The Reef is in trouble. Already a somewhat turbulent anchorage between the auspices of Traveler’s Light and the malignant, corrupted Darkness of the cosmos beyond it, the loss of its Queen and the collapse of the monarchy has stirred sedition and opportunity in the Prison of Elders. Uldren Sov, brother to the Queen and now a traitor, orchestrates an escape with the renegade Fallen House of Scorn, prompting the Vanguard to intervene. You and Cayde are dispatched to sort it out, restore justice to the galaxy, and then maybe go out for some flirty ramen and, who knows, whatever. But things go wrong.
And Uldren Sov murders Cayde. And date night is cancelled. And vengeance will be mine.
Forsaken is kind of a big deal for Bungie. The already divisive reception to Destiny 2 has not been helped much by the subsequent launch of two dismal expansions, and with the controversial introduction of a new season pass and promises of even more content that could be equally atrocious but you’ve got to pay for it now, #lol, this one matters most (for now, until the others, anyway). If Forsaken wasn’t Destiny 2’s The Taken King, it was over.
But Forsaken is totally Destiny 2’s The Taken King.
Supported by an update that substantially revamps a lot of the game’s core systems, Forsaken improves on the contentious sequel in almost every conceivable aspect – adding some stuff, enhancing some stuff, and dropping some stuff entirely – to keep the business of killing things to get things to kill other things to get more things that much more accessible and fun. Dumping the incomprehensible narrative pretensions of previous DLC, this campaign is articulate, intriguing, and occasionally even poignant, and mixes things up with a non-linear structure and a series of unique, memorable encounters with some of the franchise’s most compelling bad guys. Also, Spider.
And that’s, like, half of Forsaken. Once you’ve concluded things with Uldren Sov – and no spoilers but it’s not exactly what you’re expecting, either – you’ll venture into The Dreaming City, a new end-game and raid location of unprecedented aesthetic grandeur that, even now more than a week since launch, is still holding onto secrets. There’s also new sub-class supers to unlock, new loots, new strike missions, new adventures, new public events, new bounties, new daily and weekly activities, new Lost Sectors, and the new Gambit PvPvE (try saying that five times) mode that combos AI mobs and other people is a dizzying race to summon and kill a Primeval boss. It’s unrelenting chaos, and – perhaps most significantly – a multiplayer innovation that isn’t battle royale, so that’s nice too.
For the first time since Destiny 2 launched, the game now also features a lot of new enemy types, from the skittering Screebs and pyromaniac Wraiths to the repulsive, lurching Abominations, and more. Combined with the desert wasteland and ramshackle architecture of The Tangled Shore and the murky, austere splendour of the Awoken citadel, everything is so unpredictable and different now. Remember how you felt starting out in the original Destiny, with the prospect of something special, to become legend, a… hope for the future, even? It’s like that, but without the shitty song except the song is in it if you know where to go.