estiny: The Taken King has the unusual distinction of being somewhere in the middle of my personal 2015 top ten games of the year while being unquestionably the game where I spent the most time.
This isn't shocking, of course. I've seen plenty of Destiny players follow an admission of that identity with a sheepish nod, an indication that, yes, they know it's not a great use of their time. I've done the nod myself more than a few times.
The amazing thing about The Taken King is just how little I feel like I have to apologize for it anymore.
When I recommend the game to someone, I no longer have to give them my phone number so they can text me when they need someone to explain Light levels. (Or at least it'll be a much shorter conversation when they do.)
I don't have to say that they just need to push through the missions until they can start doing strikes: The new single-player content is genuinely really good, with characters that have been fleshed out.
The game has also been filled with some quality-of-life tweaks for long-time players that show Bungie is paying close attention to how Guardians are inhabiting their world. I'm an especially big fan of the on-screen quest log that makes keeping up with my daily Destiny chores a lot smoother.
Also, some needlessly complex systems have been streamlined. In the example non-players could most easily grok: The collectibles formerly known as Hadronic Essence, Plasteel Plating and Sapphire Wire have been done away with and replaced with ... Armor Materials. It's a smart change, and there are plenty of them.
Finally, The Taken King adds what is, in my opinion, the best playground in all of Destiny: The Dreadnaught. This alien craft not only looks beautifully decrepit and daunting, it's filled with secrets that give it a density the other worlds have always lacked.
Destiny is unique, designed to hover somewhere between MMO title and traditional game. As such, I think conversations about Destiny — especially where some chunk of it fits into game of the year discussions — are by necessity a little more complicated.
So let me say that I think Taken King would deserve this honor all by its lonesome. There's a lot of new stuff to do here, pretty much all of which is better than most of vanilla Destiny. Oryx is also a genuinely threatening new presence and the journey through his lair is some of the best Destiny has ever been.
But I'm equally excited by what The Taken King represents: Irrefutable proof that Bungie knows how to make this game work.
Also, it has swords.
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