During Destiny’s first year, we’ve seen some ups and downs. People left, then came back to see what’s new, and left again when they felt fulfilled. There were those who scorned the game for not having enough loot and not enough new stuff to do. Then you had people like me who stuck with it through the year and enjoyed playing a game that was just plain fun to shoot aliens. If the Taken King is any indication for Destiny’s second year, then we’re off to an amazing start.
“The Taken King” is the first expansion in Destiny’s second year and it changes many of the core concepts from the loot grind to the currency and missions. There are new things to do, new things to pick up, and a new way to level up. One of the more noticeable changes in the Taken King was the change to your Ghost. Not only can you now find new shells for him to wear, but he is now voiced by the legendary Nolan North. All the lines of dialogue from the base game and the previous DLC’s have been re-recorded with his take on the ghost and are ok. They aren’t great but what’s a voice actor to do with lines that were written poorly in the first place. Personally I enjoyed Peter Dinklage’s cold robotic tone to the ghost over North’s whimsical uplifted take but neither is ear screeching terrible. Speaking of writing, boy has Bungie gone and made the dialogue in the Taken King missions better. There feels like more story than there ever was before and some characters on the Tower now have a sense of, well, character.
The expansion picks up where the House of Wolves and the Dark Below left off. You’ve defeated Crota and now his father, Oryx has his sights set on earth. Oryx has made his way into our solar system for revenge and after a failed attack from the Awoken Queen, has parked his ship the Dreadnaught among the rings of Saturn. The queen’s whereabouts are unknown and now it’s up to the Vangaurd to find a way to stop him before the galaxy becomes his. This is where we are now introduced to a new enemy type called the Taken. Basically these guys are just edited versions of existing enemies from each of the different factions. They include new abilities and have a distinct look that’s still recognizable. You’ll need to learn the new abilities these enemies have as they aren’t anything you’ve seen in destiny before. The Taken Psions can split into two enemies and Taken Vandals can spawn annoying bubble shield. There are even taken versions of mission bosses that can get tough for a slightly under-leveled player.
Most people will find the biggest change is the way the Taken King handles experience and light levels. Players can now level up to 40 with experience alone. This will unlock new year two armor, weaponry, and items. Your old exotics and legendry pieces can still be used but you’ll find rather quickly that you’re going to encounter stronger rare items in year two than your year one stuff, so say good bye to your Icebreaker or cool looking helmets. Although, there are some year two versions of exotic gear than can be found in the Taken King so good luck hunting those out guardians. The light level system has had the biggest overhaul and for the better. Gone is the old system that had you find higher light equipped items to wear and use to raise your light level. With the new light rating system, it takes the average level of all your equipment being used and creates a max light level. This light level can be increase by: finding stronger equipment, earning experience after you’ve hit the cap of 40, or feeding stronger weapons into your year two legendary or exotic items with a method called infusing. This inherently removes the downside of having every player using the same weapons or the same armor.
The Taken King not only overhauled the light system, but the expansion has added a new quest system to go along with the bounties. Now you’ll receive quests from people on the tower and in the reef that are either new missions or multi-step bounty like objectives. So if you wat to raise your light level and have some new content to do every day, Bungie has basically solved that. For new players this will be an immense amount of content thrown at their feet and even veteran players will find that there is a lot to do. To those vocal Destiny players out there, this will feel like a full experience.
I do want to make note here that just a few weeks after the Taken King’s release; they have added an in-game shop and a new currency. You can now buy Silver that will be used to purchase new emotes and, according to Bungie, cosmetic only items in the future. The only way to get silver so far is by using actual cash to purchase packs of it. My fear, along with everyone else playing games these days, is that there is nothing stopping them from using that new currency to gate progress on equipment. We’ll see how that plays out in the future of the game.
The Taken King is what players have been asking from Bungie since day one. Bungie listened to its fans and created a complete Destiny experience that new players will find immense content and the fantastic gameplay while veterans will rejoice that the expansion is the breath of fresh air that the game needed.
A PlayStation 4 code for the expansion was provided by Activision for review purposes