The Taken King review: Everything old is new again
Most DLC these days are made with the intent of extending a game’s longevity in the short term. Perhaps it was developed by a small team while the main game was being finalized or perhaps development started right after the main game came out. In any case, we are all used to the concept of DLC by now: a month or two after a game is released you pay maybe $15 for another 3-5 hours of content. With Destiny’s The Taken King, the formula is changed a bit. At $40 (even more internationally), it seems ludicrously expensive. “Why not just save up a little bit more for an actual game?” is a question that you may ask yourself.
At first glance, there is no point buying the Taken King, especially if you compare what is said to be in the DLC with previous DLC in Destiny. A new storyline, a new raid, some new equipment, some new subclasses, but pretty much the same song and dance. However, once you dive into the Taken King, you may realize that, perhaps for the first time in history, the advertising actually undersold the product. In truth, the Taken King offers just as much if not more content than the base game. The main questline takes about 5 hours to complete by yourself, and it is unquestionably better than the main quest in Destiny.
Characters actually talk to you, groan inducing lines that make you question whether or not anyone actually wrote the story are fairly nonexistent, and scripted events and cutscenes are all included in the new story (which is actually told in game rather than through a website or app). Once you finish the main story, you have side quests from just about every major faction in Destiny. This includes the Vanguard, Eris, and the Reef. Each of these side quests (not including the generic ones that are simply to do strikes and such) add another 3-4 hours at minimum to complete as well.
Of course, quantity means nothing without quality. Due to the nature of Destiny, there is only so much that you can do to change up the gameplay. Yes, most missions are basically go here, shoot something, wait for someone to give you some story, go somewhere else, and shoot some bigger thing, but unlike the main game, you never have to wait for someone to open a door for you. In fact, there is clearly an attempt to make everything more dynamic in the Taken King. For example, Patrols feature mini bosses similar to House of Wolves albeit on a grander scale. Some high level equipment also requires you to go on a quest to obtain said equipment.
And unlike the previous DLC, the new enemies actually feels like a new faction rather than a reskin, despite their appearances. Sure, the snipers are still annoying, but each enemy type has their own unique ability that is inspired by the abilities that you have. Bubble shields, homing grenades, active camo, and more are used by the Taken. Similarly, the new Strikes no longer feel like more tedious versions of missions. One such strike puts you up against a giant Shank. As expected, it is the weakest boss in Destiny, lacking a close quarter attack and an area of effect attack. However, it will use the environment to kill you, whether it be by removing cover or electrifying the water in certain parts of the room. To get to the boss in the first place, you will have to deal with more environmental hazards rather than an unusually slow doorknob.
In truth, the Taken King feels more like a standalone game than a DLC, and rightfully so when compared to the monotonous nature of the main game. True, only time will tell how much replayability will the Taken King have, but upon initial inspection there appears to be enough new content for you to not have to replay it over and over again in the first place. While the game certainly encourages you to replay certain missions and some quests do have monotonous objectives like “patrol these planets and kill several dozen Fallen on each”, for the most part it seems as though there may even be too much to do.
Final verdict– Although expensive, the Taken King does have a large amount of content and it does show that Bungie is trying to diversify the things that you can do in the game. While the missions and such may not be as memorable as the missions in something like Halo or even Call of Duty, they are unquestionably better than the missions in the main game.