Ever since splitting from Activision, Bungie has been talking a big game. The launch of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep represents the moment where the developer fully embraces the MMO concept, clearly defines its core pillars, and lays the groundwork for a better looter shooter experience. It’s a series of promises that transforms the base game into a free-to-play option while veteran players get a taste of the team’s latest and greatest ideas. Destiny 2 will continue to evolve over the next 12 months, but does Shadowkeep symbolize the next big step forward for the franchise? Perhaps, but this initial wave of content has an all too familiar feeling about it.
Despite its significance, this expansion is not quite as sizeable as last year’s Forsaken DLC. Bringing with it a returning location in the Moon, a handful of new armour sets and weapons, and a somewhat short campaign, Shadowkeep probably won’t leave as much of a lasting impression as you’d like. It’s fun while it lasts, helped along by a smattering of other activities, but memorable moments are few and far between.
In fact, so much of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is about returning locations, enemies, and mechanics that it gets to the point where it actually embraces it. The four-hour campaign brings back the original Destiny’s Eris Morn, who has learned of a Hive discovery that is breathing new life into enemies of the past. It’s basically an excuse for you to fight previous raid bosses all over again - including The Dark Below’s Crota and various relatives of The Taken King’s Oryx.
Some may see this as a bit of a rehash, and we’re inclined to agree in the case of the foreboding foes you encounter, but at least the Moon itself has had a makeover. You’ll recognise one or two areas as you traverse its surface, but things are a whole lot scarier this time around. Patrol beacons have been replaced with nightmarish silhouettes that cry out for help, Hive combatants that are completely immune to your ammunition for much of the campaign roam the battlefield, and its underground tunnels that burrow into Lost Sectors are even spookier thanks to dark and moody lighting. It’s a genuinely eerie and frightening place to visit, complete with unexpected audio cues and a phenomenal, chilling soundtrack that keep you on edge at all times. Meanwhile, powerful Nightmares manifest close to the Hive’s base and Vex invasions keep you on your toes as you go about your business.
It’s a shame then that the sequence of story-based missions that take place there aren’t quite as inspired. Aside from one or two impressive revelations, this is very much the same Destiny experience you’ve come to expect. An incredible opening quest eventually gives way to menial tasks and humdrum levels that aren’t in the least bit interesting. Nostalgia does take over at points as encounters of old are revived, however. It won’t mean much to players who didn’t have the chance to experience it at the time, but we couldn’t help but crack a smile when we were given the chance to take down Crota once again.
On the one hand, it feels like an expansion designed for the fans, but on the other, there’s a lot of upheaval and change to certain core systems. Coined Armour 2.0, Bungie has gone full-blown RPG. With a brand new system in place, Guardians can now make changes to their build by taking advantage of various mods that better suit their playstyle. If you prefer a certain weapon archetype over another, you can now fully customise your character to accommodate that. Alongside those perks are the individual statistics attached to each armour piece. These govern the likes of your super, melee, and grenade recharge timers, so if you want to craft a Titan that likes to deal damage with their firsts or a Warlock who prefers spamming magic more than anything else, you can do that. These systems allow for a freeing amount of experimentation that simply wasn’t possible before.
Complementing that is a new slot on the inventory screen which houses an Artifact. Upgraded via XP, it’s this that contains the armour and weapon mods you’ll use to enhance your next piece of legendary equipment. It’s a fairly minor inclusion when you take the game’s overall loop into account, but it’s yet one more addition you’ll be looking to master as you add each and every modification it has to offer to your arsenal.
Shadowkeep also introduces the franchise’s first season-based Battle Pass. In a very similar vein to Fortnite, you’ll earn rewards from rank ups across both a free tier and a paid one if you own the season pass. It’s another for the list of mechanics that hand out items, currency, and consumables for simply playing the game at your own leisure. As harmless as it may be, though, it’s the actual microtransaction-based store of Eververse that’s closer than ever. Now built into the game’s main menu, it’s accessible within a few button presses rather than having to wait through a lengthy load screen as you head back to the Tower. It’s tough to criticise an improvement to the game’s quality of life, but it’s an interesting observation nonetheless.
It’s clear that Bungie has worked tirelessly to improve the systems that make up every engagement and slice of action, and while that goes a long way in designing a better playing game, what you’re actually doing remains very much the same. Although it’s better in every single way, the Moon continues to be a location we had our fair share of in 2014 while the Nightmares that inhabit it don’t amount to much more than repurposed boss fights. The studio clearly has a vision of what a refined, better Destiny looks like a couple of years down the line, but for now, the only thing it has to show for that is an overhaul of its armour system.
While its campaign is enjoyable in the moment, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep never manages to truly shake the fact that we already went to the Moon five years ago. For better or worse, this is just more Destiny, and that’s a positive for those enamoured with the franchise, but anyone who was hoping for a more dramatic overhaul of its core systems and mechanics will be left wanting. Bungie has huge plans for the future of Destiny 2, but Shadowkeep only delivers a small piece of that vision.
I've just started the free to play version of the base game and it's been an absolute blast, the mechanics are fantastic, the quests are interesting and I'm having a lot of fun with it. For reference I played all the way through the original and got most of the exotics but never moved on to the second game. However now I may even get the expansions to catch up and quite like the idea of some of the returning bosses and the nightmare missions. For now though I appear to have quite a lot of content before even spending a penny
Even if i wanted to give Bungie the benefit of doubt, and i don’t, i wouldn’t even know where to start to be “up to speed” with the content.
I think i bought the first two mini expansions on sale, so i’m missing what, two big expansions, and how many season passes?
Even if i guess it wouldn’t be difficult to figure it out, i don’t want to give them that kind of money.
They don’t deserve it.
I started the free to play PC version and I actually have been pleasantly surprised. I do think it’ll get stale after a while but it’s been fun so far, and that’s all that matters.
@Bliquid Luckily, this common issue has been fixed. Everyone is at the same level. If you want to play a certain story, or activities you're allowed to do that. Don't care for shadowkeep but want forsaken? Buy forsaken. Want the latest season? Buy that season. You no longer have to "catch up" you play what you want to play at the same level as everyone else.
This expansion is a mixed bag for me. The Vex invasion stuff is a better version of Menagerie and the moon is a fun trip down memory lane, but for all their sales pitching and promises of taking the Destiny franchise to new places, it was ironic to go back to a D1 location. Since this expansion was likely under production while still associated Activision, I didn’t expect it to be the game changer they promised and it isn’t. It’s simply more content and tweaks to some game systems to shift the grind around. The most annoying thing about this franchise is when Bungie stands up and says “hey we want you to play your style and feel powerful” but they always control the narrative. They nerf and buff weapons/abilities to steer the community to play the game how THEY see it. It’s still a fun game, especially with friends but it will be a while before we actually see what life post Activision feels like.
I got tired of the whole Destiny grind.... I have lost completely all interest in the franchise after the Forsaken dlc. Maybe is me not having anymore time to sink into the grind, maybe after a sequel that was a bad copy and paste version of the original the novelty wore out....
The gunplay is not enough anymore to keep me interested, the grind is too tedious and the loot is not really get me enthusiastic...
I love Destiny, and the expansion has some nice things, but the games is starting to tread very closely to micro-transactions for my taste. Eververse is a looming shadow over the menus now, you don't get the engrams with cosmetic stuff (you do get some with old cosmetics but only on the battlepass). The raid armor set is a rehash of an old set, the new pretty set costs money to get, the list goes on...
Still I have been playing and it's kind fun, but the artifact and the battlepass basically just seem like an easy/cheap way to insert some more grind into the game and get people to play.
I'm leaning more towards character / more story driven games rather than grindy ones nowadays so I'm holding out for Cyberpunk 2077. Though BGE2 looks to be phenomenal.
I think there is a very thin line between playing on nostalgia and reskinning old content. Its hard to see which side this expansion is on. Moon was never my favourite location and the hive have been done to death. I liked Forsaken. I came to the realisation that the campaigns are usually fun but as soon as you come to doing the same stuff weekly thats when it gets dull.
@carlos82 well if you ever need a helping hand, just pm me 👍👍
I've been enjoying Destiny 2, but man the Shadowkeep campaign missions are dreadful. I really wish Bungie would seriously step up their quest design and storytelling.
I have returned to D2 for Shadowkeep and am enjoying it so far. I agree with the review, pretty much though; a lot of it is all too familiar, and the "new direction" doesn't really seem to have transpired. I guess I will do the usual; play for a month until I burn up the new content, then play something else for 2 months until more content comes out. I'm still waiting for that big gamechanger Bungie?
This is a pathetic money grab reappropriation of sadly everything we've all encountered before, monotonous grinding, oddly weighted power weapons, that bear no resenblance to actuality. Why have those whom have endured d1, d2, and every single dlc been ignored and asked to purchase the darn season pass for any reward, I'm done..this is going nowhere.
I had destiny 2 on ps4 and got the forsaken content last Christmas for £20, I've moved to the pc version now because it's so much better in 60fps and you see a lot more detail in the world etc. But I wish I didn't have to pay for the Forsaken content again I wish I could have just migrated it across along with my saves. But I may get shadowkeep just I don't know if it comes with Forsaken stuff as well as I wouldnt mind getting it all in a bundle
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