Destiny 2: The Final Shape review in progress

Destiny 2's latest expansion promises to be its most important, but what if you haven't played in a few years?

I’m not a raider, I’m not a gear grinder, and I don’t live the live service lifestyle. I played through Destiny 2’s original campaign – you know, the content that’s no longer available – and I enjoyed it, but was more than happy to drop the game entirely once it started demanding I find two friends to actually play late-game content. These days you can matchmake to find fellow Guardians pretty easily, and The Final Shape has continually promised to be one of the most important expansions Destiny 2 has seen yet. After a brief catch-up on what I’d missed over the last few years, I decided to jump into The Final Shape with a completely open mind.

First off, Destiny 2 isn’t very welcoming for new players, and I know that because I’m a returning player, and I still got confused when trying to figure out which missions and quests I should be looking at, and how to find players to party up with. Once you’re over that hurdle it’s mostly smooth sailing, but things could be far more user-friendly for people who aren’t regular players.

As for those regular players, I wonder if they ever take a step back and look at what they’ve become accustomed to. Dozens of vendors, quests, missions, rewards, engram types, currency types, weapon types – even weapons with the exact same name, type, and power level can have stats that vary pretty wildly. Is this your king? This absurdly obfuscated progression path? I feel like I can’t see the forest because I’m stuck in the trees. I don’t even know what weapons are better, I just have to have faith in the bigger numbers, because you’d need a PhD-level education in Destiny to decrypt all of the stats, abilities, subclasses, perks – and yes, even more have been added in The Final Shape.

The Final Shape promises to be Destiny 2's most important expansion.
The Final Shape promises to be Destiny 2's most important expansion. / Bungie

The same question goes for the level design. It fits the theme well enough; Destiny is all about alien technology that borders on the mystical, so geometric shapes that look as if they were formed by magnetic waves make sense – a normal hallway just wouldn’t do. It’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the temples are made by a cosmic accident. It’s gorgeous, mystical, fascinating, and awful to actually explore. 

Pathways forward will be hidden in tiny tunnels you need to crouch to see, or in a tunnel that isn’t obviously present until you get a waypoint marker, or as in one mission in The Final Shape, you’ll be doing some truly absurd platforming tricks to climb this monolith. The intended paths forward in this game feel like the silly tricks you would need to pull off in Halo to find hidden Skulls. Without waypoints, none of this would make sense – it would be entirely illegible, impossible to actually navigate. As I said, this level design is supposed to be a cosmic accident, and it feels like a development accident too.

In a game like this, I don’t feel accomplished when I finally open the path forward – instead, I am relieved that I can finally move on. The Final Shape is all about the balance of Light and Darkness, and in some missions you’re tasked with retrieving Light and Dark motes to activate switches, but only a fancy new light shield that spawns for a limited time can actually spawn the Light motes. This meant that a puzzle that should’ve taken a few minutes took ages thanks to the one silent teammate that held onto the shield and decided to not ever use it. Thanks, Destiny 2 matchmaking. There was a tutorial prompt on-screen when the shield was first retrieved, in fairness, but in the heat of battle it flashed up so fast – and was surprisingly long – that I couldn’t read it, and it didn’t come back.

Don't let the ignorant teammate hold the shield.
Don't let the ignorant teammate hold the shield. / Bungie

But when you’ve got a gun you like and you’re shooting bad guys, Destiny 2 is still great fun. The Final Shape adds a new enemy faction, The Dread, and while they still seem to follow Halo’s enemy design philosophy with Grunt, Elite, and so on, archetypes – not a bad thing to stick to, honestly – they manage to make The Final Shape’s missions stand out, as you are at least fighting a new stack of foes.

Each of the weapon types present feel distinct to shoot, and when you’ve got one you like, you’ll really like it, popping heads left, right, and center. I’m personally quite partial to the Bow, and I never seem to have enough of them drop. While bigger numbers are always better, I’ll stick to weapon types that I like as often as possible, while my Guardian’s cosmetic equipment will be a messy mismatch of whatever gives me the best stats. 

I might rag on Destiny 2’s level design (I’d probably do the same with Halo, honestly), but I can’t fault Bungie on its pedigree when it comes to making a shooter that feels great. It’s far easier said than done, and many shooters manage to be merely functional and serviceable rather than fun – looking at you, Starfield, Borderlands, Outer Worlds – but Destiny 2’s guns are genuinely great to shoot. It helps that smaller, weaker foes will usually get wiped out in a fraction of an Auto Rifle’s clip, instead of acting like perpetual bullet sponges. Having dozens of weaker foes to fight against is far more satisfying than one big bullet sponge, and Destiny 2 understands this, all the way up until you find a dungeon or raid boss.

Cayde-6 is back!
Cayde-6 is back! / Bungie

The Final Shape’s big new raid, Salvation’s Edge, isn’t available at the time of writing, but it promises to bring about the end of Destiny 2’s ongoing war between Light and Darkness, and although I’ve been out of the loop for several years, I’m excited to see how this actually ends – if, it ends. I’ll be back to provide my full thoughts on Destiny 2’s The Final Shape expansion next week.

Platform tested: PS5

Dave Aubrey


GLHF Deputy Editor. Nintendo fan. Rapper. Pretty good at video games.