Destiny: The Taken King

I picked up Destiny last year and enjoyed the game play, missions, pvp, and unique character classes. There was many complaints about story and bashing of Peter Dinklage’s voice over work. Personally I had no problems with the ghost voice over, but acknowledge the story was paper thin however not surprising with it coming from Bungie who created Halo.

The problem was I generally soloed the game and once you reached max level you had a horrible grind to raise your convoluted light level by getting better gear and your heart break when you get the elusive legendary engram and get a horrible piece of green or blue gear. This insanity lead to poor game play choices like loot cave farming of low level mobs with high frequency to just get more rolls against the loot lottery.  Like many I stopped playing and got distracted to other games and other activities. I dabbled a bit but never really toyed with the DLC expansions until the Taken King was announced at E3 2015.

June of 2015 I took a break from World of Warcraft and started Destiny again and with the new content and improvements I grabbed the DLC packs to give them a try. The new strikes  were interesting and the new factions improved little user friendliness with allowing you to continue to gain faction levels.  The only complaint was that the leveling zones had high level content mixed in to surprise you until you learned to avoid them. Even once you get max level of 20 you were locked out until you could get higher light level. The only saving grace was that there really was no penalty for death.

With the release of the Taken King they improved quite a bit of the game. The leveling system was changed to be straight xp from level 20 to 40, however the light system was not removed despite being hugely improved in combination with the loot system changes. Light was changed from an esoteric number to get different levels to a easily understandable numerical average of gear’s attack or defense value. Additionally artifacts and ghost slots were added to contribute to this allowing more opportunities for decent drops.

The loot lottery was improved by allowing blue gear to drop with higher attack or defense values then your legendary or exotic however you now have an opportunity to keep your favorite gear by infusing the gear by consuming a higher attack or defense level item.  On top of that the engrams have improved drops and usually they are useful. It is still RNG based so I have had the situation of three primary weapon engrams turn into three motes of light when I desperately needed a primary weapon upgrade. The level of gear you get is largely dependent on your current light level when decrypting (Some low level quests dropping engrams will give low level items). Doing patrol duty and gathering a significant amount of engrams you can actually see the improvement of your light level jump up 5-10 levels depending on luck.  So tip to the wise even if you don’t want to use the item save it for decryption and do one item at a time if you have upgrades equip them and then decrypt the next piece.

There are other quality of life improvements with abandoned quest kiosk, shader kiosk, speeder or ship kiosks, and exotic kiosks. Once you have earned the item you can either purchase it again or equip it and allow you to keep your inventory cleaner and out of your storage vault. The gunsmith is a new faction that allows you to get new weapons as part of the armsday to fill some gap in your load out options. The pvp factions are now changed to earn at half the rate of your main vanguard or crucible faction at the same time as the main faction. Some of these have costs such as exotic shards to get the exotics. You even have an option to upgrade certain exotic weapons into year 2 values. Quests can be tracked now and there is larger quest quantities as well as bounty storage.

The main quest story is relatively quick with only 8 missions, but they are improved with better character voice over work by Cayde-6 (“Nathan Fillion”) that is very reminiscent of Mal Reynolds of Firefly. Despite a short main story quest the content continues with new quests to keep you doing things for the vanguard, Crota’s Bane faction, and Queen’s Wrath faction. The new strikes have some new mechanics and fun areas to explore. Since the expansion is new and folks are new to the strikes if you are using random matchmaking the abandon rate can be annoying. Worse so in Heroic Vanguard Strikes and some missions are worse then others despite proper light level values. The Restorative Mind mission with relic running and a light wall that moves you around a ring can be brutal when the rest of the strike team dies once the light wall begins automatically moving at the end of the fight.

Not sure I will ever touch a raid in Destiny, but I will acknowledge the design done in those fights. Nightfall strikes as well are pretty brutal if you try to solo this and I think I might never do it alone, but at least I do not feel completely punished for not completing it with the new loot grinding. It feels more prestige then required.  I really haven’t done much PVP yet, but I think I will get more into it this time around.

How long Destiny: The Taken King lasts is a good question but the improvements feel like it has more longevity as I play the other classes and get the new archetypes. So far focusing on the Warlock and having fun being the Palpatine lighting thrower. If you enjoyed the game at release but got bored there is quite a bit for you to enjoy.