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Is Destiny 2 Still Free on Xbox in 2023?

The short answer is no – Destiny 2 is no longer free to play on Xbox Game Pass as of December 2021. However, the base Destiny 2 experience and Year 1 content is still free for all players across platforms. So is Destiny worth trying out as a new free-to-play player in 2023? Let‘s dive into the details.

When Destiny 2 first launched in 2017, it was a full-priced game that required purchase. In 2019, Bungie split from publisher Activision and decided to shift Destiny to a free-to-play model. This allowed them to reach a wider audience of players.

The base game, Year 1 seasonal content, and expansions Curse of Osiris and Warmind all became free. This was praised at the time for providing a ton of free content.

However, over the years Bungie has slowly peeled back that free content as sequels like Forsaken, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light launched.

The Disappearance from Xbox Game Pass

One of the big perks was that all Destiny 2 expansions were available on Xbox Game Pass. This made it an incredible value as basically the full game was free with a subscription.

But in December 2021, Microsoft and Bungie allowed their Game Pass licensing deal to expire. This removed all expansions from Game Pass across Xbox and PC.

This was a major blow to budget-conscious players who relied on Game Pass access. To play those expansions now requires direct purchase.

The newest big expansion, The Witch Queen, was never included either. Upcoming releases like Lightfall will also require purchase rather than being on Game Pass.

Shifting Monetization Strategy

Bungie has steadily tweaked and expanded Destiny 2‘s monetization over the years. Major expansions are now premium purchases.

On top of expansions, each annual pass charges for seasonal content. There is also an in-game Eververse store with cosmetics, consumables, etc.

For new free players, this means you won‘t have access to the newest story content and gear added each season without paying. The free experience is limited to older content.

This piecemeal approach has drawn criticism and accusations of being "pay to win". There is truth to that – you certainly won‘t experience everything for free.

Is Destiny 2 Still Worth Playing on Xbox Without DLC?

While the removal from Game Pass is disappointing, Destiny 2 does still offer a worthwhile free experience.

The Year 1 content provides dozens of hours of missions, strikes, Crucible maps, and more to sink your teeth into as a new player.

The three core activities – Vanguard strike playlists, Crucible PvP, and Gambit – are all available for free players. You can reach max power level and acquire plenty of great gear without buying anything.

Now is a great time to try it too – Bungie has the critically acclaimed Witch Queen campaign free for all players until February 2023. This lets you experience an awesome story expansion and unlock Exotics for free.

Streamer Mtashed, who creates Destiny 2 content, said this on the free experience:

"New light players have access to great subclasses like Void 3.0 and some phenomenal Exotics like Dead Man‘s Tale. The core playlist activities are fun and you can put hundreds of hours into PvP and dungeons."

He recommends trying Destiny 2 as free player and if you like it, buy expansions.

Will Destiny 2 Go Free to Play on Xbox Game Pass Again?

This is unknown – while anything is possible, there are no signs of Destiny 2 returning to Game Pass currently.

Bungie seems focused on selling expansions at full price rather than bundled subscriptions. For comparison, the newest expansions for competitors like Elder Scrolls Online are also not on Game Pass.

Unless Microsoft pays a massive licensing fee, don‘t expect new Destiny 2 DLC on Game Pass. The base game may eventually return, but expansions likely won‘t.

No Signs of Destiny 3 Coming Anytime Soon

Many players wondered if going free-to-play would lead Bungie to rush out a Destiny 3 sequel quicker. But Bungie has committed to keeping Destiny 2 alive and updating it for years to come.

In 2022, Bungie said they have no plans for Destiny 3 at least through 2024. The next two expansions, Lightfall and The Final Shape, will expand the Destiny 2 universe rather than kick off a new series.

This is good news for players invested in their Destiny 2 characters and gear. You can comfortably keep building that Guardian without a full sequel reset looming.

Destiny 2 Player Population Remains Strong

For an online multiplayer looter shooter, a strong community is essential. The good news is Destiny 2 remains one of the most played games out there in 2023.

Some population stats:

  • Over 1.6 million monthly players
  • Approximately 788,000 daily players
  • 42 million total registered users
  • The PC platform has the largest population at 40%

These are fantastic figures for a game nearing its 6th year. Finding active clans and bustling social hubs is no problem.

How Does Destiny 2 Onboard New Players?

Let‘s evaluate how well Destiny 2 ushers new free players into the world:

  • Tutorials – The opening tutorial teaches basics like movement, abilities, and combat.
  • Optional Early Quests – You can complete intro quests that explain more systems. But they are easy to ignore.
  • Drops You in the Social Hub – Can be overwhelming with minimal direction given.
  • Encourages Strikes and Crucible – Jumping into core activities familiarizes you with gameplay.
  • Quest Log Where Did It Go? – Navigation is not obvious for early quests.

Compared to other MMO-lites like Warframe, the new player experience could use improvements. But joining an active clan helps smooth out the bumps.

Final Verdict: Worth Trying Destiny 2 For Free

Is Destiny 2 still worth playing as a free-to-play new light player in 2023? Absolutely.

The shooting is amazing, you have access to great subclasses, and hundreds of hours of content is available without paying. Trying it is zero risk.

Xbox players in particular miss out without Game Pass access to expansions. But cross play opens up the community and content across all platforms now.

While the monetization strategy is piecemeal, you can get a great sampling before deciding to buy the latest DLCs.

Give Destiny 2 a shot, join an active clan who can guide you, and see for yourself the addictive fun that keeps millions of Guardians coming back year after year.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.