Destiny: The Taken King Crucible Hands-On Preview – The Spark Is Charged

The Taken King expansion for Destiny will be out in just one week, and we’ll have plenty more on the PvE section of the game closer to release, including a review in the weeks following its launch. Today we’re pitting Guardian against Guardian to talk about The Taken King’s new Crucible maps and modes in our hands on with the coming PvP. 

From today until the release of The Taken King, all Guardians will have a chance to jump into the new modes, Rift and Mayhem, as well as check out the new maps that Bungie is bringing to the Crucible’s rotation. This preview week will not include the new subclasses however, so let’s start by talking a little bit about the balancing of the subclasses in PvP. 

The Titan’s hammer is deadly. In short, the Titan has the ability to hurl explosive flaming hammers for a short time, and anyone caught in the crossfire is as good as dead. It was a thrilling super to use, but I can see players on the receiving end of the hammers being frustrated. If you’re running through a hallway and you hear what sounds like the pounding of Thor’s hammer on an anvil, I suggest you panic and get the hell out. Or perhaps just stand there. You’re probably already dead anyway. 

The Warlock gets to create an electric field and float through swaths of enemies doing area of effect (AoE) damage. In close-quarters combat and tight hallways especially, as well as modes like Control that see players clustering in one area, the Warlock’s new super is a great way to throw the opposing team off balance if they are trying to find strength in numbers. 

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Finally, we’ve got the Hunter’s void bow, which tethers opponents in place and offers mild damage output to those tethered. It’s satisfying and pairs well with good team play, setting up some great group kills for your Titan and Warlock buddies. The tether will radically impair player movements, and even pull players out of the air mid-jump.

An Unpredictable Battlefield

While we mostly played in the Crucible with the new classes, keep in mind that these three are being added in addition to the six already available, so the battlefield is likely to get hectic and unpredictable. Fortunately no one particular super seems to out power the others when pitted in head-to-head matches, and each provides its own unique ways of playing and creating strategies for victory. While some may see the Titan hammer as being an overpowered monstrosity, it can be countered if shot with the void bow. You may not feel like you can get close and personal with the Warlock’s super, but it seemed to give increased shielding to the player to offset this.

The three new supers seem to be balanced fairly well with their strengths and weaknesses against and with one another in a PvP setting, but it remains to be seen how they will mesh with the rest of the supers, which is something we’ll explore in our final review of the game. 

The new modes are looking to shake things up from the usual competitive matches that we’re used to. While we didn’t get our hands on Mayhem, I can only imagine how crazy it will be with a significant recharge on supers, melee abilities, and grenades. This mode may end up being the one where unfair advantages present themselves for certain subclasses, and I’d put my money on the Titan hammer being at the forefront of the complaint list. 

It’s Time for Rift

We did get to play Rift, which is Bungie’s take on Capture the Flag, mixed with a little basketball, and then topped off with some C4. Each team has a goal, or rift, that they need to defend. A single spark charges in the middle of the map. When the spark is charged and ready, players can grab it and attempt to run it in to the opponents rift, with a successful run resulting in explosive death and carnage to any opposing players unfortunate enough to be close by. 

The fun in this mode is created by the collection of players in one particular area of the map. The spark is the center of attention, and you’ll almost always find a massive battle zone right around where the spark charges. Choosing to defend your rift or chase down an opposing player is risky too, as the explosion when they reach their goal could kill you, netting them a nice point bonus. There’s even bonus style points to be earned for dunking the spark into the rift backwards, which triggers a pretty sweet animation.

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Even if there is a massive stalemate standoff right around the spark, points are earned for kills, so the match doesn’t screech to a halt just because no one is dunking the spark in the rifts. Even if you’re able to grab the spark and only make it a short way toward the rift, you gain some points just for moving the spark. It’s a fast moving mode that offers an extremely fun additional objective, and I think it will take its place as my personal favorite mode in the Crucible, replacing Control. 

Eight New Maps

The Taken King’s new maps will take players to Mercury (Vertigo), the remains of another Tower (Bannerfall), the European Dead Zone (Memento), and even deep inside the Dreadnaught itself (The Dungeons). There’s even one that takes place on a damaged Fallen ship that will include altered gravity and ragdoll physics (The Drifter). For PlayStation players, there are eight new maps total, which brings Destiny’s total number of multiplayer maps up to an impressive 26. 

From what I was able to play, The Taken King Crucible offering is looking shake up the current PvP, especially with the new modes that offer different ways of playing and the new maps that give glimpses into more places within the Destiny universe. It will also bring a new mercy rule, which will end the match the gap between teams becomes too big, which effectively avoids wasting time on blowouts. It just remains to be seen how it all meshes with what’s already there. Keep it locked to PlayStation LifeStyle for our continued coverage on The Taken King

Disclosure: Crucible preview was done at a preview event for Destiny: The Taken King at Bungie’s studios, provided by Activision and Bungie.