I already liked Destiny.
This is an unpopular position to take and has made many people very angry.
I could always see the game within the game, the lore, the secrets, the hints of Big Ideas(tm). I enjoyed rooting them out, browsing the revealed grimoire information online (find the dead ghosts myself?) and figuring out what was going on and who my character was in this universe.
Of course it had some flaws. Not least hiding all that rich lore and story away where your average player wasn’t going to bother with it. Being limited to FPS gameplay. Becoming repetitive. Relying far too much on the grind. Relying far too much on multiplayer. All the rest of it. Plus it had the problems all MMOs have where everybody has done all those heroic things so nobody has any unique acts of heroism, plus the world never truly changing despite your actions.
Still. I loved it. The progression. The customisation. The lore. The look and feel. The world. The Big Ideas. It was just a flawed presentation that might have worked better as an RPG (so I made one…)
Neither House of Wolves nor The Dark Below really did much to change any of this. House of Wolves filled in a bit of lore about The Reef and the Queen and her Brother (whom, one suspects, may have had a Game of Thrones relationship…) and the Fallen who had settled there as well, The Dark Below took the mask away from a big enemy and gave us a bit more to understand about the Hive, but really this was more of the same.
The Taken King is NOT more of the same.
The most jarring thing about The Taken King is how it has rejigged everything. Your ‘Light’ is now more akin to a ‘gear score’ in standard MMORPGs and, once you get past how jarring it is to lose all your old unupgradable gear (I almost cried) this change to the system and the gear subsystems is great. Just don’t forget you can upgrade purples to have higher attack/defence from other gear and don’t discard them, like your humble author (who probably shouldn’t have played all day).
On the other hand, you get swords now.
Story-wise presentation is much better now and… here be spoilers… the plot makes good use of Nolanbot, Cayde-6 (Nathan Fillion) and Eris Morn (Morla Gorrondona – which might have been a better name for the character, come to that) when it comes to exposition and really starts to, finally, bring some of your allies to life.
Now, I actually liked Dinklebot’s delivery (another unpopular opinion which has made many people angry) and find Nolanbot worse, but the way they’ve improved the ghost’s interactions and exposition – including scanning things for pure story reason during missions and patrols – is better.
You now have lore in the game, where you can get at it.
Patrols have a minor overhaul and have been more integrated into missions, you also get mysterious signals with unclear objectives you have to figure out.
The questlines dealing with The Taken King and leftovers from House of Wolves are better integrated, better explained, more ‘present’ as story and just generally better.
I haven’t bothered with PvP yet (I loathe PvP and only engage in it out of necessity or sufferance), but I’m told that the new Mayhem Mode is a lot of fun and that there are eight new maps. The most interesting new map is set in the European Dead Zone, which holds out promise for the future that we may get more content set on Earth and outside the now monotonously familiar Russian patrol zones.
Personally I’m holding out for Saturn, Jupiter and their many moons coming along in the future.
Each Guardian now gets access to a third subclass that they can obsessively level up, can now level up to 40 and can further refine their gear to absurd and obscene levels.
Titans now get to be Sunbreakers, a solar class with all sorts of explosions and smashing powers.
Warlocks get to be arc-empowered lightning-throwers as the Stormcaller subclass.
Hunters now get to be void-empowered bowmen, kind of like the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon ranger. Playing a Hunter this is what I have gotten to play so far and I honestly find it a little lacklustre. More effective in team play, playing solo it just doesn’t seem to have the sheer, devastating power of the arcblade attacks and, once I’ve levelled it up completely, I’ll be changing back.
This is much more like the game Destiny should have been at launch. Finally the complete game we deserved. If it had started with this sort of level of presentation and polish I don’t think we’d have seen the harsh kinds of reviews we did. With the changes I would up my original review score of 3.75/5 to 4/5. There’s still some issues with the PvP necessity, more in-game presentation of lore needs to happen and we need new places to explore and conquer (the Dreadnaught is just too much like the Moon).
It’s also left some new things unexplained and taken some major NPCs out of the game (or has it…?) before we had a chance to really connect with them.
Still, things are really starting to look up.