Destiny The Taken King is Fantastic

destiny the taken kingYear 2 for Destiny is in full swing with the launch of The Taken King. After a week of trying out the new PVP game modes and even taking some of the gunsmith guns for a spin, I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into some new content in Destiny. After two really long streams on my twitch totaling almost 20 hours, I still haven’t completed all the new content for my Titan. While I have a few gripes there just doesn’t seem to be any major shortcomings, yet. The reason I say “yet” is because we all know the true test of this expansion is the repetition and grind that awaits us beyond the new guests, side quests, and shiny loot.

A story

Let me be one of the many to say and echo the high praise for the opening cinematic. This scene was not just beautifully rendered and executed, but it created immediate urgency and character depth. This is what the game has been drastically missing up to this point. Having missions and quests tethered to something that feels important and epic in scope made me enjoy the game in a way I hadn’t before. Then beyond that Nathan Fillion totally steals the show with his character Kayde-6. Virtually every cut scene is full of character chemistry, humor, and a story depth that it completely absent from vanilla Destiny. It seems undeniable at this point that the emtpy story and confused game is Activision’s fault. The original game was delayed for a year and seems pretty poultry when compared with the $40 expansion that landed exactly one year after the original launch date. So Bungie had a year to make The Taken King and it’s rich with story, character development, and lore, and vanilla Destiny was given an extra year of development and yet seems like half the game. It’s pretty unusual and probably unheard of to have a $40 expansion seem bigger than the original launch game it is attached to.

I also have a theory that the chemistry between the characters and the patrol dialogue from Kayde-6 we’ve been hearing for the past year are proof that a ton of stuff got cut from the original game. The little quips and lines delivered by Kayde-6 are too in-sync with the wise cracking and whimsical version we are getting to see in The Taken King. And the chemistry between the Warlock, Titan, and Hunter around the table was far too established and linked to their little voice overs and lines delivered in vanilla Destiny to be encased in The Taken King only. We will never know how much was cut, but I think the quality of The Taken King clearly shows how good Bungie can be.

So much to do

Many are already voicing their disappointment with the main quest line only lasting about four and half hours. While I was a little shocked to suddenly be fighting Oryx, many who are voicing this criticism are misrepresenting the content. As I said on the outset, I’ve sunk over 20 hours into my Titan and I am still not done with all new content. The strikes, searching the Dreadnaught, and side quests are almost overwhelming. I said many times before that if I were in charge my goal would be to create so much content that players struggle to complete everything in a week. It was always pretty pitiful to land on Wednesday or Thursday and basically have nothing left to do. I can’t wait to clear out my quest lines and bounties just so I can dig into my other characters and new sub-classes!

Environments

Another clear and undeniable feat of excellence is how beautiful and stunning the environments are. Phobos is cryptic, scary, and feels tumultuous and truly like “outer space”. The Dreadnaught feels absolutely massive, confusing, and so brilliantly crafted that I can’t believe they got this to run on the old-gen systems. The huge caverns, drop offs, high ceilings, and mazey caves and tunnels are created in a way that truly makes the Dreadnaught feel enormous.

Combat

The first thing you will notice in most of the fights, missions, and strikes, is just how much is going on when engaging the enemy. The Taken show up suddenly, different enemies are fighting amongst themselves, and you are constantly thrown into the middle of it. It definitely does not feel like a constant “horde mode” in the way that year 1 of Destiny did. And this of course leads to the greatly improved boss fights.

Boss Fights

We finally have boss fights that keep you on your toes, create new problems to solve, and don’t let you sit still. There was a fight in the dark, a giant shank that kept making us move around the room, the shield brothers, and Oryx himself was a spry and daunting foe. These fights will become more interesting when they are at level or for a Nightfall, and hopefully Bungie was thoughtful about that. If these become high fail rate rights due to how dense they are with the number of mobs and small rooms it could hurt the end game of what is proving to be the defining moment for Destiny.

Biggest Gripe

My biggest, and for the most part only gripe is that leveling from 36 to 40 was far too quick. There were endless green and blue weapons and armor that I was constantly replacing and breaking down because I was leveling up so fast and finding so much loot. It was kind of like drinking from a fire hose and really sold the content short in my opinion. Given Bungie’s propensity and ability to re-use old areas I thought that an easy solution would have been to send us on old missions and boss fights that were now taken to try out the new weapons and gear we were finding. It’s just unfortunate to see so many vibrant and different weapons and armor glossed over in a matter of hours before everyone settles into their legendary and exotic hunts.

Sub-classes good

The new sub-classes might actually be too good. Sure, ther are instances and times where the old sub-classes will serve their purposes and help out with a tough fight, but they will certainly show up a lot less. Throwing hammers as a Titan is certainly fun, and hopefully as my light level increases it will feel a bit more stout because majors are surprisingly resilient after the under level enemies dissolve into piles of orbs.

Wait and see

I would strongly suggest you wait and see if this is worth it if you are still on the fence. Even if you don’t like the repetitious nature of the content that inevitably awaits everyone, I think each character has far and away more than 20 hour of new content to play through and the new sub-classes will make it all feel different enough to be fresh and fun. For the $40 I think the new content, guests, side quests, strikes, and new PVP game modes are definitely worth it. Beyond those things there is the grindy repetition that awaits us giving us something new to try each day and the big daunting raid is obviously on the horizon for many. But if you are just going to buy the expansion and intentionally don’t enjoy it and complain about how bad it is then you brought it on yourself as I believe the content was fairly represented, marketed, and there are plenty of avenues with Twitch and Youtube to see the content before purchasing.

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