One day in, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep feels like the best the franchise has been in a long time, and even though the new expansion cashes in on the nostalgia factor by bringing Guardians back to the Moon, a major location previously exclusive to the original Destiny, and recycling former enemies, Shadowkeep stays relevant by looking to contemporary successes in video games. Namely, “Shadowkeep” adopts a new mechanic that resembles the Fortnite: Battle Royale battle pass system, except it’s way better.
In Fortnite, you pay what’s essentially $9.50 for a seasonal battle pass that lasts somewhere around 11 weeks. As you complete various challenges and level it up with regular gameplay experience points, you progressively unlock tiers that grant different rewards. These are typically tied to the season’s overarching theme in some vague way, and every reward except for the occasional chunk of in-game currency is cosmetic. You might look cool, but will you always feel cool?
The launch of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep overlaps with the start of “Season of the Undying,” and it includes a “Season Pass” — new to the series — that looks just like the Fortnite battle pass. Except even the way the player interacts with the season pass in the new “Season” tab as part of the user interface is immensely satisfying.
Once a rank is unlocked, a player has to click or press X while hovering over the reward. The subtle animation cue is more satisfying than what happens in Fortnite: At the conclusion of every match, you get a pop-up notification that dumps the rewards en masse. It feels like an overwhelming spam notification for a bunch of tedious, pointless rewards.
In Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, however, the rewards are incredible.
There are 100 ranks worth of rewards, and many of them have two rewards for the rank. In some cases, you get 25 Legendary Shards. In others, you get an exotic engram and a legendary piece of exclusive armor!? Every form of in-game currency makes an appearance, as do cosmetics like ships or emotes.
I’ve never felt compelled to actually max out a Fortnite battle pass, but taking a casual glance at the Destiny 2: Shadowkeep season pass makes me feel a sense of urgent frenzy I haven’t gotten from a video game in a long time.
The Season of the Undying Season Pass comes bundled with the purchase of Shadowkeep, but each season after this will cost an additional $10. Rather than progress with awkwardly timed expansions throughout the year (like we had with most of Destiny), the new way Bungie monetizes Destiny 2 will function almost exactly like Fortnite, Apex Legends, or any other game that features a battle pass. Players will just pay 10 bucks to re-up what’s essentially a subscription every 2.5 months.
That’s good news for Bungie, who obviously wants to make money off this live-service game, and it’s good news for me, who loves a steady stream of loot that’s worth spending time grinding for.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is now available.