Destiny, Bungie’s divisive shooter-come-MMO, has been out nearly a year now and is a drastically different game than it was at launch. Two expansions and numerous patches later, the game is due to drop it’s biggest add-on yet in the form of The Taken King. As someone who plays Destiny in pretty much every spare moment I have, I’m not afraid to admit that I am counting down the days until September 15th when I can actually play it for myself. Until then, here are some things I desperately want to see from the new expansion.
A more focused, understandable story
By setting the cost of The Taken King at £40/$40, double the price of both previous add-ons, Activision has put a lot of pressure on Bungie to deliver with this expansion. One of the biggest criticisms of the base game was that there was no discernable story, you just killed things until the level ended. In actuality the game has great lore to it, but you have to look for it yourself in the games grimoire cards either through the companion app or via Bungie.net. Most casual players either didn’t want to go elsewhere to learn more about the game or simply didn’t understand that you could. This same approach with The Taken King won’t cut it if the asking price is to be justified.
What has been shown so far though does seem to suggest Bungie have learned their lesson. They have suggested the new story content will be about seven to eight hours long. This isn’t overly long but when you factor in new strikes, the new raid and other end-game activities it should be significantly fleshed out. We know the story focuses around Oryx, the father of Crota, who guardians slayed in the Dark Below expansion. Naturally he is a bit miffed and wants revenge for you slaughtering his son. The levels shown so far seem to suggest the missions will be more than just the get to the end of the level and have you ghost scan something structure that we had before. It also appears to have many more cutscenes and have characters from the tower fleshed out, like Cayde-6 and Zavala, for instance. They have also restructured the existing levels so new players can follow the story more clearly. All of this points in the right direction for the expansion.
A more balanced meta in the Crucible
The crucible is where many Guardians go to kill time (and each other) in Destiny’s suite of competitive PvP multiplayer modes. As someone who plays the crucible somewhat regularly I can speak first hand of how frustrating the mode has been in the last few months. Load up a game of crucible and you will be killed pretty much the entire time by either Thorn, The Last Word or someone using a combination of blink (teleport) and a shotgun. Try to use any other weapons and you are effectively handicapping yourself.
Naturally, when designing a competitive multiplayer game, there are always going to be loadouts that are better than others but as it stands right now the options above are leagues ahead of any other choices in the game. Thankfully Bungie are releasing a patch to go with The Taken King that will nerf Thorn and The Last Word and hopefully lead to players having greater freedom in their loadout. Hopefully these patches will be more frequent in future aswell, as this will be the first major patch to crucible since February 2015.
New Strikes to be more engaging
Lets face it, the Strikes in year one Destiny are basically just normal missions that happen to have a boss at the end with a ridiculously large health pool. The missions aren’t mentally taxing in the sense that they are challenging, they are just annoying wills of attrition until you eventually finish it. Granted, the Taniks strike in the House of Wolves expansion was a step in the right direction but you were still jut taking down a boss with a large health bar, just doing it in pieces instead of all at once.
The community have suggested that strikes should have ‘raid-lite’ mechanics in order to differentiate them further from the normal story missions. These could range from special shields that require certain weapon combinations or specific teamwork to bring down or other objectives that must be completed in order to beat the boss. Bungie have supported this notion and promised that new strikes will require more than just patience to beat. Also, new strikes will not be the same every time you play them. You may get different dialogue of even face different enemies on each run through. Add this to the announcement that strikes will now feature their own unique loot drops and it appears they will have much more replayability than before.
More variety in the look and feel of weapons and gear
With the exception of the exotics, lets be honest, the majority of weapons and gear in Destiny currently all look and feel the same. The perks largely feel superfluous and the weapons all have the same base design but just with different paint finishes.
For Year Two, Bungie seems to have taken a page from the Borderlands games by introducing different weapons manufacturers, each of which will hopefully feel significantly different from the others. So far we have seen Hakke, whose weapons have a traditional military look to them, Suros, whose weapons have sleek curves and sport a red and white colour scheme, and Omolon, who focus on energy based weaponry and have a slick, matte grey finish.
We have also seen a couple of new weapon types, such as the sword and an exotic heavy fusion rifle. Hopefully the new weapons will feel a bit more unique than previously as well, as opposed to just looking different. If they can achieve this, then maybe it will give players more to consider than just which weapon has the highest damage statistic when going into a mission.
The new subclasses to offer a genuinely different option
Out of the subclasses in the game currently, the overwhelming majority of players pick either the Bladedancer for the Hunter, the Defender for the Titan or the Sunsinger for the Warlock. Bladedancer for the option to go invisible, Defender for the Titan’s bubble shield and Sunsinger for the ability to self-revive.
The three new subclasses to be introduced in the Taken King will need to be pretty effective then in order to sway players from switching. The Hunters Nightstalker subclass has a bow and arrow based super which will tether enemies together, slowing them down and causing to receive additional damage from teammates. It also includes smoke grenades to blind and poison enemies caught in it. As such it feels much more like a support based subclass and will be at its most useful when used in combination with a close knit fireteam.
The Warlocks Stormcaller subclass features a super which allows the user to float around the map firing lightning from their fingertips (think Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars and you are pretty much there). It seems a more solo based class featuring high damage grenades and a number of perks that reduce various cooldowns, but time will tell as to whether players will be enticed to give up the all powerful self-revive. If I had to guess I would say it will be more popular in PvP, with players still going to Sunsinger in PvE.
Finally, the Titan’s Sunbreaker allows players to wield a flaming hammer for their super. This can be used as a powerful melee attack or thrown, Thor style, to damage enemies from afar. It also features a number of perks though that can buff recovery for teammates so it may work as a good support class as well. Ultimately though, I also struggle to see players dropping their bubble shield for this in PvE, and the Striker class is still very effective in PvP so it will be interesting to see where the Sunbreaker fits in.
Overall though, as excited as I am for the Taken King, I am still heading into it level headed. The Dark Below was a bit of a damp squib and the House of Wolves expansion was fun at first, but quickly ran out of steam. Given the scope and size of what is being promised though, I am cautiously optimistic that Bungie can pull this one off. The live streams so far have shown a number of changes that should just make the overall experience more fun, such as refining the upgrade paths for weapons and allowing players to see what they haven’t collected yet and how to go about it. It shows Bungie is very proud of what they have achieved given how much they are prepared to show pre-release, which bodes well. Hopefully they can pull it off and Destiny can blossom into the game they wanted it to be from the very beginning.
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