Destiny 2 eh? It’s gone through more changes than a drag queen at a costume shop. First it was a full price game, now it’s free to play via New Light, and finally Bungie are going it alone without the clout of Activision.
Now that Bungie have full control, something which has been widely accepted as a positive thing, have they managed to shake up a game that’s arguably becoming stale? Well the simple answer is no, which could be a worry considering Bungie apparently have a 5-year plan for Destiny 2. Don’t expect Destiny 3 anytime soon.
So Shadowkeep is the next chapter in the series, another big expansion like Forsaken. If you have been playing Destiny since the first game you’ll know that the expansions, large or small are reluctant to mix things up, instead relying the same core mechanics and gameplay, essentially just offering new story paths, new raids, strikes and crucible content.
As you probably know by now Shadowkeep takes place on the Moon, a welcome return to one of my favourite destinations from the first game. This time around it’s a much darker, haunting location and scarier thanks to literal bullet sponge enemies who are immune to your weapons for most of the game. Good or bad though our return to the moon is just that, the same open world patrol zone but with a few more facets tacked on. There are new enemies to overcome too, known as Nightmares. An exciting sounding name, but unfortunately, like The Taken in the previous expansion are just new skins for existing enemies with a bit of red smoke. Considering the creativity of the Destiny universe and its many inhabitants, this is just plain lazy. And almost unforgivable to have this from two paid for expansions in a row.
Of course, shooting these puffs of smoke is as pleasurable as it’s always been with Destiny which, in my opinion has the best gunplay of any game of this generation. Now there are added finishing moves to carry out when an enemy is near death which is a nice addition. It’s just a shame that you’re shooting the same old enemies in the same old locations. The 19 mission 4-hour story campaign focuses on Erin Morn who has returned to the galaxy to warn players about a coming Hive invasion and is perhaps one of the more interesting stories from Destiny lore. In the end though this amounts to little and lacks any real imagination especially when the finale rolls around. Going up against old bosses under the guise of ‘ghosts from the past’ is cheap and despite some ‘big revelations’ it never really feels inspired.
Shadowkeep is arguably an expansion for the fans. The game comes with Armour 2.0 a handful of new weapons and armour, two new strikes, three new crucible PvP maps and a new raid called Garden of Salvation. On the surface this sounds like quite a good deal for an expansion, but when you look closer, you’ll see it’s not that great value. The two new strikes are available via New Light, the free to play version of Destiny 2. Two of the three crucible maps are rehashes of older ones and the new raid is set in a location you’ve been to before; The Black Garden. The repetition of shooting old enemies means exhaustion sets in quickly and the appeal to scour the land for lore wanes incredibly quickly.
There are some much needed changes under the hood however regarding how you want your Guardian to play like, if you prefer a certain weapon type, play style or piece of armour you can customise your character via mods and perks with Armour 2.0, similar in some respects to the first Destiny just somewhat more fleshed out. This leads to experimentation which wasn’t really available before allowing gamers to dedicate time to a favourite piece of armour or weapon. Add to that the new slot on the inventory screen which houses ‘Seasonal artefacts’ and the new level 100XP limit there is something to actually play for now. Newbies may struggle to understand the finer details of this new system, I consider myself fairly well versed in the ways of Destiny but even I struggled to keep up with all the options available to you. What’s not so good however is the Microtransaction store Eververse, which now located in the main menu rather than in the tower so it’s easier than ever to spend real money on crap.
But what about multiplayer? Well there have been some changes here too, and for the better. PvE Nightfall mode is back and finally the long-awaited feature of matchmaking is available. This means you can now team up with other Guardians and tackle Nightfall: The Ordeal. Other than that Crucible games are now listed in game-types Survival, Control, Rumble, the “Classic Mix,” Team Scorched, Countdown, and Labs.
Either love it or hate it Destiny has always been about the grind and repetition. But that can only go so far and its now getting tiresome thanks to Bungie constantly rehashing old material. I understand visiting old locations like the Moon, it is treat for oldies and newbies alike but what I don’t get is why they can’t have brand new enemy designs instead of relying on new skins and colour pallets. The lack of any real new content, or at least content that’s exclusive for this paid for expansion make Shadowkeep a hard pill to swallow. I mean it does beg the question as to whether it’s actually worth picking up Shadowkeep if half of the content is available in New Light.
You can tell that Bungie are trying their best to refine the base foundations of Destiny and that must be applauded considering how well the game has played for the past 5 years. If you are well buried in the franchise then you’ll no doubt lap this up, if you’re new to the series or looking for something that will finally shake up the stale gameplay, you’ll be left wanting. Shadowkeep is a small stone in a big pond, I’m still waiting for that boulder to make a real splash.
Destiny 2: Shadow Keep is available now on PC, PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro) and Xbox One and Google Stadia on November 19th.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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