Whether it was traveling across the vast sand dunes of Mars, fighting aliens in the underground tunnels of the Moon, or exploring a giant spaceship lodged in the rings of Saturn, I found it difficult to pull myself away from Destiny: The Taken King. Even after a month of enjoying Bungie’s latest expansion, I still feel drawn to this thoroughly enjoyable piece of DLC. The short but well-developed campaign, the uniqueness of the quests, and the challenging endgame raid make Destiny: The Taken King a major improvement over past DLC instalments.
For starters, The Taken King’s campaign feels much more immersive than previous installments (The Dark Below and House of Wolves). The story is no longer relegated to the bare bones plot of the previous chapters, but instead is thoroughly fleshed out with all the details of your fights. In addition, story is further enhanced by the brilliantly crafted cinematics and dialogue. Major characters that barely played a part in previous installments are featured much more prominently. In particular, the character Cayde-6 – voice acted by Nathan Fillion – greatly lightens up the mood with his witty remarks. As soon as the campaign was over I didn’t mind playing it once again on my other characters, for I knew I had only scratched the surface of The Taken King.
Like with previous expansions, there are collectibles called Grimoire Cards that add to the background knowledge of the Destiny universe. The only problem with the Grimoire is that you must visit the Bungie website or download the Destiny app to read it. Unlike in previous installments, The Taken King does not require you to read the Grimoire to understand the plot. Their existence serves the sole purpose of adding another flavour to the plot and to increase your curiosity about the Destiny world.
After beating the campaign, there are plenty of quests to keep you occupied for days. Some quest rewards are one-of-a-kind exotic weapons that far outrank the usual weapons found as drops. In addition, there are plenty of hidden quests spread throughout the game, and there certainly are clues hidden to guide you, but the discovery of these quests can often be by accident. One particular Exotic weapon could only be acquired by completing a hidden quest during a story mission. This leads to me and the other players banding together to complete the arduous quest before it went away until the next week. It is small little secrets like these that bring players to fight together and explore the entire game.
Destiny is a game where enemies are plenty, and a gun is your best friend. The new enemies (corrupted versions of alien races) in The Taken King have a variety of attack styles that keep you on the edge of your seat. Taken Psions continuously multiply, Taken Knights burn you with fire, Taken Captains blind you and flush you out of cover. This forces you to adapt and learn to utilize multiple play styles, a process that can take many hours.
With the addition of new enemies, the expansion also provides your Guardians with new sub-classes. The Guardians are the defenders of humanity and you can choose to play as a Titan, Hunter or Warlock, each having a unique set of sub-classes and skills. The new sub-classes give the Guardians a new set of abilities to use in conjunction with your guns. The Sunbreaker Titan’s special ability allows them to wield fiery hammers that can be thrown, obliterating any enemies around them. Nightstalker Hunters use a bow to tether enemies together and line up precision shots. Stormcaller Warlocks can channel the power of lightning and shoot it from their fingertips. The different combination of sub-classes and their abilities keep Destiny‘s combat highly dynamic and powerful, setting up the opportunity to deal out the most damage to enemies and bosses.
Attempting the end-game raid – King’s Fall – is a must-do event, even though it highlights the lack of a matchmaking system for raids. Once you have a team of six ready, you can attempt to take on the inventive and challenging boss raid. The raid tests your strength as a team and forces you to communicate effectively. When the raid was released, the first team to beat it took seven hours trying to figure out the mechanics and how to damage the bosses. I only tried out the raid a couple of weeks after its release when more players had beaten it, and I knew it would take me an hour or two. Communication with your team is the difference between defeating a boss or wiping out your entire team. It took me awhile to figure out what to do in different parts of the raid and how to work as a team, but completing it feels immensely satisfying, not to mention that you receive some of the best loot in the game. King’s Fall is certainly one of the best highlights of The Taken King.
If exploring different planets and killing enormous alien bosses is not your cup of tea, then you can enjoy the Crucible. Here you can test your skills against other players in an all-out battle, whether it be in teams or alone. There are many maps you can play on as well as several different game modes. In most game modes, levels are equalized so a player with low-quality gear can be just as strong as a seasoned player. You are forced to rely on your expertise of weapons and the various abilities of your class. I will admit that sometimes playing against some classes can be annoying, especially if it is a Titan killing everyone with his hammers, but I am sure he felt annoyed too when I shot an arrow as a Hunter to supress his ability.
Even though Destiny did not meet player expectations on release, The Taken King expansion has major changes that affect overall gameplay, making Destiny a stronger and more immersive game – what it should have been at release. Along with the previous expansions, Destiny: The Taken King has a lot of content. The Destiny we have now has three raids, numerous secrets and tons of side-quests that can keep a hardcore veteran or a new player occupied for many days if not months. The Taken King gets rid of the skeleton story and adds a more compelling plot with a clear villain and a role for us in the conflict. New enemies are introduced, and each has complex mechanics that force you to come up with the most effective way of surviving their onslaught. The King’s Fall raid far outshines previous raids, and requires more player involvement than just riddling bosses with as many bullets as they can, as fast as possible. Even after experiencing all the content Destiny has to offer, you can enjoy playing the Crucible, fighting players of all skill levels. Destiny is a cooperative game that requires you to play with people from all over the world; as such, you can only experience half of all the content available as a solo player. To help you connect with other players trying to accomplish similar goals, there are many websites and forums that circumvent the lack of a matchmaking system in some content. Overall, I had a blast playing Destiny: The Taken King and am excited to see what new content Bungie will add to the Destiny experience in the future.