Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Destiny 2 Shadowkeep Review - Moon's Haunted

  • First Released Sep 6, 2017
    released
  • Reviewed Oct 4, 2019
  • PC
  • PC
  • PS4
  • PS4

Destiny 2's haunted new world is a great place to (re)visit, but the new gameplay choices it provides improve nearly everything about the game.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

It's hard to overstate how much better Destiny 2 has become in the last year. The Forsaken expansion and the smaller, more frequent updates that followed added variety in activities that meant you could earn rewards while playing your favorite content, as well as a huge amount of new, weird lore to sift through, and secrets to uncover. It's not a stretch to say Destiny as a franchise was the best it's ever been in the second year of Destiny 2.

The new Shadowkeep expansion builds on those foundations in just about every way. While returning to the moon is a pretty good time in and of itself--the expansion leans hard on the spooky locale, which was part of Destiny 1 but refreshed and enlarged for Destiny 2--it's the smaller improvements to the way the game works that are really the standout. Shadowkeep's content offerings aren't quite as sprawling, varied, or engaging as what we saw in Forsaken, but the expansion builds on the recent tweaks in Destiny 2 to make the moment-to-moment gameplay even stronger.

Forsaken made some effort to establish Destiny 2 as a game that's constantly evolving. Instead of dropping a series of big content updates with little happening between them, Destiny 2's second year became a drip-feed of new stuff that helped keep the game compelling, for the most part, month after month. Bungie has said this approach is how it wants to handle the game going forward, and Shadowkeep represents a big step in that direction. That means parts of the expansion feels a bit truncated--it teases more to come, but leaves some of Shadowkeep a bit unsatisfying.

Destiny 2 story campaigns have always been a touch lackluster--they usually pack cool individual missions, but they almost always end quickly and rarely amount to more than chasing down some big enemy and putting them in the ground. Shadowkeep's main story is also on the short side, wrapping up in a four or five dedicated hours (and less once you start leveling alternate characters who benefit from the high-level gear you've already procured). It's also clearly the first part of a much larger tale, one that Bungie says will play out over the entire year. As such, it presents something of an unsatisfying journey; it's the first few steps, rather than a complete arc, and you might be a bit surprised when it's suddenly over.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Shadowkeep sees the return of a Destiny 1 character, Eris Morn, who was central to two previous expansions: The Dark Below and The Taken King. Here, Eris has learned that the death-worshipping faction, the Hive, has discovered something on the moon that's conjuring up phantoms of past foes and allies, returning deadly facsimiles of them to life. In a way, it's a big reunion tour of the Destiny of old. Eris is back, you return to the D1 location of the moon, which we haven't seen in two years, and you fight slightly watered-down versions of big bad guys you've previously defeated, such as Dark Below raid boss Crota and Destiny 2 vanilla boss Ghaul. It's something of an amped-up nostalgia trip that's a good time, especially if you've got a long history with the Destiny franchise--but we're waiting to reach the long-term endgame content that will wrap up some of these story threads.

It is cool, however, to hang out on the moon, especially because its spooky factor has gone up. Lunar tunnels are filled with frightening screams of hidden terrors, there are plenty of tough enemies to dispatch, and the whole place carries an air of haunted mystery. It seems we've only scratched the surface of what's hidden on the moon so far. Destiny is at its best when it's full of secrets for the community to uncover, and the game has already provided a few big, baffling mysteries that have required everyone to band together to work out.

Though it ends a little too quickly, the story campaign has some exciting moments as Guardians band together to attack and infiltrate the new Scarlet Keep location and discover what the Hive is up to. The rest of the expansion's new content is engaging as well. Nightmare Hunts are pretty much mini-Strikes, making them quick and palatable boss fights that help you grab new gear. A new take on Nightfall Strikes, the tougher versions of Destiny 2's three-player Strike activities, are enticing thanks to a ramping difficulty system that gives you challenges at a variety of Power levels. Exploring the moon has a lot to offer as well--though a lot of the location is made up of old areas, they're deep and maze-like, and every trip into their depths feels deliciously dangerous.

There's also the Garden of Salvation raid, which became available a few days after launch, to give Destiny 2's highest-level players something to aspire to finishing. Destiny raids are often the best, most inventive content the game has to offer, and Garden of Salvation continues the tradition of including strange and fun mechanics that push your limits of skill and team coordination. It's one of the shorter raids with only four encounters, but includes big, exciting pieces, like a chase through a field exploding with enemy fire and a Gambit-like boss battle that requires teams to split into multiple groups to gather items and defend against team-wiping attacks. Garden of Salvation isn't quite the equal of the massive Forsaken raid, Last Wish, but it's a highlight of Shadowkeep for certain.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5

Vex Offensive, a new six-player wave-based activity that dropped alongside the raid, helps to round out the amount of stuff Shadowkeep gives you to do for its first season. Like last season's Menagerie, it has the feeling of being a lighter, easier raid-like activity that's more accessible for those who aren't quite hardcore enough to take on Garden of Salvation. The activity itself requires a little more teamwork than the usual Destiny 2 event, without being impossible to do if you're matchmaking alone. It's a fun change of pace from Strikes or Crucible, and its huge dump of rewards mean chasing the best rolls for its many guns doesn't feel like a chore.

Where Shadowkeep really excels, however, is less in the content to work through and more in the myriad smaller changes Bungie has made to totally revamp Destiny 2. The biggest changes focus on making character builds a more important part of the experience, giving you a chance to experiment with weapons and armor not just to make your character more powerful in general, but more powerful in ways that specifically meet your particular play style and needs.

Driving that focus is the new approach to weapon and armor mods, which allows you to mix and match elements that were previously unmovable perks on particular pieces of gear. In the past, you had to spend so much time switching gear in order to make your overall stats go up that more nuanced numbers, like how fast your grenades recharged or how quickly you moved, could generally be ignored. Making sure you had the best rolls on particular gear only really mattered in the game's toughest activities and to the most hardcore members of the community.

With Armor 2.0 and the new weapon mod system, you can move those perks (now as individual mods) between armor sets to build a few pieces of gear with exactly the capabilities you want. You're also no longer penalized for experimenting since mods aren't consumed on use. It means that once you start to get some pieces of armor and weapons that work really well for you, it's possible to continually tweak them to fit how you want to play the game and your particular role on a team.

No Caption Provided

Shadowkeep's tweaks to higher-level enemy encounters, like adding enemies that require specific mods to defeat, provide excellent opportunities to experiment with character builds and loadouts. Especially in Garden of Salvation, I found myself stopping to try different equipment combinations to help me deal with tough enemies or specific situations. The system provides a lot of opportunities to think about and develop character builds; more than I've been doing through most of the five years I've played Destiny. It's an improvement that makes the game's core loop of constantly chasing new gear feel like it matters to how you play the game--and it's one Destiny desperately needed.

The early leveling system has been improved significantly as well, making the climb to the endgame a lot more reasonable. Leveling up your character is (mostly) gone in favor of constantly chasing gear with better Power numbers. Up to the soft Power level cap, every drop is a useful one--giving you a chance to try out a host of different weapons and armor in various circumstances before you get to Shadowkeep's toughest content. Shadowkeep's change to move experience points from a needless character-leveling system to a battle pass and new Seasonal Artifact item also helps a major ongoing Destiny problem of running out of things to do as you approach maximum level. Everything earns you experience to advance your battle pass and artifact, and the latter of which contributes to your characters' overall Power level, so there's a lot less wasted time chasing useless rewards.

Much of the experience of live service games like Destiny 2 is in the continued chase after better gear and more power in the endgame. While things slow down significantly during the post-soft cap climb, progress feels steady through the game's decent variety of activities, especially with the addition of Vex Offensive. Bungie's changes to the system strike a nice balance between the issues of Year Two, when so many activities started to feel like chores, and the problems of the past, when progressing was a much slower grind. Pushing hard through a week's worth of Powerful gear drops can get you raid-ready in a hurry, but with a number of new guns to chase and new activities to master, there's still a lot for top-tier players to focus on beyond trying to raise their Power level through the roof. The new Seasonal Artifact also helps balance the grind by continually awarding additional Power points regardless of the numbers on your gear. As a result, you never feel stalled, no matter what part of the game you're playing.

Shadowkeep represents a shift in the fundamentals of Destiny 2, and that has only improved the game. Returning to the moon is full of spooky fun, and while Shadowkeep might not be as huge as Forsaken, it still provides some impressive additions to the world that will take time to fully explore. More meaningful choices in Shadowkeep are pushing me to think beyond just packing my most powerful guns and shooting everything in my path. These are improvements that represent a giant leap forward for Destiny 2.

Back To Top
The Good
Armor and weapon customization allows for more gameplay experimentation
Leveling changes and season pass make grinding feel more meaningful
Destiny 1 areas are nicely nostalgic but still give returning players lots to discover
The moon is a great place to explore thanks to its spooky atmosphere
The Bad
Story campaign is quick and a little thin
New activities are fun but aren't as substantial as previous additions
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Destiny 2

About the Author

Phil Hornshaw has spent around 45 hours so far in Destiny 2 Shadowkeep on PC and PS4 Pro, including a fun but failed attempt to beat Garden of Salvation on day one. Review code was provided by Bungie.
30 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 Lord_Sesshy
Lord_Sesshy

1168

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 0

Reviewed on PC and PS4 twice? lol. And for consoles wouldn't the X be better to review on since it's the most powerful of the bunch?

Avatar image for dubshark
Dubshark

13

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@Lord_Sesshy: ps4 pro and X runs at 30 fps so doesn't make any difference

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

3613

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

I'm having lots of fun with this so far.

Avatar image for esqueejy
esqueejy

2274

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

Having trouble justifying going back at the moment in light of Borderlands 3 being so much fun hehe

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

822

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Y'know, I played the very first destiny for about 2 weeks before trading it due to bordom, I gotta say its looking pretty damn good these days! I'm a single player kinda dude though so maybe not the best idea?

Avatar image for saltymemesoup
saltymemesoup

106

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 5

@cherub1000: Well the basic version of the game is free. GIVE IT A TRY! =)

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

3841

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 11

User Lists: 7

Enjoyed Taken King a lot more that the second. Maybe I'll have a look to the Steam free version, but without my clan anymore I'm not it will be the same.

Avatar image for mattwoahyeah
MattWoahYeah

28

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Edited By MattWoahYeah

I liked the original more, but 2 kind of self destructed for me when it became impossible to put down for a few months and come back to. You can't have a full time job AND play get the most out of Destiny.

It's still the most mechanically sound shooter I've ever played, by far.

Avatar image for creepshow2
Creepshow2

132

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

I liked the Original game better myself and still play it from time to time, but 2 was not terrible.

Avatar image for phili878
phili878

1542

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 16

User Lists: 0

phili878  Online

Destiny has the best shooting mechanics but other than that, all is crap, everything.

Avatar image for daidochus
Daidochus

58

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@mogan This is unacceptable, say something about it. It is deffo an 8.

Avatar image for mogan
Mogan

12158

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Mogan  Moderator

@daidochus: Oh, I fully plan to ban Phil until he agrees to recognize the true genius of Destiny.

Avatar image for esporttalk_org
esporttalk_org

3

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Edited By esporttalk_org

Is it known how much the change in the speed of loading grenades and moving around has changed? Has the difficulty level changed dramatically?

Avatar image for fox_fury
fox_fury

264

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Dont forget to mention how Bungie scammed its playerbase by bypassing the game sharing requirement on consoles!!
Ever since the release of Destiny 1 every piece of DLC, expansion and season/annual pass has been available on the main and sub accounts, BUT now they made the seasons as an ingame purchase thats bound to only the main account (like a skin, or emote bought with silver coins) meaning that you have to re-buy it for every single sub account you have in your household!!!
This information was NOT evident or advertised in any way or form before you buy it!

There are literally hundreds of people who cant claim the season passes they bought and Bungie does not care about it. https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/253726491?sort=0&page=0

Who would of thought that Bungie will be worse and greedier without Activision.....

Avatar image for NateDAWG296
NateDAWG296

31

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@fox_fury: They gave all players who did not get the season pass 3000 silver so that they can purchase them when they release.

Avatar image for fox_fury
fox_fury

264

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@NateDAWG296: You miss the point. By releasing their game on PS4 and Xbox One platforms they are obligated to support the gameshare feature with the game and its expansions/seasons. Instead they chose to bypass this by making the future seasons as ingame purchase and therefore it cant be shared.
Everyone with a household of gamers (family, kids and so on) have to re-buy the 4 season passes for every member instead of just sharing it as it was the case for years.

Avatar image for cozmicdad
cozmicdad

28

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Just to be clear....Most of what you mention in the review of Shadowkeep IS AVAILABLE IN NEW LIGHT, or indeed, to everyone who already owns any version of Destiny 2.

The new armour system. The new power grind. The new strikes, the moon patrol area, the UI changes.....ALL of these are available to ALL players whether they own shadowkeep or not, so why do they make up the majority of this review?

Avatar image for mogan
Mogan

12158

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@cozmicdad: This is true. Shadowkeep itself is the new story, raid, dungeon, exotic quests, and gear. Some of that stuff isn't out until ... I think today, actually. And if Shadowkeep is anything like Forsaken, some of it will need to be discovered or unlocked over time, which makes it difficult to review.

That said, the free content is significant enough that it deserves to be in the review, since it wouldn't have been covered in any previous reviews.

Avatar image for twztid13
twztid13

1698

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By twztid13

The story being short & underwhelming is what I was afraid of. Glad I held out this time. As long as they don't do what they did between destiny 1 & destiny 2 again, I'll be back. I just need time to play other games also, cuz I get burned out easy. I really liked where it was at, but since so much has changed, it helps me rationalize it knowing they'll need time to iron out all the issues that brings, so if they do follow a 5 year plan, I'll prob be back with the next shadow keep like expansion (& all the content from now until then will be new too, cuz I want more story, not less).

Avatar image for mistertech
MisterTech

198

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Same ol stuff... I'm willing to give the 3rd a try.. I just dont think this game has enough content to warrant it almost trying to push like it's an mmo... maybe when the complete edition is out for $20 I'll grab that ..

Avatar image for Atzenkiller
Atzenkiller

2598

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

So they've actually just reused the Moon area from the last game and are selling it as a new expansion again? And this review talks about it like that's a good thing because of "nostalgia".

Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

1379

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By bbq_R0ADK1LL

@Atzenkiller: Aren't you nostalgic for two years ago? 2017 was a simpler time. Don't you want to relive those moments again?

Recycled content is great. We need to recycle to save the planet.

Avatar image for Atzenkiller
Atzenkiller

2598

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@bbq_R0ADK1LL: I might be, if that wasn't what we've been used to from Bungie ever since. Recycled bosses have been the standard for all of their dlcs as far as I'm aware. Recycled areas are not really anything new and I'm sure have been around before as well.

Avatar image for mogan
Mogan

12158

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Mogan  Moderator

@Atzenkiller: The map isn’t the same. It’s familiar, and you’ll recognize areas from the first game, but everything has been changed enough that it feels like a whole new map.

Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

3354

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 17

User Lists: 0

Is there a point now that BL3 is out?

Avatar image for twztid13
twztid13

1698

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@cboye18: it's nowhere close to the same game. I like the artstyle of boderlands, but I couldn't get into any of them. People said it was because I played solo mostly, but that's how I prefer to play, so I figured it just wasn't for me. I love the fact BL doesn't put the same emphasis on PvP that destiny does, but the gunplay is unmatched in destiny's PvE, imho (though FAR from perfect, I admit).

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

3841

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 11

User Lists: 7

@cboye18: The point is tastes. Some people don't like the humorous tone of Borderlands.

Personally, although hard, I believe one could play both games. Both have good shooting mechanics.

Avatar image for phili878
phili878

1542

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 16

User Lists: 0

phili878  Online

@Warlord_Irochi: Destiny’s shooting mechanics is unrivaled, but other than that, it is a crap game. What a shame, with a better story and no repetitive worthless grinds it could have gotten 10/10 scores.

Avatar image for mogan
Mogan

12158

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Mogan  Moderator

@cboye18: Sure, Destiny is better than Borderlands.

Avatar image for videogameninja
videogameninja

3864

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

So, what you’re telling me is that Shadowkeeper is… wait for it… a keeper?

-Okay. That was terrible. Even for you, Ninja.-

-KEEP YOUR DAY JOB NINJA APPROVED-

Destiny 2 More Info

Follow
  • First Released Sep 6, 2017
    released
    • 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.
    6.1
    Average Rating336 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Destiny 2
    Developed by:
    Bungie Software, Activision
    Published by:
    Activision, Bungie Software, Sony Interactive Entertainment
    Genre(s):
    Shooter, Action, 3D, 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.
    Teen
    Blood, Language, Violence