Destiny 2: New Light and Shadowkeep Review – Back to the Moon

Destiny 2 New Light and Shadowkeep Review

Destiny 2: New Light is the worst thing that could have happened to Warframe. Suddenly, Digital Extremes’ celebrated free-to-play sci-fi shooter stands face to face with a worthy challenger, a similarly themed looter-shooter built with the hugest resources that the video games industry has to offer. It’s not that Bungie’s game is ostensibly better than Warframe, but it has this big-budget, even bigger studio appeal going for it that very few games manage to boast.

As a premium game, Destiny 2 was on the receiving end of much criticism; as a free-to-play release after Bungie severed its ties with former publisher Activision, you’d have to be nuts not to try it. By playing its cards early, Bungie preceded Electronic Arts’ highly likely move of switching Anthem to free-to-play as well, potentially dealing a major blow to one of its biggest rivals.

While Destiny 2 still falls short of what Warframe offers in terms of content, there is so much to see and do that you’ll find yourself invested in it for weeks. This is Bungie mastering its craft, offering some truly accomplished gunplay and jaw-dropping vistas, but that doesn’t hide the fact that Destiny 2 remains a huge grind and can get significantly boring when you hit the soft cap.

There is still some work to be done on Destiny 2, and with the New Light relaunch and the Shadowkeep expansion, it feels like this is just the start of a long journey. Not everything that has been introduced is worthy of praise, such as the confusing and limiting Armor 2.0, but Destiny 2 is incredibly enjoyable for new players, even more because the microtransactions feel entirely optional.

Destiny 2 New Light Shadowkeep Review Eris Morn

Destiny 2: New Light Review | A New Ray of Hope

Destiny 2: New Light comes with the year one content, The Red War, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind. This will get you plenty of content to explore, including three raids: Leviathan, Spire of Stars, and Eater of Worlds. Each raid consists in activities for a 6-man team of Guardians that can take several hours to beat, with challenging puzzles and bosses that require true skill and team coordination. The Forsaken expansion was left out of the picture, a shame considering that it is a great piece of content, even in comparison to the latest update, Shadowkeep, and it included three additional raids: Last Wish, Scourge of the Past, and Crown of Sorrow.

Every player, new and veteran alike, sees his power level bumped up to 750, with tons of quests and options to explore. This is a debatable choice because it undermines the strength of the campaign, unlocking every planet and free expansions for everyone, while turning the story a riddled mess that is impossible to follow for anyone but the most steadfast players. It lacks the motivation, tidy structure, and sought after rewards for you to go through the initial quests, turning them into sidequests that can be enjoyed for their design, but are now largely optional because you, like everyone else, are now shooting for endgame, right from the start.

It will take you about a dozen hours to reach the soft cap of 900 in the Shadowkeep expansion if you take your time to look around, but you can be sure that there is a lot to do even if you don’t want to purchase the update right away. Let that lore sink in, get to know the world… I mean, worlds, and try to keep up with everything that is going on, because some of it can be quite confusing and daunting. If you’re in it for the endgame, it’s highly likely that you’ll want to rush through it all and end up missing out on what is effectively going on, but to each its own.

Destiny 2 New Light Shadowkeep Review Vex Offensive Boss

As a shooter and action game, Destiny 2 plays like a dream. It is obvious that this is the evolution of Halo, but thankfully Bungie has evolved beyond the bland and tiresome corridors that, personally speaking, turned some substantial parts of the first couple of games into monotonous drivel. In this game, each planet is a delight to explore, featuring a charming unique theme and a scope that demands you to stop and stare at the horizon, mesmerized by the amazing sights. Take your time to look around and explore each region, because the graphics really deserve to be appreciated.

Combat just feels right, and that applies to every weapon that you get, including melee. Swords feel crunchy and satisfying, as the first-person perspective takes a well-deserved break, allowing the third-person camera to shine, showing your swift and deadly movement. The powerful hand cannons almost make you feel the recoil, and sniper rifles are great for pinpoint accuracy, to target the sometimes obvious weak points of the enemies. When you’re part of a Fireteam of six Guardians doing a raid or a three-player group undergoing a nightmare hunt, the gunplay truly shines.

When you have to tinker with the Armor 2.0 system, you’ll realize why Destiny 2 is called a looter shooter, and just how cumbersome the whole system is. Having mods tied to elements restrict your builds and it sounds like another way to make players grind even further. This is the dark side of Destiny 2 and one that hopefully will be changed soon, in order to make for a smoother experience, instead of passing off as disheartening. There is so much untapped potential here, but there are other ways to separate casual players from the hardcore crowd that don’t involve grinding for weeks or months without any guarantee that you’ll get what you are hoping for.

Destiny 2  Shadowkeep Review Moon

Shadowkeep Review | The Bright Side of the Moon

Shadowkeep was never planned to be the largest expansion for Destiny 2, and it trails behind what Forsaken had to offer in terms of sheer content and variety. It is bound to instil mixed feelings, as the return to the moon seen in Destiny 1 may be a welcome idea for nostalgia sake, but it also may come off as a lazy decision. On the other hand, the initial release feels like a small piece of a larger puzzle, as the new season introduces the Vex invasion, with the Vex Offensive horde mode being one of the recommended places to grab some cool loot.

Eris Morn is the key character in Shadowkeep and returns to guide us in our new journey, dishing out cryptic message after cryptic message, as we try to discover what lurks inside the mysterious pyramid. The campaign is fairly short and with a pleasant sinister vibe, as the growing shadows of past Guardians dwell around you in many places. As the campaign reaches its abrupt conclusion, you are left wondering what is going on, as the ending won’t give you any sort of closure. The story is clearly being fleshed out for future releases, placing Shadowkeep as a cautionary tale about the Vex and hopefully leading up to bigger and better things.

Destiny 2 Shadowkeep Review Nightmare of Phogoth Boss

The rest of Shadowkeep is about going beyond the 900 soft cap by completing Nightmare Hunts, but even this feels a tad like filler, with some very familiar bosses. Completing the various Essence quests, which involve accomplishing specific activities, is the other part of the new grind, but it once again touches upon the tricky nature of Destiny 2. It becomes repetitive and pointless, but luckily the gunplay is top-notch and some of the armor pieces are lush and truly worthy of showcasing to your friends and rivals. The sole new raid, Garden of Salvation, will give you several additional hours of a great challenge, and if this is what you are looking for, then you’ll get your money’s worth.

Much like New Light, Shadowkeep is a mix of hits and misses, but the kind that will always be worth your time and money. It’s a game that I can see myself frequently returning to, because it offers so much for free. On the other hand, Shadowkeep feels like a small appetizer for a delicious main course, tasting a bit sour in places, but there is more than enough content to keep you coming back for more, while eagerly waiting for what else Bungie may have in store for Destiny 2 Year 3.

Destiny 2: New Light – 9/10
Shadowkeep: – 7.5/10

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