Review

Destiny: The Taken King Review

  • First Released Sep 9, 2014
    released
  • PS4
Mike Mahardy on Google+

A New Monarchy.

The Taken King is more than just an expansion; it's also a heart transplant. And with its wounds sewn shut, the anesthetic wearing off, and the scalpels put away to dry, Destiny has pulled through the operation with renewed vigor and a much stronger pulse. Now, only a few scars remain.

Destiny's first year was a collage of peaks and valleys as Bungie released two expansions to its sci-fi multiplayer title. At its best, Destiny comprised a shooter with pristine controls and clever cooperative play. But at its worst, Destiny disrespected my time. To me, the first year of Destiny felt empty. Its gorgeous worlds held promise, but lacked much of a soul. I frequented those static environments because no matter how boring they might have felt, they contained the slim promise of better loot. I continued long past the point of actually having fun.

Destiny's newest strikes are among its most creative.
Destiny's newest strikes are among its most creative.

But The Taken King changes things. Now, my time is better spent. Bungie revamped the Light, loot, and experience systems to be more accessible, and provide a more rewarding overall experience. Light is no longer tied to specific armor pieces, but just an average of your gear's overall value. Raising it is necessary for difficult missions, but when it comes to your rank, you can reach the level 40 cap through experience alone. And now that loot scales with your level, the promise of better gear is always on the horizon, encouraging constant improvement and rewarding results.

By decoupling Light and character level, Destiny allows you to play however you want, regardless of which missions you want to play, or how often you want to play them. In Destiny's first year, only certain events were worth pursuing for better gear. But now, much of the loot is out there, somewhere in the solar system, waiting for you to stumble upon it. You can fight through cooperative strikes, explore Mars, or turn in bounties for added experience. You can summon a plethora of challenging bosses in the Court of Oryx, a public event area teeming with Guardians in search of gear.

The Dreadnaught itself, an abandoned ship in the rings of Saturn, is full of secrets, hidden items, quest chains and more. It's an area worth exploring, and sets the stage for The Taken King's exceptional narrative.

Nathan Fillion's Cayde-6 delivers a phenomenal performance.
Nathan Fillion's Cayde-6 delivers a phenomenal performance.

The new story missions follow our Guardians in their fight against Oryx, the Hive king whose looming shadow has darkened things since we killed his son in The Dark Below expansion. These story missions are coherent, providing much needed context to the quests our Guardians embark upon. I always knew the mission objective, and always felt the pull of that final battle with The Taken King at the end of the road.

There's also more character here. The vanguard leaders are more than talking mannequins now, with personalities, motivations, and fears of their own. Nolan North delivers a stellar performance as your Ghost, but its Cayde-6, the Hunter leader, who stands out. Voiced by Nathan Fillion, his sarcasm and sardonic wit are just facades. They slowly give way to doubt and remorse when he learns of a friend's death. For the first time, Destiny transcends archetypes, and shows signs of humanity in its storytelling. It's ironic then, that Cayde-6 isn't human.

Fighting through these story missions is more varied than ever before. It's not just endless shooting at cookie cutter enemies. The Taken are ghostlike clones of Destiny's other enemy factions, which Oryx has absorbed into his own army, creating a force with a wide array of abilities and attacks. Fallen captains blind you, Cabal scions split into triplets, and Vex goblins shield their allies, forcing you to aim for one specific grunt at a time. Destiny's combat is more dynamic now, and more versatile than the skirmishes of its first year.

Strike bosses in The Taken King follow suit, and require teamwork and tactics to defeat. Among the best is The Restorative Mind. This Vex boss hidden in the depths of Venus is more than just a bullet sponge, and constant motion is the only way to lower its defenses. You'll need to drain its shield, protect your teammates, and fight through clusters of Vex in a ring-shaped arena. All of this is done on the AI's terms, though, as the boss rotates an impassable force field around the room, dictating the flow of combat and forcing snap decisions.

The Taken King transcends archetypes, and shows signs of humanity in its storytelling.

Bungie added even more variety to combat with the new subclasses, which change how I approach certain situations. Take my Hunter's Nightstalker option, for instance. By firing my bow into a cluster of enemies, I tether them together, marking a prime target for my Titan friend's Hammer of Sol, or the Warlock's chain lightning. It also makes every shot a critical hit, so using it at the right moment, on the right enemies, is part of the decision process. The subclasses don't just open new possibilities for character loadouts, but also encourage experimentation in cooperative matches.

The same rings true in the Crucible, Destiny's PvP arena. The subclasses aren't as balanced here--I reverted back to my Hunter's Golden Gun when the new subclass failed to produce--but they still alter the flow of combat on each new map. And these are among Bungie's best arenas, with varied sightlines and verticalities, offering hectic clash points amid the firefights. Once again, the developer has proven its prowess with multiplayer level design.

And when you've gathered enough powerful gear, equipped your best weapons, and tailored your subclass to cooperative perfection, there's the new raid. It's called King's Fall, and it's the most expansive in Destiny to date. It begins on a sour note, with ill-advised first-person platforming that appears farther in as well. But everything else gathers speed. The checkpoints all require careful teamwork, and the bosses are some of the most creative Bungie has ever designed.

Golgoroth is a prime example. On our tenth try, when muscle memory guided us through the fight's necessary tactics, this hulking ogre had a sliver of health left. We were almost through. And the moment before he died, when all six of us threw caution to the wind and unloaded everything we had, despite the Taken minions surrounding us--this is Destiny at its finest. Careful planning gave way to satisfying victory. And I don't want to spoil too much about the trek's latter stages, but its final boss, both in size and scope, is colossal. He's a fitting end to Destiny's most dynamic raid yet.

The Hunter's Nightstalker subclass creates useful tethers for cooperative situations.
The Hunter's Nightstalker subclass creates useful tethers for cooperative situations.

But despite all of the improvements to Destiny's systems, all of the new content in place with The Taken King, and all of the heart that's gone into its compelling storyline, remnants of Destiny's hollow past still endure.

After 16 hours with the expansion, the grind began. At first, I didn't mind. The Taken King excels by granting you gear through hard work rather than luck. But I played the same strikes five times over, day in and day out. I trudged through the Dreadnaught for hours on end. I completed similar bounties throughout the week, and didn't see many variations throughout 35 hours with The Taken King.

The king himself.
The king himself.

For a game that requires so much grinding, it still doesn't have the breadth of content to support the repetition required. The promise of better loot is the driving force, but the journey there is taxing. Quests are interesting only for a time, until they once again become long lists of cloying chores.

But The Taken King still deserves ample praise. It not only grants us new content, but reinvigorates a game that needed new life. In one of The Taken King's early story missions, you'll come across the remains of Destiny's first strike boss. He's right where you left him, surrounded by his own robotic innards, the life long gone from his dormant shell.

"Remember when Sepiks Prime was our biggest problem?" Ghost asks us. And like the Guardians who killed that boss, Destiny has since moved on. There are still traces of its mediocre first year, but it's now more vital, and more promising, and it has left much of its past behind.

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Now Playing: Destiny: The Taken King - Video Review

Mike Mahardy on Google+
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The Good

  • Excellent story, with outstanding voice acting, characterization, and cutscenes
  • Varied enemies result in more dynamic combat
  • New progression systems create a consistently rewarding experience
  • Quest log contains numerous paths to follow between strikes and story content

The Bad

  • Game becomes repetitive after 15 hours, and not much variety to support the late-game grind
  • Many quests are still taxing, with chore lists and boring objectives to complete

More Platform Reviews

About the Author

Mike's hunter reached level 40 within 15 minutes of starting The Taken King. 35 hours later, he's now at Light level 296.
529 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Kadin_Kai

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I really dislike Destiny. After trying the original I picked up the Taken King to give it another go. I was level 11 when I restarted. Before I could play I needed an 18 gig update, then the server didn't connect. Then when I tried to play missions, some people at level 40 shot everything quickly so missions were complete with me doing nothing. Then I went to the Tower and for some reason I picked up something and I'm now level 25. So for a FPS I barely shot anything, stupid story and I levelled up for doing nothing. Why is this game so popular?

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Jake518

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Did anyone else get the impression that this reviewer was just reading his written review word for word, devoid of enthusiasm rather than actually presenting a video review? I've watched better video reviews on this site.

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LuDviecH

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Hey, whoever reads this should be prepared that he might not like it or disagrees with me since they already got ripped off by bungie or more accurately Activision!

Well Taken King rly brought a few cool new things into the game, a terrific UI I must admit. Awesome new subclasses, a Story finally!!!(for god’s sake) and an awesome Raid. So from this perspective... not bad. still not worth 40bucks but again... NOT BAD!!!

BUT ... this is just for all the people who bought the taken king. So all the Fanboys who buy everything since day one and who already spent about 140 Bucks on the game in just one year. Or the Player who get the lucky wild card and bought the game just now which includes all the bad dlc's from year one for only 60 Bucks which is quite awesome I’d say.

But the players from year one, which are like ME. who didn’t liked the previous dlc stuff that much except for Osiris of course, and where kind of skeptical that the new dlc will be worth it, are a bit in a bad spot right now. You know we've spent about 90 bucks and played quite a few hours, and then the new update came along and we all got rly excited... We experienced this new UI and the promise of new quests and lvls and sweet mother of Jesus what a hype that was. But since we didn't trust activision or bungie that the new dlc will be worth it we waited... not buying on the first day is hard for a real gamer, the new UI and changes should keep us warm for the time being right?

And that’s the point where my Hatred begins!!!!!: I log on, without the taken king installed, and Wuhu I got 2 Quests in the new design... ECXITING RIGHT? well no, it was a Crucible quest, where you have to play certain pvp types or make certain kills, which is OK but once you reached the third Tier of that quest and you get your first EPIC loot (a lvl 5 Pistol) !! the 4th tier tells you, that you need the taken king to proceed. Awesome right? Oh and btw, you can’t rly play a lot of pvp anymore since you can only choose from three random pvp types. And Osiris... I LOVE OSIRIS... or better i used to love Osiris.

Osiris was the whole reason to get house of wolves if you were a pvp player... and it was totally worth it, but with the taken king Osiris got TAKEN away from you, you can only participate if you have the Taken King but why did I even bought house of wolves then? and the same counts for the queen stuff!! all the queen bounties moved to taken king so why did i even pay for the Taken King? WHY i ask you?

So well it took me some time to swallow that, but I thought hey they surely haven’t fucked all of us non DLC players so I visited the tower once again. And look at all the new merchant and glowing IPADS and this awesome big vault (finally) even the weapon smith is doing something now. BUT!! I can’t do anything with them, every NPC except the Ship sales woman and the Emblem sales man could actually sell something to me which doesn't really helps.

Well I even managed to swallow that pill and thought Hey, let’s play some daily’s weekly’s and first off finish the nightfall!! BUT!!! AGAIN!!!! daily weekly nightfall and even the friggin Random Strikes (which are downscaled to lvl 28, lower than the first max lvl) got TAKEN away.

So this was it... I got rly mad... I even deleted destiny… and don’t get me wrong I rly liked Destiny, the weapon system and even the non-story first year was kind of OK, but now I feel like the ripped of my head, puked into my throat and drove over my cat with a tank!!! So I stopped playing. Moved back to The Awesome Witcher and Metal Gear Solid and kept being angry at bungie until...

today ... I reinstalled and logged back on into Destiny, wanted to check if they changed anything for us non dlc players, I hoped for a bit of humanity... but Nope!! I still would like to buy the taken king, and the pricing isn't the problem anymore. In fact, I even think this dlc might be worth the money, but the fact that they don’t rly care about THE PLAYER is my Problem now. They stole the already paid DLC's and I’m not ok with it. I can’t change their success, and they might even delete this Topic I guess. But since all the fanboy are happy with this fact as it is... why bother... or is there anyone out there who agrees with me? I guess not, because everyone who would agree probably stopped playing and caring about destiny, bungie or/and activision I should probably do the same...

But now at least we know why it's called THE TAKEN kaching!!!

@bungie: I want the divorce, you can have the fanboy kids, I don't care!

with kind regards

Ludviech - a day one player from Austria (we got cow's, not kangaroo’s)

who had his hopes up, until the very end

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Harbinger_CR

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@ludviech: This is why I didn't buy this game and im still not buying it. Chances are that they will do this again with the next big DLC they have. They only care about the money. No one should have supported this greedy cash cow. Im sorry this happened to you.

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mohabnoto

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Ain't no body got time for that ..

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hishamramzan

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Edited By hishamramzan

Destiny rating: 6

Destiny The Taken King rating: 8

looks like Destiny is improving

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Sound_Demon

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@hishamramzan: This expansion was quite large as well.

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Ezioprez9709

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Destiny: 6

Destiny The Dark Below: 6

Destiny The Taken King: 8

Seems legit...

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WindexWarrior88

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But this has already been reviewed? Lol wth gamespot?

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p1p3dream

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I have really mixed feelings about this. First off, It seems strange that this gets its own review, as if its a whole new game. But I guess we review expansions, so why not this.

I really think it needs to be said- this is an expansion, its not a new game. I ran into a friend last night when I was out, and as I was leaving he mentioned "Oh hey did you get Destiny 2?" This is a problem I think- It's not Destiny 2, it is just an expansion. He asked me if I liked it, I said yes, he asked me if it was worth the money, and I said not full price, no.

Destiny has so many good things, that it's a real shame that it has this huge dark side to it- which is that it's so inherently designed to fleece your money. Of course, enough has been said about this, I don't need to add to it.

I also don't understand why the reviewers are giving it so much leeway. If you compare Destiny to the amount of content that is in Metal Gear Solid, both at the same price points, Destiny actually costs more with all the expansions- it's just a complete joke. And I wish reviewers would call Bungie out on this. They should be getting slammed in their reviews for these practices, not given a free pass.

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neowarrior793

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@p1p3dream: its about the same as most other reviewers

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dani_i89

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Not-Halo/10. Screw you Bungie.

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guitarist1980

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@dani_i89: I have high hopes for Halo 5, but apples and oranges.

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Johnenewt1

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@guitarist1980: Why? Halo 4 and Master Chief Collection were both half broken games. What makes you think Halo 5 is going to be any better? 343i (343 idiots) are a joke!

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XenomorphAlien

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@Johnenewt1: How was Halo 4 broken?

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Johnenewt1

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@xenomorphalien: Don't even get me started... for the entire first year as your oldest and longest-running Halo custom game host, I had to deal with a game that had NO race gametype, NO Forge World, NO File Browser, a lobby that had to be capped at 12 people otherwise we'd sit in BLACK SCREEN for hours... need I continue? I could write a book!!! I'm SO glad all 500+ of us went back to Halo Reach and are having SO much more fun! Look up AM3R1CAN MUSCLE on youtube. We're live every weekend! :)

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XenomorphAlien

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@Johnenewt1: Strange. Had no problems with Halo 4.

You must have had a defective copy or something

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Gojomez

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I feel like people who play this game and complain about the grind don't understand the loot treadmill of MMOs. You blast through the story and spend months grinding the same content to level your gear so you can dominate bigger bosses and players in pvp. That's how it works. You grind for months.

This game doesn't even have a 15/month sub, stop whining.

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guitarist1980

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@Gojomez: Yeah its a game that I can go back to any time much like Diablo. You might get something new and awesome you might not. The big difference being raid content in Destiny takes 6 people and hours of play and you should all know how to play together. Diablo 3 you don't need 6 players to complete content. But you can play strikes and heroic missions and grind bounties. I don't have a problem with that set up. The raid is for the hard core. Much like playing torment level 6 in D3 with a hardcore character. I know its named something else, I just cant remember what it is. D3 is more accessible than Destiny in my opinion and gives you more for your time. I just purchased TTK and its good. Havent gotten into the grind yet though. But both games I go back to, I cant say that about most games.

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Speranza318

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@guitarist1980: It's an interesting comparison, Diablo and Destiny. They are both similar in their RNG at first glance. What Diablo 3 has done so much better is refined it's loot system to allow the player to feel more in control. You have different builds that suit play styles that you like, and you can gear up to match that play style.

Don't get me wrong, it took 3 years to make Diablo 3 polished, but Blizzard has done it in a way that makes the game fun and not feel like a grind (although in reality, it is repetitive and very much a grind). They've also added interesting systems to re-roll a single attribute on an item, to completely revamp an item, and add properties from one item into another, sacrificing the original item. What has Destiny done in comparison? Nothing - you're at the liberty of the RNG and it ends there. There's no fun if the player does not feel in control of the game.

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Zenwork21

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@Gojomez: you are 100% right that's why I did stop playing this stunning visually beautiful game. This mechanic is not for me. Regards

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feleas

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"Get your rock off my map." Best quote for that whole game. SHOWS HOW WELL THEY DO WRITING! lol

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Tiger_Ali

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@feleasin your meager opinion.:

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feleas

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Edited By feleas

@Tiger_Ali: Wow, someone's a cwanky kid. Is everything alright Hun? You want a cookie? Some warm milk?

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liotinedario

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@vaporbro: "but I'm done pouring hours into this pile of garbage" they already got your $$$ for the taken King, right?

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rmiller365

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Edited By rmiller365

@vaporbro: nah, you just called the game garbage while admitting to playing the game all night to level your characters and admitted to pouring hours into the game. You can have your own opinion, but typically its best your statements support your opinion rather than go against it.

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Zerohournow

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Edited By Zerohournow

@rmiller365: you win the turd on the net award for today. Keep playing Im sure you will win again soon. No one cares about whiny fanboys getting all pissy because someone made a reasonably crafted criticism of the game.

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Tiger_Ali

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@zerohournow: just like no one cares about your obviously biased hatred opinions destiny still sells so get over it.

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Zerohournow

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Edited By Zerohournow

@Tiger_Ali: yes, critiquing a game means "obvious biased hatred" (you know, as opposed to all that non biased hatred out there...retarded much?). I told you would win again soon! Keep it up douche!

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rmiller365

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@vaporbro: wow I obviously struck a nerve lol. Sorry to get you so upset. I'm sorry I don't have to play a game for days and hours on end to decide if it's complete garbage or not. I can usually use that logic you where preaching about to form my own opinion rather quickly. Especially if the game is complete garbage. You just resulted to insulting someone when they stated a flaw with your logic, so good luck with that. People in the road of life really love bigotry!

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rmiller365

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Edited By rmiller365

@vaporbro: no butt hurt here buddy. I'm not the one raging and throwing insults like a child Left and Right. I stated that if a game is complete garbage, that you really do not have to play it for hours and days and max out characters to know that. A garbage game would have nothing in it to make it worth playing. But obviously you had to get SOME enjoyment out of it if you played it so long. I stated that and you insulted and attacked. I stated before that your entitled to your opinion before so yeah, I'm not being a bigot. You just didn't like what I said, went on the attack, and kind of reduced yourself to school yard name calling. It's okay, just take deep breaths and agree to disagree like an adult. Only then can the healing begin buddy.

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rmiller365

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Edited By rmiller365

@vaporbro: and once again you are ignoring what I say to insult. I told you to take some deep breaths because like I said, if a game is complete garbage, you would not play it for hours on end. I stated a contradiction to your statement, I didn't attack you. I don't see how I'm a bigot if in my first post I say your entitled to your opinion. It's not my problem if you have to post multiple comments calling another stranger childish insults like "d-bag" and attacking them just because they disagree with your contradiction in your statement. That is where the INTOLERANCE comes in. What makes a bigot is when someone lashes out and calls people dumb and d-bags when someone disagrees with a statement. which is exactly what you did sir. And for the record, I didn't think the DLC was that ground breaking either, but you wouldn't know that because you where too busy throwing insults.

You attacked someone before you even knew what they thought was because they disagreed with what you said. I dont think you inderstand what a bigot is.. To disagree with what someone says does not make you a bigot. Attacking others who disagree with you is what makes you a bigot.

Now, you want to hug it out yet little buddy?

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the_mailman

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I disagree with the reviewer that things lose variety after 15 hours. I mean, there are A LOT of side quests to do, and playing with friends adds a ton of variety to the game and all the madness that can happen with that variable. Always remember to add in the human factor. This isn't a Single Player game.

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star-affinity

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@the_mailman: Agreed! And there's a lot of new Crucible maps and new game modes which wasn't really mentioned at all in the review. The game feels much more varied now.

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LeDoge

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@star-affinity: definitely agree, but they still have chore-like things (IM LOOKING AT YOU EXOTIC SWORD QUEST, and the legendary, but its not as bad)

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VW_MKIII

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@the_mailman: My previously saved characters will be okay?

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NovaPrime1985

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@VW_MKIII: i remember reading somewhere that Bungie said that you'll be carrying them on over to next title releases over the next decade, if memory serves. surely someone else here can confirm or deny this claim, im too lazy to google it right now.

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EXxile

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@VW_MKIII: Yes

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JustinGoSka

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What I've played of the new expansion so far has been awesome. I really only bought it because my wife loves playing Destiny and its hard to find games she'll actually play, but I'm glad I did.

I haven't finished the game yet, so I'm sure how much content it actually has, but so far its pretty good. :)

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Tiger_Ali

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@JustinGoSka: sounds like youve got a keeper, lucky fellow!

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Destiny

First Released Sep 9, 2014
released
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One

Destiny is the newest franchise from Bungie and its ambitious successor to Halo. It is a first-person shooter with elements of open-world sandbox and persistent world where humans are up against an alien threat seeking to rid them of existence.

6
Fair

Average Rating

1804 Rating(s)

6.8
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
Animated Blood, Violence