Destiny’s upcoming changes could make it great again

Destiny was fantastic fun for the opening couple of months, but the seriously repetitive content soon became an issue. Bungie’s hype fizzled out to reveal a selection of empty play areas of uninspired fetch quests. Then came the expansions via a Season Pass that cost as much as buying the original game again, albeit with a tiny amount of tangible new content or environments.

Combine this with a levelling system that seemed exceptionally miserly with rewards that forced players into choosing weapons and armour based on how it would affect their Light level rather than the statistical benefits offered elsewhere, and Destiny became a gruelling grind with no sense of purpose. Bungie tried to reinvent the wheel without conceding to the value of a curve.

Not everyone felt that way of course and the number of people still playing Destiny on a daily basis is seriously impressive given the very valid concerns listed above. Bungie could simply carry on as they are, with their loyal core audience locked-in for more of the same with the occasional hope of being granted the chance to pay a small fortune for an extra slice of the action. Through this lengthy and expensive process, Destiny has been slowly been making its way towards something resembling a complete product. In its current state, I personally feel Destiny is sorely lacking given my experience of the main game and what I’ve read about the expansions as a non-pass holder.

So why am I writing about Destiny, if I’ve clearly not bought into the Season Pass content? Hell, there’s no point pissing you about, I traded in Destiny some time ago after getting to about Lv. 23 and getting too annoyed at the brick wall that was the rewards screen for each mission as Rare/Exotic gear evaded my clutches once again, especially when compared to games like Diablo III or Dragon’s Crown, which seemed to be pleased I was bothering to play them and regularly awarded me bags of loot for my efforts. It’s because I’ve always found myself looking in from the outside ever since walking out, wondering if I’d made a mistake and if I given up too soon. In short, I’ve been looking for a way back in, but without getting royally fleeced at the same time.

It would seem that Bungie and Activision are on a mission to bring back jaded players or invite brand new ones to the fray while addressing these concerns. There are vital in-game changes afoot, and I’ll get to those later, but a new edition of the game hitting the stores is the first important step.

You can now preorder Destiny: The Taken King, a physical release containing the original game, both expansions from the original season pass (originally about £40) which include House of Wolves and The Dark Below and also the brand new The Taken King expansion. All of this can be yours from as little £34.85 (at time of writing) from September 15th.

It’s undeniably a slap in the face to current Destiny players as they’re faced with paying a frankly ridiculous £39.99 for the Taken King DLC on the digital stores. Bear in mind they may have already forked out £80 for the original game and the first Season Pass, and you’re looking at one of the most over-priced games in history. That makes it very hard to defend Bungie and Activision.

There are some fundamental changes coming to Destiny’s world though, and it’s these changes that have players like me considering giving the game another shot via this new edition. The one that immediately resonates with me is the new XP system set to be implemented with The Taken King. Essentially, the Light system is out. You will be able to level up to Lv.40 in the same way you did on your way to Lv.20, by just playing the game and completing missions or killing things. Gone will be the days of finding new equipment with some interesting stats to experiment with and dumping it because it doesn’t help your Light level grow. You won’t be forced to play out extensive Raid missions or tougher challenges and wish for armour that’ll boost your level. You can grind as and where you please. Destiny is becoming more of a game for the player and should be much less life-consuming for those that want to dabble and at least they can see a statistical growth when they drop in from time to time. It’s the way it should have been from the start.

I’m not saying all the problems are fixed, but this is a fantastic step and one frankly I thought would never be fixed as it’s such a core part of the game, so Kudos to Bungie for ripping up their own rule book there. Personally, I’m still sceptical about getting back in until they say they’re working on matchmaking for Raids. I just don’t have a consistent free-time schedule to organise large Raid parties with the people on my friends list. Sure I appreciate, these are tough missions that require co-ordination, but it should be up to the player. There’s no guarantee that people’s friends are going to work well together anyway, just because they know each other. Give players the chance to form new bonds with randomers online, it’s our choice if we want to risk fucking it all up.

Another change you may have heard about earlier this week is famed voice actor Nolan North replacing Peter Dinklage as the player’s Ghost companion. This isn’t just for Ghost’s renewed role in The Taken King, Bungie have had North record over the original dialogue, so older missions will see the Game of Thrones star dumped too. You have to feel bad for Dinklage, the script for him was terrible and the direction for the Ghost character has always been vague as to its purpose, so no wonder it was hard to sound enthusiastic. It’ll be interesting to hear North’s version, but we’ve heard he won’t be using his regular Nathan Drake voice, which makes sense. Come on though, admit it, you’ll miss Dinklage’s delivery during that Moon Wizard bit.

Even now, it’s a tough call on whether to get back into Destiny again. We’ve no solid idea of how big The Taken King expansion will be until the reviews land and for many players, it could just feel like a little bit more of a game we spun dry nearly a year ago. Those changes, especially the XP system feel like a damn fine reason to at least consider it for me. But this is a game where one year after release it would seem Bungie aren’t entirely sure of the way forward after charging the most loyal players £120 for the experience so far. Maybe waiting for Destiny 2 is the safest option.

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