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Destiny 2: Shadowkeep release date, exotics, trailer and pre-order

The release of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep promises to be a momentous occasion both for the world of Destiny and for publisher Bungie. Shadowkeep will be the first Destiny release ever independently published by Bungie — neither Activision nor its partner studios played a role in developing its content, and Bungie alone will succeed or fail depending on how the expansion is received. It also marks the start of a new future for Destiny 2, one where Bungie tries to make the game more accessible to new players, and less rigid in what its returning players can and can't do.

We've rounded up everything you need to know about Shadowkeep — when it's coming out, all the different ways you can buy it, and what you can expect from its content. And we're going to explain all the ways Bungie is trying to change Destiny 2 in Shadowkeep, as the studio looks ahead to a future where it makes all of the decisions, and earns either praise or criticism for how those decisions ultimately impact the game.

Let's dive in.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep release date

So, when can you get your hands on Destiny 2: Shadowkeep? You'll be happy to know that this expansion, like many other Destiny releases, is coming at the tail end of the summer, on September 17, 2019. Bungie seems to have carved that month out as the time when big, important Destiny stuff happens, as both the original release and Destiny 2 fell within the same window.

The first game came out on September 9, 2014. Its Taken King and Rise of Iron expansions launched on September 15, 2015 and September 20, 2016, respectively. Destiny 2 ushered in a new era on September 6, 2017. And that game's major expansion, Forsaken, dropped on September 4, 2018. It's safe to say that if Bungie wants to release a huge piece of content for Destiny 2 — or if the company is planning a Destiny 3 at some point — it'll likely come in September of any given year.

So get your Season of Opulence gear, finish your Moments of Triumph, and start preparing: September 17 will be here sooner than you think.

Nightmares abound in the Shadowkeep trailer

"Looking to the future always brings us back to the past." That's the first line spoken by Eris Morn in the Destiny 2: Shadowkeep trailer, and it tells us worlds about what we can expect when the expansion arrives.

Eris Morn has a history with the Guardians in the Destiny universe. She is one, albeit deformed by her own hand, made into something both human and Hive. And she has a history with the Moon. It's where she watched her other fireteam members get slaughtered. And it's where new nightmares await those who dare to come back.

The trailer shows us that we will, indeed, return to the Moon. And it shows some of the past enemies Guardians have slain in the defense of humanity: Crota, Oryx, Ghaul, and others, marching in lockstep. It seems they've been resurrected in some way, brought back from the dead by some mysterious force. We're certain we'll be on a collision course with all of these old foes in Shadowkeep. What we don't know is how or why.

Shadowkeep has several pre-order options available

The reality of buying a video game today is that you have to choose between a number of editions. Almost every game does this, adding special features to more expensive versions in an effort to entice you into spending more money. And Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is no exception.

There is the Standard Edition, which costs $34.99 and is all you need to jump right into Shadowkeep on day one. This is the no-frills package; you get the expansion and nothing more. If you're willing to dish out a little extra money, you can pick up the Digital Deluxe Edition of Shadowkeep for $59.99, which includes the expansion, a season pass for every content drop in Destiny 2 Year Three, an exotic emote, an exotic ghost shell, and a special emblem.

And then there's the big one. The Destiny 2: Shadowkeep Collector's Edition. This will run you $149.99, and includes everything you'll find in both the Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of the expansion, plus a few other goodies. What are the extras, you ask? A Destiny 2: Shadowkeep digital soundtrack, an exclusive emblem, a Hive Cryptoglyph replica, a metal Luna Mission container, a Luna Mission handbook, a Luna journal, and Artifacts from the Golden Age (whatever that means).

As you can see, there are plenty of different ways you can spend your money on Shadowkeep. Choose wisely.

Exotics new and old will appear in Shadowkeep

One of the most-asked questions ahead of any Destiny release is which exotics will be added to the game. Bungie has been creating brand new exotic weapons and armor pieces for Destiny 2, as well as bringing back old ones from the original Destiny. It appears the studio will stick to that formula when Shadowkeep launches. As of now, we only have an idea of which exotic weapons you can expect to see in Shadowkeep. But there's still a healthy list, ensuring Guardians will have plenty to chase come September.

Exotic auto rifle Monte Carlo appears to be making a return, as seen in Bungie's Shadowkeep ViDoc. An as-yet-unnamed exotic bow also looks poised to release in Shadowkeep, and it'll be a heavy exotic bow, which means it'll pack quite the punch. An exotic trace rifle was shown off in the ViDoc, which can be used to enlarge the precision damage point on enemies. An incredibly powerful exotic hand cannon was also demoed, and get this: it has a scope. Old favorite No Time to Explain looks like it'll make the jump over to Destiny 2. And finally, a heavy exotic machine gun is on the way, reportedly powered by some kind of strange insect. There's definitely more to that story.

We still haven't gotten a sniff of the exotic armor pieces we might find in Shadowkeep, so if you're worried there won't be enough loot, don't be. There looks to be plenty.

Things have been busy on the moon since Destiny

Can you believe Destiny 2's been out for nearly two years already? In that span of time, Guardians haven't set foot on the moon, seemingly satisfied with the work of killing a God (Crota) and dispatching the various Taken enemies sent there by Oryx (also dead).

But while Guardians were off fighting other battles, it seems something began to stir on the moon once more. A giant Hive fortress now sits on the lunar surface, and untold terrors — as well as some we've encountered in the past — are waiting inside.

According to Bungie, the moon in Destiny 2 is now twice the size of the original location in the first Destiny. The space has been altered and expanded, so it'll seem somewhat familiar, yet still hold mysteries that are waiting to be discovered. You may feel a bit nostalgic as you set foot on Luna again for the first time in years. But make no mistake: this is not the place you once knew.

To put it another way: moon's haunted.

Shadowkeep's Armor 2.0 will change the way players build their characters

For all of the joy that comes with chasing gear in Destiny 2, there's always been one major sticking point with players: there are just so many pieces of armor, and so many rolls, that it can seem impossible to get the stats you want on your preferred set. Fortunately, Bungie is cooking up something called Armor 2.0 for Destiny 2: Shadowkeep.

Armor 2.0 is an entirely new way of thinking about armor inside Destiny 2. The various perks and mods attached to a piece of gear are no longer stuck to that one item. Instead, they can be applied to something else, which means that gorgeous set of armor you want to wear so badly won't be useless if it comes with bad perks. You can just move some good perks over to it, and finally have both the look you want and the stats you need. For the first time, thanks to Armor 2.0, Destiny 2 players can actually care about their Guardian's fashion. And that's really, really cool.

Artifacts will grant new, nearly exotic abilities in Shadowkeep

If you're an old-school Destiny player, you might remember Artifacts. They came with the launch of the Rise of Iron expansion, and they added some pretty interesting gameplay mechanics to the Destiny sandbox. Some added abilities. Some were complementary to certain styles of play. They were neat. But like so many of Destiny's interesting bits, they were nowhere to be found in Destiny 2.

That changes with Shadowkeep. Artifacts are coming back, baby.

From what we've learned so far, Artifacts will be upgraded pretty substantially from what they were in Destiny. Instead of granting one desirable perk, they'll now have entire perk trees that can be customized. And according to Bungie, these Artifacts will only hang around for a season of play, enabling the studio to really toy with both the player-versus-environment and player-versus-player metas in Destiny 2.

Players wanted more control over their character's abilities in Destiny 2. The artifacts in Shadowkeep will give it to them.

Finishing Moves will make final blows a little more fun

Have you ever played a recent Halo game, or perhaps jumped into a round of Apex Legends? If so, you might be familiar with what Destiny 2: Shadowkeep calls Finishing Moves.

A Finishing Move in Shadowkeep is essentially a final blow. It's a death shot. You pull it out when your enemy is on its last legs, staggered, and you get to perform some kind of really cool killing animation. Finishing Moves have never been a part of the Destiny universe, but when they arrive this September in Shadowkeep, players are likely going to find all sorts of uses for them.

Some will activate Finishing Moves because they look cool. Others will try to use them strategically, as Bungie has stated there may be ways for Finishing Moves to grant perks to players, such as some much-needed ammunition. Whatever the case, Bungie seems really excited about bringing them to Destiny 2. And, to be honest, we're really excited to start using them.

New Light is a free start for new Destiny 2 players

Destiny 2 is a fantastic game to play with friends. You can easily lose multiple hours on any given day running through strikes or playing multiplayer with your pals. The problem at the moment, however, is that it is immensely difficult to introduce someone new to the game. They have to buy it. They have to grind up to the appropriate level. They have to unlock the appropriate activities.

In Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, that will no longer be an issue. That's because Destiny 2 is getting a completely free-to-play version called New Light. And it promises to make Destiny 2 more friendly to newcomers than ever.

New Light will make every piece of content before Forsaken absolutely free. Not only that, it'll unlock every single location for new players right off the bat, and enable them to jump to the necessary level for all activities. All new players have to do is complete the new introductory Destiny 2 mission and fly into the tower. From there, they can take part in the Crucible, play Gambit, or do just about anything else you have planned, save for the raids in Forsaken and beyond.

It's a great change, and Destiny 2 will hopefully see a healthy boost in its player population as a result.

Future Destiny 2 expansions will no longer require past content

Let's just be real about something: every past expansion release in both Destiny and Destiny 2 was a mess. New expansions required the purchase of old ones, which forced new players to buy multiple DLCs, even if they had no interest in playing what came before. It wasn't a very good way to bring new blood into the Destiny ecosystem, and it even confused some veteran players who might have stepped away for a few months. To be blunt: it sucked. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is doing away with this dreadful system once and for all.

Bungie is taking a very different approach to Destiny 2 content going forward. When a new expansion arrives, you'll be able to buy it and play it without owning any other content. Simply purchase the latest content drop, jump in, and start playing with your friends. There won't be a list of prerequisites to look at. You won't have to worry about playing through an older campaign before you can access a new one. Bungie is finally understanding that new players show up because they want to play the newest stuff, and the studio is making it easier to do just that.

There may be hope for this Destiny thing yet.

Destiny 2 is coming to Steam and Google Stadia

When Bungie announced it was breaking free of its publishing deal with Activision in January 2019, many players were thrilled. Activision had long been the scapegoat for many of the Destiny franchise's worst decisions, and it seemed that the studio would finally be free to take Destiny 2 in the direction it needed to go.

The big question, though, was where the game would live on PC. With Bungie and Activision parting ways, Destiny 2's days in the Activision-Blizzard Battle.net launcher seemed numbered. And sure enough, we learned in June 2019 that Destiny 2 would be getting a new home on PC. Not only that, it would also be coming to an entirely new platform.

When Destiny 2: Shadowkeep launches this September, Destiny 2 will make its official debut on Steam. Those who own the game on Battle.net will be able to transfer their accounts and all of their purchased content to Valve's launcher, and all future Destiny 2 content will be found on Steam going forward.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep will also be launching on Google Stadia when that service opens to early adopters in November, and will be free to those who purchased Stadia's Founder's Edition. These are some awfully big changes for Destiny 2, and we're eager to see how the game fares on both platforms.

Cross-save will let you take your Destiny 2 account to any platform

For the longest time, Destiny players have lamented the fact that their accounts have been stuck on one platform. Destiny 2 is available right now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, but if you've sunk thousands of hours into your Hunter on Xbox One, you have no way to carry that progress over to Destiny 2 on PC. At least, not at the moment.

That'll change in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. With the release of the new expansion, Bungie will officially launch Destiny 2's Cross-save feature, enabling players from any platform to keep one centralized Destiny 2 account that they can access anywhere.

Cross-save is going to impact Destiny 2 in a major way. If you play on PC but you have a friend who needs help on PlayStation 4, you'll be able to carry your account over to that platform and play with them, or vice versa. If you're traveling out of town and won't have access to a PC or game console, you'll be able to load up Destiny 2 on Google Stadia, sign into your account, and stream the game from there.

You'll be able to make progress in Destiny 2 on any device that can run the game, which means spending more time killing aliens and searching for that elusive exotic weapon. And for those who can't get enough of the Destiny 2 experience, that's a big deal.

If you're new, you might want to brush up on Destiny's story before Shadowkeep

If there's one thing we can say about the overarching story in the Destiny universe, it's that you either care about it or you don't.

Some are indifferent to the narrative and only play Destiny 2 because the gunplay is top-notch. Others are invested heavily in Destiny's lore and consume every single morsel that shows up. If you're new to the series, you might find yourself totally unable to relate to the world you've entered, and unfamiliar with some of the characters you're interacting with. And unfortunately, Destiny 2 doesn't really offer a compelling recap of what's happened for newcomers.

Luckily, there are resources for that.

My Name is Byf is a self-proclaimed "Loremaster" who regularly creates YouTube videos about Destiny lore; work that we can't recommend enough. To get completely up to speed, watch "The Complete Story of Destiny" followed by "The Complete Story of Destiny 2." And set aside about two-and-a-half hours. It'll take you that long to watch them.

Alternatively, we wrote up an entire Destiny timeline that you can read, which covers most of the major plot points from the first Destiny all the way to Destiny 2's Season of the Drifter. It's not quite as extensive as what you'll get from watching hours of videos, but it'll give you a primer on what's going on.

Or maybe you'll find that you just don't care about the story. And that's okay, too.