If you’re positively bewildered by the madness you’re seeing here and would like additional context, a link to previous parts in the series can be found at the end of the article.
If you need a quick recap where we left off last time: We got a stealth drive, Nathan Fillion got it put onto Mystic Meg’s ship and I was going to drive it into the ship where The Taken King lies.
If it sounds like this mission would end with taking home a head, you’d sadly be mistaken. While I am a Hunter, I’m no assassin. Instead I am to sneak in, put in a transmat link so other Guardians can land (with the hope the vulnerable beacon never gets disabled) and retreat. This might be a bit of a let down, but I’m sure that’ll be the only disappointment…
…Fortunately it is. There is that brief panic that Captain Reynolds isn’t much good at stealth tech and I’m about to be obliterated, but protagonists tend to have plot armor in cut scenes. I land and predictably, Eris will now Morn her broken ship.
I’m a lone wolf on this job.
To give credit where credit is due, Bungie does attempt to spice things up. There are platforming moments where the game requires you to get your Ghost out to spot them. Although the intention falls flat it is worth some analysis.
The set up is that there are platforms that only appear when you’re near them (mid flight) or if you have your Claptrap 2.0 out. The sad thing is this never becomes a puzzle or conundrum because there is never any reason to not have it out besides impatience (as, like real life, you can’t run with it out). Instead, it becomes mindless busy work that doesn’t add much. Maybe some lore, but not much.
“So, the obvious thing is to have enemies within arenas that require you to traverse this platforms under intense situation?” The answer is both yes and no. This would create a bullet-dodger moment which would end one of two ways: Chuckling as you tank the damage or screaming as a knock-back effect sends you to your doom. To be effective, the damage output would have to be mean and the accuracy harsh, with minimal knock-back. To encourage tense parts that Doom 3 players would know as “flashlight or gun” moments. Yet, these occasions aren’t remembered favorably because how it’d often lead to having your rib cage crushed by the enemies stomping on you.
Another similarity is they’re both sci-fi games about leaping into Hellish landscapes via occult portals to kill the leader beyond it.
Sadly, this is where Destiny falters due to its interesting weapon system. If you had to decide between seeing a platform while having a one-handed sidearm or not seeing it but having a main weapon, it could make for an interesting combat choice. However, the focus on main, special and heavy means you don’t have a category for weaker-but-one-handed weapons. This means if a combat scenario happened mid-platforming, you’d be picking between a weapon or no weapon rather than a weapon or a weaker weapon.
Overall, while the platforming puzzles could have been interesting, I’m not sure Destiny would have been able to deliver due to its weapon mechanics. Instead, it is a filler moment between combat. Filler that I feel was not particularly needed as atmosphere could have filled its place. As we are traversing an alien ship of our nemesis The Taken King, an alien creepiness could have seeped in. Sadly in the end, it wasn’t noteworthy.
Exploring the depths, it turns out that I should probably turn off the defense weaponry so no one else turns into red mist in space. Fortunately, this is the type of ship where upon turning things off it can’t be turned back on. Clumsy design personally, but hey? Who am I to argue with aliens called The Taken, except when they’re called The Hive, who may be part of The Darkness who are trying to kill The Traveler? It’s all pretty alien to me really.
Which is probably only part of the reason why I struggle to take it all seriously.
After turning all the petrol engines to the oil-based exterminatus engines off, it was off to find a good hill to put my transmat flag into. The good news is it was quickly found, as there was a hole The Taken didn’t think to fix up where the sunlight gives the flag a rather noble appearance. Wait, what do you mean there was a hole at the start of the level? Ssshh. Remember, it’s Destiny. Don’t think about it too much.
There is a catch though. There always is. The hole was created by a Cabal ship. Continuing our trend of shoot first, ask later, it’s off to kill them. In fact, it was so important I shoot them that I was required to shoot The Taken to get to the invading Cabal. I’m still not sure why we can’t put aside differences for a bit, but I am just a simple obedient Guardian. So I guess it’s time to blow their tank up, rather than let the Taken do it for us, and bugger off home.
I stumble on home only to find out that Nathan Filliemans is so impressed with me that I’ve ranked up. Oh all the possible legendary armor items it could and I get nothing but shiny coins and currency. Lovely.
Apparently he got in trouble and now I have to listen to a sentient glowing rock about how to storm the place. His idea is to raid the Cabal’s ship even harder for information. “We really can’t just be friends?” is something I keep wanting to ask. Alas, one ship raid later we find out we need to portal jump to get to Oryx. So time to go to the portal to fell a god’s father.
I really hope we get back to this odd philosophy they seem to hold.
So, it turns out the only people who can go through the portal is Ascendant Hive. “Maybe we can spoof this ascension thing?” Sadly, then I realized I’m asking Eris Morn who is the resident mystic psychotic so it’s time to go steal a fragment of Crota’s soul so I can become an Ascendant Hive. Silently screaming is the best summary.
I think I know whose advice I’m taking.
Remember a while ago when I broke Crota’s crystal? It’s time to scavenge for a fragment so I can leap through the portal. Fortunately, there are still chunks left. Downside is they seem to not contain his soul. Even worse, just as the extraction timer begun to tick down, suddenly Oryx appears blocking my way out.
So I have to high-tail it, running-and-gunning all I can. I think it could have been more interesting if the difficulty was a bit higher or if there was a greater sense of urgency, but eh, still mixes the flow up from “go to X, kill all, go home for pink lemonade”.
Anyway, I now need to go raid a funeral to go steal part of Crota’s essence. “Oh, that’s easy. Raid a funeral and go home!”. Except it isn’t that easy. Cayde mentions if I get caught, this time they’ll truly destroy me. Fortunately, he knows where to get tech. Unfortunately, he steals all his best tech from Russian religion leaders like Rasputin. To make matters worse, it seems everyone now raids our Rasputin tech center whenever they’re bored as now Taken are squatting inside the vault.
Stealth tech acquired, Cayde fixes it upon my armor. “This will be reliable, right?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t worry.”
“I mean, you know what happened to Eris’s ship right? If I’m rendered dust, I don’t think I can come back to life.”
“C’mon, a bit of faith. Please.”
So the cloaking gets turned on as I approach the base, and what do you know? It works. I slink about, making sure not to go too near enemies (they can smell you, so Cayde says). I creep in close to the glowing rock so I could, to quote Eris, “let the crystal drink deep from Crota’s death essence”. Just then, the stealth gear fails. As guards begin to swarm me, guns poised to kill me, all I can do is scream: “OH BLOODY HELL’S SAKE CAYDE.” I’m about to let it be my death scream when…
…Huh. I’m outside.
Didn’t think I’d be saying this, but thanks Eris.
With crystal in hand, revolver and sidearm combination and a wolf mask on…I’m ready to kill Crota’s father.
As I approach the teleporter and step through, I’m left to creep through abandoned corridors. Monuments to beings long gone, in dimensions too grand and great for beings like I. Cobwebs and loose stones suggesting time has gone by, unloved and unkempt. Finally a cruel scathing voice screams a mocking laugh: “You… Are the last hope of the Light? I have taken entire worlds. YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO FACE ME.”
Like that, he sends his two hands after me. They collapse to gunfire, disarming Oryx of his closest allies. Begrudgedly, he accepts: “You are worthy to face me” and a portal opens to the final fight.
I wish I could say it was close. That it tested me. That it made me fight smart as I solved the puzzle of how to kill The Taken King. Instead, as predictable, it was a slog of bullets. Bungie may be good at some things like graphics, trying new things, writing but Boss battles? No.
Afterwards a cut scene shows The Taken King leave his sword behind as he disappears. Which Eris appears to claim the crystal within. Muttering to herself:
Basically, A Wrist Mourns was unsurprisingly untrustworthy.
Like that, The Taken King is done, I think. At least the main story is finished. Overall, it is a colossal improvement over the base-game. Characters have personalities, more variation of gameplay and even remembers to explain for the audience what is going on. Dinkle-bot turned out to be Nolan North Bot this entire time (whoops). The game still has yet to manage to make boss fights interesting, but that was somewhat par for the course.
I also appreciated Halloween. I got a lot of laughs out of having a wolf mask on, although alas it is time to move on. After all, it grants no armor. It is a shame the mask can’t be a cosmetic layer on top of the armor, but what can be done? I was also let down that I couldn’t get a mask because public events are nefariously tricky to find. Although my fury is landed upon the loot box which kept some of the masks locked away unless you paid for the privilege (something I avoided via blind luck).
“So, what next?”
Well, there is still more content to go. I don’t know where The Rise of Iron is, but that’s still fertile ground to be harvested. Come back next week where we’ll be hunting for more of our Destiny!
[Part 6: A Wolf Amongst the Taken]