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5 Reasons We’re Loving Destiny: The Taken King

One year after Bungie embraced the enigmatic potential of the Traveler, Ghost, and Guardians, it’s clear that Destiny – the developer’s persistent-world online first-person shooter – has ascended to a new level of excellence with Destiny: The Taken King.

The folks at the venerable Seattle-based developer have taken player feedback into account to craft one of the most ambitious expansions in recent memory, and we’ve been enjoying every second of it. This list could easily span 10 or 20 items… but for now, here are the five things we’ve been loving about The Taken King since its release last week.

1) The Taken King Crafts a Compelling Story
One year ago, players wanted to fall in love with Destiny’s lore – and The Taken King gives them a reason to do just that. Perhaps the most important element in any game’s narrative is giving players a reason to want to keep fighting.

Sure, shooting anonymous alien enemy hordes is all well and good, but as games like Gears of War have taught us, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned grudge – and The Taken King gives us one in the form of a gargantuan winged beast who’s rather peeved that the Guardians took out his son Crota during one of Destiny’s earlier expansions, The Dark Below. The game dispenses with any pretense and immediately introduces us to Oryx, showing us his substantial powers – and the expansive army of Taken at his beck and call.

Of course, a rivalry’s all well and good, but this anticipated expansion also ups the interplay between the cast of characters, which brings us to the second thing we’re loving about The Taken King

2) The Vocal Stylings of Nolan North
Nolan North is a newcomer to Destiny, but he’s taking on the role of a familiar face: Ghost, the floating robotic A.I. that’s become one of the game’s enduring icons. Ghost’s original voice actor, two-time Emmy winner Peter Dinklage, is certainly an exceptional talent… but he’s often off in Europe shooting episodes of “Game of Thrones.” North’s always-on-call accessibility and game industry expertise (he’s played Assassin’s Creed’s Desmond Miles and the Penguin in the Batman: Arkham series, among many others) fit Destiny like a glove, which means that it’ll be a lot easier for Bungie to integrate new missions and dialogue going forward.

3) Building a Better Loot System
Loot is at the heart of practically any game with role-playing elements – but it has to feel fair, and like you’re making real progress. With The Taken King, Destiny’s loot system now feels dynamic, and less about waiting around for some elusive drop that may never actually come.

What’s the secret this time around? Loot drops are based on your level, and they scale as you grow, which means that the game respects your time a whole lot more. Now, you’ll gradually increase your weaponry and armor – Destiny is now less a series of random events and more a streamlined period of growth. This makes it perfect for newcomers, who can also use the new Spark of Light to zip forward to level 25.

4) The Dreadnaught Delivers New Ways to Play
Oryx’s floating fortress, the Dreadnaught, adds a much-needed air of mystery to The Taken King, and the world of Destiny at-large. The ancient vessel in the rings of Saturn, millions of years old, almost brings to mind the iconic Monolith seen in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Though, in this case, there’s no Stanley Kubrick-style sense of ambiguity; the inhabitant here is 100 percent evil.

And once the time comes to infiltrate the Dreadnaught, you’ll find that it brings a whole new twist to the Destiny experience. The Dreadnaught rewards careful exploration, and it’ll likely take you quite some time to uncover all of its secrets. There’s even a stealth mission that really expands the concept of what you’ve come to expect from Destiny – just one more example of how The Taken King isn’t simply improving aesthetics and mechanics. In many cases, it’s offering new takes on the formula and giving a peek at the future potential of the franchise.

5) The Best Destiny Raid Ever
This is it. King’s Fall is what Destiny’s players have been waiting for over the past nine months – and it’s certainly what’s drawing in a new crop of curious gamers to The Taken King. The raid is where Destiny first hit its stride, focusing on team-based organization and communication, and Oryx delivers the big bad Destiny has always needed. The best part? King’s Fall requires teamwork, rewarding players who work together and take the time to learn the ins-and-outs of the combat and environment. In fact, King’s Fall is specifically designed for team-based play – if you’re thinking of truly taking out Oryx on your own, think again.

Of course, the best way to experience The Taken King isn’t to read about it – it’s to play it! The consensus is clear: Even if you passed on Destiny in the past, The Taken King aims to win you over in a spectacular fashion.