So this is the game that has been stealing my life away for the last few months… I stopped playing the base game a few months after it came out, back in September last year, after a lot of the friends I played with lost interest. I missed the Dark Below expansion, and jumped back in with the House of Wolves, which added the horde mode-esque Prison of Elders. Then, at E3, they showed off The Taken King… and I was hype.
I’ve actually always been a fan of the phrase “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, and other than a handful of weapon re-balances, the game is still Destiny. The gunplay in this game is still phenomenal, with a variety of new perks you can unlock, to customise your arsenal to your playstyle even more. My favourite perk is called Rescue Mag, which refills the magazine of my hand cannon when I’m critically wounded. It’s amazing for someone who runs a little too far into the fray!
The new questing system has also made me feel like I’m never going to truly make it through this game in it’s entirety. I can finish one, get some neat gear, and then more will unlock, or a new step will have me tackling something else completely different. Just patrolling the Dreadnaught had a ton of little, new and confusing mechanics I had never seen before. It all could have been daunting, but considering the whole point of this zone is for people to solve mysteries, and figure it all out together, I felt okay with it. It’s like a giant, space Scooby Doo.
All the new strikes are really, really fun to do. The S.A.B.E.R-2 strike has you going into the depths of the Russian warmind Rasputin’s bunker, to save him from a giant Shank. It feels so much like a Borderlands boss, Which I really wasn’t expecting in the slightest. The other two new strikes are on the Dreadnaught, with one against the Cabal version of the Mario Bros (Happy 30th anniversary, I suppose!), and the other in a pitch black prison cell. They’re a bit more than just bullet sponges, but they’re still not complicated enough to ruin a run with strangers you don’t wanna talk to.
I’m dreading writing this part, if only for the fact that I’m going to get a lot of “what story?!” remarks. So I’m going to make my closing remark here, then justify it below- The story is 10x better than the original game.
Firstly, a quick summary of the story. Basically, back in the Dark Below expansion, you killed a prince of the Hive, a necrotic, legion of enemies who have taken over the moon. This prince, Crota, was the son of a much larger, sinister enemy- Oryx. Without Crota around to pay his tithe of killing, Oryx gets mad, hops in the car, and parks it in the rings of Saturn. Revenge and stuff.
This 10x thing works in two ways: The story is actually very cool in a huge, space opera type way. And, the way it’s told is just so much better now. Even the grimoire cards, which used to give you a vague story to explain more about whatever/whoever you just killed, are awesome, and give so much more depth to the stories that happen in our solar system.
But the most important part? You don’t need to read the grimoire cards to have half an idea what’s happening in the story. The Vanguard characters now offer a lot more exposition, both in cut-scenes and general dialogue during missions. Nathan Fillion also plays the Cayde we all expected him to be (don’t hate me, but the space cowboy character he’s typecasted as by us gets a little tiring by the end of it).
And one last point- Nolan North’s Ghost sounds so much better when reading lines that were written for him, and not Peter Dinklage. Just give it a proper go.
I’m gonna start writing about music in these things, because it’s always something that stands out to me while playing. And in this case, the music is done so well, that I forget it’s there. Yes, that’s a good thing- the music is so well suited to so much of it, that it’s not distracting. It feels like a proper part of the ambience.
All the classic themes are there, with the Taken enemies having their own motif added into the fray. But the coolest thing, is this motif is more a timbre than a melody, and is remixed into the older enemy motifs, to make this alien sounding version of what we already know. We’re meant to be feeling uneasy with the Taken in our solar system, and the music really gets that point across.
Don’t forget that this entire thing is written in the perspective of someone who was already deep in the lore and world of Destiny. If you didn’t like the base game, or the two expansions since then, you might still not like the Taken King. But I adore the hell out of it. The gunplay is sublime, the atmosphere and story are really, really well done this time around, and it’s just a plain fun game to play with friends.