Things have come a long way since August when I last wrote about Destiny as I’ve reached Level 40 and completed the bulk of the main story missions across both year one expansions, and of course, The Taken King. You know what? Despite some ups and downs, overall, I’ve enjoyed it. A hell of a lot.
I’ll get the elephant in the room out of the way first, the price of getting the most out of Destiny in Year Two. For those who have played the game since launch and bought the year one expansions, the release of The Taken King is a kick in the teeth. You would have bought the original game for nigh on £40, grabbed the two expansions in the double-pack (if you were lucky) for another £30 or so…and then you are asked to buy The Taken King where the only retail version available was retailing for £40 when released. Yet this version contains the base game, the first two expansions along with The Taken King itself. It certainly doesn’t come across well, and I can fully understand why some people have turned away from the game and are adamant they won’t return. A few of my friends rank among those.
On a personal level, I’m disappointed by the structure of the Taken King’s release, it is seemingly telling Year One players that their reward for a year of (near enough) beta testing, is to be rewarded with buying the same content you’ve already purchased over again. The in-game experience though, has come along massively since last year and I’m pleased that I have stuck with this deeply divisive game, but I wish Bungie had softened the financial impact of The Taken King for Year One players, that would have gone a long way to keeping the fan-base happy.
Now that’s all out of the way, let’s get on with my journey.
I started working my way through The Dark Below before the massive 2.0 update was released and instantly found myself in a land of confusion. What story was I following? Was I continuing the story of Destiny, or was this a new tale entirely? I played through the first couple of missions before 2.0 landed, and then the confusion got worse. After the update landed in early September, I had a new Quest screen which was filled with missions for The Dark Below, a jump off point for House of Wolves, an end of year one wrap up…and then I picked up all the year one missions again from the old missions box.
I didn’t manage things in the best way, and all in all, my start to Destiny Year Two wasn’t great. You could probably blame that on me trying to complete The Dark Below which felt decidedly like Year One Destiny, rather than the bright new start that was promised with the 2.0 update. The introduction of the Quest screen along with changes to loot drops, and the simple joys of the combat all convinced me to keep going with the game. Throw in a bunch of extremely positive previews of The Taken King, and I was convinced to drop another £40 on this game [Editor’s note – I received a press copy of the core game last year, but had to buy the first two expansions, along with The Taken King].
Having gained a few levels after completing The Dark Below and starting to get to grips with Crucible matches, I ventured to the Reef to get stuck into the House of Wolves expansion. This showed me everything that I always thought Destiny could be. There was a greater structure to the story, and combined with something as simple as the Quest screen, I was confident that I knew what I was doing. More important, I now knew why I was shooting these hordes of Fallen. It helped that some of the missions were more innovative than anything I had seen in the base game or the first (poor) expansion. Venturing into the Vault of Glass for someone who has never taken part in the Raid? I’m up for that.
The introduction of new sub-classes opened my eyes to an aspect of the game I was keen to explore. Speakinh with my Vanguard mentor, I was advised about the way to reach the ultimate point of my Sunsinger class. This gave me added motivation to alter my play style, and take risks with the massive depth to the combat in Destiny. I’ve completed this quest sequence, but now I know that I need to make progress with the Voidwalker class, and then I’ll be ready to take my first steps towards unlocking the third Warlock class. That will be exciting, and I absolutely love how the different classes and associated abilities alter how you play the game.
All along the way, I was fighting against the Taken. A new type of enemy that borrow and modify minions from the four existing races, these bad buys added another layer to the combat, all the while married to a story that was told with the confidence you would expect from the studio who made Halo. I had already been impressed with how House of Wolves had improved the storytelling from the base game, but The Taken King is an infinitely more enjoyable experience again. Between the two figures of Eris Morn and Cayde-6, the story of Oryx’s revenge mission is told fluidly and with more than a hint of humour thanks to the interplay between Ghost (Nolan North) and Cayde-6 (Nathan Fillion).
What The Taken King reminds of most, strangely enough, is Diablo III. While many were disappointed with Blizzard’s game at launch, following the launch of Reaper of Souls, and the continued post-launch support, the game is now as great as it should have been from the start. It isn’t just the comparison with the development process that made me think of the action-RPG, it was the final battle with Oryx that really did it. Unlike most of the bosses you fought in the early parts of Destiny, the smaller fights that led up to the final showdown, and the techniques required during these battles all cast my mind back to some of Diablo’s impressive bosses. No longer are all the bosses simple bullet sponges, with The Taken King you have to engage your brain a little bit.
I might have defeated Oryx, but things aren’t over. The Dreadnought is there to be conquered (which will in turn open up many other options to me), new strikes are waiting to be completed (as long as nobody quits early on), and Gunsmith weapons are waiting to be field tested. There is just so much more to do. I might not like how The Taken King was priced, but when combined with the massive 2.0 update, Destiny finally feels like it has become the game it always should have been. It’s just a shame that so many might have fallen by the wayside as Year One went by, but I’m happy enough to plug away by myself.