After weeks of Gjallahorn fun and Iron Banner misery, let’s take a look to the future. This week we will delve into an important question on the minds of more than just a few in these few weeks before the launch of The Taken King on September the 15th. Should I give Destiny a second chance?
Destiny at launch was controversial, to say the least. Mentioning Destiny in most gaming spaces will bring one of 3 reactions. Blind angry rage from somebody who played the game at launch and hated it. Blind angry rage from someone who DIDN’T play the game at all but wanted to appear cool on Twitter. Or the people who were moderately angry about the game, and couldn’t stop playing for weeks at a time. But for the most part, Destiny had a lot of abuse from nearly every corner.
The vast majority of which it deserved.
Yes, the one thing everyone could agree on was just how flawed the game was. Some got angry, some got internet angry (like regular angry but with more hyperbole and casual racism), some campaigned to change a game they loved for the better, and some of us wrote a long-winded op-ed on the subject. But over time the game improved, then got much worse, then improved again. But for many, gradual improvements weren’t what the game needed, it needed an overhaul.
With the Taken King, is that overhaul finally here? As MMOGames’ resident Destiny expert, I’ve drafted the help of our resident grumpy git and world class Destiny abuse-giver Murf to see if enough was different in The Taken King to reconsider playing again.
The part of Murf will be played by the bold option on Google Docs.
Will I notice an attempt at story?
Yes. Apart from finally getting in someone who knows how to voice act the mediocre script he received for the ghost, a much greater role has been given to not only active story in the form of cutscenes and missions, but also in the game’s expansive, and up until this point hidden away, background lore.
The changes start with a much greater role for the former Dinklebot. Apart from being a lot more talkative this time (since they don’t have to wait for Game of Thrones or terrible video game movies to stop filming to record more lines) he also has the new ability to scan objects in the world and relate to you the significance of the item/place/enemy in question. While this is clearly just the scan mechanic from the Metroid Prime games, it is at least a good mechanic and much preferred to the past “Log out and check Bungie.org” system that we all know and detest. Aside this, a change has been made to the structure of the main story missions. While progress was made with the excellent story missions contained in House of Wolves, the stories and cutscenes so far seen from The Taken King are a step even above that. The opening mission of Phobos builds tension and suspense as well as the opening mission from V1 did, and the lore revealed simply from background chatter is more detailed and expansive, with Malcolm Reynolds-bot taking center stage as your commander for the missions. More quests and missions will also be focused on past lore, with the fate of Kybr and the Vault of Glass being given as an example.
Destiny already has some quite deep and interesting lore, the plan for year two of the game appears to be to actually try and bloody tell it to you.
Are locales more varied now?
Yes and no. Earth, Mars, Venus and the Moon will likely remain exactly as they once were with likely additions of newer areas and quests to freshen them up. Phobos has a single mission on it, so that doesn’t count, and the PVP areas so far shown, while good looking, are still mixes of Earth and Tower locales that we have seen before.
The lion’s share of the changes come from the Dreadnaught, an area much larger than seen before. The zone will have features and events that will make it a lot more varied and active than any of the past patrol zones in Destiny. Dreadnaught seems to have been designed from the ground up to right many of the wrongs from V1, the ship will be an expansive maze filled with everything from scavenger hunts to raid-style public events with more weekly quests introduced to keep you moving from area to area looking for everything from materials to exotic weapons. Strikes are also receiving a big overhaul, but I will explain them in the next question which is…
Is there anything being done to make it feel less like a grind?
Grinding will always be a part of the world of Destiny-craft, as much as people try to pretend that Destiny is not at least a pseudo-MMO, it is at its core a grind with some fine gun-play and space punching added in. However, unlike the base game, The Taken King is making changes that make the grind more rewarding and less frustrating. The addition of quests to the game is the first way of tackling this. Quests, while tested (badly) in Dark Below, are being added in to help gear progression and replayability. Quests are now multistage events either leading you around one environment to solve, or sending you all over the solar system.
The way you gain gear has been tweaked as well. Quests for the most part will reward Legendary upgrades or the chance of exotics. Getting gear will now be less up to the gods of luck and much more in your hands. While getting gear with the correct mix of stats and bonuses will remain time consuming, getting at least good enough gear to charge on will not be. The focus in year two will be aimed more towards spending time getting the gear that works best for you than just getting the Light level you need. Players with less time on their hands, while maybe having to deal with using a Pulse Rifle with a hand cannon bonus on your legs, won’t be stuck being miles behind the others with more time to spend.
The most noticeable area for these changes will likely be within the Strikes. In year one, Strikes were basically bullet sponges with some trash. Boring for the most part and not massively challenging. In year two, Strikes are receiving two major changes. First, they will have multiple layouts that will be applied at random upon entering. This likely won’t be a massive change, but enemy spawns, tactics and types will change from run to run meaning, while they won’t be unique every time, they will offer a big enough difference to at least extend their lives. The second change is to bosses. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably, because this may shock you. The bosses now actually have tactics.
Now that’s not to say they will all be something akin to Templar, but more effort is being made to make them less than just “Shoot a lot and don’t stand in the lasers” or the good old fashioned “GJALLAHORN EVERYTHING!” Anyone familiar with World of Warcraft or any other MMO will instantly recognize the newer tactics. From the Shield Brothers Strike shown recently, avoiding areas of the battle while managing the health of two targets and dealing with additional spawns is Dungeon 101, but for Destiny, a Gods-damned revelation.
Are they adding better PvP modes?
Yes. While no major PVP overhaul is being performed, a group of smaller but important changes are being made, as well as new content being added. The first change makes Salvage a permanent fixture to the PVP playlists. No more waiting patiently for the great RNGesus to decide it’s not bloody Inferno capture again.
Alongside the new modes already added, with the Inferno setting which removes radar and scores based only on your kills and captures, the end game PVP mode Trials of Osiris, and a 3v3 elimination game which rewards raid level gear for PVPers, comes 3 new PVP modes.
Mayhem, with its massively increased super recharge rate is basically the concept of chaos with better punching animation. Rift, a mix of basketball and actual war, tasking players to protect a runner long enough for them to score at the team base. And Capture, the base capture mode that players have wanted for a long time which rewards actually capturing and holding flags, rather than kills like the current control mode.
Another important change is that they are nerfing the hell out of Last Word and Thorn, so at least you missed that particular circle of hell.
So… The Red Bull stuff?
It’s dumb. We all know it was dumb. The promotion will grant a quest chain and a small exp boost and is ignorable. It is dumb and mildly insulting, but is the work of the publisher and not Bungie. The quest will be short and likely stupid and unlocked in December.
Are classes any more interesting? Are there reasons to bring different classes?
This one is a no, or at least a not really. The base 6 specializations for the 3 main classes remain the same. Of the new specs, for the most part they are great additions to the game, with Hunters finally getting a support spec, Titans getting a mix of support and attack, and Warlocks getting to make Star Wars jokes to their hearts content. But outside of minor additions nothing is really different than what can be played elsewhere. All 3 supers come off as a mix of Arc Blade and Nova Bomb with only the Night Stalker presenting itself as truly unique. Still, Fire Thor.
Are Dead Orbit Still a bunch of massive cowards?
Okay, Murf didn’t ask that but I have to get one dig in per column or the clown will eat me.
So, there we have it. hopefully this helps you decide one way or the other when it comes to jumping back into Destiny. Bungie, for all their ills, are looking at The Taken King to be the great redeemer in the eyes of many. If it is or not will be decided once and for all on September 15, or more likely a few days later when we see how long the new exotic quests take. If you want my advice? The Taken King is a massive step forward for Destiny and worth a look. But I would say that, I play this game too much and write about it for an MMO website.Related: Column, Destiny, Dispatches from the Tower, MMOFPS, Shooter, The Taken King