Nearly a year after its initial release, Destiny continues to evolve. Bungie's massively multiplayer first-person shooter had an impressive launch. However, despite delivering a technically sound experience, many fans found the game's narrative and mission structure repetitive and uninspired. The developer attempted to correct some of these issues with two expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, but there are those who feel the game still hasn't reached its promised potential.
With the launch of The Taken King expansion in September, a number of changes will be implemented that radically shift the way the game is played. Bungie is re-imagining Destiny from the ground up, going so far as to change the core leveling system and removing Peter Dinklage's voice acting from the game.
As the release of The Taken King draws closer, Bungie has delivered new details about the expansion, and what is going to be different in the second year of Destiny.
New Focus on Story
When Destiny first launched, one of the biggest complaints was about the game's story. Surrounded by flat characters and meaningless plot devices, most players ignored the overarching story and instead focused on the gameplay. Bungie is aware of this and trying to change the way they tell their story in The Taken King.
For starters, the expansion is going to put more focus on the quest givers. The structure of Destiny isn't conducive to linear storytelling. Players approach quests in different order and move freely between strikes and story missions. As such, Bungie has developed a new approach to building a narrative. Characters, like Master Rahool (The Tower Cryptarch) and Banshee-44 (the Gunsmith), now have a stake in the quests they're assigning and will give players new context for why they're completing certain missions.
Bungie is also bringing a new focus to existing characters, such as Cayde-6, the Hunter Vanguard, who is voiced by Nathan Fillion (Firefly). From the moment he was introduced, there were hints that there was more to Cayde-6 than the game in its current form could allow. Now the character is taking a more active role in the story, joining the player in cutscenes and being given more freedom in the game. Bungie has also reworked the dialogue of The Ghost for new voice actor Nolan North, in an attempt to effectively use voiceover to keep the narrative focused.
Taken individually, the tweaks to storytelling in The Taken King don't seem significant. However, combining these factors with the potential of the plot and universe could make the players invest more time in the storyline.
Bungie is nerfing several fan-favorite weapons, including the hand-cannon Thorn and the incomparable rocket launcher Gjallarhorn. While this has caused plenty of outrage amongst players, the developer is steadfast in their decision. The intention is to encourage players to try and use a variety of weapons, customizing their loadouts to different mission parameters rather than relying on old favorites.
Speaking with IGN, Bungie community manager David Dague explained the design decisions behind the change.
"If we created 'Destiny' where it was just a game like 'Oh, another 'Destiny' game is coming out, which I like to [think of as just] more aliens to kill with my Gjallarhorn,' [then] I think people would probably accuse us of design failure... the act of playing 'Destiny' is all about evolving your character. And using the same weapons for the next decade wasn't really part of that vision."
Dague went on to say that Gjallarhorn will no longer be overpowered, but will still be a useful heavy weapon on certain missions.
New Heavy Weapon
With Gjallarhorn's fall, the pressure is on for Bungie to introduce a new exotic weapon to match that appeal. One of the newest and most interesting exotic weapons, a fusion rifle called Sleeper Simulant, was recently revealed by Game Informer. Sleeper may be a fusion rifle, but this gun will be slotted as a heavy weapon due to the rifle's incredible power. When the weapon is fully upgraded, the shots can ricochet off walls and fire through multiple enemies, making for some potentially spectacular multikills in the Crucible.
However, acquiring Sleeper Simulant won't be easy. The fusion rifle isn't going to be a random loot drop. In order to unlock the weapon, players must first collect certain relics across the various worlds in Destiny. After that, a new mission is opened that Bungie claims might be too difficult for a single Guardian to solve on their own.
While current details are vague, David Dague confirmed that The Taken King will feature weapons specific to each class of Guardian (Hunter, Titan, and Warlock). These weapons won't be random drops, but instead will be obtained by completing certain quests for the Vanguard. Different factions will offer certain weapons as well, but rather than wearing a faction item, players will have the option to pledge their allegiance to a faction.
Bungie wants to take some of the mystery out of the loot system in the game. As such, players will know in advance what sort of weapon they're working towards, making the progression feel more rewarding to the player.
Light Levels Still Exist
It was previously announced that with the release of the new expansion, the leveling system would be completely changed. A Guardian's level would no longer be determined by their equipment, but by experience points gained from levels 1-40.
However, that doesn't mean Light is going away. Instead, the level will simply serve as a measurement of how powerful your character is. The score will be calculated based on total attack and defense statistics, including weapons and armor. Some missions will have a suggested Light level, serving as an indicator of whether or not your Guardian is properly equipped for the task.
The Largest Raid Yet
Destiny: The Taken King will feature the Dreadnaught, a new location that serves both as the focal point for the storyline and an area with new patrols zones, strikes, and missions. Also aboard the ship is King's Fall, the largest Destiny Raid created to date. Bungie hasn't revealed much more than the raid's title, but it has been confirmed that it will be another six-man raid. More details about the raid and how it plays into the storyline are expected as the expansion gets closer to launch.
Despite stumbling slightly out of the gate, Destiny has continued to grow over the last year. The changes that Bungie plans to implement in the game show that the developer is doing more than just listening to player feedback - they're utilizing it. Many of the most persistent complaints of the last year are going to be addressed in The Taken King expansion, leaving players with an all-new Destiny for its second year on the market.
Destiny: The Taken King releases September 15, 2015.