A Guide to Understanding Monetization in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, New Light

Those hoping that the Bungie-Activision split would result in decreased monetization are in for a rude awakening. Destiny 2 pushed things too far, but Forsaken managed to make things a bit fairer. With the release of New Light and Shadowkeep, however, monetization in Destiny 2 has been taken to a new, confusing level.

New Light vs. Forsaken/Shadowkeep

Probably one of the more daunting challenges is breaking down the differences between New Light and the two major expansions: Forsaken and Shadowkeep. The new free-to-play experience is meant to get players on the sidelines in the door for the first time. Despite this, this free experience actually comes with a lot of content.


New Light

Destiny 2: New Light comes with all content and activities associated with Years 1 of Destiny 2. That includes Destiny 2, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind. New players can access these campaigns by visiting Amanda Holliday in the Tower’s hangar.

In addition to the campaigns, the experience comes with a lot of extra things to do from Years 2 and 3:

  • All destinations, including DLC areas like The Tangled Shore, Dreaming City, and recently released Moon
  • All sandbox area activities, including Patrols, Lost Sectors, and Public Events
  • All Strikes, even the ones released as part of Forsaken and Shadowkeep
  • All Crucible maps
  • Year 1 Raids (Leviathan, Eater of Worlds, and Spire of Stars)
  • Gambit
  • Year 2 Annual Pass Activities (Black Armory Forges, Gambit Prime, and Menagerie)
  • Opening campaign mission of Shadowkeep
  • Armor 2.0

For a free experience, Destiny 2: New Light does provide a lot to do. In many ways, you can experience a lot of the best parts of Destiny 2 without paying for anything. If you haven’t given Destiny 2 a shot yet, New Light is worth downloading.


Forsaken and Shadowkeep

What New Light doesn’t provide is mostly story content and endgame activities. To access this, you’ll need to purchase the expansions and Annual/Season Pass content separately. You can nab Forsaken now for $24.99, and Shadowkeep for $34.99.

Here’s what you won’t get in New Light:

  • All campaign missions for Forsaken and Shadowkeep
  • Both Raids (Last Wish and Garden of Salvation)
  • Exotic Quests
  • Nightmare Hunts (Shadowkeep only)
  • Annual Pass/Season Pass Activities (Do note these are separate purchases from the expansions)


Eververse

The dreaded Eververse store is back and Bungie really wants you to know about it. Previously, the store was relegated to the Tower and completely skippable. That’s no longer the case as Bungie has slapped the storefront into the Director, a menu players need to frequently bring up.

Over the past two years, Bungie has done good work slowly removing some of the more disturbing aspects from the Eververse store. Gameplay-focused items like armor, sparrows and Ghost shells have been moved out of the store and are, like in Destiny, offered as in-game rewards. At this point in time, the Eververse store purely sells cosmetic items, including weapon ornaments, emotes and finishers.

Unfortunately, there’s almost no way to earn these items through gameplay. Random tiers on the Battle Pass (we’ll get to that) drop Engrams that contain some of this gear. Other than that, players need to rely on two currencies:

  • Silver
  • Bright Dust

Silver is Destiny 2’s premium currency that can only be purchased with real-world money. Meanwhile, Bright Dust was introduced as an in-game currency that would allow players to earn Eververse items without Silver. With Shadowkeep, however, Bungie has significantly neutered what players can buy all while increasing the amount of Bright Dust players can earn. Items purchasable with Bright Dust are hidden away in a less-than-stellar menu. Only a few items are available at a time with new ones rotating in every few hours.


Season Passes

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep takes the idea of Forsaken’s Annual Pass and splits it up into different chunks. Year 3 of Destiny 2 is spread across four Seasons that players must purchase to enjoy Seasonal Activities, exclusive cosmetics and special Exotic quests. Each season will set you back $9.99, though the first season, Season of the Undying, is free for everyone who purchases Shadowkeep.

The big addition that comes with the Season Passes is the Battle Pass. Yes, Destiny 2 is jumping on the Fortnite bandwagon by offering tiered rewards. There are actually two Battle Passes; a free one and a paid one. Season Pass owners earn rewards from both Battle Passes, and free players only from the free one.

Everything you do in Destiny 2 earns progress towards the next tier, though the rewards don’t seem worth it. Asides from the occasional armor piece or weapon, the 100 tiers of rewards are mostly lackluster. Both Battle Passes contain too many modifiers, currencies, and other useless content meant to keep the grind going. Though earning tiers isn’t based off of time-played, progress in the Battle Passes still feels like a grind. As of publication, it’s not possible to buy tiers.


Loot Boxes

Yes, despite all the worldwide controversy surrounding loot boxes, Destiny 2 still uses them. Called Bright Engrams, these boxes are purchased from the Eververse store. They spill out a random selection of items that players have no control over. There are also Nostalgic Engrams that contain cosmetic items from Year 2. If you really want to spend real-world money on microtransactions, it’s best to directly purchase what you want from Eververse.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep and New Light are available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Both experiences launch alongside Google Stadia in November.