When developer Bungie announced next expansion, The Taken King, I was skeptical of its story. I was not particularly impressed with the narrative in the base game. But I was able to go hands-on with the first mission in The Taken King, and I came away believing that Bungie is pushing hard to make this expansion’s story special.
When the mission started, I dropped onto Mars’ moon, Phobos, a new location in Destiny. The sky was full with ships and in the distance and the red planet hung in the sky. I started running along a cliff toward a structure. A massive Cabal ship rose up over the cliff, only a few feet from me, but it quickly flew away. As I rounded the corner and came into view of a Cabal war base, sounds of fighting and destruction rose in my ears. I spotted forms of Cabal and my mind prepared for combat. These Cabal, however, were dying. One crawled for a few seconds and then fell prostrate at my feet. Another was just a heap by the building. Something ominous was happening and murdering all of the Cabal. Something had shifted in Destiny’s world; I was not fighting the normal enemies any longer.
This is just the opening of the next chapter in Destiny’s story, and the sinister atmosphere weighed heavily across the entire thing. Later in the level, I encountered the new enemy type, the Taken, for the first time. The black-and-white enemies shudder and shift, as if they’re caught in between worlds. They take on forms that you’ve seen before, but they behave in very different ways. Salvos of rockets join the familiar guns and melee attacks, and some of the foes split into two.
All of this contributes to a level that seems so original compared to the rest of Destiny. From what I saw, The Taken King isn’t shying away from going in a different direction and expanding out the Destiny experience. Using the Hunter’s new Shadowshot super move, I tied together a bunch of the fallen and picked them off with a great new pulse rifle. Phobos looks like no other Destiny environment, with Cabal architecture blending with dark Hive caverns. The story seems more in-your-face and more immediate.
In fact, it feels like some of the epic campaign levels that Bungie is famous for. The Taken King channels those memorable moments in Halo when you see the Flood coming in and battling with a huge Covenant fleet. This mission had that same feeling of surprise and unease when I saw the Cabal brought to their knees by an unseen force.
It seemed so new to the world of Destiny. The scale of this mission far exceeds the majority of the original Destiny campaign. Its reveal is impactful, and I genuinely experienced fear when I saw the Cabal brutally and mysteriously killed. I loved my time in the demo, exploring a world that I had never seen before and discovering secrets of Destiny lore. The Taken King is shaping up to be a great time to start playing Destiny again, and it’s sure to appeal to Halo fans who have been wanting Bungie to return to its roots.
As the level drew to a close, I recognized Bungie’s efforts to improve the story and the world. The demo I played made me very optimistic for the future of Destiny’s narrative.