Year 2 - Guardian's Log, Stardate...
Hello Destiny, welcome back to Year 2. I'd like to say that I fell in love with you in Year 1, but I didn't, in fact once I'd slogged through the horrible voice acting of Peter 'Dull' Dinklage as Ghost, and tromped through the instantly forgettable story of my Guardian - that was it, Destiny was put away to gather dust and be forgotten. I was fed up of the grid, the Light Level System was in a word: rubbish and the shoot and loot was just boring.
I could never get people together to do Strikes, let alone Raids and never get high enough level to get to the Raid Content anyways - Destiny was a big fat no and bust for me. I disliked the Crucible, because I'm frankly bored of adversarial content and I never bothered with the DLC. So it was with jaundiced and bored eyes I vaguely kept a watch on the rumblings about The Taken King, the patch and all the changes.
Now the one thing I did enjoy about Destiny was the shooting mechanic, the game, as a shooter was spot on and the gameplay was nigh-on flawless. The community was fantastic and it should have ticked all my boxes, pushed all my game-love buttons. It didn't...
Change can be a Good Thing
There's a saying about the reason why millponds are stagnant, it's because there's no fresh water flowing in to keep the whole thing aerated. Kind of like a fishpond, or a fishtank, eventually it clogs and there's all sorts of gunk you don't want to deal with. Destiny Year 1 was like that for me, so when I was given the chance to review Destiny Year 2, aka the Taken King and the Legendary Edition of the game - since by now I'd given Destiny away and never bought the DLC - something magical happened.
I had fun...
The concept of fun, it's an odd thing. But yes, they'd fixed a ton of things I'd got problems with from Year 1. They'd kicked out Peter Dinklage and his coma-inducing voice acting, replacing it with that recognisable voice - Mr. In Everything, Nolan North. I'm a Nolan North fan, so this was a no-brainer for me and you can instantly recognise those dulcet tones, with a bit of a robotic twang thanks to Bungie's audio manipulation. It works too, I prefer Ghost, I can listen to this Ghost for ages and enjoy the delivery of his lines.
The story is still vanilla and lack-lustre for the base game, but at least with North there's polish. Bungie has listened though, you only have to read the patch notes to see the sweeping changes they made and levelling as XP now from 1 through to 40 is a joy. The Light System revamp is also good, I'm enjoying the loot system and gaining more and more Light, which is making me happy. I can keep a good quality set of equipment for a while, then find something new which excites me and gives me the same kind of buzz I get from Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition.
I wanted to put that in bold, because frankly, I was possibly the worst/best person to review this expansion and upgrade to Destiny - because of my dislike of the base game. I didn't dislike it because it was bad, I disliked it because it failed to live up to the hype prior to its release, I could always see the potential in Destiny and just couldn't stand to play it after I'd had my very short time with it. Now though, blue engrams, purple and all sorts of loot makes me grin, it makes me play the game when I should be doing other things - that's a glowing testament to the same kind of revamp which now makes Diablo 3: UEE my go-to fun game for the Xbox One.
With the XP system, the new Light Levels going all the way up to 310 the whole thing feels fresh, revitalised and lets not forget Infusion, which allows you to infuse gear with Attack/Defence. I can't speak to the Raids and Strikes, because I've been frankly playing the heck out of everything else, save for the Crucible - can't bring myself to enter it just once, sorry, I know it's probably awesome for some folks but not for me.
I feel like the guns are better too, the update has kicked Destiny in the arse and done wonders to transform the game closer to the potential I feel it has.
The King that's Taken
Then we look at the Taken King, the Dreadnought, the new massive secret-packed area, replete with new challenges and things to do. The new opening cinematic, a better focus on story, the kind of story that made me fall in love with Halo way back. This is MORE like it! This is what I want from Destiny and it's what every Destiny player deserved from the start. Yet, without falling, we can't pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes, so in the faltering early steps of Destiny both Bungie and Activision have learnt a bit of a lesson which has resulted now in a much better game with so much more to see and do.
Patrols are more fun, the Taken pop up now and then during patrols and mission areas, providing greater rewards and challenges - I swear there were dozens of the buggers when me, Simon Knight and Gary Roddie blasted through some of the early game content just to see if the base game had been improved by DrakeGhost aka Nolan North. I actually found myself enjoying the base game too, shocking!
The community is just as great too, so many players who stop and help out, who dance with you and just make the game thoroughly more enjoyable. No matter their level too, a testament to the enduring nature of a game I'd given up as a lost cause.
If you thought the story of Destiny was rubbish, well, you shouldn't think that of the Taken King. We've got all the hallmarks of good progression here, humour and character development. Nathan Fillion as Cayde-6 shines... it's all great and I love it. Lavish scenes and more await anyone who dives into this content filled expansion with huge amounts to see and do.
I'm told the new Raid is amazing, I'm told that all the content I haven't yet seen is amazing and I'm more than happy to dive in and explore some more once I'm done with this review. There are also new sub-classes for your Titan, Warlock and Hunter - these sub-classes bring with them new ways to play and new powers/rewards.
Is Year 2 worth it?
It would take more words than I currently have, and more time too, to answer this question with an extensive bucket-list of everything that's changed. The game seems more polished in general, even graphically it seems to have changed and I'm in love with it - Bungie has done the impossible, they've taken me, a die-hard hater of Destiny back in Year 1 and transformed them into someone who genuinely finds the game fun, loves it and enjoys playing.
Those are words you can take to heart when trying out the Taken King. We were sent the full game plus expansions, I was the one who ended up with it and I'm very happy I did. I was able to take my scepticism for the game, avoid the hype and approach it with fresh eyes.
It's one to get if you love shooters with great play, great loot and some really nice hidden secrets. You'll need to be online all the time, but this is the state of things with a shared world experience, it's not really an MMO even though it cleaves to some of those design ideas.
It's got a few lag issues now and then, mostly (from talking to other players) in the Crucible, and some Strike playlists end up with folks dropping out when they realise a Strike isn't their favourite one. Yet for me, it's still a damn good time.
Destiny the Taken King, Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition, they're out now and worth every penny. The Legendary Edition gives you everything you need for Destiny, the base game, two expansions and the Taken King itself plus some other goodies.