Destiny 2 Shadowkeep, week one

Destiny 2_20191002235455.mp4.00_03_29_14.Still002Destiny 2 just launched its latest expansion Shadowkeep on October 1, 2019. One week later, here’s my perspective. Having played D1 since its launch, I’m not new to the game. For the past five years, I have played through each and every expansion, the good, bad, and horrid grinds. Destiny 2 is now entering into its third year, and after the split from Activision early this year, fans of the game were very interested to see what Bungie would do specifically with Shadowkeep — its first solo expansion. Bungie’s decision to make Destiny 2 free to play up to Shadowkeep, as well as the cross save functions, was also a decision that would impact playability of this franchise. But is it everything we hoped and dreamed?

On first impression the campaign is not what I expected, though I still found myself engaged from beginning to end. I would have liked a stronger narrative like Forsaken or Taken King but I was not displeased. I do hope that the path we are seeing will bring us to new places and, dare I say?, even encounter new enemies. Bungie has a long history of recycling enemies, maps, and even missions. The stroll through memory lane as you explore the Moon which has now become infested with nightmares is not altogether disappointing. There are definitely some fun activities and challenges you face through the campaign as well as in open world. It is my hope that we do not find ourselves mired on the Moon for too long.

Though the launch was rough with server crashes and players finding themselves unable to connect, the Bungie team responded quickly and soon the servers were running smoother. I myself have only encountered one disconnect this first week. The user interface continues to be an issue. There are some minor game UI functions that frustrate me enough that I keep tweeting back to Bungie to fix. The main issue is quests are now attached to the map screen, making it slow and clunky. Taking long to navigate, then being able to only track three bounties creates even more frustration and finally the multi-step quests not tracking through each step is just a little cruel on Bungie’s part. Though they are minor things in comparison to some very broken games, when you spend several hours a night completing quests it can truly infuriate you. Regardless of the issues the smooth gameplay, steady servers, and ease of game mechanics are perhaps why I cannot seem to leave the Destiny franchise.

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Visually, Bungie knows how to design hive types very well; the environments and enemies are eerily beautiful. Exploring the dark deep caverns of the Moon was one of my favorite pastimes in D1, I am having an equally good time diving back in. Every expansion based on hive enemies has been dark and menacing and Shadowkeep is no exception. There’s moments where you truly find yourself alone in the dark exploring the moon as the enemy closes in. It’s thrilling and exciting good fun.

Shadowkeep also introduced Armor 2.0 which provides so many rolls and choices to customize not only the stats but the overall look of your armor. For the first time in a very long time I am actually interested in discovering mods and eager to find ways in which to boost my armor’s stats. It does take some getting used to, though. I have to continually remind myself to check the stats, add the right mix of mods, and balance my overall stats. The random rolls on both gear and weapons is not new in the Destiny franchise and I am happy to see it return, there’s nothing like finding the perfectly rolled weapon and lord it over your friends. The flair customization is so helpful. There’s nothing worse than getting the perfect roll on a piece of armor you just do not find appealing. Now you can add an ornament and shader to look your best as you hunt down the enemy. Also of note are the new, spectacular finishing moves that feel so right when you take down an enemy– a pleasure to watch.

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Overall, after a week of gameplay I am still engaged and will continue to play. Where Destiny will go from here is anyone’s guess, but I’m hopeful for the future. If you have left Destiny due to the arduous grinds and lack of content this past year I’d say it’s time to give it another shot and re-discover the Moon alongside your fellow guardians. See you all out there in the black.