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Destiny 2 – The Final Shape review: Better late than never

Destiny 2 might be the best it’s ever been but it remains trapped in a state of metamorphosis.

Fergus Halliday
Jun 14, 2024
Icon Time To Read5 min read
Destiny 2: The Final Shape
Destiny 2: The Final Shape
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Platforms
PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, XSX, XSS
Release date
4 June 2024
Price:
From $74.95

Reviewed on a PC.

pro
Pros
pro Fantastic new destination
pro Smarter mission design
pro New enemies to fight!
con
Cons
con Not especially friendly to newcomers
con Still not as solo friendly as I'd like
con Content vaulting stills sucks

The journey usually matters more than the destination but the success of Destiny 2: The Final Shape hinges on the alternative.

The sci-fi saga’s big finale has finally arrived but the stakes have never been higher. Released in the shadow of recent layoffs at Bungie and growing anxiety around the future of the modern live service model it helped pioneer, The Final Shape feels like a make-or-break moment for both those making the game as well as those playing who have been sticking with it for the past decade.

Of course, Destiny 2 isn’t just the poster child for live service gaming done right, it’s also an example of how it can easily go wrong. For every Witch Queen, there’s a Lightfall. For each Season of The Witch, there’s a Season of the Wish. From a certain point of view, the letdown of last year’s expansion pack may have been a blessing in disguise. After Lightfall received such a mixed reception, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Fortunately, The Final Shape does more than ride that updraft. It ticks almost every box you could hope for, plus a few unexpected ones that change Destiny for the better without changing the fundamentals too much. Bungie's neverending sequel has finally found its groove. Better late than never, I guess.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape - The Witness

Picking up where Lightfall left off in a broad sense (and the most recent Season of the Wish in a more specific one), The Final Shape sees players descend into the “Pale Heart” of the Traveller for their final confrontation with the enigmatic alien arch-villain known as The Witness.

Despite this noun-heavy setup, Bungie has been smart enough to keep the action here easy to grasp and simple to keep up with. Rather than pivot on a McGuffin that’s never explained, the story here is structured around rescuing, rallying and regrouping with each member of Destiny’s cast of characters before pushing onwards to the final battle. This campaign often feels like an echo of Destiny 2’s original launch campaign, taking you from the verdant outer reaches of The Pale Heart towards the cosmic tempest at its center.

The Final Shape's eight-mission campaign can be played through on both default and legendary difficulties, with each segment lasting around 45 to 60 minutes depending on how good you are and how many friends you’re playing with. That’s more-or-less in line with the last few Destiny 2 expansions, but that's not to say there haven't been welcome changes. For instance,  story missions are no longer tied to a specific light level. This tweak all but eliminates the tedious grinding that’s padded out past expansions.

Rather than just going through the motions, roughly half of The Final Shape feels like it’s actively onboarding you to the fundamentals of its endgame. This isn’t just good in terms of helping get you ready for the final battle with The Witness — which will require you to complete the six-player raid — but it also makes for much more engaging experience throughout.

Writ large, it feels like there’s been a shift away from trying to shield more casual players from the intimidating world of "hardcore" endgame content for fear that they'll be scared off. Instead, there’s an embedded confidence that this style of content — which has always been the best that Destiny 2 has to offer — is good enough that most players will respond well to the added challenge.

Even if you aren’t feeling the story beats here you’ll probably get a kick out of the sheer variety of environments to explore within the Pale Heart. Playing out like a distorted remix of the series’ greatest hits, the reality-bending destination provides more variety than any other region in the game but features just as many of the usual nooks and crannies to explore and collectibles to track down.

I’m sure that it’ll eventually become as familiar as every other location in Destiny 2 but right now the Pale Heart feels like a new frontier that defies conventional geographies and contains countless discoveries. It helps that Bungie has made clever use of instancing to make it feel like the missions you’re doing have a greater impact on the world around you. The state of the in-game map changes as you progress and you won’t run into any other players except for those in your fireteam. It’s not yet clear if this is a permanent change but wading through a sea of Guardians on the grind to get to the next story beat wasn’t something I found myself missing all that much.

The Final Shape - Dread screenshot

A new destination to explore, exotic guns to acquire and story missions to complete are just the tip of the iceberg. The Final Shape also brings with it a legion of new foes to fight called the Dread. These are the first non-elite enemies to be added to the game since Forsaken and their arrival could not be more timely. Destiny 2’s gunplay remains superb but it’s showing its age in 2024 and the arrival of a new legion of new adversaries to fight provides a much-needed shock to the system.

If you’re set in your ways, The Final Shape  gives you a set of new super abilities to deploy against your in-game friends and foes. However, if you’re ready for a change, the expansion also brings with it a new Prismatic class that allows you to combine different powers, grenades and abilities from across the game’s various sub-classes into one of your choosing. It’s an awesome addition that rewards longtime players and one that unlocks an entirely new dimension of customisation for those who want to push Destiny's combat and loot system beyond its usual limits.

Where previous Destiny expansions came with four seasons worth of updates, this one is set to be followed by three “episodes” instead. These episodes are said to be longer and larger than their seasonal counterparts, but they should cover the same amount of time overall.

Given how variable the quality of Destiny’s seasons has been in recent years, the idea of doing less but making more of each in-game episode sounds like it could be a change for the better. We’ll have to wait and see. In some ways, that’s the one problem that The Final Shape can’t solve.

 The conclusion of The Light and Darkness Saga isn’t an end in itself, but a pivot to the next phase for Bungie’s loot shooter. That inflection point is an exciting moment to occupy but it can't last forever. Eventually, the corner will be turned. Today’s high-point for Destiny 2 expansions will become yesterday’s news. The Pale Heart will lose its lustre and become familiar and any fear of The Dread will fade as they become just another part of your in-game rogue’s gallery.

The problem with Destiny 2 has rarely been about Bungie’s ability to deliver a quality expansion each year so much as its history of sustaining those highs over time. The studio's vision for what Destiny is has come into sharp focus but its staying power remains undercut by the fact that almost as much gets taken out of the game each year as gets added to it.

The Final Shape header

Is Destiny 2: The Final Shape worth the money?

At this point, I’ve stopped asking Destiny 2 to be a normal video game. After the ups and downs of the past ten years, it's clear that just isn't on the cards. Bungie's loot-shooter is never going to be as approachable or solo-friendly as I'd like nor is it ever going to be truly finished. This incomplete metamorphosis isn't so much a bug but a feature.

In any other franchise, Destiny 2 is the sequel that gets you from the disruptive debut and the definitive finale. It’s never going to change quite enough to become Destiny 3 nor is it going to become stable and stagnant enough for comfort to slide into complacency.

The Final Shape might be the endgame of a decade-long sci-fi saga, but it's unlikely to be the last word for Destiny 2.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape trailer

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What can I play Destiny 2: The Final Shape on?

Destiny 2: The Final Shape is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X/S.

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*Pricing and deals only accurate as of last page update. 

Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday is a journalist and editor for Reviews.org. He’s written about technology, telecommunications, gaming and more for over a decade. He got his start writing in high school and began his full-time career as the Editor of PC World Australia. Fergus has made the MCV 30 Under 30 list, been a finalist for seven categories at the IT Journalism Awards and won Most Controversial Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards. He has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, GamesHub, Press Start, Screen Rant, Superjump, Nestegg and more.

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