Hands-On Preview: Destiny: The Taken King Multiplayer
Bungie’s brand new expansion for Destiny, The Taken King, was revealed on Monday June, 15th and it looks to be the biggest addition yet, which is fitting considering its $40 price tag. While there weren’t any opportunities to go hands on with any of the new story areas, I was able to get my hands on both of the new multiplayer modes, Rift and Mayhem, as well as the new subclasses.
The closest comparison I can make for Rift is to Neutral Bomb Assault in Halo, with a central device, in this case the “Spark” that each team attempts to carry and plant in the center of the opposing team’s base. That’s where the comparisons end however. In Rift, the Spark has a sort of respawn timer, and once picked up, you’ll have to fight or sneak your way through the opposition to plant it and score massive amounts of points for your squad. Planting the spark is as easy as crossing over the plant area, with a backflip triggered and bonus points awarded if you cross the threshold backwards. As an added bonus of sorts, the spark also causes a massive explosion which often resulted in double or triple downs, only adding to the points received for planting alone.
The gameplay was fluid but very centralized, with both teams converging on the Spark’s spawn point to wait for it to appear, or to try and grab it once it had. There’s no bonus to having the Spark in terms of health or weapon strength, but you will be able to fully utilize your guns and abilities while its in your possession.
With a lack of many standout objective gametypes in Destiny, Rift is a welcome addition, and from what I played may even become my go-to playlist.
Mayhem is a modified version of Clash, with two teams, tons of lowered cool-downs ,and plenty of explosions. It certainly lives up to its namesake. With supers regenerating in about 30 seconds, and grenades and melee abilities regenerating in only a few seconds, Mayhem becomes a glorious chaotic mess in the best possible way.
Heavy and special ammo will also respawn at increased rates, though in decreased amounts per pickup. While primary weapons still got some use, supers, heavy weapons, and grenades certainly accounted for the majority of kills during the two matches I played. Look for Mayhem to become the fun respite from too many intense standard Clash matches.
With the release of The Taken King in September we’ll finally get our hands on three new subclasses, completing the elemental trios for each class. Each new subclass is unlocked via a class-specific story quest to unlock abilities thought lost to the Guardians over time. I was able to play as both the new solar-powered Titan class, Sunbreaker, and the new arc-based Warlock class, Stormcaller. While I didn’t get to use the new void powered Hunter class Nightstalker, I did have its super used against me plenty a time.
Sunbreaker is essentially playing as a fiery Thor, hammer and all. When you trigger your super you’ll conjure up a small (but powerful) hammer that you can both throw at enemies, and use for melee attacks. It feels just as good as you might think, with each throw of the hammer giving a satisfying explosion of fire and either killing enemies in one or two hits depending on your accuraccy with your throws. While the super tree, and the other classes trees were only about half leveled, I did notice on the Sumbreaker’s tree that there is a skill to make your hammer seek enemies which would have made the destruction I was able to reign down even more powerful. As primarily a Titan myself, I think I found a new primary subclass.
When triggering its super, the Stormcaller calls down a bolt of lightning, absorbs it, and then begins to hover through the battlefield shooting lightning out of its fingertips, dispatching enemies extremely quickly, with some decent range (think just past shotgun effectiveness). You’ll have a set amount of time in this state, with how much lighning you shoot not increasing the cooldown. Though you won’t be able to just constantly shoot lightning as you’ll run out if you shoot too much at once and have to wait a couple seconds to get it back (this led to an odd lightningless faceoff between me and another lightningless Stormcaller).
You’re certainly a force to be reckoned with as a Stormcaller, though with your slow movement speeds, you’ll likely be taken out at range if enemies have to opportunity to, so I’d recommend Stormcaller primarily for close combat maps.
Finally, the Nightstalker class is the Hunter’s new void-based support class. Its super fires an arrow at an area or an enemy and once it hits it bursts into multiple rope tethers of sorts that slows and disable abilities for all inside the effective area. When caught inside it all I was able to do was shoot and turn/move very slowly, making me an easy target just about everytime I was caught inside one. Hopefully we get more details on this class soon for all the Hunters out there.
All this new content will release along with the new Destiny expansion, The Taken King, this September 15th. $40 for the standalone expansion or $60 at retail stores where you’ll get Destiny, The Dark Below, House of Wolves, and The Taken King which is an incredible deal for anyone who’s been tempted to hop in.