Future 2 Shadowkeep overview in progress: Spooky moon
“Shadowkeep’s marketing campaign lacks substance, however its tweaks set the groundwork for a extra rewarding grind.”
New Moon location is filled with intrigue
Season go makes development matter
Core gameplay feels as tight as ever
Underwhelming marketing campaign disappoints
A lot of recycled story beats and tips
New finisher system is superfluous
For what feels just like the fifth time in as a few years, Future has discovered itself at a crossroads. Bungie’s sci-fi looter shooter has been taking part in offense for years, consistently struggling to maintain up with its gamers’ need for partaking content material that lives as much as the lofty ambitions Bungie set out earlier than the primary sport’s launch.
Typically Bungie nails it, like within the case of The Taken King, which basically rebuilt the primary Future from the bottom up whereas providing the collection’ most compelling narrative through-line. And generally they drop the ball, as some would say has been the case via a lot of Future 2’s lifespan.
One yr after the discharge of Future 2’s promising Forsaken enlargement, Bungie is as soon as once more trying to course-correct their ship with Shadowkeep. The newest enlargement is important, as its launch coincides with a brand new Free To Play model of Future 2, which is trying to widen their participant base (and if the launch day’s server meltdown is any indication, they is likely to be profitable).
In consequence, Shadowkeep appears to be an replace that’s a bit at battle with itself to date: attempting to be introductory sufficient to ease in new gamers, however high-level sufficient to maintain veterans excited.
Again to the moon
That stress is most seen in Shadowkeep’s marketing campaign, which makes up the center of the brand new launch. Whereas Taken King and Forsaken kicked their respective tales off with high-stakes, drama-laden introductions, Shadowkeep throws gamers immediately into the motion with out a lot lead-in.
Upon booting up the sport, your Guardian is shipped off to the Moon to assist examine a mysterious disturbance (which, in traditional Future vogue, means one thing involving “darkness” and bizarre structure). You instantly end up in a firefight, taking down waves and waves of enemies with out a lot motivation.
Let’s be trustworthy: the story missions hardly make-or-break Future anymore.
The break-neck, albeit uninspired, opening feels deliberate, as to focus gamers’ consideration on one key factor: Future continues to be high canine in relation to gunplay. Regardless of years of tinkering, the sport’s core mechanics stay unchanged, providing gamers fine-tuned taking pictures and thrilling skills that make you’re feeling like a superhero.
The newest replace tries so as to add a brand new layer to fight with “finishers,” a brand new melee kill mechanic that comes straight from Doom 2016’s playbook, although these are inclined to sluggish issues down and go away you weak for little tactical benefit.
Shadowkeep’s quick marketing campaign by no means asks gamers to stray away from these core mechanics. Platforming and leaping puzzles are solely absent from the brand new set of missions, as an alternative throwing you into a whole lot of spherical arenas with tons of enemies to wipe out.
In consequence, the marketing campaign is likely one of the least thrilling within the franchise to this point, utilizing a whole lot of the identical tips that collection vets have seen earlier than with a quasi-spooky backdrop. Considered one of its greatest missions, as an example, is a virtually beat-for-beat reskin of certainly one of Taken King’s best outings.
That’s the place that stress I discussed comes into play. For long-time gamers, there’s a number of recycled concepts right here which might make every part really feel all too acquainted. In the meantime, new gamers are offered with a kind of Best Hits compilation that takes you thru a number of the franchise’s most memorable moments, however devoid of any context or nostalgia that makes it significant.
However let’s be trustworthy: the story missions hardly make-or-break Future anymore. As an alternative, these function an introduction to what’s new with every replace.
The top sport
Shadowkeep’s temporary story is usually an excuse to familiarize gamers with its new/outdated location, the Moon, which returns from the unique sport just about unchanged. In my preliminary time with the sport, I’ve run into a number of secrets and techniques all through its nooks and crannies, making it really feel like an intriguing return slightly than a simple technique to squeeze content material in. It appears like I’ve solely scratched the floor, and I’m already keen to maintain digging away at what the Moon has to supply.
The roadmap offers us one thing that Future hasn’t had in practically a yr: a great cause to log in.
With the fundamentals explored, now I’m left with the million-dollar query: how will this replace preserve me engaged long-term? It’s a query we solely have half a solution for at present. What we do know is that Shadowkeep introduces a Fortnite-style season go, which grants rewards each time you rank up. This a welcome change for the collection, which has all the time sported a comically arbitrary leveling system.
We even have a significant redesign of the sport’s gear system. This pulls in additional concepts from Future 1, bringing stats like Mind and Power again to armor. I’ve but to hit the purpose in Shadowkeep the place I can begin clamping down on my loadout, however the hope right here is that the brand new system will make grinding much less about elevating numbers, and extra about constructing a personality.
Past that, Shadowkeep’s capacity to maintain gamers engaged continues to be an enormous query mark because of a extra unfold out roadmap. Within the coming weeks, gamers will get a brand new raid, new unique quests, and new actions like dungeons and Vex Offensive. We do not know if these shall be worthwhile additions to the sport or fluff. However on the very least, the roadmap offers us one thing that Future hasn’t had in practically a yr: a great cause to log in.
Regardless of its underwhelming marketing campaign, I discover myself optimistic about what Shadowkeep is organising. There’s an actual sense that the world will evolve in significant methods past launch day. That feeling was notably absent from Forsaken, so it’s as much as Bungie to capitalize on that momentum. Let’s simply hope it’s not a “fool-me-three (or 5) occasions” scenario.