Destiny: The Taken King continues the Destiny saga into its second year. The recent patch, bringing the base game up to version 2.0 suggests that we are not going to see Destiny 2 any time soon, the developers, Bungie, seemingly happy with a major annual premium content drop instead.
Is it time to return to Destiny with The Taken King?
Destiny was a bit of a weird one for me. I never reviewed it; instead I picked up the collector’s edition with a view to playing it in my own time. I took it at a slower pace than the frantic play-throughs required of a review. The problem that I faced was that Destiny demanded more time that I could give it. Whilst I enjoyed the game and it’s deliciously satisfying combat, the lack of narrative and somewhat repetitive mission structure meant that I found it east to put down.
And that’s exactly what I did.
One of the stand-out features of Halo – Destiny developer Bungie’s previous franchise, is the game narrative, and one that I feel their successors, 343 Studios have not yet got to grips with. Whilst Bungie successfully transposed and refined the Halo combat mechanics over to Destiny, the way that game’s plot is conveyed to the player is convoluted and hard to find (hint: it’s on the website, and not in the game).
It would seem that Bungie had been listening to the criticisms from the Destiny’s fans.
Patch 2.0, which was made available to everyone, was the spring clean that the game needed; both smoothing out some rough edges and preparing the game for the major expansion, The Taken King.
Depending how you look at it, Destiny: The Taken King is either a blinding start to a second year of content for the award-winning game or a fantastic bookend to the game’s first season. The release of the 2.0 patch would suggest the former.
The Taken King sees the level cap increased from the measly level 20 to a more substantial level 40. Indeed, in order to even start The Taken King missions players will need to have achieved level 25.
To help with this, Bungie provides all players with a one-time use Spark of Light that will immediately increase a character’s level to 25. I’m sitting on the fence a bit regarding this boost, as whilst it means that nobody is excluded from the new content in the expansion, it means plays may have the level, but not necessarily the game skills to proceed at that level.
With the 2.0 patch the soft levelling using armour light attribute boosts (which, in truth, I never really understood) has been replaced with a more traditional XP system. The 2.0 patch also replaced Peter Dinklage’s vocalisations with that of game voiceover stalwart, Nolan North.
The delivery may be a bit better, but the dialogue still feels awkward, suggesting that the criticism of the Game of Thrones star’s performance may have been better directed at the writers rather than the actor tasked to bring the cheesy lines to life.
The moment that you start your first mission from The Taken King expansion, you are treated to a scene-setting cinematic intro. Oryx, The Taken King has arrived and he is after revenge for the death of his son by your hand.
It’s actually quite jarring at first as a long with the frequent cut-scenes and story elements, missions that you expect to follow the same formula as before, branch off and offer real surprises.
The Taken King has tons of extra dialogue from the likes of Nathan Fillion, giving fans a proper narrative adventure befitting Destiny’s great combat gameplay. I know it’s not much to ask for, but compared to the game’s previous dearth, the exposition and clear plot progression is a very welcome addition.
It’s not just about the story, though. The new campaign offers a new location- Oryx’s huge ship, The Dreadnought, in orbit around Saturn and new enemies in The Taken. In a genius move, Bungie have, with The Taken, recycled the game’s existing bad guys and created a chilling new opponent.
Shimmering outlines of familiar foes, The Taken are beings corrupted some sort of trans-dimensional darkness. Their presence is coupled with remnants seemingly frozen in time. The Taken are a threat to all, often resulting in multiple factions all fighting the same enemy.
The expansion also features new subclasses with new super abilities. And, of course there is also heaps of new loot. Players can earn new weapons, armour, and gear, including Legendary, Exotic, Faction and Taken-themed items.
The Taken King also provides some extra game modes for the Crucible, Destiny’s competitive multiplayer element. Rift has two teams of six players competing for control of the central spark and detonate the opposing team’s rift. Mayhem is a deathmatch game with faster recharges, more ammo and faster respawns.
Destiny: The Taken King extends the game experience for devoted fans and offers lapsed players like myself a great opportunity to get back into the game. The new story and levelling mechanic, along with many other tweaks and improvements, makes the game fresh again
The Taken King is available now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360. It is available as a standalone digital download for owners of the main game and The Dark Below and House of Wolves Expansions. Destiny: The Taken King – Legendary Edition includes the full Destiny experience with the main Destiny game, the two previous expansions and The Taken King. A third version, Destiny: The Taken King – Collector’s Edition is only for PS4 and Xbox One owners and includes the full Destiny experience plus Cayde-6’s Intel Cache a host of digital content.