Destiny 2: Shadowkeep's campaign contains a big reveal right off the bat in the first story mission. And it ends with a progressive step forward for the franchise. Full warning upfront—this is going to be a spoiler-filled discussion about the story of Shadowkeep and what the narrative of Shadowkeep means for the future of Destiny 2.
Despite some players feeling confused or frustrated about the Shadowkeep campaign and how it ended, there is actually a lot to garner from how Destiny 2 handled the campaign in Shadowkeep. It marks the first release of Destiny 2 that Bungie has developed after it split from Activision and assumed full publishing rights for the franchise. While Bungie has said that the split with Activision was mutual and the publisher was not prohibitive over the direction of the franchise, Shadowkeep very much marks a new beginning for Bungie and for Destiny 2. And fans need only to look at Shadowkeep's campaign to get an idea of where the game is headed.
Again, full spoilers for the Shadowkeep campaign follow.
A Renewed Focus on the Darkness
The original campaign from Destiny 2 focused entirely on The Red War, as it told the story of the Cabal leader Dominus Ghaul invading the Last City, destroying the Tower, capturing the Traveler, and leaving the Guardians without their Light and power. Bungie, self-admittedly, did not focus on the Darkness whatsoever in the Destiny 2's campaign. It wasn't until the post-credits scene rolled that players got any hint that the Darkness was still out there somewhere.
But in Shadowkeep, Destiny 2 goes straight back to the story of the Darkness, which has always been thought to be connected directly to the pyramid ships that have been seen in concept art and in the post-credits scene mentioned above. For longtime fans, the reveal that there is a pyramid ship on the Moon is a huge course correction in some respects, turning the narrative back to a big plot thread that has largely been left unanswered since Destiny 1. Bungie said that Shadowkeep's campaign is the next chapter in the main story of the franchise, and it was right.
A Narrative with Momentum
Some players are complaining that Shadowkeep's campaign is too short or that it ends unnecessarily on a cliffhanger. But that is a sign of the structure and kind of game that Destiny 2 is becoming (more on that later). But regardless of how short and unresolved it is, the journey from beginning to end shows some momentum in the overall narrative of the franchise.
The narrative of Destiny has long been a mixture of lore, standalone expansion and DLC "monster-of-the-week" stories, and only hints towards a grander narrative of the Light versus the Darkness without ever really fully diving into it. That's what makes the developments in Shadowkeep's story so meaningful. Not only does Destiny 2 set its sights directly on what fans expect to be the Darkness itself by literally putting a pyramid ship right in front of players, but by the last mission of the campaign, players are pulled into the infamous pyramid ship. Hopefully, this means that Bungie is ready to start answering some questions about the Traveler and the Darkness instead of a continuing breadcrumb trail of questions. And the prospect of that happening as Destiny 2 moves forward is exciting indeed.
Shadowkeep is a model for the future
Back to the criticism of the brevity of Shadowkeep's campaign and the abruptness of its ending. Shadowkeep serves as a model of what is likely to come from the future of Destiny 2. That is, Destiny 2 is going to start leaning hard into its MMO elements and in its season-based storytelling. Bungie shared a new vision for Destiny 2 where seasons lead one into the next, showing progression and change as the story and the world transition season to season. And that's clearly what Shadowkeep is doing with its narrative. Its campaign is the starting chapter of the next year of Destiny 2, and if Bungie holds true to its promise and vision, that narrative will continue into the foreseeable future.
Based on the narrative of Shadowkeep, players should likely expect each season to deliver a bit more story that progresses towards unraveling the mystery of the pyramid ship on the Moon. Bungie has teased that something big is going to happen in Season 11 at the end of Year 3, which will most likely lead to a high point in the game's story.
All Those Leaks About Destiny 3 Could Be True
There have been numerous leaks about Destiny 3 that have claimed that the next game in the series will introduce the Veil, the enemy race that fans have known up to this point as the Darkness. Some of those rumors also said that there will be Darkness-based subclasses, which is especially interesting in context of Shadowkeep's ending cutscene where players see what is believed to be a Darkness version of themselves.
Everything players learn in Shadowkeep appears to line up with many of the rumors and supposed leaks for Destiny 3 and lends some credibility that some of those rumors may be legitimate. But with it starting to look like Destiny 2 might still be around for some time before a Destiny 3 and Shadowkeep's narrative readily jumping into the plot concerning the pyramid ships, it could be possible that some of those elements may come to Destiny 2 instead. But that, of course, is pure speculation at this point. No matter what, Shadowkeep's story is a step forward for the franchise and shows promise for the future.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version also in development.