I’m going to jump straight into the review of The Taken King without a paragraph or four regurgitating the challenging first year Destiny has had. We all know the story of ‘no story’, so let’s move on.
The first thing that jumps out is the improvements in navigation (thanks as much to the Destiny 2.0 update). The quest screens, the communication is all more obvious and it’s a great thing. Here’s the quest overview screen, something that wasn’t there at all in year one:
If you played in Year 1, you’ll have 5-10 minutes of running around the Tower picking up some gifts for your previous patronage then you’re ready to launch into the new story. And I’m extremely pleased to report there is story! It’s quite engaging as well, with the banter between Eris Morn and Cayde-6 particularly entertaining.
As far as locations go we only get the one new one: Saturn, but the re-use of the other planets is done well enough to keep it fresh. The new vistas are as stunning as you’d expect and throwing Taken into the mix gives the new content some good variety whilst also ramping up a feeling of how hectic things are getting in the story. The main storyline revolves around taking down Crota’s dad Oryx, but once you get to the end of that there’s a bunch of other quests to do to build your reputation, skills and sub-class. Time-wise, it took me half a dozen hours maximum to get from Level 34 to 40.
The game mechanics in the new Strikes are overall excellent – lots of frenetic activity is the name of the game with most. I really enjoyed the Echo Chamber strike in particular – there are some nice mechanics to keep it interesting. I haven’t gotten geared to Raid level yet, let alone that the Raid content isn’t available at time of writing, so I can’t comment there. On the PvP side of things I’ve only recently gotten into Crucible matches but from what I’ve seen of the new content it’s a worthy addition to the stable and the new modes (Mayhem and Rift) are welcome as well.
Just to be as balanced as possible, there are still some annoyances with the game. There are a number of locations where you’re presented with a vast chasm to get across. If you look in a certain direction a small levitating rock ledge appears that you jump on, with the next ledge appearing. For me at least though, the next ledges didn’t appear a lot of the time, either because it was glitchy or I wasn’t looking in a very specific location. Very frustrating and unnecessary – how many players want to be playing Mario jumping in a game like this? The direction arrow on your mini-map also remains very misleading in some locations – there was one instance of me dying three times assuming I had to try and do some Mario jumping when in fact I was meant to go in the opposite direction to where the arrow was pointing. Hopefully there’ll be some incremental fixes on this stuff.
So is The Taken King worth the nearly $100 you’ll pay for it? For me the answer is yes, though I’d still tend towards buying the disc given it has all the content on it to date. For new players there’s now a game that will keep you occupied for months. For those that listen to our podcast, you’ll know we both lost a great deal of faith in the game. I’m happy to say most of that faith has been restored but I still have an eye of what moves Bungie makes in the coming 3-6 months. In the meantime, I’m never going to get sick of that view:
Now it’s your turn: if you’re playing The Taken King, is it meeting your expectations?