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Destiny 2 Shadowkeep guide and New Light content explained

Everything you need to know about Destiny 2's many Year 3 changes.

This week is one of the biggest yet for Destiny. Not only is most of Destiny 2's existing content going free-to-play, but it's also the first major update since Bungie's split from publisher Activision - with a new expansion, a swath of changes to how Armour and monetization works (yes, there will be a Battle Pass) and a change of platforms on PC, with the game moving from Battle.net to Steam (which you can do as part of the newish cross save feature).

There's a lot happening, then, and this Destiny 2 Shadowkeep guide will explain what's changing for returning players, and what all the New Light content is if you simply want to play for free.

On this page:

What is Destiny 2 New Light? All content included in Destiny 2's free-to-play offering and Shadowkeep explained

Destiny New Light is the free-to-play offering of Destiny 2. In short, everything that Destiny 2 launched with is freely available - as well as a few select offerings from later expansions.

First, here's a list of existing content that's free to all players:

  • All Year 1 story content - including base Destiny 2 campaign and The Red War, Curse of Osiris and Warmind missions
  • Access to all Patrol spaces (including Forsaken's Dreaming City and Shadowkeep's Moon)
  • Year 1 Exotics, Nightfall Strikes and Raids, including the Leviathan, Eater of Worlds and Spire of Stars
  • Year 2 Exotics Thunderlord, Arbalest, Outbreak Perfected and Bad Juju
  • Year 2 matchmade activities Gambit, Gambit Prime, Black Armory, The Menagerie and The Reckoning
  • Gambit and Crucible Private matches

Additionally, here's the new Year 3 additions you'll also get free access to with New Light:

  • The opening mission of Shadowkeep
  • The new Moon patrol space
  • Shadowkeep's two new Strikes and three new Crucible maps, two returning from the original Destiny (Widow's Court and Twilight Gap)
  • All Crucible updates, maps, new modes and events, such as Iron Banner
  • New Armor 2.0 and Finisher systems
  • Themed seasonal events, such as the Halloween-themed Festival of the Lost and Christmas event The Dawning
  • Access to all the 'free' rewards of a Season Pass - this includes Seasonal Artifact access and rewards from the free tier, such as the seasonal armor set and an Exotic weapon

So with that in mind, what don't you get in New Light? Here's what a Shadowkeep purchase and the Season of the Undying pass - which is free for all purchases of the expansion (later season passes, however, must be purchased) - will get you:

  • All Shadowkeep campaign missions
  • New Raid and Dungeon, launching later in October
  • Exotic quest for Xenophase, launching later in October
  • Nightmare Hunts (teased as co-operative boss encounters, with higher difficulties rolling out as the season goes on)
  • Access to the Vex Offensive activity (Season of the Undying battle pass only)
  • New Exotic quest for Leviathan's Breath, launching later in October (Season of the Undying battle pass only)
  • Premium Season of the Undying season pass rewards (battle pass only)

To clarify further, New Light (and owning only Shadowkeep) won't give you access to select Forsaken and some Year 2 Annual Pass content. This includes the campaign, Shattered Throne dungeon, Raids and most Year 2 Exotics, plus the newly added subclasses (though if you buy just Shadowkeep, you do get these subclasses).

Quite a bit to take in, right? Here's a handy infographic that shows off what and when new content is coming in Destiny 2 Shadowkeep's first season:

A guide to what's changing in Destiny 2 Year 3 with Shadowkeep and New Light

Between Destiny 2's free-to-play push and a new expansion making for a nice excuse to do a bit of spring cleaning, there's quite a few revamps to some longstanding systems - from the way cosmetics and the shop works, to a huge new Armor Mods system.

There's lots of little changes across the board, but here's our recap of the most impactful:

Each season offers a Battle Pass, a Seasonal Artefact, and changes to narrative progression

Destiny 2 has featured season-based content for a while now, and now it's being coupled with several features and rewards to go along with it.

The headline is that there's now a Battle Pass with 100 tiers of rewards, much like other shooters such as Fortnite. There's free rewards along the way even if you don't purchase the Battle Pass, while those that do (you get your first battle pass free when you purchase Shadowkeep) will get access to more.

This is all unlocked using the existing XP system, so any activity you want to play will contribute towards it, meaning in theory you can reach the end by playing what you want to play, whether that's Crucible or grouping up with others for Raids.

On top of this, there's now a mechanic known as the Seasonal Artefact, that's free for everyone. As you play, you unlock mods specific to that season you can equip to your armour. It also gives you a Power level boost on top of your gear's Power level. This boost is unlimited, meaning in theory you can continue to boost your Power level way past what's usually possible - and it'll be interesting to see what this means in practice.

The key thing to note is both the Seasonal Artefact boost and the rewards you receive reset each season - meaning Bungie can experiment with the meta through temporary mods without breaking the game long term, and resetting that additional Power level progression to give everyone a fresh goal to aim every few months.

Finally - the season structure means Bungie can build a more natural evolving narrative as time goes on. Luke Smith explains it as such: "Over the course of the season, parts of the game will change before the situation culminates in an event that will ultimate resolve it, and its content will be exhausted. But this resolution sets up the events of Season 9, which again adds something new to the game and resolves it, something that too will go away, but not before setting up Season 10, et cetera."

What does this mean? The world state will change, and seasonal activities, such as the Vex Offensive available as part of the Season of Undying battle pass, might not be available when the season ends, and could be swapped out for something else when the next one begins.

There are other season-by-season changes too. For example, four Crucible maps (Dead Cliffs, Legion's Gulch, Retribution and Solitude) won't be available in this first Year 3 season, with Bungie hoping to give them a few nips and ticks when they do eventually return.

Armour is getting a transmog and new mod system

Perhaps the biggest practical change is with how armour looks and behaves as part of the Destiny 2 Armor 2.0 system. For one, there's going to be a transmog system - or Universal Ornaments - for Eververse and Legendary armour which change the look of your equipment while keeping the base item's stats and benefits (this includes the recent Solstice of Heroes armour, for those that picked it up).

Second, there's a change to the way stats work. Your character now has six stat types, with each equipped piece of armour contributing to that through both base stats and mods. These Armor Mods can also give you perks - such as faster reloading and reduced damage from certain sources - and can be equipped across multiple armour pieces, allowing you to experiment with different builds.

Bright Dust and cosmetic sources are getting a revamp

As well as the seasonal Battle Pass giving out cosmetic rewards, there's a change to how you receive Bright Dust, the Eververse shop currency (not to be confused with Silver, the paid-for currency that will be used for bundles and Battle Pass purchases).

Bright Dust now comes as a reward for completing Bounties (specifically Crucible, Gambit and Vanguard weekly and "repeatable" bounties) with Bungie encouraging players to play to earn cosmetics rather opening Eververse Engram and destroying what's inside.

Meanwhile, the Eververse shop will be accessible from the planetary Director screen, so you no longer have to wait for a long Tower loading screen to see what's on sale - and for Bungie, one less barrier to entry when it comes to a free-to-play revenue stream.

Other smaller changes coming in Destiny Year 3

There are many other smaller quality-of-life changes and additions worth noting too, which long-time players might be interested in:

  • There's a new mechanic named Finishers, which can be activated when an enemy's health is low enough, and can also offer bonuses, such as dropping heavy ammo or inflicting bonus damage for certain abilities.
  • For Forsaken owners, the Shattered Throne dungeon is now accessible at all times instead of when the Dreaming City curse is at its highest - and can be launched straight from the Director screen.
  • Black Armory forges are also (finally!) now part of an EDZ playlist on the Director screen.
  • Xur's weekly inventory and Fated Engram drops now include Year 2 Exotics.
  • Pinnacle weapons - which were rewards following lengthy and often challenging / frustrating Vanguard, Crucible and Gambit questlines - are replaced with Ritual Weapons, sourced from the same activities but are said to be "not as in depth" to earn. We're hoping this means they're less of a grind.
A look at three Ritual Weapons - Vanguard's Edgewise, Crucible's Randy's Throwing Knife and Gambit's Edgewise.
  • The Crucible area of the Director is getting a revamp. Quickplay and Competitive are no more, and will replaced with Classic Mix (Control, Clash and Supremacy) and 3v3 Survival respectively. 6v6 Control and Survival Solo Queue are also their own playlists, and there's weekly rotating 6v6 and 4v4 playlists, too.
  • When it comes to Power level, everything you already own (characters, weapons and armours) will now start at 750 - the previous level cap. The new cap now goes up to 950, with 960 touted as the 'pinnacle' cap.
  • The Glimmer cap will also be raised to 250,000, and the way you source Glimmer has changed too - you get more from Patrol-based activities (think public events, chests and Lost Sectors) and weekly bounty completions, and less from straight-up killing things.

Destiny 2 Shadowkeep walkthrough

Once you have purchased Shadowkeep, you can start playing by accessing the node in the Moon destination from the Director screen.

Shadowkeep's campaign then plays out as follows:

  • A Mysterious Disturbance (760) - Unlocks Moon Patrol destination
  • In Search of Answers (760 Power recommended)
  • Complete The Encroaching Nightmare by collecting resources, loot chests and complete patrols, public events and Lost Sectors across the Moon to cleanse the Essence of Anguish.
  • Ghosts of our Past (770 Power recommended)
  • Complete 'The Scarlet Keep' Strike
  • Complete an Essence of Anguish quest by completing three Eris Bounties
  • In the Deep (800 Power recommended)
  • Visit the Lectern of Enchantment (just to the left of Eris on the Moon) to continue the Essence of Anguish and Shadowkeep quest steps
  • An Important Message (visit the portal next to Eris to meet Ikora)
  • The Nightmare Cometh (defeat the three remaining Nightmare bosses in the Moon Patrol space and craft the complete Dreambane armour set)
    • Nightmare Hunt: Pride (Skolas, 800 Power recommended)
    • Nightmare Hunt: Isolation (Taniks, 810 Power recommended)
    • Nightmare Hunt: Fear (Phogoth, 830 Power recommended)
  • Complete the Essence of Fear, Essence of Vanity and Essence of Pride quest steps:
    • Essence of Fear - Defeat 100 Hive on the Moon
    • Essence of Isolation - Defeat 100 Fallen on the Moon
    • Essence of Pride - Nightmares in Lost Sectors elsewhere in the system (not on the Moon)
  • Beyond (850 Power recommended, requires Dreambane armour set)
  • Speak with Zavalla and Ikora in the Tower

The Shadowkeep campaign is then complete. You are then given the Essence of Brutality quest step (one of which includes finding the Necromantic Strand location) and the start of the Deathbringer quest, if you fancy a new Exotic.

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Matthew Reynolds


Matthew Reynolds edited guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer from 2010 - 2023. When he wasn't doing that, he was out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.