Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

For most of last year, Destiny players have been spurred by hope and riled by impatience. We held out hope that this flawed but promising game would draw closer to its potential, despite our impatience with the sluggish pace of improvements.

"Why do you even play Destiny?" a friend or acquaintance might ask, setting down his beer and giving us an eyebrow. "Isn't it repetitive and grindy? Isn't the story bad? Isn't it all just kind of a mess?"

Yes, yes, we would reply. Yes, it is repetitive, and yes, it can be dull. Yes, the story is nonsense. Yes, we would admit, it is all just kind of a mess. Nobody knows that more than the people who play it.

And then we would launch into an explanation of all the things Destiny got right — the perfect controls, the nifty guns, the way alien heads pop like plastic bubble-wrap. We'd talk about the friends we'd made over the last year, and the virtual adventures we'd had alongside them. We'd talk about the crazy cheeses and the crowdsourced cheats and the long, arduous road to Mercury and how somewhere along the line, playing this maddening, joyful, problem-riddled game started to feel like being part of something. And we'd add, ostensibly as a declaration to our friend but really as an assurance to ourselves, that we had faith things would get better.

"OK, that all sounds good," our unconvinced friend would say, eyebrow still cocked. "I guess maybe it's just not for me."

After that, we'd usually just let it lie. We'd had this conversation enough times to know that our friend was probably right. It hasn't always been easy to love Destiny.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

With the new Taken King expansion, that conversation has changed. The developers at Bungie have improved and expanded Destiny on every front.

I've spent the last two weeks obsessively playing and have yet to run out of things to do: I've defeated dozens of other players in the competitive Crucible arena; I've braved tremendous hidden challenges and earned mysterious secret guns; I've fallen asleep while farming crafting materials in Russia. I've defeated the final boss twice: Once on the first day I started playing, and once after spending five long nights conquering the tremendous new King's Fall Raid. (Hope you don't think you really killed him the first time around.)

Throughout all of that, my Destiny friends and I kept repeating the same thing, out loud, over and over again: "I can't believe how much better this is." Destiny has been following a steady upward trajectory for a while now, but given what a mess the game was at various points during the last 12 months, most of us didn't expect that a single expansion could improve things as thoroughly as The Taken King has.While I have always recommended people play Destiny, my recommendation now comes with significantly fewer caveats.

Where does one even begin to describe a game like Destiny? We could say it takes place in our own solar system, some time in the future. We could describe the game's basic narrative premise as this: After making contact with a moon-shaped, otherworldly intelligence known as the Traveller, humankind ushered in a great age of peace, prosperity, and scientific progress. Humans terraformed and colonised the other planets in our galaxy, life expectancy went through the roof, and everything was pretty much awesome. Then a vague evil force known as the Darkness followed, attacked, and (apparently?) killed the Traveller, leading to an apocalyptic event known as The Fall.

The good guys lost everything and nearly everyone, and survivors sought shelter under the shadow of the now-dead Traveller in a place on Earth called the Last City. The player, inhabiting the body of a powerful, supernaturally enhanced warrior called a Guardian, is tasked with going out and fighting the Darkness by shooting a bunch of things and gradually earning better and better pants.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

The Taken King is the third expansion for Destiny, following The Dark Below last December and House of Wolves last May. It marks the start of Destiny's second year, and arrives just in time to spritz the brow of a game that desperately needed a little freshening up.

Here are some of the notable additions:

• A new, non-bad story campaign that tells the tale of your fight with a big-horned growl factory named Oryx. The story spans eight initial chapters and then sprawls outward into the game's open "patrol" zones, periodically doling out another ten or so missions before reaching its conclusion in the new six-player "King's Fall" raid.

• A bunch of new endgame challenges to tackle after the story is complete: There are three new three-player strikes (four for PlayStation owners) along with remixed versions of several old strikes. There's the aforementioned raid. There are also a variety of challenging quests that reward players with unique exotic items. Some of these have proven too difficult for most players to complete; others have still not been discovered.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

• An overhauled quest interface that makes it much easier to keep track of a greater number of tasks and bounties at once. You can track major quests and check your progress on various missions by pulling up your Ghost buddy. Some of these quests are much better than others — more on that in a bit — but in general the system is a big improvement.

• A way better loot and levelling system that makes it easier for players to advance by simply playing the game. It's sort of like the old system in that your character's real progress is determined by gear rather then experience level, but now, just about any weapon or armour piece can help you out in some way. The new light system, combined with the clever new system for upgrading your gear, makes it possible for anyone to get to a high enough level to check out everything the game has to offer.

• Three new subclasses, one for each of the game's three base classes. Each one substantially affects strategy in both Player vs. Enemy (PvE) missions and Player vs. Player (PvP) matches.

• Three new PvP modes and eight new maps, along with a significant weapon rebalancing. Most year-one weapons and armour have been "left behind" and cannot be leveled like year-two stuff, with only a handful of exotic-tier items making the jump to year two. That means players have to essentially start their collection over from scratch, but it also means that the woefully stale "meta" — video game slang for the game behind the game, in this case referring to the strongest and most ubiquitous gear — has been given a nice firm shake-up.

• A simplified and more player-friendly economy. Not that it's "simple" by any means.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

If you'd asked a Destiny player last July what Bungie needed to change or fix about Destiny, they would have probably compiled an obvious list: The story needs to be better; the levelling system needs to be more accessible; players should feel more rewarded for playing; Crucible weapon balance needs an overhaul. And while Bungie has certainly addressed all of those problems, The Taken King is just as defined by the dozens of small changes that we didn't ask for.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Consider this, for example: Daily story missions and Crucible challenges can now only be completed once per account. At first this feels like an omission — one of the best ways to get cool gear in the past was to do those things three times a day, once per character — but in practice, it's a huge improvement that has reduced the built-in Destiny grind and left us freer to focus on other, more enjoyable activities.

Many of the game's other small tweaks, like the streamlining of "marks" to a single account-wide currency, seemed questionable at first but have led to a significantly less grindy game. In the past, the hardcore Destiny player would need to juggle three characters to optimise loot gains — today, that's not necessary. With The Taken King, players will find themselves switching between characters not so they can min-max rewards but because the new subclasses are a lot of fun.

The weekly Nightfall challenge no longer grants a temporary XP bonus, which removes the built-in pressure we once had to complete it on all three of our characters before doing anything else in a given week. Weapon reforging is gone, and with that, a great burden has been lifted — no longer will every gun be accompanied by the niggling feeling that if you just went back to the slot machine, you might get a more perfect combination of stats and perks.

Given how much crap we've given Bungie over the last year for their various poor decisions, it's reassuring to see them come up with solutions for things we didn't even realise were problems. Turns out these guys know what they're doing, after all. It's almost like they made this game.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

When asked by Game Informer magazine whether The Taken King would feature some sort of dramatic narrative twist, director Luke Smith smiled and replied, "The twist is that there's a story. We're trying something different." He was joking, but he wasn't kidding: One of the most significant improvements The Taken King offers over year-one Destiny is the fact that it has a story in the first place.

The Taken King picks up just after the events of the expansions, each of which had their own rudimentary narratives. In the first expansion, The Dark Below, we all killed a Hive demigod named Crota. Now we get to fight his dad, Oryx, another god-ish-type being whose signature move is "taking" other sentient beings and converting them into self-replicating soldiers in his own zombie army. They then become Taken. He's their king. Get it?

Oryx and his moon-sized ship, The H.M.S. Dreadnaught, materialise near Saturn and commence a full-scale invasion of our solar system. This aggression will not stand, and your character becomes the tip of the spear in a desperate counteroffensive.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

You're guided on your adventure by a small cadre of commanders who sound eerily like beloved TV personalities, including Lance Reddick as a stern military tactician, Gina Torres as an introspective warrior-scholar, and Nathan Fillion as a scenery chewing robo-man who's spent the last twelve months rewatching Firefly and working on his Malcolm Reynolds impression.

The actors — Fillion in particular — deserve heaps of credit for making the new story missions far more fun than anything we've seen in Destiny up to now, but the improved script deserves recognition as well. Year-one Destiny featured the same murderer's row of vocal talent, but somehow managed to squander it. (When you've got an actor as appealing as Nathan Fillion and you've buried him so deeply that most people don't even realise he's in the game, you've done something wrong.)

The other standout performance comes from veteran voice actor Nolan North in the role of your companion Ghost. North is stepping in to pinch-hit after Bungie recast and subsequently deleted Peter Dinklage's famously mediocre performance from year one. North's chatty, deliberately nervous take on Ghost gets better as The Taken King progresses, but in truth, he won me over from the very first moments of the game:

It's after the "final boss" that The Taken King gets interesting. With Oryx vanquished, you're given a number of quests that you can tackle at your leisure. Destiny's familiar patrol zones on Earth, the Moon, Mars, and Venus have been overrun by the Taken invasion, and you'll have to dispatch to those planets to lend a hand. Most of these quests amount to "go to X place and kill X monsters," but experienced together they paint a convincing enough picture of a star system under siege.

It is also at this point that, for better or worse, The Taken King begins to lean heavily on co-operative play. The patrol subquests can be a real chore to complete solo, and generally seem designed for teams of two or three players to complete. Sometimes you'll have to scour a region for elusive commanders before you'll trigger the boss you need to fight; fail to kill them quickly enough and you'll have to wait fifteen minutes for the event to start again.

After completing a patrol step or two, you'll find yourself going off on additional missions, most of which remix locations from The Taken King and the rest of year-one Destiny. These missions are terrific — if difficult enough that they essentially require you to bring backup — and include some of the most interesting single-serving challenges in all of Destiny. Highlights include a horror-tinged spelunking expedition through the basements of the Russian Cosmodrome, a death defying plunge into the depths of the Vault of Glass, and a tangential but no less welcome epilogue for the story and characters featured in House of Wolves.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Throughout all that, Destiny's fundamentals remain as solid as ever. The control scheme is still immaculate, with double-taps and button-holds linking up under your fingers like eighth notes and dotted quarters. The high-jumps are still pleasingly acrobatic, carefully calibrated to help players bob and weave between arcing, colourful blasts of incoming enemy fire. The Hunter's backhanded knife-thrust remains one of the best melee attacks in any video game. (The Titan's sad T-Rex flail remains one of the worst.)

The impact and rhythm of combat continues to be significantly enhanced by Bungie's world-class sound design. A punch sounds like a frickin' punch and a gunshot sounds like a frickin' gunshot. The rending shriek as a batch of Taken pours through a wormhole sits comfortably beside the multiphonic battle-screams of a Cabal centurion; the retro power-pulse of a Hereafter sniper rifle plays counterpoint to Hawkmoon's exclamatory pop and Telesto's firework crackle.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

New additions to the arsenal are, so far, welcome. Destiny's second year has a newfound focus on in-game gun manufacturers, meaning that once you know the make of a given weapon, you can assume a fair bit about it. Suros™ scopes look a certain way and Omolon™ scopes another; Hakke™ pulse rifles kick left and fire four bullets per burst; and so on.

Forget all that shit, though — players can also craft and equip swords. "Swords?" you may have just sputtered, dotting your computer monitor with flecks of spittle. "Who would use a sword in a gun game like Destiny?"

The answer is: Pretty much everyone, because Destiny's swords are great. What could have been a stunt weapon is instead deadly and versatile enough to play a crucial role in high-level strikes and raids. There are few things as satisfying as closing with a pissed-off alien and finishing it off by whipping out a friggin' lightning sword.

In addition to all that new gear, there are three new subclasses to play around with. Titans have the new Sunbreaker class, which gives them a collection of hilariously overpowered explosive fire abilities. Warlocks get the new Stormcaller class, a well-rounded offensive setup best suited to cleaning up mobs of numerous but lower-level foes. Hunters can now become Nightstalkers, a class that comes with a fascinating collection of fresh abilities including an enhanced radar, a purple bow-and-arrow that suppresses and slows down enemies, and a "Ninja vanish!" smoke bomb that lets players Batman their way out of hairy situations.

The Taken King's encounters have gotten a substantial re-invigoration to match the new player abilities and arsenal. Story missions feature jumping challenges, locked door puzzles, and countdown timers, all of which make the first set of missions feel more like a "proper" story campaign and less like the repetitive fight-off-waves shindig that vanilla Destiny used so often.

The new three-player cooperative Strikes sit one level of complexity above the story missions, introducing yet more co-op mechanics. A couple of the new strikes require enough teamwork that they feel almost like mini-raids. Thanks to the strikes' built-in matchmaking, it is technically possible to play them with strangers. Most of them, however — in particular the terrific but complicated PlayStation-exclusive Echo Chamber — flirt a bit too saucily with requiring players to get on the mic and talk things through.

Players have already begun to balk at the prospect of playing these missions with "randoms," and it can be hard to get through the more challenging heroic strikes without your teammates deciding to bail and go do something else. It sucks when it happens, but given how frustrating some of the bosses can be for groups of strangers, it's understandable.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

The new open-ended patrol zone on Oryx's Dreadnaught also features its share of complex mechanics and hidden secrets. Just yesterday — after two weeks of non-stop Destiny exploration and play — I learned of a new trick that involves simultaneously scanning two different terminals, opening a door and summoning a unique boss to fight. Beat the boss, and you get a unique emblem to wear around. That emblem tells a little story: "Check me out, I know about the thing with the panels."

In another part of the ship, I found a locked chest that shared only the prompt "A scent is the key." I learned that if I went and sat in a small room nearby, I would eventually be granted a short-term buff called "Scent of the Worm." (Ew.) If I could sprint back to the locked chest before the timer expired, I'd be able to open it.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

At the center of the Dreadnaught lies a small arena called the Court of Oryx, where visitors will often see players congregating and fighting. In this court, players can use consumable runes to summon bosses, who wander through a portal just so you can kill them. Seems like a raw deal for the monsters in question, but it's pretty great for Destiny players.

Each boss has some sort of distinct mechanic that you have to get around in order to deal damage — one guy is only vulnerable if you clear out his minions, a pair of knights can only be damaged if you get them close to one another, etc. For the most part, these fights work well with strangers, but there are some top-tier boss battles that require coordination among four or more players, which makes it particularly frustrating that your fireteam is capped at three.

The most challenging Court of Oryx encounter so far has been a redux of the climactic fight at the end of the Crota's End raid from The Dark Below. The original incarnation of that fight was designed with six players in mind, so the new version does a good job of underlining how beneficial six-person fireteams would be. It also encapsulates how thoroughly The Taken King eclipses Destiny's preceding expansions: The Dark Below's climactic showdown is reduced to a mere footnote.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

All of the new abilities, weapons, items, combat arenas, boss mechanics, and secret challenges collide in the new King's Fall raid, and oh, what a collision it is. Stringently designed to be conquered only by a team of six players working in close communication, King's Fall represents the current pinnacle of Bungie's co-op design ethos. It's a hell of an accomplishment.

Destiny's previous two raids — the terrific Vault of Glass and the flawed-but-sometimes-super-fun Crota's End — ranked among the most challenging and rewarding things I'd ever undertaken in a video game. King's Fall absorbs and obliterates them both. Its nine distinct challenges include a poison-room relay race, a boss fight that's part rock concert and part deadly game of Simon, a twisting labyrinth with a mysterious secret, a tour of the Destiny equivalent of a TIE-Fighter manufacturing plant, and a jumping puzzle that recalls nothing so much as Super Mario Bros. It all culminates in a hilariously kick-arse boss fight that I wouldn't dream of spoiling here. If the King's Fall raid is the new bar to which Destiny's other endgame activities must aspire, it is a lofty one.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Destiny's PvP got off to a slow start for me last year — at first, the most remarkable thing about the Crucible was how seamlessly it was folded in with the PvE elements of the game. It was enough for me to say, "Hmm, this could be cool," before steadfastly ignoring it for seven months.

It wasn't until the House of Wolves expansion that I finally took the PvP plunge. In the months since then, I've slowly morphed from curious newcomer to Crucible obsessive, able to talk endlessly about the difference between Shot Package and Rangefinder and why you should always cap C on Blind Watch. My skill has risen accordingly: I've gone from Embarrassingly Bad to Just Sort Of Bad to I Have My Moments.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Above: I will take literally any opportunity to put this gif in a Kotaku article.

The Taken King expands and refines on Destiny's PvP in a number of welcome ways while unfortunately failing to manage the two or three improvements that would elevate the game to multiplayer greatness. Specifically, weapon balance is still a bit off, there are still no custom private matches, and far too many contests are negatively affected by lag.

The new maps are a hoot, for the most part — the wide-open Crossroads map has you leaping into man-cannons that fling you across chasms, while Vertigo has you navigating floating platforms and narrow hallway killzones. Memento is a camp-fest of bombed out buildings and tight alleyways that seems like it will be either awful or fantastic when the intense Trials of Osiris tournament returns, and The Drifter mixes tight hallways with a wide-open central room, with dead Guardians floating around in zero-G.

The new competitive mode Zone Control is an interesting spin on Control that only gives points for held ground; it requires a significant recalibration after months and months of standard Control, where you get points for kills. I could see it becoming a great challenge for coordinated teams. Mayhem mode, meanwhile, gives everyone constant super abilities and grenades, which turns each match into an explosion-fest that is equal parts cathartic, entertaining, and stupid.

I'm not quite sold on the much vaunted new Rift mode, which has players fighting over a "ball" in the middle of the map and then attempting to bum's rush it into the opponent's base to score a goal. The idea sounds great on paper, but like a lot of the PvE additions to The Taken King, it seems designed for teams who actually communicate. Playing Rift with randoms can be an exercise in frustration — no one ever scores a goal, and each team's score inches along as the match goes on, and on. That said, any time I've gone into a Rift match in a fireteam of three or more, we've had a great time.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Destiny's Crucible has been given a few quests that are similar to the ones in PvE. The intent is to give PvP-focused players similar sorts of long-term goals to work toward. Unfortunately, the Crucible-specific questline woefully fails to live up to its PvE counterparts. In order to unlock weekly Crucible quests — which allegedly pay handsomely upon completion — players must first grind their way through a hilariously arduous series of challenges that would take even a skilled player more than a dozen hours to complete.

This introductory Crucible quest requires an appalling amount of repetition and far too many steps require a set number of team victories — as opposed to individual performance or participation — which incentivizes players to leave losing matches in order to save time. The quest further cuts itself off at the knees by requiring players to do each step in order — first you have to get two wins in Control, then Rift, then Skirmish, and so on. My friends and I are all on different steps, so we're forced to go play separately rather than teaming up to get it done together. As a first step toward the Questification of Crucible, it's a serious stumble.

The new 2.0 weapon rebalancing has been largely effective — at least for now, until some other crazy combo emerges — and as a result Crucible matches are more dynamic and exciting than they have been in ages. For the bulk of last summer, Destiny PvP risked being crushed under the weight of its suffocating metagame. Players figured out and equipped the most powerful weapons and re-rolled guns for the best perks, creating an army of identical fighters wielding identical (and identically annoying) guns.

That stale meta has been shattered, at least in the short term, particularly when it comes to primary guns. The much-hated gun Thorn, which notably did not get a year-two version, has all but vanished from the Crucible entirely.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

There are still some problems to iron out — in particular, Shotguns are still overpowered, and I still see the same cocky motherfuckers rolling around each match with a shotty, sniping people at ridiculous range. But for the most part, each weapon feels appropriate for its stated role.

If you're being outgunned, it's likely because you've engaged with an opponent on terms that favour their weapon. A pulse rifle will beat an auto rifle at mid-range, but will lose to a scout rifle at anything longer. A hand cannon will destroy a scout rifle up close, but stands no chance at range. There is — as yet — no one gun for all occasions, meaning that you'll have to adjust both your loadout and your tactics to be most effective on the battlefield. One can hope that Bungie will take a lesson from last summer and be quicker to address weapon balance in the future, but for the time being, the existing rebalance is a strong start.

Lag and connectivity problems continue to be the primary issues holding Destiny PvP back from greatness, and it's disappointing that The Taken King hasn't done more to improve things. I still regularly run into "red bar" players with (apparently) shitty connections teleporting around the map, and I still empty clips into lag-figments that are no longer standing where I'm shooting. If Bungie can truly address Destiny's often disastrous lag — and add player-defined custom matches to the mix — they could have a genuine PvP classic on their hands. The game is already so close to that endpoint that it's all the more frustrating seeing these same lingering problems holding it back.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

I remain a steadfast proponent of playing Destiny for fun. That's as opposed to playing the game for loot, which can quickly become a driving motivation in any game like this. When I'm teaming up with my friends and cracking jokes while shotgunning aliens in the face, I'm a happy camper. When I'm grimly farming the same three enemies over and over to finish out a bounty, it's time to take a break.

The closer Bungie can get to making "playing for fun" and "playing for loot" indistinguishable from one another, the better a job they will have done realising Destiny's full potential. In this respect, The Taken King is a significant step forward. Not only does the game constantly rain new guns and armour on players, Bungie has doubled down on some of the most rewarding ideas in year-one Destiny with terrific results.

In Destiny's first year, most of the best exotic-tier weapons could be obtained in one of two ways. You could either score them in a random drop from a chest, boss, or strike, or you could wait until the weekend vendor Xur turned up with the weapon in stock and buy it from him. Xur only sold one gun at a time, so when he turned up with a weapon he'd never offered before, there would always be some grumbling from the people who already had it. "Great," they would say, "now everyone will have one."

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

This stemmed from an irrational but no less prevalent feeling that the people who bought the gun from a store were somehow less deserving than the people who "earned" it in the wild, despite the fact that "earning" a rare gun in Destiny simply means being lucky enough to have it drop at the end of a mission.

It was a silly and contrary mindset, but nonetheless pervasive — I know that when Xur finally sold Gjallarhorn a few weeks after I finally got one, I felt a twinge of disappointment. I had been proud of owning the gun, despite having nothing to be proud of but my own dumb luck. It was a twisted-up and stupid way to feel, but there it was.

There were five exceptions to that status quo: a five-pack of exotic guns that could only be earned through long quest chains called exotic bounties. These guns could never drop from bosses or strikes, and instead had to be earned through often arduous, multi-step challenges. The toughest of these was the powerful pistol Thorn, which required players to play well in Crucible with specific weapons or else risk losing progress and resetting themselves back to zero. When I finally completed the Thorn bounty, I realised that against my initial expectations, it was actually brilliant — a toothy challenge that rewarded players with a cool weapon that doubled as a badge of honour for everyone to see. If you had a Thorn, you really did earn it. Every other player with it had earned theirs, too.

The Taken King expands on that concept by offering a number of challenging, multi-step quests that eventually reward players with the coolest, most distinctive guns in the game. I've already completed a number of these quests, and the weapons that you earn — actually earn — are a terrific reward for a job well done. I earned the slug-throwing shotgun The Chaperone by consistently playing well in Crucible and beating an extremely difficult modified strike. I'm about to earn the electrified sword Bolt-Caster by defeating a number of increasingly difficult bosses with my puny ordinary sword. (And, ok, I've also earned it by slogging through a terrible penultimate step farming crafting materials.)

I'm about to earn the ridiculous rifle Touch of Malice after hunting down a ton of hidden fragments on the Dreadnaught and beating an escalating series of PvE challenges. And I earned the sniper rifle Black Spindle by completing an immensely difficult limited-time event that many players were simply unable to get done. When I pull out the Spindle in the field, I feel a small burst of real pride — I really did earn this gun, and anyone who sees me using it knows what it means.

Each of these bounties ably demonstrates how much more rewarding Destiny has become, and there are more we haven't even discovered yet. The new exotic questlines fit neatly in with the rest of Destiny's juiced up loot system: You're constantly getting new gear no matter what you do, so everything in the game becomes much more worth doing. Occasionally, you'll get lucky and earn something rarer and better than you were expecting, and all the while you're working through number of simultaneous challenges that give you specific, explicit payouts.

There are times when the old Destiny returns, of course. Old habits die hard. On The Taken King's first weekend players discovered that by abusing a new item called the Three of Coins, it was possible to kill a low-level boss over and over, earning a ton of powerful exotic-tier items without breaking much of a sweat. It was tedious and cheesy, but it got the job done.

I tested out the trick for an article I was writing, but found myself indulging in the exploit past the point of mere journalistic curiosity. I entered a trance-like state where I would methodically use the item, then kill the boss, then use the item, then kill the boss… over and over again. Each time I took stock of my slowly growing haul of new exotics, I realised that I was getting more and more irritable about the whole thing. I'd been having so much fun playing Destiny all week, and this was the opposite of that. Here I was, back at that same slot machine, grinding a boss and hoping that the random number generator wouldn't screw me over.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

It was a sharp reminder of the worst ways I would play Destiny during year one. I was constantly disappointed by what the game gave me, and consequently, I was willing to do all manner of degenerate grinding in the hope of getting something better. With The Taken King, something has changed. For the first time since I can remember, I actually don't want to exploit Destiny. That may change — we may yet again run out of things to do and resort to creatively breaking the game to get more out of it — but for now, I'm more content than ever to simply play.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Last January, I wrote that Destiny's biggest flaw was that there simply wasn't enough to do. Many of the game's more exploitative and obviously time-wasting systems seemed designed to turn a nine-hour game into a ninety-hour one, and they accomplished their task with dispiriting effectiveness.

With The Taken King, that is no longer the case. There is now almost too much to do in Destiny, and after two weeks of worryingly dedicated play, I've only just begun to scrape the bottom.

In that same article, I said that Destiny's greatest strength was the fact that that despite its problems, it remained essentially fun to play. Bungie had gambled that people wanted this sort of persistent, shared-world shooter, and thanks to their strong fundamental execution, their gamble had paid off. Enough of us were hungry for a game like Destiny that we were willing to overlook its flaws and stick with it.

There, too, my opinion has changed. The Taken King demonstrates that Destiny's greatest strength is — and likely has always been — its passionate community of players.

Destiny: The Taken King: The Kotaku Review

Over the past month I've often seen people refer to year-one Destiny as a "paid beta." The implication is that players like me were suckers enough to go along with a cynical ploy to milk us for as much money as possible, voluntarily playing a bad game in order to help Bungie and their publisher Activision re-sell us a better version a year later. The Taken King, this argument asserts, is what Destiny should have been all along.

While part of me understands where those people are coming from, another part of me bristles at their argument. The Taken King could never have sprung fully-formed into the world, and its bevy of small and large improvements could never have manifested without months of noisy feedback from the game's most devoted players. It is an argument built on fantasy logic that does disservice both to the truth of how people play games and to the truth of how people make them.

Those year-one players were not rubes who went along with a clever marketing scheme; we were passionate fans who played the shit out of a game that we loved. Yes, we often loved it in spite of itself. But we did love it. Year-one Destiny was no beta — it was a fascinating, frustrating, often jubilant and regularly beautiful shared excursion into one of online gaming's unexplored corners. Judging by the results of its first major overhaul, it was a more successful maiden voyage than we'd realised.

Destiny has largely been defined by the pointy, passionate, often adversarial relationship between its creators and its players. The push and pull between the two has never quite reached an equilibrium, and it likely never will. After a year of missteps and half-recoveries, Bungie has found their firmest footing since last September. The Taken King's creators have looked their players in the eye and confidently laid down a convincing vision of what Destiny has and will continue to become.

This new status quo is temporary; things will almost certainly change. Bungie will screw up, players will revolt, and whatever precarious peace may have existed will tumble once more into disarray.

For now, though, a moment of relative peace. Destiny's players and Destiny's creators both have what they want: A better version of Destiny. Let us enjoy this moment while it lasts, and go forth once more unto the Cosmodrome. These aliens aren't going to shoot themselves.


Comments

    the way alien heads pop like plastic bubble-wrap

    Nailed it.

      Wow. Couldn't have said it better. Now everyone imagine what this game will be in two years when it's only on next gen consoles.

      Warcraft killer. It's finally happened. Bungie has made a game that effectively crosses the fps mmo loot grind genre.

      If destiny can get to a point where the world is as huge and seemless as world of Warcraft.

      If they can arrive at a point where you have npcs and quest givers hidden in world like fallout 3 or gta v. Well imo thats the gaming experience I've been wanting forever.

      As of right now they took a good game to very very good and great is looking more and more likely.

    love love love love love this

    and the game too, i guess

    ps kudos on getting 45 calcified fragments. those things are worse than taken knights

    Great, I recently bought the Taken King Legendary edition. At the main menu after I press X to log in it freezes and crashes. Then i get the typical ps4 error code ce-34878-0. Would love to play it...

      Google is your friend mate:
      http://ps4daily.com/2014/09/ps4-error-ce-34878-0-fix/
      Seems it's likely due to corrupt game or system files.
      If it happens consistently, even after rebooting (make sure to 'Restart', not to put in rest mode and wake back up), you may have to re-download all the game files.
      Personally I have had 0 crashes or issues on PS4.

    For me, putting more importance on the story has changed the game. I feel more involved and I feel it gives me more motivation to keep doing quests then just leveling up. The game felt different from the opening cut scene, I don't even remember if vanilla destiny had an opening cut scene but I just never got a handle on what was going on around me.
    Mayhem Clash is so much fun.

      The opening cut scene is awesome. People on Mars!!! Bill Nighy!!!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=077NNjUZJGE

      I thought Mayhem Clash would be a clusterfuck of frustration but its actually pretty fun. Though the Stormcaller Warlock is completely OP in it, especially the corridor maps.

    I only started playing after The Taken King came out. I'm enjoying it, but I still think the story is pretty crap on all fronts. TTK scripts are marginally better, but it's easily skipped and you won't miss much.

    Just gimme the guns man...THE GUNS!! https://youtu.be/MBwEOg46yU4

      The story is currently best enjoyed by someone who played Destiny year one and spent a year combing through every nuance looking for substance. TTK by contrast is amazing, and sort of makes all that effort worthwhile. I can't experience as a new player, but I can see how a newcomer might feel a bit "meh" up front. I think over time, should you continue to play, the story and world will grow on you.

        Is the story nuanced and hidden in lore and meta details in the way souls-borne games are?

          Sort of, but only if you read the grimoire. The game is very much about things happening "now", but there's a great deal of interesting history as well.

            Cool; I'll have to go through those grimoire cards via the app on my phone sometime soon.
            I'm more hoping someone has made a thorough in depth lore video explaining it all, along the lines of a VaatiVidya video.
            If you know of one, links please :)

              There are some people who make videos, but I haven't looked at any myself. Hang around the Destiny subreddit and you'll probably see them pop up occasionally. There was a tumblr account too, I think the username was exiledexo, that was trying to make sense of the lore awhile back. It's been dormant for awhile but supposedly new posts are coming soon.

              The interesting thing is that the grimore are filled with information and flavour but still vague enough that there are very few definitive answers at this stage.

    Brilliant review. I have jumped back in after burning out year one after 160 hours. I must have put an indecent 50 hours into it over the last two weeks, slowly inching myself to 290+

    After all that, would I recommend Destiny to a new player? That is a hard one. Year One, probably not. Year Two, provisionally yes, I think you get out what you put in. Once it gets its hooks into you then there is no equal.

      I think you get out what you put in. Once it gets its hooks into you then there is no equal.

      Very succinct answer to a complicated question. Agree 100%.

    It's no doubt the game is better due to this expansion, and it is a good expansion. But buy purchasing it you are rewarding Bungie for overpricing their game. If you bought the original game at release, them the season pass, then the expansion, you've payed nearly $200 for one game in a year. The Dark Below and The house of wolves weren't expansion packs, they were dlc at the price point of expansion packs. The Taken King at least has the content of an expansion pack but $70? What your saying is it has the same amount of content as Metal Gear Solid 5 in its entirety (including an online mode), or the Witcher 3. Now people will argue that they have got a huge amount of play time out of it so it's worth the price; no, it's not. People play the pokies all day but you would hardly say they are getting their moneys worth, I'm sure people played hundreds of hours in flappy bird to get top scores but if they charged $50 for it would you have bought it? Gameplay time doesn't necessarily correlate to content. It's simply a game type that lends itself well to large amounts of play time, not necessarily tangible content.
    Buy buying The Taken King you are essentially telling every game studio that it's completely ok for them to use the DLC model for games to an extreme, take most of the content out and release it later and people will eat it up. At this point they could have charged $100 for the Taken King and with the amount of advertising they've paid for, people would have still bought it. Because everyone seems to think they are getting $70 worth of game which they are not.
    The Taken King is worth maybe $35, don't reward Bungie for riping you off.

      I've spent $200 and gotten over 1000hrs out of it - I haven't been buying other games every few weeks (which has probably saved me money) as I have been happy to play Destiny.
      Whilst it may be a ripoff to you - it surely has not been for me and the many people I play with...

      This is, bluntly, an idiotic strawman argument.

      just because games like Witcher 3, Dragon Age Inquisition or MGSV have more content and subjectively better stories, are more enjoyable, etc. does not make them inherently more valuable to the player and therefore all other games should be cheaper by comparison.

      What the game is worth is subjective and it's up to each individual consumer to make a value judgment. I've paid $79 for games I've gotten bored with after half an hour and didn't get my money's worth. It doesn't make them bad games, just games I didn't enjoy. I've put hundreds of hours into Destiny and did get my money's worth. Two weeks out form launch I'm still playing new content in TTK despite hammering away at it nightly for hours. I haven't even gotten to the raid yet. Is it grindy? Sure. Will I wind up doing these missions and strikes dozens of times? Yes, because I enjoy doing them. When it stops being fun, I have other games to play.

      I'm not going to pretend Destiny, even with The Taken King expansion, is the best game over but for my money, I got my value. Others feel they didn't, and that's fine too.

      But you can't quantify enjoyment as an objective "bang for buck" value. It's completely subjective. Saying "oh but you've paid $200 and that's a ripoff" is garbage. Stop it. You vote with your wallet, I'll vote with mine. Neither of us is wrong.

      Last edited 01/10/15 12:28 pm

        This. Dollars to fun/value conversion is infinitely subjective. I've spent about $200 on Destiny, season pass and TTK. I've gotten hundreds of hours out of it, and I'm not even close to done yet. Then other times I've dropped $80 on a spanking new title and gotten bored after an hour and never touched it again.

        And I've pretty much inadvertently repeated Kerm's comment verbatim, but the point still stands.

        Yes, the argument that whether or not you think you've got your money's worth out of Destiny is subjective, the price point in relation to other games is not.
        When you purchase a game, your paying for every facet of the development, from initial storyboards to advertising. Developers hedge their bets on how much they spend verses how many copies they will sell (because most games are around the $79 mark).
        So why does Bungie think it's OK to charge the full price of a game for an expansion pack? Guaranteed the total amount of work that went into it was less than the total cost of creating Destiny to begin with? I think the Legendary edition is priced perfectly, as your paying for the full product, but that's saying that The Taken King is worth $70 and then Destiny + the 2 DLC's are only worth $10? Surely year 1 Destiny would be worth $50 and The Taken King worth $30?
        I just think it sets up a bad standard for the industry, other developers will see what people are willing to pay for certain gameplay models and trend their games to them.

          How is it any different to paying full price for yearly sports games/Assassins Creed/COD etc? Just because you call it an expansion pack doesn't diminish the value of it

          Well I bought Witcher for $2.50 on Steam but Witcher 3 is $60. Does that mean Witcher 3 is 24 times better than the original Witcher?

          Last edited 01/10/15 3:28 pm

            Obviously things have a shelf life, and if they started selling AAA games brand new on steam for $2.50 that were the quality and depth of The Witcher then I would think that it was severely underpriced because of production costs etc.
            Yes some brand new games are going to be better than others and that's when it becomes subjective, but this isn't a full game, it's an expansion, which incurs what I'm guessing to be a total of maybe 40% of total production cost? It just plain isn't worth the cost of a full game.
            I'm not saying you can't enjoy it or even that for you it isn't worth the amount, but I still think it's overpriced.

            Last edited 02/10/15 12:13 am

              Saying "it's just an expansion" is disingenuous and demonstrates a key misunderstanding. It's an expansion that contains as many story missions as the original game with all new cinematics and narration, gives the enemies a new look and new combat mechanics, adds new combat instances to engage with the Taken in the world, adds several new multiplayer game modes and maps for Crucible, adds several new strikes and retools a number of old strikes with the new enemies which makes the gameplay significantly more dynamic. Even when I'm playing strikes I've played before, I don't know what exactly to expect.
              And I haven't even finished the story or gotten to the raid yet. Then when I've finished everything on my Titan, I get to replay everything as my Hunter and Warlock, which yes, means I'm just replaying the content. And what's wrong with that? Hunters and Warlocks play differently to Titans, and I've certainly replayed games I enjoyed even when there was no fundamental gameplay differences, just because I felt like going through it again.

          First of all, you're shooting the messenger here. It's Activision, not Bungie, that determines the price point for these games and and DLC. They have been trying to get away with this shit for years now and largely succeeding.

          Secondly, I want you to explain paying $80 for FIFA to me. It is one field, with different skins, played endlessly over and over again. It is the same exact process each time, the content never changes aside from the names and stats changing occasionally for each player on the field. Yet people buy it in droves, and this content argument has never been made before about that game. Hell, explain sports in general to me without invalidating this argument you've made.

          This negativity about Destiny has come from a fundamental misapprehension of the kind of game it is. I don't know what you expected Destiny to be, but it clearly isn't living up to that idea you had. And a lot of people have this same perception. The problem is, Bungie never told us it would be anything different to what it is right now. The problem is, we saw some concept art and some trailers and heard a few comments during active development of a game and we let our imaginations go wild.

          Was I disappointed that Destiny wasn't everything I unrealistically hoped it would be when it came out? Definitely. But what I got instead was a game that i've spent dozens of hours playing with old and new friends, celebrating victories and sharing defeats that are unrivalled in their impact on us as players. There's secrets to find, flawless (literally best in class) FPS gameplay, and compelling RPG elements to wrap it all together. It's a wholly unique game that literally created a brand new genre on consoles. To expect a developer to take such a huge risk and get it right on the first go is ridiculous. I'd take brave "failures" like Destiny's first year over yearly iterations of Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty any day of the week.

          And I bought both the Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid 5. I loved both of them. And after playing them both to completion I can confidently say Destiny has provided me with more value for money by a huge margin.

          TL;DR
          No, read it. Don't make or engage in arguments unless you're going to take the time to respect and listen to opposing viewpoints properly.

            I think sports games in general are too expensive as well, if they create a new physics engine or completely overhaul the visuals (animations, textures, new models etc) then they've obviously spent a decent amount of time and effort into that product and it becomes worth the amount, but if all you get in a new instalment to a franchise is a new mode or an updated roster then I don't think it is worth it.
            Your right, I did lump Bungie and Activision together as a group there so I probably should have been more specific, but surely there is a back and forth between them for most aspects of the game, so is it unreasonable to assume they discussed pricing with Bungie at some point?
            I had zero expectations going into Destiny, I try and be as objective as possible with new releases and Destiny was no different. I started playing Destiny the week it came out and I've logged hundreds of hours since then. I had the same problems with year one as everyone else but I loved the community (mainly the subreddit) and I stuck with it hoping Bungie would fix various issues and it seems they have, all for the low low price of $70 (if you've bought the game already) which is a bit of a kick in the teeth, and a little exploitive.
            Honestly, it's an FPS where you play a space hero fighting aliens, does that sound like another Bungie hit to you? Judging by the jumping mechanic I'd hazard a guess to say they haven't changed much from the Halo formula at all.
            It doesn't matter how much play time you got out of the game, that's anecdotal, completely biased information. Yes, the price to you may be worth it, but if you stack it up against any other brand new game (I'm talking about The Taken King by itself here) there just isn't enough tangible content to warrant the cost of a full priced game for an expansion pack. They've done some voice recording, got some new animations and models (Oryx at least doesn't look like a slightly larger Hive knight) and spent a shit tone on advertising but it's still not enough.
            I really enjoy Destiny as an addictive, good looking, tight playing FPS. I've never said it was a bad game on the contrary I'd be one of the first to defend it. All I'm saying is $70 is too much for an expansion pack. I think it should have been $35 or $40 for those of us who put the time and effort into year one, especially considering The Taken King is being lauded as the game Destiny should have been upon initial release.

              Honestly, no. Bungie would have relinquished their right to decide the cost of things in their contract when they took hundreds of millions of dollars from Activision to develop the game. Do you really think all developers and publishers come to an agreement every time to charge the exact same amount for triple A new release games? It's all the publishers.

              Honestly, it's an FPS where you play a space hero fighting aliens, does that sound like another Bungie hit to you?

              Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the same four dudes making a rock album, does that sound familiar to you?

              Destiny's focus and love is in sci-fi settings and stories, especially ones that revolve around humanities future. Destiny and Halo are similar in many ways, but also completely different. The RPG elements alone make it a completely different game. Even mechanically, I went back and played Reach a few months ago and was astounded with how much worse the mechanics were than Destiny. The game is a huge leap forward.

              Anecdotal information and subjective opinion is all we have. You think it's not worth it, I do. Neither opinion holds more weight than the other, it's in how we argue them. If we start talking about what "objectively" is more value for money we get dangerously close to the Samsung vs. iPhone argument. Samsung and many of their customers see larger numbers, in the ram, in the screen size, etc, and think that it equals a better product. That is 100% not the case. Each brand serves its own purpose and its own type of customers.

              But The Taken King doesn't even feel like an expansion. It's got more content than some new release games as well as huge amounts of replayability.

              I wouldn't say $70 is too much for The Taken King. I'd say it's on the high end of the pricing structure, but I don't feel ripped off. I sure as hell wish it was cheaper (don't we all, with everything?), but i'm more than happy with my purchase.

        So neither of you are wrong but he is an idiot for having an opinion that Destiny is overpriced???

        hmmmmm

          He's not expressing his opinion as an opinion, he's expressly saying the game is overpriced and that compensating Bungie for the development of the game is detrimental to the industry. He is applying an objective value, rather than permitting a subjective evaluation of worth.

            yeah but he's right...

              It's actually sad how many points you've missed in just two posts.

                His 'opinion' is that it's overpriced and buying it reinforces the pricing model... Feel free to disagree with it but cut the bullshit analysis as a means to belittle his point of view. His is valid, yours is valid, you just don't agree....keep it civil.

                  As I've explained comprehensively, my view is that if you enjoy the content and feel you're getting suitable value, then the pricing is not wrong. There's no objective scale of when a game becomes too expensive because like all consumer products, the correct price is whatever the market will bear.

                  He's trying to make the argument, using very poorly considered examples, that TKK is not good value for money and dismissing subjective opinions of others because in his subjective opinion, other games with more content can be had for the same money.

                  His point of view is valid, but the foundation for his argument is demonstrably incorrect.

        Enough with the “strawman argument” argument!
        Every time there’s a snarfing disagreement on the internet you’re just waiting for someone to throw in 2014’s favourite internet-debate buzzword. The guys presenting an opinion not a thesis.

        You’re right about the rest though, how snarfed in the cloaca you feel by Bungie’s pricing structure is a subjective thing that largely boils down to how addicted you found yourself to the basic framework of a game that Bungie put out last year.

        If you liked the idea of Destiny and bought it last year, only to be disappointed by the games (Bungie admitted) failings, then you’ve got every right to be poopie when Bungie is charging full retail for the game you essentially wanted last year bundled with the glorified beta that you already paid for. There’s no loyalty there for people who bought the game in good faith but didn’t get addicted, in giving away last year’s version/ not rewarding those who bought it with a cheaper upgrade it’s essentially an acknowledgement that last year’s game was of very low value.

        People get so defensive about this game it’s ridiculous (not you necessarily).
        The game is intentionally exploitative and addictive. Even if you still like it, anyone who can’t see that has some serious issues.
        If you’ve spent anywhere in the vicinity of 500 hours playing Destiny then you’ve spent a LOT of your time grinding, repeating and generally exhibiting additive behaviour. When those same people are defensive and then aggressive when people question the value of pouring more money and time into the game it’s pretty worrying/ hilarious behaviour.

          He's presenting a false argument to rail against instead of engaging with my actual argument. If something is a strawman, I'll call it a strawman. I was doing so well before the term was popularised on the internet (in 2014 according to you) and I'll be doing it long after it was sensible to have ceased the debate altogether.

          The reason last year's game is essentially valueless next to this year's game is because this year's game is the new game that builds on the base. The old content simply isn't as important anymore but is required as a foundation for the continuing story (not to mention the game world in and of itself, which has undergone several changes and additions. Was the first year a disappointment? Absolutely! But it was still fun to play, had interesting lore even is the storytelling was bad, and there was a certain amount of replayability just because the mechanics were so much fun.

          There was a full game worth of content there, even if you might not get 100+ hours of story or whatever seems to be the standard expectation these days. If people are defensive about justifying their interest in/love of Destiny it's because there's a constant barrage from people who played the game for a few hours if they even played it at all (there are people who base their opinions on the alpha) trying to convince everyone they're stupid for having a different opinion.

          The Taken King is easily worth $70 to me. I say that as someone who still hasn't finished the story or played the raid despite playing the game every day since launch, because there's so much to do. I've gotten that value despite heavily disliking the PVP multiplayer modes, which is really interesting because I spent years playing Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, endlessly revisiting the multiplayer. I was "addicted" to those games despite playing the same maps over and over. The only DLC was more multiplayer maps, there were no story updates, and I kept playing. Same for Modern Warfare 2, which was all I did between Halo 3 and Reach.

            Well, if we can agree on one thing it’s that The Taken King IS worth $70.
            At that price, with the original game and expansions bundled it’s a GREAT deal if you’re jumping into the game fresh.

            I’m not going to accept it being ok to charge full retail to people who already own Destiny though, that’s garbage.
            Bungie released a game last year that by their own admission under delivered, and which by the near unanimous agreement of internet-folk both fans and not, was generally an exploitative and mean spirited title.

            To in no way acknowledge the people who bought their disappointing product last year when pricing TTK is really shabby as far as I’m concerned. The new game not only replaces Destiny as an on-the-shelf product, it actively removes content that was previously accessible to the people who just bought vanilla Destiny.

            If there was any way I could upgrade Destiny to the TTK edition for even slightly cheaper, say $50, then I wouldn’t be complaining. The fact that it’s not even an option shows how little Bungie cares about the gaming community they want to foster, they just want the “whales” the people who are already addicted who they can keep milking.

        Actually re-reading these post leads me to conclusion that you completely missed his point and went off about pricing comparisons because he hit a nerve and you feel you need to justify why you've paid so much for a broken game. I believe his main point is the structuring of how games are developed and distributed and there have been some pretty dodgy pricing and business practices from Bungie during this entire Destiny cycle.

        I think he has a valid point (yes value is subjective, give it a rest) in that we are seeing a disturbing trend from publishers in releasing barely-beta ready games, withholding content to trickle out as DLC, and charge us a premium for the privileged. The development cycle for AAA games appears to be somewhat broken and it is a topic worthy of discussion as is how to get refunds which has been an interesting topic on the Bungie forums because of some of the stunts pulled by Bungie with TTK.

        Even Hex on Good Game (who gave Destiny a good score) mentioned the price of this DLC was a little steep, and price aside because (we all know you got value for money out of it)...at what point do we say enough is enough on $100+ betas...

          I am open to all criticisms of anything I like as long as they're valid, I really don't have a "nerve" apart from people using logical fallacies or unsubstantiated/false claims to bolster their position. I've been quite transparent about my feelings towards the game which include some criticisms, but in this instance I took issue specifically with the claim that TTK is not worth $70 and should have been $35 or some other arbitrarily arrived at number. This is not based in logic or reason, just a gut feeling from someone who feels ripped off. We can set aside the "value is subjective" argument but that means there's not a great deal left to discuss, as the rest of the conversation flowed from that point.

          Destiny provided a very satisfactory but in some respects underwhelming experience for much of year one, which has gradually been chopped and changed and tweaked and improved. TTK added significant amounts of content, which of course comes at a price, whatever price that, again, the market will bear.

          Is there a "trend" of developers releasing unfinished games in a beta state and patching them later? You could argue that this has been going on ever since we had online services with reliable content management platforms like Steam, Xbox Live and PSN that enable patches to be delivered and installed. I don't think there is a systemic issue with devs releasing broken games with the intent of fixing them later, just that games development has become a lot harder with games growing in scope and technological capacity and unfortunately problems do arise. True, there've been a lot of broken games coming out in accordance with publisher deadlines, but as Hanlon's Razor goes: "never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity". A really good recent example would be THPS5 which was a 5.7GB game that had a 7GB day one patch, and the game is still a pile of hot garbage. Star Citizen appears to be in meltdown despite crowdfunding a frankly ludicrous amount of money and releasing a couple of tech demos as the backers, fans and former developers now seem to have unilaterally concluded that it will never deliver what was promised. Last year a cricket game was cancelled several weeks after being released because what was released was so astonishingly terrible.

          Do you think these were all lame cash grabs, or just a series of well-intended but ultimately poor decisions? There as well-documented (and largely hypothetical) reasons why Destiny started to fall apart late in the development cycle and the story wasn't well told and the game felt a bit hollow and ill-conceived, but we ultimately got a pretty good game out of it. Not what we'd hoped for after seeing Bungie's evolution from Marathon to Combat Evolved to Reach, but pretty good. We paid our money, we spent our time, and then they released what is effectively another game. Many of the old assets were reused, but the foundation is solid - much more so than it was 6-8 months ago.

          If you're referring to other instances such as the Arkham or Assassin's Creed games where content is held back to be sold as extras or preorder bonuses, well, I don't consider those to be in the same category at all.

          The main complaints I see about TTK are the price of entry (which have been discussed here at length) and the fact that it cripples the original game for anyone who isn't up to date, locking off some content (such as high level strikes), which is a dick move, but my understanding is not all that uncommon in the MMO area.

    The new voice for the robot is the worst.
    After doing the story for the third time it just needs to shut the hell up and go to voice acting class.
    I miss the Dinklebot .

      I miss Dinklebot. Nolan is fine, but Dinklebot established a certain tone to the character and I feel like Nolan, even though he apparently didn't review Dinklage's performance in order to not inadvertently copy him, still feels like a hollow replica in some places.

        Northbot < Dinklebot.

        If anything, North's performance really just cements for me that it was the writing, not Dinklebot that was the problem. Northbot I find to be inconsistent - his tone/inflection changes back and forth, it's jarring. One minute he sounds chirpy and upbeat, and then the next line is flat and uninterested.

          I agree, I didn't spend all that much time with Destiny year 1, but I really don't find Nolan North to be an improvement whatsoever, preferred Dinkleage.

    I only have the original game. They want $100 from me to buy this expansion because i don't have the other expansions. $200 for a game? No thanks. I cant seem to justify that price.

    Last edited 01/10/15 12:38 pm

      Well TTK with the base game and previous DLC bundles is only $79 but I guess that's the same as $100, sure.

    Great review and I agree it has changed for the (much) better and got me back into it. Again it is an absolute blast in co-op with regular mates doing Court of Oryx, smashing aliens faces in and getting great head shots.

    Titan melee,....................man why can't they use the melee from arc damage sub class where it builds up after you run then *SMASH!!!* ?!
    That would be mintox! (Yeah that's right, I'm bringing it back!)

      My god, I can't believe you just dropped the mintox bomb! god i haven't heard that in years lol

    I'll stick with Witcher 3 and support developers that don't, in my view, treat consumers with the sort of contempt emanating from Bungie/Activision in the hope that this sort of approach doesn't become an industry standard.

    Though given the popularity of TTK I think the damage is already done.

      Activision are not going away. Stupid goddamn consumers are not going away. You're not teaching them a lesson by not giving them money. You are by definition, a discerning consumer, and make up a tiny fraction of their sales. The only person who loses in your crusade is you. Any contempt you're feeling is coming from Activision, not Bungie. Triple A game developers sign deals with the devil to make their huge ideas a reality, unfortunately they chose Activision, but at this stage, there aren't really any better options anyway.

      Destiny is awesome, and while the price point for the expansions has been on the high end, it has definitely been worth it. The developer has been updating this game with patches and the like at MMO levels of regularity, with no subscription fee. The DLCs The Dark Below and House of Wolves, while on the high end of cost, are miles above DLC offered by Destiny's competitors. These expansions added dozens of hours of gameplay (different from content). Batman Arkham Knight, from what i've heard, can't even muster up one decent DLC that doesn't feel like a complete rip off. Assassin's Creed has never created must-buy post release content.

      Even The Witcher 3, which is an excellent game with what i'm sure will be content heavy DLC on the way, is a static experience. For all the excellence of its main mission, after the credits roll, you're left with a world frozen in a state of post-game nothingness. Sure, there's more side quests to do, more armour to collect, but why? The romances you cultivated vanish, along with your daughter (the entire plot's narrative thrust), and any sort of end goal or boss to work towards.

      I always find it difficult to rationalise buying post game DLC, but with Destiny, even with the high cost, it's always something to look forward to.

        Fair enough, I guess my main beef here is that I have very limited time to play games, I sank tons of time into Destiny 1.0 to the point that it became a useless grind, etc and now the corrected version has popped up that, in my view, should have been the game we were all playing from day 1, and now they want me to pay full retail. Basically I feel like they wasted my time on an inferior product.

        Then again, I suppose I could have just stop playing it.....but I can't deny that the shooter mechanics and art style are kick ass.

        Dammit, I think I may actually be talking myself into TTK....

        As for The Witcher 3, I reckon it's friggen amazing no matter how you slice it and a good honest 100+ hour single player experience of that quality shouldn't really be judged by 'end-game' content. I guess it depends on how you play...I reckon i'll push a ton of hours into Witcher 3s' side quests before switching back to the story, but peeps who just go for the story will of course get 'less' out of it insofar as game time, etc is concerned.

        And yesssss...I plan on collecting all of the armour sets.....

        Last edited 02/10/15 11:24 am

          I think we've both done a good job of highlighting the fundamental differences in these games. With the Witcher 3, the game comes to a stand still when you finish the story. That story is over 100 hours of gameplay and well written and enjoyable. But it's flipped with Destiny, the story is just a small facet of the game that you play through. It's what happens after the story, it's what happens when you get some friends together to play regularly, that highlights Destiny's appeal.

          --

          I think a big reason why people are confused and angry about the pricing structure or even the state of the game's first year is that there's no point of comparison for it. There's no other console game trying to do what Destiny is doing, and people don't know how to work out if it's value for money or not, If year 1 was a rip off or not, any of that kind of stuff.

          Games like World Of Warcraft (clearly an inspiration on Destiny, the Creative Director used to play it non-stop) may have launched with more ""content", but they had it easier. WOW was built off of clearly established MMO foundations from the MMOs that came previously. It didn't really need to pay any consideration to the massive 3D spaces in terms of gameplay, because all they really are is scenery, not something for the player to use and interact with. Quests and dungeons in WOW's first year boiled down to "go here, kill this" or "go here, click on this", in much the same way that Destiny's earlier content was rudimentary. But WOW had it easier because its gameplay wasn't happening in and affected by a three dimensional play space and movement / skill based gameplay.

          First person shooters on the other hand, keep their campaigns and their multiplayer entirely separate. They don't need to make decisions about weapons and mechanics based on the fact that these will be both used against AI and other players. They don't need to worry about making content replayable, because the expectation by the player is that the campaign is not something that you play over and over again, that 6-8 hours of campaign is a good value product.

          Destiny needs to not only manage the expectations of each of these different genres, but combine them and make them work together flawlessly. Anyone who expects that to work perfectly the first time around, when they have to deal with the completely unexpected player behaviour at the same time; clearly doesn't understand game development.

          --

          I guess my basic point is everyone needs to respect the monumental task of not only launching a new IP, but an entirely new genre of game. They need to see Activision and their greed (in regards to pricing) as a necessary evil for a super exciting and now with TTK, an unequivocally engaging game, to flourish into what it deserves to be. I am annoyed to be giving Activision more money than i'd like to pay for some of this content, but I also appreciate Bungie's vision and guts to try and pull off something as crazy as Destiny.

    . Much better story (though the last story Oryx fight is shit)
    . overpriced
    . weapon progression has been badly handled throughout year 1
    . year 2 weapons are just reskins (not sure why infusing year 1 is not an option...)
    . RNG is still completely fucking broken

    ...but I do keep playing it...

    So will this be the new standard of Destiny's DLC/expansion or is this just a 1 time then back to those small overpriced DLC?

      2 more small ones coming if the leaked schedule images (from a while ago) are to be believed.

    Destiny the Taken King: what we should have got in the fucking base game.

      I don't mind them learning and evolving the game but there was no recognition for the price we paid for a beta and efforts from Year 1 guardians to help them develop it...

        I think your point is more valid.
        As the article explains, stating that TKK is how the game should have released demonstrates ignorance to how games are developed and played.
        But the way it's priced for those who already bought the base game and both DLC's from year one, I can fully see how that's a massive stab in the back by Bungie.

      Yep, it's but one example of the developers contempt for the early adopters

    I am playing vanilla (legendary ed $70 total) and am pissed with the amount of yr1 content that was taken out with TTK. So i'm not buying it at $80 (esp if 2 more dlc follow) and if doesn't get cheaper before i've had a gut full then im out. I don't buy yearly FIFA or COD and i don't buy dlc.

    I am really feeling the Destiny addiction having only gotten the game with TKK.
    But my OCD urge to have everything is feeling so regretful for the fact that I didn't get into it during year one (all the VIP rewards stuff, really just a shader and some emblems, but I just want them!)... :(

    Good review :)

    Great expansion, but just not worth the price tag. Considering its about a quarter the size of the base game, which I paid the same price for, and that half the content is just fixing the base game, I don't think it justify's the price.

    It's a pity this game didn't turn out to be any good. I was pretty pumped for it initially.

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