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Destiny 2: The Final Shape

Destiny 2: The Final Shape Preview - A (Pale) Hearty Conclusion

The end of the Light and Darkness Saga is here and Bungie is looking to round out a decade of storytelling with a bang.

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I love Destiny 2, and despite its vices and challenges over the years, I have continued to love and follow this story as it has unfolded over the past decade. While Destiny won't be going away anytime soon, we are at a major crossroads. The upcoming Destiny 2: The Final Shape expansion is set to be the last chapter of the Light and Darkness Saga, which will effectively wrap up the past decade of storytelling, and no doubt serve as a perfect stepping off point for those looking to detox and move on from this part-time-job of a video game. Needless to say, a lot (like... a lot) rides on the expansion hitting like a Gjallarhorn shell and ending this era of Destiny in a fitting and fulfilling way.

The Final Shape is arriving in around a week, but recently I had the chance to see a whole bunch of what this expansion will be offering to fans, and to see many of the previously revealed and showcased elements and new features. So, while I can't yet comment on how fluid and intuitive Prismatic abilities feel to use in practice, or how oppressive the new Dread enemy faction is in live combat, I can tell you a little more about the finer details of the new inclusions.

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The Pale Heart

With every expansion, Bungie introduces a new playable location. For The Final Shape, we actually get to venture into the Traveler, to a new zone known as The Pale Heart of the Traveler. While you were no doubt wowed by the frigid environments of Europa in Beyond Light or the neon skyscrapers of Neomuna in Lightfall, The Pale Heart is cranking this up a notch. This location is absolutely breathtaking and seems to be creatively unmatched. There is loads of verticality that was properly put into effect in Lightfall's Neomuna city, there are wide open vistas and set pieces that shame even The Dreaming City, and there are hostile and unsettling sections that remind of the Hive Shadowkeep on the Moon or Savathûn's Throne World. The reason why I bring to mind many of these former and existing locations is that The Pale Heart brings something from each, not just in its actual level design but in its appearance and intricacies.

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This location is designed to be a walk down memory lane and it shows. You'll pass through areas from your past adventures as a Guardian, and even find stunning and bewildering decorative features, such as enormous Ghost shells. The Pale Heart could be the most interesting and exciting location ever incorporated into Destiny 2. The main question is whether its activities will live up to this task, and that's a question I am unable to answer right now.

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Dread

The Final Shape will see pretty much every current enemy faction making an appearance. Why? The Witness is calling in all of its allies to defend it and slow you down as you race to stop it from infecting and destroying the Traveler. This means you'll face not only regular Taken and Hive, but also the suped-up Hive Guardians and deadly Tormentors from expansions past. As we're all familiar with these threats, The Witness has also upped its game and roped in a new slate of foes to boot, with these being the Dread.

The Dread are new enemies even if they do remind of a few other enemy units. There are smaller Psion-like units, and bigger more dangerous threats that remind of Tormentors, and both can wield Darkness powers to make your life a living hell. The Harbinger and Weaver can yank you into dangerous situations using Strand, while the Omen and Attendant instead favour the frosty touch of Stasis. If all of this wasn't bad enough, the Grim means that the skies are rammed with danger too, as this is another aerial enemy to have to contend with. Each of the enemy types seem like a welcome step up in challenge, but as for how much of a threat they'll pose you depends on the difficulty you play on as in the regular campaign a few rounds from an assault rifle will continue to make short work of the Dread by the looks of things.

It should be said that a few new additional combat mechanics are being added, including enemies with new shields that make them damn hard to kill. The idea is that you use Prismatic wells throughout campaign missions to be able to charge your Guardian up with Transcendance (harmonising Light and Dark powers) to then ultimately be able to shatter said shielding. This is part of Bungie's effort to return to more dungeon-like mechanics in the campaign, mechanics that will no doubt be a precursor or a taste of what the Raid will offer when it debuts a few days post-launch.

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Prismatic

As pretty as The Pale Heart is and as interesting as the Dread are, these are ultimately pretty regular new additions for Destiny 2 in an expansion all things considered. Prismatic isn't. This new subclass is the epitome of Bungie taking the training wheels off and saying fuck it to power creeps and power curves. From what I've seen of Prismatic so far, there doesn't seem to be much that this class can't do.

The idea of Prismatic is that it's the end product of the Guardian finding a harmony between Light and Darkness. You can combine abilities from Solar with Stasis, Strand with Void, and match this up with a collection of new Aspects and Fragments for further customisation, and then a different Super to boot. When you introduce in the Transcendance factor, which adds an extra level of power and potential, an extra gear to overclock your Guardian, if you will, Prismatic becomes a subclass that puts every other subclass to shame. Sure, it will be limited in that not every ability is accessible through Prismatic (I'm sorry to say it, but it looks like Warlocks will still be running Well of Radiance...), but the sheer buildcrafting ceiling of Prismatic makes it appear as one of the most unique and interesting elements Destiny has ever since to date. It also looks as though it will be a massive help when tackling endgame challenges with tough elemental shield modifiers, as now you can bring a subclass that is skilled in multiple elements instead of just one. Prismatic isn't Bungie opening the door to less rigid builds, it's kicking the door down, ripping it off its hinges along the way, and I'm all for it.

In practice, Prismatic still works like the other subclasses in regard to UI setup and such, and will even only offer a limited array of options to start with more unlocked and discovered as you complete more campaign missions and continue to indulge in The Final Shape's storytelling post its original arrival on June 4. But again, this isn't anything new as Bungie has trended towards this style of handing the player new content for years at this point.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape

There are a lot of other question marks related to The Final Shape, the Raid, and this coming year of Destiny 2, most of which I cannot answer or add to any further yet. During this preview session, Bungie gave us a glimpse at part of one of the new Strikes that seems to be more of a challenge and an ante-up than some of the Strikes we've seen in the past, all while the developer showed off a familiar assault rifle before teasing that we'll see other beloved past weapons return in some manner as has been a recent trend in Destiny 2.

But the main thing to note with The Final Shape seems to be that Bungie is treating this expansion as a big narrative turning point. There are a lot of familiar elements and gameplay systems planned for this expansion, but it seems to be the core story that has received the most love and attention, with lots of threads and narrative pathways set to be concluded during the campaign or within the three Episodes planned for the year to follow. In fact, during the preview session, campaign lead Andrew Hopps said that this is "definitely one of our meatier campaigns," attesting to this very focus.

Looking to the future, will Destiny 2: The Final Shape answer the questions we all have about the future of Destiny? While I cannot answer that either yet, game director Tyson Green simply noted, "we've got more stories to tell."

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Destiny 2: The Final Shape

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

The Light and Darkness Saga is over, but has Bungie concluded this era of Destiny with a bang or a fizzle?



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