, it could only add to the experience.
In summary, while making the game harder to justify playing for those who only have the stock game and not the expansions and not implementing some core elements of other MMO’s, The Taken King is still a fun and wild ride. The new enemies are challenging, the new abilities are awesome and the changes to Destiny make it more accessible and fun to play laying a better foundation for years to come than the vanilla release of Destiny ever did.
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