Destiny 2's latest expansion, Forsaken introduces a revenge-driven story, beautiful locations brimming with secrets, a brand-new game mode, and more bounties than most Guardians could hope to finish before the weekly reset. The expansion is loaded with new content as well as some changes to the pre-existing formula, all of which results in Forsaken turning Destiny 2 into the game many wished for when it launched a year ago.
Of course, at launch, many reviewers (this one included) lauded Destiny 2 with praise for being what vanilla Destiny should have been and hailing the sequel as a huge improvement. And none of that was wrong, necessarily, but as the weeks and months went on, it soon became clear that some of those improvements were actually hindering what had been the game's most integral element: the grind.
No one likes repeatedly running the same activities for minimal rewards, but when that action is coupled with interesting gameplay and meaningful rewards, then that grind becomes the real pleasure of playing the game. Forsaken, at least up front, seems to acknowledge this, crafting a grind experience that is both engaging and rewarding. It begins with the story - a tense narrative of loss and revenge in where our Guardians hunt down Uldren Sov and the Scorn Barons to make them pay for the murder of Cayde-6 - and it's easily the best campaign Destiny has presented since The Taken King.
When Destiny 2 launched, its Red Legion plot was intriguing but after defeating Dominus Ghaul it never really went anywhere. The Speaker was dead and the Traveler fully awakened, but none of that seemed to matter much to our Guardians. Meanwhile, Forsaken's story does matter and its impact is felt everywhere.
After Cayde's death, he can no longer be found in the Tower. When visiting different locations, the characters there verbally mourn his passing (especially Failsafe on Nessus). Petra Venj is motivated not only by Cayde's death but Uldren's deception, becoming our most stalwart ally throughout the story. And even Uldren himself, though certainly a villain, has his motivation cleverly unpacked, revealing there's a lot more going on here than at first it seems. Forsaken's narrative is complex and at times morally ambiguous, but it's also exciting and plays out in the open world more than previous campaigns. The ending to Forsaken is absolutely bonkers (and for some may require further explanation) but it cracks open Destiny's murky but fascinating lore in such an unexpected way that even those players who never once cared about Destiny's story may now want to start reading up on it. (The Ishtar Collective is a good place to start.)
Through playing the story, our Guardians earn new weapons and armor that quickly makes most of the Year 1 gear pretty useless. This can be annoying seeing as most players by now have painstakingly created their preferred loadout, but Forsaken wants players to think beyond cultivating the perfect set of armor. Instead, it's all about what's best for the job at hand. Does your Guardian need a higher Power level for this activity? Then put on that new, ugly blue gear because it's at least a 500. Would you like to equip an auto rifle, sniper rifle, and rocket launcher? Great, now you can thanks to the wider options available in the three weapon slots. Not to mention the return of random rolls, which can result in a piece gear with a unique set of perks perfectly tailored to your play style or an activity. Plus, bows have been introduced as a new weapon type and nothing in Destiny has ever felt as satisfying as landing a head shot with a bow and arrow.
Early on, this new gear is accumulated at a pretty steady rate, but once your Guardian reaches the soft-level cap of 500 Power, it slows down significantly. This is in stark contrast to how Destiny 2 first approached powerful gear and engrams, handing them out far too frequently. (How many Sweet Businesses does a player really need, anyway?) Forsaken has noticeably slowed down the rate at which the higher level gear drops, but it's done so while also increasing the number of ways to earn that high level gear. And this is what makes for an enjoyable grind - a large variety of activities with rewards that feel earned and worthwhile.
Once the story is complete and your Guardian is at level 50, a plethora of opportunities to earn gear lay ahead. There are weekly challenges (resetting once a week) and daily challenges (resetting every four day), all of which can result in the powerful gear necessary to keep climbing towards the minimum power required for the forthcoming raid, The Last Wish. (Some are suggesting a minimum of 520, but closer to 540-550 is sure to be recommended. We'll know when it launches September 14th.) Players can also visit the Cryptarch in the Tower and receive a Prime Attunement buff. This grants a higher chance of earning a Prime engram (i.e. the best engram outside of an Exotic) when defeating challenging enemies, resulting in gear that is sure to be more powerful than what a Guardian already has equipped.
The best stuff in Forsaken is what's brand new. Finally, after years of re-skins, there's a new enemy race to contend with - the Scorn, who while technically being Fallen, look and act in ways that are distinctly their own. The new patrols areas, Tangled Shore and the Dreaming City are fascinating to explore and look absolutely stunning - especially the Dreaming City, which is by far the most beautiful locale ever made for Destiny and full of secrets that players continue to uncover. There are nine new subclasses, each with a new super. These includes a Titan super, Thundercrash, which basically turns your Titan into missile, and another, the Warlock's Nova Warp, where your Guardian teleports and explodes. But most of all, Forsaken's best addition is Gambit - a brand new PvEvP mode that combines killing mobs of enemies with occasional fire fights against enemy players. It's innovative and mixes up some of Destiny's best bits into something that plays like nothing else in the game.
Destiny 2: Forsaken has plenty of things to do, places to go, and loot to acquire that it will be quite some time before even the most hardcore of players will burn out. And that's really the strength of Forsaken - it rewards those players who wish to regularly run through activities, continually grinding towards that higher Power level, yet also remain accessible to the casual players who can only spare a few hours but still want to come away with some worthwhile loot. Forsaken costs a whopping $40, which is pricey for an expansion, so do factor that in when considering it. But price point aside, Forsaken does have plenty of reasons for Guardians to get back to the grind and back to playing Destiny 2.
Destiny 2's Forsaken expansion is available now. The Last Wish raid releases September 14th. Screen Rant played the PS4 version for review.