Destiny: The Taken King (TTK) has been on the hype train since it was announced on June 15 and nothing appears to have affected its course. This expansion was originally data-mined before House of Wolves was even released. It was rumoured to be named “Comet: Plague of Darkness,” and has seen a bunch of speculation thrown around, but alas, here we are with Destiny: The Taken King. With all of this in mind, I delved into this huge expansion with great excitement and boy was I pleased with what I played.
The Taken King is set following the events of The Dark Below, whereby you kill Crota and his father, Oryx, is really unhappy about it. This transgression has caused Oryx to pursue you, the Guardian, in an act of pure, unadulterated vengeance. Him and what army you say? Oryx possesses the ability to rip enemies we know and love (to shoot) out of our dimension and corrupt them with his dark, evil power. These newly corrupted foes are known as ‘The Taken,’ controlled by Oryx like puppets. It is our job as Guardians to protect humanity from Oryx’s blight. Bungie has done a fantastic job with this stellar piece of DLC. Yes, it is on the expensive side of things (costing $70AUD and requiring both TDB and HoW expansions prior to purchase) but it does offer a plethora of content. Let’s start with the main story.
TTK starts its story with a fantastically well-written and well-designed cut-scene depicting major events that lead towards your intervention. From here you are sent to Phobos in response to a distress signal sent out by the Cabal. This first mission is where you meet Oryx and his Taken army. Fighting against these enemies is different to how you normally approach enemies. Each enemy has an array of new tricks up their sleeves that they can’t wait to annihilate your butthole with. Captains can blink like Warlocks, have beefed up solar shields (yes, their shields and weapons elements have been swapped) and will throw black holes of pure discomfort at you, dealing damage and blinding you. Oh, did I fail to mention that these black holes can go through walls too? There are many intricacies to the story that TTK has to offer. The bosses have proper mechanics to them and offer a challenge if you are scaled correctly, but being over-levelled will offer an advantage and at this point the boss just becomes a regular bullet sponge, naturally. Characters like Cayde-6 (my personal favourite) actually have personality to them. The cutscenes and the fresh dialogue emphasise these personalities, and you actually get to see each of the Vanguard representatives in conflict with another due to clashing philosophies that reflect the class they represent (Hunter, Warlock or Titan like the Guardians themselves).
Alongside the main story are the new subclasses which are obtained through short-but-sweet quest lines. These quest lines give a bit of backstory as to what your class is and how they differ from the others. For Titans you have the Sunbreaker subclass which allows Titans to wield the flame in the form of the Hammer of Sol. For Hunters you have the Nightstalker subclass, this is a more support-based subclass whereby you wield the void in the form of a bow to suppress and tether your enemies, rendering them helpless for you and your friends to mercilessly murder. For Warlocks you have the Stormcaller subclass where you must harness the energy of the storm and channel the lightning through your body to electrocute everyone as if they’re sitting on the electric chair. Each of these new subclasses are beautifully well-balanced, and learning the intricacies of how they can be applied in unorthodox methods allows for gratifying experimentation with play styles.
TTK only offers eight action-packed story missions which may seem sparse, however TTK’s value is not in its main story, it’s in the content that comes following the story. Once you complete the main story you are given quests named “The Taken War.” These quests are what you need to work on next if you hope to progress into TTK’s endgame content, which is highly recommended seeing as Destiny is renowned for its immersive and intuitive endgame content like the Vault of Glass.
Levelling has radically changed in TTK. Base level cap is increased to 40 and is not an overly vexing challenge to complete. Light is no longer tied to your level, instead it is calculated by the average of your attack and defence, meaning that instead of being light-level 34 you are level 34 with 170 light. All Year One armour and weaponry will be surpassed quite quickly by uncommon, green-quality gear, meaning you’ll have to let go of your old favourites if you hope to progress. But this is by no means a bad thing. Using some of the ordinary-looking non-legendary/exotic weapons and armour is refreshing. It got a bit stale using the same weapons and armour by the end of Year One (which absolutely everyone was using incidentally). Experimenting with new weapons is fresh and you also get to test the new foundry weapons which are weapons made by specific manufacturers that have unique characteristics. The new light cap is 310 (Presumably. If it is higher this will be edited) and is not the easiest to obtain. As I’m writing, I’m currently stuck a 254 and have only just now figured out how the loot system works. The new loot system is a lot more like Borderlands whereby instead of seeing your drops on a “loot screen,”they actually drop in-game after killing your given boss. Also, to progress in light you have to equip gear that you normally wouldn’t use just so you can be as high a light-level as possible, increasing the chances of something you’ll actually want to use at a light value. This gives a positive variety to your arsenal, however people don’t like it because for a while they can’t use the same ol’ tactics 100% of the time.
TTK seems very much focused on replayability. Strikes bosses have mechanics to them, patrol in the Dreadnaught has secrets that are waiting for us to find (and exploit) and there is a myriad of quests and activities to do. Additionally, Skolas isn’t as annoying anymore when you have 250 light, even to the point where he’s a bit of a pushover. In a smart move, you are no longer forced into a narrow strategy of levelling, whereby you would have three characters of the same class increasing your drop rate for gear by being able to run the raids and only getting armour drops for your class to increase your level. Transmogrification finally and truly exists within Destiny, whereby weapons and armour can be upgraded at the expense of gear you may not like the look of or that has a perk set that doesn’t jive with you.Yes, the House of Wolves expansion did offer some level of transmogrification with the Etheric Light and ascension system, but not to the extent that TTK offers.
The Crucible has had a major change in the weapon meta (i.e. which weapons are highly favoured) and has also had a bunch of new modes added. Rift (Destiny’s answer to Capture The Flag), Zone Control (Like regular Control except scoring only occurs by capturing and controlling the capture points) and Mayhem (ability regeneration is radically increased meaning every few seconds you or your foes can unleash supers making for some crazy times) are the 3 news game modes that come with TTK. Mayhem also extends into other game modes like Inferno does. Taking together the new modes and the fact that I see a new variety of guns and a lot less Thorns and Last Words, the Crucible is a very very fun place to be. Even bullet hoses are fun to use now.
However, not everything about Destiny: The Taken King is positive. A currency known as ‘Legendary Marks,’ are excruciatingly sparse and not overly easy to obtain. Before TTK marks could be obtained from many things completing a public event or playing the Crucible. Progression is a lot slower due to to this and normally that would be ok, but to the point where I feel like my time is giving me 1 extra light is a little ridiculous. In another poor decision by Bungie, people who have not purchased TTK will find themselves locked out of content that they paid for. If this is you then you will find yourself unable to participate in the the daily activities, weekly heroic strikes or weekly nightfalls, nor can you use any good gear higher than green quality. This implementation of content exclusivity is very poorly executed and a shady, underhanded way of forcing existing players to adopt the new content. It completely constricts people who were on the fence about TTK and forces them to pay even more for content they have already paid for. Very bad move Bungie. Very bad move.
If you are an existing Destiny player and hungry for new content, Bungie has definitely hit the mark with Destiny: The Taken King. A new player will more than likely have to pay $99.95 for Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition which comes with Destiny, The Dark Below, House of Wolves and The Taken King. Apparently, Bungie have learned from their mistakes and have sought to rectify them in this stellar expansion. With its less arbitrary loot system, which has been changed to focus more on progression rather than pure randomness, a replayable story, solid midgame content, new quest systems and quest lines, a new space to patrol and the new King’s Fall raid (expect a detailed, spoiler-free write up on this), the bigger price tag for this expansion is well worth it.