Destiny's Christmas event, The Dawning, has started. Here's what Space Santa's brought (spoiler: a lot)

Get ready to flip a Strange Coin down to that scruffy boy in the street and ask for a turkey, because Destiny’s big Christmas event, The Dawning, is on the way. Yeah, I know, we’ve just got Hallowe’en/Festival of the Lost out of the way, right? Those rotten pumpkins still need cleaning up.

But anyway! The Dawning starts on December 13, to be exact, and will run to January 3. And it sounds like it’s going to be a mighty big deal. In fact it sounds like it’s going to be the most generous, eclectic, and fully-featured seasonal event Destiny has yet had. This is going to be much more than a gift-collecting chain quest (though there is a festive variant of the Festival of the Lost’s trick-or-treat shenanigans to be had). 

To sum up, The Dawning is this, though I’ll go into a lot more detail below:

• Destiny’s 2016 Christmas event, running from December 13 to January 3.
• Sparrow Racing League returns with two new tracks and new, Light-equipped gear.
• Sparrow Racing League will remain playable in private matches after The Dawning.
• Three remixed, SIVA versions of existing Strikes, The Nexus, The Will of Crota and The Shadow Thief.
• Score-attack for the SIVA Strike playlist, attached to new bounties and rewards.
• Three new Exotic weapons, Voidlord and Solarlord (Heavy Machine Guns), and a Year Three Ice Breaker.
• Tower gift-giving quests.
• Tower Christmas decorations.

During The Dawning, you’ll get new quests (with brand new Exotic weapons to be had), the return of the Sparrow Racing League (with two new tracks), two new, SIVA-remixed versions of existing Strikes, and a whole new way to play the SIVA playlist. Having spoken to Bungie about The Dawning earlier this week, the impression I get is that this seems to be a bumper pack of brand new fun, blended with multiple new, fresh ways to enjoy existing content, with a whole bunch of cool new rewards thrown in. A natural extension then, of the Rise of Iron’s expansion’s notable predilection for player-freedom and unrestricted play and growth. In fact, so meaty is Bungie’s Christmas offering that it’s going to come with a whole, two-page Christmas Record Book for ticking off your achievements, just as Rise of Iron itself did. If you just want a full run-down, head to the bullet-points at the bottom, but otherwise read on, and I’ll explain it all in tasty detail.

Ready to get more specific? Good. You get points for not being lazy. Two of those new Exotic quests will lead to two new Exotic Heavy Machine Guns, Voidlord and Solarlord, differently polarised, elemental counterparts to the currently Arc-only Thunder Lord. Also, in a dazzling combination of welcome return and shameless thematic punning, fan-favourite Exotic sniper rifle Ice Breaker is coming back in a Year Three version. No word yet on exactly what the details of the quests will be – because discovering them and working out how to complete them is half the fun – but I got a definite sense from producer Scott Taylor that The Dawning’s rewards will be attained through a focus on in-game action rather than Tower-based meta-noodling.

As for the changes to Strikes, the most immediate point to note is that we’re getting rebooted versions of The Nexus, The Will of Crota and The Shadow Thief, all three with Rise of Iron’s SIVA-equipped enemies thrown in, and a fair bit of content remixing along the way. Taylor wouldn’t give me exact details on the latter matter, but pointed me toward Rise of Iron’s reworked versions of the Sepiks Prime and Phogoth Strikes as an indication of the philosophy Bungie is following.

The less immediate, but actually more exciting point relates to how Strikes will be able to be played during The Dawning. Because the SIVA playlist is getting a score-attack mode, which will play into new bounties and rewards. If you’ve played the Iron Banner PvP event, then imagine this as a PvE variant. You’ll be able to pick up new Strike bounties from Zavalla, which will demand (and reward) point scores for actions in the Strikes. Complete the required score challenges, and you’ll rank up in a similar manner to how you do during the Iron Lords’ intermittent, hardcore Crucible variant. You’ll even be able to win medals along the way, in much the way you can in PvP.

And of course, there’s the Sparrow Racing League. Of course there’s the Sparrow Racing League. It’s coming back, with two new tracks, and even better than that, it’s going to remain playable after The Dawning ends by way of private matches. Hurrah! 

Sound good? Yes it does. I’ll see you on the 13th. You bring the egg nog and I’ll bring the mulled wine. 

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.