Destiny: The Taken King - Everything You Need to Know

A year after launch, Bungie's mega-popular space shooter Destiny is getting its biggest expansion yet with The Taken King.

This isn't your standard downloadable add-on -- with tons of new environments, modes and gameplay systems, The Taken King adds nearly a whole extra game's worth of content, which hopefully means you won't tire of slaying Destiny's very angry aliens any time soon.

No Guardian should rush into battle blind, however, so here's everything you'll need to know about The Taken King once it touches down Sept. 15 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3.

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What's Destiny: The Taken King all about?

The Taken King is a Destiny mega-expansion pack that adds new story content, maps, items and gameplay mechanics to Bungie's massive online first-person shooter. The new content centers around a character named Oryx, who, after his son was killed in Destiny's The Dark Below expansion, got really mad and decided to possess a bunch of dead warriors to create a new race: The Taken. Not scary at all.

Destiny: The Taken King

What new content does The Taken King add?

The Taken King is packed with so much new stuff that it would be easy to confuse it for a full-on sequel to Destiny. The expansion delivers an entirely new set of story missions that set the stage for your battle with Oryx, as well as a new environment called the Dreadnaught -- a dangerous fortress filled with lots of enemies to fight, and lots of loot to earn.

Fans of co-operative Destiny play will likely flock to The Taken King's new Strike missions, which have you journey through enemy strongholds and defeat difficult bosses. For those who want an even greater challenge, The Taken King's six-player, sprawling Raid mission, dubbed King's Fall, will be available a week after launch.

There's also tons of new content for Destiny's player-versus-player Crucible mode. Competitive Guardians can do battle across eight new maps and enjoy two new modes: Rift, which has two teams battle to plant an objective in the enemy base, and Mayhem, which gives players quicker access to super moves and grenades, guaranteeing all-out chaos.

Of course, it wouldn't be a new Destiny expansion without new gear to earn. The Taken King promises plenty of powerful new guns and cool-looking armor sets.

How does The Taken King change Destiny's gameplay?

In addition to adding new content, The Taken King heralds some sweeping changes to the way Destiny is played. For one, the game's three character types all have new subclasses that let players wield some pretty cool new abilities. Hunters can now wield a mystical bow and arrow, Titans can decimate enemies with a large, flaming hammer and Warlocks can shoot Sith-like lightning out of their hands. It'll probably be a while before you get bored of your character.

The Taken King ups the game's level cap to 40, and getting to the top won't be nearly as much of a grind as it used to be. Before The Taken King, Destiny required you to earn items with a special "Light" value in order to level up past 20. That system is gone; now you level up your character by simply earning experience points playing whatever mode you like, and Light values only add to your character's attack and defense powers.

While the new leveling system is arguably the biggest change The Taken King brings, there are plenty of other weapon, gameplay and interface changes, including a neat new quests tab in the main menu that makes it far easier to track the progress of all of your missions. For a full list of changes, check out Bungie's blog.

How do I buy Destiny: The Taken King?

There are a number of ways to purchase The Taken King, depending on what Destiny content you already have. If you own Destiny and its two previous expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, you can buy The Taken King digitally for $40. If you don't own the game or its expansions, your best bet is to pick up the $60 Legendary Edition package, which bundles together all previously released Destiny content as well as The Taken King.

If you like having extra goodies, there are both physical and digital collector's editions of the full Taken King package for $70. The physical version includes special packaging, various pieces of Destiny artwork and exclusive in-game items, while, naturally, the digital version is limited to extra in-game content.

Is there platform-exclusive content for The Taken King?

Unfortunately, PlayStation gamers continue to get the better deal when it comes to Destiny. PS4 and PS3 players get an exclusive Strike and Crucible map, as well as as an exclusive gun and a few pieces of armor. On the bright side, all of last year's PlayStation-only Destiny content is now available for Xbox One and Xbox 360 players.

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Do I get anything new if I don't buy The Taken King?

Even if you don't buy The Taken King, you'll be able to experience most of the new changes brought about by the game's recent 2.0 patch. All players can now enjoy the game's less-plodding leveling system, and multiplayer maps that were exclusive to owners of the House of Wolves and The Dark Below expansions are now open to everyone.

Is The Taken King worth buying?

The Taken King looks promising, but we won't know if it's worth your money until we get to play it for ourselves. Be patient, Guardians -- our full review is coming soon.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.