Destiny: 2.0 and The Taken King (PS4) — Review

Destiny has changed a lot in the year that it’s been out.  At first, it was a fun game with a good foundation that didn’t live up to it’s own hype.  Patches and DLC packs helped bring it up to speed and the last one, House of Wolves, was a fantastic addition.  The third expansion, The Taken King, promised to bring Destiny into it’s second year with a nuclear-sized bang.  A large patch, v2.0, came out about a week prior to TTK.  I’ll be discussing both here.

Is the $40 price tag too steep for TTK?  Absolutely not.  It’s hard to sit here with my PS4 controller next to me and write rather than play — that’s how good this expansion is.

Destiny just keeps getting better and better.

Destiny just keeps getting better and better.

  • TL;DR: Destiny’s largest expansion yet makes it better than ever
  • Platform: PS4
  • Hours Played: 40
  • What I Played: Main story, each new strike, lots of bounties and crucible, basically everything but the raid
  • Should You Play It?: Yes, flat out.

The storyline changes in The Taken King are profound, to say the least.  Oryx, the father of Crota, has decided that enough is enough and that these silly Guardians must die.  The Awoken Queen seems to know about him as well, saying that he escaped from “that pit”.  His ship, the Dreadnaught, is parked in the rings of Saturn.  It’s up to you, your Ghost, and your Light to take down The Taken King himself.

I could expand on just that opening paragraph enough for an entire article.  First off, Oryx is called “The Taken King” because he quite literally takes other races for himself.  You’ll be facing off against all four races in all combinations, like fighting Fallen and Vex at the same time.  The Taken versions of races have cool new abilities, too.  For example, Taken Captains shoot a huge blob which gives you tunnel vision.  They are a pain in the ass.  The Taken show up on all planets, too, so doing patrols and old missions have new wrinkles with new armies around.  Pretty cool stuff.

Oryx’s ship, the Dreadnaught, is Destiny’s first new explorable area since the game’s original release.  It’s a large ship with an undead/Hive theme.  After doing a handful of story missions on it, you open up patrols which in turn open up a ton of other events (a theme in TTK).  The Dreadnaught has a new material on it, Wormspore, along with a handful of events that require enemy-dropped keys to trigger.  Then we have the Court of Oryx, a new PvE event with three difficulty levels, each requiring a different key.  Court battles are public events for Crota’s Bane reputation and drops.  The most difficult one is essentially a mini-Crota raid, requiring your team to drop the boss’s shield and whack him with a sword a few times before he stands up.  My buddy and I finally downed that boss with three other players after six attempts today.

Here we coooome to save the dayyyy.

Here we coooome to save the dayyyy.

I breezed over the story missions a bit too quickly.  The new set of missions are more interactive, fun, and varied than anything in Destiny’s short history.  There are jumping puzzles, random scannable pieces of the environment, and nearly every planet is involved.  The comm channel is packed with Zavala, Cayde (voiced by Nathan Fillion who steals the show), Eris Morn, and the newly-voiced-by-Nolan-North Ghost.  He does an excellent job, by the way, as he feels more authentic but also more robotic, if that makes sense.  TTK’s story missions were the first set that I truly enjoyed in Destiny.

The item, level, and light systems have all been completely reworked for year two of Destiny.  I’ve got pages of notes, but I’ll try to distill them down a bit:

  • Light is now based on the average attack/defense of your gear, rather than being an arbitrary stat.  Higher light leads to more attack output and more defense.  Certain light levels are required for end-game activities like the new raid and nightfall missions.
  • Intelligence, discipline, and strength now have reduction amounts rather than vague percentages.
  • Attack and defense values have been completely redone.  For example, my old Thorn with 365 attack now has 160.  All year one gear has been nerfed to allow for better year two gear to shine.
  • You can infuse legendary and exotic gear with stronger gear.  If you find a gun you like and you find a gun with a higher attack value, you can feed that gun into the gun you like, which will gain some attack value.  Same goes for armor.  Infusion makes even blue drops exciting, as it may make your current gear better.
  • Vanguard and Crucible Marks have been converted to Legendary Marks.  Legendary Marks can be earned through daily PvP wins, heroic story missions, heroic strikes, nightfall missions, and dismantling legendaries.
  • There are new item slots for artifacts and ghost shells.  Yes, I’m counting ghost shells as new because they essentially haven’t existed until now.  Ghost shells give defense, stats, and help you mark/find planetary materials.  Artifacts give defense, stats, and random bonuses based on elemental kills.
Look! Look!

Look! LOOK!

The Tower has undergone as many changes as Guardians have.  It seems brighter and more detailed, packed with more little things like bookcases and crates, even a jukebox downstairs in the hangar.  Vault space has been increased to 72 slots per item type (finally).  The best additions to the Tower, in my mind, are kiosks.  Once you find a weapon, piece of armor, shader, etc., you will unlock it in the item’s respective kiosk.  You can then re-acquire that item from a kiosk at any time.  Gone are the days of emblems cluttering your vault space.  Rejoice!

Other little changes to the Tower include Eris Morn moving downstairs near the class vendors and gunsmith, Banshee-44, actually having a purpose.  The gunsmith has weapons you can test out for him, gathering data and reputation at the same time.  With enough reputation, you can place orders for legendary guns every Wednesday Armsday, which are fulfilled the next week.  So far, the shotgun I ordered has been great.

There are now slots for 16 bounties, which is good considering there are six new Vanguard and Crucible bounties per day, along with the three Queen bounties per week.  Bounties and faction reputation have all been put on the updated Quests tab, along with long-running quests like story missions and exotic weapon chains.  It’s all organized very well and just makes sense.  A nice touch is the removal of having to return to the bounty vendor to turn in bounties — they can now be completed on the fly.

Item kiosks -- making Destiny item management better since 2015.

Item kiosks — making Destiny item management better since 2015.

I can’t believe I’ve gone this far without discussing the new subclasses added with TTK.  Each class now has it’s third subclass, rounding out the missing element.  I play as a Titan, so I’ve been having a ton of fun with the new Sunbreaker class.  The super ability, Hammer of Sol, gives you solar hammers to throw at enemies which can track, explode, leave damaging fields, and so on.  I’m loving it.  Warlocks can turn into a Sith Lord with the new Stormcaller class, which steamrolls in PvP, while Hunters get the void-based Nightstalker class along with a bow that can cause damaging fields and anchor enemies down.  The quest to unlock the new subclass is a single-player only mission, which is a nice touch.  The Sunbreaker quest happens on Mercury.  That was cool.

As usual, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Crucible.  The current playlists are all new maps, which is a bit annoying because the old maps have been relegated to classic playlists.  I’d much rather everything be in a single rotation, maybe with a heavier lean on the new maps.  I’ve played three new game modes so far: Zone Control, Mayhem Clash, and Rift.  Zone Control is the same as Control except the only points are from owning zones.  It’s a slower game, not as much fun as regular Control if you ask me.  Mayhem Clash is Clash with everything turned up to 11: grenade recharge, melee recharge, and super recharge rates are all at 400%.  It’s chaotic as all hell and I love it.  I’m sad that it’s a weekly rotating playlist because I want to play Mayhem Clash all the damn time.

Rift is a truly new PvP game mode.  It’s essentially one-flag CTF and you have to score on the enemy team’s base.  A Spark spawns in the middle of the map, always in the same spot.  Once it’s picked up, you have to dunk it in the other team’s base, which causes a huge explosion that kills any enemies around you and scores a ton of points for your team.  You also get points for distance carried and picking the Spark up to begin with.  Rift can be super fun but can also snowball out of control pretty quickly.  I definitely like it, though.

Pro tip - if you're a runner and your escort team dies, just gun it.

Pro tip – if you’re a runner and your escort team dies, just gun it.

Everybody’s favorite traveling merchant, Xur, has also changed.  He now brings a class armor item, a legacy engram which will decode into a year one version of an item (aimed at collectors), and a rotating fifth item.  Two weeks ago it was a helm engram and this past week it was Hawkmoon.  He also brings a new consumable, Three of Coins, which stacks and increases the chance that your next boss kill will drop an exotic engram.  So far, I’ve had good luck when I use three at a time.  Xur no longer cares about Motes of Light, just Strange Coins.  But fear not — between bounties and general play, you can easily get enough coins to spend each week.

TTK is absolutely packed with new content.  The new story missions take about four or five hours to complete on their own, which opens up Court of Oryx events and patrolling the new Dreadnaught map.  Then, we get into new exotic quests, heroic strikes, and the new King’s Fall raid.  Oh, and there are also quests to fight the Taken on every planet, which I assume culminates in a huge boss fight (but I haven’t finished it yet).  The Crucible has quests, too.  If you were criticizing the $40 price tag, you might as well stop.

Nitpick time!  There are still two glaring omissions, at least in my mind, in Bungie’s epic game.  The lesser of those two evils are saved loadouts.  I have different gear sets that I like to use when I change subclasses, whether I’m doing PvE or PvP, and so on.  Being able to swap out a subclass and gear at the change of a button would be really nice.  More importantly, and I’ve harped on this in the past, is the grimoire.  Why the hell is the meat of Destiny’s lore buried in a separate website?  Other large games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Skyrim have plenty of in-game backstory.  I don’t understand why Bungie is hiding intriguing storytelling like the lore behind The Last Word away from it’s players.  I mean, I’m going to go read the cards anyway, but they should be in-game.

Here's where I stand after around 40 hours. Oryx, I'm coming for you.

Here’s where I stand after around 40 hours. Oryx, I’m coming for you.

Destiny has steadily improved with each content pack and The Taken King is no exception.  The second year of Bungie’s shared-world shooter has started off with an immense bang from the pure content to the sweeping game changes brought with Oryx and the 2.0 update.  The fact that this is my longest article to date should reinforce just how much has gone into this expansion.  Destiny is an excellent game right now.

6 thoughts on “Destiny: 2.0 and The Taken King (PS4) — Review

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