Shadowkeep

Destiny, part 40

(Editor’s note:  wow, I decided to write part 40 of this series the same week I turned 40.  I didn’t plan that on purpose on any conscious level.)

Please note that there are SPOILERS for the story quests of Shadowkeep for the entirety of this post.

This expansion takes the idea of suffering and fear and in my opinion turns it all the way to 11.  The opening moments of the story where you are called by the Vanguard to investigate the moon, increased Hive activity and a new and mysterious Scarlet Keep are, for me, very reminiscent of the first mission of The Taken King.  There’s lots of action, an inescapable sense of dread and a new enemy to face.

It feels good to hear my Guardians talk again, and this time a bit more extensively than the ONE line they got last year during Forsaken.  It also feels good, for me personally, to have Eris Morn back in the fold though I wish it was under less…disturbing?…circumstances.  The main draw this season is that Eris has found something on the moon and has gone there to investigate it.

Someone at Bungie played Control
Someone played A LOT of Control
This is what she found

I feel like I’m missing something here.  I don’t understand Ghost’s statement about the ship (which I later found out the dialogue for is different depending on which character you’re logged in under) and I don’t remember at what point the characters in the game became aware of the existence of these things.  Was it the hologram in Mara’s throne room perhaps?  Or some piece of fiction or lore written somewhere that tells the story of how they came to know of them?

Veterans of vanilla Destiny 2’s Red War campaign will recognize this thing right away as being one of the mysterious ships from the end of the final scene.  An immediate sense of dread fills me upon seeing this thing buried under the moon’s surface.  How long has this thing been here?  And why is it just now being brought up?  At this point I’m just going to have to deal with the fact that Bungie’s writers are going to keep shoehorning things into the game and expect me to suspend disbelief even further, but I digress.

Not gonna lie, seeing this on the way to the pyramid I thought ‘SHIT ARE WE RUNNING THE LAMPS?!?!’ and I peed a little.  Glad it was just a gotcha from Bungie.  Good one!

After spotting the pyramid you’re presented with a very worrisome cliff to walk along that leads to an area just out of sight.  Once there, you’re met with this season’s main adversary:  Nightmares.

Like this guy

After a short, intense and yet fruitless battle with the Nightmare, Eris uses her Hive magic again to teleport you out of danger and to a nearby cliff where the plot of the expansion is revealed: find a way inside the pyramid.

My girl is back!

After the initial mission, you’re free to roam around the moon as you like.  Some sights of note for me were:

These things are literally everywhere on the moon.  No matter how long I’m around them they still give me the creeps just like the employees from Control.
These cracks mar the surface of the moon.  They’re everywhere and if you’re not careful you’ll either drive your Sparrow into one or walk off into the sickly green abyss.  If you are near them you’ll hear a lot of disembodied wails and voices crying for help or crying in pain.
The Hellmouth.  A lot less active this time around, but still an eerie sight to see.  Still can’t jump from the top to the very visible walkway below either.
The Scarlet Keep.  This place just gives me the creeps.  And what’s it made from?  The same sort of chitin as Oryx’s dreadnought?  If so, why’s it red?  Maybe I don’t really want to know these things.
Love that the entrance to the old Crota raid is now a Witches Ritual public event.  Nice touch!
Taniks’ old ketch from House of Wolves now lies shattered upon the moon’s surface, a tribute to his hubris and remnant of days gone by.

The next several hours of the expansion are filled with your typical fetch/grind quests to build a set of armor that can penetrate the miasma barrier around the pyramid.  There’s also a lot of Eris expounding upon herself and her experiences with her dead fireteam and the Hive.  I find it all interesting, there’s just too much of it to go into here in detail.

You know, this shit.  We all saw it in the previews for the expansion and I personally don’t like it.  Glad transmog is a thing.

Later on down the line you’ll find that you have the option to repeat these missions from Eris should you so choose, but I’m not really sure why I would want to as once was enough.  Possible re-roll of stats perhaps?

There was also one mission in particular that evoked the same response from me as the one from Destiny where you’re cut off from comms and have to run from the Chamber of Night back to the surface (also the same mission where Black Spindle was hidden).  The Catacombs of the moon where you have to retrieve the Hive Cryptoglyph is sheer terror.

It is here that Eris also reveals that this is the place where Crota and his followers stripped her of her Light and her fireteam.  Her comment about feeling guilty about surviving their deaths hit pretty close to home for me.

After picking this thing up, all the lights go off and then you have to run for your life back out of the Catacombs.  Very reminiscent of the Black Spindle mission from Destiny 1 and no less terrifying.

It’s not until this point that – once you’re about halfway done with the main story – that you’re able to get bounties from the Cryptoglyph itself.  It’s definitely the most unique vendor in the whole game.  This is also when it’s revealed through the text of the bounties that there are Nightmares all over the system – just like when the Taken invaded.  I think that this is a little overused/uninteresting.  For the most part it’s an excuse to still visit the other planets in the system, but, it’s also an excuse to keep running the same Lost Sectors again and again to try to kill X number of specific enemies to meet the quota for whatever bounty or quest you might be on.  In all, I feel like the fact that there are Nightmares on other planets is mostly kept quiet unless there’s a plan for this all further in the season that hasn’t been revealed yet…?  This is also the point where you can pick up bounties for Nightmare Hunts but the hunts aren’t unlocked until after you’re finished with the main story so…what the fuck?  Why not keep them behind the same wall as the Hunts until you’ve finished the main story?

It is also at this point that Ikora Rey comes to the moon to see what’s been found for herself.

From here, we go on 3 more similar hunts as before to gain the materials needed to craft the rest of the Dreambane armor to access the pyramid.

The first objective (in terms of Light Level order) is to fight the Nightmare of Skolas.  It’s been a long time since we last saw the inside of Taniks’ ketch and while it brings back memories, few of them are pleasant.  Time definitely has not been kind to the ship.  While the graphical overhaul is nice, the ship lies in ruins on the surface of Luna, waiting to waste away to nothing; infested with Nightmares.  Fighting Skolas in the room where Taniks made his last stand is somehow fitting, yet odd.

The second Nightmare is that of Taniks.  I find it a little funny that we should kill him in the first room of the strike where we meet him for the first time.  Not being able to back up down the hallway like we used to definitely makes the fight more hectic, but manageable if you can keep a level head.

The final Nightmare (giggity) is that of Phogoth.  I remember the irritation of trying to fight this thing back in Destiny 1, especially when the Nightfall was his strike with arc burn.  I used to take Boomer duty so the others could concentrate on killing Phogoth.  Once he’s been dealt with and you have the final piece of Dreambane armor, it’s time to finally enter the pyramid!

After fighting through Nightmares of Ghaul, Fikrul and Crota – where people that have never done it get a crash course in sword bearing – the time came for this cut scene:

They say that the greatest foe lies within the self.  Perhaps then, that is what we see during the (current) final cut scene of the Shadowkeep campaign.  All I know at this point is that I’m a little scared, but I’m ready to face whatever these things are.

I enjoyed the main story for Shadowkeep, though I’m kinda bummed it’s over for now


 

Brass Tacks

The first thing I did upon finally getting logged into the game was meticulously scour my vault for armor that was now ornaments and any armor that had 1.0 only slots and dismantle every bit of it. Years of playing the game gone in a flash, but I felt better not having to worry about any of it anymore. Oh, and you know that Solstice armor that I spent all that time killing myself to power up on all 3 characters so I could get the sparrow that I’ve never used? I acquired the 2.0 versions from Banshee and promptly dismantled every piece of the 1.0 versions. I then dumped all the 2.0 versions in the vault and probably won’t look at them again. I also, rather painfully, dismantled all the Solstice armor from the first year’s event. If they decide to do that again at the end of this Destiny year, I’m probably going to purposefully avoid it. Two years of that shit in a row is enough. I’ll probably just do whatever it takes to get my t-shirt for the year, if I can, and call it a day. This whole thing is seriously getting in the way of me enjoying other games. Fortunately I was able to get all my inventory management done and dusted through numerous ‘Contacting Destiny 2 servers’ messages and an eventual server crash. Once I was able to reconnect, I was greeted with a queue where in I was somewhere in the 26,000+ mark. At least this wasn’t as messy as Rise of Iron, but still it wasn’t off to a good start.

My next step after armor was to check out all the Triumphs and see what was new.  This was when I found that nearly all of the ones listed under Account had been given ranks.  I figure that this was done deliberately

Somewhat indifferent/borderline dislike to Eververse being in the director. I feel like it waters the Destiny experience down a little making it more like every other pay-what-you-want type of game out there. I kinda miss having Eververse bounties to do and so far for the first week of the season, there’s been very little of interest in the storefront for me. At this point it just feels like Eververse is just there and will be easily forgotten by most players since the only way to get engrams that require interaction with Tess are now only obtainable through the seasonal rewards track, and even then you don’t even have to be bothered with going to the Tower to see her at all, you can just claim your rewards directly from the store in the Director so…what’s the point of Eververse again?

Still NOT happy about the Quests (formerly Pursuits) tab being in the director. Still having a lot of irritating mistakes in the form of incorrect button presses trying to find the information I’m looking for.

Seeing the Director so bare bones after seasons of yellow stars everywhere all vying for my attention definitely reduces my stress level.

Also wish the seasons tab was somewhere under the Options/Start/Pause/what have you menu as well. I think its a little silly that the entire 100 rank track is view able in the Destiny 2 companion app. Unless I’m able to retrieve rewards from ranking up from this menu in the app, this is rather useless. I also find the fact that you can see how much time is left in the season from this tab anxiety inducing. Why are you just sitting around?! You only have 67 days (at the time of this writing) to reach rank 100 for the incorporeal rewards that possibly won’t mean anything when the next season begins.

This thing is a quite sinister and ingenious way to keep me playing the game and chasing after the next thing constantly

At this point, with Eververse, Quests, and Seasons tabs being in the director, tabbing back and forth with L1 and R1 is pretty much pointless when it’s much faster to just move the slow ass cursor over to whatever tab you need and hit X. Minus 100 points from Ravenclaw for bad console UI design.  I’m sure this works out quite nicely for the PC master race.

Once you unlock the seasonal artifact, in this season’s case The Gate Lord’s Eye, it’s unlocked and equipped on each of your characters. Any experience accrued is shared between characters, however, it’s points must be spent on a character by character basis allowing you to have radically different builds among all 3 of your Guardians. I see this as a good thing since I do tend to play all 3 of my characters differently anyway. I was a little disappointed to find that all the artifact does is give you access to seasonal mods (this might have been covered by Bungie at some point, but I’ve read up on so much shit before this season began that if it was mentioned I’ve forgotten) but these mods are still useful none the less.  I also like that the Light Level bonus it gives carries between characters too.

And this brings me to the next change this season: mods. Where as before weapon and armor mods were something to be hoarded and coveted and used carefully or sparingly to the point that anxiety of epic proportions would set in if you slotted a rare mod into a shitty piece of gear, this time around most mods from the previous 2 years of Destiny 2 are now, thankfully, reusable – as long as the armor is from the 2.0 system. I’ve found that any 1.0 gear you still have will consume mods as before. I still have yet to suss out which mods I can and can’t delete so for the time being I’m just going to sit on them until space becomes an issue.

Armor. Some of the best armor in the game is uglier than sin and some of the prettiest armor might as well be made from paper. At last this issue has been addressed now that Destiny finally has one of the staples of RPGs included in its stable: transmog! Transmog (short for Transmogrification) is basically just changing how something looks without changing the way it works. It’s a system that World of Warcraft has had for years and now Destiny 2 finally has it. Take for example, my Titan:

Here’s the beginner armor from the start of the season reward track
And here’s the same armor with the appearance totally changed. Same stats, new look. Sidenote: yes, I totally bought the armor set that gives me a chest piece that looks similar to a bomber jacket so I can have my Titan styled the way I want for the rest of time.

This was a change that was very welcome and long overdue.

The armor tier upgrade track is, at first glance, fairly manageable. But once you reach 6+ mod slots on the armor, upgrading them to Masterwork becomes more expensive than it was the previous season.

I guess because we needed to further complicate the fucking economy in this game?

Not overjoyed to see the return of Ascendant Shards to the game (the item on the far right in the above screenshot). And trying to buy enough Upgrade Modules (I’ll probably keep slipping and calling them ‘cubes’ just because) to infuse my gear has been expensive. The only small mercy is that the material cost for them rotates on a daily basis. I’m definitely not looking forward to repeating the process on my other 2 characters, even though it seems that I can just switch characters and pluck whatever class specific rewards from the track that I’ve gained and they seem to be of a higher light level each time. I’m actually not looking forward to repeating much of anything about this season on my other characters, if I’m going to be honest. In the 3 days since launch I’ve put in quite a bit of work on my Warlock (Light Level 910 and main quest of Shadowkeep complete) and repeating any of it on my Titan and Hunter sounds like the worst thing on Earth right about now. Picking up armor from the seasonal reward track seems to be leveling my Titan fairly quickly (he’s already 805 and I’ve yet to do a single mission with him) so maybe the grind won’t be as bad this time around. Further analysis is required. At least weapon quest progress is still shared between characters so grinding for whatever weapons Bungie throws at us isn’t going to be as bad as doing them 3 times like previous seasons (looking at you Breakneck).

These fucking things are back too.  Yay.
I do and don’t like the fact that patrol beacons are people again this time around.  At least it’s fitting in with the theme for the expansion.  Their constant cries for help are both unsettling and annoying.

Finishing moves. Finishing moves are a new way for you to stick it to Destiny’s enemies. They can definitely help you kill off several of Destiny’s many shielded enemies quickly. I thought it was a pretty cool thing for the first few hours of the expansion, but at this point I only do them if it’s required for a bounty or I need to perform one to generate ammo of a certain type from the abilities granted by the artifact. This is a bit dope since it in essence turns you into a living ammo synth at the cost of a bit of super energy. The execution of finishers by clicking in the thumb stick is a little awkward and doesn’t always register on the first click, so sometimes several clicks are required before it happens (sometimes resulting in unnecessary deaths). But when it does, it’s pretty satisfying especially when you do it to an enemy that’s been annoying the shit out of you for the last 5 years (looking at you Vex Minotaur and Hive Knights). Sidenote: for a minute I was convinced that the Belgian Flying Kick (season rank 10 reward) was only usable by the first character that unlocked it on the track. In this case, my Warlock. I could not retrieve it from the track while logged in as my Titan and it took me several minutes to remember that it could be obtained from collections. This seems like a design flaw of some sort to me. Also, the signal that you can use a finishing move on an enemy needs improvement. Maybe be a bit bigger or a different color.

The Moon map is deceptively small but there’s a lot going on under the surface.

 

 

Pleased to see that Hawthorne now sells raid banners so you don’t have to go hunt down Petra at the Dreaming City every time you need more.

Not pleased to see that there are still arbitrary caps on some of the economic items in the game such as Ghost Fragments, Modulus Reports and now Phantasmal Fragments. Why? Why, why, why, whyyyyyyyyyyy?

The monster closets on the surface all got a nice graphical overhaul.

I like that Zavala, Shaxx, Drifter and Eris have all their bounties listed in the same format of Weekly, Weekly, Daily, Daily, Daily, Daily, Additional. This is going to make seeing whether or not you’ve picked them up a bit easier. Each planetary vendor still only has 3 that rotate daily, but they at least contribute to seasonal reward track progress when completed.

Edit:  so the Garden of Salvation is open now and was finished in 6 and a half hours.  After it was done, it seems that whatever these things are have been in the Black Garden all along, watching us.  The Vex now invade the surface of the moon and the grind to 950 has begun.