‘Destiny’ – That Wizard Did Not Come from the Moon

Image Credit: www.express.co.uk

Image Credit: www.express.co.uk

Alex Moreci, Spear Contributor

Game: “Destiny: The Taken King”

Platform: Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Developer: Bungie

Publisher: Activision

Released September 15, 2015


Destiny is a game of mixed acclaim. On one side there are the haters, constantly denouncing both the game and its fans. The hardcore audience isn’t much better, avidly defending all of the greedy, despicable actions taken by Activision exploit the same audience that is sure to be willfully ignorant to their flaws. While the two previous expansions produced were lacking on content they couldn’t be generally considered too exploitive, especially compared to what passes as downloadable “content” these days. Activision is setting the new expansion, “Destiny: The Taken King,” apart with a forty dollar price tag and promises of as much content as the base experience.


“The Taken King’s” story follows the “Dark Below” and “House of Wolves DLCs (and requires both too play unfortunately) in which Oryx, the father of one of the the raid bosses, Crota, comes to get revenge on you for killing his son. That’s pretty much it. This may seem strange, but throughout the missions the story seems to have no plot. There is a beginning  and an end, but throughout the missions there is no cohesive rising action. Nothing contributes to the overall conflict. The missions do usually flow together with a reason for the mission at the beginning and a reason for the next at the end but for most of them, I still had no idea what the overall goal was. The first couple missions portray Oryx as hunting you, while as soon as you land on his ship, you are seeking him out.


Besides missions, there are now “quests” that help alleviate the monotony of the grinding. Quests usually have multiple steps varying from completing a mission, to doing a challenge in the PVP mode. This new system vastly improves the ways loot can be gained because most provide unique rewards.


In the past there were two systems of currency that can be used to purchase legendary loot that would be gained from specific activities like playing PVP or doing “Strike” missions. “The Taken King” refines this with the new “Legendary Marks” a single type. Legendary marks can be gained from a wide range of activities that rotate on daily and weekly intervals. Legendary marks do feel much more scarce than their predecessors unfortunately because the many activities you can earn them from are more specific and earn them slower.


The wasted potential that “Destiny” carries throughout its story is a shame. The world has a deep and extensive lore, telling of a golden age of humanity brought on by a mysterious satellite known as the traveler. However, in order to see any of it you have to unlock it in game, go to the website, then sign in. Why bother writing these “Grimoire Cards” if the system to view them is too counter-intuitive to make it worthwhile.


Like the base game, the story is told mostly through in game voiceovers that either narrate or describe objectives. This is one of “The Taken King’s” strongest aspects over the old content. The characters in TTK have personalities and can be told apart. They can even be funny, for example, the vanguard Cayde-9 voiced by Nathan Fillion, with constant references to his alcoholism and gambling debts, in a T rated manner of course. The rather atrocious voice acting done by Peter Dinklage was completely redubbed by Nolan North. At first I laughed at his characters new voice and writing but I soon preferred it vastly to Dinklage. North portrays personality and doesn’t feel like a soulless robot.


“The Taken King” also updates more than just voice actors. After some “Issues” Activision had with “Destiny’s” previous composer all the music was mostly redone, and sounds great. The new music is mostly grand orchestral pieces that fit the mood of the new locations included.


Almost every texture has been updated for the expansion, justifying the 20 gigabyte patch, and the game still looks incredible, even on last generation consoles. Any graphics however are completely thrown aside whenever you fight any of the new enemies. Whenever you draw near to them an annoying, low-resolution blue filter is put over the screen. This filter makes it near impossible to see anything, much less the new textures.


Oryx commands an army of “Taken,” versions of the old enemies with new abilities and powers. While some of the new powers are impressive and vary gameplay somewhat, this just ends up being a lazy excuse to reuse models. The taken are identical to any other enemy type, with the annoying blue filter wrapped around them. The combined blue on screen makes them nearly impossible to see when they aren’t standing directly in the center of your FOV.


The new location featured in “The Taken King” is the Dreadnaught. A cavernous grey-green taken mothership orbiting saturn. While visually impressive, I was disappointed to find that there were many similarities to locations previously used in “Destiny.” It ends up feeling incredibly similar to the Hive tunnels whenever you cannot see the incredibly well made skyboxes. Scattered throughout the Dreadnaught  there are many different types of collectibles and activities, most of which feel new and varied from the previous experiance “Destiny” provided.


As ever the gameplay is “Destiny’s” strongest aspect. Almost everything is the same as before, but it never needed to be changed. If you have already played destiny, it might be best to skip here. Anyway, “Destiny” follows a mostly standard form of first person shooter. The player has three weapon slots, primary, special, and heavy. Primary weapons are the standard rifles and hand cannons (powerful revolvers) that are mostly versatile with general applications in a fight. Special weapons have more power but are more situational and require semi-rare ammo pickups. Heavy weapon ammo is incredibly scarce but heavy weapons are highly powerful.


Missions are usually repetitive and don’t offer much to the overall experience, there is no reason to replay these. (if you don’t have Xbox Live or Playstation Network these are all you can play) In “The Taken King” there are more versatile objectives like “Place Patrol Beacons” where you put down beacons that let you do small “Patrol Missions” that can be accessed when on the Dreadnought or “Escape the Taken” where you have to run through the rest of the mission past hordes of enemies.

As ever  “Strikes,” that are basically long missions with a unique boss at the end make a return in “The Taken King.” With the ever growing pool of strikes from DLC grows these are slowly getting much less repetitive. You will play all of these multiple times, and when there were about seven of them in the game at launch there are about twenty now. I really like the new strikes added in “The Taken King.” Where the old strikes might as well have been the same mission with seven skins, TTK’s strikes are mostly unique. The bosses demonstrate this new focus the most. From fighting a boss in the dark, almost blind to fighting both a ranged boss and a melee boss at once every new boss in the strikes feels different


The PVP or crucible is still very much destiny’s prize aspect. It’s one of the best competitive multiplayer systems in games. Because players can tank damage, precision and skill are greatly rewarded with headshots killing much more quickly. At intervals throughout the game, ammo will spawn for heavy weapons that give an advantage to anyone who can fight to it. A large issue in year one was that people would constantly leave after games to collect loot earned during the match. In “The Taken King” these can be turned in anywhere, making the bad matchmaking slightly better


Along with “The Taken King,” there was a weapon patch that makes the PVP much more balanced than in Year 1. Where before, auto rifles and side arms would be immediately dismantled, they are now a valued part of any armory. Most weapons that were really good before the patch got nerfed and are now almost useless, and this combined with the fact that you can no longer reroll the perks on weapons makes it harder to get new good loot.


The new loot system has every equipable item contributing to an overall score called “light.” While I appreciate the notion, having cosmetic items contribute to what’s basically your level is a bad idea. I always used to wear red and black in year one, however if I want to continue, I now need to find a year two cloak that happens to be red and black and also has good perks.


If you plan to play alone, “The Taken King” is not worth 40$. Many quests require a group and the same goes for any of the high level missions. However, there is much fun to be had with friends and I strongly recommend having a fireteam. I have fond memories of playing high level strikes and crucible matches with my friend. I can also highly recommend a headset (though it’s not essential) Without them I could never have made fun of people’s names in PVP, or solved riddles in a new public event we stumbled into.


I think that it is rather conditional weather or not “The Taken King” is worth the frankly ridiculous asking price. I can say without doubt that it is not worth buying without the online features, or friends to play it with. The fact that it can require large amounts of grinding, and is quite repetitive can turn some people off to it. I can say however that it is better than “Destiny’s” base content and if you liked it you will like “The Taken King.” I liked Destiny as a base game, though some of it’s flaws are without defense. To those like me I would recommend it, however it is definitely not for everyone.


“Destiny: The Taken King”