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Destiny 2 The Final Shape review - a breathtaking conclusion

Bungie pulls out all the stops and achieves FPS perfection with The Final Shape, the last DLC in Destiny 2’s epic Light and Dark saga.

Our Verdict

Destiny 2: The Final Shape ties up a decade's worth of story, conflict, and relationships in the most engaging and emotionally satisfying way possible. Bungie's best-in-class narrative team has outdone itself, the combat and gunplay sit at the pinnacle of the FPS genre, and I've ultimately never played anything like it.

The less-than-favorable response to 2023’s Lightfall expansion meant all eyes were on Destiny 2: The Final Shape and everything it stands for. Could this last and pivotal installment in a decade-long saga possibly meet the astronomically high expectations placed upon it? In short, absolutely.

Destiny 2′s latest expansion is gargantuan. boasting varied content, a gorgeous new world to explore, and a fittingly epic yet beautiful conclusion that doubles as a perfect send-off for some of my favorite characters. All of this while also introducing an elusive new enemy faction and offering some of the most stunning videogame locations imaginable.

The Final Shape review: Three figures stand looking at a purple pathway with disjoined platforms

I can’t help but stare in awe as I land on the pathway to the Traveler’s Pale Heart. Surrounded by debris and engulfed in the Witness’ haunting whispers, I’m soon jumpscared by a member of the new enemy faction, the Dread, as one divebombs me from around a corner. 

My first priority is to get stuck into the campaign. At eight missions long, it’s a similar length to other Destiny 2 DLC on paper, but the reality is there’s a good twelve hours of content here, even for experienced players, thanks to the increased difficulty, dungeon-like mechanics, and extended cutscenes. After successfully traversing the portal’s pathway, I’m thrown into the Pale Heart, and it’s nothing short of stunning. Lush green environments make way to nostalgic segments of areas from times gone by, such as the old Tower and the Speaker’s room.

The Final Shape review: A person holidng a gun looks at a large triangle-shaped portal

The Pale Heart seemingly contains both my memories and those of the Witness, which is represented visually via the environment maliciously mutating around me. I see tangled roots knotted in Darkness energy, and enemies I’ve faced countless times now segmented and sliced up, frozen in time. I see familiar areas tainted by corruption, twisted and disembodied hands serve as imitation trees, and contorted faces stare back at me from within the walls. Everywhere I look there’s something new, something weird, something interesting that captures my attention.

My fireteam is sent to the Vanguard Commander Zavala’s former residence – only now it is plagued with Darkness, with smoke that twists into the form of human faces billowing from the chimney – certainly not the way he recalls it. I find an ice crystal resembling Savathun, the Witch Queen, and a war table featuring replicas of Ikora, Zavala, and Crow surrounding it. There are so many callbacks to earlier Destiny story beats and memorable events, some I’d even forgotten about. 

The Final Shape review: The Guardian meets Cayde again for the first time in six years

The greatest nostalgia comes from Cayde-6’s reappearance, voiced again by Nathan Fillion. The beloved character met his demise back in 2018, and while his return was confirmed before the release of The Final Shape, the first time I see him in-game is overcharged with emotion. Cayde remains quirky, witty, and light-hearted, but he’s got a newfound maturity, and an ability to be serious when it matters without losing everything that made me love him in the first place. His relationship with Crow, his murderer, is mending before my eyes and their bromance is endearing yet hilarious. During a moment in the Wild Card Exotic quest, Cayde recommends Crow for his former role as the Hunter Vanguard, and, having been without one for the past six years, I find myself agreeing with his suggestions.

The Final Shape’s campaign narrative is horrifyingly beautiful. The Witness continues to grow in strength, insistence, and brutality, and the many voices that contribute to its words get louder, echoing and booming around the buildings and corridors I run through. We’re on a quest to reach the Spire, where the Witness resides, while it endeavors to tempt us into becoming one with the Darkness. When our Ghost retorts that it must fear us if it’s trying to turn us to its side, the Witness yells, “Silence, you insolent speck!” and I cower in my chair. I’ve never been so invested in a Destiny campaign, and the adrenaline is coursing through me. How will I take down this behemoth?

The Final Shape review: a Dissenter statue looms over a player

The mystery behind the veiled statues remains one of Destiny 2’s most vital and unresolved story arcs. These tall, imposing oddities have cropped up in important areas for years, and The Final Shape finally addresses what they represent: the precursor people – those who created the Witness after the Traveler abandoned their civilization. They had sought an unbreakable being with an unshakeable will, someone or something to lead them and provide a purpose.

The Witness is made up of all of those minds joined in Darkness, though some still disagree with their host’s view of what the final shape should be. These are known as the Dissenters, and the Witness has worked to exile and trap them within the statues before eventually reintegrating with them.

The player takes a glowing sword and smashes a dissenter statue

Those statues, as it turns out, have been helping us the entire time. They whisper and scream throughout The Final Shape’s campaign. During a boss fight, they encourage us to topple the statues and, in doing so, slowly destroy the Witness itself.

The Witch Queen’s Savathun also ties up some storylines in The Final Shape while kicking off new ones. While she has her own ideas on what to do after the events of this expansion, she reluctantly agrees that we have the same end goal. As the Hive goddess of trickery, she hasn’t revealed her next moves just yet, but something is clearly brewing, and given the success of The Witch Queen’s campaign and Savathun’s story, I’m excited to see how she deceives us next. 

The Final Shape review: Luzaku hovers over a guardian after helping in a fight

Ever since the revelation that Hive enemies could wield the Light – the thing that gives us all of our powers – I’ve theorized about the plausibility of the existence of friendly Hive Guardians. Enter Luzaku. This likable, accidentally witty Hive would usually be our enemy, but in The Final Shape she appears to inform us that, actually, her race can dissent against their broods and carve their own paths. The Final Shape explores the idea of finding a purpose – Cayde isn’t sure what his is now, Crow doesn’t think he deserves where his life is headed, and Luzaku thinks her purpose is to fight alongside the Vanguard against The Witness.

Another theme throughout the campaign is dealing with loss, which is seen most clearly in Zavala’s journey. A special mention needs to go to Keith David, as the legendary Halo voice actor had huge boots to fill following the sad passing of Lance Reddick, Zavala’s former voice actor. David has done a fantastic job of wrapping up Zalava’s perspective on the Light and Dark saga. His emotive performance is everything the character and Reddick’s memory deserve, and it’s fitting that the process of healing from grief in-game nods to real-world events and the people behind the characters.

Destiny 2 The Final Shape review: Zavala and Cayde embrace

After completing the available campaign missions, I head off to rescue lost Ghosts from around the Pale Heart and take on three Exotic quests. The first of these centers around Savathun and her intentions, setting the scene for possible future storylines. The second focuses on Cayde and Crow’s heartwarming friendship. A further Exotic quest ramps up the campaign missions to a higher difficulty and introduces new mechanics. Previously, Bungie only increased the power level or added set challenges, so this fresh spin on endgame content is a strong addition.

The campaign’s raid, Salvation’s Edge, is among the game’s best and most challenging, introducing enjoyably complex mechanics. Experienced players and even those who achieved former World First raid race titles in as little as three hours spent up to 35 hours attempting to clear it. The team that managed it first, Parabellum, did so in a few seconds short of 19 hours, triggering an in-game message advising that a 12-person activity had become available.

As Zavala’s voice punctuates atmospheric music, he says that “moments ago, one fireteam infiltrated the Witness’s monolith and shattered its hold on the Traveler’s Light.” Suddenly, I’m delighted to see the respect and admiration Bungie has for its most dedicated and skilled players. They’re forever written into the end of a decade-long saga.

The Final Shape review: The Witness takes on a new form and looms during the Excision mission

The new activity, Excision, sees us finally facing off against the Witness. The fight itself is epic – a huge battle of all of the Vanguard’s allies. Those allied Hive forces are present, as are the Vanguard, the Eliksni, the Cabal, Savathun herself, and many more familiar faces from over the years. We return to the room full of Dissenters, smashing them to smithereens and weakening the Witness’s defenses.

The only way to finally destroy the Witness for good is to take our Ghost and allow the Light from the Traveler to flow through it. Following this is a series of cutscenes and some of Bungie’s finest story work. They’re emotional, they’re unpredictable, and they’re impeccably executed. The conclusion to Cayde’s arc in particular is beautiful, as it allows him to finish things on his own terms. “No one makes my fate but me,” he claims – or at least I think he does. I can’t hear too well over the sound of my own sobbing. 

The Final Shape review: three guardians sit and observe the traveler

In all my years of playing games, I have never experienced anything like the conclusion of Destiny 2’s Light and Dark saga. Given its decade-long scope and the nature of the grind, it’s understandable that some players have dropped off, while new ones have joined. I hope everyone who holds love for this series returns to experience The Final Shape, as it’s Destiny at its absolute best.

After years of foreshadowing, an epic battle that exceeded even the highest expectations, and a conclusion that tastefully ties up the saga while hinting at where we might go next, Bungie has more than recovered from the turbulent times of Lightfall. I’ve enjoyed uncovering the mysteries of the Witness, but I’m glad that its tale has come to an end. Community sentiment is the highest I’ve ever seen, there’s a renewed passion and excitement for the future, and The Final Shape has ultimately cemented Destiny 2 as one of the all-time FPS game greats. Gratias vobis agimus – thank you, Bungie.