GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape's Prismatic Subclass Avoids The Mistakes Of Strand In Lightfall

Unlike Lightfall, which held back Strand from players, you'll unlock the Prismatic subclass in the first mission of The Final Shape's campaign.


When players jump into the story campaign for Destiny 2's next expansion, The Final Shape, they'll pretty quickly unlock one of the biggest new parts of the game: Prismatic. The new subclass is necessary to complete The Final Shape's story, just like Strand was when it was introduced in Destiny 2's last expansion, Lightfall.

But unlike how Lightfall handled its new player abilities, Bungie says you'll get Prismatic early in The Final Shape, and you'll have access to it for the duration--it won't be parceled out in short bursts and only fully unlocked many hours later, once you finish the campaign.

Bungie gave a pretty close look at Prismatic in action, and The Final Shape's campaign generally, in a recent hands-off preview event attended by GameSpot. The preview showed a big chunk of the campaign's first mission, as well as a later Strike mission that becomes available about halfway through the story. As in Lightfall, the new subclass is an essential part of the story of The Final Shape, and you'll make use of it as you go, but with a lot fewer restrictions this time around.

Prismatic is less a totally new subclass than a new combination of old elements. It pieces together different parts of existing subclasses, like supers, melee and grenade abilities, and passive buffs, allowing you to access several different kinds of powers--specifically both Light and Dark abilities--that you previously couldn't utilize at the same time.

The subclass also comes with a new ability called Transcendence, which Bungie described as being like a "mini-super." While using the Prismatic subclass, dealing damage with your abilities and weapons charges up two meters, one for Light and one for Darkness. (Kinetic weapons increase both meters but at a lower rate than weapons with specific elemental damage types.) When both are full, you can activate Transcendence, which gives you increased damage reduction, speeds the recharging of your abilities, and gives you a new grenade ability that combines Light and Darkness damage types.

Prismatic as a concept starts to show up as you make your way through the first campaign mission. You'll first traverse the big pink portal into the Traveler that's been staring at players for the last year. Inside, you'll encounter the Taken, who Destiny 2's major antagonist, the Witness, is controlling more directly than ever before. You'll also soon encounter enemies who are "bound" by the Witness, receiving power from the Witness directly, which provides them with shields that can't be broken with your normal abilities or weapons. When you first run into them in the starting mission while traversing the portal, you'll have to flee.

No Caption Provided

A major element of The Final Shape is the fact that the Traveler's Light power and the Witness's Darkness are commingling within the expansion's new destination, the Pale Heart of the Traveler. After running into the bound enemies, the preview skipped ahead to a later part of that same first campaign mission, when players find themselves inside the Traveler for the first time.

Alongside encountering more enemies, including the new Dread faction, you'll start to find places where the Light and the Darkness have collided to create strange wellsprings of power. Standing in those springs allows you to briefly access Transcendence, much like players could activate Strand briefly at certain points in Lightfall. Transcendence gives you a chance to try out Prismatic in short bursts and to break those bound enemies' shields. However, unlike Strand, you can run back to these wellsprings again and again during a battle if you want (and can survive), allowing you to regain Transcendence as needed.

Transcendence is especially useful against some of the new enemies The Final Shape is introducing to the game. At the end of the first campaign mission, we saw a boss fight against a Harbinger, one of the tougher new baddies, which wields Strand abilities against the player. Harbingers take after Rhulk, the boss of The Witch Queen expansion's Vow of the Disciple raid; they're tough to kill and use ranged weapons against you. They also have the ability to suspend you, much like players can do to each other in Destiny 2's player-vs.-player mode, the Crucible, rendering you immobile and vulnerable for a few seconds. Using Transcendence isn't essential to winning the fight once you've killed any bound enemies, but its new abilities and perks can definitely be helpful.

While you'll be able to use Transcendence during missions by finding its wellsprings, The Final Shape doesn't just lock Prismatic up behind these environmental activation points. By the end of the first mission, you'll have entered a strange, overgrown version of the Tower from the original Destiny and ventured into the room where the Vanguard leaders used to hang out. In that place of power, you'll find a well of energy so powerful, it permanently unlocks Prismatic, allowing you to use the subclass for the rest of the campaign.

No Caption Provided

The thing is, while you'll get Prismatic right away, Bungie doesn't want you to feel like you're either forced to use it, or forced not to. If you've got other character builds you're comfortable with and want to use throughout The Final Shape's campaign, combat area lead Ben Wommack said, you'll be able to do that. The wellsprings give you a shorter-duration version of Transcendence so you can try it out and get through fights that require it, but you can still stick with your favorite subclass if you'd prefer.

"One of the things about Prismatic that we wanted to be very careful of is, we didn't want to make Prismatic at the top of every other build, supplanting every other build you can do it with," Wommack said. "That's not good gameplay; it's not fun. We want Prismatic to be this amazing new tool, not the thing that supplants everything else."

During the preview presentation, Bungie showed off the Hunter take on Prismatic. This one combined elements like the Stasis melee ability Withering Blade, the Void buff Stylish Executioner, the Solar grenade ability Gunpowder Gamble, and the new Arc super ability, Storm's Edge. It also detailed how Bungie has adjusted these abilities to make them work better with Prismatic. For example, in a Void build, Stylish Executioner will turn you invisible when you kill an enemy suffering from a Void-based debuff. With the Prismatic version, any debuff can trigger Stylish Executioner, including the Stasis slowing effect enemies get when you hit them with Withering Blade.

When you first unlock the new subclass, Wommack said, you'll start with a "curated" version that combines specific abilities. Bungie went through a lot of iterations to make sure that each class's starting version of Prismatic would be a compelling combination of elements that make the subclass worth playing with, but without making other builds obsolete.

No Caption Provided

However, Prismatic is built on customization. You won't be able to mix and match every perk, ability, and super from your other subclasses together, but you will have access to a lot of them. Adding more options requires unlocking Aspects and Fragments that give you different abilities and benefits, like with past subclasses.

But where Lightfall had you killing enemies to earn "Strand Meditations" in order to unlock different elements of the subclass, a system many players didn't really like, The Final Shape will award you with Aspects and Fragments as you work through the story campaign, or from exploring the Pale Heart. There should also be less grind in getting everything you need for effective builds on all three of your characters. While the preview showed off a Prismatic build for Hunters, all three classes will have plenty to work with.

"We wanted to give every class an equivalent amount of build options," Wommack said. "We're doing something with the Fragments where there's a shared pool they all have, so if you have Fragments you unlocked on your Hunter, then you can use those Fragments on your Warlock or Titan. So we're trying really hard not to play favorites."

The focus on making sure players can gain Prismatic and all its customization elements through the campaign also helps guarantee it'll be available for The Final Shape's raid, which launches just three days after the expansion's release.

"You will be able to fully unlock Prismatic by playing through the campaign and the journey in the Pale Heart before the raid launches," Wommack confirmed. "That is something that everyone is going to have access to and be able to accomplish."

No Caption Provided

At the launch of The Final Shape, only certain abilities and elements will be available as part of Prismatic--you won't be able to mix and match every single melee ability or super into a new subclass of your choosing. In addition to keeping Prismatic from replacing all the other, more specific subclasses, Bungie limited the options to make sure the subclass would be balanced, especially in the Crucible, Destiny 2's player.-vs.-player mode.

Wommack said Bungie wants to see how players handle Prismatic, and how it impacts the game, before thinking too much about what other elements and abilities it might add to the subclass later.

"We're kind of reserving any future decision about what we add to Prismatic until we actually get it out there into people's hands and see how it's doing," he said. "We're going to pay a lot of attention to what the balance is and what the impact is, and in PvP, of course. We're paying a lot of attention to what Transcendence up time is in PvP, just like with super up-time, that economy is super important and we put a lot of thought into it."

As game director Tyson Green noted, despite the fact Bungie has done a lot of testing on Prismatic, it's still impossible to say what will happen once it's in the hands of the Destiny 2 community.

"On the first day when players get their hands on Prismatic, they'll get about 1,000 times more playtest time than we've ever been able to put into it during development," Green said. "We're going to learn a lot during the first 24 or 48 hours,and we're going to react to that, because that's what we do."

For more from the preview event, check out what we learned about the new destination, the Pale Heart of the Traveler.

The Final Shape is set to release on June 4.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are no comments about this story