(Note: This post first appeared on games.on.net. Unfortunately, they're offline as of 30 November, so I thought I'd rescue it.)
It’s strange to acknowledge my attachment to guns. Fictional guns, no less. This Tuesday night at 7pm, however, the moment I’d been dreading for about a month came to pass. My two most reliable tools got locked away in my vault in first person inventory space manager and MMO-lite, Destiny.
My Gjallahorn, the exotic (for those not in the know, the highest grade of rarity) rocket launcher that was key to undoing any end game enemy, was now ostensibly useless. An uncommon machine gun of the filthiest green was presented early on as a more powerful replacement. My Vision of Confluence, the lynchpin of loadouts that felled Crota, Atheon and Skolas, was now holding me back from cracking Destiny’s new missions and its latest mystery, the Light system.
The Light system was used in Year One to determine your character’s level after hitting the experience cap of level 20. Now, instead of being determined solely by your equipped armour, it now looks at everything your character wears, holds, or otherwise has fastened to them. The mystery is all the more vexing (haha! Destiny pun) now that you can earn experience again, up to the new cap of 40.
“This is going to hurt,” I said to myself as I stashed my redundant weapons. For Destiny, until now, was never about the characters, or the lore at large. It was about elusive loot, and the cruelty or, as was often the case with me, mercy doled out by a random number generator. Guns were adored more than quest givers, and they were written better than them too.
Until now that is.
Now, with the 2.0 update and a wealth of new missions, the focus is on the story. Everyone in the Tower is a lot more talkative, now that Dinklebot (RIP) is gone. Quests are being passed out faster than I can keep track of them, and after skipping from vendor to vendor, I find myself ready to care about Eris Morn, Cayde 6, and a whole bunch of others that had previously been consigned to giving brief thanks for retrieving items and/or turning in bounties as recently as two weeks ago.
Where the campaign from the last expansion, The House of Wolves, felt like a set of mirror tracks, the fight against Crota’s absent father Oryx offers up something never before seen inDestiny: life. The cast doesn’t just stand still and deliver lines of dialogue, they emote, they gesticulate, and rebel, and they act as more than glorified mailboxes.
Sure, the whole revenge plot that’s the crux (another pun!) of the single player experience, is unabashed in its silliness, it’s still more compelling than find the garden. You know, the black one that’s teeming with deathbots.
The new environment, the interior of Oryx’s Dreadnaught, appears to be packed with secrets, and has just enough variety in terms of the colour palette to be considered more than Crota’s End 2: Daddy Issues. I haven’t done too much exploring just yet, but once I get my Light shining I’ll be digging deeper.
I’ve fought hundreds of Taken (be prepared to hear and read that word a lot), and they’re not just garden variety Fallen, Hive, Vex and Cabal with twitchy animations. The enemies that Oryx repurposes are a lethal mix of the old and the new, and they’ve been injected throughout old activities, and the new campaign to catch veteran players off guard. Their attacks and abilities mimic some Guardian supers (like the Titan’s bubble shield, for example), while some are altogether new (like the Taken Captain’s very large, blinding projectile shot).
About five hours in and I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface. Even at level 40 (the return to experience levelling feels superfluous), I’m not ready for end game activities like Daily Heroic (higher difficulty level with damage modifiers) story missions, and can’t even imagine what a Nightfall strike (3 player coop missions) would be like at this point. I’ve got some shooting to do.
Copy of The Taken King purchased at the reviewer’s own expense.