Destiny year two is to Destiny year one what crack is to cocaine. If you think you had an addiction before, you are in serious trouble.
A brand new leveling system, new quest systems spread across almost every NPC in the Tower, entirely revamped storage systems for shaders and emblems and Exotic weapons, and a completely new way for gear and weapons to function were all dropped on the Twitch audience in the space of an hour.
Oh, and it looks like Destiny may have swords, now. Swords.
Bungie has doubled the size of your Vault and is consolidating currencies. Vanguard marks and Crucible marks will be converted to Legendary marks, a change you can expect when The Taken King launches. Legendary marks will become the chief currency for purchasing items.
Anyone new to Destiny will receive a Spark of Light that will automatically boost a character to level 25. This is the minimum level required to handle the difficulty of content in The Taken King.
The current leveling system above level 20 in Destiny is tied entirely to your gear, specifically the amount of Light attached to each piece of armor, instead of how many experience points your character has. This could be infuriating for new players who, even after sinking hundreds of hours into Destiny, might not see their characters level unless they had the right kinds of armor.
This old system is gone. Now experience points will determine your level up through 40, the new cap. Light is still in the game, however, as a measure of how much damage you do and how much damage you can take before dying. Your level shows progress towards the new cap, and your Light shows combat effectiveness.
The Strength, Discipline, and Intelligence stats that dictate recharge rates for special abilities will now translate into clearer representations as to how those stats effect character performance.
The biggest complaint about Destiny thus far has been a lack of content, i.e. quests and story missions in general. Bungie has learned from the quest system implemented in Destiny’s first expansion, The Dark Below, and the way characters and story were used to greater effect in the second expansion, House of Wolves, to make what sound like sweeping changes to how narrative and quest content is delivered in The Taken King.
We already knew the new expansion would expand Nathan Fillion’s role as Cayde-6, a leader of the Guardians who live in the Tower, the central social space in the game. Eris Morn, the character introduced in The Dark Below, will have a larger role, and with veteran voice actor Nolan North replacing Peter Dinklage as Ghost, everyone’s floating companion will also, surely factor into better narrative content.
What we learned today is that even the existing NPCs in the Tower, who may not have expanded speaking parts or factor into new cutscenes, will still have their roles expanded through new quest lines that appear all over the Tower. It almost sounds overwhelming.
Vendors for the Dead Orbit, New Monarchy, and Future War Cult factions will all offer quests. Lord Shaxx, chief representative for the player-versus-player Crucible, will have quests. All three Vanguard leaders will offer quests. And the quests are meant to draw off activities that Destiny player might be doing anyway, in the course of playing the game.
In addition, we also learned that players will be able to carry up to 16 bounties instead of the current limit of 12, and will be able to turn in completed bounties from anywhere right in the UI screen, rather than having to return to a social space and speak with an NPC.
Even the Gunsmith, the most minor of characters, has unique quests to chase and his own reputation system. The Gunsmith will lend you weapons for “field tests,” by which you earn those reputation points.
You will also, once you satisfy the right requirements, be able to purchase Legendary weapons outright from the Gunsmith, that will be delivered weekly on Wednesdays.
Previously you had to choose whether or not you earned reputation points for the Vanguard or Crucible trainers, or for Dead Orbit, New Monarchy, or Future War Cult. Now you will swear allegiance to a faction, and may change your allegiance once per week.
When allied with a faction you will still earn Vanguard and Crucible reputation points as normal, while also earning the same number of points for your chosen faction. The faction grind may have been all but eliminated.
New Ghost skins are not only cosmetic in nature. The new skins offer concrete bonuses to detecting crafting materials while adventuring on planets, or add damage when using certain elemental types of damage, among other benefits.
The vanity items sold by the Speaker or offered by the three factions, i.e. capes for Hunters, marks for Titans, and bonds for Warlocks, are no longer only vanity items. They will all confer beneficial effects upon players, like increased upgrade rates for specific types of weapon classes, or combat bonuses.
Currently the best performance bonuses offered by rare, Exotic items have to be unlocked by earning experience points with the weapon. In other words, you dance for joy when you finally get an Exotic item but have to wait a few days, or maybe a week, to earn enough experience before the Exotic actually does the cool thing that it’s supposed to do.
This is no longer the case. Now the best characteristics of Exotic items, their intrinsic properties, are unlocked as soon as you get the Exotic, and you apply experience points to unlock other benefits.
Instead of having to trade in old versions of Exotic weapons, and buy and re-level newer versions of Exotics—which is how things worked after The Dark Below expansion—Destiny players in The Taken King will have a blueprint for any Exotic they’ve collected, and can simply buy a new version of the weapon whose damage output is converted to work with the new maximum damage levels.
In addition, if someone should accidentally destroy an Exotic, they can just buy another one.
This idea of item collections has also been applied to shaders, emblems, and ships. No longer does anyone have to destroy these items to make room in their inventory. If you collect an emblem, shader, or ship, it shows up in your collection. If you want to use it, just pick it up from the collection terminals in the Tower.
Crucible players who prefer PvP combat to strikes or patrols are getting a huge amount of service with The Taken King. Not only do Crucible players have their own, unique quest lines, they also have unique Ghost shells.
Everything we’ve just shown you represents a massive change to most of the underlying systems that dictate the way Destiny is played, and we’ve been sparing with the details. Year one is really beginning to feel like a beta test, and year two is closer to the game Destiny always should have been.
The factions finally mean something. No more destroying items to make room for other items. There are more quests than you can shake a stick at. The Taken King isn’t just an expansion for Destiny. It’s a forge within which Destiny will be remolded into something much more complex and hopefully much more satisfying.
Illustration via Activision