Destiny 2: The Final Shape Review – For The Guardians

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Destiny 2: The Final Shape Review – For The Guardians


After 10 years of storytelling, the overarching saga that was introduced in the original launch of Destiny has finally concluded. With The Final Shape, Bungie ties a bow on the vast majority of its lingering plotlines and questions and sets the stage for a new direction in subsequent releases. Ahead of that, this concluding chapter is extremely satisfying, offering a rousing, heartfelt, and character-driven wrap-up that does right by what has come before. From narrative to gameplay, this is not the installment that welcomes newcomers. But for every hour (or thousands of hours) a player has invested in this adventure, the ending on offer is that much more potent.

The Final Shape expansion transports Guardians into the mysterious interior of the massive spherical Traveler, a space of liminal and surreal environments halfway between real and imagined. In a decade of strong location design, this new destination is the most unusual and artistically striking, regularly nodding to places we’ve visited before and combining them with strange organic shapes like giant hands and faces carved in rock.

The campaign is set up as a non-stop journey from point A to B, with waypoints that act as moments of anguish and catharsis for the most important players in the story over the last decade. It’s the most human and relatable storytelling the franchise has yet managed.

Thanks to the delightfully dangerous Dread faction of enemies, and a number of raid-like mechanics, the missions feature a satisfying mix of intense action and gunplay while requiring careful observation. The story lands with a satisfying punch of exhilaration and emotion by weaving the raid completion and one final concluding activity together. Grand and epic storytelling demands a clever mix of bombast and poetic sensibility, and this is one of those times when a game has hit the mark.

The new prismatic subclasses – alongside a range of other new abilities – make this expansion the most mechanically complex the franchise has yet dared. Build-crafting and experimentation are necessities for high-level play. Despite some efforts to simplify, the glut of currencies and interwoven progression systems has grown painfully convoluted even for veteran players. It’s hard to even imagine how a newcomer would pierce the veil and get up to speed.

Nonetheless, Bungie deserves props for trying to explain systems in-game and providing guidance on how to improve. Alongside some awesome new exotics and legendary weapons (that almost feel like exotics), players have an enormous array of options to tweak and play how they want. The sandbox is vast, and we have plenty of unique ways to play inside.

Some new systems, like the new Pathfinder system, are fascinating ideas that nonetheless remain too prescriptive, often demanding styles of play that some players aren’t interested in trying. That said, many of the new public events, matchmade activities, and post-campaign missions are fun and thoughtfully built to allow for extensive and enjoyable replay. Many of the current high-tier activities, including the new raid and certain gear chases, are extremely challenging, and should offer a meaningful mountain to climb for most endgame players for many weeks ahead.

As if to remind players that one story’s conclusion is just the start of another, The Final Shape wasted little time in launching its new episodic structure to replace seasons. The full reach and potential of that new rollout approach goes beyond the scope of this review and will stretch into future months. However, it’s enough to know that a pleasing follow-through already awaits those who smash through the saga’s ending and are ready to keep going, with new activities and rewards, like exotic class items, waiting to be chased.

Over the years, Destiny 2 has ballooned into a massive and unwieldy beast, filled with cooperative and competitive experiences, hundreds of named characters and organizations, and an often-unapproachable vernacular that can take a long time to learn to speak and play. With The Final Shape, Bungie makes no apologies for the complexity but does finally offer purposeful punctuation to mark an endpoint. Largely unencumbered by what has come before, the frontiers ahead are now open to be revealed.

 



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