For all its faults, Destiny has remained popular since its debut almost exactly one year ago. When Bungie’s blockbuster RPG/shooter hybrid first hit, it was enormously flawed, to say the least. While the bones of a great game were present (the gunplay is some of the best around), there were so many minor annoyances, all but the most dedicated Destiny players started throwing in the towel after the first few months. Fortunately, Destiny is currently undergoing something of a renaissance, thanks to last week’s massive 2.0 update and this week’s release of the massive new expansion, The Taken King. The Taken King not only fixes a ton of Destiny‘s problems, but makes the game a legitimately great experience. In many ways, The Taken King is the game Destiny should have been from the start and makes it worth investing time in again. Skeptics may be hesitant to give Bungie’s massive shooter another chance, but as the following ten reasons show, Destiny: The Taken King is the real deal and absolutely worth your time and money.
10. No More Dinklebot
One of the most curious stories prior to The Taken King’s release was the announcement that Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage was being replaced as the voice actor behind companion robot Ghost. Now, Dinklage is a fine actor but his vocal performance in Destiny received a lot of criticism, a combination of his dry delivery and admittedly poorly written dialogue he was forced to spout off. Once The Taken King gets rolling, Dinklage’s replacement, veteran game voice actor Nolan North, proves himself to be a more than capable replacement. North infuses Ghost with some actual personality and even spruces up Dinklage’s old lines, as North rerecorded all of the Ghost parts from Destiny year one. As much of a shame as it is that Dinklage was not able to continue the role and have the chance to improve upon his prior performance, North’s version of Ghost may just actually make you love your little robot companion for the first time, which is a commendable feat.
9. Mission Variety
As excellent as Destiny‘s shooting mechanics are, Bungie was never very imaginative with giving you compelling reasons to make use of them. Most of the game’s missions devolve into shooting galleries in repeated environments, with objectives barely ever becoming more complicated than “shoot everything until it’s dead.” While you’ll still be doing most of the talking with your guns in The Taken King, Bungie has made strides in livening up the mission-to-mission experience by introducing a variety of different gameplay elements. One mission sees you and your fireteam completely overwhelmed by new enemies called the Taken and actually forces you to make a mad dash for the exits. Another mission involves stealth (yes you read that right: Destiny actually has a sneaky section). Sure, the gameplay still largely boils down to shooting everything until it’s dead, but we’ll take the variety of The Taken King over the repetitive Destiny of old any day.
8. Cool Mysteries
Prior to The Taken King’s release, most regular Destiny players had settled into a familiar gameplay loop with few surprises, as pretty much every secret in Destiny and its first two expansions, “The Dark Below” and “House of Wolves”, had already been discovered. The Taken King reintegrates that addictive feeling of discovery that every great RPG provides, as it introduces a number of new additions and secrets for players to seek out. For instance, the major new environment, the Dreadnaught, is full of strange relics and chests that can’t be opened right away, which helps create the sense that there is a whole lot more to this expansion than a few new story missions and multiplayer maps. The Destiny community has been passionate since day one and these kind of neat little touches will only fuel their interest even more.
7. The Little Things
The major 2.0 update released just prior to The Taken King’s launch has started Destiny year two off in fine style, with a host of minor changes to the game’s interface and gameplay systems that make the entire experience much more enjoyable overall. Small changes like being able to redeem finished bounties from anywhere and the ability to track quests may not sound like significant updates but in practice, they make Destiny feel like a totally different (and better) game. Add in other minor tweaks such as the being able to track your various vendor reputation levels from the menu and the ability to use your Ghost while driving a Sparrow, and you have proof that a bunch of small changes can have a big impact.
6. The Strikes Are Like Mini-Raids
Strikes are one of the best ways to acquire new loot and in-game currency in Destiny, but year one’s offering definitely became a chore after awhile. Most of the Strikes were designed as monotonous quests that too often ended with bullet-sponge boss battles that took way too long to defeat and rarely deviated from the “shoot it until it’s dead” rule. The Taken King brings three new Strikes to the table (four if you’re playing on PlayStation) and they collectively absolutely trump any of the previous ones. These new strikes require actual teamwork between players and the bosses do more interesting things than just stand around absorbing your bullets. These quests resemble Destiny‘s best content, the puzzle-heavy end-game Raids, and are essentially like miniature versions of those. Considering we’ll be replaying these Strikes quite a bit in the coming weeks and months, it’s refreshing to see Bungie put a lot of thought into making them both rewarding and entertaining.
5. Better Grinding
Grinding is pretty much a necessity in games like Destiny and when done right, it can actually be a fun, addictive experience. Unfortuantely, Destiny made the grind a largely frustrating experience by forcing players to rely on random drops to acquire the game’s best weapons and armor. It also didn’t help that the game had way too many different currencies and made the entire progression system as confusing as possible. The Taken King has made great strides in alleviating most of these issues. Most notably, attaining the game’s best loot — the “Exotics” — is built around quests now rather than randomization, so dedicated players will be able to get the things they want. There are still a few wrinkles to iron out, as the new “Legendary Marks”, a currency that is essential for attaining high level gear, are arguably too difficult to get a hold of right now, but Bungie should still be given credit for making Destiny a much better RPG overall.
4. Improved Multiplayer
Ah, the Crucible. Destiny‘s so-called suite of competitive multiplayer modes has been one of the game’s main draws since launch, but most players would likely tell you that it had grown a bit stale. Even worse, crucible rewards just weren’t as lucrative as those of other game modes, so there weren’t many compelling reasons to invest time in it. Clearly, Bungie have clearly been paying attention to these criticisms, as The Taken King not only introduces new maps and modes, including the addictive capture the flag-like Rift, but also promises to offer better randomized rewards for players. It’s great to see Bungie continue to iterate upon Destiny‘s multiplayer, as the developer is well-known for their prowess in this particular area, and The Taken King‘s improvements should help the Crucible remain just as integral to the Destiny experience as Strikes and Raids.
3. The Dreadnaught
The Taken King really only introduces one wholly new environment for players to explore, but it’s so well-realized that it’s practically worth the price of admission by itself. The Dreadnaught is the titular Taken King Oryx’s gigantic spacecraft and is very much a labyrinthine environment full of secrets and deadly enemies. The Taken King‘s story missions take players to this ship at various points but it’s not until after finishing these missions that the true genius of the Dreadnaught is revealed. For instance, there are hidden chests spread throughout that require specific keys to unlock, making the ship feel like one giant mystery that needs to be solved. There are also a number of quests tied directly to the ship, including the new Raid “The King’s Fall”, which will be available this Friday. Sure, it would have been nice if Bungie had introduced a new planet to explore, but for what it is, the Dreadnaught is a seriously impressive display of level design.
2. It Feels Complete
Although there was generally always something to work towards in Destiny, the game always felt a bit light in terms of content. It didn’t take very long to see and do everything on offer, which meant that players largely just repeated the same small batch of missions and multiplayer maps over and over again. While on paper The Taken King doesn’t seem to add a staggering amount of new content, in practice its additions amount to a game that finally feels like a complete experience. There are now a ton of different Strikes and other missions to do in each of the game’s environments, as well as a large selection of multiplayer maps to play around in. Sure, you’ll still end up repeating a lot of the same missions and maps, but there is now enough variety to make Destiny‘s universe feel much more expansive and fully-realized. Add in the fact that there now always seems to be something to work towards and continuing to complain about the game’s lack of content just seems absurd.
1. There’s An Actual Story
One of Destiny’s biggest sins was its almost nonexistent story mode. After creating such an interesting universe with the Halo series, it was surprising to see a studio like Bungie completely fail at the basic fundamentals of storytelling. While The Taken King won’t win any awards for video game writing, it absolutely trounces the original Destiny in the story department. The cinematic cutscenes are gorgeous, there are no more cringe-worthy “I don’t have to time to explain why I don’t have time to explain,” lines, and Destiny‘s roster of characters actually have dynamic impacts on the plot and feel fleshed out (Nathan Fillion’s Hunter Vanguard, Cayde-6, is delightfully witty and definitely the game’s standout character). You probably still won’t have a solid grasp on what’s going on, but at least The Taken King makes an honest attempt at being more than science fiction tripe this time around.