August 2016 NPD Software Numbers

The August 2016 NPD software numbers have been released, showcasing the top 10 selling games of the month. Among them there weren’t too many surprises, with the new Madden taking the top spot, followed by No Man’s Sky and Deus Ex. Destiny The Taken King filled out the list, most likely in anticipation of the release of Rise of Iron, which releases on September 20 of this month. The rest of the the August 2016 NPD software numbers are as follows.

1. Madden NFL 17
2. No Man’s Sky
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
4. Grand Theft Auto V
5. Overwatch
6. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
8. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
9. Minecraft
10. Destiny: The Taken King

While Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens was bound to do well, hopefully they release a remastered set of all the Lego Star Wars titles, as Star Wars is very much “in” right now.

Destiny: The Taken King — King's Fall Raid Review (PS4)

Destiny: The Taken King released on September 15 and we here at Gamer Professionals previously provided a review for the expansion pack. While we were able to play all there was to play in the game and give a thorough critique of the content, the one bit we were not able to get to was the highly anticipated King’s Fall raid. This was because the raid was actually released after the game’s release and you had to reach a certain light level in order to complete the raid, and at the time we simply did not have the confidence to go through the entire raid at our current level. That time is over though, and we have completed the King’s Fall raid in its entirety and are ready to give a comprehensive review of Destiny’s most intricate pieces of content to date.

A raid in Destiny essentially boils down to six players in a fireteam working together to solve puzzles and defeat bosses, allowing them to gain extremely powerful weapons and armor in the process. You can gain loot every week after the daily reset, allowing you to play the raid multiple times and gain all of the gear that the raid has to offer.

Destiny_20151008094829The King’s Fall raid

If you have played previous raids in Destiny and think that you’ll be able to breeze through the King’s Fall raid, you will be sorely mistaken. The King’s Fall raid is a completely different animal than anything Bungie has ever done before, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is much more involving and complex than Vault of Glass or Crota’s End. Every player has a role to play in each section of the raid, and if they cannot pull their own weight, your team will not get through the raid. It can also take up to six hours to complete the raid on your first try (it took us roughly four) and it is almost impossible to carry any player through it. Although it is recommended that you have a 290 light level, I would recommend that you would have at least a few players above 295 to ensure that you are able to follow the raid through to its completion.

The King’s Fall raid is not necessarily difficult, but figuring out just the right strategy for your team and understanding the mechanics of each puzzle and boss battle is. Once you understand the mechanics of the raid, it is relatively easy, but because the mechanics are so intricate and take a long time to fully grasp, the raid (on your first run) is very difficult. We have played through the entire raid three times now and it wasn’t until our third play through that we fully understood the concepts behind each puzzle and boss fight, and by that time we could get through the raid with an experienced team in about an hour. If you are going through a fresh run with a team who does not know anything about the raid, it will take at least six hours. This is not a bad thing in my eyes, but it’s simply the reality of the raid because it takes a while to grasp the mechanics of each segment. Once everyone understands the mechanics though, the raid is actually incredibly fun.

Destiny_20151008095929The Kingslayer Shell, one of the pieces of gear you get from King’s Fall

The genius of the King’s Fall raid is that each player has a role to play in order for a team to successfully pass through each area. Everyone needs to be able to complete their job or else everything will fall apart and your team will have start that section anew. While some may take this as a negative, I see it as a positive. It’s a ton of fun to learn each role and feels incredibly rewarding once you are able to completely grasp the mechanics of the entire raid and beat it. While the boss battles can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing, they are so much fun once you do. It is very gratifying when you have a team who knows exactly what they are doing and are able to get through a boss on their first try. This is where the King’s Fall raid really shines. There are four separate boss fights, all incredibly diverse and very enjoyable. Each boss has a number of stages to get through before you can deal damage to it, but once you can deal damage, there is nothing more satisfying than completely destroying a boss in the first go around. While you won’t defeat them in the first go, it is a sign that you have a competent team that will get through the boss, even if someone makes a mistake and you have to try again.

The whole point of the King’s Fall Raid is to traverse the Dreadnaught on the Rings of Saturn and defeat The Taken King, Oryx. Oryx is the most complex of any of the boss fights because each person must be able to complete their designated jobs or else there is no chance a team will be able to defeat him. Everyone must also have a sniper rifle or a heavy machine gun above attack level 295 in order to stun him, or else Oryx will simply kill the entire team in one go. Dealing as much damage in this battle is most important of all. The boss battle is actually quite fun, but it can get very frustrating if someone is not able to complete their job, because if not, the team has no chance of defeating The Taken King. While earlier I said that it was a good idea to have at least a few people on the team with a light level of 295 or above, it is actually the gear which is most important. If a team has at least three people with level 300 snipers or above and are hitting their shots against Oryx, they should be fine. When you finally defeat The Taken King, Oryx, there is such a feeling of accomplishment that accompanies it that the four-to-six hours you have spent battling your way through the raid is completely worth it.

Destiny_20151005220240Oryx, The Taken King

The only down side with King’s Fall is that there are some parts that are a bit glitchy. While fighting Oryx with one of my teams, we actually had to go back to orbit and then return to the raid in order to finish. Another time one player had his screen go completely black as we were about to defeat Oryx and we were not able to finish the raid because of this, which was completely depleting. These are problems that Bungie needs to fix.

King’s Fall is the perfect send off for the The Taken King with the best piece of content that Bungie has put out for Destiny. It is very intricate, but at the same time incredibly fun once you understand what you’re doing. It is easily the best of the three raids in the game and quite possibly the best piece of content Bungie has ever created, which is quite a feat. While there is no matchmaking for the raid, this is actually for the best; we found that playing with random players always ended in disaster. Playing with friends or people you are acquainted with is the best way to get through this raid with any success. Chemistry is key and people need to be patient with each other. If you find a team like that, be prepared to experience the one of the most involving and enjoyable experiences in all of gaming. Yes, I did just say all of gaming.

Destiny: The Taken King Review (PS4)

Destiny: The Taken King is the much-anticipated expansion pack to Bungie’s Destiny that promises to reinvigorate the MMO-style RPG/First-person shooter and redefine the game from both a single player and multiplayer perspective. Destiny was met with critical praise and criticism alike, with some applauding the game’s variety and scope with others noting how the game was mired by its repetition and convoluted story. There were also two relatively short DLC packs that cost a steep $20 a piece to what amounted to only a couple of hours of gameplay. The Taken King sets out to rectify some of the problems players had with the original and its expansions, but the question remains as to whether it is successful or not.

The Taken King is almost almost unrecognizable, completely revamping Destiny into a whole new experience. We previously detailed our impressions of the Destiny 2.0 patch and listed a number of the gameplay changes and new multiplayer modes and maps available in The Taken King. Light levels are gone, although there are light points, and the level cap has been increased to 40. There are three brand new sub-classes, one available for each main class along with brand new supers. Items can be made stronger through infusion, a process which takes a stronger piece of a weapon or armor and combines it with a weaker one, increasing the weaker item’s offense or defense. Instead of earning Crucible Marks or Vanguard Marks, currency has been streamlined into Legendary Marks. Guns have also been re-balanced. There is a new quest subscreen that allows you to track all of the tasks that you have been given, and bounties can now be turned in straight from the quest menu — you no longer need to visit the Tower. You can even keep track of your bounty and quest progress in your HUD by marking them in the quest menu. Assault rifles are now buffed once again and hand cannons have been nerfed to a certain extent. The game’s entire balance has shifted in both player-versus-player (PvP) and person-versus-environment (PvE). This has redefined the game and completely changed the way it is played.

destiny-the-taken-king-questThe quest menu

One of the biggest complaints with the original Destiny was that the story was convoluted and didn’t make any sense. Much of the explanation of the story was told through Grimoire cards on Bungie’s website, leaving a gaping logical hole in the in-game campaign. NPCs were uninteresting and underdeveloped, and the world felt bland and barren. The Taken King rectifies this. NPCs are suddenly pertinent to the campaign and are filled with life and wit. Cayde in particular stands out as one of the most interesting and developed characters in the expansion. The cinematics in The Taken King are second to none and actually add a backdrop to the story, something the original version lacked. The environments in the game are stunning, especially on the Rings of Saturn, and the level design isn’t as linear as the original quest. The Taken King’s campaign is only a couple of hours long, although it doesn’t lack in size and scope, and there are an endless amount of quests and game modes to play through even when you beat the game, adding to the expansion’s longevity. If anything, The Taken King is the definitive version of Destiny.

destiny-the-taken-king-saturnThe Rings of Saturn is one of the most visually stunning areas of the game..

Strikes have been revamped and are now split into three different categories: Vanguard Legacy Strikes, which are classic level 20 strikes; Vanguard Strikes, which are level 36 strikes and include strikes from The Taken King; and Vanguard Heroic Strikes, which are level 41 strikes (recommended light level of 260). The Taken King strikes are much more dynamic than the legacy strikes, including environmental hazards and obstacles that were not found in the originals, making them more difficult and superior from a design standpoint. The Vanguard Strike playlist also increases the likelihood of a legendary engram or weapon drop the more strikes you play consecutively. It took me three strikes to get one legendary item/engram, and you can earn a legendary engram from the Vanguard Heroic Strikes once a week. These can be very difficult depending on the amount of light points you have accumulated, but ultimately they are very rewarding. Strikes are incredibly fun now and don’t feel as much like a chore. The Weekly Heroic Strike is gone, but you can earn Legendary Marks (the new currency) from the Daily Heroic Story missions, the daily multiplayer mode, and from Heroic Strikes. Nightfall Strikes are now level 42 and have a recommended amount of light points of 280. They are much more difficult than their predecessors, but the satisfaction of completion is completely worth it. Exotic drops are no longer a given in the Nightfall, which is why buying the ‘Three of Coins’ from the weekly vendor Xur is extremely helpful in ensuring you obtain exotic gear.

There is a brand new raid called “King’s Fall” which promises several more hours of co-op gameplay, but as of this review I did not have enough light points to attempt it (the raid recommends a light level of 290).

destiny-the-taken-king-world-mapExplore the solar system in Destiny…

The Crucible has added eight new maps to its repertoire and two new game modes: Rift and Mayhem. While Mayhem was not available this week during the launch of The Taken King, it was available during last week’s preview of multiplayer. Both Rift and Mayhem are all-out chaos. Rift is a capture the flag-type game mode where players must capture a spark in the middle of the map and ultimately carry it to the opponent’s rift, destroying it. Mayhem increases the rate at which supers, grenades, and melees charge, making for an all-out free-for-all with Guardians being thrown around left and right. It is not certain when Mayhem will return, but given that it was present in the preview for The Taken King, it is sure to return soon.

Igniting the rift!

The multiplayer maps are incredibly diverse, each taking place in a completely different environment. Some even feature portals by which players can travel, and this becomes incredibly helpful in Rift. In fact, the maps seem to be completely designed around Rift, with an open center in each map where the spark spawns, and compact spaces in which the player travels in order to reach the opposing team’s rift. The maps are incredibly well designed and serve their purpose well; they aren’t too large, but at the same time, they aren’t too small either. Players who don’t own The Taken King can play Classic 3v3, Classic 6v6, and Classic Free-for-All with all of the original maps.

destiny-the-taken-king-crucibleThe Taken King Crucible menu

One can’t finish this review without taking a moment to appreciate the music. The put it frankly, it’s beautiful. Composers Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, and Skye Lewin outdo themselves. The score is so fantastic that it’s actually getting its own soundtrack release. The sound is also excellent, with effects coming from all angles and it actually enhances the gameplay. Playing in 7.1 surround sound surely is a benefit to those who have the ability to do so.

The Taken King is the definitive version of Destiny. It takes many of the complaints and balancing issues of the original incarnation of the game and fixes them. The streamlined quest and bounty system makes the game more user-friendly, infusing weapons and armor works better than the old system of Etheric Light, and the Vanguard Strike playlist is a unique spin on what had become a bland system. While light levels haven’t technically gone away, it is great to be able to continue to upgrade your character after you reach level 40. People who don’t like grinding, enjoy MMOs, RPGs, or have a distaste for First-person-shooters will not enjoy this game. Those who do though won’t be able to put it down. There is such a wealth of content, whether it’s the Crucible, the Vanguard Strikes, or the sheer amount of quests and gear/items to collect in the game. The Taken King propels Destiny into a new definitive era, and for the better.