Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is the seventh expansion for Destiny 2, a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie. Released on October 1, 2019 (delayed from its original date of September 17), it is the first major expansion to be published independently by Bungie after acquiring publishing rights for the series from Activision in early 2019, as well as the first to arrive on Steam rather than the Battle.net client which had been used since launch. The expansion returns players to the Moon as a playable destination, with the location reprised and expanded upon from the original version of the first Destiny game. Shadowkeep includes new content for every aspect of the game; including new missions, new Player versus Environment (PvE) locations, Player versus Player (PvP) maps, weapons, armor, exotic gear, a new raid, as well as further fundamental changes to the core functionality of the game, including a revamped armor system.
Along with Shadowkeep, the original Destiny 2 base game was re-released as a free-to-play title under a release titled Destiny 2: New Light. New Light features all of the content of the original Destiny 2 base game, as well as the content from the first two expansions, Curse of Osiris and Warmind, access to the full PvE strikes playlist, the competitive PvP playlists and maps, and the hybrid PvE/PvP mode Gambit. Players of New Light also have access to all the playable destinations in the game, including the Tangled Shore, the Dreaming City, as well as the Moon without needing to own either the Forsaken and/or Shadowkeep expansions.
Shadowkeep is similar in scale to the original Destiny’s fourth expansion, Rise of Iron, and features a “full campaign”, two new multiplayer PvE strike missions, and one new PvP Crucible map, as well as two reused ones. The expansion features the Moon as a returning, playable destination, where it has been reprised and expanded upon its original patrol mode from the original Destiny. Bungie claimed that the Moon would be twice the size of its original iteration, featuring major changes to the lunar environment, including the erection of a massive Hive fortress on the lunar surface that serves as a key area for the expansion. Eris Morn, a character from the original game who had been absent since the events of Destiny 2’s base campaign, serves as the main NPC for Shadowkeep. The expansion also introduces a new faction of enemies called Nightmares—spectral manifestations of the trauma from the Guardians’ past that have been reanimated by the Darkness and have been accidentally unleashed onto the Moon by Eris. Nightmare enemies mostly comprise of major story bosses from both Destiny and Destiny 2, as well as minor enemies from the Fallen, Hive, Cabal, Vex and Scorn enemy races, made more powerful by the Darkness and can even regenerate their health. Nightmare enemies can also be found in Lost Sectors. A new raid mission, “Garden of Salvation”, was released on October 5, 2019, and takes place in the Black Garden on Mars from the original game; the raid is tied to the expansion’s first seasonal content offering, Season of the Undying, which focuses on the Vex, who invade the Moon as a result of players’ actions during the raid.
The expansion also features a new PvE activity on the Moon called “Nightmare Hunts”, which are unlocked after completing the main campaign of Shadowkeep; they feature powerful Nightmare enemies with a Nightmare boss at the end. The activity has four new difficulty modes—Adept, Hero, Legend and Master—with brand new, preset modifiers. The Hero version of the activity released on October 8, while the Legend and Master versions were released on October 15 and October 22, respectively. Nightmare Hunts award “Nightmare Essences”, materials which are required to craft new weapons and gear through another NPC called the Lectern of Enchantment. A new version of the PvE Nightfall strike activity called “Nightfall: The Ordeal” was released; The Ordeal features a weekly rotating Nightfall strike with the Adept, Hero, Legend and Master difficulty modes as well (also with preset modifiers), and can award exotic weapons and gear as well as upgrade materials. Unlike the regular Nightfall activity, matchmaking is included in The Ordeal but only on the Adept and Hero difficulties. Legacy Nightfall strikes also remain available for all players.
Changes were also made to the Crucible as well for Shadowkeep—the Control game mode is now in its own separate playlist, while a “Classic Mix” playlist consisting of the Control, Clash and Supremacy modes is also available. Survival is now the only available competitive mode featuring its own playlist and has been revamped into a 3v3 game mode; a separate “freelance” playlist is available for players who prefer to play Survival in a solo queue. The Crucible Labs playlist also returns, featuring beta versions of new Crucible game modes, including the 3v3 Elimination mode from the original game. Other PvP game modes in the Crucible are now featured as two weekly rotating playlists. A new rotating PvP mode called “Momentum Control” was released on October 29.
The armor system of Destiny 2 received a major overhaul with Shadowkeep. The “Armor 2.0” system rebuilds many of the functional aspects of the former armor system, allowing players more customization and control over their characters and their armor. Armor 2.0 allows players to use an “energy system” within each armor piece in order to equip armor mods; each mod acquired can be reused indefinitely, which allows for more experimentation and customization. Mods come either as a general mod or an elemental mod. Elemental mods must have the same energy type (Arc, Solar, or Void) that matches the armor piece’s energy type in order for them to be equipped. General mods, however, can be equipped as normal. Each mod has an energy cost to them depending on its type, function and how powerful they are; players can upgrade armor pieces to increase their energy capacity to allow for the use of more powerful mods, and armor pieces get a small stat boost when they are fully upgraded. Armor 2.0 also reintroduces the Intellect, Discipline, and Strength stats from the first Destiny game, which allows players to reduce the cooldown times of their super, grenade, and melee abilities, respectively. Each armor piece also features a “Universal Ornament” slot, where players can change the aesthetic appearance of any Armor 2.0 piece to look like any Eververse armor pieces if they were already purchased and/or unlocked from Eververse. These ornaments do not impact game play. The Majestic Solstice armor earned during the Solstice of Heroes event during Season of Opulence was updated to the Armor 2.0 system; players have access to the Armor 2.0 version of the armor set via Banshee-44 if they have fully upgraded their Solstice armor to its Majestic level during Solstice of Heroes. All other armor sets (including exotic armor) were also updated to the Armor 2.0 system.
Shadowkeep also introduces “finishers” as a new gameplay ability. These new abilities put a marker above enemies when their health is below a certain threshold, which indicates that they can be finished off. Functionally, these moves can modified through armor mods that make them more powerful, or provide different kinds of benefits to the player. These benefits come at a cost; for example, being made vulnerable during the move animation, or losing some super energy. The finisher animation is entirely separate from the functional aspect, so players can choose the gameplay function they want and match it with a finishing animation that they like the look of. Different finishing move animations can be acquired similarly to emotes within the game, either through Eververse or in-game gameplay challenges. The armor mods, which give the finishing moves their functional gameplay aspect, can only be acquired through gameplay means. Upon launch, the feature is restricted to a single animation equipped at a time, however, it will later be expanded upon to allow a multi-emote functionality and eventually a randomizer.
The expansion also brings back artifacts, a gameplay feature that was originally introduced to the first Destiny with The Taken King expansion and expanded upon in Rise of Iron, but has been absent from Destiny 2. With the release of Shadowkeep, artifacts are seasonal, meaning that at the end of each season, players lose their current artifact and its associated mods and gain a new one at the beginning of a new season. Players are able to enhance their characters and gameplay abilities by leveling up their artifact through earning experience points (XP). Seasonal artifacts also grant seasonal mods that players can equip on their armor and weapons; some of these mods are required in order to defeat powerful enemies called “Champions” featured in each season’s exclusive seasonal activity; in the Hero, Legend and Master versions of Nightfall: The Ordeal and Nightmare Hunts; as well as the Garden of Salvation raid. These artifacts, and their seasonal limitations and mods, allow for experimentation with new and different gameplay abilities. Gameplay abilities that are favored by players will be further expanded upon in later seasons with new seasonal artifacts.
The Power level cap was increased to 960 upon the expansion’s release; new and existing players’ Power levels were automatically increased to the new minimum Power level of 750 upon the release of both Shadowkeep and the free-to-play New Light version of the base game. Bungie also made some changes to Power progression in Shadowkeep—Prime Engrams, which were first introduced in Forsaken and granted gear that provided a large boost to players’ Power levels, are now awarded after players reach Power level 900. Players accrue Prime Engram charges while increasing their Power level from 750 to 900, which allow Prime Engrams to drop more often once the first soft level cap of 900 is reached. Legendary weapons and gear obtained through random drops during regular gameplay now have a chance to drop at players’ current Power levels. Once players reach the second soft level of 950, they can further increase their Power level to 960 by participating in pinnacle endgame activities (such as raids, Nightfall: The Ordeal strikes, Master Nightmare Hunts and Iron Banner), which reward powerful gear up to Power level 960. Players can then further increase their Power level beyond 960 by upgrading their seasonal artifact through earning XP via gameplay and completing vendor bounties; seasonal artifacts also serve as an alternate Power progression source for players who choose not to participate in pinnacle endgame activities, and are shared across all of a player’s characters.
Seasons and seasonal content also received a major overhaul with the release of both Shadowkeep and New Light. There are four new seasons with the release of Shadowkeep, with each season lasting ten weeks long; unlike the Destiny 2 Annual Pass that came with the release of Forsaken, seasons can now be purchased à la carte in the form of season passes. The first seasonal content offering, Season of the Undying, is free to all players who purchase Shadowkeep; players who purchase the digital deluxe edition or the collector’s edition of Shadowkeep are granted access to Season of the Undying plus the subsequent three season passes. Only players who purchase season passes have access to each season’s exclusive seasonal activity, which players’ actions during these activities have major effects on the game world and progress the story forward; these seasonal activities then become unavailable at the conclusion of each season. Players also have access to “seasonal ranks”, which work similarly to the battle passes in Fortnite and Apex Legends. Seasonal ranks are divided into a free track and a premium track, with each track granting rewards at any given tier; there are 100 tiers for both tracks. Season pass holders have access to both the free and premium tracks, as well as season-exclusive weapons and gear, universal ornaments and exotic quests. Bungie stated that there are plans for players to purchase seasonal rank boosts before the end of each season.