Destiny: The Taken King

Since becoming a little obsessed with Destiny in the past week or so, I’ve finally leveled up my character to 25 and unlocked the expansion The Taken King. It’s too late for me to create a game log of my experience so far, as it covers the entire main quest line, a couple Strikes (so much fun!!), and the House of Wolves expansion. That’s a lot of content, and probably 20 hours of gameplay. I don’t know that I can go back that far and write about it all!

So I’ll be focusing this diary on my time with The Taken King. I’ll also talk about any other non-questy things I do in between story missions (such as Strikes or Daily Challenges). Seems like a good way to present a cohesive storyline for my character, and share a little about my time with Destiny. :)

My Character

Class: Warlock
Gender: Female
Race: Awoken

Level 20.pngSince I played the Hunter class in the beta (and made a pretty kickass Exo character, by the way — they’re the machine race in the Destiny world), I decided to go with my other favorite choice here, Warlock. I love playing mages in video games, because they usually have the most diverse range of abilities and can support all kinds of approaches to the battlefield. So far, I’ve found that to be very true of the Warlock class in Destiny.

When you start out as a Warlock, you have a subclass called “Voidwalker” that has several abilities in it. As you earn XP and level up, you unlock these abilities. The first ones are really basic, like jumping and throwing a grenade. Some are upgradeable as you go; others give you unlockable alternatives, so you can have an explosion that creates a big impact or one that tracks targets for higher accuracy, depending on your style.

The Voidwalker subclass also features a special ability — like a super — which takes a long time to recharge but is absolutely devastating: that is the Nova Bomb. Once it’s supercharged, I like to use it on bosses.

I also find the Voidwalker “Energy Drain” ability really useful on bosses like Wizards. It does require me to get in close, because it’s assigned to my melee hand. For that reason, my strategy in most battles goes like this:

  1. I send out a grenade to soften up groups of enemies.
  2. While my grenade is recharging, I use a hand cannon or rifle to spit bullets at enemies until they go down. (Please note that I have pretty bad aim. My partner is working on his accuracy, so about half of his kills are headshots. He literally leaves smoking shoulders without heads. Meanwhile, I just pick away at targets until he gets to them and hope I get some kills of my own in there.)
  3. I send out another grenade when I can.
  4. I run into the fray (sometimes enemies spawn right on top of me, which is never good) and shoot at closer-range with my Fusion Rifle.
  5. I use my “Energy Drain” and melee hit abilities against anybody who gets in too close.
  6. I use my “Energy Drain” on bosses when I can, and then hit them with melee attacks to destroy their shields and start chipping away at their health pretty fast.
  7. I use my “Nova Bomb” super when I can, usually on a tough character like a Knight, Wizard, or boss.
  8. I may die, then get revived by my partner or respawn in 5 or 30 seconds (5 if it’s an open area, 30 if it’s a no respawn, private area).
  9. Repeat.

At level 15, I unlocked a second subclass called “Sunsinger.” This class apparently has a self-revive ability… so even though it doesn’t seem quite as cool or damage-dealing to me as Voidwalker, I’d like to give it a try. However, you can only activate one subclass at a time (though you can switch between them mid-battle, or whenever you want), and only the active subclass gets XP awarded to it for unlocks.

This means that if I put on my Sunsinger subclass, I don’t have any abilities yet. I can barely even jump, I can’t throw out a grenade… It’s a mess. I’m like totally powerless out there, except for whatever weapon I have equipped. It would be fine if I was just starting out, but being a higher level now means that enemies are also pretty strong (in story quests, etc.), so I kind of need some tricks up my mage-robe sleeves.

Fortunately, I have read up on how to level up a subclass fast. :) It seems you can do a few things, which I will be trying now:

  • Switch your class right before the end of a mission, so the XP you’re awarded for the quest goes to the new subclass.
  • When you turn in bounties, switch to your subclass right beforehand. (Bounties are challenges you pick up from a bounty guy in town — like “Kill 50 Fallen.” When you’re done, you go back to the bounty guy and turn in your achievement; he gives you XP in return. He’ll award it to your currently-equipped subclass, even if you were using a different one out on the battlefield.)
  • Do low-level missions with your sub-class so you’re not so overwhelmed by stronger enemies.

The last one is pretty grindy, so hopefully I won’t need to do that too much… though I’m guessing once I’ve unlocked the basic Sunsinger abilities, I’ll feel more comfortable using it while I earn upgrades and alternatives to those base skills. It’s just the initial no-abilities-at-all thing that kind of sucks. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes…

The Coming War

The Taken King begins with my Warlock investigating a distress signal on Phobos.

The opening cinematic scene is pretty amazing, showing the Awoken queen attacking an enemy dreadnaught. That dreadnaught belongs to Oxyx, who is the father of Crota (the bad guy you defeat in an earlier quest). In response to the attack, Oryx decimates the Awoken fleet.

PhobosI head to Phobos, one of Saturn’s moons, to see why the Cabal there are sending out this distress call. Upon arrival, it becomes clear that something’s up. For one thing, there are dead Cabal everywhere. For another, there’s weird anti-matter type of stuff that sparkles and causes objects to float. The mission is pretty straightforward — just explore the base, scanning things with my Ghost here and there.

boss fightAs I make my way through the base, I discover the place is being torn apart by Oryx’s Taken — an army he’s creating to start this new war. There’s a fight sequence here that looks a lot more intimidating at first than it ends up being. But since this place is clearly overrun and the Cabal here are lost, I’m ordered to get out of there while I can, so I sprint my way to the ship and fly back to the Tower to figure things out.

destiny-ttk-zavala-cayde-cutscene_1920.0.jpgThe Vanguards discuss what to do next with Eris Morn. If you don’t play Destiny, the Vanguards are the tutors for the three character classes in the game — you have Ikora leading the Warlocks (like me), the Exo Cayde leading the Hunters, and Commander Zavala teaching the Titans. This is the first time in the game I’ve seen them talk together as some sort of council, but it’s pretty cool. It’s like they’re meeting at the war table. They bring in Eris Morn, a vendor at the Tower, because she’s an expert on the Hive (she digs artifacts and stuff like that) and can help with understanding Oryx.

At some point in their conversation, Cayde walks out. When I talk to him, he says he has a stealth drive we can use, if I can go grab it for him.


Cayde’s Stash

I head to Earth’s Cosmodrome to find Cayde’s stealth drive. It’ll help us get onboard Oryx’s dreadnaught without, you know, being seen. But the Cosmodrome is already being overrun by the Taken.

Mission mapThe stealth drive is supposed to be inside a launch ship here. I fight Taken along the way, which is pretty standard stuff. However, once inside the ship, there’s platforming.

Let me take a minute to express how much I hate the platforming in Destiny. It’s not that it’s poorly done — I think it’s probably your standard, kinda yawn-inducing platforming to most people — but I don’t like platforming.

If I know a game is all about it, I deal with it. I remember struggling with a few sections in DmC Devil May Cry, which features a lot of jumping from ledge to ledge, sometimes while grappling. And it was hard, but I did it because it’s such a huge feature in that game. Meanwhile, a game like Rise of the Tomb Raider does it in a pretty natural way, and while I still have my moments of trouble, I get through it pretty well because the game sets you up to succeed at it (most of the time).

But I’m playing Destiny for the shooting and exploration. I’m not playing it to fall off ledges that appear and disappear on me. There’s a platforming sequence in another questline (House of Wolves) right before you capture Skolas, and I fell so many times as my Warlock that I had my partner help me. It turns out my Warlock needed to activate a different type of jump/glide mechanic (you have a couple you can swap between in your unlockable abilities, as a Warlock). Even after figuring it out, I was frustrated at the difficulty I had with the platforming, and I felt like it was wasting my time. I wanted to be shooting bad guys, not jumping. And because I was in an area where respawning was prohibited, instead of waiting the standard 5 seconds to respawn, I had to wait 30 seconds every time I fell. That’s a long time to be sitting there.

PlatformingAnyway, the Cosmodrome launch ship also has platforming. Fortunately, it’s a hell of a lot easier than what I experienced in that House of Wolves mission. It still made me nervous, but I was super careful and got through it all without falling this time. It helped that it focused more on navigating narrow ledges (slowly, slowly) rather than moving or disappearing platforms and mega-jumps that terrify me. (My fear makes me really bad at getting a running start, for instance…)

Along the way, I run into a playing card. I dunno, I guess I thought I could pick it up or that it would mean something, but I couldn’t figure out what. It made me wish Destiny had funny collectibles like that, though.

Playing card.pngOnce arriving at the top of the ship, where the stealth drive is stashed, there’s a boss battle with the Echo of Oryx and Taken that he summons. Like most mid-level boss battles in Destiny, it requires a lot of jumping around to avoid getting shot down, but I don’t have to hide much. (When battles are really tough, I hide a lot to regen my health.)

At the end, I grab the stealth drive and we’re ready to go. Back at the Tower, Cayde visits shipwright Amanda Holliday to wrangle a ship from her that we can use to infiltrate the Dreadnaught. It’s a funny exchange. Cayde is an Exo Hunter — basically, a badass-looking robot in a hooded cloak — he’s sarcastic, and he’s voiced by Nathan Fillion. Put all of this together and you get probably the most charming character in Destiny so far. Even just walking by him in the Tower on my way to talk to Ikora or Zavala, I like listening to his little catchphrases and comments.

The Dreadnaught

Getting onto Oryx’s scary Dreadnaught should be easy now that we have an awesome ship and a stealth drive. I’m going in to do some initial recon. But at some point during the approach, the stealth tech stops working and it seems we are visible — so that kinda ruins the element of surprise we had going for us.

Dreadnaught spaceThe Dreadnaught and the space around it looks amazing. Seriously, I know it’s just a bunch of debris and a dark, ugly spaceship, but this is the kind of scenery that makes me play science fiction games.
Inside the Dreadnaught, there are stark corridors, weird alien bugs, and, eventually, a whole lot of enemies to defeat. I need to take down the Dreadnaught’s weapon system. This requires going to three different points where I can destroy channels that are powering the weapons. It’s tricky, because there are Hive everywhere. I have to send out my Ghost to take down each channel’s shields, and then fire away at it to destroy it before the shields go back up. If there are still enemies around, they force me to restart the process while I deal with them.

The hardest part of the fight is in the last area,the Hull Breach. There are Cabal here ready to fight, including a tank that can kill you in just one or two hits. In Destiny, taking down tanks usually requires focusing on the legs first. (That’s right, tanks have legs instead of just wheels.)

Despite dying quite a bit in this part of the mission, I do get to use my new Sidearm weapon, which is pretty cool. It delivers hits similar to what a standard pistol would do, but it seems far more damaging. I really like the way it carries and fires. Even the sparky sound it makes sounds refreshing amidst all the heavier noise of war you get in Destiny battles.

I also unlocked an interesting new Warlock Voidwalker ability called “Life Steal,” which is supposed to restore some of your health when you kill an enemy with the “Energy Drain” attack. This is one of my favorite attacks to use, and it usually kills enemies outright because a.) it’s really powerful as it is, and b.) I tend to use it on ambushing enemies, who are usually the husk-like melee variety of Hive, who are usually pretty weak to begin with.

Voidwalker Life Steal.pngI’ve also been focusing quite a bit on completing bounties. I think I wrapped up three of them so far during my time with The Taken King — getting five killing sprees, killing enemies with a grenade, and killing enemies with “Energy Drain,” I believe. Although I was going to turn in this bounties to get points for my Sunsinger subclass, I’ve been focusing on maxing out my Voidwalker subclass first. It just seems more useful to me overall. It’s extremely powerful and focused more on attacking, whereas the Sunsinger class feels more like support.

The way I’ve been playing with my partner, I’m more of the risk-taker running into battle to throw grenades and use my melee attacks and close-range weapons, while he starts out with headshots from afar before joining in the fray. Voidwalker is good for my current play style. At least, that seems to be what’s working for us, though maybe my partner wants to switch places anyway. In that case, maybe Sunsinger is a good option for me.

As for the Dreadnaught, one the zone is secured, it’s time to head back to the Tower.

Enemy of My Enemy

Go to the CabalThe Cabal probably have information on Oryx. They may not be the friendliest bunch, but considering the time they have spent on the dreadnaught, they’re our best hope of finding out where Oryx is and how to defeat him.

Exploring the dreadnaught again is pretty creepy. It’s a colorless place with abandoned statues in the dust and a whole lot of enemies. Fighting through Cabal, I eventually scan a terminal to glean information I need: the Cabal have their own plans to take down Oryx where he resides in the dreadnaught’s heart. He’s being guarded by something called the Rupture.

When I head there, though, there are Cabal and Taken everywhere. While they fight each other initially, they seem more than happy to team up in attacking my partner and me as soon as we show up.

Fight the Cabal.pngBut I do see the Rupture off in the distance, across the huge room where we’re battling. I can’t make it to the Rupture itself, but I can scan three statues with my Ghost to learn more information. However, a bunch of enemies come through the Rupture — first some Thrall, then a Taken army led by the Echo of Oryx. Although this area where the battle takes place is really big with a lot of cover, there are wide open spaces in between cover spots, and enemies seem to be everywhere. For this reason — and because I was getting sleepy at the end of the night, I think — I found this boss battle to be really tough. Pretty sure I died at least once from being ambushed. At least ammo was dropping all over the place…

Side Questing: A Tale of Two Guardians

First off, look at my awesome new ship! I bought it. Kind of a splurge, and probably unnecessary since your ship doesn’t actually do anything as far as I know (other than appearing when you’re in orbit picking a new destination), but whatever. I’ve been saving up currency like you wouldn’t believe in this game, so I figured I might as well spend it on something that looked cool to me. I liked the red. :)

new shipAnyway, the other day my partner found out about some perks you can get if you play Destiny with someone else a lot. Basically, it’s a short(ish) series of quests you complete with a partner so you can gain some special rewards. I believe the quest rewards include a fancy new Sparrow (that’s the vehicle you use to get around when you’re groundside on a planet), a new Shader (to change your armor color), a new Banner, a new Legendary weapon, XP bonuses for leveling with your friend, and maybe a high-five emote or something like that. I’ll let you know how accurate all that is after I finish this!

The quests here involve partnering up and doing the following:

  • Finish a Story quest.
  • Finish a Public Event with a gold tier score.
  • Finish six patrols.
  • Win at a Crucible match.
  • Level up to 40.

The first part was easy, since my partner and I were already playing the whole game together. But the other ones we needed to work for, so we decided to take a short break from The Taken King quests and wrap up our Guardian partnership adventures. (Why not get those bonuses sooner rather than later?)

First up, we headed to the moon to seek out a Public Event. These happen all the time around the Destiny map. There are even websites devoted to telling you the exact time the next event is happening, as I soon discovered. If you haven’t done a Public Event yet, definitely check out a site like that, because it is pretty useless just riding your Sparrow all over planets trying to find one at random.

I chose the moon because it’s my favorite location in Destiny so far. Although there are a lot of pretty environments, there’s something about the stark white beauty of the moon that’s really arresting, and it’s completely different than the more familiar settings of deserts, swamps, and post-apocalyptic ruins you see elsewhere in the game. I’m always saying, “Oh, this reminds me of Alien,” or, “This is a little like Skyrim,” as I play Destiny… until I get to the moon. Everybody knows what the moon looks like, but this game brings it to life.

moon.pngAnyway, a Public Event is a timed mission that triggers when you’re in the right area at the right time. Anyone around can join in. It might be defeating a boss or a wave of enemies. You have five minutes to do so, and if you succeed, you’ll get awarded a Bronze, Silver, or Gold tier based on your performance. That’s how I understand it.

Tale of Two Guardians 1
A mission on the moon…

It took us a few minutes to figure it out. We did a low-level mission while we waited for


the right time, and then we were riding our Sparrows all over the moon like crazy people worried we would miss out. But eventually, I looked at my Ghost and noticed it blinking… and then I saw the Public Event being triggered! It involved defeating a simple Servitor, which only took about 60 seconds for us.

Next up was the patrol. My favorite setting is the moon, but my partner suggested Venus which is also beautiful, so we headed there. Patrols are available on every planet (or place), as far as I know. Once you land, you search for beacons to pick up the patrol mission, which is usually as simple as defeating a certain number of enemies, scanning a location, or picking up some special item off enemies after you kill them. Each one takes maybe 10 minutes tops, and usually much less. My partner and I scratched off six patrols pretty quickly.

Venus AcademyI thought we were done, actually… until I saw that we also needed to complete a Crucible match. Not only that, we had to win one. I know the Crucible in Destiny is the player-vs-player section of the game, which I totally avoid. I just don’t like PvP. I’m not competitive, and I guess because I have never though of myself as being good at shooters, I never wanted to pit myself against experienced players in such a cutthroat environment. Combine that with a lack of story, and the experience has no appeal to me whatsoever.

But we had to do it, and at least I wasn’t alone this time — my partner had my back. We chose a six-on-six mission, which ended up being Control. It was basically Capture the Flag, with the objective being to capture all three flags to win or to gain the highest score (based on kills) within the time limit.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 5.04.44 PMIt was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Although I had my fair share of deaths, I held my own okay and was surprised at how easy it was to take down members of the opposing team, even when they had shields. Getting up close (when I could) and using my melee attack seemed like the way to go, and the whole time I used my Sidearm which was totally the right choice. I love that weapon.

In the end, although I was at the bottom of my team, we won and my score was pretty much the same as most of the team’s (other than the leaders), with 10 kills, 6 deaths, and 5 captures.

Now, all we need to do to complete this quest line is level up to 40, which should be easy as we complete The Taken King!

Lost to Light

Only Ascendant Hive can enter the Rupture, where Oryx resides. That means that in order to take him out, we need to become Ascendant. Eris Morn, the vendor who is also an artifact and Hive expert, thinks she can do it if I collect a crystal shard that once housed the soul of Oryx’s son, Crota. Something like that.

One of the funny things is hearing Cayde explain the missions. His sarcasm is a perfect match for the descriptions, because in all honesty, the storyline is pretty crazy. It happens. A lot of sci-fi games get a little out of hand with their quests — in order to reach the final boss, you can’t just board a ship and defeat him, you have to go through all kinds of weird, convoluted steps to get into secret places and collect souls and blah blah blah… Nothing against it, but I like that the game is brave enough to have Cayde voice the story a little with total sarcasm, so you can laugh at it a little as you go.

Lost to Light.pngThis mission takes place on the moon, in a location I’ve visited a few times on different missions. You have to go inside and then descend underground a little ways to the Chamber of Night. There are Hive all over the place, but they’re easy enough to take out.

At some point, a boss emerges and then, just when his health is nearly depleted, disappears. It sounds like Oryx has taken him. I’m able to grab a crytal shard and it seems the mission is over.

However, a swarm of enemies suddenly descends on the place, and I have to run for my life to get out of there. It’s not even possible to fight off all the enemies; some are too strong, and in general there are just too many. It takes a couple tries to get out alive. The run is pretty long — probably a full minute or more — so my left thumb actually got sore holding down the left stick to spring, jumping high over enemies as I went.

After that, there are a couple of chamber-like areas where there actually is an opportunity to clear out enemies. The fun part here is grabbing relics, which act as keys to the huge double-doorways that exit out of this labyrinth.

Back at the Tower, I give the shard to Eris and talk to Cayde about the next step. Sounds like it involves getting a better stealth drive. What’s interesting is that Eris teases about bruising Cayde’s ego, and then Cayde says something about Eris having a pretty smile, and there’s a part of me that would love to support some fan theories about the two of them getting together after-hours…


Next mission.pngCould this be a thing?!

On another note, I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of Engrams I’ve been getting lately. Encrypted engrams are basically special items dropped in battles that you can pick up and take to experts at towns like the Tower or Reef to unlock. You’ll know right away what type it is — a weapon or piece of armor — but you don’t know exactly what it is or its level until after you get it decrypted, at which point you can equip it.

The thing is, I keep getting the same armor over and over. That’s okay to an extent, because I really like the look of this armor. It’s the Aura Purge armor, which is white and leather-looking. I like the color as well as how rugged it appears, like real armor rather than just a pretty robe. That’s one of the things about playing mages — they wear robes which can be very elegant but also look really out of place on the battlefield, in my opinion. To me, rogue-style armor — light armor, like the Hunters in Destiny wear — will always be the most attractive and realistic-looking. That’s why, as a mage, I prefer robes that at least look like they have some tough texture to them. Maybe leather, or a dark cloth. Nothing too “pretty,” please.

Sat_Jan_23_16-19-38_PST_2016While I’m a big fan of the Aura Purge armor and wear it whenever I can, I’ve now had it for at least half the game and am starting to itch for a change. I’ve purchased and/or unlocked about four Shaders now, which let you change the color of any armor to the color of that particular Shader. However, I’m not in love with any of the colors yet. There are some really kickass Shaders out there, but they require ranking up in different factions, etc., to acquire them. The vendor who sells Shaders has a handful on sale at any one time and updates her stock every day or so. I’m hoping to score something different soon…

So far, my favorite armor has probably been this, which I leveled out of way too quickly!


Side Quest: A Spark in Shadow

One of the side missions that becomes available to me is “A Spark in Shadow,” which unlocks a third Warlock subclass called “Stormcaller.”

img_2511-1So far, I’ve been focusing on “Voidwalker,” which is very offense-based. Although I’ve worked a little with “Sunsinger,” the second available subclass for Warlocks, I haven’t found it as useful or interesting and have mostly given it up. The ability that’s cool with Sunsinger is a self-revive, but it’s only unlocked at when you’ve basically completely leveled up the subclass, which would take a long time. I don’t have the patience for it right now.

“A Spark in Shadow” takes me to Mars. I can’t do it with my partner, since he’s a Titan and is working on unlocking his own third subclass in another mission. I’m on my own for this one. It feels really weird, shooting enemies without the possibility of being revived if I fall. I’m extra careful.

img_2510-1The quest is spooky, taking place in a dark, industrial part of the planet. At one point, I have to take down three Conductive Disciples, which are your Goblin enemies but maybe a little tougher to beat than usual. I have to duck behind cover quite a bit to regen my health for this battle, and let me grenade ability recharge so I can take out groups of enemies that appear on the ground floor of the facility I’m in. (I’m perched behind a railing on the second story, looking down at them.)

img_2512-1Next, I head outside to meditate in three different Conductive spots. They shoot off electricity, creating a storm, so they’re easy to find. Shooting any Vex that get in my way, I visit one at a time and stay in their bounds for several seconds to complete the meditations. When I’m done, I walk out on a ledge and receive my full Stormcaller abilities!

After that, it’s just a matter of shooting down enemies with my new super power. Instead of the Voidwalker’s “Nova Bomb,” I have “Stormtrance,” which enshrouds me in something like lightning (at least that’s how I think of it) while I float above the ground, shooting lightning from my hands that does incredible damage. With this super power, I’m able to take down the remaining enemies with ease. Even when my health drops dangerously low a few times, I somehow survive with this ability enabled.

img_2508-1Something about Stormtrance reminds me of playing a mage in Skyrim. When you switch to third-person perspective in Skyrim, you can really see your mage sending bolts of magic out of their hands, which looks a little bulky and funny. Using Stormtrance in Destiny automatically switches me from a first-person view to third-person, and my Guardian shoots lightning out of her palms just like my Dovahkiin did.

The Promethean Code

img_2515-1It’s back to Earth to steal some sort of cloaking technology codes from Rasputin’s bunker. All it takes is heading underground, weaving through some tunnels, and fighting Taken along the way. Nothing too challenging with this one. At the end, I scan a terminal, get the stealth codes we need, and I’m on my way to steal a soul!

I’m camouflaged!

In other news, I purchased a new ground vehicle to replace my standard Sparrow. It’s an S-21 Seeker, which has a top speed of 140 — a little more kick than my former vehicle. There are a lot of pretty vehicles you can buy from the shipwright Amanda at the Tower, but this one appealed to me most because of its simplicity. I tend to prefer whites, grays, and browns to bright colors here. It just feels more realistic. Combine it with my current Aura Purge armor (also white-gray in color), and I totally blend into the landscape on the moon. Who needs stealth codes?!

I’m also loving my new Stormcaller abilities. What’s nice is that the game gives you the first few abilities for free, including the super power “Stormtrance.” When I unlocked Sunsinger, I couldn’t jump/glide or use grenades, so I felt very vulnerable with it equipped on the battlefield. With Stormcaller, they give you the basics, so I’ve had the subclass enabled every since I unlocked it and will probably keep it for awhile. Then, I might switch between it and “Voidwalker” as my preferred classes. They both seem structured around damage-dealing, while “Sunsinger” is more support from what I can tell. Right now, I’m into dealing damage. :)


Last Rites

This mission is really fun.

IMG_2516It takes me to the Hellmouth, on the moon, where I activate my new cloaking tech to become invisible. It’s time to steal the essence of Crota’s soul. There’s a huge bridge to cross that’s packed with enemies, who can’t see me but can still smell me if I get too close. All the enemies sport a red zoning around them as they move, which indicates how far they can pick up my scent. Fighting them is no good — I have to maneuver through them without being detected to get across the bridge.

img_2518-1In the tower at the end of the bridge, there’s some sort of rite happening with Death Singers. Still invisible, I sneak upstairs to the altar-like area to grab Crota’s soul. As soon as I do, the cloaking tech stops working, and I’m exposed.

It’s like all hell breaks loose at this point. The Taken are everywhere. My partner suggests I jump downstairs, where it’s not as crowded, so I can survive longer. We shoot at everything that moves, running like crazy to avoid enemy fire, and just stay alive.

After several minutes of this, Eris teleports us out of there, back onto the other side of the bridge outside, so we can make it to safety. Now that we have Crota’s soul, we can finally gain access to Oryx and take him down.

This mission is really refreshing, partly due to the stealth aspect that’s easy to handle but offers a new kind of challenge, and partly because of how it ends. Being teleported out of an impossible battle is really exciting. It feels like things are finally coming to a head.


It’s back to the Dreadnaught, with Crota’s soul in hand so I can get through the Rupture this time. I’m Ascendant. As is the case with much of Destiny’s story and lore, I’m not 100% sure what that means, even after all this time, but I know it’s going to get me to Oryx.

img_2526I go in with some new armor that I actually like — and it’s not Aura Purge this time! Amazing. I’ve been rewarded with a lot of yellow armor lately, which I kinda love. It sticks pretty closely to my rugged armor preferences (whites and browns are best) while adding a realistic touch of color.

Anyway, in the Dreadnaught, this mission features some pretty scenery to start with:

img_2520-1A rift appears for me to walk through, and I find myself in a corridor with lights that turn on as I pass them. Oryx is probably going to know I’m on my way now…

IMG_2522Eventually I make it to a chamber with another rift, out of which two hulking enemies appear. One is the Hand of Oryx. Oryx himself says we’re not worthy to fight him, so I guess I need to take down these guys first.

IMG_2521I die a couple times. Because they shoot devastating attacks that can rip about 80 percent of my health in one go, I have to run circles around the room, shooting when they turn away from me to look at my partner. That seems to be the best strategy — when my partner and I are on opposite sides of the chamber, we can take turns firing away with heavy weapons and grenades while the other is distracting the big guys. It’s not easy, though. As soon as one of them looks at me, I have to take off at a sprint, jumping and gliding along the way and hoping to avoid any incoming damage.

When they’re taken care of, I run through the rift, follow a bridge to a door with a symbol enflamed in it, and enter. It looks awesome and terrifying. Inside the doors, it’s so pitch black, I literally can’t figure out where to go until my partner (who made it just fine) lights my path with a well-placed sparky grenade.

img_2523-1We head into the chamber where Oryx awaits. You can see Saturn and the asteroid belt in the background. It’s beautiful. But there’s really not much time to appreciate the view.

The boss battle with Oryx is surprisingly fun and not overly challenging. It’s more time-consuming than anything. But the way it’s framed is so impressive, it feels like a worthy fight to end this epic storyline.

Oryx teleports around the chamber, occasionally sending out Taken to make the battle harder. However, he himself doesn’t deal too many attacks. Mostly he drains my Light, which limits the use of my special abilities.

My strategy for survival is sticking close to the walls, where there’s some cover, getting in headshots at Oryx whenever I spot him and throwing grenades or melee hits at Taken who get in too close. Occasionally I run from Oryx. That’s about it.

However, once Oryx’s health is low enough, a second part of the fight is initiated. Oryx sends out a white fog that makes it impossible to see more than a couple yards’ radius. Every minute or so, he dives into the circle where my partner and I are frantically looking around for him and attacks us with his sword in the ground. I die once or twice that way, because sometimes it’s hard to spot which direction he’s coming from and get out of the way in time.

Fortunately, he only deals one attack at a time like this, so my partner is able to revive me easily afterwards. Oryx ushers Taken to attack us in between, but they’re not too much of a challenge as long as I keep moving, use my grenades, and hit them with my electric-lightning hands.

Once Oryx is beaten, he vanishes, leaving behind his sword. (Eris arrives on the scene to take a look at his weapon.)

That’s it for him, and that’s the end of The Taken King — at least, the main storyline.

img_2507-1I finished The Taken King at Level 38, so it’s time for me to taken on the Strikes that have opened up for me via The Taken King, as well as some new questlines and maybe a Raid at some point. Sounds like there are interesting rewards for me once I hit Level 40 (that’s Destiny‘s current level cap) and try these types of missions. (I have participated in a couple of Strikes so far, and they are soooo much fun!)

In fact, I found out there’s more to the “A Tale of Two Guardians” questline, so I need to complete some multiplayer missions (the Daily Heroic Strike, for instance) with my partner to unlock more goodies (including the high-five).

Level 40 achieved!

Even though The Taken King is over, I’ll probably continue to update this game diary with any interesting quests, stories, or loot I come across. My days with Destiny are definitely far from over!


This is the hardest mission I have played so far in Destiny.

templars-wellThis is the first mission in The Taken War quest line and the first I played after finishing the main Taken King quests. I was Level 39 and trying desperately to reach 40. In orbit, preparing to land on Venus for this mission, I noticed that instead of saying “EASY” or “NORMAL,” the game indicated it would be “HARD.” I mentioned it to my partner, but we kinda shrugged it off. We like a challenge.

But let me tell you, Destiny is not kidding around with that mission.

I’m not sure exactly how many tries it took to get through the Templar’s Well part (I’ll get to that), but my best guess would be five to eight times. However, this part involves three waves of super-strong enemies, so each wave can take up to 10 minutes to clear out. That means that when you’ve reached the second or third wave, you’ve already put in 10 to 20 minutes. Having to restart the battle is pretty demoralizing after awhile.

It takes place in the Vault of Glass on Venus. You’re searching for a Guardian named Praedyth who was lost there. There are several steps to the mission, one of which involves taking down a boss called Morphon who is a little tricky when you don’t know how to defeat it.

But the real challenge, for me at least, was in the Templar’s Well, which is in the middle of the quest. You descend to a chamber that seems made of stone, with several platforms and staircases to navigate. But it’s all one giant room, and due to the sheer number of enemies who explode onto the scene, you have to run for your life a lot of the time.

The Taken march out in great numbers from multiple directions. There are several different enemy types to combat — some run-of-the-mill goblins (no offense to them, I like them the best), but many much more challenging to defeat. They’re almost like mini-bosses, and you’re facing several at a time. They may be spread out in different parts of the chamber, but that’s part of the problem — run away from one, and you’ll land in the lap of another.

The toughest thing for me was avoiding blasts from some sort of explosive that tracked my location. I believe it was like a Servitor blast, but with targeting. If I saw it coming, I’d hide behind a pillar or something, but it would still find me and explode away the majority of my health. Eventually I learned I could shoot the blasts when they were on their way toward me. That helped immensely but wasn’t enough to squash my fear of them.

There was also a shielded enemy who stood on the right side of the map, sending out an attack that temporarily blinded me. I hid around the corner from him as much as possible, especially when I noticed his attack coming my way, but that made it tricky to get his guard down. Anytime I took a breather from him, he’d start regenerating his shield.

Finally, I struggled a lot with a boss-like enemy who struck with melee attacks. He’d literally chase me around the room (or my partner, whichever he preferred at that moment). I tried not to get his attention, but it was not easy avoiding him. A single hit from his flaming sword/hammer spelled instant death for me.

It’s one thing running around the cavern like crazy, trying to stay alive long enough to get some shots in at an enemy. But whenever my partner went down, I had to find someplace safe to hide. There was a ledge wedged between a wall (I think) and a stone slab, which was the safest spot to regen health and wait out the 30 seconds until my partner could respawn. When I died, I’m sure he had the same trouble staying alive. The thing is, with one of us dead, the other took all the heat from enemies.

It’s just a crazy battle, guys. I got pretty frustrated at times. After we completed the mission, my partner and I (rather reluctantly) decided to take a one-day break from Destiny, because it was still in our heads and we kinda needed to decompress. Yeah. That’s the kind of fight “Paradox” is.

Dreadnaught Patrol + Random Shenanigans

There have been a lot of patrols on my plate lately. Petra just keeps giving them to me — kills Fallen here, now kill them here, now go to Mars and kill some more. At least the scenery has been nice, and playing with someone else makes them a little more fun.

Screenshot-Original-2.pngPlus, we’ve done some funny patrol missions that involve decoding things with our actions. For instance, words will appear onscreen with letters missing, and you have to perform some action to decode the rest. Here’s an example that made me laugh a little:

Screenshot-Original-1Finally, recently we got a cool quest to patrol the Dreadnaught. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, and because it’s part of The Taken King expansion, the enemies are much higher level than the ones on other patrols. Instead of taking down measly 12s or 17s, we’re handling patrols involving Cabal, Fallen, and Taken that provide real challenges at 38s. It’s great.

It was also weird just walking in and seeing all the other players there at first, because so far, all missions at the Dreadnaught have been private with just my partner and me.

The Wolves of Mars

House_of_judgment_quest_icon1So for awhile now I’ve had my eye on some of the Shaders available at the Reef, specifically the ones sold by Variks. He’s a Fallen, friend of Petra, and vendor for the Prison of Elders. (That’s PvE arena combat, which I tried but didn’t love.) Somewhere after the House of Wolves quest line, he offers his own series of quests called “The Wolves of Mars.” Completing these gives you standing with the House of Judgment, which lets you unlock the Shaders (eventually).

This is one of my favorite quest lines so far in Destiny. Maybe it’s the comparison thing, because lately I’ve been doing a lot of Petra’s extra missions, which involve patrolling areas. I’m sorry, but patrols in Destiny are just boring after awhile. They’re grinding. And Petra has been sending my partner and me all over the place killing X number of enemies on Mars, Earth, the moon, etc. So when Variks finally gave us some real meat, I got excited. It felt refreshing to have an objective and fight tough enemies for a change.

The first mission was a little grindy, as we had to kill Fallen pirates on several planets. Then we headed to Mars, eventually figured out where the Rubicon Wastes were (never been there before!), and tracked down a pack of wolves to bring the Archon Priest into play. That was fun.

The rest of the missions were short and sweet but involved lots of fighting Cabal and Fallen. I had a blast. The enemies were high level 30’s or even level 40, which was impressive. And at times they surrounded my partner and me, but trying to keep up was the exciting part. I jumped all over the place to avoid enemy fire, raining my grenades and Nova Bombs down on targets. In one mission, I found a safe high point from which to snipe an enemy Walker, but groups of Fallen kept spawning to my right and left and coming in to distract me. It was a little bit of chaos, but in the best way.

primes_pathThe final mission is called “Prime’s Path.” This had us tracking down a mega-Servitor called Orbiks Prime on Mars. This thing was huge. Its attacks were devastating, but what was more interesting was that it would teleport me across the battlefield at different points. It seemed to happen when I was safely tucked away from the fighting to regen my health or something like that; Orbiks Prime would draw me right in close and then blast me with fire while I jumped like crazy to get away, all the while trying to figure out exactly where on the battlefield I had ended up.

At some point, my partner and I got Orbiks Prime’s health super low, so we both — without telling each other, of course — went in to blast it with our super attacks. And then we both died at the same time. So yeah, we had to redo the battle with a little more caution after that and give each other a head’s up when we were going in for the kill, to ensure the other was in a safe spot!

175.jpgIt only took two tries, and I came away with a pretty awesome Plan C Fusion Rifle. Most of my weapons up to now have been around 215, but this one is a whopping 290 and an Exotic to boot. It’s a no-brainer equipping that one.

The only thing I’m jealous of is that my partner got an engram containing an exotic Sidearm, which is my favorite type of weapon. I’m always looking for Sidearms when my old ones get too low-level for me. So far, I think I’ve only had two in the whole game. What I love about Sidearms is that they are very powerful but deliver hits fast. You know how sometimes a shotgun or pistol will be pretty hard-hitting, but it only delivers a few shots at a time, very slowly, and then takes forever to reload? The Sidearm basically wipes away all those downsides. It does take a couple seconds to reload, but you can shoot away at enemies pretty fast, for a nice duration of time, and then just jump while reloading to avoid fire.

Anyway, my current Light is 238. In other news, I tracked down Xur this weekend and purchased my first item from him! (He’s a vendor that shows up in a different spot every weekend, with awesome items.) It’s called the Alchemist’s Raiment, which is one of the main reasons I bought it given that my gamertag is Alchemiser. Plus, it’s an Exotic piece of armor, the first piece of 280 armor I’ve worn, and it looks amazing. =)


Crimson Doubles

tower 1.pngLast week I played the latest limited-time event in Destiny, called Crimson Doubles. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Tower was decorated in red flowers and carpets, and Crimson Doubles was the week-long Crucible challenge that pitted teams of two against each other. It was a perfect fit for my co-op partner and me, since we’re a couple.

The trouble is that I don’t play much multiplayer, especially anything competitive. I get nervous facing a real live opponent. They’re less predictable than AI opponents, and there’s something about being killed by one of them that feels a lot more terrible (to me, anyway) than going down because a computer program sniped you. It’s just not a natural fit for me, as I’m not a competitive person.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 10.55.43 AMBut I faced my fear and jumped into the 2v2 Crimson Doubles matches with my partner. The first night we tried it, we played five matches, and they went horribly. Since we don’t play Crucible, we weren’t familiar with the maps. We have very little strategy. I was all sweaty-palmed which wasn’t helping anything. Instead of treating it like any other mode, where I would hide from enemies while I regen my health, I just ran out there and let myself get shot while freaking out. It’s really sad how little I know about multiplayer, guys.

One thing that was apparent early on, though, is the excellent loot that is earned from missions. Even as we lost match after match, I earned one of the red Crimson Doubles ghosts right away (lots of complaints from other players that they weren’t dropping — I guess I got lucky), as well as Legendary gear and goodies that gave my partner and me boosts during the Crimson Doubles matches. That made it worth playing, even if it was a little soul-crushing for me to lose so much.

At the Tower, you can pick up bounties for Crimson Doubles. Bounties are special objectives that, when reached, earn you some bonus points or gear, etc. One of the bounties wanted us to complete seven matches, and another wanted us to earn a certain number of points — you get one point for a loss and four points for a win. If we lost every match like we had the first night, it was going to take over 20 matches to meet the objective, and I just didn’t know if I had it in me to face failure after failure. It’s not fun when you’re not doing well.

But my partner, being more competitive and very experienced in competitive multiplayer games (he plays a lot of Halo), wanted to do it. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I got into it.

The second night we tried, everything changed. We lost a few matches early on, but suddenly we were pitted against teams much better suited to us. They were more daring, running toward us instead of hiding with a strategy. It was a free-for-all, and we started winning at least half the time, if not more.

I don’t know if it was just a matchmaking thing, or if we also improved as we learned the maps and gained confidence. Personally, I think it was both. When we played on Tuesday, it was the first day of Crimson Doubles, and we were probably facing hardcore players. When we played on Friday night, I’m assuming the crowd included more casual duos who just play on weekends. In any case, it was much more enjoyable the second time around!

It became apparent that two melee hits would kill an enemy. Also, if one of them is down, the other can revive them — so it was important to guard the body! While my partner liked sticking together so we could revive or avenge each other easily if one of us was shot, I preferred going opposite directions to flank the enemy. We tried it both ways. They both worked well, I think.

My new ghost!

We ended up completing our bounties much sooner than expected due to all of our wins, which was awesome. We probably played 10 to 15 matches Friday night, and then we called it quits and returned to our other Destiny missions and Strikes.

Tower 2.pngI had a lot of fun trying something different and actually mastering a new type of gameplay, and playing with my partner made it really exciting. We were kind of euphoric when we won the first couple times! Besides that, the decorations at the Tower offered a pretty change of scenery. It’s a little thing that can go a long way in making Destiny feel fresh. I know there are a lot of complains about the game being stale, not a lot of good loot dropping, and an overall lack of content, and I can see where something like Crimson Doubles is just a bandaid or distraction from that. But as it’s my first limited-time event, I loved the experience.

Weekly Nightfall Strike: Cerberus Vae III

My partner and I had been trying to complete the Nightfall Strike for weeks. We’d tried three or four times, in two or three different missions, but it just hadn’t happened yet. Nightfall Strikes get updated every week, and unlike other Strikes, you don’t get to enjoy matchmaking. That means it was just the two of us, without a third to help kill enemies or revive us when we were down.

Additionally, you don’t respawn in Nightfall Strikes — ever. Your partner has to come revive you, if they can even reach you. It’s a challenge. If one of us fell in battle, it often meant the other would eventually fall.

There were also times when I would die and sit watching my partner’s screen for several minutes at a time, while he stayed in safety and sniped from a distance, for instance. I found that incredibly boring, since I wasn’t playing for long spells, and it also made me more frustrated with myself for dying in the first place.

Meanwhile, if my partner died, I usually proceeded to freak out, jumped all over the place as I tried to think of what to do, and then got myself killed.

The main Nightfall Strike we attempted was Shield Brothers. It takes place on the Dreadnaught, eventually sticking you in a round, golden room with two heavy-hitters and waves of enemies. The place is just flooded with bad guys. Bullets are flying everywhere. And because the room is circular, there’s no real cover, so you have to stay in constant motion to avoid getting hit. No place is safe. That also means if one player dies, the other would have a hell of a time trying to find a safe moment to pause long enough to revive them, since you’re just constantly getting swarmed.

My partner believed we could beat it. He likes the idea of being in constant motion, I guess — he thought it would just be a matter of time before we took down the brothers. But I was not so sure. The pace was too frantic for me; I like taking my time, ducking behind cover when necessary to reload or recharge, and getting a feel for the room as new waves approach. (Can you see why I prefer cover-based shooters like Gears of War to the mania of Halo?)

Maybe I should have had a better attitude about it, but in the end, I gave up on that strike and kept waiting for a better one to come along. A more beatable one.

And then we tried it a couple weeks ago, and it was perfect. We got our lucky break!

cerberus-vae-nightfall-soloThe strike was Cerberus Vae III, which takes place on Mars. I remembered playing the mission before. Initially, there are quite a few Taken to take out, but part of the time you get to jump into little tank-like vehicles and shoot with powerful ammo from the safety of the crafts. Plus, that’s unlimited ammo for you — at least until your Interceptor burns up and you get ejected out of it to crumple on the ground and wait for your partner to revive you.

That part took us two or three tries, but it was fun. Next, we took out a big baddie in a canyon below, which just required us to take cover whenever he hit us. (Two shots would have killed us.) Because we had good cover, it was pretty easy to revive each other, though I will say that both of us were playing great and didn’t die that I recall.

Nightfall Strike.pngI thought a tank was on its way, but we never saw one. Instead, we pushed on, into an indoor complex to take out the boss, Valus Ta’aurc. He’s a hefty Cabal enemy with a lot of firepower, so it takes awhile to kill him. While dealing with him, you also have to kill waves of additional enemies, which include Cabal with shields and quick-moving Fallen.

A couple of times, we hid in the previous room, which was empty since we had already cleared it out. That gave us time to recharge our powers (grenades, super, etc.) and regain our health. (In the Nightfall Strike, health recharges at a snail’s pace compared to in other modes!) The only problem? If we stood in the little corridor between the two rooms, shielded Cabals would spawn. Sometimes they spawned right on top of me. Even just crossing between rooms, they would appear and whittle away some of the health we just regenerated. It was annoying.

Valus Ta’aurc

But in the end, my partner stood over in that area, shooting the boss from a distance. I found a little cubby — a doorway somewhere — that kept me out of sight of the boss so I could take out the Fallen who were appearing and, when the boss was focusing firepower on my partner, peek out and shoot the boss. It was kind of like my partner and I took turns firing at Valus Ta’aurc. As soon as I saw his fiery shots arcing toward my partner, I popped out to shoot him. As soon as he turned toward me, I hid and my partner took a turn sniping him. It was a good strategy.

In the end, my partner and I thought we were about to die, but we made the killing blow just in time. And that was it! The strike was over. Completing that checked off two quests for us, which had been hanging over our heads for weeks. It felt amazing. =)

— Ashley