Destiny 2: Forsaken is the latest addition to the universe of Destiny - a space-fantasy multiplayer shooter game franchise in which you kill aliens, raid their loot, upgrade armaments and hoard them in virtual cupboards.
Since the franchise's lukewarm 2014 launch, developer Bungie has tacked on improvements with free updates, while building on its base content with paid expansions - in the form of two minor biannual expansions and a yearly major expansion.
Destiny 2's first year was marred by controversies - wafer-thin downloadable content, or DLC, that locked players out of older content and loot box rewards that were too difficult to earn without microtransactions were just some of the issues. Forsaken, the game's latest major expansion, hence badly needed to be the stimulus for the Destiny franchise.
Where Destiny 2's original campaign saw an alien force attempt to destroy the last city on Earth, Forsaken's story is a personal one. Touted as more of a western by developer Bungie, players assume the role of a gun-toting, space-magic wielding Guardian, who is seeking revenge for the death of friend and mentor Cayde-6.
The bulk of the campaign takes place on The Tangled Shore, Forsaken's new destination and a hostile wasteland inhabited by warring aliens. Scattered throughout the land are the eight Barons responsible for Cayde-6's death and players can seek them out in any order they choose.
Adding to the roster of moving targets are The Scorn, a variation of an older enemy race, The Fallen. Although there are similarities between both races, there are enough variations in the engagements with the new enemies to keep returning players on their toes.
There are different types of Scorn, including lurkers, who sport shields that leave only their skinny legs as weak points, and Chieftains - commanders who deploy floating totems that can either shield Scorn units or lay down supporting fire.
PRICE: From $52.60 (PC; PS4, version tested; Xbox One)
GENRE: Space-fantasy multiplayer shooter
Players who complete the story campaign will have the opportunity to access Forsaken's endgame content, in the form of The Dreaming City, which promises hidden secrets and the new Last Wish raid, a six-player cooperative mode.
The Dreaming City is a large, scenic and multi-levelled destination. If the elves from The Lord Of The Rings lived in space, this is what they would have built. The city also has some of the toughest enemies and events ever seen in the franchise.
For players who like their action in short bursts, there is Gambit - a new game mode that marries cooperative and competitive gameplay. In Gambit, two teams of four face off against each other in separate identical arenas, as they race to quickly fight waves of enemies. Enemies drop "motes", a currency that players can bank in at a central kiosk. The faster a team can bank in their motes, the sooner they can summon an enemy boss. The first team to defeat its boss wins the round.
At times, an opposing team member can invade another team's arena for a short time to meddle with its affairs. It makes for an intense best-of-three match.
Forsaken also brings back a few Destiny originals, such as "bounties", which reward the player daily for doing simple tasks. Another returning feature is the random perk rolls on weapons and armour.
These features, plus the additions of new Guardian powers and a new weapon type - a bow - mean that Forsaken has put Destiny 2 in a much better place, albeit a very familiar one.
Forsaken also represents a shift in focus by Bungie. When it was launched, Destiny 2 attempted - and initially succeeded - to meet the expectations of both casual and hardcore players, but found itself unable to do so as the months progressed. Forsaken addresses this by shifting its focus to hardcore gamers instead.
Forsaken requires Destiny 2's base game plus its two expansions. Players who already own them pay $52.60 for Forsaken. Newcomers though will have to pony up $79 to get the entire up-to-date Destiny 2 experience.
Three additional expansions are scheduled to arrive by summer next year, accessible through an annual pass. Forsaken bundled with the annual pass will go for $92.10.
Like the major expansions that came before, Forsaken wipes the slate clean yet again. Those just jumping on will have to ask if they can accept the constant changes a game like this throws at them. Not to mention the time and money they are willing to commit.
• Verdict: Forsaken builds upon Destiny 2's framework with quality-of-life improvements, a polished story and a set of diverse multiplayer modes. Those who have drunk from Destiny's jug of Kool-Aid will not be disappointed with yet another trip around the solar system, no matter how familiar it may all feel.