By Henry Lopez
It has been a little over a year since Bungie released what many people were expecting to be the justification for dropping 400 plus dollars on a shiny new video game console. What we got when the FPS MMO hybrid “Destiny” launched ultimately failed to live up to these expectations. “Destiny” launched to moderate to good reviews and many people began to say that it was just another in a long list of overhyped games that end up going nowhere. Well a year, a couple of decent small expansions, and several patches later Bungie has unleashed the massive 40 dollar expansion “Destiny: The Taken King”. A few hours into “The Taken King” it becomes very apparent that Bungie has not only learned from its mistakes but is also starting to turn “Destiny” into the game they initially envisioned.
The story of “The Taken King” is focused on the titular character Oryx, The Taken King who is seeking revenge for his deceased son Crota. For those who have not kept up with the story of “Destiny” Crota is leader of one the enemy groups you face in the game, and you kill him during the events of “The Dark Below” the first expansion released for “Destiny”. While it is ultimately a story about the big baddie seeking revenge for his son; it is a much better and also a more engaging story than what was offered in the original “Destiny”.
The expansion opens with the unexpected death of one of the more prominent characters in the game’s lore. This makes Oryx come across as a more menacing villain than anything that has come before in “Destiny”. The overall writing in the expansion is also much better. Many of the NPCs that helped you throughout “Destiny” now feel like actual characters as opposed to soulless vessels. Continuing on that note, having Nolan North (Uncharted, Deadpool) replace an uninterested Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as your AI sidekick Ghost has been one of the best things Bungie has done for the game.
On the gameplay side of things Bungie has listened to many of the critiques raised against the game. “Destiny” continues to feature what is arguably the best shooting mechanics of this generation so far. Where Bungie really upped their game is in their overall mission structure and character progression. No longer do missions feel like you are doing the same three objectives over and over again. Bungie also made it possible for you to manage several missions at once. Something that was noticeably absent when “Destiny” originally came out.
In terms of character progression Bungie decided to revert back to traditional experience points in order to level up from 20 to 40. Prior to “The Taken King” you needed light points in order to continue to level up after 20. This was a brilliant move on their part given that the only way you can get light points was through your gear, and their loot system was pretty broken when the game launched. Aside from that they also revamped their entire loot system and made it a more enjoyable experience overall. They also introduced one new subclass for each of the three classes in the game. The new subclasses do a good job at making each core class different from one another which was a complaint when the game was initially released.
While these are all great things there plenty of issues that Bungie has yet to address. The main one that comes to mind is that they have yet to add any form of matchmaking for the raids that are featured in the game. This forces you to go to a website and hope you can find a group of people that want to complete a raid with you. I can see no reason why Bungie is continuing to do this. Another problem that the game is still facing is that they continue to hide important pieces of lore and backstory in their website. This is something that you should have access to in game. While they have fixed their overall mission structure the lack of an in game map can make certain missions feel very cumbersome.
Overall even with these issues still present Bungie has taken a very large step forward in making “The Taken King” the game that “Destiny” should have been when it launched. An interesting story, better mission structure, gorgeous visuals, and still the best shooting mechanics in an FPS to come out during this generation of consoles makes “The Taken King” definitely worth picking up. Now let’s hope that Bungie continues to listen to the community and continues to improve “Destiny”.