Destiny 2: Shadowkeep expansion, cross-saves, free-to-play, and more announced

Following a series of leaks and teases, Bungie has officially unveiled the next major expansion for Destiny 2, an expansion titled Shadowkeep. The Shadowkeep expansion will take players back to the moon (a major location from the original Destiny) and see the return of a beloved NPC, the enigmatic Eris Morn.

However, the launch of Shadowkeep also means so much more for the Destiny 2 experience as a whole. Bungie is also prepping major revisions for the core experience including a free-to-play ‘New Light’ version of the base game, a deeper focus on RPG mechanics, and full cross-save support across all platforms.

Embrace The Shadows

During a reveal livestream, Bungie confirmed a number of details regarding the Shadowkeep expansion. Players will journey back to the moon and meet up with Eris Morn to combat a new Hive threat that’s awakened deep beneath the planet’s surface. Part of this threat will be a new group of enemies which Bungie has dubbed ‘Nightmares.’ The studio hinted that these Nightmares will take the form of past foes whom players have already defeated (or so they thought).

As for new gameplay features, Bungie only provided a few glimpses and teases to whet fans’ appetites. Shadowkeep will have an increased focus on Crucible PvP (something which Bungie itself admits it has been neglecting over the past year), with said focus taking the form of new Crucible Labs playlists, new Crucible maps, and more. Bungie also hinted that the Trials of the Nine could be making a return as well, but not until the studio feels it’s ready.

With Shadowkeep, Bungie is also fully embracing the MMO and RPG aspects of the Destiny franchise (in the past, the studio has shied away from the term ‘MMO’ due to the inherent baggage it brings). A new ‘Armor 2.0’ system will allow players to more fully customize their favorite armor sets with perks and mods so that they don’t have to decide between armor with the best stats and armor that they like looking at.

Other new features in the Shadowkeep expansion include new melee finisher animations which will be unique to each of Destiny 2’s three Guardian classes. Each class will have at least one finisher animation at launch. Hunters perform an acrobatic knife takedown, Warlocks deliver a close-range energy blast, and Titans wallop foes with a superman-style punch. Lastly, Bungie teased new Exotic weapons such as a hand cannon equipped with a scope and a trace rifle that can create crit spots for other players to exploit.

Destiny 2’s Shadowkeep expansion will launch on September 17, 2019. It will be entirely standalone, which means players don’t need previous expansions like Forsaken to play it.

A New Light Dawns

Bungie also acknowledged in the livestream that, in its current form, getting into Destiny 2 can be a bit of a hassle. On average, new players have to invest roughly 40 hours before they can reach the proverbial endgame, and that’s only after buying the base game plus expansions like Forsaken and the Annual Pass.

Along with the Shadowkeep expansion, Bungie is also introducing a free-to-play version of the base Destiny 2 experience called the ‘New Light’ version. New Light will be entirely free to download and play, and it will actually include a brand new starting experience set in Earth’s Cosmodrome (mimicking the opening experience from the original Destiny). Bungie is still hashing out the details, but here’s what it confirmed during the livestream:

  • New Light players can reach Destiny 2’s endgame in a matter of minutes rather than hours.
  • Over time, New Light players will be gradually introduced to Destiny 2’s different systems and activities, unlocking elements such as patrol zones, story campaigns, PvP, and Gambit.
  • New Light players will have full access to the Red War, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind campaigns as well as Forsaken locations such as the Tangled Shore and Dreaming City.
  • Bungie will offer alacarte purchases for specific seasons and expansions like Forsaken which allow players to pick and choose which content they want to pay for

Again, Bungie is still working out the details, so we don’t yet know exactly how much value the New Light version will offer. Still, New Light sounds like a great way to introduce new players to Destiny 2’s massive (and ever-growing) fold.  

Cross-Save Progress and New Platforms

Bungie had more exciting news for existing Destiny 2 players as well. Destiny 2’s third year will also see the introduction of full cross-save support across all versions of the game. If a player owns Destiny 2 on two different platforms, they’ll be able to transfer their characters and game progress between them. This means that, no matter what platform your friends are on, you can play with them and still retain all the progress you made.

Additionally, Destiny 2 is coming to both Google’s cloud-based Stadia platform and to Steam on PC. The game’s existing PC version will migrate over from Activision’s Blizzard Launcher to Steam, and players’ progress will naturally migrate as well. The PC version of the Shadowkeep expansion will also be available exclusively via Steam.

As for the Google Stadia version of Destiny 2, it too will support cross-save progress across other platforms. Bungie says that bringing the game to Google Stadia was an essential component of its vision in which players can play Destiny 2 virtually anywhere without missing a beat. Along those same lines, the studio also confirmed there will be no more platform-exclusive content in Destiny 2 going forward. All content will be available to players on day one no matter which platform they prefer.

Bungie’s plans involving Destiny 2 and the Shadowkeep expansion launch certainly sound ambitious, but they also show the studio’s commitment to supporting Destiny 2 over the long term. Far-off possibilities such as a Destiny 3 are being considered, but for now Bungie just wants to focus on making Destiny 2 into a fully accessible, fun, and fair experience which will carry on for at least the next few years. That grand vision will begin in earnest come this fall with the launch of the Shadowkeep expansion.