It's been a month since the launch of Destiny: The Taken King, and I thought I'd follow up my review with some perspective on the game's longer-term action.
Once I finished my rather exhaustive review, I continued to play through the game almost nightly, and after a month have gotten my character to level 40 – of course, that's fairly easy – and to a light level of 293. That's not particularly impressive, but I think it's fairly good going for a character who exclusively plays solo, except for strikes and crucible games that enable matchmaking.
Indeed, this is my perspective on the game – as a solo player. I have yet to do any raiding at all in Destiny, and while the prospect does appeal to me, I don't see myself trying to raid in the foreseeable future. I just don't have the means to do so.
Not that it bothers me too much. I've found that there's a ton of other things to do in Destiny that keep me busy, least of all doing Daily quests for Legendary Marks, and continuing to delve into the game's deeper post-story questlines. One particular quest, Paradox, in the Vault of Glass proved to be exceptionally difficult for me, and that took several days of attempts to finally clear. Destiny: The Taken King is by no means a pushover, that's for sure.
What I do find a little frustrating is the challenge of some of the post-storyline quests. Not necessarily in terms of the difficulty setting, but simply the logistics of making certain things happen as a solo player. In The Taken War: Earth, for example, you have to hunt down Taken Champions in and around the Cosmodrome on Earth. Summoning these creatures requires a fair bit of palaver – first of all killing spawns of mobs, and then destroying the tougher units that subsequently appear – within a time limit. Doing so successfully spawns the Champion, and you again have a limited amount of time to take it down. It's essentially a public quest, and if you happen to get lucky, and there are plenty of other players in the area, you can usually take care of this boss-type character fairly easily – but if not, you're basically SOL.
So far, I've managed to take down one of the three Champions I need to complete this quest, and almost took down a second a couple of nights ago with the help of two other people who happened to be in the same area as me when I got it to spawn – but we didn't manage to beat this tough character within the time limit, and it disappeared. Frustrating to say the least. I'm not sure why these three mobs are on a time limit – I'm sure Bungie has its own design reasons for doing this – but it does make them hard to beat when your local server population is light.
I had a similar experience for a few days with the Court of Oryx – a public event that takes place on Oryx' Dreadnaught that can't really be tackled solo. At least, certainly not by me. I had to wait until a group of players started it up before being able to jump into the fray. It was a huge amount of fun once the event got going – basically you get to spawn big, boss-type characters and then fight them. With the group of three that I joined in with, it was hectic, but fairly straightforward to take out the increasingly challenging mobs. I was glad to finally get the quest done, as it'd been sitting in my inventory for a few weeks; I'd been grinding Patrols in the area for days hoping to get an opportunity to finally tackle that quest.
Speaking of grinding, there's definitely still plenty of that in Destiny: The Taken King – especially if you're playing solo. To increase my light level, I spent a fair bit of time grinding regular strike missions, which are fun – but the rotation can get a little old when you get the same strike several times in the same session. For the most part, I find that they're fairly easy to complete, and despite the occasional restart when my fireteam's ambitions don't necessarily match their skill level, I've been very successful with normal strike missions – especially when it comes to loot. I've managed to earn an almost complete set of legendary gear from doing normal strikes, and have infused my gear with quality blue drops to continue to beef it up.
Indeed, normal strikes are generally a lot easier and more fruitful than the heroic ones in terms of loot-over-time. While you don't get exotic drops from normal strikes – at least I haven't gotten anything so far – I've found the additional difficulty level causes players to drop out of heroics far, far more often than they drop out of normal. And once you lose a player on a heroic strike, it's pretty much done at that point, and you have to start over. Maybe I've just been unlucky here, but heroics definitely seem to be pretty damn tough, and I've only been able to complete a few of them. Normal strikes just seem to be a lot lower-stress and therefore much more enjoyable.
Where I've had the most fun is in the crucible. I'm a keen PvP player, and Destiny is fairly well balanced – especially since certain shotguns were recently adjusted. I like the new Rift mode a lot – that's where you take a spark that spawns in a central location to the enemy's rift to score points. It can be quite a frantic game, but with a decent team it can be one of the most enjoyable of the crucible modes.
I'm not usually a fan of smaller skirmishes, but have been warming up to 3 vs 3 games of late. As long as the team sticks together, and doesn't rush headlong into battle, you can have really fun, tactical games of cat-and-mouse with the opposing group. Most enjoyable!
The latest update introduced the Iron Banner event, which I'm just starting to work my way through. Basically, it's a PvP event where you level up your rep in a specific battleground, and have some pretty challenging bounties to help boost you along the way. It's nothing special, if truth be told – just a 6 vs 6 control variant with some nice weapons to earn, but it helps add a little variety to the crucible proceedings.
While I do have a few frustrations about having to solo much of Destiny, I'm still having a lot of fun with the game, and definitely stand by what I said about it in my review. It's a really solid game this year, and one that delivers a broad volume of FPS content to blast your way through: Even more so, if you have a few friends that you can team up with.
I'm looking forward to seeing how the game continues to develop this year, and will be checking in regularly with updates.