Published on: Aug 5, 2015 @ 18:34
With the Game Informer info slowing to a trickle until August 7th, we have some time now to reflect once again on the idea of getting the most bang for your buck with The Taken King.
A while back, we were cautiously optimistic that TTK would offer an equitable value for the money invested, but certainly not sold on a pre-order. Overseas players were getting the shaft, pre-order bonuses seemed to gate off unreasonable amounts of content, and very little from Bungie was said to allay these fears.
As we encountered improvement after improvement in the Game Informer cover story, we’re beginning to feel that Bungie may finally be getting (most) everything right. Now, even if The Taken King is a perfect product, it still might not be worth $40 to some of you. People place different values on the worth of a video game, and the experience of simply being there isn’t always enough to make people feel they’ve got their money’s worth.
Not All Guardians
Why? Because not everyone plays the same game. Not everyone is comfortable going on third-party apps to maximize their efficiency in teaming up and sorting items. Not everyone will spend hours in the Crucible completing the new daily, and the more challenging “weekly” bounties. Not everyone has the time to enjoy all three new subclasses and experience everything The Taken King can offer.
For those who can’t devote as much time to the game, $40 is always going to be expensive, and it is. You can bet that Bungie knows this, and they seem to be going out of their way to include introductory quests, rewards, and QoL improvements to entice those players back who balked at how bare-bones the Vanilla product was.
“That’s great” you say. “But all of that should have been in there from the beginning! I’m paying $40 for features that I bet were gutted just so they could be marketed as ‘new’ with this expansion!”
Well, there’s no cure for that level of cynicism. It would be shady indeed if this stuff was being held back – but arguments like these get us nowhere. We can’t prove or disprove these theories, so they just serve to divide us. The fact is, we have a much more clear picture of what The Taken King is going to trot out this September, and for our money, we think $40 is starting to seem very fair.
Counting Our Chickens
Back when the pre-orders were announced, we knew we had three new subclasses, a new campaign, raid, and a non-specific amount of the usual goodies included with an expansion: weapons, armor, strikes, bounties, emblems, shaders, Crucible maps, etc. The prevailing sentiment for those who simply wanted the right return on investment was: “Okay, it should be at least double what we were given for the House of Wolves, if it’s going to be double the cost.”
Here’s a taste of what’s coming:
- 8+ campaign missions
- 4 brand new Strikes (3 on Xbox)
- 3 “Taken” Strikes
- 8 Crucible maps
- At least 12 new Exotic weapons
- At least 18 new pieces of Exotic armor (“half a dozen” per class)
- 3 new subclasses – including an individual quest for each
- Biggest Raid yet
- Located on the Dreadnaught; new Patrol area
- 3 new Crucible modes
- Completely revamped bounties
- Quest interface; turn in bounties directly from the UI
- Vendor questlines with more interaction
- Multiple story mission cutscenes
- All Year One PS-exclusives will be available for Xbox
- New Achievements/Trophies
… and more.
Having known only about half of these things, and very few details regarding them, it’s not too big a stretch to assume that the majority of us actually didn’t even anticipate this much content.
But is it enough? Those who persist with the (quite compelling) argument that Destiny has some fundamental flaws that can’t be fixed easily are not going to be suckered in with quantitative arguments. They need to know that there’s something substantial coming to the game – something that isn’t just a re-skinned Pulse Rifle with a fun name. I’m talking, of course, about story.
All The World’s A Stage
It’s no secret that Destiny is, well, light, on story. Luke Smith himself, in the breezy and fun “104 Questions” video via Game Informer, quipped that the “twist” of The Taken King would be the inclusion of a story. Yes, he could just be blowing smoke, but a few early moves give us confidence that The Taken King might be the real deal. The first, of course, is Nolan North. As we discussed in “Expanding and Leaving the Old Behind”, Bungie is covering their bases well. Jarring as it would be to have a new voice for Ghost, they probably could have came up with a semi-plausible reason for a vocal shift. Instead, they’re retconning in the truest sense of the word, with North re-recording all of Ghost’s lines from the initial release.
What’s more, they’re adding in new cutscenes (that you can skip, if you so choose), expository lines, and tie-ins to create a cogent narrative framework to carry new players into The Taken King with a sense of continuity. And hey, the rest of us might be interested in re-playing the story to re-acquaint ourselves with Nolan the Friendly Ghost.
The Taken King promises to take cinematics in Destiny to a whole new level. As Game Informer explained that the newest expansion opens with a cutscene that makes everything we’ve seen in Destiny so far pale in comparison. Now, it’s possible Bungie blew the budget on that scene and we’ll have Luke Smith and Deej doing the rest of the lines in silly voices, but we’re optimistic that this refocusing on atmosphere, plot heft, and even – dare we say – character development, will seep into the rest of the missions that we undertake in order to defeat Oryx.
There’s hints that our characters will take a more active role, and that we’ll finally get to see the stationary fixtures of our social spaces do a little more than just hand down orders through their subordinate vassals. We love you, Petra Venj, but we’d sure like to see what makes your Queen so special.
Talk To Me
Finally, the ongoing dialogue between Bungie and the Community is starting to show signs of bearing fruit. Though this summer was disappointing, 2.0 is on the way and is bringing with it some much-need changes (as well as some questionable ones). Sure, Ice Breaker will take longer to refill with ammo, but after hearing about the Sleeper Simulant, it’s hard to get too hung up on it. If Bungie lives up to their word and implements fixes before the next president is in the White House, then Destiny’s future is bright.
However, the pattern we’ve seen thus far: periods of silence, broken by mana from heaven, followed again by silence – drives some of us mad. With everything we’ve seen coming with The Taken King, we’re inclined to understand how Bungie’s been more than a little busy, but a company can’t just be always working on the Next Big Thing. You have to cater to the players you have now, and these players deserve balance. It’s not unreasonable to expect that the money that pays for an expansion also go toward timely patches that enrich the experience. This needs to change with The Taken King. If you’re continually moving to the ‘MMO’ format, in complexity, variety, and personalization, then you need to be prepared to fine-tune at the drop of a hat.
Into The Great Unknown
Information will continue to pour in as we approach the final countdown for The Taken King. Some of it will be great, and some will be inevitably disappointing – but all of it will be useful. As it stands, we feel that the Taken King can now be said to be worth the price tag. However, “value” is such a relative term. At the end of the day, we can’t honestly tell you if something is going to be worth your money or not – only you can make that call.
Don’t forget: if you want the digital Collector’s items, but don’t want to shell out $80, you can wait until 9/15 and purchase the digital items separately for $20.
If you’re not excited about The Taken King, or don’t think it’s worth it, we’d love to know why in the comments, providing you don’t go around calling everyone “sheeple.”
We hope this article has helped you to assess your own enthusiasm – or lack thereof – for The Taken King, and that you feel more confident in making an informed decision on pre-ordering or purchasing it on the day it’s released.