Destiny 2 New Light: Everything you can play for free and how to make the most of it

(Image credit: Bungie)

Destiny 2 New Light is basically the free-to-play version of Destiny 2. It comes with the core areas and activities, and you start at a high enough Power level that you can dive into most of those almost immediately. It also condenses years of story content into one fairly overwhelming introduction, so new players may feel a bit out in the weeds at first. With that in mind, we've put together a guide explaining what New Light comes with, what it doesn't come with, and everything you can and should do if this is your first time playing Destiny 2.

What is Destiny 2 New Light?  

Again, New Light is a free-to-play entry point for Destiny 2. It's not a demo or a trial. It's a free, tailor-made version of the full game which focuses on content released before Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, the major expansion paired with New Light. It allows players to sample myriad Destiny 2 activities and destinations, and play with their friends, without spending a dime.  

Is Destiny 2 New Light available on all platforms? 

Yes. You can try Destiny 2 New Light for free on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It also supports the new Destiny 2 cross save feature, so if you start playing on one platform and decide to move to another, you'll be able to bring all of your Guardians with you.  

(Image credit: Bungie)

What content is included in Destiny 2 New Light? 

After an opaque reveal, Bungie recently released a finalized content lineup for New Light. Here's everything that's included:  

A new starter mission

New Light has a special treat for new players: a new intro mission set in the Cosmodrome from the original Destiny. I don't want to spoil anymore, so I'll just leave it at that. Oh, and if you already play Destiny 2, you'll also get to experience this mission. 

All destinations

That's right, New Light comes with every planet and hub in Destiny 2, including DLC areas. Those are: the European Dead Zone (EDZ), Nessus, Titan, Io, Mars, the Moon, the Dreaming City, the Tangled Shore, Mercury, and the Tower and Farm social spaces. However, you won't be able to access everything in these areas. In The Dreaming City, for example, you won't be able to play the Shattered Throne dungeon or the Last Wish raid. You'd need to purchase the Forsaken expansion to access those. That said, you will be able to complete Patrols, Lost Sectors, and Public Events - mini-quests, mini-dungeons, and random events, respectively - on all destinations, as well as special quests like the Destiny 2 Whisper of the Worm mission and the Destiny 2 Outbreak Prime mission. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Three Year 1 campaigns

Destiny 2 content can be grouped into years, with Year 3 just kicking off now with Shadowkeep. New Light comes with all the story content in Year 1 - a total of three distinct campaigns. You've got the Red War campaign from the base game, the Curse of Osiris campaign from the first DLC, and the Warmind campaign from the second DLC. Together, these campaigns deliver dozens of missions and as many hours of content. They'll introduce you to the characters and themes of Destiny 2, as well as the finer points of combat and many destinations. Even if you have no interest in Destiny 2 as an MMO, these campaigns are worth playing for the FPS factor alone. 

Crucible (PvP)

Competitive-minded players will be happy to know that Destiny 2's PvP mode is included in New Light. You'll have access to all the Crucible playlists and modes, like Control (king of the hill), Clash (team deathmatch), and Rumble (free-for-all). You'll also earn Crucible weapons and armor by completing matches and bounties. 

Strikes (dungeons)

In the meat and potatoes of Destiny 2's PvE grind, Strikes are the potatoes. Strikes are three-player, story-driven dungeons which usually take 10 - 20 minutes apiece. They're designed to be replayed, so you'll encounter slightly different enemies each time. They have some light mechanics, a couple boss fights here and there, and endless dudes to shoot. They're a solid source of Legendary drops and XP, and the sheer variety of encounters is incredible, especially if you're new to them. Strikes will be one of the best ways to get accustomed to Destiny 2's combat, learn your class, find your favorite guns, and feel out the loot cycle. Strikes can be accessed from a playlist in the Director, or for Year 1 Strikes, via planetary launch points. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Year 1 raids

Now we're getting to the meat of PvE. Raids are six-player, multi-stage dungeons which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours (or more) depending on your team's experience. This is end-game content with end-game loot, so raids are much more complex and difficult than Strikes. New Light comes with the three raids introduced in Year 1: the Leviathan, the Eater of Worlds, and the Spire of Stars. These are old raids, but thanks to the new Destiny 2 Armor 2.0 system, the gear they drop will still be relevant. Besides that, they're exhilarating fights which represent the best that Destiny 2 has to offer, and everyone owes it to themselves to play all the raids at least once. Raids don't have matchmaking so you'll need to form or join your own fireteam, but that's easy to do via the Destiny 2 mobile app or recruitment forums


This activity was introduced in Year 2 with Forsaken, and it's sitting somewhere between PvE and PvP. Gambit is basically a horde mode where two teams of four compete to summon a boss by killing enemies in separate but identical arenas, all while screwing with the other team. Enemies drop tokens called Motes which must be collected and deposited in a bank in order to summon the boss. Banking Motes will also spawn Taken Blockers which lock down the other team's bank. Once enough Motes are banked, one player will be able to Invade the other team and try to kill them for their Motes. This cycle repeats until a boss is summoned and killed. There's really nothing else like Gambit, and at its best it delivers heart-thumping tension and hero moments. It's got a great loot pool too, so definitely give it a shot. Here are some Destiny 2 Gambit tips to help you out. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Year 2 Annual Pass activities

Year 2 of Destiny 2 consisted of the Forsaken expansion and the three-part Annual Pass. The main activities in the Annual Pass are included with New Light. First, the Black Armory Forges. These are horde modes which let you forge specific weapons by completing multi-step bounties. Next is Gambit Prime, an advanced version of Gambit with unique armor that grants set bonuses tuned to specific roles. Finally, we have the Menagerie, a randomized multi-stage dungeon which also allows players to pursue specific pieces of gear. They're all very fun in their own right, and Bungie confirmed that they'll all drop their normal loot in New Light, so they'll be well worth doing. Here's how Destiny 2 Menagerie rune combos work, if you're wondering. 

Year 1 Exotics

The best and most unique weapons and armor pieces are Exotic grade, and each year of content brings a new batch of Exotics. New Light players will only have access to Year 1 Exotics, barring a few exceptions: Thunderlord, Arbalest, Outbreak Perfected, and Bad Juju (check out our Destiny 2 Bad Juju guide for tips on how to get it). Quest Exotics aside, Year 1 Exotics can drop from pretty much anything - Strikes, raids, Crucible, Gambit, what-have-you. It all comes down to luck. 

In-game events

New Light players will also be able to participate in seasonal events like Iron Banner (high-stakes PvP) and Solstice of Heroes (challenge-driven PvE), as well as holiday events like the Festival of the Lost (Halloween) and the Dawning (Christmas-ish). These events are always announced ahead of time via Destiny 2's in-game login notifications and its official website. If you want to check out what these events look like, check out our Destiny 2 Solstice of Heroes 2019 armor guide and the Destiny 2 Moments of Triumph 2019 list. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

What content isn't included in Destiny 2 New Light? 

New Light comes with a whole lot of stuff, but not quite everything. You get all of Year 1, but only parts of Year 2. Story content in Forsaken and the Annual Pass is unavailable, as are end-game activities like raids (namely Last Wish, Scourge of the Past, and Crown of Sorrow) and the Shattered Throne dungeon. Many Exotics and weapons are also excluded from New Light, not to mention the nine alternate subclass trees and Supers introduced in Forsaken. Most of the content in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is also unavailable - again, including the new raid, dungeon, and story content.  

How much does that content cost?  

If you want to play through everything Destiny 2 has to offer, you can get Forsaken and the Annual Pass for $25, whereas Shadowkeep will run you $35. Future content will be delivered via the Destiny 2 Season Pass, with each three-month season going for $10.  

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.