Coming Back to Destiny After 1 Year of Absence
My Relationship with Destiny 1 Year Ago
When I heard the makers of the original Halo games were creating a game I could play on the Playstation, I was pumped. Sure, I was disappointed when it didn't have splitscreen (and I'm still slightly miffed by that), I played the free demo and was hooked by its presentation of combining everything that made Halo good with various RPG elements (something not unlike Borderlands). I got the game, hit the level cap and grinded up to a Light Level of 28 before stopping cold. I didn't have many friends playing the game on the PS3 (as I was) and it was near impossible to make new ones to play some of the more difficult content on the game. There was nothing I could do. I was simultaneously playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel at the time and it felt more rewarding. As short as Destiny felt to me, I traded it back into Gamestop for a decent deal and moved on. Now, with every reviewer reporting that The Taken King makes Destiny what it originally promised to be, I bought up the Legendary Edition for the PS4 for $60, which includes all of the content to date. My verdict? This is everything it promised to be, and it is good.
The Rewards are More Common
Destiny most infamously had an issue where your higher quality engrams (packaged items) would yield lesser gear. They fixed this. Not only that, but from personal experience I feel that I'm picking up engrams far more often than I used to. While not everything is actual useable (more on that in a second), I can dismantle these items and get more material for my other useable gear.
The Rewards are Better
Obviously the gear you get gets better as you level up. When you hit Level 20 in Destiny Year 1, you would receive highly variating gear for Level 20 players. You could get something dull, something maybe useful, and very rarely something you'd replace current gear with. However, it was random and the chances for improvement were low. You could play for several hours and have nothing to show for it. However, Year 2 has made it when you unlock engrams, the gear is rounded to your current Light Level (which is your average quality of gear). Not everything will be replacing your current gear, but no longer will you find items that would have served you back when you first hit the level cap meaning you'll find better gear much more often. This is probably one of my favorite changes.
Cutscenes and Story
The fact that Destiny never had a real story never really bothered me, but they've listened to the bulk of their fans, creating cinematic cut scenes, improved dialogue (by allowing Nathan Fillion speak 50x more than anyone else in the game), and missions that are more than "go here, shoot this, and open these doors). You actually have stealth missions for one, and older locations are being visited by the new enemy type, the Taken, which brings in new Public Events and different rewards. Better yet, once you beat the final boss, Oryx, at the end of the main questline, you open up a dozen more questlines with fully functioning stories, meaning the game doesn't just end. It's refreshing and really adds to the longevity of the single player aspect.
This has easily become my favorite of the worlds. It's massive and confusing, meaning you can spend a huge amount of time here, and there are three different factions to fight (helping you fill out your bounties), a dozen locked chests with mysterious items to open them, a literal hotspot for unlocking Public Events that anyone can join in, and public events that happen just in the landing zone for Patrol missions. There's almost always something going on, especially in comparison to the last 4 worlds you could explore before now.
This seemed like a no brainer. One of my favorite missions in Destiny Year 1 revolved around grabbing Crota's sword and killing dozens of enemies. It's a huge change of pace from aiming down sights and the flow works just as well, if not better. In The Taken King, you can get two per character (as quests dictate) but they handle a little different from Crota's Blade. They can guard against damage, have different attacking functions and elements, and are highly upgradable. The first took I took mine out was during a Clash Crucible match where my team was losing. Grabbing some Heavy Ammo to fuel the weapon, I took out the sword and used it exclusively for the rest of the match, 1HKOing the other team and coming back and winning. Swords really change up the way combat works and I hope to see more of this in the future.
There will be times your blue gear is better than your Legendary or Exotic gear. Crazy, right? Well that's because of the averaging Light Level rewards system. Still, it may not be worth it throwing your older, but higher tiered materials away when you can choose to Infuse them with better numbered stuff. This permanently buffs your desired gear with 80% of the difference while keeping all of the afforded perks. It allows you to keep the stuff you really like and make it more powerful, which I believe should be a function in more games that focus on loot gains.
I haven't got an issue with the Crucible (which I find more enjoyable than many other optional PvP elements of other games) aside from some missions requiring you to be good at it. Rather, my issue with the multiplayer PvE elements that don't include Matchmaking. This was the reason I stopped playing Destiny in the first place. Every regular Strike in the game automatically mixes you up with similar players for a mission, aside from the weekly Nightfall Strike and the Raid. Not only are these latter options the toughest missions that happen to be the most rewarding.
As a single player with few friends on the same console, I don't get to do this. Destiny doesn't make it easy to make new friends (as your only PvE interaction is through Strikes and many players try to cruise them them as quickly as possible) so my only alternative is online forums, which have yielded little fruit. There's still a considerable amount of material to go through but I'm still hoping to actually get involved in some larger group to do some of the best content of the game. It just baffles me that after a year, Destiny still doesn't have a better option to make socializing easier, when so much of its stuff requires a strong social connection.
I'm at the hard level cap again and I'm about Light level of 290, all without Nightfalls or Raids. My momentum hasn't stopped. I still have problems with how so much of the game is locked behind dedicated pre-set multiplayer teams. Destiny doesn't make it easy to make more friends while playing and online forums aren't reliable either (they're not any different than the Matchmaking sets where you get paired with strangers, only slower).
But still, the flow of the game, mechanics, visuals, the constant need and availability to do missions by yourself and gaining new stuff is far more gripping than the beginning of the Destiny timeline. I might be bothered that there's still no Matchmaking for the higher class stuff (I mean, what is there to lose by adding that function as optional?) but there's a considerable amount of content. I bought the Legendary Edition for $60 for the Playstation 4 which has all the released material in it and it's a heck of a deal compared to those who've been buying Destiny content as it's come out.
Still, if you were a fan of what Destiny had before but dropped off because it was too small to invest in, it's worth the $60 price tag now.