The Taken King is the third addition to Destiny, but it packed way more of a punch than the previous two expansions; we may have faced Crota, but now we’ve got to handle his Dad.

First of all, woah. Just woah. Reading through my notes on The Taken King expansion is kind of what I imagine a 7 year old’s diary would sound like if you sent them to space: there was this really cool thing and this, AND THIS! Before my handwriting became the illegible scribbles of pure joy… It was a worthy investment packed full of content that I can’t wait to get back to.

Destiny itself has had its ups and downs, with a story that didn’t really have much structure (to begin with), a grind that had you trying to make sense of that voice in your head asking, “why am I still trying?” And don’t forget the initial Light total system failure. That being said, there are plenty of things that Destiny got so, so, right. With guns that are intuitive, great areas to explore, the satisfying splat and pop of the enemy’s heads when you shoot them, Destiny’s mechanics were spot-on. They took what was good with Destiny and, with The Taken King, have expanded on every front to make things much better.

But enough rambling. Let’s get down into the details of what made this expansion turn Destiny from a fun game to an amazing player experience.

So much to do

For the total of 15 days that I have had the expansion, I have yet to run out of missions, patrols, bounties and Crucible matches to take part in. The Taken King has 8 initial chapters for the story; then it goes on to patrol for around ten missions or so. It finally ends with the 6-player ‘Kings Fall’ raid. Once you complete all of that, you get three new strikes (four for PS4 players) and a metric tonne of challenges to earn yourself exotic items. Most of these have been completed, and yet Bungie have teased that there is much of Destiny still undiscovered. For a game that was getting to a yearly dry spell, its Light has been replenished.

Juxtaposition

We all know that, as Guardians, we are warriors of the light, and throughout the environment of Destiny you see that come into play a fair amount. However, never have I seen such a beautiful contrast of darkness and light than when you face Oryx himself in the final mission. The graphics have been good in the past, but I feel like the Destiny team put something into this addition that we hadn’t seen before – being plunged into darkness and fighting to see through the mist was an interesting and fantastic way to pit you against the final boss. Even the dialogue mirrors their play on the darkness, with Cayde-6 featuring heavily as your lighthearted guide against Eris Morn’s pessimistic attitude, and their dialogue offering my personal favorite aspect from the story.

Mass overhaul

Even if you haven’t got your hands on the expansion, there was an update to the Destiny interface. This means for all humble Guardians that leveling up is much easier (although this is something that I’ll come back to soon), with Light counting as an average of your defense and attack rather than your luck with getting good items. The quest and bounty system has gotten its own page, allowing you to quickly access and complete them. You can track quests and cash in bounties away from the Tower – life is just that little bit easier for everyone.

New things!

There are three new sub-classes, one for each type of Guardian. Titans have Sunbreaker, which more or less turns you into a flaming Thor-nado. Warlocks become Stormcallers, making you the master of fantastic lightning strikes. Hunters get themselves Nightstalker, a more tactical class providing an assist role, crowd controlling a group of enemies at a time. Along with classes, that you get via a brilliant side mission, there’s new loot and destinations to explore. The holistic style of the Dreadnaught on Saturn’s rings, and the way the game plays out is something that long-disappointed fans of Destiny will really appreciate.

The enemies and mission design

Everything has been shaken up, including the enemies you’re facing. Although I was slightly disappointed there wasn’t anyone ultimately new to battle, that doesn’t mean it was the same familiar script to follow. The Fallen change the way the enemies attack, with different styles and intensities that were fantastic to go against. The mission design has been ripped up and given a lease of life; you don’t just hold off the enemies while your Ghost does something clever. You actually have to stay on guard, with surprise bosses and puzzles that you have to figure out.

Gripe: the level cap

I hardly noticed when I reached level 40. There was a moment where I was clocking through the bounties and cashing them in away from home, and then all of a sudden I was level 40. It was almost as though there wasn’t much… challenge to it at all. It’s not a walk in the park, but to those of you who are experienced players, it will feel lacking in difficulty.

Online features… But where is everybody?

The public events are great, if anybody shows up. It’s difficult to get involved in public events if you can’t guarantee that the players near you are going to join in, or that there will be any players around you when they set off at all. I’m all for co-op play, but the public events aren’t something that Bungie have gotten right quite yet. In The Taken King, the weekly Nightfall, the raid, and the Court of Oryx don’t have any kind of matchmaking like the current strikes and other raids. That means you either band your friends together to fill a fireteam, or you’re going to be scouring the internet to assemble a team of strangers.

Vanguard marks

This is a tiny, minuscule point I’ll make; it’ll be two sentences, tops. You get Vanguard marks for completing the daily Heroic missions (which actually have a limit to how many you can do) and the likes of such, so that you can buy better armor. But, in order to survive and be successful in said missions, you need very good armor/weapons to begin with. *Guardian sits* It’s going to take time.

Oryx – the big bad mad Dad

He’s really annoyed that you killed his son, and that’s to put it mildly. The story incorporates bosses that embody a part of Oryx; darkness is felt in every corner of the missions. When it actually comes to facing big Daddy, as aforementioned, you get a radically different boss style. You’re in the light, then in the dark, with a strategic attack that, although only takes a few rolls of the die to learn, was a welcomed change. (The style of waves and then a superior kill shot, where the enemy is invincible for the majority of the time, though, is hardly a new concept in itself.)

You will be challenged

The Taken King is some of the most challenging content Bungie have ever delivered, with The Taken King raid requiring a serious amount of coordination with your team to pull off. The loot drops are fairer too, with the system rewarding you for having decent gear. The better your armor and Light, the higher level item drops you’ll get for completing missions.

Overall, I’d say that The Taken King is the game Destiny wanted to put out in the first place. The missions style and enemies feel overall more polished, with the story mode actually making you become a part of the world of Destiny. Every environment has been a pleasure to play in, and facing Oryx was a brilliant end – or beginning? – to an expansion filled with content. The only thing I wonder is whether Bungie can continue to deliver, in a few months time, when the joy we find in the weekly missions now, once again turns into a grind.