Shadowkeep Breathes New Life Into Destiny 2
For Destiny 2, its fate seemed all but sealed when Activision Blizzard and Bungie split up back in January. Breakups are hard to do and you never know how is going to get to keep the dog and splitting up custody is always an awkward thing.
Thankfully for us, Activision handed everything off to Bungie and basically peeled out in the driveway. While the initial tears have long since dried, the existential worries that many Destiny 2 players were feeling because of this set of unfortunate events remains palpable even now. Those worries can be largely laid to rest now because Destiny 2: Shadowkeep gives the game a new lease on life and pretty much improves upon it in every way. Destiny 2 was always a solid game, but Shadowkeep reminds you of why Bungie is so good at what they do.
Let’s just put it this way, you don’t bounce back easily from a failed partnership but, if this is Bungie’s rebound, then we can’t wait to see what they’ll do with a full-court press to show the challengers out there that Destiny 2 is still in the game. In this article, we’ll talk about how Shadowkeep has improved, what it does really well, and a few of the nagging issues that remain.
Destiny 2 players return to a Destiny 1 joint called the moon – the same one floating in orbit around our Earth, – and, for those of you who didn’t play the first title, the moon is basically a creepy as heck place to be. And it’s only gotten worse for Shadowkeep. One thing Shadowkeep does do is expand the environment found in the first game which means that this isn’t a copy and paste of what came before. But, like its predecessor, it trades heavily on a spooky and foreboding atmosphere. Just in time for Halloween, eh? Aside from the really cool, palpably tense atmosphere, Shadowkeep also tweaks the game in meaningful ways that make it not only a more optimal experience but a way more compelling one as well.
How so? Before we delve into specifics about gameplay, we need to explain Bungie’s new approach to DLC. In its purest form, Bungie’s new plan is equivalent to a television show releasing new episodes over the course of a season. Shadowkeep is the first in many updates that will follow this pattern. That will explain why, when you finish it, you will sit back and think that this was a little bit short for a Destiny expansion.
Don’t worry – it is part of a larger arc happening over the year. While Destiny 2’s single-player campaigns have never really been hot enough to boil tea, Shadowkeep could change this perception by keeping a story theme central to its perpetual release schedule. The goal is to keep players hooked and we think this is a pretty solid strategy in that regard. Some story content is better than no story content at all, right?
But enough of the story about the corporate overlords’ plans to make us all play Destiny 2 until the day we die. How has the game changed for the better for those of us that will grind our way through that same story – and beyond – countless times?
The new Nightmare Hunts on the moon take advantage of the old-new locale’s haunting atmosphere. It’s also a great opportunity to grind for gear. These are kind of like smaller versions of Strikes with the same incentive being high-level gear but with less of a time commitment. Really, the old-new location offers a lot more than you would expect and there’s a lot to be gained from exploring and wearing out its activities.
Where Bungie has really drilled down and struck oil as far as the changes go is with a new, greater emphasis on player builds than ever before. This might come as a surprise to people who really haven’t been very involved with Destiny 2 but player builds were always somewhat lacking – especially when you consider the depth and lengths some games go to in this genre.
Considering that loot and its assorted benefits are a lot of the driving force behind grinding and the like, this is no small change. Player builds are not only getting a little bit more powerful but also a lot more nuanced. What this means is that you can now customize your build to suit your needs as a gamer. In practice, this translates into the ability to shift perks around. Previously fixed to certain gear, now you can play around with what perks you want and where for new, more interesting combinations that will change your character’s abilities.
Further, the new armor and gear system encourage experimentation as mods are not consumed after use. It is still in the early stages in the wild so it remains to be seen how it works out but it could have a significant impact on Destiny 2 but in a good way.
One aspect some people are pointing out is that it makes leveling either a lot easier or a lot less consequential now that gear and mix-and-match configurations are replacing fixed tiers. The move of experience points to a “battle pass” system is largely being cheered by many fans on the forums though people often cheered for decapitations and maimings in the actual Roman forum so take that with a grain of salt.
This dual combo of increased customization in terms of play
All in all, Shadowkeep is Destiny 2’s statement that, even though Activision is the past, the future is so bright that Bungie is showing that they’re proud to have cut the cord.
Initial release date: October 1, 2019
Designer: Ben Wommack
Composer: Michael Salvatori
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Genres: Action role-playing game, First-person shooter
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