The comet that the first major expansion for Destiny has landed, and with it has come a plague of darkness brought by The Taken King. Has it been a year already? Yes it has, and yes, I’m still playing Destiny. In fact, I’ve been playing the game a lot over the past week. I’ve reached the level cap with all three new sub-classes, finished the main campaign, run all the strikes, battled in the crucible, explored an alien spaceship, and collected new exotic gear. So now, I’m ready to give a full and detailed opinion of my first week with this exciting new expansion.
To some, this will be the game that Bungie should have released a year ago, now a fully formed product that offers a good amount of content and value. To others, this will be the expansion that they’ve been waiting for, while making due with two somewhat weaker offerings. Expansions and are nothing new when it comes to the world of video games, but what Bungie and Activision are offering here with The Taken King is somewhat less conventional.
Due to the various ways The Taken King can be purchased, I’ve been placed in the somewhat strange position of deciding what it is I’m reviewing. Should I optimistically review this as a full-priced retail title that includes the base game and all currently available content? Or maybe I should more pessimistically review this as a 40 dollar expansion for those who never bought the previous DLC. An add-on that brings along with it the requirement that players must have purchased both of the smaller expansions, which were arguably terrible values if you don’t happen to like raids or competitive multiplayer.
Given these two options, a third and more balanced choice should probably prevail, so I’ll be reviewing The Taken King as a 40 dollar expansion for those who’ve already purchased everything Destiny has to offer. And on the bright side, Bungie has been kind enough to include some nice bonuses for those loyal players, including what I believe is pretty much a guaranteed year one exotic weapon. I was fortunate enough to get a Monte Carlo auto rifle, which was a lot of fun to use in the early areas of the expansion.
Just note that Bungie’s latest offering increases or decreases in value depending on how much of Destiny you already own, and also note my disappointment with not letting players only purchase “the good one” when it comes to selecting an expansion.
And make no mistake, “the good one” is an accurate way to describe The Taken King. As far as a basic list goes, there’s three new sub-classes, an improved story campaign, additional missions and quests that occur after the campaign, three new strikes, a massive new raid, seven new crucible maps, three new crucible modes, and loads of new weapons and armor.
Along with The Taken King content, there’s also the vastly reworked assortment of gameplay systems and mechanics that comes with Destiny 2.0, which officially launched the week before The Taken King was released. There’s a ton of things to cover here, so it’s probably best to just read the patch notes if you want to know everything. Some of the major additions include the new quest system, a new voice actor for the Ghost character, a reworked campaign that incorporates both smaller expansions, and a massive weapon balance adjustment.
The quest system does a nice job of organizing content and guiding players, acting as a to-do-list for your Guardian. The quests menu is also where your bounties can now be found. The limit has been upgraded to sixteen bounties, and you thankfully no longer have to return to the tower to turn them in. There’s also a new type of bounty-like activity in the form of test weapons. These are newer but common weapons that players must test in the field under various circumstances, such as getting double kills with a sniper, killing heavy targets with a rocket launcher, or killing opposing guardians in the crucible with a fusion rifle.
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After testing several weapons for the arms vendor, he’ll allow you to place an order for a legendary weapon which will arrive on Wednesday of the following week. The weapons have random perks, and depending on your vendor faction level, you may be able to choose from more than one set of options. Arms vendor weapons can help a lot early in your time with the new expansion, because they have a starting power level just under year two exotics. Speaking of year two exotics, completing even more tests for the arms vendor can eventually lead to one.
Weapons testing proved to be one of my favorite additions to the game, and it integrates seamlessly into the experience. There were times when I was working on a quest, patrol activity, a couple of weapon tests, and several vanguard bounties all at once, making progress with each of them simultaneously. Some of the weapons that had to be tested in the crucible are just awful, and a chore to use. This is actually a good thing, as using under-powered weapons in mutliplayer games teaches you to be a better player. It’s also a good thing because other people will be using those weapons as well, which gives all players the chance to go up against something other than some of the best weapons in the game.
Your weapons and gear matter more than ever in the second year of Destiny, as their overall rating has replaced your armor for being the sole contributing factor to your light level. With The Taken King, the level cap has become 40, and gone are the days of doing 30 percent less damage because you’re level 33 and playing a level 34 mission. A slightly under-leveled character will now be doing slightly under-leveled damage, which is the way it should be. Your class items, new ghost shells, and a brand new type of gear called artifacts will also contribute to your light level, and offer additional perks and ability cooldown boosts.
The new light system works very nicely, and allows fairly consistent incremental power increases. It seems you’re going to have to play quite a bit to reach the highest light levels, which is a good thing for a game like this. Often, your legendary weapon will have better stats and perks, but you’ll find a rare weapon that does better damage. When that happens, you can use the new year two infusion system to take higher level gear and infuse it into gear that you’d rather keep instead. It’s a great system, and ensures that you always have a use for the the loot you find.