The Destiny experience has remained somewhat static over the years. While yearly expansions like The Taken King, Rise of Iron and Forsaken produced aesthetic changes to the world, the vast majority of locations have stayed the same. The same enemies still populate their areas, the same world events occur and everything looks the same. Bungie hopes to change that with Destiny 2: Shadowkeep by altering what happens with post-launch content.
Much like Forsaken, Shadowkeep abandons the traditional expansion structure. Considering how terrible Dark Below, House of Wolves, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind were, this isn’t a significant loss. Forsaken introduced the idea of Seasons, weeks-long events based around a critical component in the Destiny universe. For example, Season of the Drifter focused on Gambit based activities that delved into the backstory of Joker. Meanwhile, Black Armory tasked Guardians with rekindling ancient forges and crafting powerful weapons.
Shadowkeep takes that idea and expands on it by having each Season change the way the world works. Take Season of the Undying, which launches alongside Shadowkeep. A portal to the Black Garden has opened and now Vex are pouring out onto the Moon, a location they aren’t typically found in. Throughout the Season, players participate in a seasonal activity as they attempt to push the Vex back. At the end of the Season, the portals close, the activity disappears, but the world’s state remains forever changed.
Seasons aim to push the Destiny experience forward in different ways. Every Season changes the world in different ways. While they’ll all leave their mark narratively, it’s also likely we’ll see some physical changes to the world. Bungie didn’t provide any details about how the world’s look will change. Hopefully, Season of the Undying will give us some clues when it launches in October. It all sounds like a significant upgrade over the old Expansion Pass route, but it’s still going to cost you. Each Season runs $10, except for Season of the Undying, which comes free with every copy of Shadowkeep. While all Destiny 2 players can enjoy parts of the Season, those who pay into it get exclusive activities and immediate access to rewards on the new ‘Season Pass.’
The Season Pass works like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Contraband Stream and Fortnite’s Battle Pass. Players rank up their Season Pass by completing bounties, participating in Strikes, beating weekly challenges and more to earn new content. Unlike Call of Duty, it does not appear earning ranks is based on time spent playing. That form of leveling was the bane for players who don’t have the time to dedicate hours to the game. Each Season comes with Free and Premium tracks, with Season purchasers getting access to the premium track.
- Vex Offensive (Seasonal Activity)
- Four Legendary Weapon Drops
- Weekly and daily bounties and challenges
- Leviathan’s Bow Exotic Weapon Quest (Season Pass owners only)
- Eriana’s Vow, new Exotic Hand Cannon
- Free Track – Rank 35
- Premium Track – Rank 1
- Three Legendary armor sets (one per class)
- Free Track – Complete a set during the first 25 ranks
- Premium Track – Get all three sets at Rank 1
Additionally, exclusive cosmetic goodies like weapon ornaments, an emote and a ship comes with the Season Pass. Overall, it doesn’t look those who skip the Season Pass will miss out on too much. Sure, non-subscribers are locked out of the Seasonal Activity and the Leviathan Bow quest, but everything else appears attainable with a little bit of work.
Ultimately, the onus is on Bungie to make Season Passes worth the cost of admission without putting up artificial barriers. It already looks like players who don’t have time to spend hours in the game are going to be punished by the new setup. So, it comes down to how good that Seasonal Activity is and how badly players want that exotic weapon. Will non-subscribers get a severe case of fear of missing out?
Bungie’s post-launch plans for Destiny 2: Shadowkeep are shaping up to be promising. After a stellar year with Forsaken, the studio appears to be taking what has worked well and expanding it. The idea of evolving the static world of Destiny is intriguing, as is the new way of rewarding players. It remains to be seen if the Season Pass is worth the cost of admission, but the idea is promising if Bungie can deliver reliable content.
We won’t have to wait long to find out. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is out October 1 on PS4, Xbox One and PC with Season of the Undying launching alongside it. The whole Destiny 2 experience launches on Google Stadia in November.