Destiny 2's new seasonal model will offer free and 'premium' reward paths

(Image credit: Bungie)

Not content with dropping a trifecta of wordy updates on Destiny 2 players recently, game director Luke Smith is back with another magnum opus. Today he dug into how the game will handle seasons in its third year, and some pretty big changes are on the way. Destiny 2 Year 3 will include four "fully supported" seasons of content, each of them with a 100-rank "Season Pass" featuring free and premium reward tracks.

The new Season Passes are one of two "predictable reward pursuits" in Season of the Undying, which kicks off (and is included with) Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. Purchasing a Destiny 2 season—unlike last year's Annual Pass, seasons going forward will be available individually for $10 each—will also get you access to the Premium reward track on that season's pass. 

That track includes access to the new Vex Offensive seasonal activity with four Legendary weapon drops, additional daily and weekly bounties, and new weekly challenges with powerful rewards, as well as new Exotic weapons, three seasonal Legendary armor sets, and other rewards.

(Image credit: Bungie)

Interestingly, undertaking specific tasks will not be required to advance either reward track. "Unlike those other games, you’ll make progress by earning XP doing the things you’re already doing in Destiny—defeating monsters and completing bounties and activities," Smith said. "This is about a new additive layer of predictable rewards for just playing the game."

To ensure that everyone has a shot at all 100 levels of the season pass, even if they don't have time to grind them out, Bungie plans to make Season Ranks purchasable—but to enable hardcore grinders to properly enjoy the fruits of their efforts, they won't be made purchasable until late in the season. Specifics are still being nailed down but Smith said Bungie expects to enable rank purchasing at some point in the final two to four weeks of the ten-week season. 

"We know that sometimes life gets in the way, and you just want to get the last few rewards before the season ends and everything resets," he wrote. "In the same way that we’ve been doing seasonal catch-up for Power, we think providing a late-in-the-season rank catch up makes sense. This initial version is our starting point, and the way we’ve designed Seasons moving forward means that we’re going to be able to have the flexibility to tune how this works once we see how Season of the Undying goes."

He also emphasized that Bungie will not boost XP requirements for high-level ranks in order to pressure players into spending more money near the end of a season: "We just want our community to be able to play together as easily as possible and narratively be part of the Destiny world as it changes."

The free reward track, which will be granted to all players in each season, is like a "sampler platter" for the season, Smith said: If you want the best rolls for each piece of armor you'll need to play the seasonal activity, but the base version of all the armor will be available on the free track. Eriana's Vow, a new Exotic hand cannon, will also be offered on the free track, but at rank 35, compared to the first rank on the premium track. "We have also added a lot of rewards on the free track that are nice quality-of-life rewards for players, like upgrade modules, which are free Infusions," Smith said.

(Image credit: Bungie)

The other "reward pursuit" is the Seasonal Artifact, which will be free for all players. Earning XP through normal Destiny 2 play will level up the Artifact and unlock new Armor 2.0 mods, and also add directly to your Guardian's Power level. As we understand it, these mods will expire at the end of each season, a mechanic Smith explains is designed to encourage build experimentation. 

There is also no cap to Artifact Power levels: The only limit is your willingness to grind: "We are both excited, and a little terrified, to see how high players will manage to raise their Artifact Power during the Season."

To avoid confusion—and despite all the words poured into explanation, it is somewhat confusing without being able to get out hands on it—he also ran down exactly what content will be available to all players, including those starting out with the soon-to-be-free New Light edition, in Season of the Undying:

  • Patrolling the Moon destination
  • The opening mission of Shadowkeep  
  • Two new strikes
  • Crucible Updates (which I discussed in [link to previous Director’s Cut])
  • Two returning PvP maps from the D1 era—Widow’s Court and Twilight Gap
  • Elimination in Crucible Labs
  • Armor 2.0 build customization
  • Eye of the Gate Lord Seasonal Artifact
  • New finishers
  • Two new pinnacle weapons: one for Gambit and one for Crucible
  • Free Seasonal Rank rewards, which include: New Exotic weapon—Eriana’s Vow, Three Legendary armor sets (1 per class), Two Legendary weapons, Best of Year 2 Bright Engrams, and Glimmer and upgrade modules

"Season Passes in Year 3 will in some ways feel very new and in other ways feel pretty similar to the Forsaken Annual Pass experience. Our intent is that the Season Pass mechanics—as we’re aligning everything with a single, evolving world and how we’re moving the Destiny story meaningfully forward—are additive to the core Destiny experience (we’re still going to have things like Holiday events, dungeons and secret missions, and all kinds of stuff that we hope surprises you!)," Smith wrote. 

"It’s an evolution and an experiment, and hopefully what you’ve seen lately is that we’re going to keep being agile and continuing to make the best decisions for the game along with you."

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, which includes Season of the Undying, and the free New Light edition, go live on October 1. Existing Destiny 2 players have until then to prep their accounts for transfer from to Steam.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.