Destiny: The Taken King starts on an extremely high note, one that it struggles to carry to the end of the main questline. While great, the main story falls into old habits at times, but in the end delivers the best experience since the game’s launch.
Some Familiar Faces
In Destiny’s second raid, Crota’s End, we killed a God. Crota’s father, Oryx, is out for revenge. Many of the game’s characters must come together to defeat this all powerful being with the ability to bend various alien races to his will. In beautifully crafted cutscenes, we see interactions between Destiny’s main cast that we had never seen before. Many members of the Vanguard playfully interact with one another with a brevity that is welcome to the series. The Vanguard begin to feel like an actual group, rather than a bunch of people who spend their time standing around in different corners of the tower as they do outside of the story.
When not watching these cutscenes (they ARE skippable after all), players can expect highly varied quests to play through. The very first mission being the crown jewel of the single player Destiny experience. Featuring things like cutscenes, interactive points of interest, and setpieces, you will watch as your enemies scurry from a force of evil greater than themselves. Familiar witty banter between characters is still present during loading screens and during gameplay, but they are thoughtfully accompanied now by the narrative tools mentioned above.
The Game Changer
I found most of The Taken King’s mission design to be refreshing and game changing. However, two thirds of the way in, I felt the game was returning to some bad past habits. The pomp and circumstance we are greeted with in the beginning of the main questline seems to peter out momentarily, leading up to an ending that doesn’t match the beginning in terms of scale. In fact, in the final boss fight, I actually exclaimed “Oh shit, we’re doing this now?” Large scale space battle cinematics and grandiose setpieces seem to disappear again. And while the intentions behind your actions and missions are never confusing, there are a few moments where they begin to feel like the intergalactic laundry list synonymous with Vanilla Destiny.
However, even in these moments, fantastic voice work will keep you engaged. Nathan Fillion emerges as the star in The Taken King in his role as Cayde-6, the Hunter Vanguard. Cayde’s roguish personality delivers comedic moments amid the chaos, as he begins to emerge as Destiny’s Han Solo. This is yet another welcome change, as Vanilla Destiny seemed to take itself too seriously at times, and these injections of humor are definitely appreciated.
The Good Stuff
Each new subclass gets its own quest, making each class even more varied. This addition addresses past complaints about lack of variation between player classes, and does so in a meaningful way. The first moment I unleashed my new super was the most pleasing and fun moment since the game’s launch. New super abilities make players feel powerful in an all new way, which means a lot to a player base that has spent so much time feeling overpowered.
The Taken King’s new weapons have wonderful audio and the same familiar satisfying kick that comes with Bungies weapons. Every weapon is more fun to use than the last. When these new guns are matched with the bevy of new perks and grenades, players are reminded of why they love Destiny so much. This social shooter’s base gameplay is so solid it can carry the entire title on it’s shoulders. The wonderful difference is that now there’s a story to match.
The Dreadnought is the floating fortress of Oryx, The Taken King. It’s long corridors, chilling sounds, and open spaces dwarf Guardians, and make you feel vulnerable. Uncovering the new mechanics and secret areas of the dreadnought lend to hours of exploration. Today, I actually spent two hours exploring and finding mysterious ways to open various hidden chests. The new patrol missions and public events lend to even more hours of gameplay. Fun new events such as the court of Oryx place random players together in order to slay random bosses, in hopes for some sweet loot upon their demise. Finding each new bosses weak points and discovering the boss fights mechanics add a new dimension of fun, and fosters teamwork among players.
Two new PVP modes have been added in TTK, my personal favorite being Rift. In this capture the flag-esque mode, teams fight to capture an object called the spark. Once a runner has picked up the spark, his or her teammates must defend them as the run to the enemy teams’ rift to score a point. This new player vs player mode is a welcome change from Destiny’s year one offerings. Rather than running around blindly or defending static points, rift forces players to work together and remain on the move. At times, rift feels something akin to a sports match as you run along swiftly dodging bullet fire or push forward on offense with your runner. The ability to stylishly “slam dunk” the spark into your enemies rift is a nice touch as well.
The aptly named Mayhem mode supercharges Guardians, allowing your grenades and super abilities to trigger every few seconds. Titan slams and golden guns abound in this multiplayer mode, where every move can be your last.
All in all, The Taken King feels like a product Bungie is proud to offer to it’s fans. Cost and content have long since been a debate with Destiny, but The Taken King stands out against past DLC releases. With an overhaul to the games UI, quest systems, weapon rebalancing, new subclasses, storyline, and much more, The Taken King is definitely worth your money and time. At this time, there is still the raid, King’s Fall, to look forward to. Expect a full review in the coming week.