Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review - A Transcendent DLC: A Guardian observes the Traveler from outside the portal.
Image by Bungie via Twinfinite

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review – A Transcendent DLC

Is the conclusion to the Light and Darkness saga everything we'd hoped for?

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review for PC

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Destiny 2 The Final Shape is, in a word, triumphant. For many, time and change mean the Bungie that built its name two decades ago has passed on from its legendary golden years. But it’s special moments like this that remind us – even in the face of such change – there is always new potential. With the conclusion to the Light and Darkness saga, Bungie has raised the bar, showing that its capacity to realize video gaming as an art form is far from lost. Without a doubt, I would call The Final Shape one of the studio’s greatest accomplishments this decade, and, unbelievably, a sign that Destiny 2’s future might be far brighter than we’d anticipated.

There’s nowhere else I could think to begin but with the narrative. For ten years, Bungie has slowly built up the universe of Destiny, the story of our Guardians, and humanity’s fight against the odds. It’s paid off here. From side characters like Caitl and Mithraxx, we gain purposeful insight into their convictions, their fears, and their hopes. From new characters like Luzaku, we gain new questions and possibilities. And from the main cast, we gain nothing short of a spectacle. Zavala has been on something of a character arc since the Witch Queen as his faith in The Traveler falters; it comes to a head here. Crow has been unsure of himself since the moment he was first risen, and he finds a new purpose here. Ikora at least gets some meaningful dialogue – something that’s been a rarity since the Curse of Osiris days. And of course, Cayde-6, voiced by the wonderful Nathan Fillion, steals the show, both as renewed comedic relief and the focus of some of the story’s most sincere, emotional moments.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review - A Transcendent DLC: Reuniting with Cayde-6 for the first time.
Image Source: Bungie via Twinfinite

Every Final Shape campaign mission paces itself perfectly. Every mystery feels tantalizing. And, unlike Lightfall, Final Shape makes a point to answer plenty of secrets too. New discoveries about The Witness add weight to its threat and intricacy to its character, while Traveler’s Visions at long last give us an insight into the silent god’s thoughts and nature. If there is one criticism to be leveled against the story, I’d argue it’s against the raid. While raids should always have narrative importance, locking a story beat behind an activity that still boasts terrible accessibility for the casual player isn’t a smart choice. Fortunately, the real conclusion to the campaign comes in a mission that unlocked after the Day One World’s First Race. This mission, with little exaggeration, is among the greatest in Destiny’s history, surpassing even the impact of the Last City’s fall in the Red War campaign.

The narrative alone could have carried this expansion to the mantle of greatness, but it’s matched in quality by gameplay. Every campaign mission utilizes different mechanics, puzzles, and ideas, stimulating you to think on your feet rather than mindlessly mow down waves of red bars. Pairing perfectly with these more involved missions is Prismatic. And while, no, it doesn’t eclipse the other subclasses, it doesn’t need to. Prismatic is fun, it’s goofy, it’s exciting, and it’s full of possibilities. Powerful enough to stand toe-to-toe with the more traditional subclasses, yet versatile enough to be enjoyed in any environment, it adds an extra layer of complexity to your journey through The Pale Heart.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review - A Transcendent DLC: Unlocking Prismatic.
Image Source: Bungie via Twinfinite

The story is fantastic, the gameplay is inspired, and the effort put into both spills over and floods into The Pale Heart, your new destination in The Final Shape. We knew going in that the strange designs and architecture would make for a uniquely alien environment, and it’s been realized richly. From gorgeous use of color to harrowing use of geometry, the visuals alone are a feast. Paired with new activities like Overthrow and Cysts, and filled with a ridiculous number of secrets and collectibles, there’s a lot to do in this location even after the campaign concludes, and a lot of it feels designed with replayability in mind. It might be too early to tell, but if there’s any destination that can break the cycle of natural irrelevance once the next big thing comes around, it’s The Pale Heart.

Even the loot stands a head above the rest. New weapon archetypes like the Support Frame auto rifle and the Area Denial grenade launcher create more ways to play. There are at least half a dozen new exotic weapons to collect and play around with, from heavy trace rifles like Microcosm to Golden Gun ammo snipers like Still Hunt. And with three new exotic armor pieces for each class, the build potential of Prismatic grows even wider. They’re fun to use, too – I almost forgot I had a primary weapon when running with the new Strand rocket sidearm The Call equipped.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review - A Transcendent DLC: Room full of dead Ghost statues.
Image Source: Bungie via Twinfinite

Is The Final Shape perfect? Not quite. If there’s a single criticism I’d level against it, aside from the hard-to-reach narrative of the raid, it’s quality at the expense of quantity. While it’s absolutely a trade I would always make, only a single strike, a smaller size destination, and a simple eight-mission campaign do feel a little light for an asking price approaching the cost of a full AAA game. It’s a shame they didn’t have, say I don’t know, roughly a hundred extra employees to rely on.

In a way though, Destiny 2 and Bungie’s struggles over the past year are a testament to this DLC. The mass layoffs were a shock to the system at a time when player numbers were already floundering after the failures of Lightfall. Many, including me, wondered if the Final Shape would become the final nail in the coffin. Yet in spite of incredible adversity, insurmountable expectations, and insidious corporate shenanigans hanging over them, the teams at Bungie have done the impossible and over-delivered in the best ways possible.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Review - A Transcendent DLC: The Vanguard and player at camp up in the mountains.
Image Source: Bungie via Twinfinite

It’s exceedingly rare that I use the term ‘Masterpiece’; I consider the word to be something of an absolute, reserved for truly exceptional and transcendent experiences. Destiny 2 The Final Shape is a masterpiece. If every DLC were at the same caliber, I honestly believe Destiny would be a bigger name than even Bungie’s first love, Halo.

If you’re an old fan thinking about returning, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. If you’re a casual player unsure about the cost, you won’t to date find any better content in the game. If you’re a diehard fan left on the fence after the last year or so of struggles, I promise you, this is a DLC worth committing to. We don’t know what the future of Destiny is going to look like, but if it can stay the course of quality The Final Shape has laid out, then that future is going to be far brighter than we could have ever imagined.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape
Destiny 2 The Final Shape is a masterpiece of a finale to the ten year story of the Light and Darkness saga. With a powerful, moving narrative, exceptional character payoffs, inspiring gameplay and gorgeous visuals and sound design, it triumphs as an unmatched expansion for the game.
Pros
  • Exceptional narrative driven by tight pacing and compelling character journeys.
  • Innovative gameplay that keeps content fresh and engaging.
  • Transcendent visuals and a tour de force soundtrack.
Cons
  • Quantity isn't as exceptional as quality, and may make this expansion a high asking price for some.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC.

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Author
Image of Finlay Cattanach
Finlay Cattanach
Fin is a passionate writer and gamer, with plenty of experience in both areas. He's been writing seriously for close to a decade, working on various novels, short stories, and other associated fiction projects with the long-term aspiration of becoming a published author. He loves science-fiction and fantasy - both themes that come through strongly in his work. His writing and worldbuilding expertise have allowed him to hone his ability to communicate through written language. Where gaming is concerned, Fin plays across a broad variety of different genres. He's sunk thousands of hours into everything from Minecraft, Destiny 2 and Dark Souls 3 to Rust, Stellaris and Apex Legends. He's got a particular sweet spot for anything with an engaging narrative and compelling worldbuilding. He loves to get lost inside new worlds, immersing himself in escapism to really connect with an experience and the story it's trying to tell. After graduating Arts University Bournemouth with a degree in Creative Writing, he began building a career as a freelance writer, combining his two greatest passions into a job. He's written previously for both big and small outlets, from Startmenu.com to TheLoadout.com and VideoGamer.com. He currently works on a freelance basis with Twinfinite.com, where he enjoys a role working on guides, features, and more.