Hello, and welcome back to Part 2 of my coverage of Destiny, and its 2.0 Update. Today’s Menu features Story and PvE content.
Carrying on, the first thing we’ll cover is the story that Bungie has finally put into the game. From here on out, it’ll get a little spoiler-y, so IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT SPOILERS and haven’t finished The Taken King, don’t read any further, as I’ll be summarizing many of the key moments. For everyone else, lets press on!
Even with the awesome atmosphere that the game gives off, those of you who have played Destiny since it first release will have noticed that it had a really weak story from the outset. I mean, Bungie poured TONS of effort into making the places you visit feel alive, and look fantastic. Despite this, the issues in the main quest line made it feel rather shallow. It also didn’t help that the mysterious Exo Stranger wasnt given any back story outside of “Hey, come find me” or “Kill this” or even the infamous “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain” quote.
All those issues carried through with The Dark Below. Eris, one of the Tower’s many NPCs, was the only conduit the player had to story-related content in the first expansion, and all the story was delivered through spoken dialogue, with not even a wink of a cut-scene. The House of Wolves was handled a lot better, but the execution was still not up to the standard that one would expect given Bungie’s history (having created the masterpiece saga known as Halo).
But fear not. Bungie listened to all the criticism it received from the the fans from launch, through to the end of the House of Wolves, then turned it up to 11. Trust me, as a fan, it was very well appreciated.
From the outset, you’re tasked with going to one of Mars’ moons, Phobos. You’re sent to a Cabal base to inspect a distress signal, when you come across a new enemy type, called the Taken (more on them later). The story progresses until you eventually steal Eris’s ship, and get aboard the Big Bad Evil Guy’s ship. Oh, his name is Oryx, and is the father of the guy you killed in the Crota’s End Raid. Apparently murdering grown children is bad news in the Destiny Universe. You eventually defeat Oryx and bring a level of peace to our solar system. Woo, job well done! Kinda.
There are still missions to do after beating Oryx, such as taking out the last of the House of Wolves members, going on dangerous (and somewhat annoying) quests to get certain weapons. But there is one mission, called Paradox, that really resonated with me in how much of a jump Bungie took in making the story great, infusing some of the awesome lore that was locked away in the cards.
The mission essentially has you going into the Vault of Glass (home to the first raid of the same name) to take out one of the Taken enemies so you can restore the memories of one of the first people to try to defeat the Vault and its dweller, Atheon. Praydeth, a warlock, communicates with you through out the mission. This was fantastic. Eventually, you defeat the bad guy in question, find his remains, and his memories are restored to the data-banks of the Vanguard Guardians. There is another twist to this mission, but I wont spoil that for you.
Speaking of the Taken (who are the new enemies for this DLC), they have a pretty appropriate name. They’re possessed versions of the other enemy races, but given different abilities, and a jittery animation style to show that they aren’t themselves. They are challenging at first, because you have no idea what they are capable of, and even after you know what they can do they still have the ability to overrun you like nothing. The worst offenders are the Taken Psions, who were given the super annoying ability of division (much like a single celled organism). You can get quickly swamped with even just one of those suckers still alive, so proceed with extreme prejudice, and eliminate the Psions as fast as possible.
Overall though, the Taken are a fairly difficult enemies to deal with. They provide a fun challenge in sorting out how to get the job done when they’re tossed in the mix.
I hope that my gushing about this stuff helps paint a picture of just how much better Destiny has become, thanks to a little investment in the enemies and overall story.
The Taken King also came with a new playable area. Saturn finally opened up, and we got to visit its rings. The majority of TTK‘s story is hosted on the Dreadnought, which is the whip that Oryx rides into the solar system on. Its probably one of the largest areas in Destiny currently, which is really nice to see. The only unfortunate thing about the Dreadnought is that you cant use your sparrow (the speeder bikes), but this is mitigated by the fact that the areas, while large, are densely packed and easy to traverse on foot.
When you set down aboard The Dreadnought for the first time, you’re tasked with placing beacons, which later serve as PvE patrol mission destinations. This is super cool, because it makes you feel like you’re helping shape the world you’re playing in, which is something that was really lacking in the first year. There are also little secret passages within the explorable areas that are super fun to find. Using your Ghost out to see some of the hidden walkways is a clever trick to enhance a feature that was more or less a useless part of the game initially.
With 2.0, Destiny got Quests. Quests cover just about everything that you do, which adds a lot more direction to the game that was missing from the original launch. This really helps out the newer players who have no idea what direction to go in some cases, and helps make the story easier to follow along with.
But quests aren’t just locked onto campaign related materials; there are a plethora of quests for legendary and Exotic weapons, as well as for PvP. One of the longest quest chains is called Hunger Pangs, and at the end of its nearly 20 step chain, it gives you arguably one of the best guns (not named Gjallerhorn, the Touch of Malice) in the game. The Touch is one of the most unique guns as well, due to the fact that unless you reload it, it’ll never run out of ammo. The catch? when you fire the gun with a single bullet in the magazine, you’ll lose your health.
Other quests result in you getting Swords, which are a new weapon class for 2.0, which is super exciting! There is one for every element, and in their Legendary forms they’re called Edges, with the element in question being included in the name. The fun comes when you get the Exotic ones at the end. The Raze Lighter does boosted damage, The Bolt Caster shoots a lightning disc that tracks its prey, The Dark Drinker does a 360 degree slice. Each Edge is deadly in its own way, and all are fun to play with.
Arguably one of the most fun quest chains was the search for the Sleeper Stimulant. It’s a Heavy Fusion Rifle (which is another first for TTK). It also makes Fusion Rifles the only weapon class to have a weapon for each weapon slot (Primary, Special, and Heavy). The quest starts off with the mission “The First Firewall,” taking you back into the Warmind Rasputin’s bunker. From there, you’re tasked with unlocking the code (hint: take a look at the order the enemies spawn in). I won’t spoil the rest, as its best experienced in person.
The King’s Fall Raid is hard. I mean REALLY hard. This raid’s difficulty is a testament to the fact that Bungie listens to it’s fans and supporters. It took me 3 weeks after it launched, and 2 different fireteams before I could complete it. But even with all the struggles, I have to say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had playing Destiny since defeating Atheon (from the Vault of Glass raid) the first time.
The raid is broken up into Nine different challenges. Now, I don’t want to give too many details, because playing raids (especially for the first time) is something that you need to experience yourself. That, and there are plenty of guides out there for it. Highlights from the raid are going to be pretty obvious though. For example: the initial phase, where you have to activate the 6 statues before the Court of Oryx, or the Tomb Ship jumping puzzle, and of course the final battle with the man himself, Oryx.
So the TL;DR of this is that Bungie stepped their game up by 110% over the last year to make the game what everyone expected it to be on release.
Next time you hear from me, we’ll cover the PvP side of the game.
Until then: see you Star side!