A Beautiful Expectation: Spoiler-Free Campaign Review – Destiny 2: The Final Shape

9.5/10

The Final Shape campaign is the magnum opus of the franchise. It's obvious that the pacing of the story and gameplay were given an abundance of care, which elevates the entire experience. The story provides longtime fans massive payoffs, and succinctly wraps up the epic journey we've been on for so many years. Lastly, the new additions of the Dread enemy faction and Prismatic subclass made playing through the campaign a delight. I will say that as a whole, this campaign is the best in the Destiny franchise, and hearkens back to Bungie's golden age of campaigns in their Halo days.

Destiny 2’s new expansion, The Final Shape, has finally released, and with it the end of the Light and Darkness saga. After the raid, Salvation’s Edge, was completed by the first fireteam, players were able to truly finish the story, and oh what a story it was. Consequently, this review will cover both the base campaign and its true ending from after the raid. It is impossible to write a review without some contextual spoilers, but there are no actual story spoilers in this review.

With live-service games, as we’ve seen in previous Destiny expansions, it can be hard to make a campaign or story feel streamlined. Usually, there are some grindy aspects, or fetch quests intertwined with the meaty cinematic missions. This also results in boring travel time while the character is familiarized with the new area.

I can happily report that The Final Shape’s campaign doesn’t have any of this. Each mission starts right after the last, and there aren’t any lame filler missions. It’s quite a change from Destiny’s usual format with campaigns; perhaps the devs finally realized that they can save the getting-to-know the new area for the past campaign activities. This new philosophy is slight, but it has a big effect by making all the story beats, gameplay, and exploration feel fresh and uninterrupted.

destiny 2 final shape campaign review camp
Small camps populate after missions. From there you can immediately start the next mission

Since we mentioned the story beats feeling well-paced, let’s go into detail about the story, and compare how it holds up to previous expansions. This is the section that will have the most possible contextual spoilers, so if you’re worried about those, then just skip to the next.

As far as plots go, the expansion follows a very tried-and-true structure. The beginning is more centered around delivering exposition and helping the player understand the setting. For a game whose lore is so vast and complicated, this introduction is balanced because it doesn’t set up the story to be overly complicated, but it also hints at enough deep lore to keep longtime fans happy.

The rising action, or the middle missions that create tension and drama, are well done and masterfully use characters’ backstories to frame the narrative. Some particular revelations that give more context to important past events in certain characters’ long lives are deeply impactful, and elaborate on their motivations. This is accompanied by a slight plot twist that invested players will have seen coming for a while, but will probably be more memorable to people who are here for the last expansion in the Light and Dark saga.

destiny 2 final shape campaign review story backgrounds
Elaboration on scenes from the past unearth truths about characters

The climax is the only part of the campaign that deviates from the traditional story structure, while the falling action — or the activities and quests after finishing the base campaign — are some the best parts. The reason for this is that the climax is actually a faux conclusion, as many players might’ve suspected, since the raid (the real conclusion) released a few days after the base campaign.

The best story beats are actually in the missions following the ending of the campaign. Again, people invested in the lore will have seen this specific point of major character progression coming for years, but that doesn’t mean the fan service doesn’t absolutely slap.

destiny 2 final shape campaign review falling action
Some of the best moments happen after the campaign ends

Due to the developers having to plan the story around one of their biggest player lures, the raid, the true ending is at the very end. The ending is quite an emotional roller coaster for fans that have been playing the series for the past decade. There are touching moments, triumphant rallies, and a bittersweet finality that permeate every cutscene. As a hardcore fan, it’s hard to imagine with how this ending will land for players new to the series. However, for the invested player base, the ending will top the lists of their favorite campaign conclusions of all time.

Not everyone is a lore / story nerd, though, and there will be a large contingent of players that judge this campaign solely on its gameplay. Like the other parts of the expansion, it was above par and perhaps the best that Bungie has done so far for the franchise. The cornerstone of this ruling is of course the new subclass: Prismatic.

As far as giving players a power fantasy, this is the strongest we have ever felt in Destiny’s history. Most of the abilities that we’ve been using for years are now mixable, and can be paired to devastating effect in a single subclass. The implementation of this new mechanic throughout the missions felt perfect. The drip fed abilities made each new prismatic chest feel truly rewarding; we were actually giddy to see what new powers were unlocked each time.

destiny 2 final shape campaign review prismatic subclass
The new Prismatic subclass is next level stuff

The new subclass might have stolen the show, but there are plenty of other aspects (no, not those aspects) that were instrumental in making the gameplay great, too. For example, consider the new enemy faction, The Dread. We haven’t received a wholly new faction since the scorn in Forsaken, and I might controversially add that the wait was worth it. The new enemies’ movements and powers were foreign and erratic, which made playing through the campaign on legendary difficulty equally challenging and fun.

Some things that are easy to overlook need to be noted too — like the level design and boss rooms. These are things that we simply take for granted when it comes to Bungie. The way that they effortlessly blend the enemies’ new abilities and characteristics in with their level design make each encounter different and keep guardians on their toes, which is difficult to do for a 12-hour campaign. Ultimately, Bungie did what they do best; the difference is that this time they surpassed even their usual high standards.

You might be surprised if said that I haven’t even mentioned the best parts of the campaign yet: its art direction. The art and cutscenes are the best that Bungie has ever made for a story, period. Exploring the Pale Heart of the Traveler is akin to stumbling down the rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Each new area is full of breathtaking and emotional views, and turning a corner can leave you face to face with a disturbingly organic fixture that begs you to question reality.

destiny 2 final shape campaign review art
The art is the best that Bungie has ever put in a game

The abstract setting is the perfect backdrop for the campaign’s amazingly cinematic cutscenes. The dark tones and mood juxtapose brilliantly with the vibrantly lighter color palettes. The animation and action in the cutscenes are not only wildly entertaining, but also have some heart-wrenching and glee-filled moments for the characters that we’ve come to intimately know over the past decade.


In an attempt to sum everything up, this campaign is the magnum opus of the franchise. It’s obvious that the pacing of the story and gameplay were given an abundance of care, which elevates the entire experience. The story provides longtime fans massive payoffs, and succinctly wraps up the epic journey we’ve been on for so many years. Lastly, the new additions of the Dread enemy faction and Prismatic subclass made playing through the campaign a delight. I will say that as a whole, this campaign is the best in the Destiny franchise, and hearkens back to Bungie’s golden age of campaigns in their Halo days.

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Kelson H.
Kelson H.

Kelson is a spud head from out west. He is most happy when holding a milky tea with too much honey and playing a sprawling role playing game or reading a fantasy novel. His video game tastes vary but his main genres are looter shooters, RPGs, and real time strategy games.

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