For the Destiny franchise, there are many moments that stand out in fans’ minds. Few can forget the first time they defeated Atheon in the Vault of Glass raid, or their first exotic, or the first time they attempted a Nightfall Strike. But one singular event that had a huge impact on the series was the launch of The Taken King expansion.
As Destiny fans celebrated the 5-year anniversary of Taken King’s launch this past week, it’s still undeniable how important the expansion was for the game. Obviously, the story implications were massive and the introduction of Taken has been a long-lasting element, but the DLC itself was crucial in keeping Destiny going.
Taken King Ended the First Content Drought
Taken King arrived at a time when interest in Destiny was waning. It was the first time that players had experienced the content drought of the summer and a lot of the frustrations around the game were starting to build. Bungie and fans knew that whatever was to release in September 2015 would need to both improve the game and push it forward. Luckily, the developers hit all of those elements.
While the story of Vanilla Destiny still has its moments, most agree that it was one of the weaker elements of the whole game. Gunplay is extremely satisfying, but the narrative wrapper that thrusts players forward never felt cohesive. Not to mention, the decision to put a lot of the storytelling in Grimoire Cards was a major misstep.
Destiny Finds Its Footing in Storytelling
Taken King, however, found a way to build on the events of Destiny up to that point, deliver a genuine threat, and send players on a singular journey. Oryx’s arrival was unexpected but Bungie justified everything in a way that made sense. Players had defeated his son in the Crota’s End raid, Oryx possessed an incredible power, and he defeated a large Awoken army with one fell swoop. Since 2015 there have been a lot of “big bads” for Destiny and Destiny 2, but few can compare to Oryx.
New Subclasses as the Norm
In addition to a strong story, The Taken King shook things up by completing the elemental subclass suites for each class. Titans got Sunbreaker, Warlocks got Stormcaller, and Hunters got Nightstalker. Although Stormcaller is probably the odd man out, these three subclasses shifted the power in Destiny significantly. Hunters became just as useful for buffing the fireteam and Titans had an offensive option that wasn’t just a single slam. Unfortunately for Warlocks, Sunsinger was a little too hard to pass up in difficult content.
But the idea of mixing up the subclasses has now become an expectation (or at least a hope) for every big expansion launch. The Taken King set the framework for how players want to see the game evolve, even if it doesn’t always work that way. And the missions to unlock these new subclasses were pretty fun as well.
The King's Fall Raid
It might not have been beaten by everyone, but the King’s Fall raid was the icing on the cake of Taken King. King’s Fall was the largest endgame experience that Bungie had delivered – before Last Wish took that crown – and it showed that raids were more about gear. Skill and puzzle-solving were at the forefront of King’s Fall’s design and some truly memorable boss encounters.
The Destiny community is split on their feelings about King’s Fall but few can deny its influence on the game’s raids moving forward. Ideas on display in The Taken King’s raid are still seen to this day, and many point to the experience of first beating King’s Fall as one of their biggest accomplishments.
Destiny Quality of Life Changes
There were so many smaller changes in the Taken King that went a long way towards improving Destiny, but also influencing its future. Exotic quests became more involved and were more in line with what players experience today. Open world patrol areas packed a ton of secrets in every nook and cranny to see how dedicated the community was. And Court of Oryx set the groundwork for so many activities, from Escalation Protocol to the current season’s Contact public event. Teamwork among strangers is something that Bungie excels out very well.
Taken King’s 5-year anniversary arrives at a time when the Destiny community is looking to see a similar evolution within the game. With the Beyond Light expansion, Destiny 2 players hope that Bungie will surprise them, challenge them, and reinvent the experience in exciting ways.
The new Stasis subclasses are geared towards changing up players’ play styles, but that’s only one piece. A lot of the finer details about Beyond Light are being kept secret, like how Bungie plans to keep the weapon and gear systems fresh and how the story will evolve. The Fallen leader Eramis sounds like a major threat, but there are some who theorize that there is more to the Beyond Light story than Bungie is willing to detail.
The Darkness has arrived in the Destiny solar system and it won’t simply go away at the conclusion of Season of Arrivals. In fact, the Evacuation Quest suggests the Darkness is going to completely change the world of Destiny 2, not unlike Oryx did back in 2015.
If nothing else, Destiny players just want to re-experience the excitement of Taken King again. A lot of that magic was present with Forsaken, but Shadowkeep missed the mark for a lot of people. As Taken King showed, there is more to an expansion than just new content. How all of that content comes together and interacts with the systems of Destiny determines how players feel about the game long-term.
Destiny 2 is available now for PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One.
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