Much the same as many other gamers, Destiny surprised me beyond expectation and justified the heavy burden placed on its shoulders prior to its release. This burden was mostly down to it being produced by the studios that developed the ever loved Halo but for many, including myself, it was the online obsessed aspect of it all that kept me circumspect. Executed as though there was not a pressure in the galaxy, Destiny provided an immense visual treat for gamers, backed up by consistently solid gameplay and dynamic online experiences. An intelligent hybrid of First Person Shooter and Role Playing Game lends Destiny to a dynamic and high speed action shooter uniquely combined with the ability to choose, design, loot and upgrade. Although there are some gripes and complaints with Destiny, many of which are highlighted by Xavier’s brilliantly poignant article on the original, The Taken King has really impressed.
Up to this point there have been two expansions to the franchise, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, but TTK is the biggest expansion of the series to date and I must say that the changes are more than just a face lift to keep the profits turning. Bungie have heard the fans’ requests and developed something more consistently entertaining with the longevity to hook into even the most experienced Destiny players. This should be the norm for expansions though, especially when you’re paying the price of a full game as you are here. Rest assured though, this is full value and will not disappoint those craving more from the series. A new storyline, explore area, strikes and quests give credence to this and expand the already large universe that is Destiny.
A common cause negative about Destiny was the unimaginative and simple storyline, something that can often detract from the quality of a game. Concerns as to the lack of character depth and even dialogue have been addressed however, and TTK seems to take cognisance of this fact with the single player story mode bearing more substance and life. The in game dialogue is definitely improved and the same goes for the cut scenes. This is likely down to better interaction between characters and the occasional “banter”. Ghost, your ever handy McGyver robot, previously voiced by “that midget from A Game of Thrones” is a change I didn’t like but this is definitely down to my bias for Peter Dinklage. The new Ghost seems more animated, but it seems apt to be having Tyrion Lannister assisting you on your adventures.
The storyline involves Oryx, something of an overgrown vampire bat, and his quest to destroy you and your allies with his barrage of followers. This is rather cliché but at least more concrete than the originals otherwise confusing and dull plot. Particularly, Oryx is looking to avenge the death if his son, Crota, who was slain during a previous Raid. In this blood lust, and through manipulation of other enemy races, Oryx gathers a group called “The Taken”. Good that then, as it gives us ample to shoot at… And you’ll be doing a lot of shooting especially considering that each Taken has differing abilities, some of which are ingenious and tricky to defend against. Yet more diversity to tantalize your galactic taste buds.
The campaign is not all that long but all the missions are filled with quirky tweaks regardless of whether there are certain areas that you have already explored. The important aspect is that TTK breathes fresh air into the series and will likely keep us playing far longer than before. Different quests require you to travel throughout different corners of the galaxy with due reward. This is an improvement on the original Destiny as previously players were incentivized mainly by different loot drops. Quests in TTK help draw meaning from your activities and even though many are predictable it contributes to your ability to increase your character’s level and inventory – something vital for us RPG nuts.
In Destiny, raising your level was too infrequent and random for my liking but now this has changed with your character’s level being reflective of the weapons and armor being utilized at specific points. This encourages one to get new and improved gear and is something that most gamers will always enjoy, especially considering the array of weapons and the strengths and weaknesses attached to each. This reminded me somewhat of Borderlands, especially combined with the looting aspects, but please don’t think that the games are similar.
Previously, the main objective in Destiny was framed around shooting as many bullets or rays (or whatever else your weapon shoots) into your enemy and nothing else. Although this is much the same in TTK there is more for diversity, much of which is borrowed from the online raids. Although all is still based around killing and being a bad ass, the multiple staged boss fights and environmental damage adds to the carnage and the ability to choose new subclasses has some exciting effects. Each new subclass comes with very entertaining abilities that over power your character during use. The abilities themselves offer more scope than before and this allows different characters to be less restricted. This increases the dynamism within the game and makes for more action packed battles.
Aside from the large size of Destiny and the worlds in which you travel, many pointed out, quite correctly, that it wasn’t all that impressive relative to many other RPGs already out there. Happily though, TTK offers us another zone to make friends in. This zone is known as the Dreadnaught – for fairly obvious reasons – and is Oryx’s rather impressive space ship. The game’s pre-existing zones are all playable obviously and include the wonders of Mars, Venus, Earth and the Moon (the Earth’s moon to be precise). The Dreadnaught is packed with hidden locations to discover and action packed quests. The Court of Oryx allows one to team up with others to take down uber boss enemies and offers a fantastic chance to obtain loot. Although there is a lot of activity within the vessel, I do often crave an open battle as opposed to the almost claustrophobic feel that I got from the Dreadnaught at times.
I do not think that over thinking the online aspect of Destiny, or TKK for that matter, should discourage gamers from choosing Destiny. It is seamless and adds to the experience. It is difficult to place Destiny into an exact category as it doesn’t quite fit to say that it is an RPG or an FPS or an MMO because it’s a combination, a really good one at that. In that sense, I like it – thoroughly. It is a series that has the potential to go much further, a fact proven by TTK, but what has already been achieved is breath-taking and unique. I’m sure that this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the online experience for console gamers but I must say, it has been a most positive experience – and a fun one at that!
Destiny The Taken King Rating: 8/10
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