'Destiny: The Taken King' Expansion & Game Changes Explained

Find out how Destiny's' upcoming expansion 'The Taken King' alters how loot, leveling and gear are changing for the better going forward.

Destiny Leveling System Update - The Taken King

When Bungie released Destiny in September of 2014, the game had more than its fair share of detractors. Many felt that Destiny did not deliver on its promises of an exciting narrative and a massive, persistent world with plenty to explore. It lacked content. While the game contained polished mechanics, the dull story and repetitive nature of the gameplay left much to be desired.

Yet Destiny perseveres. The active player base has continued to grow over time a Bungie actively addresses many of the complaints fans have with the game. The previously released expansions The Dark Below and House of Wolves began to shift the narrative and gameplay features in new directions, laying the groundwork for the upcoming expansion The Taken King. From fundamental gameplay changes to the removal of the maligned voice acting of Peter Dinklage, the second year of Destiny is beginning to look like a whole new game.

New Equipment

Destiny The Taken King Weapons

Game Informer has confirmed that the legendary weapons and armor from the first year of the game will no longer progress going forward. The equipment will serve players well enough in the beginning of The Taken King, but will rapidly be replaced by better gear with new perks. Though there have yet to be any specific details about the new weapons, Game Informer confirms that there will be 'dozens' of new weapons and armor pieces added to the game. Destiny's Creative Director Luke Smith believes players are ready for new gear.

"I definitely feel like some of our players are ready to play with new toys, and we've built a whole bunch of new toys. There are definitely some weapons that you are going to find better versions of -- there's going to be something that replaces that sniper rifle that you love."

Fans will miss Fatebringer and Ice Breaker, but hopefully that serves as incentive for Bungie to provide even better weapons for the fight against The Taken King.

Redesigned Leveling System

Game Informer additionally confirmed that Destiny is getting a revamped and simplified leveling system with the expansion. A Guardian's level is no longer tied to their Light level given from armor. Instead, players will simply gain experience from killing enemies and completing bounties, from level one all the way to level forty, the new level cap. The old, unnecessarily complicated system is essentially being replaced by a traditional RPG leveling mechanic which makes the game more welcoming to newcomers and returning players.

Destiny Leveling System Update - The Taken King

The change provides players a new sense of control over their progress, rather than having players rely on random loot drops or grinding for upgrade materials. As your level increases, new gear will become available that grants players new perks along with increased attack and defense stats. Though the leveling system is no longer tied to the gear, equipment still plays an important role in the game by maxing out a player's stats and giving them a slight advantage over their enemies. The importance of the equipment leads nicely into how the game will iterate on the fun of collecting loot.

A New Loot System

As it stands, the loot system in Destiny is one of its most frustrating mechanics. There's nothing worse than grinding through the weekly strike only to be rewarded the same item that's sitting in your inventory.  The new system set to launch with the expansion aims to fix that frustration.

The game will take the player's inventory into account when generating the loot drops in an attempt to deliver more appropriate gear. This will supposedly lead to players consistently receiving armor and weapons that will make them more powerful without receiving too many duplicates. Additionally, throughout the mission or strike, the loot drops at each location will drop gear for different slots.

New Enemies

Darkblade Destiny The Taken King Boss

Meet Darkblade. Designed by artist Corinne Scrivens, he's just one of the new bosses you'll be facing in The Taken King. Oryx, the eponymous king, has gathered his forces by taking inhabitants of Earth and twisting them with darkness. Darkblade leads an army of abominations that await you aboard the Dreadnaught, along with wielding a wicked axe.

An Entirely New Location

Destiny : The Taken King Dreadnaught Base

Oryx is invading our solar system aboard the Dreadnaught, aiming to avenge the death of Crota. As such, the ship is a weapon meant both to intimidate the Guardians as well as house a massive invasion force. The ship gives Destiny designers the opportunity to finally show what sort of environment the Hive originally come from. Senior Artist Andrew Hopps explains the importance of the location, as well as the impact it can have on the game.

"It was important to us that you would feel the scale as you moved through the hulls of the Dreadnaught, never sure about what to expect as large spaces condensed to claustrophobic tunnels before revealing entirely new areas of the ship. A sense of wonder about the unknown is what drove a lot of the spacial design. It was an incredibly fun challenge to find the right balance between a mysterious tomb ship and the flagship for the Taken fleet -- to capture teh idea of this unfathomable threat, a monstrous spaceship captained by the Taken King, yet filled with vast caverns and unknown passages."

The new location is a focal point in the story of The Taken King, but it also serves as a centerpiece in The Taken War, which is a progression of the narrative outside of the main storyline. The Dreadnaught houses new missions as well as new patrol zones, as well as hidden treasures players will have to search out over multiple visits to the ship.

Check out the below concept art vs. the final, in-game product:

The Taken King Dreadnaught Concept Art
Concept Art
The Taken King Dreadnaught Ingame
In-game footage

You can see more comparisons on Bungie's Blog. The Dreadnaught appears to make great use of lighting effects and environments to create a haunting tone somewhat removed from previous locations in the game. If the ship proves to be as large as it appears, it's a safe assumption that the Dreadnaught will become one of the most popular locations in the game.

New Anti-Cheat Measures

Every multiplayer game must combat cheaters and exploiters in some form, and Destiny is no exception. One of the chief complaints about the game is the presence of cheaters and Bungie's apparent lack of action. That changed with the developer cross-referencing reports of cheating with their own data and unleashing their Security Response Team.

The company reports that hundreds of players who have manipulated network traffic to glitch the game for benefits have officially been banned. It would appear that the cheaters can still play the game, but are restricted from accessing The Crucible (Destiny's PvP arena). Bungie has reaffirmed their commitment to stop cheating, asking players to make use of their reporting tools to help catch as many cheaters as possible.

Bonus: Player Boost

Destiny Dreadnaught Interior

Speaking to Polygon during Gamescom, Bungie community manager DeeJ revealed that Destiny: The Taken King will also give players one (and only one) consumable player boost that they can use on a character (again, one time only) to level up a character so they can immediately take advantage of the new Taken King content. No details have been officially revealed yet, but the current max level is 34 and The Taken King raises the cap to level 40.

We know the boost can be used on new or existing characters, but how it handles gear and weapons (i.e. can't really play level 34 levels with level 1 weapons) remains to be seen. This is another example of letting newcomers and returning players skip the grind and play with the active player pool immediately.


Destiny is always evolving, currently serving almost as a platform for content growth rather than an standalone game, and that was always the plan. Despite recent controversies about the pricing of The Taken King and a broken Red Bull promotion, it's clear that Bungie is aiming to give players their money's worth. The changes detailed above aren't surface-level fixes. Instead, the new expansion will deeply alter the way Destiny is played on top of providing new narrative content. Whether the new features are enough to entice the existing fanbase over the $40 price wall, however, remains to be seen.

Destiny: The Taken King releases September 15, 2015.

Sources: Bungie, Game Informer, Polygon

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