I have quite a checkered history with Destiny. It reviewed well on this site but it was made clear that it was only a starting point for something much longer term. I wasn’t the one who made that review though, for me, my experience of Destiny is one of frustration and a feeling of being left behind.
You see, I am not the sort who can stick with the same game for a massive period of time, I tend to bounce between games and despite finishing a fair few larger titles, it is those like Destiny, where it is better played with others that tend to suffer.
Literally within a few weeks of launch I felt I wasn’t leveling my character up quick enough to get the most from the game. I tried some strike missions, yet felt I was a hindrance to other players. I tried co-op play in missions but again felt I was just playing a spare part, not really doing much to help.
So pretty soon it became something I dipped into now and again for an hour here or there, to the point where I eventually let the game fall into my ever growing backlog. I had dropped £80 on the game and season pass initially, but even the new packs for the first year weren’t enough to get me back.
Now I am not saying it was a bad game, in actual fact I really loved the gameplay, the battles were satisfying and the loot pickups were like a drug addiction, but without anyone to play with it got to a point where I was needing to grind to be able to even attempt new story missions.
So when The Taken King was announced I was skeptical at first, as I was worried it would be a case of more content for those who put the effort in and those alone, there would be no point shelling out another £30-40 to feel like I am being left further behind.
However when the details of the year two content became apparent, my attitude quickly changed and all of a sudden I was ready to jump back in and finally become legend.
The first thing that stood out, was the ability to level up any single one of my characters to level 25, just so I would gain access to The Taken King right out of the box. This was wonderful news and whilst to some it may be seen as cheating, it meant I could get back into the game, go through the missions I missed out on and then even get into the new content at a much better balanced level.
So that is what I did. It meant I was a bit over-powered for a fair few missions, but it also allowed me to get a feel for the game again, get to grips with the mechanics and so forth.
I also seemed to be able to level up my character at a much more steady rate, that felt like it was allowing me to be ready for new missions as soon as I had finished the previous one, without the need to spend a large amount of time just grinding. This is a very welcome addition as it let me enjoy the core of the game.
Light too is better implemented, now becoming an overall value based on your gear, rather than item specific. It is only a minor change, but one that feels ultimately more rewarding as it taps into that thing gamers have, where we love watching numbers go up.
Loot is another thing that has had a bit of a makeover. In the original release of Destiny, loot was done in a way that meant it was only worth pursuing specific missions and doing certain events, to get the gear that was actually worthwhile. Now though, it feels a lot fairer as almost every mission has had something that feels useful. Again it is a minor balancing change that has a huge effect on the overall feel.
Quests have had a bit of an overhaul where it now seems like you can track more of them at any one time, plus the story from The Taken King also fits in with these in a much more coherent way. In fact it makes very useful guides on what to do and where to go. The change may only be minor, but I cannot recall for sure, but I know I am using them a lot more this time though.
Missions and story levels from The Taken King have a lot more character to them now, as the story writing feels like it matters much more than it did previously and that there has been a lot of work gone into this to make it stand out from the year one stuff.
Whilst there is still an element of enter here, go there, scan this, defend that to some level, it doesn’t feel as mundane and repetitive as it did in year one. In fact there is more variety in the new levels than there was in the original release and the expansions.
A lot of that comes down to the additional character that has been added across several layers of the game.
Nathan Fillion makes an appearance as the Hunter Cayde-6 and in my humble opinion steals the show, making even Nolan North’s replacement of Peter Dinklage nothing but a footnote. Fillion’s performance here show Bungie’s desire to make Destiny grow from this point forward, as previously the class leaders were nothing but avatars for collecting new missions, lacking any real kind of character.
Now though they feel alive and a vital part of whatever will happen moving forward. Despite Nathan Fillion being the standout here, the other performances are also well done and add to the overall growth of the Destiny universe.
The Taken King is to Destiny, what Reaper of Souls was to Diablo III. It is developers making note of feedback and actually using it to improve their product and make sure not only that they keep the long term players, but also give themselves the best opportunity to welcome new players too.
Most of what made the original Destiny a good game is still there, but the overhauls and tweaks to the lesser parts have given Destiny the sort of boost it needed. It was hard to see how this could serve as a long term franchise after the initial release but now, I am counting down the days until year 3.