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Destiny 2: Forsaken Review - A Grindhouse

  • First Released Sep 6, 2017
  • Reviewed Oct 4, 2018
  • PS4
  • PC
  • XONE

Do it for Cayde.

Even three weeks after launch, Destiny 2's Forsaken expansion feels, in some ways, overwhelming. For all but the most dedicated players, it was nearly impossible to be prepared for the Raid in the 10 days between launch and its release. That's partially the fault of now-resolved issues that prevented players from leveling up properly, but it's also indicative of just how far Destiny 2 has swung in the "hardcore" direction. However, a strong foundation of more accessible activities coupled with an engaging new campaign and a fantastic new mode in Gambit help make up for prohibitive level restrictions in the late game. After two disappointing expansions, this is the best shape Destiny 2 has been in--you just have to be patient with it.

Whereas the Red War arc in the base game relied on an overtly evil supervillain to drive the story forward, Forsaken's story is built around less noble pursuits. Cayde's death at the beginning of the campaign starts you off on a journey for revenge, which means hunting down and killing those responsible: eight Barons, powerful enemies from the new Scorn race. The boss-focused structure and darker tone make for a more interesting and varied campaign where each mission feels like a necessary step rather than busy work with no clear narrative purpose. That said, it's not so involved that you can't run through the missions with others and talk over some of the dialogue without losing track of what your goals are, either.

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Most of the main story missions take place in a new destination, the Tangled Shore. Each of the Barons has their own personality traits, with some being especially memorable; the Rider rides around on a souped-up Pike and cackles as she takes shots at you, while the Trickster's mission is littered with bombs that look like engrams. A new vendor named Spider (a Fallen mob boss you're forced into an alliance with against the Scorn) adds more color to these missions, too, manipulating you into doing his bidding around the Tangled Shore as you go.

The entry-level portion of the game can take 10 or so hours with some grinding in between, depending on whether you go solo or with a Fireteam of one or two others. Once you finish that campaign, you unlock the second destination, the Dreaming City. The level requirements jump quite a bit, which means a good amount of grinding--completing Weekly Challenges for Powerful gear--to get there. Depending on how dedicated you are, this can either be a laid-back process over time or a grueling one over a few days.

As is the case with Destiny 2 in general, the strength of its shooting mechanics and the lure of new weapons and armor help to offset the repetition inherent to the mid-game grind structure. If you don't mind taking things slightly more slowly, you also don't have to do any weeklies you find tedious, like replaying old story missions. It is a bit weird to go back to older content, like Strikes, where Cayde is still alive, but it's easy to overlook in a game where you can kill the same bosses over and over.

The standout addition to the rotation is Gambit, a part-PvP, part-PvE mode that has you competing with an enemy team on mostly separate maps. Your main goal is to kill AI-controlled enemies, collect the motes they drop, and bank those motes to summon a final boss before the other team summons and kills theirs. Along the way, members from each team will have the opportunity to invade the other map and score PvP kills to screw with their opponents' progress. It's a creative combination of Destiny's various existing modes, and having to juggle both your side of the map and the other team's progress--and frantically trying to hide when an invader comes--makes for hectic matches that are consistently fun with or without friends, as well as a great way to level up regardless of your commitment.

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When you complete the campaign, you also get the Cayde's Will quest to unlock the Exotic hand cannon Ace of Spades. The quest takes you from Gambit to the Crucible to Strikes to a few different planets, mostly using hand cannons, and then finally to a story mission. We won't spoil it here, but it's a smart end to the quest, pairs well with the main story, and raises intriguing lore questions. Ace of Spades itself is also just a worthwhile weapon to get; it packs a serious punch and has an entertaining reload animation to top it off.

After about a week of playing and leveling daily, I was in good shape to tackle what the Dreaming City has to offer. It's a gorgeous area, with gleaming bridges and sparkling crystal structures. It's also full of Taken, and different portals can take you to different planes--even after three weeks and content that unlocked after the Raid was first completed, it still has an air of mystery about it. There's also more content that was released even after the post-Raid unlocks, and it may continue to refresh as the weeks go on.

Even after three weeks and content that unlocked after the Raid was first completed, the Dreaming City still has an air of mystery about it

The Dreaming City's two main activities are the Blind Well and the Ascendant Challenge. The Blind Well is a high-level horde-style public event that comes in a few tiers of difficulty. Even if you're with a Fireteam, you'll likely have to wait around a bit for a few people to show up before you can start the harder tiers, and then you have to hope they know what they're doing. It's frustrating when you're not gelling with randoms and end up failing, but it's extra gratifying when you do sync up with a group and complete the higher tiers. The Ascendant Challenge, on the other hand, is not public and is best tackled with a Fireteam. It changes each week (so far) and can include things like platforming activities or challenging boss fights in a creepy, Taken-filled alternate plane.

Completing both nets you a few pieces of high-level gear, which is always a strong incentive this close to the endgame. But even three weeks after launch, it was difficult to get a Raid crew together. Three of us were playing and leveling at a fast pace (the highest was 568, while myself and one other person were hovering just below 550), two were playing relatively often between other work duties (both around 535), and one was splitting time between PC and PS4 (and was severely underleveled at 513 but powering through it admirably). We were able to take on the first encounter of the Raid, but the severe spikes in level requirements nearly made it impossible. Like other Destiny Raids, though, the communication, teamwork, and skill required to succeed makes for an intensely satisfying experience. It's just frustrating that it's been such an uphill battle to get there.

There is a lot to do in Forsaken, so much so that it can be difficult to see it all. That also means that, for the average player, this expansion has a much longer tail than previous iterations of Destiny 2. The variety and flexibility of activities established in the base game still work to make grinding a good time, and Gambit adds a consistently entertaining mode to the roster. The endgame, while difficult to reach, is also where the most satisfaction can be found.

Back To Top
The Good
The darker, more personal tone of the story is engaging
Boss-focused mission structure allows for a variety of memorable and exciting fights
Gambit mode is a clever combination of seemingly disparate elements
Late-game activities that require high-level teamwork are the most satisfying
The Bad
Sharp spikes in level requirements can be restrictive and frustrating
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Destiny 2

About the Author

Kallie lost track of how many hours of Forsaken she played over the last three and a half weeks, but she did get Ace of Spades before they nerfed the quest requirements. She did it for Cayde. She played on PS4 using code provided by the publisher.
125 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for gvxwastrum

I want to try this game but I keep missing the free trial.

Avatar image for naasum

never forget that this game failed horribly and ya all agreed to pay for a second time. remember this the next time you cry how new games suck and how they are overpriced.

Avatar image for vfighter

I'm loving it so far, my only complain would be leveling up needs to be sped up jist a little bit, otherwise great dlc.

Avatar image for raidenovic

As someone who bought, played, and was horribly disappointed with the base game, was hopeful enough that I bought the 2 expansions, (knowing BUngOs whole "screw you 1st then try to soothe Dev cycle) was still disappointed with those, & I'm seeing how hard all these publications are pushing this forsaken hype. I'm officially off the train.

There's no righting this ship. It's a dumpster fire. Destiny 3 will be much of the same.

Also, EVeRverSE. I'm good, you guys have ""fun""

Avatar image for Mogan

@raidenovic: Do what you want, but Forsaken is the best Destiny yet.

Avatar image for hyruler461

The only thing I am not liking so far is how long it is taking to increase my light level just to access the rest of the content. Usually by 2 weeks I can at least do the harder content like Nightfalls and such, but im 3 weeks in and barely just hit 525 when the harder content is at least 540. I don't really care about the raid but would like to be able to hit 540 at least at a decent pace.

Avatar image for leviathanwing

@hyruler461: yep the grind is real.. feels like biking uphill through molasses

Avatar image for donjuancorleone

Are you using a potato instead of a mic?

Avatar image for mohibeyki

So this comment section is full of people not ever playing forsaken saying that it sucks.

the first two expansions sucked, I liked Warmind mostly because the raid was really fun and I loved the escalation protocol but Osiris was just pure crap and the only good thing in it was its raid as it was a quick raid lair with good enough mechanics.

but the base game was good IMHO, it might not have worth your precious 60$ but in my opinion the list of games worth 60$ is very short.

Forsaken however has a shit ton of content in it, it is a big DLC and if I want to compare it to other game DLCs it even compares to blood and wine (Witcher fans hold it in your pants please) dreaming city brings the raid and a really fun strike + blind well (that I'm not a big fan of and prefer escalation protocol) and it has a dungeon and at least about 3 hours of story missions. so yeah, to me it worth every penny and if you should not expect a game dev to release an expansion this big for free.

The problem with destiny 2 is that it should have had forsaken mechanics since the start, people liked random roles, sandbox in crucible is fun now, bounties keep you busy and there is a lot to do every week plus daily milestones, the destiny problem is that they undo every good thing that they have done in destiny 1 at the start of destiny 2 and followed that with two mediocre expansions.

I don't get the hate for eververse, dota 2 constantly spams you with its cosmetics and nobody lashes an eye, eververse gives you her goods when you level up, the xp controversy was real but now it just works and there is no point in buying in app purchases other than cosmetics, yes they created more armor sets for eververse but guess what, its just cosmetics, most cosmetic items in games are in app purchases.

My only fear is that the upcoming DLCs are as bad as the previous two, I really hope that doesn't happen.

And for the love of god, Shaders should not be consumable...

Avatar image for ahmadgabriel

Best expansion yet.

Avatar image for mistervulpes

Bring back the downvote button.

Update your Warframe review.

Enjoy all that Ad revenue from Bungie.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

You forgot one major negative... story wise nothing is explained requiring you took look online to figure out what the hell is going on. For instance that random squid thing that appears at the end of the DLC which actually has an interesting back story which isn't even mentioned in the story.

Avatar image for srfilk86

This series looks horrendous. So generic.

Avatar image for zura_janai

So shadow of the tomb raider gets a 6 while this destiny 2 add-on gets an 8.

Avatar image for Prats1993

@zura_janai: Yes because Tomb Raider sucks.

Avatar image for gotrekfabian

@Prats1993: Not as hard as your ability to construct a logical and informed argument.

Avatar image for mistervulpes


So does this, but even more because it’s anti-consumer through and through.

Avatar image for xman2k2

I am very skeptical that the reviewer knows how to play Destiny 2. I doubt that this reviewer is knowledgeable enough in the methods of how to increase power level. First, she states that she has not been able to get to the recommended light level for the raid. Second, she states that she only played some Gambit but yet doesn't know how or when players can invade the other side. The Forsaken expansion has been released on 9/4/2018 which gave players 10 days before the release of the raid to reach 530-535 power. My raid group was able to clear the first four encounters being at 534 power. How can Gamespot expect their audience to take this review seriously if the person reviewing the game doesn't know how the game works. My 8-year-old nephew can write a better review than this.

Avatar image for smouche_mole

@xman2k2: Well said. . . And unlike Mogan’s comment, I find no issues with critiquing a critic (I.e. the reviewer for you slows out there). Doesn’t require you post your own review.

Avatar image for Mogan

@xman2k2: If you don't like this review, there is a big orange button just up above and to the right that will let you write your own.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

Well, this is cool! The game really needed an overhaul. Great news for those who play it.

Avatar image for off3nc3

8/10 ?? hahah more like 5/10 this game has no chance of redeeming itself after the first year. This game is sub-par for a 2k18 in all the possible features on all platforms.

Shame on Bungie.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@off3nc3: So people said about the first Destiny, and The Division, and Diablo III, and For Honor, and FFXIV and Rainbow Six Siege and look at them now.

Also Destiny managed to continue afloat since it had the shooting mechanics going for it; which were always quite good, so not "all possible features" as you believe.

Mediocre? yes. But also salvageable.

Avatar image for hollywood1

Game has been out for 2 weeks and this is STILL a "review in progress" wth??

Avatar image for skippert

@hollywood1: The raid comes out today - Besides that the grind from Light level 500 onwards is quite frustrating. I would think that they are going to want to experience that first before completing the review.

Avatar image for phili878


Avatar image for BabeNewelll

Can't believe this <insert expletive> scored higher than Tomb Raider, good lord.

Avatar image for Sindroid


Tomb Raider was "Too much of the same" and deserved its 6/10

Avatar image for nativepixel

The great loot box aka destiny 2 with the 8 from gamestop sure didn't see that coming..😒 Who would have thought when it launched we would have to pay over 140$ to get a full game. But gamespot and games media do your thing sis.

Avatar image for fatalbanana

@nativepixel: They are selling a bundle of the base game and all the DLC's for 60 bucks but yeah if you're paying for them as they release they will easily run you the price of three full-fledged games.

I disagree with your point of it being a full game now. It was a full game when it first came out just not the "forever" game people wanted. But a solid 12-hour campaign plus a few extra hours of other stuff is more I get out of most 60 dollar games.

The DLC is overpriced and not worth the content they provide but its more of a game people want more of so Bungie makes money regardless.

Avatar image for Mogan

@nativepixel: "Who would have thought when it launched we would have to pay over 140$ to get a full game."

If by "full game" you mean Destiny 2 and the first three expansions, then literally everyone who played Destiny 1 should have expected that cost.

Avatar image for SofaCama

Cayde... dies...? Oh god noooo Caydeeeeeeeeee

Avatar image for Bullet_Sponge

Still have the final baron to fight. All the others have been basically the same: enter a big room with stuff to hide behind. Fight adds and boss. The end. Bleh.

Avatar image for donjuancorleone

So hold on, Cayde dies at the beginning of this dlc? or have i missed his death by not playing another dlc?

Avatar image for Mogan

@donjuancorleone: Start of this one.

Destiny 2 More Info

  • First Released Sep 6, 2017
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Humanity’s last safe city has fallen to an overwhelming invasion force, led by Ghaul, the imposing commander of the brutal Red Legion. He has stripped the city’s Guardians of their power, and forced the survivors to flee. You will venture to mysterious, unexplored worlds of our solar system to discover an arsenal of weapons and devastating new combat abilities. To defeat the Red Legion and confront Ghaul, you must reunite humanity’s scattered heroes, stand together, and fight back to reclaim our home.
    Average Rating329 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Destiny 2
    Developed by:
    Bungie Software, Activision
    Published by:
    Activision, Bungie Software, Sony Interactive Entertainment
    Shooter, 3D, Action, First-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Language, Violence