The day some of us have been waiting for has finally arrived: "Shadowkeep," the newest expansion to Destiny 2, has arrived. It also brings with it the free-to-play version of the game, dubbed Destiny 2: New Light, so you and your buddies can team up for some fun regardless of who's bought or played what. However, the division of what's included in each of these things can be a bit confusing, so we've attempted to break it all down below. Fair warning: it's a long read.
A quick note: throughout this article you'll see me refer to "Year 1" of Destiny 2, which is shorthand for the base game, the "Curse of Osiris" expansion, and the "Warmind" expansion. Here's a list of everything included in the base Destiny 2: New Light game without purchasing the "Shadowkeep" or "Forsaken" expansions:
- Start at Level 50 and 750 Power - regardless of how much or little Destiny 2 you've played, everyone will be starting at the same point. If you've played parts of "Forsaken" this past year, your gear will automatically be raised to 750. If you're just hopping now, your starting gear will all be 750.
- Armor 2.0 - the revised armor system will be the default for everyone. All Legendary armor will now be a part of this new way, which means you'll be spending materials to level your armor up so that it has more energy so that you can slot more mods into it.
- Crucible Matches and Rewards - no limits or restrictions here, just PvP to your heart's content.
- Year 1 Strikes/Nightfalls (three player matchmaking for Strikes, three-player pre-made for Nightfalls) - special missions with a boss at the end. Nightfalls are challenging versions of those missions. Excluded from this are the new strikes that were added with "Forsaken," and the ones that are included in "Shadowkeep."
- Year 1 Raids (six player pre-made groups) - this includes the Leviathan Raid, and the Spire of the Stars and Eater of Worlds Raid Lairs. What's the difference? Basically, the Raid Lairs are shorter experiences.
- Year 1 Exotics and a Few Year 2 Exotics - most of the Year 2 Exotic gear, including those that are specifically tied to activities like Gambit, the Menagerie, Black Armory Forges, etc., are only available if you buy the "Forsaken" expansion. The notable exceptions to this are: Thunderlord, Arbalest, Outbreak Perfected, and Bad Juju. These were all free to Destiny 2 players last year regardless if they had the season pass or not, and they're still free/available now.
- Special In-Game Events - this includes the seasonal events like Festival of the Lost (Destiny's version of Halloween), the Dawning, etc., and the Iron Banner.
- Gambit/Gambit Prime (four player matchmaking) - alright, alright, alright... you can hop into this PvEvP activity with your buddies and bank those motes, brother! In Gambit, two teams of four race to kill enemies, earn motes, and bank them to summon a boss that they must then defeat. When you bank motes, you'll send "blockers" to the opposing team that must be taken out before they have access to their bank, and you'll also have opportunities to "invade" the other side in order to take out members of the opposing team. Best two out of three games wins the whole thing. Gambit Prime has the same ideas, but it's "winner-takes-all" in just one round and there are special mechanics tied into the armor you're wearing (see below).
- The Reckoning (four player matchmaking) - this was a new activity introduced alongside Gambit Prime and kind of works hand-in-hand with it. Basically, you'll earn items called "synths" by playing Gambit Prime and these in turn can be used in The Reckoning to earn armor that has special benefits within Gambit Prime, such as being able to collect a max of 20 motes and sending a "Giant Blocker," or being able to mark an invader for your team and increasing the damage dealt to them. There are also some pretty cool weapons you can get out of this mode, and that's likely what most folks will be doing.
- All Patrol Zones - travel the universe and see Earth, Mars, Mercury, Titan, Io, Nessus, the Dreaming City, the Tangled Shore, and even the Moon. Collect planetary materials, participate in Public Events, and complete patrols. Story missions that are associated with "Forsaken" content (Dreaming City and Tangled Shore) or "Shadowkeep" (the Moon) will not be available unless you own that content.
- Year 1 Story Missions - there's a new introductory series of quests, but then you'll be able to go through the Red War, Osiris, and Warmind campaign missions.
- Black Armory Forges (three player matchmaking) - a kind of wave-based survival mode where you determine the reward you'll get. Essentially, you'll visit a vendor (ADA-1) in the main hub (the Tower) to pick up a weapon frame. You'll complete a series of steps to complete the frame, and then you'll go to a forge to create the frame. There are two waves of enemies you'll have to fight off while chucking orbs at the forge, and then you'll fight a boss. Successfully do all that and you'll be rewarded with the weapon.
- The Menagerie (six player matchmaking for Normal, pre-made group for Heroic) - the best new activity that was introduced last year that subsequently got worse when they nerfed the rewards system, which is a lot to get into so the short and sweet of it is you slot runes into a chalice to pick what loot you get. The activity itself is almost "raid-like" where you'll run through a series of encounters with special rules. Complete enough objectives/encounters and you'll face off against a boss. Beat the boss and you'll get your loot.
- Artifacts - new gear that's introduced with "Shadowkeep," but all players will have access to it. As you defeat enemies, complete missions, and earn XP, you'll be able to power up the artifact and unlock new mods that can be slotted into your armor or your weapons. Players will be able to choose which mods they want up to a max of 12, and the artifact can be reset to select new mods. New artifacts will be introduced each season.
- Season Rank - the equivalent of a "Battle Pass" from games like Fortnite, Dauntless, and countless others. As you play, you'll level up your Season Rank and earn rewards from this system. There are two tracks (see image above) depending on whether you've bought into the new season or not. If you're sticking with just free content all the way, you'll be on the top track. If you're buying in, you'll get top and bottom.
Alright, so that's everything you get with just the new, free-to-play, "base game," Destiny 2: New Light; it's a lot!
Now, let's talk a little about how things will be broken out going forward. First off, starting today, you'll be able to buy "Forsaken" and all Year 2 content for $25. You can buy "Shadowkeep," which also includes the "Season of the Undying" (the current season) Season Pass, for just $35. Together, that's $60 for everything up to this point. The aforementioned Season Pass means that you'll get those top and bottom rewards for the Season Rank until the end of the "Season of the Undying" ends, as well as access to the new six player activity: Vex Offensive.
Bungie started this whole concept of seasons with "Forsaken" last year, first with Season of the Forge, then Season of the Drifter, and finally Season of Opulence. The idea was that rather than big content drops (like "Curse of Osiris" and "Warmind") with not a lot in between, new activities and events could be rolled out over the course of a few months ensuring you always had something to do. For the most part, it worked, and this year, Bungie is continuing that idea and even refining it some as they've teased that there will be a narrative that progresses through each of the different seasons. Each season will last about three months and you'll be able to see when the current season ends in the game. When a new season starts, you can buy its related Season Pass for 1,000 Silver (the in-game premium currency), or $9.99.
So there you have it. A lot is happening today in Destiny 2, and, personally, I'm pretty excited about all of it. I'm eager to see how this new iteration of seasons works out, and what mysteries lay beneath the Moon. See you there, Guardians!