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The Destiny 2 expansions worth getting into

From Forsaken to The Witch Queen, here’s what to check out ahead of Lightfall

Destiny 2: Lightfall key art featuring three Guardians, The Witness, and Calus Image: Bungie
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Destiny 2 is a big and — most importantly for newcomers — old video game. It’s got years worth of add-on content, some of which isn’t even in the game anymore. For veteran players, sifting through what’s worth it (and what’s not) is pretty tough. It’s even more tough to parse for new players. But that’s where we come in.

In this Destiny 2 guide, we’ll walk you through every one of the game’s expansions and detail what exactly you get for each. Better yet, we’ll give you some recommendations for what you should pick up first — and point out what’s worth skipping entirely.

Destiny 2’s expansions

Destiny 2 has a long history, which makes it difficult to just dive into the game in 2022 or 2023. If you’ve been watching from the sidelines for years, you may not be aware of just how many updates Bungie has developed for their MMO since its original launch in 2017. Before we get into recommendations, let’s quickly go over all of the updates.

The complete list of Destiny 2’s major content updates

Here is the complete list of expansions and packs from Destiny 2, ranging from the game’s original launch to the upcoming Lightfall and Final Shape expansions.

  • Destiny 2 (2017) — Free-to-play
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken (2018) — Now known as “the Forsaken pack,” $19.99
  • Destiny 2: Shadowkeep (2019) — $24.99
  • Destiny 2: Beyond Light (2020) — $29.99
  • Destiny 2: Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack (2021) — $24.99
  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (2022) — $39.99, or $79.99 for the deluxe edition
  • Destiny 2: Lightfall (2023) — $49.99, or $99.99 for the deluxe edition
  • Destiny 2: The Final Shape (202?) — price TBA

Where to start in Destiny 2

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen Legendary campaign image Image: Bungie

If you’re new to Destiny 2, you’re going to need a lot of help and patience to get into the game (trust us, it’s worth it). But the biggest and most important decisions you’ll make come down to when and where you should spend your money on the game. While you can start Destiny 2 as a free-to-play player, the real meat of the game is in its expansions.

The first Destiny 2 expansion you should buy is ...

If you want to get into Destiny 2, the most important purchase you can make is and always will be the most recent expansion — especially if it’s only a few days, weeks, or even months old. Destiny 2 isn’t an MMO where you’re best served catching up with everything before reaching your friends.

There are decent Destiny 2 expansions and great expansions, but in this case, quality doesn’t matter as much as relevancy. You want to be where the players are, as Destiny 2 is ultimately a social game (even though you can play it anti-socially if you prefer). All the conversation and much of the play happens around the freshest content, which is where you want to be.

As of this writing, 2022’s The Witch Queen expansion is the latest to come out, and it’s excellent. Lightfall, the next expansion, is slated for Feb. 28, 2023. Because we haven’t played it, we can’t tell you it’s better or as good as The Witch Queen. Maybe it’s terrible! Who knows? (That said, Bungie’s expansions have steadily increased in quality since the low point of 2019’s Shadowkeep, so our hopes are high.)

Are Destiny 2 expansion deluxe editions worth it?

Destiny 2’s expansions generally cost $49.99 on release (because they include the in-game season they launch with, which typically costs $9.99 and lasts about three months) before dropping to $39.99. The deluxe editions, meanwhile, cost a cool $99.99 and come with a year’s worth of Destiny 2 content.

As it’s the next expansion, let’s take Lightfall as an example. The base version of Lightfall gives you the new expansion, all the Exotics that come with it, the Strand power set, a new raid, a new campaign, and a season pass. That’s $49.99. The Lightfall deluxe edition (also called “Annual Pass”) includes some extra cosmetics, a unique Exotic that won’t be available for other Lightfall owners until a later date, all four seasons scheduled for 2023, and two new dungeons planned for 2023.

If you’re someone who really loves Destiny and you’re confident you’re going to be playing through the entirety of 2023, the deluxe edition is actually an excellent value. However, if you’re reading this guide because you don’t know where to start with Destiny, you shouldn’t buy the deluxe edition — at least not yet.

Instead, opt for the standard edition of the most recent expansion (right now, The Witch Queen), then upgrade to the deluxe edition once you’re sure you enjoy it. Maybe that’s only a day or two into The Witch Queen, maybe it’s a month. Either way, it’s worth being a little cautious — especially when you can just buy into it later.

What’s up with the Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack? Is that a full expansion?

Three Guardians stand in the Tower in their Bungie 30th Anniversary gear Image: Bungie

While we don’t recommend buying it over your first expansion, the Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack is $24.99 and is an absolute blast. It’s some of the best content they’ve ever released — especially if you love Halo — and it comes in a small package.

The Dares of Eternity activity (which launched alongside the pack) is essentially a murderous gameshow hosted by the mysterious Nine, and includes weapons inspired by iconic Halo guns — including the Battle Rifle. It’s a free activity and is accessible for all players. What the pack gets you that you can’t get for free is an Exotic version of the Halo: Combat Evolved pistol called Forerunner, which absolutely kicks ass.

You’ll also get the game’s best dungeon, Grasp of Avarice, which is filled with other iconic Bungie loot like the sword from Myth. The pack also includes the quest for Gjallarhorn, a Solar rocket launcher that’s arguably the most well-known and beloved Exotic from the original Destiny.

The whole thing is just a blast and is a great second buy after the most recent expansion — especially if you’re interested in dipping your toes into endgame activities like the dungeon.

What do I get if I only play Destiny 2 free-to-play?

Destiny 2 is technically a free-to-play game, and you’re able to do a bit of almost everything without ever paying for content. You’ll be able to run some old Strikes (brief missions), play Crucible (the standard competitive mode), play Gambit (a PvEvP mode), jump into all the holiday events, check out the Prophecy dungeon, and try out the two reprised raids from the original Destiny: Vault of Glass and King’s Fall.

You won’t be able to engage in any of the seasonal stuff, however, which is where most players spend their time. Free-to-play Destiny 2 should really be thought of mostly as a demo for the rest of the game. And if you’re enjoying yourself, buying the most recent season at the very least will make a big difference in how much fun you have.

It’s worth noting that you can land on every planet and run Patrols (repeatable “go kill 20 enemies”-type side quests) there regardless of if you own the expansion it’s from.

What is each Destiny 2 expansion about and what do I get if I buy it?

While we definitely think you should start with the most modern expansion in Destiny 2, each of the game’s purchasable upgrades brings something of value to the table. Let’s go expansion-by-expansion to talk about why each one is worth picking up or skipping.

Forsaken Pack

Destiny 2: Forsaken - artwork of Prince Uldren Sov and the Barons Image: Bungie, High Moon Studios/Activision

The Forsaken campaign and one of its main destinations, The Tangled Shore, are no longer in Destiny 2. It’s all “vaulted” content, which Bungie removed from the game in order to make space for new content — a practice the studio has promised it’s done with for the foreseeable future. However, while much of the content itself is gone, all of the Exotics from that year of Destiny 2 (the “golden year,” as it’s often referred to by members of the community and YouTubers) are still in the game, locked behind the Forsaken Pack. This pack also includes access to The Last Wish raid and The Shattered Throne dungeon, which are both quite good. Forsaken’s second location, The Dreaming City, is still open and available for all players.

Notable Exotics in this pack: Izinagi’s Burden (kinetic sniper rifle), Thorn (kinetic hand cannon), Anarchy (arc grenade launcher), Ace of Spades (kinetic hand cannon), Le Monarque (vow bow)


Destiny 2: Shadowkeep image of Guardians protecting a plate Image: Bungie

Shadowkeep kickstarted the current storyline that Destiny 2 has been on for the last few expansions. However, it’s actually the least consequential of the bunch. It also introduced the game’s worst raid (Garden of Salvation) and dungeon (Pit of Heresy). This is generally considered to be the franchise’s weakest expansion, though we still wouldn’t use the word “bad” to describe it.

Notable Exotics in this expansion: Witherhoard (Kinetic grenade launcher), Eriana’s Vow (Solar hand cannon), Devil’s Ruin (Solar sidearm), Xenophage (Solar machine gun), Divinity (Arc trace rifle)

Beyond Light

Destiny 2: Beyond Light box art Image: Bungie

Beyond Light introduced the first Darkness subclass to the game: Stasis. Stasis is an entirely new power set and is locked behind the paywall of Beyond Light. This alone makes it worth picking up, as Stasis is very powerful in both PvE and PvP. Outside of Stasis, Beyond Light added a mediocre campaign but an excellent raid in Deep Stone Crypt.

Notable Exotics in this expansion: No Time To Explain (kinetic pulse rifle), Hawkmoon (kinetic hand cannon), Dead Man’s Tale (kinetic scout rifle), Ticcu’s Divination (solar bow), The Lament (solar sword)

Note: It’s worth noting that you can buy the Destiny 2: Legacy Collection — which contains the Forsaken Pack, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light — for $59.99 on storefronts like Steam.

Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack

Destiny 2 30th Anniversary armor and Gjallarhorn Image: Bungie

As we mentioned before, the Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack is filled with fun stuff to do. Most notable are the two Exotic quests — one for Forerunner and the other for Gjallarhorn — and its amazing dungeon, Grasp of Avarice.

Notable Exotics in this pack: Gjallarhorn (solar rocket launcher), Forerunner (kinetic sidearm)

The Witch Queen

The Witch Queen key art Image: Bungie

The Witch Queen is Destiny’s best expansion, even eclipsing the likes of Forsaken and The Taken King before it. It’s got a killer campaign that tells a meaningful story (and has a terrific Legendary difficulty mode) and offers one of the franchise’s best raids in Vow of the Disciple. It’s an incredible expansion and you can’t go wrong in picking it up. The Deluxe Edition also includes two dungeons, the mediocre Duality and the excellent Spire of the Watcher.

Notable Exotics in this expansion: Parasite (Solar grenade launcher), Dead Messenger (Solar, Arc, and Void grenade launcher), Osteo Striga (Kinetic submachine gun), Collective Obligation (Void pulse rifle), Hierarchy of Needs (Solar bow)


Guardians from Destiny 2: Lightfall Image: Bungie

At the time of this writing, Lightfall isn’t out yet and we don’t know the full extent of its worth or all the content it will bring. However, we do know that it will add Strand, the second Darkness power set. Without knowing the true power of Strand, we can still say that this alone makes it a very appealing option for Destiny players, as even a bad subclass will eventually be useful for something. It will also come with a raid, and the Deluxe Edition will bring two dungeons later in 2023.

Notable Exotics in this expansion: Quicksilver Storm (Kinetic auto rifle)

The Final Shape

In 2020, Bungie announced its next three expansions (Beyond Light, The Witch Queen, and Lightfall), which it said would end the Light and Darkness saga for the franchise. However, the following year, the studio announced it would need one final expansion to finish up the first era of Destiny: The Final Shape.

We know very little about The Final Shape other than that it will take place after Lightfall and most likely bring the game’s third Darkness subclass after Stasis and Strand.

We do know that The Final Shape will not be the end of Destiny 2, and that Bungie will birth a new saga for the game after this expansion.

Notable Exotics in this expansion: Unknown

Our recommended purchase list

So assuming you own nothing in Destiny 2 yet, what order do we think you should buy these various expansions? Here’s our pre-Lightfall recommendation:

  1. The Witch Queen
  2. Beyond Light (or the Destiny 2: Legacy Collection)
  3. Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack
  4. Forsaken Pack
  5. Shadowkeep

As soon as The Witch Queen is no longer the most modern expansion, Beyond Light will go up in our recommendations. As good as The Witch Queen is, Beyond Light offers access to an entirely new subclass in Stasis, which is more useful in most Destiny 2 activities than any individual Exotic from 2022’s expansion.

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