Reviewing a live game, let alone a live game that I truly love has been quite a challenge. Separating my objective opinion from my rose-tinted glasses was my primary goal. That was until my objective side started to agree with my passionate side. Everything Bungie has done since their split with Activision has been something that I’ve approved of in some form or another.
Bungie classifying Destiny 2 as an RPG as well as an MMO is one example. Destiny is becoming a live game that can exist for many years. All of this and more have been ideologies Bungie has not only embraced but jumping in headfirst.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep PS4 Review
The shadows we keep
Bungie made it clear from the announcement of Shadowkeep that the new direction of MMORPG that Shadowkeep was going to be much more focused on the hardcore; the group of Guardians that stuck with Destiny and what they, as a group, would want. This has been achieved. The game has been overhauled in almost every aspect. However, because of this, there is less actual content in the way of collectibles.
This is due to the tremendous work it took to implement all of the new systems that allow players to dive deeper into their character than ever before. Although Shadowkeep is for the hardcore, the new player wasn’t left out in the cold. New Light allows brand new kinder-Guardians to jump into the fun without much risk. This new free-to-play option has been a great addition to the world of Destiny, and will hopefully act as a gateway drug to become addicted to Destiny and lead into Shadowkeep.
And I can speak on an addicted perspective of the game: The hooks, they run deep.
Right Armor for the Incoming RPG
On the surface, Shadowkeep is still the great first-person shooter it has always been. Bungie has proven again and again that not only do they know how to make a top tier shooter, but they set the bar for great feeling gameplay. This continues in Shadowkeep. However, Destiny is no mere FPS.
It is now an in-depth RPG, and this becomes more apparent the longer you spend with this new Armor 2.0 system. Veterans of Destiny will recognize the return of Intellect, Strength, and Discipline to the already existing Mobility, Recovery, and Resilience. This is something Bungie has talked about in great lengths in news updates and live streams.
However, what we didn’t know until now is how these stats would change the game in approach and feel. From the start of Shadowkeep, you see how these returning stats affect the game. Cutting down the cooldown of supers and melee abilities are felt immediately. This is an amazing side step Destiny has taken.
It feels as if either the original Destiny has been updated to feel amazing, or Destiny 2 got a piece of itself that felt lost.
This isn’t where the changes stop. Armor 2.0 took the old mod system out back and shot it. Gear no longer rolls with mods as it has in Destiny previously. Now, you get mods as drops and rewards that you can attach to a piece of gear as long as the energy cost and element of the gear match.
As you collect more mods and equip them, you become more motivated to collect materials to buy the necessary items to upgrade the piece of gear you’re looking at. This adds even more depth to the gameplay and customization of your character. This finally gives players the option to grind out gear as they do already with weapons.
Shadowkeep Changes the Story Formula
Shadowkeep campaign is one about quality over quantity. The story itself spans about seven missions that, if you attack directly, will only take about three to four hours to complete. This may seem short, and if it was the whole story, you would be right. However, since announcing Shadowkeep, Bungie has been clear that their approach to the story has changed.
Stories will now be season-long events. Seasons were introduced into Destiny at the launch of Destiny 2 and since then have evolved quite a bit. What started as new gear drops every three months have turned into world-changing events. With the new approach to the story in Shadowkeep, Bungie will introduce a story beat at the beginning of a season.
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As each season progresses, the world will continue to change and evolve to fit the new concepts. However, as the season concludes, and the event introduced with that season comes to a close, a new thing will be introduced to lead into the next season. With four seasons in every year of Destiny, things are going to be changing fairly frequently.
With this new format, it’s hard to fully review the story, because we don’t know how this will ultimately pay off. However, with a game like Destiny the story never fully done. This doesn’t change what has been introduced with Shadowkeep, and for long-time fans, this is a huge development.
The Moon has many dark sides
We haven’t seen Eris Morn as a Guardian in some time. After the events of The Rise of Iron in the original Destiny, she left us and the Tower. That is until now. She has been looking into the Hive and doing so brought her to the Moon.
Veteran players already know the Moon has always been the domain of the Hive. Shadowkeep reinforces that with the introduction of the Scarlet Keep.
From the moment the campaign kicks off, the story feels much different then what we’ve come to expect from a Destiny campaign. Instead of a normal slow burn, Shadowkeep feels as if you’re being hit by a slew of quick powerful jabs. This may, on the surface, sound like a negative thing. Although with the new approach to the story spanning over the course of a season, this makes sense.
If we look at Destiny as an overarching story, we will notice the two games have been filled with plenty of epic moments. However, there’s been nothing that truly impacts the universe as a whole, outside of a few major plot points. This is something that changes with Shadowkeep. If Destiny was an anime, then what happened before it is character development and Shadowkeep is the first episode to push the plot forward.
Bungie finally has given us a glimpse of where the story of Destiny is going, and ultimately who our true enemy will be. Although this enemy is menacing, it should be terrified of us.
The future of Destiny 2 is bright
Shadowkeep may have completely turned Destiny 2 on its head, but this is something the franchise needs to continue. As Destiny 2 continues to grow and expand, it will become easier and easier to live inside of this universe. The changes to gameplay and the focus on making Destiny an MMORPG is Bungie giving players peace of mind to fully invest in their Guardians: That these characters are around to stay for the near to distant future.
This isn’t the only thing to give players something to be excited about. The new story structure has a lot of promise. What would have been a huge expansion os stretched it out over the season and eventual year. This not only keeps Destiny 2 in the conversation of gamers, but it keeps players always excited for what comes next.
Shadowkeep may not have a lot to show off in terms of new things. However, what it has is a change to a formula that will allow Destiny to expand and change. This is something that can be as frequently as the community and Bungie want. Shadowkeep has put its faith in its fanbase, rather than new players.
While this may seem like a negative thing, it’s something that will grow Destiny in the long run. Destiny 2 has never been in better hands than they are now. See you in the stars, Guardian.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep launched on October 1, 2019, on PS4, Steam, and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.