Today marks the one week “anniversary” of the release of Destiny: The Taken King. It also marked the beginning of Year Two in Destiny. There are a lot of changes that were brought to the game, most of which have been discussed at length, here and all over the web. What I want to talk about today is more about the specific Taken King content, not the 2.0 patch changes. That means story content, quests and gear, and the new strikes. I haven’t run through the new Raid yet – my fireteam is still in the process of gearing up to a higher light level – so my thoughts on that will have to wait.
I want to start with the story content. I’m going to stay as spoiler free as possible here, just because I actually think the story here in The Taken King is actually worth experiencing yourself. I said after the 2.0 patch changed the missions to quests that even the threadbare Vanilla content makes a lot more sense. The quest structure makes all of the story stuff feel a lot more coherent – even tackling a few quests at once is a lot more straightforward than it used to be. The new stuff though is easily the strongest that Bungie has put out for Destiny. The dialogue is hands down better across the board than it was a year ago. The fact that the story is told only through a few characters actually helps here. It allows Bungie to better flesh out their actual characteristics – Cayde, Zavala, Ikora and Eris all feel a lot more fleshed out than they used to. Nathan Fillion’s voice work stands out – Cayde’s character is made by his voice work. The actual missions really stand out as well – there’s a lot more variety in their structuring. Sure there’s still a lot of “go here, fight a bunch of enemies, face boss, rinse, repeat” but that’s standard in any FPS. What’s different here from previous Destiny stuff is the way you get to those fights. There’s more vertical platforming – and platforming in general – including a few missions that really focus on it. There’s more use of the mechanics that previously were only in Raids – the use of relics to progress through areas. There’s the first true stealth mission in Destiny – which is probably my favorite single story mission in the new content. I know the community loves to rag on Bungie for reusing locations in DLC, but in this case I really like the missions that go back to familiar places, but in different ways. It’s funny to think that a year ago the story was far and away the weakest point in Destiny, but now I think it’s absolutely worth going through.
Continuing on from that, the new strikes I think in general really shine. On the Xbox, there are three new ones – the Fallen S.A.B.E.R, the Sunless Cell, and the Shield Brothers. Of the three, I think I like the Darkblade boss fight the most, but I like the actual strike with the Fallen S.A.B.E.R. I had a feeling that the back door over by the Grottos would play into some future content, and while I didn’t see it being a strike, I am glad to see more of Rasputin’s bunker. Saying that they have “raid-light” mechanics is a little disingenuous, but the boss fights definitely are a bit more involved than they used to be. During the Shank fight, the environment is just as much a threat as the boss itself; the Darkblade fight takes place in blackness with a teleporting boss; and the Bond Brothers have a somewhat unique take on Romeo/Juliet bosses. What I really like though is the presence of strike specific rewards. So far, I’ve been able to get the Undying Mind’s unique hand cannon – the Imago Loop – and the Shield Brother’s scout rifle – Treads Upon Stars. I love the idea of strike specific gear – it gives you reason to keep playing the strikes to try and get those unique pieces of gear. Combine that with the new loot mechanics, and there’s even more incentive.
Which is a good segue to talk about the loot itself. Bungie said going in that this was the biggest amount of weapons and armor added in since the game launched. It feels like a pretty good amount of the rare quality gear is very similar to the previous DLC gear, just reskinned – but with the new perks and shaders it still feels new. The weapons are a little different though – with the addition of the three weapon manufacturers, they have a bit more identity. I’ve found myself really enjoying the Hakke weapons – the pulse rifles, side arms and shotguns in particular. The new variety of the weapons is what I really like – there are quest specific weapons, similar to Murmur; there are the strike specific ones; and there are class specifics as well. That extends to the Exotics as well – I love that each class has pretty quick access to a legendary and exotic weapon through the Gunsmith. In terms of Exotics, I’ve only gotten three brand new items across my characters. One piece of arms for my Warlock through Xur, a helmet on my Titan through an engram and the Boolean Gemini through Petra Venj’s quest line. I do have a few of the updated Year One exotics though, which I find myself using a lot more on my Titan. I think in general I like that there’s a lot more gear to chase down – after finishing the main story, you should have quest lines that will net you around three or four exotic weapons. That really helps whet your appetite for collecting I find.
I’ve been a big defender of Destiny over this last year, but I really think that now is absolutely the best time to jump in. With the Legendary Edition for The Taken King giving you access to all of the available content, for a pretty solid price, that’s honestly a fantastic choice if you haven’t experienced Destiny.