It's no surprise that many players haven't bothered experimenting with Destiny 2's Season of Dawn mods. With the game fully embracing the live service content model, it seemed as if Bungie expected players to to grind out a new set of armor every few months in order unlock that season's unique mods.
Ehroar is a Destiny 2 content creator and member of Redeem, a clan that has notched multiple World’s First raid completions. He specializes in speedrunning, PvE challenges, and creating videos breaking down the power of new weapons and character builds. You can find him on YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch.
Having already spent a considerable amount of time creating god-rolled gear for the previous season, it's understandable that players would be annoyed at seeing it rendered obsolete. However, the good news is that Bungie is softening its stance on seasonal mods so that you'll be able to use each set for a lot longer. The current system, introduced as part of Season of Dawn, also contains some of the most powerful and fun to use mods the game has ever had. If you sleep on it, you really are missing out.
Here's more good news. The Season of Dawn armor, with corresponding mod slots, is easy to farm for, meaning you should be able to get the stats and elemental affinities you need without much pain. On top of that, next season Destiny’s armor system will be getting a huge face lift. Even more armor will be able to slot Dawn mods, making it even easier to take advantage of them.
In this article I'll explain how the Season of Dawn system works, the best way to unlock the armor and mods, and some ridiculously powerful builds you can make with your new toys.
Season of Dawn's mod system revolves around a concept called Charged with Light. The game does a poor job of explaining how to get the mods working, but that's what I'm here for. Think of Charged with Light as a currency. You first have to acquire the currency before you can spend it. Charging yourself with Light can be done in a number of ways, depending on which mods you've equipped, and once you've built charges up, these can be expended on different effects.
The beauty of the system is that you can tailor how you acquire and spend your light to your personal play style, and the kind of activity you're planning to take part in. In order to get started, you need to familiarise yourself with the three types of Charged With Light mod.
Mods that allow you to become Charged with Light
- Empowered Finish: Become Charged with Light by finishing a combatant, consuming one-tenth of your Super energy.
- Shield Break Charge: Become Charged with Light by breaking an enemy shield with the matching energy type.
- Taking Charge: Become Charged with Light by picking up Orbs of Light.
- Quick Charge: Become Charged with Light by rapidly defeating multiple enemies with Fusion Rifles or Shotguns.
- Blast Radius: Become Charged with Light by rapidly defeating multiple enemies with Grenade Launchers of Rocket Launchers.
- Precisely Charged: Become Charged with Light by getting multiple rapid precision final blows with Linear Fusion Rifles or Sniper Rifles.
Mods that enhance your ability to become Charged with Light
- Powerful Friends: When you become Charged with Light, nearby allies also become Charged with Light, if they are not already.
- Charged Up: Allows for 1 additional stack of Charged with Light.
- Stacks On Stacks: Gain an extra stack of Charged with Light for every stack you gain.
Mods that allow you to use stacks of Charged with Light
- High Energy Fire: While Charged with Light, gain a bonus to weapon damage. Each defeated enemy consumes on stack of Charged with Light.
- Striking Light: While Charged with Light, defeating enemies with melee damage and Swords spawn 1 Orb of Light for your allies and consumes one stack of Charged with Light.
- Heavy Handed: While Charged with Light, regain half of your melee energy when you use a charged melee ability, consuming one stack of Charged with Light.
- Firepower: While Charged with Light, regain a portion of your grenade energy when you use your grenade, consuming one stack of Charged with Light.
- Heal Thyself: While you are Charged with Light, grenade final blows heal you and consume one stack of Charged with Light.
- Protective Light: While Charged with Light, you gain significant damage resistance against combatants when your shields are destroyed. This effect consumes all stacks of Charged with Light. The more stacks consumed, the longer the damage resistance lasts.
Although it probably feels like there are too many mods to choose from, the system is actually very straightforward. You need at least one mod that enables you to become Charged with Light, and at least one mod that consumes stacks of Charged with Light.
At this point it's worth noting that each mod gives you one stack per corresponding action. For example, with 'Taking Charge' when you pick up an Orb of Light you gain one stack of Charged with Light. Normally you can only hold two stacks at a time unless you use 'Charged Up', which will allow you to hold three stacks of Charged with Light. Though it only takes two of the mods to create a loop, given you have up to five armor pieces to play with in any particular build (note that exotics do not have seasonal mod slots) the potential combinations are vast.
So hopefully by now you're curious and want to start experimenting. Fortunately, the game gives you a few freebie mods right off the bat. Most of the generic Charged with Light mods are already unlocked for you when you start playing during Season of Dawn. The rest you will need to acquire from the various planetary Obelisks.
Obelisks are a key part of Season of Dawn's reward structure. They are what enables you to determine the rewards you get from the Sundial activity, and they provide 'Timelost Weapon' bounties to complete. The main way of ranking up these Obelisks is to use an in-game currency called fractaline. You gain fractaline doing Obelisk weekly bounties and from completing activities such as the Sundial, Strikes, Gambit, and Crucible.
Once you've amassed enough fractaline, you turn it in at the Obelisk of your choosing to unlock the spicier Charged with Light mods. You will need to reach rank 11 at each of the four Obelisk in order to obtain all the Charged with Light mods.
The Season of Dawn mods, as of now, can only be slotted into Season of Dawn armor, but this will change next season. After Season of Dawn, seasonal mods can be equipped into not only the corresponding season’s armor but both the preceding and following season's too. For example Season of Dawn mods could slot into not only Dawn armor but also Season of the Undying and the as-yet nameless Season 10. This means Season of Dawn mods will stay relevant for long time to come.
For now, you can use Season of Dawn mods in armor with a pigeon icon, referencing Saint XIV, in the final mod slot. There are several ways to get this armor. First, every Sundial run will reward one armor piece. This is a great way to build up your stock while also farming for god roll weapons. Second, everytime you rank up an Obelisk you get one legendary item. This can either be a world drop weapon (for example Last Hope or The Old Fashioned) or it can be a Season of Dawn armor piece. Note also that the current rank up rewards from both the Vanguard (Zavala) and Crucible (Lord Shaxx) in the tower also have Season of Dawn mod slots, which helps if you're looking to mix up the activities you're playing.
In case all that still sounds daunting, here's a pro tip: There's currently an event running called Empyrean Foundation in which the community is donating billions of fractaline (almost certainly to unlock the Trials PvP mode next season). There's more info on that here, but all you need to know is that each week you'll be given an amount of free fractaline that corresponds with how much you've dumped into your obelisks already. So you can use that to get additional easy rank ups and thus more armor drops.
Before we get into the crazy builds you can make with Charged with Light, a quick reminder that unlike previous seasonal mods, these ones are going to stay relevant, no matter the season. How? Well, whereas older mods only worked in activities like Nightmare Hunt or the Garden of Salvation raid, none of the Charged with Light mods are tied to a particular activity, location or enemy type. That means they're as close to a whole new ability being added to your character as you can get in Destiny. Since you only need two Charged with Light mods to have a fully functioning loop you can also mix them in with other armor mods—including powerful stuff like Hive Armaments—and exotics. Charged with Light is extremely flexible, and hopefully points towards how Bungie plans to handle seasonal mods going forward, in the sense that they offer long-term value.
Powerful builds to try
The 'why use a primary' build
This build is pretty straight forward, and as the name suggests it involves using two special weapons and no primaries. Why? Because you can do a ton of extra damage without worrying about running out of ammo. The build revolves around the Heavy Handed mod. The part which interests us actually isn't the main perk, which restores half your melee energy when you use a charged melee attack. What we're interested in is the secondary perk, 'Lock and Load', which reads: "While surrounded by multiple enemies, defeating an enemy with a Fusion Rifle, Shotgun, Sidearm, or Submachine Gun adds ammo for that weapon to your reserves".
To unlock the secondary perk you will need to slot another mod with arc affinity (look for the blue symbol) into the same armor piece. If you're running short on energy, you can always opt for the 'Arc Resistance' mod, which only costs one energy point. For our build, we'll be using any good kinetic shotgun and the pinnacle fusion rifle Loaded Question. When you get kills with either weapon with at least three enemies close by, you'll receive one ammo back in BOTH weapons per kill. That's an amazing bonus, because it negates the risk of running out of Special Ammo, but it's also only the start of the fun.
We will be using Quick Charge to become Charged with Light on fusion rifle and shotgun double kills. We then pair that with Stacks on Stacks to double each charge of light we receive. Finally, we add High Energy Fire to get a buff to our weapon damage while Charged with Light. Because of the way we've set the build up, each kill will grant two charges of light, meaning you'll have bonus damage for your next two kills, which will keep charging you up further. So it becomes an infinite loop of extra damage and unlimited ammo.
With this build you have infinite ammo and a permanent buff to your damage. Your shotgun will deal with the close range while Loaded Question's AoE effect is perfect for handling swarms of adds. That leaves your heavy slot free for an exotic like Whisper of the Worm, One Thousand Voices, or even Xenophage, all of which will add some long-range stopping power.
The 'Ultimate Warlock' build
This is a build for players who really want to watch the world burn, and if you're maining warlock then that's probably you. Let’s just say there are a lot of grenades involved. The main weapon we'll be using is Martyr’s Retribution, a single-shot grenade launcher from the Mars Obelisk. The unique thing about this weapon is that it unleashes a pulsing wave of fire on detonation that's much like a titan's thermite grenade. Another important part of this weapon is that it can roll with a perk called Demolitionist. When you get kills with this perk you gain a portion of your grenade energy. Also, when you throw a grenade the weapon is instantly reloaded. It's very good for clearing out mobs of enemies, particularly if you pair Demolitionist with either Field Prep or Auto-Loading Holster to help even further with reloading. Now let’s throw on some Charged with Light mods.
We're going to use Blast Radius and Stacks on Stacks to become Charged with Light. This means every time we get a double kill with Martyr’s Retribution we receive two stacks. We also want to use High Energy Fire for that sweet damage buff while Charged with Light. Our subclass of choice is the reworked top tree Dawnblade, which enables you to float in the air like a fire-slinging Apache Gunship. Whilst airborne, every kill recharges your melee ability, and this is where our exotic armor piece of choice comes into play.
We will be using Sunbracers, which enables us to spam multiple solar grenades after getting a charged melee kill. Remember the Demolitionist perk on our grenade launcher? Every time we throw a grenade it reloads the weapon. Very beneficial given that Martyr's Retribution only has one shot in the magazine! With this build you'll be able to fly around the map—don't forget top tree Dawnblade has access to two mid-air dashes— raining down endless balls of fire. It's easily one of the most fun ways to play Destiny 2.
Tanky builds and closing thoughts
The build possibilities with Charged with Light mods are only limited by your creativity, and will grow as future seasons bring more tools to play with. The two builds I described in detail focus on clearing enemies quickly, but you could also go down the route of becoming a tankier guardian. Consider trying a build that includes the Heal Thyself or Protective Light mods. The latter is particularly strong: It gives you a 50% reduction to incoming damage after your shield breaks, which lasts longer the more stacks of light you have at the time. It's an extremely powerful tool to keep you alive and fighting longer. The beauty of Charged with Light as a system is that you don't have to go all in on it. You could easily just run Charged Up and Protective Light for a little extra survivability.
The Charged with Light system is one of the best ideas Bungie has put into Destiny in a long time. With the history of how previous seasonal mods and armor were handled, it's no surprise that most players have avoided diving into it—but at least that's all changing now. Hopefully I've convinced you to try out some builds of your own, or at least incorporate some of the best mods into your existing gear. I hope Bungie builds on the system in future seasons and gives us even more Charged with Light mods. The studio has a track record of leaving some of its best ideas behind, but hopefully this one won't be abandoned. Seeing as there may never be a better time to get compatible armor than now, it's time to future proof your guardian while you have the chance.