Tag Archives: Taken King

Destiny: The Taken King review – part two

Welcome to part two of our review of the epic new expansion to Destiny, The Taken King. If you somehow stumbled upon this before reading part one, I highly recommend reading it here, before you continue.

All done? Great… In this segment of the review, I will be covering the new levelling system, how to get your light level up, and some additional tips and tricks to help you along the way.

Those of you who played the original Destiny, will know the struggle of levelling to 20 with XP, then waiting and praying that RNG (random number generator) would gift you something that would take you closer to that elusive level cap for each expansion. This changed slightly when the House of Wolves expansion released, where obtaining armour cores from the Prison of Elders would allow you to buy maximum light level armour. Many Guardians would find that they would be stuck in the situation of being “forever 29” (level cap was 30), regardless of how many times they would enter the Vault of Glass, high light level items would just not drop. This was also the same with The Dark Below expansion, and Crota’s End, resulting in many “forever 31” (level cap was 32) Guardians.

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With The Taken King, things have changed in relation to actual level and light level, as these are now separate entities. Levels 1-40 are now built up via earning XP, much like a traditional RPG, and light level is based on the weapons and armour you equip. Light level is now taken as an average of the attack and defence levels of your items, for example I currently have a light level of 291, which is an average of my weapons with attack levels of 285, 298, and 284, and my armour with defence levels of 293, 297, 295, and 296. Along with weapons and armour, your Ghost, Class item, and a new Artefact item will also give you additional defence values, helping you on your way to maximum light level.

Along with giving additional defence values, Ghosts, Class items, and Artefacts have their own perks which can boost your intellect, discipline, and strength values, as well as grant bonus perks. For example, one of the Ghosts I have has a perk which makes it easier to spot the Earth planetary material, or allows me to pick up more of the same material. It also grants additional glimmer (one of the many in-game currencies) when killing Fallen enemies. Class items can increase the speed of which a weapon will upgrade, and give a buff to reputation for either Crucible or Vanguard, depending on origins of the Class item (you can purchase these from either the Vanguard or Crucible mentors).

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Of course, many activities are blocked until you reach a required light level, or just below, so how the hell do you get there? As explained above, light level is tied in with the weapons or armour you have equipped, and these items can be acquired in a multitude of ways, either as activity awards, or through decrypting engrams.

Engrams are special pick ups, which drop when killing enemies. When you are low level, in both XP and light, these start as white (common) items, going up through green (uncommon), blue (rare), legendary (purple), and yellow (exotic). Before The Taken King, all high level items would be either legendary, or exotic, resulting in the destruction of lesser items due to their commonality and inability to boost your light level. In The Taken King, it is now possible to gain additional light by obtaining rare items of a higher value compared to a legendary, or even an exotic. So, the question now is, why should I bother with legendaries if my rare items are of a higher value? This brings me onto a new levelling mechanic called Infusion.

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Infusion allows you to combine a more powerful item, with a less powerful item of the same type, but this is saved only for legendary and exotic items. For example, say you have gauntlets which are of a legendary or exotic quality, but you have gauntlets of a higher power but they’re rare, you can sacrifice the item of higher value to level up the item of lower value. But why, you ask, should I worry about infusion if the rare item gets me to a higher light level? Legendary items offer more perks to the wearer, and therefore are worth keeping and infusing into, to gain those additional perks as well as the increase in light. It could be the difference between having rare boots at light level 275, which offer a faster reload speed, or legendary boots at 270 which offer a faster reload speed, and the ability to hold more ammo. Infusing the rare boots into the legendary boots will result in a light level boost to that item, approximately 80% of the item being infused, and will also allow you to keep those additional perks. It sounds complicated, I know, but it is a fantastic way to ensure that rare items are still relevant once you hit the higher light levels later on.

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So, you’re gaining light level with your drops, but it appears to have plateaued, now what? I did notice that once you start to get into the 280s light level, it started to become harder to reach those higher levels. This is understandable, as I’m sure Bungie doesn’t want everyone to hit the maximum level within two weeks of the launch of The Taken King, however there are a few tips and tricks to keep your light levels climbing.

  • When decrypting engrams at the Cryptarch, ensure that you are wearing the highest power items you can, across armour, weapons, Class item, Artefact, and Ghost. More often than not, the decrypted item will be of a higher light level. However, this becomes less true once you hit 290.
  • Make sure to check each item after decryption, as it could be a higher level. If it is, pop it on before decrypting the next item. Rinse and repeat until all engrams have been decrypted.
  • Factions now have a bigger part to play, and with the new ability to boost your rank with them via Motes of Light, Weapon Parts, Armour Materials, Heavy and Special ammo synths, it is a great way to obtain higher level gear. You also have the chance to receive faction-specific items, such as shaders, ships, weapons and armour. Once again, make sure you have your highest level items equipped before ranking up.
  • The Court of Oryx is a quick and often simple way to get loot. The tier one runs usually take less than two minutes, and the person who initiated the encounter will often receive the best loot. So make sure to visit court as often as possible, even if you don’t have a rune to activate it.
  • Kill everything. You never know when a rare or even legendary engram may pop out of a downed enemy, so make sure to clear the room before moving on.
  • Xur is now selling a new item called Three of Coins, which gives the player a slightly higher chance of obtaining an exotic engram from boss-level enemies. They come in packs of 5, for 7 Strange Coins (I told you there was a multitude of currencies in Destiny now), so make sure to pick up a few when Xur returns on Friday. Ensure you pop one of these before you face up against a strike boss, for example, to increase your chances. However, be aware that these do not currently work on the Psion Flayers strike, or where there are more than one boss-level enemy.
  • Once you hit the 290s, as painful as it may be, drop your level to the 280s before decrypting engrams. Personally I have had a few instances where the engrams have decrypted into 295+ level items, which superseded anything I had equipped. This may just be a luck thing, but I’m not taking my chances.

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The King’s Fall raid has a recommended light level of 290, so follow the above steps, and you should be able to give it a go soon enough, but be aware that you can access the raid with a light level in the 280s, but it’s going to be extremely tough for you.

Personally, I feel that levelling now makes much more sense than it did before. It also relies much less on RNG to get you to the higher light levels, but still requires a lot of work to get there. It feels much less “grindy” than it did before, especially as all of the above can be done whilst completing quests, strikes, crucible, patrol, everything.

The Taken King is proving to be much much more than just another expansion. As I said in my previous instalment, Bungie have listened to the player-base and have made changes to an already solid, if a little flat, shooter and made it much more of the MMORPGFPS they set out to create.

Part three of my review, focusing on the new strikes and Crucible modes will be here in the next few days, so make sure to keep checking back.

It’s all change as Destiny heads into year two

After today’s live reveal of the changes coming into year two for Destiny, with The Taken King, it certainly seems that Bungie really have been listening to their fans.

There’s a lot to go through, so stay with me…

One of the biggest questions going into year two was how your Guardian’s levels would progress. Gone are the days where players would have to rely on RNG (Random Number Generator) to boost your level, and being “forever 29”. Going into year two, your level and light level are now separated. Levels are now achieved through traditional XP gain, and a new cap of 40 will be introduced. Every player who preorders The Taken King will also receive a item to help boost a new character to level 25, the base level for The Taken King, called a Spark of Light. This allows players to create a brand new character, and negates the necessity to play through the whole story again, to get to the relevant level for the content. This will be available from the Postmaster, so any new player looking to take advantage of this, will have to complete the initial story mission to access the Tower.

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The Intellect, Strength, and Discipline values now also display far more meaningful values. Instead of a unknown number on a bar, players will now be able to see how long the cool down time, in seconds, for each ability is affected.

Light level, on the other hand, is still important, but is calculated differently to how it was before. Taking an average of the defence and attack values of your gear, your light level will now go into triple figures for the first time. For example, you may have a full set of armour, which each piece with a defence value of 190, and a full set of weapons with an attack value of 190. This would average out and give you a light level of 190. However, you may have a Ghost equipped with a defence level of 170, this would take the average level down to 186.

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That’s right, ghosts…

In year one, there were only ever two ghosts available, the standard white one, which everyone had, and the red Frontier Shell, only available to those who purchase the special Ghost Edition of Destiny. With the arrival of The Taken King, ghosts will play a much bigger part in how you equip your Guardian.

Each ghost you purchase will come with it’s own defence value, and will carry additional perks for you to utilise, much like you are used to seeing on weapons and armour. These perks also vary depending on where you purchased them from. If you purchase a ghost from Lord Shaxx, for example, that ghost will have a perk which boosts the amount of glimmer you earn from killing Hunters in the Crucible. The PvE specific ghosts, which were shown to be available from the Speaker, will carry PvE specific perks. One which was mentioned was Detection, which makes it easier for you to detect planetary materials (Spinmetal, Spirit Bloom, etc) whilst exploring.

In the stream, Bungie only showed ghosts being available to purchase from the Speaker and Lord Shaxx, so we will find out if they will be available elsewhere, on September 15.

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The biggest gripe many players had with year one Destiny, was a lack of story. Many complained that the juiciest details were locked away on Grimoire Cards, which were only accessible via Bungie.net, or the companion app. It seems that Bungie have looked to rectify this with the addition of quests, and a whole load of new bounties.

Accessed via the new Quests tab in the main menu, players are able to keep hold of up to 32 quests, and 16 bounties. Quests appear to be multi-stage missions, which are obtained from NPCs such as Lord Shaxx, and will reward players with new weapons, armour, upgrades, and more. Bounties behave much in the same way as they used to, but there are many more to obtain, and will be far more relevant to the activities you already do, kill 30 enemies with solar weapons, for example. Crucible bounties are now weekly, and can result in Nightfall-level rewards, which includes exotics. Once you have completed a bounty, players will no longer have to return to the Tower, or the Reef, to hand them in, but will be able to complete them via the Quest page in the menu.

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Factions are also playing a bigger part in The Taken King, with new faction quests, gear, and the ability to pledge to a specific faction. Faction packages, earned at reaching a new rank, will now contain a guaranteed legendary weapon or armour, and the chances to receive those elusive shaders and ships have been increased (c’mon Revenant…). Once you have received a ship or shader, the chances of receiving it again are dropped from the rewards pool, and so reduce the possibility of duplicate items. Players will be able to pledge to one faction a week, for a cost (place holder text shows 2500 glimmer, but this is yet to be confirmed), and will no longer need to wear the class-specific item to gain reputation.

Currently, players are limited to earning 200 Vanguard marks, and 200 Crucible marks, a week. In The Taken King, Bungie are combining Vanguard and Crucible marks into a new currency called Legendary marks. Once again, there will be a limit of 200 marks, but in the same way as glimmer has a cap of 25,000. Players will be able to earn an unlimited amount of Legendary Marks each week, but will only be able to hold a maximum of 200 at any time. Much like glimmer, Vanguard Marks will also be shared across characters, so no more wishing you could use the 200 Crucible marks on your Titan, for your Hunter.

Any marks you currently hold will be converted into Commendations, and will work in the same way they did during the transition from The Dark Below to House of Wolves. Marks will convert into reputation for which ever faction you pledge to, giving players the opportunity to quickly increase their ranks, and receive new gear.

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Of course, none of this matters without gear, right? With the new “collections”, players are now able to access all shaders, ships, and emblems they have already acquired via new Terminals. Gone are the days of having to sacrifice a emblem or a shader for a new shiny one, as any previously obtained shader, ship, or emblem will be stored in the player’s collection, to be reclaimed whenever they see fit. Exotic weapons are being treated in a similar fashion, with the new Exotic Blueprints, accessible the new terminals.

The Exotic Blueprints will display every exotic weapon and piece of armour you have obtained throughout your Destiny journey, and will displayed in year one and year two sections. It also appears that not all year one exotics will be making the transition to year two. From here, players are able to check which exotics they still require, and much like the collections, will be able to take out and equip weapons and armour as they see fit.

Exotics are also getting a make over, with changes made to the current perk trees. Any exotic-specific perks are now unlocked immediately, the example given was for the Warlock helmet, Light Beyond Nemesis, and its ability to allow a Guardian to revive team mates faster. Year one exotics are getting a further polish, with the addition of new talents and upgrades, however it appears that not all exotics will be making the transition to year two.

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Staying with weapons, our friend in the corner, the Gunsmith, Banshee-44, has also received an upgrade. The Gunsmith will now have more involvement with how players equip themselves, starting with the opportunity to field test new weapons. Players will be able to take a weapon from Banshee-44, for free, and take it for a spin. This gives players the chance to try out the new foundries, find out which guns suit their playstyle, and then order weapons from the Gunsmith. Yup, you will be able to order guns directly from Banshee. Every Wednesday, Banshee’s inventory shall refresh, allowing players to order a new Scout Rifle, Pulse Rifle, or whatever he has available, and have it delivered the following Wednesday, once they hit rank 1 with the Gunsmith.

Banshee will also be involved with how players can improve, or infuse, their gear as time goes on. As mentioned before, each weapon will have an attack value. This increases with better quality, and more powerful, weapons. With infusion, you will be able to take a high power weapon, and use it to upgrade your less powerful ones. For example, you may have a Scout Rifle with an attack value of 180, but you love it. It behaves just how you like a Scout Rifle to behave. You’ve just received a new Scout Rifle, with an attack of, say, 200, but you don’t like how it handles… Use the higher level Scout Rifle and infuse it with Old Faithful to upgrade it. Bob’s your Uncle, your favourite weapon is now relevant again.

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The one person everyone loves to hate, the Cryptarch, is also having a minor refresh. In year one Destiny, you were only ever able to purchase low level engrams from him; whites, greens, and blues. In The Taken King, you will be able to purchase Legendary engrams from him, and we have been reassured that those engrams will turn into weapons, armour, and class items.

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Of course, what’s the use of all these awesome new toys, if we don’t have the space for them? The Vault has also had a makeover. Featuring three tabs for weapons, armour, and general items (planetary materials, emblems, etc), Vault space has now doubled. There will now be space for 72 weapons, 72 pieces of armour, and 36 general items, but with the addition of collections and the Exotic Blueprints, how much we’ll be using this new and improved vault remains to be seen. Of course, it’ll be great for those Shadow Prices and Swordbreakers players want to keep a hold of.

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Before they signed off, the guys at Bungie quickly showed us some new dance moves, but didn’t go into any detail. It was also noted that the Hunter of the group was carrying a sword… Again, nothing was mentioned.

Overall, I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen from this very quick reveal. It does seem like Bungie have been listening to the fans, and maybe this is the Destiny we have been waiting for? We’ll have to wait until September 15 to find out, and personally, I can’t wait.

Visit the Bungie Twitch channel to watch the full stream, and make sure to catch the next Bungie Twitch reveal on August 26, when we get to see the Dreadnaught for the first time.