Year two of Destiny is well and truly under way with the release of The Taken King – the shooter's largest piece of downloadable content to date. We still struggle to call The Dark Below and House of Wolves 'expansions', but there's no denying that this newest add-on fits the bill. You'd expect this, of course, from an expensive addition to a multiplayer-focused game that's attempting to pull lapsed players back into the fold, and we'll be totally honest: it's got us glued to Bungie's creation all over again.
Our original honeymoon period with Destiny was filled with joy – we still remember the good old days of gaining experience points and cracking open engrams without ever worrying about their crappy contents. The shooter was brilliant when it was at full flow and you felt like you were being consistently rewarded – but that ended all too soon once the grind for better gear began, and you were suddenly junking the vast majority of your hard-earned loot.
Fortunately, The Taken King allows you to relive the happiness thanks to an increased level cap and plenty of loot drops. Your legendary and exotic engrams that got you through the toughest of times in year one are made redundant fairly quickly as you equip green and blue items that boast far better statistics. It's essentially like starting over, only this time you've got the experience and knowledge of a Guardian who's seen it all.
To go ahead and scrap legendary equipment that's become a fixture of your character feels weird. The first time that we picked up a green shotgun and immediately discovered that it did more damage than our trusty old firearm, we almost didn't want to accept it – but this is exactly how Bungie's managed to pull us back in. Not to mention that loot appears to be far, far more common with The Taken King installed – cryptarch be praised.
To say that the whole thing's a bit of a rebirth for Destiny isn't too far from the truth. Before the expansion released, the game received a massive 20GB patch that changed various elements of the title's foundation. The developer's tweaked, altered, and fine tuned countless little bits and pieces, and the result is a much more refined experience – especially in terms of character progression. Long story short, the game's had a lot of unnecessary fat sucked away, and it's all the better for it.
It's not just the core role-playing systems that have been polished, though – it's the presentation and the story missions, too. Destiny has always boasted an incredibly sleek user interface – something that we gave it a lot of credit for back when it launched last year – but even that's been improved. A whole quest screen details new, lengthy missions that you can undertake, while bounties and other activities can be tracked with the click of a button.
In contrast, Destiny's story has never been good. An area that's been picked apart an infinite number of times, its narrative is essentially non-existent, with one-dimensional characters spewing the most annoyingly vague dialogue you'll find this side of the Reef. We went into The Taken King expecting something marginally better, but so far, we're actually quite impressed by the writing and pacing – at least, relatively speaking. Heck, there are even a bunch of cutscenes that thread the plot together this time around, and here we are, reasonably interested in what's going on during the main story missions. Who would have thought it?
We also quite like the expansion's newly added location: the dreadnought. Harbouring the same kind of menace that you expect from places like Crota's temple on the moon, the huge warship is packed with both winding corridors and wide-open spaces that tend to house huge ongoing battles between opposing factions. It's dense, fun to navigate, and rather unique when compared to the previous patrol areas.
Speaking of which, your primary foes this time around are the Taken. If you've been keeping up with pre-release media and like, there's a good chance you're thinking that they're just clones of already existing enemies. To an extent, this is true: the Taken are made up of shadowy entities that resemble the many different creatures that you've killed countless times before – but thanks to a host of new abilities, and the sheer amount of variety that you get from putting all of these enemy types into one group, fighting them feels just fresh enough to keep things engaging.
At this point in time, it's easy to speculate that with the addition of The Taken King, this is what Destiny should have been a year ago. It undoubtedly feels like a more complete game, and with that in mind, we reckon that newcomers are in for a bit of a treat, while veteran players will simply be thankful that the release appears to be firmly back on track after 12 months of ups and downs.
Are you enjoying The Taken King? Do you think that Destiny's better than it's ever been, or are you still unimpressed? Ditch your exotics in the comments section below.
Push Square's full review of Destiny: The Taken King will be deployed once the expansion's Raid has been released and tested.