Destiny enters year two of it’s expansive story with Oryx, The Taken King coming to eradicate the light of the Milky Way galaxy.
Oryx is just no normal bad guy; he is the leader of the Hive and has bought with him dark new powers that turn anyone he wants under his command. These new foes are the Taken. You along with your other Fire team members take the fight right too him aboard his ship the Dreadnaught, just outside of Saturn.The Taken King has learnt from the previous downfalls in Destiny’s expansions and initial game. Year two of Destiny feels as though there is some actual weight behind the story as opposed to the previous mindless running and gunning. This time you are treated to some great fleshing out of familiar characters and some highly detailed cut scenes between missions which gives a more if not exaggerated sense of depth to the half dozen or so missions focused solely on Oryx.
Destiny has always been a great looking game. The growing number of worlds are vast and vivid and if you are really paying attention there is always something new to see in the environment that you didn’t see before. Apart from the previously mentioned fleshing out of characters with their story and the more frequent cut scenes. There are two major additions to this expansion that need to be addressed, in terms of presentation. Firstly the Dinkle-Bot we all know and love has been replaced by a new voice actor, Nolan North of Uncharted, Last of Us and just about every other video game fame. Although the change isn’t as noticeable as you would assume it would be. Nolan’s Ghost has been given what I feel runs a very similar path to that of C3-PO from Star Wars. Higher pitched, robotic and throwing in awkward comments at times. The weird thing is that it somehow fits right into the game flawlessly but eventually just like the Ghost before him his comments are quickly ignored.The second is the new world where you will be spending a lot of your new time, the Dreadnaught. This is the ship that is transporting Oryx and his Taken; it is basically the size of a very small planet. It houses its own challenges, patrols, bounties and collectibles. The best part of the ship though is that it is just as grimy, dirty and disgusting that you would expect a Hive ship to be. It is littered with dark cavernous areas, grotesque monuments and maggots, lots and lots of Hive maggots.
Anybody returning to Destiny will notice the vast changes in the gameplay. The best way to describe the changes given out with the Taken King would be as having the previous year of Destiny a beta test. The update throws out the light level to reach your max level and now allows for experience to get you to the new max level of 40, Light now only upgrades your attack and defences to take on the more difficult portions of the expansion. So basically light still gets you to the highest possible level, Bungie have just tampered with the formula.
All your weapons and armour are very, very quickly made redundant as you work through the opening missions. Forcing you to find and upgrade new items that suit your play style, whilst adding different Ghost shells and Artifacts to your character to gain different stat benefits and perks. Yes, the grind becomes real as you are forced to achieve that higher light level to take on the games be all and end all The Taken Kings raid, Kings Fall.Before we get on to that though, the way missions are presented to Guardians now are in the form of Quests and steps which house their own special page on the pause screen. It tells you what to do and where to do it. What I really love about this system though is not only obviously the loot and fun that can be had but from the idea that these quests take the story way beyond the fall of Oryx. Yes there are only the half dozen or so missions based solely on killing Oryx but after completing that if you tick the right boxes you could participate in quests that expand on the story even more and that is the best thing that this game added. A sense of progression and purpose with out the developers having to go above and beyond game development for this expansion. Add a few characters out of place, head back to a less taken path and call it a quest. Simple on paper but by golly it worked well with some high experience and quality loot being thrown around.
Now the raid and the forced teamwork of this expansion. This is what I feel the game/expansion falls down the most in. The year gone by, typically you could do just about everything that needed to be done by yourself or a two man Fire team and leave the rest for matchmaking such as strikes, crucible and raids. In the Taken King there are countless times in which as a Guardian you are forced to have a full Fire team to complete missions and challenges. At its core, this game is a MMO but as a person who doesn’t have a great deal of online friends and works erratic shifts, it becomes a tiresome effort to either not be able to participate or rely on third party online match making forums. These people who, you don’t know, don’t know how they play and could be just plain old unreliable asking you to carry their weight as they reap the loot and rewards is not what I call fun. But how do you fix that? There in lies the problem.This obviously carries over to the raid. Doubling the required Fire team number from 3 to 6. In doing so it also doubles the trouble. With the raid no more than two weeks old the previously mentioned 3rd party match making forums have created their own ridiculously standards asking people to be above and beyond what I feel is acceptable for something that is a few days old. Even above Bungie’s recommended standards.
The raid itself though is brilliantly structured around precision teamwork and communication with a sprinkle of plat forming that I cannot wait to tackle again.
For the crucible orientated players there are a few more match types to be played with a few new added features such as the “Mercy Rule” where a game will end if one team is getting pummelled beyond a comeback and then the servers will attempt to break up those teams to find a more balanced match.What stood out to me at the launch of the Taken King was the price, for the Australian PSN it was a whopping $70 for something that the developers describes as being between a new game and expansion. I’m paraphrasing with that quote but how is a $70 update valid when the game released for around the same price a year ago? Perhaps this purchase is also a key to another expansion or my even cover you for the entire second year of Destiny but only time can tell for that one.
The Taken King as a whole is a huge positive step forward in the universe of Destiny. New worlds, revamped quests, armour, weapons and light system. It is not without its hiccups though those are sure to be addressed in future updates. For returning players there is plenty to see and do and for brand new players, the world is at their fingertips. As a guardian I cannot wait to see what comes next.