It has been a year since I got hooked on Destiny. After countless hours , hundreds of strikes ,missions, laughs, tears, and epic boss fights, this weird mix never got old. The question is, then, how can you successfully follow that up? I am sure a lot agree that The Dark Below DLC didn’t add much,and what The House Of Wolves DLC added wasn’t enough for guardians who demanded more awesome content. The answer is The Taken King.
The Taken King isn’t just a DLC, or another expansion. It marks the rebirth of Destiny in a more glorified form. The moment I inserted that disc into my console and started playing, I was wowed by everything that I experienced. This was not the Destiny I got used to; this is something much better.
First of all, the leveling system has been totally revamped and you no longer rely on legendary drops to raise your level, but rather on actual XP gains that you will earn the classic way. Once you hit level 40, however, the light leveling system kicks in again but with a variance. Where once it was a mere stat that accompanies your level, your light value has now become the cumulative of your offensive and defensive values.
How your light level is calculated is a bit trickier and more complex than it should be, but here’s how it is established: the attack and defensive powers of every weapon and armor item you equip, regardless of their class and type, now directly impact your light level. The higher the light level of your combined items, the higher your damage output and resistance will be.
Funny fact: petty green items in TTK drop with higher attack/defense values than you tier-1 pre-TTK exotics. Does that mean you will be replacing all your cherished exotics with green and blue items? To a certain degree, yes. Unless your preferred exotic item has a Year 2 counterpart, you will have to switch up your load-outs. All your preferred Year 1 legendary items, however? You may as well throw them into an incinerator. In an attempt to balance out the playing field and not grant Year 1 players an advantage over new-comers, Bungie has rendered all your favorite legendary gear obsolete by not granting you a way to upgrade them to Year 2 values.
TTK legendary drops may also be infused with higher valued items of the same class (primary/special/heavy/helmet…etc) to create more powerful versions of them. This was mainly done as a response to the complaints of many gamers who stated they were limited to which armor pieces they equipped due to their defensive values. This system also applies to all other equipped items.
Ghost shells now also drop with stats of their own which will aid you depending on their perks. Some ghost shells can detect material for you, some of them increase your discipline level and so on. Also, a new item class, artifacts, has been introduced that also has perks that will improve your total performance. TTK has definitely improved on the customization of your guardian and has made it even easier for you to micro-manage your load-outs according to your own preferences.
I was always wondering what kind of subclass is going to fill my third slot, and thanks to TTK, my question has finally been answered. Each class has been awarded a new subclass and regardless of whether you are playing as a Titan,Hunter or a Warlock, you are guaranteed to have a blast. Since Destiny launched last year, all I have been playing with was the Defender Titan, but the new Sunbreaker subclass has totally switched it up for me. The abilities are insane and if you add to your fireteam the Warlock’s Stormcaller and the Hunter’s Nightstalker, you will be having the time of your life.
All this is great, but another complaint that Destiny had been faced with dealt with the lack of a coherent or even interesting story. Thankfully, TTK more than attends to that issue. As any Destiny veteran would know, Crota was slain in The Dark Below DLC, but what TTK dictates is that Oryx, his father, is seeking his revenge, and is in the process of wiping out whatever guardians are left.
The vanguard masters Zavala, Cyde, and Ikora, with the help of the still-mysterious Eris team up to aid you in your fight to defeat Oryx once and for all. This time around, you do not just finish the story missions and move on to end-game content like the previous POE and raids, but rather each mission is now called a quest, each of which is broken down into a multitude of sub-quests. Some quests take you on 3-4 missions, while others may have you go through 9+ tasks and steps. The higher the difficulty of the quest is, the better your reward will be.
Even when you finish the main story quest, the game is not over as every NPC keeps on giving you more and more quests for you deal with, ranging from simply completing missions,to accomplishing insanely hard objectives. These quests are what will keep you coming back for more, and with rewards that may result in an exotic item, coming back you will, time and time again.
In PVE, There are a total of four new strikes, the Court of Oryx that will have you summoning elite bosses, including Crota himself, for random rewards, and a whole new location entitled “The Dreadnaught” that is arguably bigger than some of the previous planets and that will primarily pit you against Hive and Cabal forces.
If there’s one thing The Taken King emphasizes strongly, it’s the importance of team work. Though you can finish most of the missions solo, a lot of the more rewarding missions and quests require the help of a full fire team. The weekly strike has been replaced with a weekly heroic strike playlist that will shuffle three strikes for you to enjoy on a weekly basis. Strange coins no longer drop from these activities. The best way to farm them at the moment is to play POE. Your rewards for playing these strikes, dailies and the nightfall strike are legendary marks that have replaced vanguard and crucible marks. Legendary marks are used to purchase gear from the vendors, and to infuse your weapons and armor to make them stronger using the system I mentioned earlier.
One of my favorite additions to the game are swords that may be equipped in the heavy weapon slot. Gone are the circumstantially timed sword-bearing missions, now you can wield your own blade whose element will depend on your own preference. The only mishap in this system is should you choose to create an exotic counterpart to your sword, without proper research you may end up with a sword perk that does not suit your game style. Arc swords produce an exotic version with a long ranged attack, solar swords produce an exotic with a powerful uppercut that damages one foe, and void swords produce an exotic with a crowd control spinning attack. Know your sword before you craft it as you will only be granted one per character.
Another interesting addition are class-exclusive exotic weapon bounties. Level up the gunsmith to rank three, and depending on your class, you will be granted a mission that will unlock an auto rifle for titans, a hand canon for hunters and a scout rifle for warlocks. Bungie have certainly upped their game with exotic items by hiding them behind missions instead of relying on their often ludicrous RNG system. You have to earn some of the more complex and powerful weapons and gear.
Packs of wolves no longer roam the planets. They have been replaced by Taken forces, who though look like already existent enemies covered by a shroud of bright haze, are more powerful than their previous forms and come equipped with new abilities and weapons so don’t take them for granted.
The House Of Wolves DLC did not offer a raid, but with how the Crota’s End raid went with its many exploits that lead gamers to solo it, it was actually a blessing in disguise. King’s Fall, the all-new raid, leaves guardians with no room to complain. It is a dynamic and tough raid full of environmental puzzles a la Vault of Glass, and tough boss fights, this is adrenaline seekers dream come true. I don’t want to go into details about the new raid fearing I might spoil it for you, but I will tell you it is the best Bungie has given us up to this point.
The Taken King not only got better gaming mechanics-wise, but all aspects as well especially in regards to the art direction. With improved visuals even to the old content, all new locations with impressive dynamic backgrounds and effects, detailed areas, all these help you get deeper and deeper immersed in the realm of Destiny. Add to that the new weapons and gear design, TTK is a bliss.
The sound division doesn’t fail to deliver as well, with an all new dynamic soundtrack, your senses will be fully occupied processing the marvels going on at the same time. I know the Dinkelbot is not there anymore, but the Nolandroid still delivers thanks to the talents of Nolan North.
But, and this is something I hate to say, TTK is not perfect; it still instills a sense of grind in the game. As varied as the Taken are, their designs are a mere redesign of the existing enemy models. Year 1 veterans will also definitely feel shafted for seeing all the gear they struggled to acquire be made obsolete and replaced with all-new gear. In that respect, TTK is an astounding package for newcomers, not so much for those who stuck around as Bungie tweaked and reimagined how they wanted the game to be over the past year. An emblem and a sparrow are not reward enough for all this effort. At the least, Bungie should offer veterans items that will boost their stats not in a game breaking way, but in a way that offers them a nod for the millions of hours they invested in the game. Maybe they could have offered them exotic weapons of already existent legendary weapons that don’t necessarily break the balance, but add a perk or two. Anything to tell these gamers thank you for all your passion, and thank you for helping us build the game to what it is today.
More over, the mission structure, as clean as it tried to be, is overwhelming at some points; just too much to look at and consume at one go. Keeping track of all your missions is a hassle and the system definitely needs to be revisited. Some weapons stats still don’t make sense and have no numerical value like target acquisition. Had fun reforging your weapons during HOW? The featured has been completely abandonedbalongside the items you used to ascend weapons and gear.
PVP lovers will be pleased to know that there are new modes and all-new maps for them to master and destroy each other. With new weapons as well to look forward and other PVP-exclusive rewards, PVP never fails to deliver with its currently existing modes in addition to the all new TTK content.
Finally, though the campaign was fun as it may have been, it is too short for a $40 expansion. New games, complete with vast worlds and things to do, cost $60. This pricey pay-gate was reason enough for a lot of gamers to not buy TTK. The hardcore will always find reason to jump back in, but the casual gamer has been left behind with little reason to invest in a $40 expansion that offers them substantially less content than a brand new game would.
All that said, TTK has taken Destiny in the right direction by reconstructing everything with better architecture. The winning formula is starting to shape up more and more and will definitely reflect as more content will be released during year 2. Personally I can’t wait, but in the mean time, regardless of all flaws, TTK is one hell of a ride with so many things going on on your to-do list. Whether you are slaying Oryx, fighting hordes and hordes of Taken armies, or simply fulfilling casual bounties, you can be assured you will be having a blast with all the new weapons and abilities at your disposal, enough to make of you a one-man army, enough to mark the fall of a king.
Destiny: The Taken King is available on the PS4 [Reviewed], PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and a review code was made available to us via Activision.