Destiny 2.0 Impressions — A Prelude to The Taken King

Destiny launched a year ago with all the anticipation one would expect from a game developed by Halo creator Bungie. The game received solid critical praise, but many felt the game was incomplete. Factor in the confusing story, repetitive missions, and two $20 expansion packs in The Dark Below and House of Wolves, which arguably were not worth that much, and you’re looking at a $100 game in just its first year. Year two attempts to fix this, and if this prelude to The Taken King is any indication, Destiny is now a brand new game.

The first thing that jumped out at me is the brand new title screen, as well as the new music, which is beautiful. The overworld map (well, sort of an overworld map — the map of all the different planets and such) has been completely overhauled with new artwork, and for the better.

The most important aspects of the changes to the game are not the cosmetic changes but the differences in the gameplay and leveling systems. The flawed light level system has been eliminated. You can still accrue light points, which appear to play an integral role in The Taken King, but these do not factor into your overall level. Bounties are now much more streamlined, as when you finish a bounty, you no longer need to visit the Tower to cash it in — you can merely do so from your quest menu. You can now also receive quests to complete from NPCs which require a number a steps and usually give you a fantastic reward. You can also mark quests and bounties and check on your status by pressing the center button (at least on the Playstation 4 version). The entire system seems to be revamped, and for the better.

destiny-the-taken-kingThe Taken King!

Certain weapons have also been buffed and nerfed. If you play like me and go around shotgunning people to death, that’s not nearly as easy as it used to be, as shotguns have received a bit of a nerf in terms of power and accuracy. Hand Cannons are also not nearly as powerful either; although as a pistol guy, I still enjoy using them. The infamous Thorn can no longer get an insta-kill and it’s poison-like damage has been reduced, but it can still make for a three-shot kill in PvP (Player versus Player). The downside to Hand Cannons is that their range has been reduced, such as with The Last Word, but they are more balanced now.

Assault Rifles have seen a massive buff, and as far as I’ve seen online, everyone is using them — and many with great success. I prefer the precision of a Hand Cannon, but one cannot deny the sheer power Assault Rifles will possess in The Taken King. This will definitely shift the balance of power in the game and probably make it more level all around.

destiny-thornMy favorite weapon in Destiny, the Thorn

In the Crucible, which is Destiny’s multiplayer mode where Guardians battle one another for victory and splendor, there is a new game mode that is being showcased from The Taken King — Rift. In Rift, a “spark” spawns somewhere near the center of the map. Each team must battle to pick up the spark and carry it to the opposing team’s rift, destroying it and accumulating points in the process. Strategy is key for this game mode, as each team’s rift must not go unprotected when the other team acquires the spark. What ensues is a large amount of chaos and a heck of a lot of fun.

There have been seven maps that I have played so far that are currently rotating in The Taken King’s Rift mode, and those are Vertigo, Frontier, Sector 618 (a Playstation exclusive until 2016), Crossroads, Pantheon, Bannerfall, Black Shield, and Thieve’s Den. All of these maps are brand new except for Black Shield, which appeared in the House of Wolves expansion, and Pantheon, which appeared in The Dark Below expansion pack. All of the maps are very compact and ultimately converge on the center, which is where the spark spawns. Each team’s Rift is located at opposite sides of the map, and one of the clever design aspects of these new maps is finding the best route to the enemy team’s rift without getting pulverized by your opponents in the process. It is very strategic and a lot of fun.

taken-king-bannerfallThe new stage “Bannerfall”

One of the things that makes the Rift Crucible mode so incredibly fun is that it’s not really about kill-to-death ratio; you accumulate a lot of points from carrying the spark and ultimately destroying your opponent’s rift. Wins are based on points, and if your team is losing too badly there is a chance that the game could be called before the 20,000 point mark is reached. After a match where a victory is one-sided, the teams are automatically rebalanced, which is a nice touch to make matches more diverse.

Although Destiny 2.0 is only a prelude to The Taken King, it lives up to the hype and completely reinvents the game, making it everything that Destiny should have been at launch. The Taken King has so much more in store for us and I personally am very excited to get my hands on it. Rift mode is amazing but is not the only new Crucible game mode that is coming, and while some of the weapon rebalancing takes some adjusting, it makes the game much more balanced in the long run. With a more streamlined system and a promising campaign, The Taken King is shaping up to be everything that Destiny fans could ever dream for.