The Final Shape Will Be Destiny 2’s Big Moment Of Truth

The Final Shape Will Be Destiny 2’s Big Moment Of Truth

Destiny 2 players have conquered a planet-sized computer simulating the multiverse, earned wishes from space dragons, and slayed alien gods. But one of the loot shooter’s most enduring fictions is that its creators had a decade-long master plan to deliver a transformative story and re-shape the gaming landscape in the process.

“To think that somehow, before Destiny had shipped, we had some ten-year plan written down somewhere? It’s comical,” Bungie marketing director Eric ‘Urk’ Osborne told Edge magazine in 2015. “We allowed the narrative to get constructed that Bungie is just a corporate entity and not a bunch of humans, a collection of people who are just trying to make a really great game.”

The last 10 years have been anything but smooth, punctuated by some incredible highs and exhausting lows. Bungie signed with Activision, then went independent, than sold to Sony. Last fall, the studio laid off 100 people as the game’s live service model stalled, with IGN reporting more possible cuts to come and the threat of direct control by the PlayStation 5 manufacturer if the numbers don’t turn around.

Image: Bungie

Yet, for now at least, they’re starting to as fans, showered with new loot and free content, flock back to the game ahead of June 4’s The Final Shape. If the high-stakes expansion can stick the landing, it could win new players over and burnish the game’s legacy ahead of a rumoured Destiny 3. It would also vindicate the legions of people like myself who have stuck with Destiny since the beginning, pouring hundreds of hours into killing aliens and collecting what they leave behind.

Bungie invited me to attend a recent remote hands-off demo of the game to experience a preview build of some of the expansion. I was able to catch a glimpse of a new story mission that takes players inside The Traveller, Destiny’s big iconic space ball, for the first time ever. I saw some of what could make the expansion’s new strike one of the most challenging yet. And I got to see the Prismatic subclass, which lets players mix-and-match specific light and dark powers like a Red Mage in Final Fantasy, in action against an enemy faction called the Dread which includes Strand-wielding foot-soldiers that pull Guardians toward them as well as winged threats that bring danger from new directions.

Unlike last year’s disappointing Lightfall campaign, which didn’t unlock Strand until the end, players won’t have to wait until the end of The Final Shape to begin using Prismatic builds. Game director Tyson Green confirmed during my session that the subclass will unlock early on with a default build that players will slowly open up over the course of the ensuing story missions. And while the team worked hard to make sure it felt like players’ old powers would still be viable, it certainly seems like the intent is for Prismatic to be the showcased tool box during the campaign, including its new Transcendence mode which makes abilities cool down even more quickly as players dish out damage. It remains to be seen how exactly this balance works in the rest of Destiny 2‘s sandbox.

The Final Shape, as its name suggests, will mark the end of players’ current journeys, and possibly the beginning of new ones. It promises a showdown with The Witness, Destiny 2‘s version of Sauron if you fused him with the ominous scheming of the Emperor from Star Wars and the confident nihilism of Marvel’s Thanos. He’s occasionally felt like a somewhat goofy addition to an otherwise complex, mysterious, and magisterial-looking sci-fi universe, but the launch trailer teasing the emotional stakes and the potential corruption of Commander Zavala, Destiny’s walking moral compass, suggests a cutscene-filled confrontation that might be worth the years-long wait.

Image: Bungie

Then there’s the Pale Heart, Bungie’s name for a zone inside The Traveler which functions like a nostalgia-fueled gauntlet. Hallucinations of things from characters’ pasts, large chunks of early Destiny, including the Tower from the original before it was demolished at the start of the sequel, appear throughout it. The parts I saw looked like a mix of the Old City and The Dreaming City, combining vaulted ruins with patches of bucolic regrowth. Nothing was as immediately striking as some of the scenes from past expansions, but it was as detailed and beautiful-looking as the game’s been in its modern era.

Unlike previous raids, the one for The Final Shape will happen the same week it launches, hinting that the conflict with The Witness will indeed be resolved then and there rather than being sneakily dragged out for several weeks or until newer episodic content arrives. As someone who is used to Bungie dragging things out and moving the goal posts from one big bad to another, it’s hard to fathom what it will feel like after players win and The Witness is defeated. It’s also hard to imagine where Destiny 2 goes after that.

I asked Green whether players will come away from the latest expansion with a sense of where the game they’ve been playing for 10 years goes next. “Yes,” he said. “Okay not to be flip, by the end of the raid, yes, players will have a better sense for where the future of Destiny goes. And we will be developing some of those threats and some of those those new story arcs as the year progresses. So yeah, that is all stuff we intend to do. As this thread winds down, we have more stories to tell.”

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