Tuesday September 15, 2015, was the day that everything you thought you knew about Destiny changed. No longer is it about the endless grind, or the mindless monotony. On this day, Destiny changed, and very much for the better.
For those of you who are not familiar, Destiny is an MMO, or massively multiplayer online, style of first person shooter, where the community of Guardians really has made it as great as it is. Wherever you go, you will always be joined by other Guardians, friends or not, as you all fight for the common goal of pushing back the Darkness.
The original story presented in Destiny, which released on September 9, 2014, tells the tale of how the Darkness has taken over the universe, destroying planets and civilisations in its wake. With the arrival of the Traveller, a huge mysterious ball which hovers over the Earth, and with it the coming of the Golden Age, it is up to the Ghosts the Traveller has created to seek out new Guardians to push the Darkness back. Throughout the original Destiny, The Dark Below, and House of Wolves, it has been up to you to defeat the strongest opponents the Darkness has to offer. You have defeated Atheon, you have slayed Crota, and you have overthrown Skolas, but a new challenger has arrived to take your light.
As The Taken King brings with it a whole host of changes to Destiny, there’s a lot to cover in a traditional review, so this will be separated into four parts. This, the first, will focus on the new storyline and how story and progression has changed, as well as new mechanics introduced to enhance the story. The second, coming soon, will detail how levelling has changed, and give tips and tricks to getting “raid ready” that little bit faster. The third, will be a detailed description of the new strikes which are available on the Xbox One and Xbox 360. We have been given a total of five new strikes, two of which were exclusive to the Playstation for the first year, as well new Taken varieties of these and an original strike. This will also touch on the new Crucible modes, Mayhem, Rift, and an objective-based version of Control, as well as the new maps which were released with The Taken King. The fourth, and last, will come once the new raid has been conquered, and will feature lots of raid-specific mechanics as well as the enemies we have faced.
So, where do I start? Where any Guardian starts their day, the Tower…
10am that Tuesday I was in the Tower, hanging out and dancing with a group of Titans just waiting for something to happen. Suddenly a triangular icon appeared, and like the best synchronised swimming team, we all shot off together. This was where our story began…
When you enter the Tower for the first time after the release of The Taken King, you are given a tour of the Tower in the form of your first quest. You’ll learn of the locations of the most important inhabitants of the Tower, and when meeting them may be given new quests for you to complete; if you qualified for the VIP package (reaching level 30, or playing the previous DLCs before August 31) you will also pick up your rewards during this time. Crucible Handler, Lord Shaxx will give you Crucible specific quests, the Vanguard mentors (Titan, Warlock, and Hunter) will also give you class-specific quests. Before you know it, you have more to do than you ever did in Destiny, and don’t quite know where to start.
Head to the Director and you’ll notice a change. The layout is very different, both to accommodate the new locations and has been given a whole new look. This is a general theme throughout TTK, everything looks much nicer… The graphics appear to have been given a facelift, and feel much more rich and vibrant. Destiny could never have been regarded an “ugly” game, quite the opposite, but the new look definitely takes it up a notch.
Right, down to business… Your first quest is to investigate a distress beacon on the Saturn moon, Phobos, but before you can set foot on there you are treated to a beautifully crafted opening cinematic, giving you a true introduction to The Taken King.
Oryx, Crota’s father, has heard what you did to him and wants his revenge on the Light. He has created an army of Taken, a mix of Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal, Oryx has captured to do with what he wishes. We are not aware of his presence until we hear that Mara Sov, Awoken Queen, has been attack by Oryx himself, as he pilots his Dreadnaught through the Reef. Oryx unleashes a devastating attack against the Awoken, and we are left to assume that Mara Sov is dead, and it is up to the Vanguard, and their Guardians, to defeat him. Once the cinematic has reached its dramatic conclusion, you are sent to Phobos to investigate a distress call from the strongest of races, the Cabal.
It is during the first mission of The Taken King where you really can see where Bungie have thought about how the story is told. There are new real-time events happening all around you, and there is a real sense of danger for the mission ahead. As you make your way through, you witness Cabal being ripped away into thin air, and black shimmering portals appear everywhere. It is here where you encounter the Taken for the first time, and get a true feeling for just how difficult an opponent they really are.
The Taken are unlike anything we have encountered before, with their ghostly appearance, and new abilities, and prove quite the adversary. Taken Captains shoot a ball of darkness, which when trapped inside, will reduce your visibility significantly. Taken Psions will split into two, and if not dealt with quickly, will continue to multiply. The Hobgoblins will shoot balls of void energy at you, both when they are alive and when they die. The Taken offer quite the challenge to fledgling and veteran Guardians alike.
Whilst making your way through the Cabal ship, you Ghost will chirp at you, and will highlight points of interest to scan. This is a brand new addition to Destiny, and adds an additional layer of information which will help you on your quest. Before you know it, you find yourself pulling out your Ghost at every opportunity, just to get that extra bit of information. Your Ghost becomes far more useful than being used just to open doors, as he can highlight hidden pathways, and new destructible items littered around the environment.
You’ve escaped Phobos, but now what? You have a choice, something which you’ve never really had before in Destiny. With the completion of the first mission, and after heading back to the Tower to see Cayde, you can either choose to continue with the main story, or go somewhere else entirely.
The new quest format is a breath of fresh air for Destiny. Before, you knew what you had to do, went and did it, and that was it. Either move onto the next part of the story or spend some time wandering around on Patrol. This, understandably became stale and tedious, especially after you had completed the main story, and only had the Daily, Weekly, Nightfall, and Raid missions to do each week. With the introduction of quests, you’re never really finished with a story, be it the main arc throughout The Taken King, or an off-shoot from a previously completed quest. The days of sitting there, with nothing to do have well and truly gone. But, without rewards what is the point? Every quest line finishes with a reward of some kind, be that materials, a new weapon, or reputation, giving you a reason to wade through them.
So, you decide to continue with the main quest, and before you know it you find yourself on the Dreadnaught itself. This new zone, which you can wander around at your leisure, is a sight to behold. It’s massive, and full of nooks and crannies for you to explore. Beware where you tread though, as you may find yourself in the middle of a firefight between Cabal, Taken, and Hive. The Dreadnaught is easily the most dangerous place to explore in Destiny right now, but it’s full of puzzles and challenges that can only be accessed through exploration. Many a time I found myself miles away from where I was supposed to be, because I found myself in a rabbit warren of pathways and little caves full of chests and other treasures. Along with the usual chests dotted around, you will often come across chests which require keys to access, for which you must complete specific challenges to access. One such example with the Scent is the Key chest, which requires you to defeat a certain enemy, who then gives you access to another chest, this chest will then enable you to open the first chest you discovered. The Dreadnaught is littered with little challenges like this, and breaks up the often monotonous task of completing bounties, encouraging you to return time and time again.
Bounties have also received somewhat of a facelift, and are now much easier and more fun to complete. Gone are the “Complete 6 missions on the Moon” bounties, and in their places are the new reconnaissance bounties which just require you to either complete patrol missions, kill enemies, or pick up planetary materials and chests. These are also incredibly easy to complete during story missions and strikes, so you don’t have to stick to patrol to get that reputation.
Patrol missions have also been refreshed, and now offer two new varieties; a race and a Taken challenge. The race mission has you running around a patrol area, hitting checkpoints to power up an energy source. Once you have completed one round, a second and third may appear, increasing in difficulty as you progress. The Taken challenge is much like the original VIP target mission, where you are asked to investigate a Taken invasion in another part of the planet. When you arrive you must face several waves of enemies, ending in an epic battle with an ultra-level boss. Quite often these bosses are targets for a specific quest for you to complete, so make sure to do these often.
With the Dreadnaught, a new public event has arrived with the Court of Oryx. It is a special area within the Dreadnaught, which Guardians must place a rune onto a statue to initiate a random battle against one of several different boss-level opponents. There are three tiers in total (that we are currently aware of), and increase in difficulty with each tier. Tier one will spawn an ultra-level boss, which can easily be dispatched with one or two additional Guardians. Tier two will randomly pick two tier one opponents, both of which you must defeat to succeed. The tier two rune is regarded as a Nightfall-level encounter, so at least six are required to dispatch them quickly. The tier three rune spawns a raid-level boss, and nine people are recommended to complete this challenge. The tier three rune requires far more teamwork and communication between those taking part, but upon completion will offer top level rewards. The best rewards are only given to the person who presented the rune originally, but engrams will drop for other participants so keep an eye out for those prizes. The Court of Oryx behaves much like a traditional public event, and once a rune has been presented, more often than not other Guardians will turn up to help you out; I went through four different battles with a complete stranger, as we took turns to use our runes and reap the rewards, and finished with a wave and dance as we parted.
So far I am very impressed with how Destiny has developed with The Taken King. As a day one, and beta, player of the original, I have kept optimistic of the path Bungie was taking with Destiny, and feel that we now have the game we were promised all those years ago. Not only does The Taken King give a fresh new look to a game I loved, but adds so much more with quests, bounties, and patrols, that I am no longer looking for things to do. Unfortunately, Destiny still relies on having a group of friends to do certain activities, but if you don’t have a group of Guardians to join you, there is still much much more to on your own. I completed the main questline in approximately six to seven hours, solo, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. If you’ve kept away from Destiny due to poor reviews when it launched, or left because there wasn’t anything left for you to do, I highly recommend picking it up again. Unfortunately we have been stung somewhat in the UK, with a price point of £39.99, but I am happy to say that it is worth the money. This is no ordinary Destiny DLC, The Taken King feels like a sequel, wrapped in DLC clothing.
Part two of my review, focusing on character progression, and how to get “raid ready” will be here in the next few days.