Need Help Understanding Destiny 2’s New DLC Structure and Monetization? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

The Destiny franchise is entering its sixth year, and the first full year of content while not under the Activision umbrella. After going independent and riding out what remained of this past year’s Annual Pass releases, October 1 will mark the beginning of Bungie’s renewed vision for Destiny. More than just a fresh yearly expansion, Shadowkeep and the free-to-play New Light will fundamentally change how players engage with the game. It’s designed to have less roadblocks and allow more people to play more content, but it’s come with its fair share of confusion as people try to figure out how to tell new, returning, and even existing players what they’ll need to purchase to get different content.

I think most of the confusion comes from trying to relate the new Destiny 2 DLC structure and monetization plan with the way that Destiny’s been doing things for the last five years. From the expansion passes for smaller expansions, bigger yearly expansions, annual pass, seasonal content, and Eververse cosmetics, there was a lot to take in. The best way to begin understanding everything is to completely forget how things have been done before. Starting October 1, here’s how everything will work:

Destiny 2 DLC Structure, Seasons, and Monetization

Destiny 2: New Light – Free

Destiny 2 is going free-to-play, and there’s a lot that players can participate in without ever opening their wallets. The base version of the game includes everything that came with Year 1 of the game, plus a few more bonuses. Here’s what’s included free with Destiny 2: New Light:

  • Full Destiny 2 base game
    • The Red War Campaign
    • Includes the Leviathan Raid
    • New players will take on a new mission in the Cosmodrome, mirroring the original Destiny opening mission where Ghost revived the player for the first time
  • Curse of Osiris expansion
    • Includes Eater of Worlds Raid Lair
  • Warmind expansion
    • Includes Spire of Stars Raid Lair
  • Strike Playlist
    • Includes all Strikes, including the new ones in Shadowkeep
  • Crucible PvP
    • Includes all maps, modes, and updates
  • Gambit and Gambit Prime
    • Even though it was introduced in Forsaken, Gambit is being added to the free-to-play Destiny 2: New Light for all players to enjoy
  • All patrol locations
    • Do public events, lost sectors, and just hang out on any one of Destiny 2′s locations
    • Even expansion locations like Shadowkeep’s Moon and Forsaken’s Dreaming City are available to patrol on for free
    • This will presumably include any future expansion locations added
  • Seasonal Events
    • Events like Festival of the Lost and The Dawning will be free to all players
  • Seasonal Artifact
    • Each season a new Seasonal Artifact will change how players engage with the game with a variety of Season specific mods to unlock
    • All players will have access to this Artifact
  • Free Seasonal progression track
    • Each season will have a battle pass-like progression system, and players can still earn seasonal rewards by participating in the free track for Seasonal progression
  • Shadowkeep opening mission
    • What better way to hook players than to give them a taste of what Shadowkeep offers?
  • Certain Annual Pass content
    • It seems like some Annual Pass content will be available for free to players
    • This may include certain Exotics that released during Year 2
  • Regular updates
    • New systems like Armor 2.0 and sandbox changes, New Light players will receive all free updates
  • Cross-Save
    • All players can Cross Save their characters to any platform, regardless of free-to-play status
    • Note that certain activities may not be available if you do not own entitlements to content on other platforms
  • More to come
    • Bungie will continue to keep the free-to-play version of the game active with new content for players

Destiny 2: Forsaken + Year 2 Annual Pass – $25

Simplifying the ability to get Destiny 2 Year 2 content and activities, the Year 2 Annual Pass is now packaged in with Forsaken. Players can get everything from Destiny 2’s second year just by buying the Forsaken add-on.

  • Forsaken expansion
    • Forsaken campaign
    • The Last Wish Raid
  • Certain Year 2 Exotics and Exotic quests
  • Certain Year 2 gear
  • Shattered Throne Dungeon
  • Weapon Forges
  • Reckoning
  • The Menagerie
  • Scourge of the Past Raid
  • Crown of Sorrows Raid

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep – $35

Getting everything through Year 2 is fairly straightforward. When we reach Year 3 is where things start to get a little bit more complicated, because Bungie is changing how Seasons in Destiny 2 work. First up is just purchasing the Shadowkeep expansion:

  • Shadowkeep expansion
    • Shadowkeep campaign
    • Garden of Salvation Raid
    • New Dungeon
    • Nightmare Hunts
  • Season pass for the currently active Season
    • Includes access to current Seasonal content and activities
    • Premium track for Seasonal rank progression (for that Season)
    • (each new subsequent Season requires a new Season Pass to be purchased)
  • Certain Shadowkeep gear

Destiny 2 Season Pass – $10

For the sake of narrative progression for the in-game world and to prevent the game from getting bogged down by content (both from a player diffusion and sheer file size standpoint), Destiny 2 is moving to more active events for its Season to Season changes. Activities will come and go, allowing each Season to tell a cohesive story, evolve the world, and move forward into the next one.

In the interest of this, Bungie is allowing players to essentially “subscribe” to the content each Season, to play what and when they want to. Seasons will last about three months each

  • Season Pass for the currently active Season
    • Includes access to current Seasonal content and activities
    • Premium track for Seasonal rank progression (for that Season)
    • (each new subsequent Season requires a new Season Pass to be purchased)

Additional Monetization

There are a few additional aspects of this new active free-to-play monetization model.

  • Destiny 2: Shadowkeep Deluxe Edition – $60
    • Includes four Season Passes (effectively a full year of access to Seasonal content)
  • Eververse cosmetics
    • Exclusive emotes, armor, ornaments, and other cosmetic items are still available to purchase from the Eververse store
    • Eververse items can also be purchased using Bright Dust, which can be earned doing activities in-game

Destiny 2: New Light and its subsequent expansions and Seasons are now implemented in such a way that nobody is walled off from any content that they want to participate in. Players don’t need to pick up the latest expansion to participate in the current Season. And if they don’t want to pay anything, they can enjoy the wealth of content and activities available within the free-to-play base experience. The new Seasonal model acts more like a three-month subscription to Destiny 2, allowing players to step in and out of playing the game as they like, one Season at a time.

Moving to this new model keeps players together within most of the content, allows Bungie to meaningfully evolve and move the world of Destiny forward in real time, and makes purchase stipulations far less confusing than the previous stacked model (which required players to own previous expansions before buying the new content). It also gives Bungie a lot of freedom to create interesting elements that interweave throughout the worlds, as all players will have access to every location and a majority of playlist activities.

Still have any questions about Bungie’s new model for Destiny 2 expansions and Seasons? Throw them into the comments below and we’ll try to clear up any confusion that you might still have.