Few games in recent years have generated the same degree of debate as Bungie’s Destiny. Whether it’s fervent enthusiasm or harsh criticism depends on your perspective. Some of the harshest critics work at Bungie, striving with each passing update and expansion to hone the existing content while adding meaningful new adventures into the mix. Upon visiting Bungie, we expected to find a game that continued the process in incremental steps. Instead, we found a robust reimagining of everything that has come before, along with the largest influx of new missions, maps, strikes, gear, and storytelling yet seen. We spent two days playing The Taken King and speaking with its creators, and this month’s cover story has the scoop.

Following on the heels of two smaller expansions, The Taken King is set to arrive almost exactly a year after the original game launched. In that time, a lot has changed about Destiny, but The Taken King is a more fundamental restructuring. A revamped quest format adds story context and a natural progression path to old and new content. A newly recorded actor plays the Ghost from the beginning of the story to its conclusion. And the entire leveling system has been restructured for a seamless and deterministic path from levels 1 to 40 (the new level cap). 

As for new content, the focus is on deeper and more meaningful storytelling. Cinematics are interspersed through the story missions, offering increased insight into previously paper-thin characters. The Ghost is a deeper and more involved character, played by a new actor. An initial set of new story missions is just the opening act of a larger set of narrative-focused events. New subclasses have dedicated story sequences in which you learn about their use. New weapons have more involved lore and storytelling behind them, and increased power levels that move them beyond existing gear. Even quests in the Crucible have a narrative angle. 

For the cover story, we went hands on with the new systems, missions, and game modes to discover the details veteran players are eager to learn. Equally important, we grilled Bungie about the ways in which Destiny is changing to invite new players into the experience, and even draw back players who may have disliked it the first time around. Our 14-page blowout also features more than 20 new screens from The Taken King. 

Destiny: The Taken King launches on September 15 for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360. Check out the full cover image below for a glimpse of the adventure in store for your guardian. 

(Click image above to see full spread)

We also have a full month of online coverage planned in the lead-up to The Taken King’s launch, including a detailed look at one of the new exotic weapons, a video walkthrough of one of the new Crucible maps hosted by the level’s designers, and extensive interviews with the development team. Watch our coverage trailer below (or watch and share it on YouTube) for a hint of what to expect.

In addition to our Destiny: The Taken King content, this month’s issue also offers a guide to gaming with the new Windows 10, a look back at the momentous life of Satoru Iwata, and an investigation into the historical roots of the greatest video game monsters. We also have new previews from across the gaming world, from Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst to Madden NFL 16. 

Print subscribers can watch for their issue to arrive in the next week or two, but you can read the full digital issue later today on PC/MaciPad,Android, and Google Play. You can also get the latest issue through third-party apps on NookKindle, and Zinio starting tomorrow. To switch your print subscription to digital, click here, or to create a new subscription to the digital edition, click here.

Expect new details on Destiny: The Taken King throughout August. Click on the banner below to visit our hub for all our Destiny coverage this month, and bookmark it for an easy return as each new feature is completed and goes live.