Bungie just wrapped up a showcase in which it pulled the curtain back on The Final Shape, the concluding expansion in the saga that has been running since Destiny launched way back in 2014. Last week, game director Joe Blackburn was at pains to point out that this livestream was intended to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, but when you’ve got developers giddily dropping lines like: “The Witness wants to use the Pale Heart of The Traveller to enact the Final Shape”, I think it’s fair to say that there’s still quite a lot to unpick, even for veteran players like me. Having watched the showcase, here’s the stuff that stood out.
The Pale Heart of the Traveller is The Final Shape’s new destination
As expected, The Final Shape takes place inside The Traveller, the floating god-cum-golf ball which provides the guardians with their paracausal powers. At the end of Lightfall, the previous expansion, the game’s big bad—an entity called The Witness—carved a portal in the side of The Traveller. In The Final Shape we pursue The Witness through said portal, finding ourselves in a realm called The Pale Heart of The Traveller.
Here’s how Bungie describes the destination on the pre-order page: “There is a place where we will find eternity being torn asunder. An unravelling landscape that echoes with the deeds of our past. Persevere in this impossible place and uncover what lies at the heart of this war.”
Image 1 of 4(Image credit: Bungie)(Image credit: Bungie)(Image credit: Bungie)(Image credit: Bungie)
From what I can tell, the landscape of the Pale Heart reflects back the experiences of whoever enters it. So initially the Guardians will find all sorts of nostalgic nods to their battles over the last decade. But as they get closer to confronting The Witness, the environment will twist and become more surreal as it takes on the elements of the antagonist’s personality. Interestingly, Bungie described it as the first “linear destination” we’ve done.
I think the sense here being that the campaign begins at the portal where you enter The Traveller, and ends when you finally confront The Witness at its Monolith. Sounds like they’re shooting for a ‘knights on a quest’ kind of structure, with the world “escalating in danger and surrealness” as you approach the climatic castle at the end. Speaking of which…
Two Subjugators, one wielding Strand and the other Stasis. (Image credit: Bungie)
The Witness will be the raid boss and new enemies are coming
Again, no huge surprise here. Bungie was at pains to point out that you’d still be able to feel like you’d experienced the end of the story without playing the raid (which makes sense, given that the majority of the playerbase don’t raid). We also learned that The Witness is bringing along a new type of enemy, called Subjugators, which will be able to use Stasis and Strand, the two Darkness powers. These look to be elite units, similar in threat level to the Tormentors introduced in Lightfall. (They also share the same lithe visual design, which borrows from the The Witness’ disciples Rhuk and Nezarec.) I have to say I still feel somewhat disappointed that we aren’t getting an entirely new race of aliens to vaporise. It’s also a bit of a surprise that it doesn’t look like we’re going to see a third Darkness subclass yet, as had been rumoured. However, new supers are on the menu…
Three new Light supers are being added—one per class
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The most exciting part of the showcase was the addition of new Light subclasses that are themed around support play. Here’s the breakdown:
Hunter (Arc): The Arcstrider launches an electrified knife, blink teleports to it, then lets rip with a coruscating AoE attack. This move can be chained up to three times. They also get a jump ability that enables them to amplify nearby allies.
Warlock (Solar): Inspired by the “Radiance” effect from Destiny 1, the Dawnblade gets charged up versions of their abilities: sentient grenades that track between enemies, more projectiles for your snap melee, and rifts that grant scorch to nearby allies’ solar weapons. In the post-show, Blackburn acknowledged that any new Warlock super needs to be able to compete with Well of Radiance in terms of utility, otherwise players end up being bullied into running that at all times.
Titan (Void): The Sentinel Titan summons and throws multiple void axes that suck enemies in before exploding. Your allies and you can then pick up those axes and start chopping heads. You’ll also be able to consume your grenade, turning it into a mobile shield that can be released in another void detonation.
Will this be OP as hell to snag more pre-orders? (Image credit: Bungie)
There is once again an exotic weapon that you earn by pre-ordering
As with Quicksilver Storm, which was initially tied to pre-ordering Lightfall, so The Final Shape also has an exotic carrot to dangle before its prospective players. Live now, the $99 digital collector’s edition grants immediate access to Tessellation, an exotic fusion rifle in the energy slot that can adapt to the damage type being wielded by the user. Bungie said that this means players will be able to run three Strand or Stasis weapons at once for the first time. Its main perk is that you can load it with one of your ability grenades for an extra high damage shot.
Bungie also mentioned that there’s a sniper rifle coming that functions similarly to Hunter’s golden gun shot. It’s fair to say they have my interest with that one. The studio confirmed a number of exotics from Destiny 1 will be returning in The Final Shape, including the Red Death pulse rifle, Dragon’s Breath rocket launcher, and Kvhostov autorifle. Elsewhere on the weapons front, the sandbox team said more weapon subfamilies are coming, including a sidearm rocket pistol and an auto-rifle that can heal allies.
Three seasons rather than four will hopefully enable richer experiences than the current seasonal model which feels exhausted. (Image credit: Bungie)
Seasons are becoming Episodes
The other main piece of new information from the showcase, which overall largely felt like it confirmed things we already knew, is that the four seasons per year model is being ditched in favour of three more beefy “Episodes”, each of which is structured in three acts and can be played standalone without the need to check in every week. We have more on that here, and it looks like being a big shake up to a model that a lot of the community had been vocally burning out on.
Crota’s End is this season’s returning raid
“Okay, who’s going to run sword?” (Image credit: Bungie)
The Final Shape launches on February 27, but before that there are two more seasons to go, starting today with Season of the Witch. The big news here is what the returning raid would be, which we now know is Crota’s End. That goes live on Friday 1 September, and in the livestream post-show Bungie hinted that the day one “contest” experience will be one of the hardest yet, heavily implying substantial changes have been made to what was widely considered one of Destiny 1’s easiest raids.
Season of the Witch comes with two new three-player activities: Savathun’s Spire and Altars of Summoning. The seasonal exotic weapon is an arc grenade launcher called Ex Diris, and there are three new sets of exotic gloves to collect: Pyrogale Gauntlets for titans, Briarbinds for warlocks and Mothkeeper’s Wraps for hunters. Finally, don’t forget to check in with Nimbus on Neomuna: They’ve got a new quest that leads to an extra Strand aspect for each class.