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Destiny’s holiday update is live, here are all the details

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There’s more to do than race Sparrows

Everyone’s favorite intergalactic speeder bike, the Sparrow, is back at the center of Destiny’s holiday-themed event. This year, Bungie has expanded the Sparrow Racing League into what it calls The Dawning.

Announced earlier this month during PlayStation Experience, The Dawning still focuses on racing across the words of Destiny, with twice as many maps as were available last year. If you don’t care about showing off with tricks on your Sparrow, there are a few new exotic items to earn — including a powerful favorite returning from the first year of Destiny — and some new ways to play the existing content. Let’s dive in.

Destiny: The Dawning artwork Bungie/Activision

When can I play The Dawning?

It’s live already! Bungie launched The Dawning shortly after 1 p.m. ET today, Dec. 13. It’ll run for three weeks, ending on Jan. 3, 2017.

What do I need to play The Dawning?

As with everything in the third year of Destiny’s existence, The Dawning will be available only to players who have purchased the game’s most recent expansion, Destiny: Rise of Iron. It’s free for those people, coinciding with update 2.5.0 to Destiny on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Tell me about this Sparrow Racing League.

It’s pretty simple: Think of podracing from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, except with Sparrows. Up to six players compete in these races, for which Bungie has created specific courses on some of Destiny’s planets. Players who complete races will earn Sparrow Racing League-themed gear, emblems, shaders and even Sparrows.

Last year, there were only two maps available, Infinite Descent on Venus and Campus Martius on Mars. This time around, those two are joined by Haakon Precipice on Earth and Shining Sands on Mercury. Hit up Amanda Holliday, the Shipwright in the Tower Hangar, to get started with SRL-specific bounties and quests.

Destiny: The Dawning - Sparrow Racing League - Haakon Precipice
A rocky path in Haakon Precipice, the Earth-based track in The Dawning’s Sparrow Racing League.
Bungie/Activision
Destiny: The Dawning - Sparrow Racing League - Shining Sands
Soaring across the sun on Shining Sands, the Mercury-based course in The Dawning’s Sparrow Racing League.
Bungie/Activision

What about non-Sparrow offerings?

There’s all kinds of stuff in the v2.5.0 patch notes that Bungie posted today.

The Dawning also offers quests from Commander Zavala and Eva Levante, the Guardian Outfitter. You’ll want to check out Zavala’s bounties, at the very least — they tie in with the strike scoring system that Bungie is introducing in The Dawning, and completing them will give you a chance to receive the Year 3 version of Ice Breaker, an exotic sniper rifle that was left behind in Year 2.

In addition, Bungie has updated the Record Book with new challenges for the winter season, and nine winter-themed emotes are now available for purchase at the Eververse Trading Company. Bungie has also refreshed three of Destiny’s older strikes in this update: The Nexus from the original game, The Will of Crota from the Dark Below add-on and The Shadow Thief from the House of Wolves expansion. Expect SIVA-infected and/or Taken enemies, and other new wrinkles.

Wait, what’s this strike scoring about?

Destiny will now score you and your squadmates when you play strikes in the SIVA Crisis and heroic SIVA Crisis playlists, as well as the weekly Nightfall strike. The feature works similarly to scoring in the Prison of Elders: The game gives out points for team play, and awards medals for feats such as streaks of kills.

Sounds neat. Will it stick around?

Yup! Both strike scoring and Sparrow racing will remain available in Destiny after The Dawning concludes on Jan. 3, although you’ll only be able to race Sparrows in private matches. (Update: Edited to clarify availability.)

Anything else I should know?

Well, the people of the Tower have gone all-out in sprucing up the place with wintry decorations, and it’s a sight to behold:

Destiny: The Dawning winter decorations 01
Destiny: The Dawning winter decorations 02
Destiny: The Dawning winter decorations 03 Bungie/Activision
Destiny: The Dawning winter decorations 04

There are also a few miscellaneous gameplay updates contained in The Dawning. Destiny players recently discovered a hidden feature in private Elimination matches: If everybody uses the “wave” emote within the first 30 seconds of a round, then heavy ammo won’t appear. Bungie confirmed it last month, but now it’s officially in the patch notes.

Veteran Destiny players are sure to love another change: If you’re a level 40 character, uncommon (green) engrams will automatically turn into weapon materials or armor materials when you pick them up. That’ll save a bunch of time wasted dismantling items!

Finally, Xur’s inventory will once again contain exotic shards, and he’ll now sell heavy ammo in batches of 10.

For more on Destiny: Rise of Iron, read our review. And now, as a holiday gift to you for reading to the end of this article, here’s a photo of an elf riding a wooden Sparrow on a Christmas tree:

elf riding Sparrow photo
Happy holidays!
Charlie Hall/Polygon