I have a confession to make. I deleted Destiny 2 from my PS4 a long time ago, with zero intention of installing it again. I had quit right about the time Forsaken was going to launch, which turned out to be a big mistake because Forsaken was the turning point Destiny needed to steep the ship back on track, similar to The Taken King expansion from the first game. No regrets, I told myself, as I allowed my gaming time to be shared with other titles over the course of the year. My clan had quit too, which was the sign I needed to move on.
Fast forward to October 2019 and Destiny 2 rears its ugly head again with Shadowkeep. I was intrigued because not only did it promise a ton of improvements and the addition of RPG heavy elements, it also featured a Vex raid and a spooky storyline as we return to the moon accompanied by none other than Eris Morn. Is this the expansion that finally makes me unearth my Guardian and take on the grind once again? Here’s my review of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep.
Feels brand new and familiar at the same time
To start, there are quite a number of things we’ll need to mention, with the first being a change in business model for Destiny. It finally took on the free to play path it was meant to be on, supplemented by season passes similar to games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. I had invested a lot of time and money into Destiny and with it going free, sure I’m a teeny tiny bit disappointed but part of me is happy to see that a lot of people will finally get to try a franchise that took close to 800 hours of my life.
Bungie had also promised a new release schedule which would take on the form of constant updates as the season progressed. Similar to Fortnite as well was the evolution of the world, another promise that would hopefully hold great things for the Destiny lore. Shadowkeep seemed to be the start of something new and exciting for Destiny, and I was all eyes and ears.
Cross save was another answered prayer from fans of the title. With Activision out of the picture, Steam took over the reigns and with it, the ability for Guardians to choose to play wherever they wished as long as you link your respective accounts. The payoff was immediate, with millions of old and new guardians logging in across platforms to finally experience this masterpiece, one with its fair share of ups and downs over the years.
And so I log my Titan back in, for the first time in a very long time. It took me about 30 minutes to finally get my bearings straight.
I was overwhelmed. Having not played since Forsaken, the game slapped me with a ton of improvements that had culminated in Shadowkeep.
First, there’s what they call Armor 2.0, which is basically the new equipment system in the game. It’s fantastic, allowing players to actually create builds that will cater to your playstyle. Armors now have stat points that can cap at 100, giving you bonuses such as faster grenade cooldown or more health as you reach certain thresholds. Each armor piece still has slots which will house your mods but the big change here is that mods are not consumable anymore and each mod now has an “energy cost”. Each armor has an energy meter that you can upgrade with currency and the higher your energy meter is, the better mods you can choose to equip. Some mods will take up more energy than others, so choose wisely. Did I also mention that armor pieces now have energy types that will restrict the type of mods you can place on it?
They call it armor 2.0 because you’ll need to farm twice as much to get the armor rolls you want and you’ll be spending twice as much time to build one to your liking. It’s also twice as satisfying, min-maxing at its finest, and I personally love it.
To the moon and back
As with new updates, a new campaign also accompanies Shadowkeep. The long and short of the story is that we head back to the Moon because of strange Hive behavior. Eris Morn returns and is investigating the source of the anomalies and you’re there to help her find out what’s causing the disturbance. It’s not overly complicated but the most I can say is that it is definitely a cliffhanger, especially because the whole campaign will run you around a measly 4 hours.
Remember when I mentioned that similar to Fortnite, the world would be evolving? The Shadowkeep campaign ends with a huge question mark simply because it is just a first in a long series of events that will be happening as Destiny progresses. Some of you may not like it, especially if you’re not the type to splash hundreds of hours into the game. If you are deeply invested in Destiny? Then this setup is fantastic because it’ll leave you eager to see what happens next. Think of it as a full story developing over the span of a year or two. Playing the same game for a year may seem like a weird prospect, but Destiny is one game that can certainly do just that.
Returning to the moon is refreshingly welcome, even though we’ve been there before. The overall look has slightly changed, with a sort of eerie feel to it now as brought about by the storyline. I love it when Destiny goes all spooky, similar to the previous expansions like The Dark Below and The Taken King, and Shadowkeep is no different. While it is new, it also feels very nostalgic at the same time.
New player or grizzled veteran, there is a ton of stuff to do in Destiny. The usual strikes are still present but with some new entries, as are public events, but new to Shadowkeep are Nightmare Hunts which are basically strikes with difficulty levels that feature palette swapped bosses from previous expansions. Personally, it’s a great (albeit lazy) way to add content into the game and the difficulty levels surprisingly adds a new dimension to the experience. I can’t say for certain if Bungie will be adding totally new enemies here, but we can safely assume that they would in future seasons.
There’s also the Vex Offensive, a fireteam based event which acts like a lite version of a raid that will have you run through objectives and waves of enemies culminating in a huge boss fight for great rewards. It’s not as mechanically demanding as a full on raid, so this is something more casual Guardians can take on to give them a feel of how an actual raid works.
Speaking of raid, Shadowkeep features a new one called the Garden of Salvation. I have yet to actually complete the raid due to scheduling conflicts but it feels great to be finally running one again after such a long time. My last raid encounter was with Calus and I can’t even count the number of times we’ve beaten the poor thing, so this felt really nostalgic to me. The constant communication, taking turns with skills, the DPS race – it felt fantastic, a rush of adrenalin, something only few games can give you with Destiny being one of them. Raids are the ultimate challenge that the game will provide you so it is something every player will want to aim for, whether it be with a full fireteam or a group of randoms.
It would be quite unfair to rate the raid without me having finished it yet, but with what I’ve experienced so far, it’s certainly fun and communications intensive but nothing too special. It’s not quite up there with the likes of Vault of Glass or King’s Fall, but there’s quite a number of good loot to be had here so it’s an activity that’s still definitely worth the time.
One thing everyone has to understand about Destiny is that it took a while to get to this point, with tons of improvements over time that started with Forsaken and culminated in Shadowkeep. Seeing as I skipped a big chunk of content, getting back into the Destiny groove was quite a painful experience. Unfortunately, there’s very little onboarding and you’re quickly left to fend for yourself, figuring out what to do next in the sea of missions and bounties. One good thing though is that on top of all the already existing activities, it’s hard to run out of things to do in between weekly resets so the best way to go about everything is to just take things easy.
Easier said than done, because one thing that Destiny does well is to constantly give you a sense of FOMO, or fear of missing out. It’ll always let you know you’re missing out on something. You’re always reminded of that missing Exotic weapon, that badge you’ve almost earned, that last armor piece from your collection… It’s easy to shrug it off though, but for more dedicated Guardians, it’s more than enough motivation to keep on playing after you’ve finished all of your weekly tasks.
If there’s ever any bad thing about any free to play game, it’s the prospect of premium items being slapped in your face and it’s no different here. The premium shop, called Eververse, is completely optional but also always there to remind you of its existence, having its own menu section. One good thing is that the game makes it slightly easier for you to earn Bright Dust, which is one of the currencies used to purchase Eververse items, so there’s less of a temptation to whip out your credit card.
What we liked:
- Armor 2.0 is great for min-maxers
- Massive but more purposeful and streamlined grindfest
- Some of the best shooting mechanics out there
What we didn’t like:
- Shadowkeep in itself feels lacking due to the world progression that’s yet to come
- Campaign is disappointingly short, similar to previous outings
Verdict: Buy it!
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep shows great promise for the future of the game. While on it’s own it leaves much to be desired, what it really does is set up a great foundation for the future seasons. Armor 2.0 is a massive improvement that allows for gameplay centered builds and with small additions like finishers, there’s just so much to do and collect that will leave even the most dedicated Guardian busy for quite some time.
As it stands, the potential is there but it’s really hard to say what future seasons will hold and how interesting the evolution of the world will be. Will it be compelling enough to keep you going? Based on Bungie’s track record and how well they’ve turned around both Destiny titles, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for this one because all of their improvements since Forsaken have steered this ship in the right direction. 35$ (or roughly around PHP1800) is a pretty fair price to pay for the amount of content that you’ll end up getting so splurging on this expansion shouldn’t be a hard decision.
*Destiny 2: Shadowkeep was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher.