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I’ve done a bunch of reporting on the Bungie layoffs this week, as the studio reels from over a hundred sudden job losses. But to shift the focus back to the game itself for a minute, both privately and publicly Bungie is talking nonstop about The Final Shape, and how they want it to deliver on a level that is at or above every top quality expansion they’ve done.
In Bungie’s brief public statement about the state of the game post-layoffs, they said that they wanted The Final Shape to live up to the standard of The Taken King, Forsaken and The Witch Queen, arguably the three best expansions in the series’ history. I do think you can make the case that Forsaken itself was overall the best, given both its quality and the sheer volume of what it changed and added to the game.
Privately, the thought is that The Final Shape needs to be even better than all those, even if it takes lengthy delays and unfortunately crunch to make that happen. Really, The Final Shape already got delayed a year when Bungie decided to insert Lightfall as a pre-expansion. Then new reports say it may be delayed another four months, though Bungie has yet to confirm that.
However, if the bar is Forsaken, I’m worried that from what we know about The Final Shape and what’s coming, it’s already sort of…lost? Forsaken, back in the Activision-supported days, was sprawling in a way that I don’t think a modern Destiny 2 expansion can match. Keep in mind that Forsaken brought the game:
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- Two new zones – The Tangled Shore and The Dreaming City
- A raid and a dungeon – Last Wish and The Shattered Throne
- 10 exotic weapons, 12 exotic pieces of armor
- Four new PvP maps
- Four new strikes
- Nine new subclasses/supers
- Bow weapon class
- New Gambit activity
- New Scorn enemy race
Looking back now, it’s simply an astonishing amount of content compared to what we get now. Even as seasons have started giving us a lot more than they used to in general, expansions have not.
Lightfall, for instance, had one new zone, five exotic weapons, six exotic pieces of armor, one strike, no PvP maps, and one new enemy type, Tormentors (not counting Cabal with backpacks as a new enemy type).
While we don’t know the scope of The Final Shape in full yet, I think we can safely bet on a few things from what we know:
One zone, one raid, likely no new PvP maps, unknown number of strikes (not four), one new super per class (three total), new weapon sub-archetypes, new mini-Tormentor units and…? The rest is unclear. It feels like we already know that we are definitely getting less than Forsaken, because Bungie quite literally told us to never expect anything on the same level as Forsaken again.
But if that’s true, how do you create that final, ultimate expansion you want if it’s not better than everything before it, including Forsaken? It seems like then you would be wholly relying on narrative or campaign setpieces. That would not seem like enough. Part of why Forsaken worked so well was quality, but an equally important part was volume. And it just does not seem to me like the volume is there, from what Bungie has told us about the expansion so far. And I mean, they released an entire Vidoc so it’s not like we’re totally in the dark here. Even Lightfall adding Strand as an entirely new elemental subclass is more than the three new supers TFS is giving us.
Again, my reporting has said that internally, The Final Shape is quite good, even this early, but trying to match something like Forsaken feels like an impossible task, and one that TFS probably literally cannot reach, given what we already know about it. But we’ll see.
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