It might be difficult to sit down and play Destiny's second-year expansion, The Taken King, without first recalling the hiccups and knee-scrapes of past mistakes and unfinished stories. Destiny delivered a vibrant world with the wonder of Star Wars' massive galaxy and the punk rock attitude of Guardians of the Galaxy in a game that should have been endless. In the end, fans were left high and dry in a galaxy that was much smaller than anyone had hoped for, but with the release of The Taken King, a new dawn has risen over the fluorescent sunset of The Tower.
The story itself has become something of a mantra, a tagline that harkens old school sci-fi and medieval fantasy, almost perfectly reflecting the game's attitude: "Oryx smells the blood of his son on your hands, Guardians. Now The Taken King comes for us all."
Setting the masterful storytelling of The Taken King aside, technical improvements to the game are overall satisfying, though a few small bugs still occur. One of the most repeated comments that echoed through our game room during my play through was: "Wow, that is a beautiful game." My coworkers weren't wrong -- with a single step down on to the surface of Mars, the world of the game seems to unfold into something ten times greater, with a wide array of new aspects to explore. Just like when Destiny first hit the stands, it was hard not to stick to one spot and simply stare at the beautifully rendered surroundings, guiding me to new places within a galaxy I thought I knew so well.
But great graphics are a given with Destiny; what really stands out is the overall improvement of the Light, loot, and experience systems, allowing players more access to improvements that make for an extremely enjoyable game.
Where The Taken King falters, much like Destiny originally did, is in it's single-player experience. The latest installment's Raid -- which released shortly after The Taken King -- seems to be where the highest-level items are, and while it's understandable that the entire point of Destiny is to group up with other players in order to take on major enemies or missions, leveling up on one's own is practically impossible for higher-level missions. Loners need not apply in The Taken King, so learn how to be a team player if you're looking to seriously improve your stats.
The Raid itself, titled King's Fall, is a thrill ride of endless enemies in the form of the ghost-like Taken, showing off that very multiplayer aspect at it's finest. Players must react quickly and coordinate to retrieve relics or fend off enemies. Puzzles force fireteams to work together and actively coordinate attack plans, but bring out the best in players by defining their talents early on in the game. Figuring out how your group excels technically will make for an enjoyable raid -- even if you slip up a few times.
The Taken King delivers a compelling story with the punk rock space opera vibe that fans know and love -- an endless bounty of treasure hunting, action, and visual beauty, along with the cooperative aspects that are now key during gameplay, make for an immersive experience without the bugs or empty plotlines of the past.
Destiny: The Taken King is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.