Top 10 moments from Destiny: The Taken King
Destiny: The Taken King came out while I was in Japan for TGS, so I haven’t had a chance to froth excitedly over it yet. Pat’s already said some very thoughtful things about how well Bungie has smoothed Vanilla Destiny’s rough edges, but that just means I can skip all that critical analysis stuff and just yammer away about the coolest bits. Are you ready? Let’s do it.
1. Using a sword
I can definitely see that there’s a time and a place for every type of Heavy, and I can’t wait to collect a powerful version of each type in all three elemental flavours. But gosh: swords are great, aren’t they?
A powerful sword takes down a Major in a few blows, especially if the elements match, and if you level it up enough you can carry enough ammo to use it for every wave of adds in a boss battle, making it excellent for crowd control. You can even take it to the boss if you like; a leaping slash and then a quick dodge is achievable with most encounters, and if there’s an elemental burn on – cor. Well worth it for those with the agility to pull it off.
Plus, you know, you can guard with it; each version has a special attack that has its uses; and if you equip it you can peek around corners, stealth style. I love swords.
2. Getting depressed about weapon redundancies – and then getting over it
The first hour or so of The Taken King is a bit rough on returning players. At first you’re over-levelled, popping the Taken in all directions with your Fatebringer, MIDA Multi-tool, post-nerf Gjallarhorn, Icebreaker, Word of Crota and Vision of Confluence. Then, almost immediately, you start getting loot drops, and find Uncommon and Rare trash that outstrips your Legendaries, raid gear and Exotics.
At first you try to hold on – the perks on your old gear are worth it! – but as the enemies level up the old boomsticks just can’t keep up. You have to retire them, and you’re stuck with guns that don’t make enemies explode and push your running speed into the super-human. It’s depressing as heck.
Give it another day, though, and the sun breaks through the clouds. Loot rains down like candy in The Taken King, and as long as you’re constantly equipping the best stuff you find, it gets better and better really quickly. It won’t be long before you find your first new love – perhaps a Suros pulse rifle, or an Omolon hand cannon – and go back to swooning over Bungie’s slick gunplay and sandbox combat. There are more options than ever before, and many of them make heads explode most satisfactorily.
3. Reminder: You Are Dead
Bungie has added a tiny cinematic snippet that plays when you first start up the game or leap into The Taken King. Your Ghost explains that it was born during the death of the Traveller, one of thousands of little lights, and spent centuries looking for just the right hero to team up with – to bring back to life.
This is a really helpful bit of exposition because it highlights one of Destiny’s coolest bits of lore: Guardians are all dead people, brought back to life by Ghosts (it’s actually a bit gross, isn’t it? The Fallen find it very distasteful). That’s why they can resurrect over and over again. This is a thing very few games address and I really like it.
More than the little cutscene, my favourite reminder that You Are Dead is a very subtle nod during the first story mission. Ghost comments that the interdimensional goo lying around needs a “living host”. That’s why you are not Taken when you walk onto it: because you’re dead.
Wow, Destiny’s actually pretty bleak, hey?
4. Taking down Oryx
I haven’t done the raid yet (Pat says it’s great) so I haven’t officially beaten Oryx. The main story campaign’s final mission is a pretty good boss fight, though, and I certainly feel like I put him down.
There were several things I liked about this boss fight. I liked that Oryx was mobile, and would come to you if you decided to hang back and snipe – assuming he didn’t just set the air around you on fire. Either of these tactics kept you on the hop, and this must have been a very nasty wake up call for camping players.
The final stage is like nothing else in Destiny – bar the new Sunless Cell strike. Having an Ultra charging you in such a small space, with nowhere to hide, is terrifying. It really teaches you how to dodge, how to put down adds quickly, and the advantage of a good short range weapon. Who needs a Gjallahorn when you’ve got a shottie?
5. Taking down the Echoes of Oryx
The main story campaign isn’t the end of the mission content in The Taken King – far from it. Follow the quests offered to you by the Vanguard and on the Reef and you’ll find a dozen more missions awaiting you. A couple of these quests end in boss battles against Echoes of Oryx.
These beasties do not mess around, and each of the battles is memorable. But by far the most challenging of these boss encounters takes place on Phobos in The Taken War: Mars. Holy coco pops, this is a tough one! I finished every single mission in the game solo, and usually 20 to 50 Light below level, before running up against this absolute nightmare of a difficulty spike. I had to call in Pat, and then we had to call in my clan’s Sherpa.
It’s an incredibly tense fight with constant adds and Taken Blight spawns, ceiling fire hazards, the Echo of Oryx setting the air on fire, poisonous floors and worst of all, a time limit: if you don’t put the Echo down fast enough, the poison fills the room completely. There’s no time to clear waves of adds – you must hit him with everything you have. Pray it’s enough.
6. The opening cinematic
I am a big fan of the Awoken and it was super cool to see them being so badass during the initial confrontation with Oryx. But as well as demonstrating Oryx’s tremendous power and being very dramatic, the cutscene invited us to ask questions about Destiny’s lore.
For example, I didn’t realise the Queen could use space magic. We know she wasn’t drawing on the Traveller’s Light the way Guardians do. What force were she and the Tech Witches commanding? What exactly are the Awoken? These are cool things to ponder.
You might not have picked up on this as the cinematic isn’t very clear, but the Queen and the Prince are both presumed dead as a result of this battle; Petra Venj is particularly upset about it, and you should visit her as soon as possible to talk about it (there’s something awesome in it for you). Are they really? Honestly, I wouldn’t bet on it.
7. Battling the remnants of the House of Wolves on Mars
During the quest line The Wolves of Mars you’ll have to battle through a number of very cool encounters. The boss fight at the end is memorable, since the enemy you face has a very cool little trick which will surprise you – in a bad way – the first time you see it. I also really enjoyed taking down a Walker in the middle of a Fallen-Taken confrontation; there’s an Interceptor nearby, so if you clear out the mobs you can enjoy a 1v1 tank battle of sorts. Very cool.
The best one, I think, is in the mission A New Den. You enter Iron Line from the Trenchworks side and must battle through the Fallen, pushing uphill into all that cover. This arena is home to some very good fights but when you come in from the Rubicon Wastes you definitely have the advantage and on lower difficulty settings it’s easy to just cower at the entrance.
Not this time. Even though this fight is against normal Fallen, it’s not easy at all; the wave composition heavily favours mobile, rapid fire units, keeping you on the hop. The final wave is composed entirely of Vandals, which sounds okay until you realise they hold all the high ground and there’s almost nowhere to get into cover and out of the sniper line of fire. You could try hunkering down in a corner them come to you, but nothing makes you appreciate how cleverly Vandals spin out of the way of your shotguns and fusion rifles than having ten of them in your face at once. Wow! What fun.
8. Getting the hang of the Quest journal
It’s pretty easy to find and complete the main story campaign and your subclass quest, but somehow or other a lot of players are yet to discover all the other quest content packed into The Taken King. Do you not care about clearing those markers on your Navigator screen? Have you not looked at the Quest page? What’s wrong with you?
Anyway, those who do investigate, especially in conjunction with the Abandoned Quests Terminal and the many new sources of Bounties, may find themselves overwhelmed: there’s just so much to do. Should I do this story mission that’s a little too hard for me – or follow Eris’s suggestion and visit the Court of Oryx first? Ikora wants me to start doing Vanguard Strikes, but I need to clear out these Taken Champions for Petra on Patrol, and I really want to finish this bounty on Mars to make some space…
For the first few days it feels like it will never end, but once you knock the story quests over and get the toughest challenges out of the way, it becomes much more manageable and turns into a helpful guidance mechanic. Remember how someone at Bungie once said they wanted players to log in and think “what can I do to make myself stronger today?” That’s the quest journal: providing a hint and a nudge to push you further into end game by highlighting all the best sources of loot.
9. Feeling like a badass – and knowing it’s only the start of your Legend
I hit Light 293 yesterday so I’m just about ready to have a go at the Raid – and yet I know I could potentially get a lot stronger even before picking up my first Raid drops. Nightfall, Heroic Strikes and the Court of Oryx are still dropping great loot for me, so that every day I find a new Legendary to add to the builds I’m slowly constructing, or a couple of Rares to infuse my gear with.
Looking at the perks and stats on my current favourite weapons, I can see the potential for more powerful versions if RNG favours me, as eventually it will, and I am full of plans of what to buy from Vendors to help me progress. Even when I hit 310 Light and have all the Raid gear and Exotics (and that won’t be for a long time, I’m sure) I will want to keep adding to my collection – what I really need here is a Void shotgun with these specific perks, for example.
Bungie got our letters, too – it’s clear that it plans to keep the secrets and content dribbling out over the months to come, giving you reasons to come back again and again, if only to see what surprises Xur or Armsday has for you, or to have another try at Black Spindle. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
10. Water cooler moments
The GIF above is an extract from very short video documenting my glorious diving shotgun finishing blow of a Taken Champion on Mars.
If you play Destiny you know that this was a completely pointless action. I could have stayed on my perch firing my pulse rifle. I could have let the Warlock handle it. But no! I took out my incredibly powerful shotgun and stole the kill in an unnecessarily flamboyant way, pausing to make an arse of myself by bowing afterwards. Because it was cool.
I put this on my Twitter and Facebook and three of my friends purchased a PS4 and Destiny that week, citing the video as their motivating factor. It’s these spectacular little water cooler moments, especially when shared with friends, that make me enjoy every day I spend defending humanity from the Darkness.