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Destiny is Worth Playing Again with The Taken King

Ian Miles Cheong | 2 Oct 2015 19:00
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When Destiny was first released in 2014, I played it consistently for a couple of weeks. I finished the story, did a ton of Crucible matches, but never participated in the raid.

Destiny was a letdown. Its story seemed under-developed and the characters that populated the story offered so few lines of dialog that they could be barely considered characters. Lacking personality and depth, there was little to these shallow interactions. The game had a lot of potential, but outside of I immersed myself in battle, I found no reason to spend much time with it.

When the two expansion packs were released, I ignored them, having found (at the time) more interesting games to play. By all accounts, House of Wolves and The Dark Below weren't great expansion packs, adding only a few story missions, a couple of strikes, and a single raid.

I could not ignore Destiny's latest expansion pack, The Taken King, when I heard that its developers were doing a lot to alleviate the game's biggest issues. With its release, Destiny is absolutely worth playing-not just for the exhilarating gunplay that Bungie excels at, but also for the story, the characters, and everything you can do after you kill the final boss. Oh, and the leveling mechanics have completely changed for the better.

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In the original game, you had 20 levels and additional "light levels" to raise by upgrading your weapons and armor. Getting those light levels up to the point where you could take on some of the game's most difficult challenges required players to use specific equipment.

That's changed. Now that the game's level cap has been raised to 40, you have a separate light level element that increases based on the average attack and defense stats on your weapons and armor, respectively. Missions are rated based on light level difficulty-for example, a Heroic Story Mission has a suggested light level requirement of 240. The King's Fall raid is rated at 290. It's actually pretty easy to figure out.

The level change removes one of the big headaches that players in Year One faced, and gives them ample opportunity to try out completely different weapon and armor load-outs. Beyond simply adding new item slots, the new gear confers a wide variety of bonuses and perks that simply make playing your Guardian that much more interesting, while also helping you cut down on drudgery: you can attack faster, earn more experience and reputation points by completing quests, and so forth.

Additionally, some of the perks offered by Ghost Shells even allow players to detect resource nodes or receive resources when picking up Engrams, greatly cutting down the time it takes to farm resources for upgrades, which was a major source of complaints in Year One.

I heard that its developers were doing a lot to alleviate the game's biggest issues.

Beyond the mechanics, the new story campaign in Destiny: The Taken King offers improvements in terms of narrative design. In the original game, players encountered a varied host of different enemies, whose motivations were completely unknown to the player unless they bothered to read the Grimoire on the game's official website. Beyond that, the game failed to feature a Darth Vader or a Diablo for the players to focus their attention on, which made the story seem like a pointless jumble of missions that took the player to various, seemingly unconnected locales.

The introduction of a big bad guy named Oryx and his invasion of the solar system gives players a reason to fight. Furthermore, players are given plenty of raw insight into the Cabal, Vex, and Fallen factions, all of which have their own motivations for being at each others' throats-and ours.

The enemies aren't the only ones with more character this time around. The player's allies who lounge around the tower, like Cayde-6, Eris Morn and Commander Zavala all exhibit actual personality. Not only do they sound interesting when they're speaking over your headset, they also appear in cutscenes and interact with each other. The Ghost, which is now voiced by Nolan North, has a lot to say in the new story missions and also provides you with occasional snippets of lore when you scan certain objects. I'll grant that there was nothing really wrong with Peter Dinklage's voiceovers, but the new, wittier direction of Nolan North's Ghost adds a lighthearted touch to the game's proceedings. It goes along nicely with Nathan Fillion's quips as Cayde-6.

This time? The story made me care enough to read the Grimoire entries.

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