One Month After the Final Shape: A Decade-ish of ‘Destiny’ in Retrospect

It is not hyperbole to say that Destiny irrevocably changed my life for the better. When I first pre-ordered the game in 2014 after moving back to St. Louis because I was enamored with the idea of an unbreakable Ward of Dawn stopping enemies in their tracks, I could not have predicted the daisy chain of events that would unfold. That I would meet some of my best friends. That I would become a writer at Black Nerd Problems. That I would eventually come to realize that I’m non-binary. All of these things can be directly traced back to Destiny. A science fantasy first person shooter looter shooter MMORPG is responsible for making me a better person and also consuming well over 6000 hours and counting of my life (and that is very much a low ball estimate as far as I’m concerned). I have covered Destiny 2 extensively over its lifespan. I have gone on the record several times that it is my favorite game that I cannot recommend to anyone. It is a game of great importance to me, and The Final Shape is the culmination of the last decade of an overarching epic, the Light and Dark Saga.

It’s been a month. I’ve done almost everything that there is to be done. And now all that’s left is to write a little bit about the past, the present, and the future.

Darkest Before

At the beginning of 2024, community sentiment was at an all-time low. The Final Shape hype machine had seemingly run out of steam, and the mass lay off late in 2023 that was coupled with the inevitable delay announcement of the most hyped DLC left many despondent. A few months of next to nothing did not bode well well and all the momentum that Season of the Wish brought came to a grinding halt.

In order to waylay this content drought slightly, Bungie introduced Into the Light, a sort of mini-content drop that did the impossible: bring people back to the game in droves. Between the reprisal of beloved fan weapons, the addition of “shiny” weapons, a proper 50-wave endurance-based horde mode, and a boss gauntlet in the form of Pantheon, this mini-drop breathed new life into the game. The updated versions of guns were meta-monsters with fantastic new perks and potential combinations. Onslaught offered an activity that promoted different parameters for buildcrafting and escalating difficulty. Shiny guns made drops exciting again. Pantheon was a true test of skill and mastery that pushed us to the limit. After so much internalized dread, Into the Light brought promise that the delay really was for the best. And then Bungie showed their hand.

A new enemy faction, a first in about half a decade. A gameplay manifestation of the in-lore canon of wielding light and darkness. A promise of an epic end. I hate reddit’s sentiment that a cornered Bungie produces their best work, but it’s also hard not to agree with it because the end result was something else.

The Call


As is tradition with every Destiny DLC, I took the week off with the intent of playing this game as much as the server capacity and my frail human body could handle. And mind you, the servers were actively terrible on launch. This was by far one of the roughest launches since Beyond Light. I was in queue just to log into the game for almost two hours. After every single mission completion, I’d get kicked right before I could see any semblance of a cut scene. I missed several early plot points and foreshadowing elements, but I was determined to play through. I took many more breaks, and I was able to get through six of the seven story missions on the first day, saving the denouement for Wednesday morning which was the correct decision as that mission was a true test of endurance.


From a story perspective, the campaign managed to do the impossible of culminating ten years into a satisfying conclusion. The return of Cayde-6 as voiced by Nathan Fillion brought just the right amount of nostalgia to the story that was all about exploring a wrapped version of our past. Keith Davidson managed to step in the late Lance Reddick’s Commander Zavala role brilliantly, bringing a different type of gravitas that paid tribute while also distinguishing itself. Mara Junot’s Ikora and Brandon O’Neil’s Crow facilitated several heartfelt moments. As someone who has dutifully been through the gauntlet, this stretch let me reconnect with the characters in a truly meaningful way as the fate of the known universe was hanging in the balance, as Brett Dalton’s Witness menacingly kept taunting me throughout.


Journeying through the Pale Heart felt like a true odyssey, as each mission took me through unsettling landscapes (oh so many hands everywhere) with campsite meditations punctuating each leg as I approached a towering monolith in the distance. And the penultimate confrontation with the Witness set the stage for the final showdown pretty much perfectly. I talked with a friend who had returned during Into the Light, and while they didn’t have the same emotional investment, the narrative still managed to resonate strongly, so I think it was a victory all around.

A Multifaceted Approach


From a gameplay perspective, The Final Shape was an overwhelming success. The addition of Prismatic offered an entirely new level of self-expression and buildcraft options that reinvigorated the game. And most impressively, the original monochromatic classes still had enough justification to exist alongside the mind numbingly complex prismatic variants. I did the math several times over and came out with a ballpark of 22 million to 81 mission possible build configurations between the five supers, five melees, five grenades, multiple jumps, three class abilities, and the twenty-one choose five or six fragments and that’s just on the subclass configuration screen, to say nothing about exotic synergies. And, of course, by the time I’m writing this, the community has already managed to identify the most potent optimas for each of the class, but it is an incredibly precarious balance that any shift in balance could topple into an entirely different meta.

The flexibility and versatility of Prismatic is only part of its joy though. The transcendence mechanic acts a fun little mini-game that rewards you with a mini-super mode with a unique transcendent grenade and a slew of other benefits. And while an electrified snare for the Titan wasn’t the most grockable thing at first, it has since saved my life in the Legendary campaign, Grandmaster Nightfall, and the hardest raid in the franchise’s history (more on that later). I will engage with nitpicking over the relative power and parity of the classes, as I think for the average player they will find something to enjoy and for the veteran, they will science it later.

Having Prismatic throughout the majority of the Final Shape was definitely a welcome change of pace to the slow tease of Stasis in Beyond Light and the overtly focused learning of a limited Strand kid in Lightfall. Being able to use a full kit from the jump and getting to tune it as I progress was great. I would have appreciated having more of the fragments available throughout the campaign rather than the eventual unlock method which ranged from convoluted world puzzles, grinding enemies to get materials to make keys, and backtracking through the campaign. I understand that it was probably more engaging than the original playlist grind for Stasis, the mindless killing on Neomuna for Strand, or the glimmer sinks that the legacy sunglasses settled, but I feel like there was a middle ground between those and the obtuse puzzles we eventually got.

The difficulty of the Legendary campaign even with our immense levels of power creep felt appropriate. Outside of a singular part of Requiem (the fourth mission of the campaign), everything felt reasonably fair. The conclusion to Iconoclasm was an appropriate test of endurance and felt super satisfying to complete. 

And all of the new toys felt incredible between the weapons and the new armors that opened gameplay in a wide variety of ways; whether it’s a top slot strand rocket sidearm that hits like a truck and lets you run an exotic middle slot such as the reliable Red Death, a burst fire grenade launcher that leaves pools that deal damage over time or the rocket buffing Hazardous Propulsion. It’s incredible that even after a decade, there are still novel design spaces.

Banding Together

Equally crucial to the campaign is the post-campaign offerings which was fairly expansive between new adventures that unlocked the rest of the key components of the Prismatic kit, even more new toys, and some set up. As one of the many players who completed the campaign before the Salvation’s Edge raid race, there was a nice little in game tracker that showed me how my efforts in saving lost Ghosts and uncovering the secrets of the Pale Heart was contributing to our stockpile of resources to fight the Witness. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of all of the activities the Pale Heart had to offer, and I ended up spending more of my time gilding Dredgen for the 12th time while one of my hunters reset his reputation with Ghost twice (he spent a lot of time in the Overthrow public event styled activity), but did eventually cycle it into my routine. The open world aspects of the game remain the parts of the game I engage with the least, but considering the breadth of offerings, that’s fine by me.

When the raid race did hit on June 7th, I was 1) disappointed that there were only three days to prepare and 2) understood from a narrative perspective that it had to pretty much happen immediately. And the day one was fundamentally brutal. Several hours on the first encounter alone and not even progress to a second phase of the excessive relay. I spent the rest of the evening enthralled with the grueling 19-hour raid race that would eventually culminated in the climax of the Light and Dark Saga in Excision the next morning at 7AM (give or take a couple minutes). The final cut scene and sequence marked a fitting end, but it was one that very much left the world still very much alive and open.


The next few weeks became dedicated to gearing up for a rematch with Salvation’s Edge. It took my fireteam 28 hours over 7 sessions in 16 days to get a single kill on the Witness. It is a raid that felt like you were actively racing to stop the end of the world. A constantly ticking clock, tight mechanical execution, enemies that were very much intended to disrupt you in a multitude of terrible ways, and a puzzle that truly emphasized that fashion was forever a part of the end-game. It is tolling in a way that the original Last Wish was tolling taken to a logical extreme that I really thought we’d never get back to. But I have never felt quite as satisfied saying “#$%& you” to a raid boss and buying a jacket.

With the raid complete, even more of the world opened up. I finally found the motivation to be reunited with the gun that got me hooked on the buttery smooth FPS that was the Khvostav 3.0 and the Prismatic class item. I did the collaborative story missions with my friends. I ran a Grandmaster, I felt guilt that we as a collective apparently never said hi to Failsafe in several years.

Killing Tally

I currently own four, soon to be five, raid jackets. I have the complete grimoire anthology, comic collections, and four collector’s editions, 38 commemorative pins, and 3 Destiny inspired tattoos. I have mained Heart of Inmost Light since its introduction in Forsaken after getting one to drop from a Gambit match. My Titan has worn the same transmog since its introduction in Beyond Light. My current build right is best described as a walking blacksmith as I call down lightning to generate lances made of zero-point entropy and axes from black holes. My most used weapons are an exotic fusion that reached 30K kills while I was maining Striker, followed by the most powerful heavy exotic in the game before it’s several nerfs. I’m currently rocking Eriana’s Vow to maximize the benefits I’m getting from the Facet of Ruin.


This game is engrained into the fiber of my being, and I am just so thankful that its decade story was acclaimed by both critics and fans as both a critic and a fan. I’m thankful that the game is continuing, even if the Episodic format has not sufficiently dovetailed from its seasonal format predecessor or the somewhat convoluted Pathfinder system.

It is a touch point and while we don’t know what the Frontiers in the future look like just yet, I do know that I am thankful everyday for this weird little game. This repetitive grind that helped me in ways that I have waxed poetic on and on, again and again. I cannot safely say this game is good to come back to. Your mileage is going to vary wildly. But I can say that I’m glad I stuck through the highs, the lows, the lulls, and I’ll be around for a while longer. When the game is good, the game is really good. And when the game is great, there is nothing quite like it on the market still after ten years, and it is the singular reason why so many companies are chasing after the game as a service model, and somehow Destiny is the only one left standing. And even after the end, I still can’t wait to log in and play functionally the same game I’ve been playing for a decade-ish.


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  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

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