Spencer Fawcett weighs in on the ‘Destiny’ expansion pack that fixes many of the games lingering problems.
Approximately one year ago, Bungie – revered for the Halo franchise – released Destiny in conjunction with Call of Duty publisher Activision. No one really knew what to make of Destiny prior to release. Bungie representatives kept emphasizing that it was not an MMO like World of Warcraft but more social than other shooters. Ultimately, the general gaming public was mixed on Destiny. It currently sits at a 76 from critics and a 6.1 from users on Metacritic. Personally, I thought Destiny had a litany of issues that made it problematic to get invested in its universe. The gameplay was solid, as was to be expected from the house of Halo, but the script and universe were so full of nonsense jargon and flat characters that it makes the Star Wars prequels look competent by comparison.
As the smaller expansions began to release along with news of content already on the Destiny disc, I found myself more apathetic to Destiny as the months went on. It was a game that I wasn’t interested in until The Taken King expansion was announced. It was no more than a blip on the radar but the more people were talking about how it “fixes Destiny” and “revamps the entire game,” the more it piqued my interest. Then the massive free 18 GB patch dubbed, “Destiny 2.0” released before The Taken King came out on September 15th and I began to take notice of the differences; enough so that I dusted off my level 28 Warlock.
The biggest change was that the Light Level, which was previously tied to armor and gear only, was now tied to all facets of a character including weapons. Level is now tied to experience gained from killing enemies and has become relatively inconsequential, only limiting you to what armor and weapons can be used.
The Taken King expansion is an entirely separate beast and is as gargantuan as the character’s namesake. The narrative follows the player’s exploits after they kill The Taken King’s son at the end of the expansion - The Dark Below - questline. Immediately, this engages the players as they are directly responsible for the events unfolding before them. Oryx – The Taken King – makes a grand entrance as he parks his massive Dreadnought in the rings of Saturn. The expansion starts off with a mystery as to why a species of enemies are fighting each other. It turns out that Oryx has the unique ability of taking enemies in Destiny and shaping them to his will while giving them new abilities. Some will acquire shields and others will split and multiply. His presence is felt by the other characters in Destiny including Cayde - 6 voiced by Nathan Fillion, who adds his patented personality and wit to the story.
The Taken King expansion also lets you explore Oryx’s Dreadnought and look through all of its nooks and crannies for better loot and treasure chests. Be forewarned that there is no faster way to travel through the Dreadnought other than on foot. This may seem like an oversight at first but when you see the multitude of bottomless pits, you’ll begin to understand the method to the madness. As you traverse the Dreadnought, you’ll find keys and runes that will unlock the Court of Oryx – another set of challenges that friends and strangers alike can accomplish together. The Dreadnought is so vast and mysterious that, even when you think you’ve seen everything, you just know that somewhere there’s a story that has yet to be uncovered.
Quests have also been added to Destiny - a necessary addition. Prior to The Taken King expansion, Destiny had a bounty system which basically amounted to: “Kill 30 enemies with precision head shots,” or “Kill 50 enemies with X.” The only other way to advance the story was flying to the mission as you were told what to do by a voice over. Needless to say, it didn’t grab anyone’s attention going forward. Quests function like traditional RPG quests where you speak to a Non-Player Character (NPC) and they give you context on a mission or task that they want you to undertake. They might tell you to go find out what happened to another guardian that they thought had died or to kill high value targets across the galaxy. It may sound like a small addition on paper but they make a world of difference to Year One Destiny players. The main quest – Kill Oryx, The Taken King – is lackluster. With so much build-up and dread, I expected much more from a King but I’m sure the King’s Fall raid will add some much needed closure.
The Taken King comes up short in the multiplayer department, adding two additional modes and eight maps. The maps range from sterile, white environments that are begging for combat to city streets with overgrown flora. Rift is the only permanent mode that was added to the Destiny multiplayer offerings. Essentially an overdue Capture the Flag mode, where players on both sides of the map fight for control over a flag in the center and try to run it to the other team’s zone. If the player carrying the flag dies, it resets back to the center. Mayhem is a modifier to the other modes and is only available when Bungie wishes it so. In Mayhem, player abilities are super-charged so there’s a lot of zany, incomprehensible fun that can be had but only when it’s available.
For $60, there is a lot of value in Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition. You get the base game, the two expansions and all of the aforementioned content in The Taken King expansion. There is so much I still didn’t cover in this review because The Taken King is bursting at the seams with content. Bungie may have miss-stepped with Destiny last year but having heard the community’s complaints and requests have improved game moving forward. Though Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition may be what the game should have been from Day One, ultimately it’s better late than never.
Spencer Fawcett is a screenwriter who also does production work for NBC/Universal. He has written for Parade Magazine and ASUs The State Press. Twitter: Whizbang813