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- Destiny: The Taken King
Destiny had its fair share of haters when it came out a year ago, and I was one of them. After anxiously waiting for its release I felt let down by its failure to deliver on its promises. My review and many others shared this same experience, resulting in a 76 Metascore that shocked gamers who were led to believe that it would be something special.
A year later I'm reminded of how much of a difference patches and DLC can make. The Taken King has arrived, and against all odds it's made me a fan of Destiny. Let's go over how this inconceivable notion is possible.
A Story Worth Following
Where Destiny had a story that was all over the place and largely uninteresting, The Taken King has a compelling narrative to tell. Its delivery is sharp, wasting no time with getting to the great moments. Character interactions are no longer wordy, instead emphasizing action and evolution of plot points. I no longer beg to skip cutscenes only to find out that it hasn't been implemented.
The Taken King's story is centered around Oryx, an evil Hive king that seeks revenge for Guardians killing his son, Crota. The early portions of The Taken King do a great job of establishing him as not only a threat, but a menacing antagonist. His unique looks are backed by a powerful voice and abilities that pose danger to all that oppose him. When it comes time to face him, there's a sense that there's a lot on the line.
The Taken King is effective in its storytelling. Story missions are plentiful, and each has a very clear objective. Many of these missions have introduction cutscenes that detail what's going on in the world of Destiny and why I'm being given a task; the days of a convoluted narrative are over. Many of the missions are interesting, and some feel epic as I travel to Oryx' warship that orbits Saturn. This new area provides a new playground for testing the many new weapons and abilities of The Taken King.
Although myself and many others would consider Destiny an MMOFPS, it's been missing a lot of the depth that is expected from a game in the genre. With only three classes, each with two subclasses, the styles of play have provided limited options.
The Taken King addresses this by adding one new subclass for Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. These subclasses are all very different from one-another, incentivizing the creation of additional characters even if only to play around with the new skills. Not only do I now have three playstyle choices per character, but the latest additions are flashy and effective.
As a Warlock player, Stormcaller is everything I would hope for from a magic-oriented class. Its Thunderstrike violently electrocutes enemies who get too close, and its super, Stormtrance, turns me into a god of lightning. Popping Stormtrance is like watching Goku erupt with power from Super Saiyan. With it active, I can chain lightning between enemies who previously posed a threat to my existence. Goodness prevails.
Hunter and Titan have received similarly exciting new skills with their third subclasses. Hunter now has a control-oriented specialization with Nightstalker, providing several options for tethering and slowing enemies. Meanwhile, Sunbreaker provides a high damage option for Titan. Foes don't like being clobbered over the head with Hammer of Sol, that's for certain.
A Well-Tuned Gear Grind
There's a lot of work that's gone into the game's loot systems. Take for example engram decryption which now determines drops based on my average Light level. With a set range and well-tuned acquisition rates, I always feel as though I'm progressing into better equipment and weapons. The grind is incremental, with some deviation through the occasional lucky draw.
On that note, Destiny's beautiful gear design deserves mention. I have been consistently impressed by the level of detail on the gear, and it's not something exclusive to any one class. Bungie's art team is undeniably talented.
It's Sort Of Like Diablo 3
Diablo 3's road to improvement is very similar to Destiny's. Both games launched with design issues, a lack of variety, and network-oriented problems. However, both had the benefit of a fantastic presentation and excellent gameplay. With time, Diablo 3 and Destiny have become solid titles.
Destiny has come a long way during the past 12-months. Its network issues have been resolved resulting in matchmaking being as simple and effortless as Bungie always wanted it to be. PvP is no longer an unbalanced disaster, providing a place to battle that's exciting for more than those with flavor of the month builds and equipment. There are now two hubs for myself and others to hang out in, providing some variety for the game's social space. Most of all, there's a whole lot of content to take part in, all of which is more consistently enjoyable thanks to a year of patches and DLC.
A year after Diablo 3 launched it was only getting started with its changes and additions. Knowing how much I'm enjoying Destiny right now, I can't wait to see where it goes from here.