Destiny: The Taken King
doesnít quite repeat the narrative sins of its forebears. Claims of it holding its own alongside The Lord of the Rings
, Star Wars
, and Harry Potter
still merit derision, but thereís a noteworthy increase in effort in this department. The events of The Dark Below
have set into motion a deadly chain of events; Hive Prince Crota is dead, slain by Guardians (you, if you completed the raid Crotaís End). All would be well, except for the fact that his father Oryx is out for vengeance. His mastery of the Darkness gives him the ability to abduct and enslave ("take") lesser beings of different races. So, aboard his Dreadnaught with his army of Taken, he launches an invasion of the Solar System, complete with a spectacular prologue cutscene that ends with the rings of Saturn punctured like looseleaf.
So you venture forth with your Fireteam or on your lonesome, exploring new locales and purging the Taken from the system. And itís a great campaign, thanks to its refusal to retread old ground. Objectives this time around are far more diverse than "traverse linear and empty hallways, deploy Ghost at door/console, fight waves of enemies," and the level design is also vastly improved. The icing on the cake is a new subclass for each of the three main classes, each of which comes with its own acquisition mission. I hope that future releases will widen the gap between the classes; Supers aside, thereís still not that much of a difference; at least, not enough of one to justify the existence of classes to begin with.
Destinyís art style and technical beauty were never points of contention; theyíve always been amazing, and they continue in that trend in The Taken King. The Taken themselves may be remnants of species weíve all seen before, but Oryxís corruption manifests in a sickly monochrome pallor; they look like photo negatives, and when you kill them, they are forcibly ripped out of your dimension in a sweet-looking personal vortex. Additionally, the Darkness seems to have a hold on the environment itself; holes in the fabric of reality often flank the way forward, giving you a glimpse into the distorted void. Itís like being in line for Space Mountain, only far more sinister.
Destiny: The Taken King is an improvement over its predecessors in almost every way; Peter Dinklage's awful performance has been written out entirely in favor of a decidedly more C-3P0-esque Nolan North, and while the cast of characters remains slight and shallow, special mention goes to Nathan Fillion's Cayde-6, the Exo Hunter Vanguard whose humanity is a shocking contrast with the likes of Eris Morn, Zavala, and Ikora Rey.
I have all these good things to say about Destiny: The Taken King, but it isn't able to completely get away from the problems that essentially define the core release. Once you finish the campaign and the King's Fall raid, Destiny sadly reverts to its old boring self; you can grind for the chance at some legendary and exotic gear, but you'll only be able to use that gear to do the same thing all over again. Even the eight new Crucible maps and the Court of Oryx activity (facing down boss monsters for the chance at loot) aren't enough to keep it afloat after about ten hours. It's unfortunate, but it's just the nature of the beast at this point.