Destiny 2: The Final Shape - Review (2024)

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I can't think of an example of a game that has attempted to do what Destiny 2: The Final Shape has done. This expansion, the final chapter in the Light and Darkness Saga, serves as a closing point on almost 10 years of narrative, a closing point that also acts as an Avengers Endgame-level team-up and moment. While we've seen a few games do similar things, perhaps in the form of trilogies or even big expansion payoffs as is the case in World of Warcraft, The Final Shape is the moment that players have been waiting for ever since they first awakened in the Cosmodrome back in 2014. So to say that this expansion needed to stick the landing is perhaps an understatement. Thankfully, it did.

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Destiny 2: The Final Shape is perhaps the greatest piece of Destiny content we've ever had. Not only is this a fitting and very complete conclusion to a lengthy saga, one that no doubt many will be happy to treat as a jumping off point and a place to end their Guardian's journey, but it's also the culmination of years and years of gameplay innovations and improvements and nods and references to a decade's worth of efforts. It's the perfect love letter to what Destiny 2 has delivered time and time again, and in a way that is effortlessly entertaining and thrilling.

The story is both massive and emotionally complex. Bungie has managed to tie up so many loose ends at once in this expansion, giving beloved characters the send off they deserve, presenting villains and bosses in a hugely overwhelming and threatening manner, and all while paving the way to the future and opening the door to new adventures and character arcs too. The narrative and writing is thoughtful and suspenseful, and the way that Bungie weaves in gameplay with cinematics and dialogue sequences all make The Final Shape stand out as the pinnacle of Destiny 2 storytelling.

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This is also reflected in the level design. The Pale Heart of the Traveler is perhaps the best location we've seen yet, for a multitude of reasons. The level design is presented in such a way that you're taken on a trip down memory lane through places that have defined your journey throughout the years. Be it the Cosmodrome, the original Tower, Europa, the Dreaming City, Io, this campaign takes you to places inspired by many beloved locations and offers them with verticality and depth like we first saw explored in Destiny 2: Lightfall. And this also applies to the way the levels are offered up in a community and action sense, as every multiplayer activity and mechanic feels updated and modernised in a way that makes exploring The Pale Heart feel worthwhile and impactful in a manner that was never the case with Lightfall's Neomuna or really any of the locations prior to that.

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In fact, Bungie has clearly decided to take the training wheels off Destiny 2 entirely here as the game is much more complicated and rewarding. That may be a nuisance and a bit overwhelming to new players, but to those who have been on this journey since day one, this is precisely what we have always wanted; rewarding activities that challenge and truly push the limits of our Guardian's power and potential. Be it the new Pathfinder challenge system that makes exploration in The Pale Heart (and even Ritual activities) more rewarding and interesting than simply ticking off Bounties, to the various new game modes like Overthrow and the 12-player Excision, The Pale Heart is the sort of location that after a couple of weeks of delving into every nook and cranny, you still feel like you've barely scratched the surface of what it truly has to offer.

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The new subclass of Prismatic is very similar too, as this is truly the ultimate power fantasy. Being able to combine Light and Darkness abilities together make for a really compelling and deadly alternative, one that has so much creativity and such buildcrafting depth that we will be seeing people come up with amazing ways to break open the damage-per-second meta for months and months to come. More so when aligned with the new weapons, gear, and Exotics that have been introduced and added with some of the best and most thrilling and fresh quest lines we've ever had in a Destiny game. The mechanical depth and prowess that Bungie is expressing in The Final Shape is almost puzzle-esque in its variety and difficulty, and this all means that there's never a dull moment while working through this mega and deep expansion.

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I will say that the Dread enemy faction, while bringing some new elements and gameplay mechanics to have to overcome and conquer, don't quite stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the current factions. Many of the new enemy types, such as the Weaver, too closely resemble Psions, and most of their attacks feel a bit too familiar and basic to impress and stand out against all of the other flashy and exciting new features and elements in this expansion. Sure, the bosses and larger enemies are pretty cool, but as far as game design goes, Lightfall's Tormentors still firmly sit at the top of the lethality chart.

But the Dread being a little basic is fine as you're so overwhelmed with new and returning mechanics that it's never a major concern. Remember Destiny 2: Beyond Light's Freezing Cold mechanic that has basically never been used since? What about the Pervading Darkness from Destiny 2: The Witch Queen? How about the Mote system from Gambit? A lot of major and interesting mechanics from the past have been worked into The Final Shape and in a way that is both interesting and important. Bungie has also managed to present every system in a thoughtful and educational way so that players were firmly prepped for the more demanding tasks post The Final Shape's main campaign, i.e. in the Raid and the new two-player Exotic mission that is just outright brilliant and worth playing even if you have to queue up with a stranger and actually speak to someone you've never met before! Scary stuff, right?

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Destiny 2: The Final Shape is not for everyone, it's for the veterans and the players who have stuck by this game year-after-year-after-year, and it's precisely this that makes it such a brilliant end product. It's crammed to the brim with content, has hugely impactful and important story developments, takes risks that pay off with mechanics and gameplay, and all in a new location that is dripping with nostalgia while being effortlessly gorgeous. I'm not sure what the future holds for Destiny, but I can firmly say that The Final Shape has given me the conclusion I have been searching and longing for, so much so that I'm now ready to go beyond the Sol system and see what the rest of this big, beautiful, and dangerous universe has to offer. Bravo Bungie.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape - Review (2024)

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