Destiny has had its fair share of ups and downs since it was finally released in September of last year after one serious hype cycle. From weapons being adjusted, story being relatively non-existent, and issues with expansion pricing, it seemed like the folks over at Bungie were always under fire for something. But, over time, they managed to approach and correct a lot of the issues. One particular one that was brought to light after the announcement of the Gjallarhorn nerf was the bullet-sponge boss encounters. After two expansions, it seemed as if it would never be addressed, but now with the presence of The Taken King there is proof that the developers were in fact aware and had a game plan in place.
From the very first Devil Walker guardians encountered in the Beta, it became clear that running out of ammunition would be a very real problem. Most boss fights were reduced to a test of patience as players dumped rounds from their most powerful weapons into whatever angry alien happened to stand before them. In a way, it watered down these moments that were supposed to be large and memorable. Sure, the raid bosses tried to mix things up a bit by teleporting fireteam members at random, or requiring a specific weapon to do damage, but it was still a simple thing. Sure, you got bragging rights of defeating Destiny’s toughest foes, but none of the encounters felt truly legendary. Which was odd seeing as how the game’s tagline was “Become Legend.”
Enter The Taken King and its collection of interesting bosses and all-new mechanics. If you’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks and have delved into the newest strikes, or even the King’s Fall raid, you may have noticed a few tweaks to the gameplay experience. For starters, bosses aren’t bullet sponges anymore. They don’t take thousands of bullets and loads time like they did in vanilla Destiny and previous expansions. Instead, there is a much heavier focus on mechanics this time around.
For instance, take a look at the Shield Brothers boss encounter. Previously, when dealing with the cabal in strikes, players just needed a ton of patience as they pour bullets into the boss’ face. With the Shield Brothers, you must first encounter each brother on his own in order to get a hang of their combat style. The red one (Valus Mau’ual) likes to fly around and slam down on opponents for a close-range onslaught, while the blue one (Valus Tlu’um) prefers a mortar approach. Afterwards, they’re both in the room along with you and your buddies as they mix up their tactics in order to take you down. Adding to the encounter on top of that is the fact that the order in which you kill them matters.
Kill Valus Mau’ual first and his brother will get his wings and slam attack, making him a much bigger threat up close (without the wings, he just flees to another area when put under pressure). On the other hand, if you kill the blue bomber first you will have to deal with what is easily one of Destiny: The Taken King’s most annoying bosses. Valus Mau’ual will gain his brother’s shoulder mounted rockets which leads to him blasting homing rockets at your fireteam every single time he jumps (which happens to be every few seconds).
With just the simple mechanic of fighting two different brothers and removing the ridiculously high health bar found in previous fights, Bungie managed to create an engaging, dynamic experience that is fun and challenging without just relying on constant streams of fire. Something that is clear in every new mission you will come across in Destiny: The Taken King. With just this mechanical evolution, that would’ve been enough of a turnaround, but Bungie went the extra step with Destiny: The Taken King by also making the encounters more rewarding.
Each new Strike boss also has a chance to drop one of several unique legendary items for players such as the Mau’ual’s Maulers, which are pretty awesome looking gauntlets for Titans. So not only are bullet sponges a thing of Destiny’s past that everyone can leave behind with a smile on their face, you will finally get gear with a story behind it. Walk through the tower with the Darkblade Helm, or one of the other new legendary items and watch as everyone stops to inspect your unique gear.
It took a long time, but Destiny is finally coming closer to being what it was announced to be. A story worth paying attention to, rewarding experiences, and finally some bosses that focus more on gameplay rather than just holding the trigger down. The game made some major strides in year two, and the future is looking brighter because of it.
Safe travels, guardians.