Destiny 2 today is barely recognisable compared to how the original was at launch, and is even a completely different beast to the launch version of the sequel, which fell into the exact same pitfall as the first game in front-loading most of its content and starving itself of a meaningful endgame. While expansions helped to add extra content to ease this issue somewhat, it still didn't take long to reach the point where many players were simply logging on for weekly reset, grabbing a few bits of gear, then putting the game down for another week. Bungie's plan to combat this has been to make Shadowkeep (and indeed Destiny, in general, going forward) a game that evolves on a weekly basis. What was presented upfront on launch day might have felt a little on the thin side, with a brief campaign with little payoff and a sort-of-new place to explore (more on that in a bit), but it's important to remember that is only the tip of the iceberg. New activities and events now come and go on a weekly basis, so it always feels like there's loads to do whenever you log on – perfectly timed to coincide with the base game going free-to-play via the New Light version.
We also get a 'new' play space in the form of Earth's Moon, the inverted commas there since veteran Guardians will have almost certainly been there before in the original Destiny and in truth, it hasn't changed all that much. Parts have fallen into disrepair in our absence, a few new areas have been bolted on to make the map a good size now, and Lost Sectors have been added in line with the rest of Destiny 2's locations, and these are probably the best ones in the game. They're lengthy, challenging, and have unique mechanics, making them feel almost like miniature Strikes rather than the short enemy cupboards that most of the others around the system tend to be. There's an undeniable excitement about returning to the moon after such a long time away (your mileage will vary in terms of how long that nostalgia kick lasts), and it's still a cool and surprisingly varied area for any newcomers that didn't venture there in the original game. Most of all, it's just great to feel challenged by Destiny again. Outside of a few encounters, most previous content can be face-tanked pretty easily when you're at max level as many of us had been for months before Shadowkeep dropped, so having to tool up all over again and actively avoid areas or missions that might be genuinely impossible with low-level gear is a real breath of fresh air. Bungie does challenge really well, as Nightfall addicts and regular Raiders will tell you, and there's a genuine thrill to the basic missions and busywork of the game when they put you through the wringer.
Then there's the Raid, and Bungie's winning streak continues here. The Black Garden is gorgeous in its design, in equal parts breathtaking and confusing, as you might expect the homeworld of a mechanised race to be. Encounters are challenging, walking a confident line between enemy difficulty and mechanical complexity, and the rewards are generally pretty spectacular, so it's well worth putting a team together to see this through. While there's still no true matchmaking for this (strong communication is vital to beat even the first section), the Guided Games system returns, meaning that players without their own Raid team can tag along with other experienced teams who might be one short. Additional rewards also make it advisable to join a Clan, and most of these are packed with helpful players who will more than likely be up for helping you get Raids done. Destiny's community continues to be one of the best aspects of the game (the few rotten eggs you might run into in the Crucible aside), and it's honestly one of the main reason so many players keep coming back time and again when the franchise has made so many missteps along the way.
- New activities are well done
- Overhauled weapons and armour feel great
- The moon area is large and varied...
- … but most of us have been there before
- Some may dislike time-gated content
- Few new Exotic items (so far)
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep Review (PS4)
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep offers a decent amount of content up-front, but it's the promise of regular weekly updates and additions that makes it most exciting. There are new activities, weapons, challenges and events planned for the coming weeks and months and it's all laid out clearly, making it easy for Guardians to get geared up in time for whatever it is they want to play, whether that be the sweaty PvP of Iron Banner, the mysteries of a new Dungeon (the previous one, Shattered Throne, being one of the best activities in all of Destiny), or simply more challenging versions of existing activities they know and love. Power creep has been reined in significantly, clearing the way for new approaches and strategies rather than the same ones that have been effective for months or even years, although a few weapons have slipped through the cracks – Huckleberry is still nuts thanks to dodging the otherwise blanket nerf to the Rampage perk, while The Recluse shows just how broken it was before by still managing to be best-in-slot for most activities even after its unique perk got slapped down to a more sensible level.
It's also worth noting that while we've focused on Shadowkeep as an expansion, most of what we've mentioned and praised here also applies to the New Light content, with players of the F2P version getting all the same benefits in terms of quality-of-life improvements as well as things like the new armour system. Whether you're a paid-up ticketholder for lunar travel or a newcomer taking in the sights of the solar system for the first time, Destiny 2 is in a really good place right now, and Bungie has made the future of the game feel extremely promising with its solo debut here.
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