5 significant, fresh features in Destinys The Taken King expansion

Not what you're used to

Destinys elegant construction as game and machine has kept players in a lovely loop of gunplay and character improvement. Its structure has bounds, though, and can eventually start to feel static when hours of Raids and Strikes start blending together. Developer Bungie wants to bring a ghost into Destinys machine now, and earn the 'expansion' label for its next project, The Taken King.

The Taken King will pull up to Destiny on September 15 like a dump truck and unload a rattling avalanche of new guns and armor. There will be no shortage of MORE, but thats to be expected. What we want is 'more different'.

Its all your fault

Your successful mission to kill Crota in The Dark Below has consequences, beyond the rewards that spill out of him. Bungie essentially casts Crotas body into the foundation of The Taken King, connecting the premise not to an uncontrollable galactic event, but to something you accomplished yourself. Crotas god-like father is furious in the aftermath of your deeds, swiping a ghostly hand across the galaxy to wipe you and your regicidal guardian out. Also, his name is Oryx. Has there ever been a nice person with that name?

As Oryx lands his Corrupted Taken armies on the rocky Martian satellite of Phobos (no stranger to demonic invasion in games), your perception of the Cabal changes. Theyre hit hard by the corruptive effects of Oryx; their defeat shaking their standing as a strong faction in Destiny and making Bungies new villain appear even more threatening. The actors are shifting positions, albeit subtly, in Destinys story.

Warlocks go full Palpatine

Destiny: The Taken King introduces three new sub-classes as lost Guardian arts, with a standout going to the Warlock. Bungies knack for on-the-nose naming still thrives with Stormcaller, which lets you summon maelstroms of electric energy and float forward, blue lightning flowing from your fingertips, just like Emperor Palpatine leaning forward on a Segway. Do we really need to go over the appeal of that?

The Titan gains Sunbreaker, which lets you hurl a big ol hammer like a boomerang, while the Hunter obtains a support class in Nightstalker. Summoning a glowing bow from the ether gives the Nightstalker a quick step up in combat, but the utility of the power (binding enemies in place for friends to annihilate) isnt as cool as the flashy looks. Between your transformation into an electric wraith as Stormcaller, and the Nightstalker's ethereal magic bow, I feel like Destiny is subtly tilting its sci-fi/fantasy balance, and maybe even making a case for guns not being as cool as instant storms.

Familiar races, creepy faces

The regular enemies in Destiny are so numerous and so effortlessly destroyed after a certain point, they all start blending together. Knights and Phalanxes cant escape Oryxs influence, returning in The Taken King as his corrupted minions.

This is bad news for you, a Guardian, but good news if youve long stopped thinking of aliens as anything more than snarling sacks of XP. Their appearance is striking and creepy at the outset, forcing you to face a perversion of the old and familiar. Their powers are strange too. One class can divide into two enemies, another drops a bubble shield, and another buffs their sinister friends.

Dunk the Spark

Destinys Crucible matches get a distinct air of intergalactic sports with the Rift game type, which Bungie sees as the long-awaited answer to a capture-the-flag style objective mode. Its simple: get the spark and dunk it through a space-time rift (video games!), or do a backflip dunk to get extra points.

Meanwhile, Mayhem Clash amps up the silliness by boosting the recharge rates of supers. The resulting fireworks, especially with the flashy new sub-classes in the mix, is meant to be thinly veiled chaos. The mechanical basics of Destinys PvP combat are still there, but they feel heightened to an extreme degree in Mayhem - perhaps to the point where more balanced matches seem mundane in comparison.

Thats no space station, its a moon

Oryxs quest for revenge initially brings you to Phobos, where youre sent into a crumbling Cabal vestige to investigate. The interior is pockmarked with explosions and strange slices of three-dimensional distortion, with debris weightlessly suspended in the moment of impact. The 'hmm-what-happened-here' setup is eerie and well executed, eventually leading to your first glimpse of Crotas big bad dad.

Bungie says it wants to drive players into further environmental discovery in The Taken King, later sending them into Oryxs dreadnaught, a giant, evil mausoleum that's millions of years old. If the developer follows through, itll resurface one of Destinys most romantic concepts: the guardian rummaging through mysterious, fantastical places, his or her footsteps bringing otherworldly machinery to life.

Ludwig Kietzmann

Ludwig Kietzmann is a veteran video game journalist and former U.S. Editor-in-Chief for GamesRadar+. Before he held that position, Ludwig worked for sites like Engadget and Joystiq, helping to craft news and feature coverage. Ludwig left journalism behind in 2016 and is now an editorial director at Assembly Media, helping to oversee editorial strategy and media relations for Xbox.