|System: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3|
|Release: September 15, 2015|
|Players: Massively Multiplayer|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i||Animated Blood, Violence|
by Becky Cunningham
Space: the final frontier – and it's a particularly difficult one to tame, if Destiny is any indication. It's appropriate that a game featuring a spacefaring humanity beset by evil space hordes is also Bungie's first foray into that most treacherous frontier of gaming, the massively multiplayer online title. Destiny's first year was a dicey one, with the game earning both endless devotion from hardcore fans and enthusiastic derision by those who felt it wasn't quite all it could be.
Now with Destiny's third expansion, The Taken King, everything is changing just one year after launch. With a ton of systemic changes and a hearty offering of new content, Bungie hopes to lure back departed players and attract newcomers to its online shooter-RPG hybrid. After spending some solid time with the expansion, I was sold on the experience. Destiny has kept its simple, fluid, and just plain fun controls, but just about everything else has been improved, and there’s a ton of new content to experience.
The expansion's new story campaign is only the beginning, but it's a good one. Your quest to defeat Oryx, the Taken King (you killed his son, prepare to die), features some great set pieces like a precarious climb up an old space base and an exciting tank fight in Oryx's menacing Dreadnaught. The story itself is quite simple, but the running dialogue between your NPC companions is fun, especially your Ghost voiced by Nolan North (doing his best C3PO impression) and Nathan Fillion (doing his best Nathan Fillion impression) as the charismatic hunter Cayde. Throughout the adventure, Bungie shows that it has become even better at establishing setting and mood, not to mention designing enemies that are fun to fight. The new Taken enemies feature interesting twists on the abilities and behaviors of existing creatures, forcing players to think on their feet.
Once you've faced down Oryx and completed the brief story, everything opens up. The Dreadnaught becomes a patrol area, where both old and new kinds of missions are available. There are tons of secrets and even some Easter Eggs to discover, though it's a bit too easy at times to get lost in an area that doesn't contain much of interest. You'll also find new missions and multiplayer strikes that are far more challenging than the story campaign missions. There’s even an area that allows you to summon public events using special runes that you can find while adventuring. Beyond the Dreadnaught, there are numerous Strikes to partake in, now with elements of randomization that keep things from becoming too rote. There are even 1-3 player missions that take you back to old favorite areas, expanding the game’s story and offering up new challenges.
No matter where you’re adventuring, you’ll notice some definite improvements in Destiny’s gameplay systems. Loot drops are far more plentiful, allowing you to gear up quickly and fill holes in your gear sets while waiting for that ideal raid drop. Levelling up is straightforward all the way through, as the confusing system that used to be in place after level 20 has been replaced. You level up by killing monsters and completing bounties and quests, while your Light number is now a simple gear score that helps you match your strength against your enemies’. This is the way progression should always have worked, and kudos to Bungie for fixing it up.
The addition of a quest log is another huge improvement that will be of great help to players old and new. There are tons of quests available, all of which you can view and track from your log. Now you know exactly where you can go next and what you can do to move forward in the game. It seems like a simple addition, but it really helps tell the game’s story in a more coherent manner and keeps players oriented even after they’ve finished the main campaign.
Of course, we can’t ignore the three new sub-classes. The Nightstalker gives flexibility to the Hunter class, giving support and control options to these masters of DPS. I most enjoyed playing with the Nightstalker’s grenades, though the bow super is very useful when you’re surrounded by enemies. The Warlock’s Stormcaller and Titan Sunbreaker are both impressive damage dealers. I love becoming a living thunderstorm with the Stormcaller’s super in PvE, while PvPers are going to go nuts with the Sunbreaker’s hammer ability. All three sub-classes are strong additions to the game.