I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for more DLC ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career in the Crucible. Skills that make me a nightmare for KinderGuardians like you. If you let my Strike go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you with a particularly nasty year two exotic hand cannon that I just picked up.
And that right there, is the kind of game that Destiny is.
Destiny’s launch in September of 2014 resulted in easily one of the most polarising games of that year. Unfinished, rough in many a spot and lacking the spark that developer Bungie had brought to the Halo series that made it a flagship game for the Xbox brand, Destiny was an experience that truly did have potential to be something legendary.
But what could be and what was, were two completely different things – as we’re in the business of reviewing games, not promises.
Since 2015 however, Destiny has become something far more desirable as the world expanded, more content was added and Bungie realised that it’s not a sin to have an epic story that also happens to be fun. Enter The Taken King. Billed as the next big expansion for Destiny, The Taken King is more than that. It’s a complete overhaul of the game, one that polishes and tweaks every single corner. By now, you’ve already experienced those changes.
A sleeker and more user-friendly interface. The option to carry more bounties around with you and not have to taxi back to your social hubs to turn them in. Armsday events that make the Gunsmith useful again. A revamped light system, exotic weapon blueprints, Xur’s new Friday inventory and on and on the list goes.
The changes may seem subtle at first, but the constant quest for better loot is one that now results in an actual sense of progression and reward in Destiny. Now, there’s a new threat on the horizon as Guardians have to face the ramifications of slaying the Hive God-Prince when his father and all-around badass Deity Oryx enters our solar system.
In a gripping cut-scene that has more narrative content than the entirety of the first year of Destiny, Oryx obliterates the Cabal and Awoken forces on his way to Earth.
It’s a great touch for any Guardian who succeeded in slaying Crota, as the new focus on surviving the revenge of a cosmic space-god hell-bent on turning your skull into a belt buckle makes for a more personal story.
Oryx himself may not be the most grandiose of villains, but his constant presence and the sheer magnitude of the power that he wields as he hunts you down makes for a more interesting villain nonetheless. When it comes to story however, Bungie has clearly been listening to fan feedback.
The empty shells of NPCs who populate the Tower and the Reef have all been given a hefty dose of personality, with Nathan Fillion’s Hunter Vanguard, Cayde-6, easily stealing any scene that he happens to feature in.
The core campaign mission features an extension of this new drive to actually tell a tale, with characters regularly chiming in with brief doses of information and levity as the story moves long at a fast-paced and cohesive rate.
Made up of eight meaty missions, the new campaign saves some of the more interesting mechanics for the new Strikes in the expansion, but they’re a solid example of fluid design and challenging arenas thanks to the new Taken threat.
Unlike the other races in the game, the Taken army attacks players like a greatest hits album, with various remixes of old foes that now channel new abilities as they seek to end you.
Taken Goblins can stream an indestructible force-field on to fellow soldiers, Taken Phalanx troops now use their gargantuan shields as a weapon that’ll blast you off of chasms if you don’t pay attention to your environment and Taken Psions now multiply like rabbits on steroids.
Once you’re done with The Taken King campaign, the game truly opens up as players get to engage in a mountain of post-game missions and quests.
From your usual fetch quests to more standard kill-quests and so on, the focus on being able to obtain all manner of fancy gear outside of the daunting Strikes and Raids helps ease the grind for better gear considerably.
Thrown into the new experience are three new sub-classes for players to tackle: The Titan gets a hammer-time Sunbreaker upgrade, Hunters can chain stealth with debuffing arrows as a Nightstalker and Warlocks can channel enough electricity to solve Eskom’s energy woes as a Stormcaller.
Each new class offers more than just a missing element from the original two classes, but a new playstyle as well. Sunbreakers now have more range to their attacks that make them a nightmare for grouped enemies, Nightstalkers are now more of a team-based support class with their chaining abilities and Stormcallers are short-ranged weapons of mass destruction.
The new Dreadnaught patrol zone is a massive labyrinth of hidden passages and secrets. Treasure chests, varied enemy spawn-points and a level design that rewards exploration makes for an interesting new zone, with the Court of Oryx being a particular highlight.
Supporting up to six players, the Court of Oryx is essentially a public event that can be triggered whenever you want, provided that you have enough runes to do so. This also makes for some gripping gameplay in The Taken King, as these events feature boss-fights with interesting mechanics attached, instead of being mere bullet-sponge experiences in the more progressively difficult fights.
After 30 hours in the expansion, this new zone still feels fresh and exciting, with the post-game content greatly adding to it. Overall, this provides new avenues for synergy in Destiny’s on-going attempt to be a more social flavour of action and first-person shooting. The new classes gel well with each other, with Strikes being a prime example of this, as cycling through supers can make short work of anything in your way.
The Strikes themselves are easily a big highlight of this expansion, with the four new team-based missions providing the best thrills in the game.
More challenging than the ones found in Destiny’s first year, Veterans will be in their prime here as their mettle is tested with playlists that now also mix enemy placements up so that the experience can feel constantly fresh.
When it comes to the Raid however, Destiny is back on form. King’s Fall tasks players with a gargantuan quest that makes the much-lauded Vault of Glass look like a cakewalk in comparison.
New enemies, devious traps and a final encounter that dwarfs even the time-manipulating machinations of the Vex have come together to form the greatest challenge that Destiny can throw at a team.
Outside of the core experience, the Crucible is back with eight new maps and two new game modes. Rift is a more energetic version of Capture The Flag, and plays out like a version of handball where guns are allowed.
Mayhem is easily the most chaotic fun that you’ll have, as abilities recharge ridiculously quick and just about everyone has a golden bullet with their name on it as all the new sub-classes do a fine job of complementing these modes.
There’s also a whole new range of guns on offer, giving players the kind of firearm satisfaction that would make Charlton Heston’s grave spin with glee.
There’s still that satisfying pop of a headshot, sidearms gleefully empty their chamber with new stats and abilities and brand-new exotic weapons and swords make the endless loot-a-thon that much more addictive.
There’s a lot of good in Destiny, with player feedback clearly being a massive factor in how the game was overhauled. But there’s also some bad, as some veteran players who aren’t in a hurry to upgrade are getting a slap in the face.
Nightfall Strikes are now longer an option for them, various House of Wolves and Dark Below content has been stripped from the game-world and certain Strike playlists now cap out at the level 20 Vanguard Legacy.
Crucible fans are especially hard-hit by this, as their options are limited with just three kinds of playlists: Classic free-for-all, classic Three vs Three on Skirmish/Salvage, and classic Six vs Six on Clash and Control. And the list goes on and on.
Veterans who aren’t upgrading yet aren’t happy, and they have every right to be as a huge chunk of the game has been stripped away. Some of it does make sense in a narrative and fundamental sense for players going forward, but to see people who are staying behind get such a raw deal is a shoddy treatment of a dedicated fanbase.
That being said, Destiny is now easily one of the finest FPS games on the market.
Last Updated: September 22, 2015