Destiny 2: The Final Shape Review

Destiny 2 Final Shape Header Artwork

Let’s not beat around the bush, The Final Shape is exactly the finale that Destiny 2 deserves. Almost a decade on from the original game’s release, and with many players having sunk thousands of hours into the science fantasy shooter over the years, The Final Shape had a lot of expectations and pressure heaped upon it to deliver the satisfying ending for all the characters we’ve come to know and love. They took a little while longer to make sure they got it right – especially after Lightfall’s disappointment – but Bungie has absolutely nailed it.

If you have not been following the story of Destiny 2 then you’re out of luck, it would take ten thousands words just to explain it and we don’t have the time. Suffice to say the big bad, The Witness, has shoved a massive yonic hole in The Traveller and the core cast of Zavala, Ikora and your Guardian have travelled inside where they meet a seemingly resurrected Cayde-6, this completing the original Vanguard trio for the final battle. Its been almost ten years since these three started the fight and in those years Bungie’s storytelling has (Lightfall excepted) improved immeasurably. This is not a happy tale with grief, and loss weighing heavily on all of the cast, each of them coming to terms with their own personal demons. It’s by far the most mature story Bungie have attempted and the cast, including a returning Nathan Fillion and Keith David who is now voicing Zavala after Lance Reddick’s untimely death, are excellent.

Bungie has also gone to town with cutscenes with far more in The Final Shape than any other Destiny DLC. You still get Ghost doing a exposition recap at the end of each mission but all the key plot points are animated in full CGI or with pencil sketch style animations. They’ve also included a lot more voice work, there are no new characters but we final get to hear Zavala and Cayde’s Ghosts speak. Between battles there a scenes with characters just talking around camp fires explaining their emotions and thoughts and this really bonds you them, making each mission more personal, more meaningful.

The campaign itself is excellent, especially on Legendary difficulty level with your Fireteam. Many fights are set in huge open areas and it really makes a difference, allowing you to attack from cover from quite a distance, and if needs be – make a frantic dash back to a forest to hide for a bit and regain your health. The game also looks stunning with biomes changing as you progress, breath-taking vistas and a liberal dash of body horror. I mean that quite literally, there are bridges made of grasping hands and walls of faces, contorted in agony. Destiny fans will recognise many of the locations as they taken from previous iterations of the game, areas from long forgotten missions, the original tower, discarded Crucible maps and levels from planets that no longer exist make a return. This may seem like a cheap move but they have all been changed and enhanced and they play a key part of the story, your journey in Destiny that began all those years ago and what must, like everything else in the universe, eventually come to and end.

The campaign missions are long, our Fireteam took around ten hours to beat everything on Legendary although a good few hours of that were the final boss fight which ramps up difficulty considerably with multiple instant kill attacks. Rather like Raids, the missions gradually introduce new puzzle elements and these are used through the campaign in various combinations and, thankfully, there are just a few jumping puzzles. The Witness is an almost constant presence, whispering in your ear while you fight, teasing you with promises of power and riches and laughing at your attempts to get near them. Again, this makes the fight personal, learning what they have done to others is quite sickening and by the end you really, really want to give them a Gjallarhorn up the backside and send them packing.

Early on the Campaign you unlock your new Super class, Prismatic. This isn’t and entire new Super class but a way of mixing and matching abilities from all five existing Super classes and creating your own brand of destruction. This means that abilities that were specific to class can now be shared, for example my Titan could have a Solar Super, Strand grenades, and a dodge rather a barricade. There are also limited time perks that can be found specific to the new open world area, the Pale Heart and with these, Prismatic and some new Exotic Weapons and Armour, the combinations are extensive.

The one disappointment as you come to the end of the main campaign is that you barely get to scratch The Witness and after all that talk of endings, nothing really ends. However, Bungie had one last trick up their sleeve and upon the first completion of the new Raid, Salvation’s Edge, a new activity appears: Excision. This is Bungie’s first ever 12-player activity and it’s clearly heavily influenced by Avengers Endgame. The cinematic before the encounter brings almost every friendly character to the fight with Zavala giving a rousing speech to the assembled troops.

Excision gives us an idea of what a Destiny 3 might be like, or at least the potential for when they finally drop support for the last generation consoles. It’s an utterly ridiculous spectacle with all twelve players firing off Supers, using abilities and every weapon they can. The NPC’s provide back up and instructions and you finally get to smack The Witness in the chops and send them packing. Further cut scenes show the aftermath and we get to see all the fan favourite characters ending with the core cast sitting down for one final chat. Obviously there’s still a year of content to come, but as this really is the end of the main Destiny 2 story, Bungie tug at those heart strings and I expect many of those who have been playing since day one will shed a tear or two during those final scenes.

We played The Final Shape on PlayStation 5 but did load up the twelve player activity, Excision, on PlayStation 4 just to see how the old console would cope. I did see the frame rate stutter but just once, though the last generation only targeting 30 FPS, the lower frame rate did make it difficult to work out exactly what was going on in certain moments.

There’s still plenty to do in the game, though. The Pale Heart is full of brand new activities and secrets to discover and there are lengthy hidden quests to unlock the rest of the Prismatic class. However, wander around The Pale Heart and you may feel a bit lonely as Bungie have decided to only allow your Fireteam in each instance. If that Fireteam consists of just you, then that’s it, you are the only one fighting across the entire massive area, a very odd decision and, technically at least, one that seems at odds with jamming twelve players and all the supporting cast in the final mission.

The locking of that final mission, is another example of improvements made by Bungie, in this case one of pacing. Up until now the Seasonal content dropped the same time as the expansion leaving players with a screen full of tasks and flashing icons. For this year the Seasonal content begins a week after the expansion so you don’t have to rush through everything in the first week, and it’s being split into smaller Episodes – the first, Echoes, drops today. Bungie have also announced an eleventh year of content, so it looks like Destiny 2 will continue with a brand new story.

Summary
The Final Shape is Destiny 2 back to its best for its grand narrative finale. It's the ultimate space wizards with a machine gun fantasy combined with emotional story beats and characters you truly care for. Despite all the odds, Bungie has crafted the perfect endgame.
Good
  • Emotional storytelling with quiet, reflective moments
  • Superb graphical design
  • New enemies, new weapons, new everything!
  • A perfectly excecuted ending
Bad
  • Fireteam-only open world areas
  • Crow's old haircut (90s boyband fringe)
  • Crow's new haircut (Hipster manbun)
9
Written by
News Editor, very inappropriate, probs fancies your dad.

Leave a Reply