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'Shadowkeep' Will Change the Way You Play and Pay for 'Destiny 2'

The latest 'Destiny 2' expansion 'Shadowkeep' changes a lot of the game. Here's what you need to know.

by Ricardo Contreras
Aug 30 2019, 4:17pm

Image courtesy of Bungie

Shadowkeep, the new Destiny 2 expansion dropping in October, isn’t just bringing new story content and a new location , but some pretty large structural changes. The biggest one is obviously the free-to-play New Light, which includes a surprising amount of content. But we’re starting to learn a lot more about the host of subtle changes and additions that will make Destiny 2 a very different game once Shadowkeep and New Light are live.

In a new post on Bungie.net, Luke Smith revealed that they’re also adding a new battle-pass style reward to augment the usual RNG grind, and a seasonal artifact. With all these new systems floating around, it can be hard to keep track of what you can buy, what each product comes with, and what these options will mean for you as a player. So let’s break down just what you can expect in the fall.

Season Are Changing

Seasons in Destiny have so far been similar to what you think of as seasons in Fortnite: a period of a few months with a specific theme that has events sprinkled throughout, with seasonal rewards and narrative questlines that you can’t earn or access in later seasons. With Shadowkeep comes the “Season of the Undying,” and a new seasonal rewards system that rips it’s UI design straight from Fornite’s Battle Pass.

Screenshot from Destiny 2, The
The "Sesonal Rewards UI." The top row is free track, with the bottom row representing the "Premium" track. Screenshot courtesy of Bungie

Previously, once you hit the XP cap in Destiny, gaining additional XP would only reward you with random cosmetics, but now that progress will go towards unlocking Season Ranks. There’s 100 Ranks each season, with rank rewards that range from cosmetics to weapons to exotic quests. These rewards will be available to all players, but Season Pass holders will get a few of these rewards earlier than free-to-play players. Additionally, Bungie will allow players to buy Seasonal Ranks as a season ends, as a way for players that want to catch up can still get the rewards even if they didn’t have the time to grind them out. Exact pricing and timing are still unknown, but Luke Smith wrote “we’re currently thinking of enabling this somewhere in the last 2–4 weeks of the Season.”

In addition to these rewards there’s the Seasonal Artifact, also available to everyone. This item has perks that you can unlock over a season to power up your Guardian and create new builds with. However, in the name of rebalancing and keeping the game fresh, each season will come with it’s own Artifact, meaning the build you’re playing at the end of Shadowkeep will go away when the season turns over.

Screenshot from Destiny 2, The Seasonal Artifact. Left side of the image is a series of boxes that represent different mods you can unlock, right side is an glowing red
The Seasonal Artifact for the Season of the Undying. Screenshot Courtesy of Bungie.

Wait, what’s the Season Pass?

Another big change this time around is that instead of buying an Annual Pass, which included all of the Seasons for Year Two of Destiny 2, you will be able to buy Seasons individually. When you buy the Season Pass for a specific season, you get access to that season’s exclusives, which include the “Premium” track on the Seasons Rank UI (their name, not mine). Shadowkeep’s Season of the Undying is included in the $35 ticket price, but each future season will be $10. While currently there’s no way to purchase an Annual Pass, the Digital Deluxe version of Shadowkeep, which is $60, includes all 4 Seasons in Destiny 2 Year Three. The fact that you don’t require previous DLC ends up making Seasons like a sort of soft-subscription. Think you won’t be playing Destiny 2 for a few months? Skip a season, hop back in next time.

So what do I get if I don’t wanna pay?

A surprising amount. From their article, in addition to all the Year One Destiny 2 content, the free version will include:

  • Patrolling the Moon destination
  • The opening mission of Shadowkeep
  • Two new strikes
  • Crucible Updates
  • Two returning PvP maps from the D1 era—Widow’s Court and Twilight Gap
  • Elimination in Crucible Labs
  • Armor 2.0 build customization
  • Eye of the Gate Lord Seasonal Artifact
  • New finishers
  • Two new pinnacle weapons: one for Gambit and one for Crucible
  • Free Seasonal Rank rewards, which include:
    • New Exotic weapon—Eriana’s Vow
    • Three Legendary armor sets (1 per class)
    • Two Legendary weapons
    • Best of Year 2 Bright Engrams
    • Glimmer and upgrade modules

If you do buy Shadowkeep you get, in addition to the above:

  • The full Shadowkeep story campaign and questlines.
  • A new Dungeon
  • A new Raid
  • The Season Pass for Season of the Undying, which includes:
    • Access to a new seasonal activity, the Vex Offensive, which includes:
      • Four Legendary Weapon drops
      • Random Drops for the Season Legendary Armor Sets
      • Additional weekly and daily bounties
      • Additional weekly challenges with powerful rewards
    • A new weapon quest for an Exotic Bow, Leviathan’s Breath
    • The Premium Track of Seasonal Rewards:
      • These rewards you’d get later in the non-Premium Track you receive on Rank 1:
        • A new Exotic Hand Cannon, Eriana’s Vow
        • Three Legendary armor sets (1 per class)
      • Three universal ornament armor sets (one for each class)
      • An Exotic weapon ornament for Eriana’s Vow
      • Two Legendary weapon ornaments
      • A new finisher
      • An Exotic emote
      • An Exotic ship

The New Wave

Ultimately this feels like a big shift to get new players on-boarded much easier than before. While some of the messaging is certainly confusing, the content that overlaps between the free-to-play and paid versions of Destiny 2 will allow more people to check out this game with a friend without having to commit to the $35 dollar expansion. And while A New Light will include its own introductory story missions and all of year one of Destiny 2, it’s great to see the amount of Shadowkeep specific content isn’t going to be a barrier to playing with your already bought in friends.