Let me get this out of the way at the start of this review because itís important: Iím a fan of Destiny.
Iím telling you this as it will affect what youíre about to read. Iím the sort that overlooks how its mechanics are specifically designed to hook you in and keep you playing. Some liken it to gambling on fruit machines and itís hard to argue against that point.
However, I donít overlook this stuff due to some sort of addiction guilt. I do so because the act of playing the game is fun. From minute to minute Iím enjoying my time with it and when you strip Destiny
away from all the MMO-influenced mechanics you have a fun shooter that rewards skill and teamwork.
The first year of Destiny
had its flaws beyond moral black holes. There were times when although Iíd had an enjoyable few hours of gaming, I had nothing to show for it by the time I shutdown my console.
This wouldnít be an issue for me in other games, but in one where youíre used to feeling a sense of progression, when that dries up you just feel a little empty.
Then thereís the much-used criticism that the game lacks variety and, once again, even as a fan Iíve got nothing in return. Although I didnít mind replaying the content that won't stop me rolling my eyes as I start a strike that Iíve played time and time again.
With the release of the year two update alongside The Taken King
Bungie seems hell-bent on putting these things, amongst others, right. Itís clear that the studio either saw the problems with the original game and subsequent DLC or heard what the community had to say and listened to them.
The story missions are almost unrecognisable when compared to what has come before them. Bungie has injected some of the magic that they brewed with Halo
, adding charm to characters and creating atmosphere. Everything is done with the intention of gaining the player's attention before chucking enemies at you and finally you feel as though youíre more engaged with where you are and what youíre doing.
The story mission format has been dropped in favour of asking the player to take on tasks that theyíve never done before. They might be as simple as scanning specific objects or carrying keys to doors, but these objectives slow you down, make you think and the first time you play through them youíll have to consider how to solve the puzzle before moving on.
Strikes continue to mix things up in the same way, but go as far as randomising enemy placement and adding additional content at harder levels. Sure, Iíll still have to play these over and over again but this time the variety will make things a little less cumbersome.
Itís small changes like this that really have taken Destiny
to a better place. Dropping level progression based on armour means that youíll always feel as though your time is well spent, and although the obsession over light levels are still there the game has now found the sweet spot when it comes to loot drops.
Loot in year one was hard to come by. Hours and hours of play time will leave the more experienced players with an inventory full of useless equipment and although this is technically a game without an ending, it still managed to feel like you could go as far as you could.
That might still be the case, but Iím a long way from maxing out my character even though Iíve hit the level cap. Every session Iíve had has left me with a stash of useful bits and bobs that combine to raise my light level, and this is after 20 hours of play since The Taken King
Engrams now scar with your light level so if you find one you have a higher chance of getting something more useful out of it. It's pretty overwhelming if you've been playing Destiny
over the past 12 months. It constantly chucks things at you from completed bounties to quests and loot making your time with the game more rewarding than it's ever been.
Itís now easier to keep track of what youíre doing, with a new quest page showing you every iron youíve got in the fire and explaining what to do next. You can carry more bounties at any one time and cash them in without returning to the tower. All minor changes, but ones that are welcome.
The new area on offer is a space station within the ring of Saturn called The Dreadnaught. I was desperate for a new area to explore but was massively disappointed when I first visited to see that it was nothing like any other the other areas in the game.
There are no open spaces - itís largely tunnels and small rooms and lacks the incredible vistas of Earth and Venus. But the more I spent time there the more I realised that these things were cosmetic and what theyíve done here is given us something to truly explore.