Since Destiny’s conception, Bungie has aimed to produce the best online looter-shooter experience on the market. With Shadowkeep, we’ve finally got it.
Destiny 2 has been filled with highs and lows over the last three years as Bungie seemed to struggle to match the expectations of the community. It’s easy to compare and denigrate Destiny 2 when you look at how brilliant The Taken King expansion for Destiny was or, even further back, the wild success of the Halo franchise.
Shadowkeep re-introduces classic armour stats such as Discipline and Intellect, letting you continuously improve on your build. To the community, one of the biggest flaws with Destiny 2 was the removal of Light and stats from armour. Even with Forsaken, it felt like you were chasing superficially Powerful gear while slogging away at pretentious gatekeeping mechanics to get your hands on Exotics that weren’t very exciting.
With Shadowkeep, Destiny 2 feels more like an improved iteration of Destiny as opposed to a sub-par reinvention. For Guardians who have a more relaxed playstyle, there are a wealth of activities to take part in and it's pretty easy going to reach the soft Power cap of 950.
For dedicated players, you can use your seasonal artifact to boost your gear beyond the 960 hard cap and take part in PvP modes with Guardians of a similar level for more of a challenge. There’s a certain nostalgia with Shadowkeep; it takes all of the best bits of Destiny and the original expansions and builds on them to create an enjoyable and rewarding new experience.
Shadowkeep feels like a natural progression in the franchise, one that I doubt we’d have seen had Bungie not split from Activision. While there are still Powerful Exotics to be earned by completing difficult quests linked to the raid, Shadowkeep’s content is available for every player who owns the expansion. There’s a lot of grinding, sure, but it’s the good kind; it’s unlikely we’ll see the weird, exclusionary and overly difficult experiences from Black Armory in future seasons.
The main story in Shadowkeep carries on from the end of Destiny and lore surrounding it has been available since Destiny 2’s launch back in 2017. Unlike Forsaken, the story will continue throughout the Season of the Undying and the rest of Year 3 and beyond. So far, our journey has ended somewhat abruptly with a doppelganger of your Guardian cryptically hinting towards your salvation. More story is uncovered as you complete bounties and there's a lot of lore to be discovered by completing them.
Who or what the Darkness really is and what purpose they serve is yet to be revealed, so it’s difficult to completely review Shadowkeep based solely on its opening chapter, but I’ll be updating this review throughout the Season of the Undying and potentially beyond. The Moon is haunted, though, and that spooky Pyramid is definitely going to try and indoctrinate you. Even your Ghost goes a little Dinklebot on you as you near it during the final story mission.
With new activities coming later in the month including as the Dungeon, more difficult versions of Nightmare Hunts and a new Crucible mode called Momentum Control, there will be new snippets of story to find, as well as even more weapons and gear. Shadowkeep has massively expanded Destiny 2’s RPG elements and the addition of Finishing Moves gives your Guardian that extra bit of flair. It’s both the best shooter of 2019 and online looter-shooter experience out there, and my favourite Destiny title so far.
Veterans of the franchise will feel right at home on the Moon, and new players will be equally terrified and enthralled by it. Bungie had previously stated that the Moon would feature psychological horrors, and the creepy combination of nails-on-a-chalkboard music with faceless, floating phantoms sends a shiver down your spine. The Festival of the Lost is going to be a scary one this year, so be sure to jump in when it begins on October 29.
Where Shadowkeep's story will take us remains to be seen, but the inclusion of Destiny's core mechanics in a brilliantly revamped location has reinvigorated Destiny 2 just as it was starting to get a little stale.