Destiny 2 is a sci-fi fantasy open-world first-person shooter developed by Bungie (along with Vicarious Visions and High Moon) and published by Activision (later Bungie themselves) for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 6, 2017, with a later release for the PC on October 24, 2017 (as the first third-party title for Blizzard's Battle.net service). It was made free-to-play on October 1, 2019.
The sequel to the 2014 game Destiny, Destiny 2 puts players into the role of a Guardian: protectors of Earth's last safe city who wield the supernatural power of the "Light" (given to them by an alien entity known as the "Traveler"). While the original version of the game included a full-fledged story campaign, it was later changed to be a barebones platform with ongoing narratives, optional campaigns, and seasonal content.
The original campaign, set one year after the events of the Rise of Iron expansion, is known post-release as "The Red War" and has the Guardians stripped of their powers from an invasion on the Last City by the Cabal Red Legion and its commander: Dominus Ghaul. As one of the few Guardians remaining, the player must now find a new way to regain their powers, reform the scattered Vanguard, and take back the Last City. The game's progression system was later reworked, with the campaign itself removed with the Destiny Content Vault system.
Following Ghaul's defeat in the original campaign, the game's story shifted to a larger narrative with new threats, the most dire of which being the "Black Fleet" that, led by a mysterious being known as "The Witness", slowly engulfs the Solar System with the power of the "Darkness". Each post-release campaign and seasonal narrative focuses on a specific new threat, such as corrupt reanimated Fallen known as the "Scorn" (Forsaken), "Nightmares" manifested by the Darkness (Shadowkeep), Fallen seeking to harness the Darkness (Beyond Light), Hive warriors wielding stolen Light (The Witch Queen), and the Cabal "Shadow Legion" (Lightfall).
Similar to the original game, Destiny 2 has received numerous post-release updates and expansions, including new locations, campaigns, game modes, weapons, abilities, multiplayer maps, cosmetics, special events, and quality-of-life updates. Numerous gameplay mechanics were also altered, such as changing the way gear is upgraded and adding systems for tracking accomplishments. It later received a cross-platform progression system, cross-play multiplayer, a seasonal pass system, and a content vaulting system (where the game cycles out content from both Destiny and Destiny 2).
From 2019 onward, the game is published by Bungie themselves, with the PC version moved to Steam on October 1, 2019. It was also released as a launch title for the Google Stadia on November 18, 2019 and received dedicated releases (as launch titles) for the Xbox Series X|S (on November 10, 2020) and PlayStation 5 (on November 12, 2020).
The three main classes of Guardians (Hunter, Titan, and Warlock) return from the original Destiny, each with multiple customizable elemental-based sub-classes that grant them unique abilities. Character progression is not carried over from the original Destiny, although character appearances can be transferred if they reached level 20 and completed the original campaign.
Much of the tier-based upgrade system from the original were replaced with a "skill tree" system, where players can specialize in multiple sub-class paths that grant special perks while changing both their Melee Ability and Super Ability. Players can still choose from multiple Movement Abilities and Grenade Abilities separate of their sub-class path and can now choose from multiple Class Abilities. It was later surpassed with a more customizable system (known as "Class 3.0"), where players freely customize their Super, Grenade, Melee, Movement, and Ability choices while using a piecemeal unlockable upgrade system known as "Aspects" (restrictive to each class) and "Fragments" (universal for all classes).
In the original campaign, players started with a fixed sub-class (Gunslinger, Striker, or Voidwalker) and then "lose their Light", losing most of their abilities outright until a certain point in the story (giving them Arcstrider, Sentinel, or Dawnblade). Players unlock Abilities and progress through the skill tree by leveling up and earning "upgrade points", with certain sub-classes and activities becoming only available at certain character levels (where they must complete special quests). With the introduction of the New Light and Class 3.0 systems, this was later removed.
The Stasis and Strand sub-classes were added with the Beyond Light and Lightfall expansions, while the "3.0" sub-classes were added with Seasons 16-18.
The most agile class of the three, Hunters are former scavengers and can be recognized by their hooded capes and light, fitted armor.
Their unique ability is the Dodge, which allows them to quickly evade attacks in a daring maneuver. Players can choose from either Marksman Dodge (a short dash that automatically reloads the player's equipped weapon) or Gambler's Dodge (a combat roll that generates Melee Attack energy if done in close proximity to an enemy). Ability regeneration is tied-in with the Mobility stat.
Their movement options involve quick double-jumping. These include High Jump (which upgrades the height of the second jump), Strafe Jump (which offers better directional control of the second jump), and Triple Jump (which adds a third mid-air jump for better stability).
- Arcstrider (Arc) - Their Super Abilities include Arc Staff (a roaming melee super using a staff of pure electrical energy, allowing them to be an agile melee powerhouse while deflecting projectiles) and Gathering Storm (which conjures a staff throw that discharges lightning at nearby foes). They can replace their Jump with Blink, allowing them to teleport short distances.
- Gunslinger (Solar) - Their Super Abilities include Golden Gun (a roaming ranged super using a flaming revolver which can disintegrate targets with limited high-powered shots) and Blade Barrage (which conjures a quick barrage of explosive throwing knives). Golden Gun has two versions: Deadshot (a six-shot version that can be refunded with ignitions) and Marksman (a three-shot version with increased precision damage). They can replace their Dodge with Acrobat's Dodge, allowing them to make an acrobatic leap that buffs nearby allies.
- Nightstalker (Void) - Their Super Abilities include Shadowshot (which conjures a bow-and-arrow shot of void energy that damages, ensnares and marks enemies) and Spectral Blades (a roaming melee super using two daggers of void energy, allowing the wielder to remain invisible for agile stealth kills). Shadowshot has two versions: Deadfall (allowing them to ensnare additional enemies) and Mobius Quiver (allowing for two multi-arrow volleys).
- Revenant (Stasis) - Requires the Beyond Light expansion. Their Silence and Squall super ability throws two kamas: the first causing a flash-freeze explosion and the second causing a roaming tornado that slows and damages those inside.
- Threadrunner (Strand) - Requires the Lightfall expansion. Their Silkstrike roaming super ability gives them unlimited Grapple and access to two rope-dart attacks: a quick swing that deals bonus damage at the tip and a heavier area-of-effect circular swing.
The most durable class of the three, Titans are known for building the Wall that protects the Last City and can be recognized by their bulky armor, swept-back helmets, and marked sashes.
Their unique class ability is the Barricade, which allows them to form a temporary barrier of light that negates weapons. Players can choose from either Towering Barricades (tall barriers that offers better protection) or Rally Barricades (short barriers that can be peeked over by aiming down-the-sight, also instantly reloading the equipped weapon of allies behind it). Ability regeneration is tied-in with the Resilience stat.
Their movement options involve the mid-air "Lift", which propels the Titan to the air and use jump-jets to hover down. These include High Lift (which upgrades the overall Lift height), Strafe Lift (which offers better directional control of the Lift), and Catapult Lift (which provides a quick Lift propulsion).
- Sentinel (Void) - Their Super Abilities include Ward of Dawn (a massive shielding dome that negates projectiles and buffs allies) and Sentinel Shield (a roaming super using a round shield of void energy that can negate enemy attacks, be used to bash enemies, and be thrown at enemies).
- Striker (Arc) - Their Super Abilities include Fist of Havoc (a roaming melee super that supercharges the Titan's fists, allowing powerful melee dashes and ground slams) and Thundercrash (a single guided melee strike that can controlled in the air like a missile). They can replace their Barricade with Thruster, allowing them to perform quick evasive thrusts.
- Sunbreaker (Solar) - Their Super Abilities include Hammer of Sol (a roaming ranged super using flaming throwing hammers that explode into molten shards) and Burning Maul (a roaming melee super focused on a single massive flaming maul).
- Behemoth (Stasis) - Requires the Beyond Light expansion. Their Glacial Quake roaming super ability allows the Titan to both create shockwaves of freezing crystals by ground slams and shatter frozen targets through melee dashes.
- Berserker (Strand) - Requires the Lightfall expansion. Their Bladefury roaming super ability conjures claws for leaping slashes, with lighter slashes weakening enemies and heavier slashes suspending enemies.
The most arcane class of the three, Warlocks studied the Light of the Traveler through scholarly means and can be recognized by their robes, rounded helmets, and "bonds" (a special type of armband).
Their unique ability is the Rift, which allows them to conjure a temporary well of Light that continually buffs allies inside it. Players can choose from either Healing Rift (which heals them) or Empowering Rift (which increases their attack power). Ability regeneration is tied-in with the Recovery stat.
Their movement options involve gliding in the air. These include Strafe Glide (which offers better directional control of the glide), Burst Glide (which provides an initial speed burst on the glide), and Balanced Glide (which provides a bonus to both speed and control of the glide). The Voidwalker sub-class also includes the Blink option, allowing a quick teleportation effect.
- Dawnblade (Solar) - Their Super Abilities include Daybreak (a roaming ranged super using a flaming sword that launch Solar blasts high in the air) and Well of Radiance (conjuring a larger rift that empowers and heals allies inside). They can replace their Rift with Phoenix Dive, allowing them to dive to the ground to heal allies and scorch enemies.
- Voidwalker (Void) - Their Super Abilities include Nova Bomb (which hurls a giant ball of void energy, disintegrating all enemies that are caught within its blast) and Nova Warp (a roaming melee super that allows the user to Blink rapidly and explode with pulses of void energy). Nova Bomb has two versions: Vortex (allowing it to linger, pulling targets inward and continuously damaging them) and Cataclysm (allowing it to seek targets and explode into smaller seeker projectiles). They can replace their Jump with Blink, allowing them to teleport short distances.
- Stormcaller (Arc) - Their Super Abilities include Stormtrance (a roaming melee super ability conjures streams of lightning from their hands while allowing them to Blink rapidly) and Chaos Reach (a continuous beam of arc energy that is conjured while hovering, which can be cancelled early to save Super energy).
- Shadebinder (Stasis) - Requires the Beyond Light expansion. Their Winter's Wrath roaming super ability allows the Warlock to conjure freezing projectiles from their magic staff and unleash a powerful shockwave to shatter nearby frozen targets.
- Broodweaver (Strand) - Requires the Lightfall expansion. Their Needlestorm super ability conjures a barrage of explosive needles, each of which re-weave into seeking Threadling if they hit a surface.
Weapons & Armor
Like the original Destiny, each player's loadout contains five armor pieces (Helmet, Gauntlets, Chest, Legs, and Class) and three weapon slots (one of which is reserved for a Power weapon). Character inventories are not carried over from the original Destiny.
All gear come in multiple color-coded rarities (including grey Basics, green Commons, blue Rares, purple Legendaries, and golden Exotics), with gear of a rarer variety dropping more often as players level up (Guardian Level prior to the New Light update, Power Level afterwards). With the removal of Guardian Levels, Basics and Commons are never dropped and can only be found in rare instances.
Rarer gear include additional perks and bonuses, including the ability to upgrade their level (by "infusing" them with other weapons and armor of the same type), apply special mods to them, customize their perk choices, and customize their appearance using cosmetics (Shaders and Ornaments). Exotic Gear have unique perks, with only one Exotic Weapon and one Exotic Armor able to be equipped at a time.
Randomized Rare and Legendary gear earned prior to Season 10 was later considered "Legacy Gear" and cannot have their level upgraded (due to the short-lived concept of "sunsetting" old gear).
Unlike the original Destiny, where the two main weapon slots are based on the weapon type (ammo-abundant Primary or ammo-limited Special), Destiny 2 splits up these slots based on elemental type: Kinetic (non-elemental and Dark elemental) and Energy (Light elemental). Kinetic weapons work best against unshielded enemies while Energy weapons work best against shields of the same elemental type. Power weapons are always elemental, both Light and Dark, and deal heavy damage at the cost of much limited ammunition. Energy and Powers are commonly replenished by picking up ammo of their weapon type (green boxes for Special, and purple boxes for Power).
Prior to Season 4, Special weapons were instead categorized as Power weapons and both basic weapon slots were restricted to Primary weapons. Ammo boxes were also color-coded based on weapon slots (with white boxes for Kinetic and green boxes for Energy). Prior to Season 15, primary weapons had limited ammunition and used white boxes.
Certain weapons have been made craftable since the Witch Queen expansion, allowing players to unlock a weapon's "pattern" and use it to create their own customizable copy of it (unlocking more perk choices by leveling the weapon up through use).
Each weapon has their own selection of perks that determine their base stats and special features, with rarer and newer weapons having more perk slots and choices. These perks include special traits with unique effects, magazine choices (either changing the weapon's magazine size and reload speed or providing unique ammunition changes), and the choice of different barrel material (for stats) or multiple sight/scope options (for different zoom magnification levels). Unlike in the original Destiny, there are no weapon upgrade paths. Since Season 4, most weapons have a randomized set of perks based on their unique perk pool.
New to Destiny 2 is the "Intristic Trait", which is fixed on each weapon and determines the weapon's base stats (including their firing rate and damage-per-shot) and play style. Usually stylized as the weapon's "Frame", some of them have unique buffs (such as High-Impact Frame improving accuracy while both stationary and aiming down the sight and Lightweight Frame improving the wielder's mobility). Some weapons have unique changes based on their Intrinsic Trait (for example, Aggressive Pulse Rifles fire four-round bursts). All Exotic weapons have their own unique Intrinsic Trait. Since Season 16, most Legendary weapons also have an "Origin Trait" based on either the activity they are found in or their weapon foundry.
In addition, since Season 2, players can upgrade Legendary weapons to gain a minor stat boost of a random choice and can upgrade most Exotic weapons with unlockable "Catalysts" (unlocking new perks to use).
Primary weapons are the most common used weapons, and have infinite ammo reserves (with commonly-found Primary Ammo prior to Season 15).
- Auto Rifles - Fully-automatic, intended for longer ranges.
- Combat Bows - Single-shot. Can be hand-drawn by by holding down the trigger for more damaging, longer-reaching shots. Pressing the Reload button cancels the current draw. Lightweight recurve bows have faster drawing time and better handling, while Precision compound bows deal more damage per-arrow and have better accuracy. Added in Season 4 and new to the series.
- Hand Cannons - Semi-automatic with a slow rate-of-fire. Heavy Burst Hand Cannons fire in two-round bursts.
- Pulse Rifles - Three-round burst fire. Aggressive Pulse Rifles fire in four-round bursts.
- Scout Rifles - Semi-automatic, intended for longer ranges. Rapid-Fire Scout Rifles always fire in full-auto. Aggressive Scout Rifles are chamber-loaded.
- Sidearms - Semi-automatic, intended for closer ranges. Some sidearms fire in bursts (three-round bursts for Adaptive and two-round bursts for Aggressive), while Rapid-Fire Sidearms always fire in full-auto.
- Submachine Guns - Fully-automatic, intended for closer ranges. New to the series.
Formerly part of the Power type, Special weapons are more powerful than Primary weapons and use Special Ammo that are less common to find. In PvP modes, players spawn with a very limited amount of ammunition.
- Fusion Rifles - Charge-shot. Fires a barrage of bolts and is charged by holding down the trigger. Aggressive Fusion Rifles fire a horizontal volley.
- Glaives - Launches large energy projectiles in a slow fully-automatic fashion. Has a unique melee attack that can be chained together and a front-facing energy shield that regenerates through projectile attacks. Aggressive Glaives are slower and hard-hitting. Added in Season 16 and new to the series.
- Grenade Launchers - Single-shot. Breech-loaded. Depending on perks, grenades have a wide variety of projectile types and purposes (including proximity grenades that stick onto surfaces and grenades that blind or stun enemies). Lightweight Grenade Launchers can remotely detonate by holding down and releasing the trigger, while Wave Grenade Launchers release a wave of energy when they contact the ground. New to the series.
- Shotguns - Pump-action. Chamber-loaded. Some Aggressive Shotguns include a temporary firing rate buff after each kill. Rapid-Fire Shotguns always fire in full-auto. Pinpoint Slug Shotguns fire with single-slug rounds instead of pellets (requiring more precise aiming).
- Sniper Rifles - Semi-automatic. Very inaccurate hipfire, and precision hits reward more bonus damage than other weapons.
- Trace Rifles - Fires a continuous beam of energy. New to the series.
Power weapons are more powerful than both Primary and Special weapons and use Heavy Ammo that is the least common to find.
In PvP modes, players spawn with no ammunition at all, and can only find them in two places: as time-locked crates in specific locations or as loose crates dropped by those killed while carrying Heavy ammo. The kill feed also displays when an ammo crate is picked up, by who, and with what Power weapon type.
- Grenade Launchers - Multi-shot. Drum-fed. Precision Grenade Launchers sacrifice projectile speed for projectiles that bounce against hard surfaces and detonate on trigger release. Compressed Wave Grenade Launchers release a wave of energy when they contact the ground. New to the series.
- Linear Fusion Rifles - Charge-shot. Fires a single, powerful, precise bolt and is charged by holding down the trigger. Aggressive Linear Fusion Rifles fires three bolts in quick succession.
- Machine Guns - Fully-automatic. Added in Season 5.
- Rocket Launchers - Single-shot. Precision Rocket Launchers lock onto targets when aimed at and auto-tracks, at the cost of less damage. Aggressive Rocket Launchers have the fastest damage output (with the quickest reload speeds and fastest projectile velocity), while High-Impact Rocket Launchers have the slowest damage output (with larger explosions and the most stable handling).
- Swords - Melee. When equipped, the game is played in a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective. In addition to light slashes, swords can be used for special heavy attacks (with different sword frames having vastly different attacks) and for guarding against enemy attacks. Swords have a rechargeable energy meter, which is used for stronger Heavy Attacks and guarding. Unlike most other weapons, swords can be used in a weaker capacity without ammo.
Originally added on October 1, 2019 for new players, reworked on November 10, 2020.
- A Guardian Rises (Cosmodrome, Earth) - Based on the mission of the same name from the original Destiny.
- Schism (Cosmodrome, Earth)
- Cold Boot (Cosmodrome, Earth)
- Vendetta (Cosmodrome, Earth)
- Advent (The Tower, Earth)
- Strike: The Disgraced
The Red War (Prologue)
Vaulted since Season 12.
- Homecoming (The Tower, Earth)
- Adieu (The Last City, Earth)
- Spark (European Dead Zone, Earth)
The Red War
Vaulted since Season 12.
- Combustion (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Hope (New Pacific Arcology, Titan)
- Riptide (New Pacific Arcology, Titan)
- Utopia (New Pacific Arcology, Titan)
- Looped (Arcadian Valley, Nessus)
- Six (Arcadian Valley, Nessus)
- Sacrilege (Echo Mesa, Io)
- Fury (Echo Mesa, Io)
- Payback (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Unbroken (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Larceny (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- 1AU (The Almighty)
- Chosen (The Last City, Earth)
Curse of Osiris
Vaulted since Season 12.
- The Gateway (Fields of Glass, Mercury)
- A Deadly Trial (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Beyond Infinity (Fields of Glass, Mercury)
- Deep Storage (Echo Mesa, Io)
- Tree of Probabilities (Fields of Glass, Mercury)
- Hijacked (Arcadian Valley, Nessus)
- A Garden World (Fields of Glass, Mercury)
- Omega (Fields of Glass, Mercury)
Vaulted since Season 12.
- Ice and Shadow (Hellas Basin, Mars)
- Pilgrimage (Hellas Basin, Mars)
- Off-World Recovery (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Strange Terrain (Hellas Basin, Mars)
- Will of the Thousands (Hellas Basin, Mars)
Vaulted since Season 16.
- Last Call (Prison of Elders)
- High Plains Blues (Tangled Shore)
- Scorned (Tangled Shore)
- Adventures: Target: The Mad Bomber, Target: The Rider, Target: The Trickster, Target: The Hangman, Target: The Mindbender, Target: The Rifleman
- The Machinist (Tangled Shore)
- Nothing Left to Say (Tangled Shore)
- A Mysterious Disturbance (The Moon)
- Nightmare Hunt: Anguish
- Strike: The Scarlet Keep
- In the Deep (The Moon)
- Nightmare Hunts: Pride, Isolation, Fear
- Beyond (The Moon)
- Darkness's Doorstep (Europa)
- The New Kell (Europa)
- The Warrior (Europa)
- The Technocraft (Europa)
- Strike: The Glassway
- The Kell of Darkness (Europa)
The Witch Queen
- The Arrival (Mars)
- The Investigation (Throne World)
- The Ghosts (Throne World)
- The Communion (Europa)
- Strike: The Lightblade
- The Mirror (Throne World)
- The Cunning (Throne World)
- The Last Chance (Throne World)
- The Ritual (Throne World)
- First Contact (Neptune Orbit)
- Under Siege ()
- Downfall ()
- Breakneck ()
- On the Verge ()
- No Time Left ()
- Headlong ()
- Desperate Measures ()
The game's traditional co-operative activity pits up to three players in a single mission (similar in length to campaign missions and adventures), ending with a final confrontation against a boss. By completing Strikes, players can earn unique gear from Commander Zavala.
These are typically played on a matchmaking playlist at random, with later expansions bundling the playlist with Battlegrounds (three-player seasonal activity) from previous seasons. These playlists add special gameplay modifiers that change regularly, including new challenges and elemental affinities. Individual Strikes can be accessed through the Map, but does not give the challenges or rewards of the playlist.
A special endgame playlist, known as "Nightfall", include challenging versions of Strikes (and later Battlegrounds) with a large difficulty increase, unique rewards, a unique scoring system, and a limited map selection that changes every week.
Teams are scored based on the performances of all three players together, which is accumulated by both killing enemies (primary) and generating Orbs of Light (secondary). Higher difficulties increase the overall score multiplier, though players earn less points after a certain amount of time in the Strike (with additional delays causing the score to drain over time with no option to accumulate any more).
Prior to the Shadowkeep expansion, this playlist required players to form fireteams beforehand (although they can opt into the Guided Games feature, with two clanmates as the "Guides" and one other player as the "Seeker"). This was later replaced with a new difficulty-selection playlist (Adept, Hero, Legend, Master, and Grandmaster), with Adept and Hero difficulties allowing matchmaking. Higher difficulties give improved rewards along with additional challenges (such as the Champions mechanic, improved enemy shields, limited revives, and locked loadouts).
Lake of Shadows, The Insight Terminus, and Broodhold were originally time-exclusive to the PS4 version of the game and became available on other platforms one year after their release.
Some post-release strikes are reprisals of strikes from the original Destiny.
- The Arms Dealer (European Dead Zone, Earth) - Bracus Zahn (Cabal Legionary)
- Exodus Crash (Arcadian Valley, Nessus) - Thaviks, the Depraved (Fallen Marauder)
- The Inverted Spire (Arcadian Valley, Nessus) - Protheon, Modular Mind (Vex Minotaur)
- Lake of Shadows (European Dead Zone, Earth) - Grask, the Consumed (Taken Phalanx)
- The Insight Terminus (Arcadian Valley, Nessus) - Kargen, the Technocrat (Cabal Psion); Added with the Warmind expansion.
- The Corrupted (The Dreaming City) - Sedia, the Corrupted (Taken Techeun); Added with the Forsaken expansion.
- Warden of Nothing (Prison of Elders) - The Mad Warden (Fallen Servitor); Added with the Forsaken expansion.
- The Scarlet Keep (The Moon) - Hashladûn, Daughter of Crota (Hive Wizard); Added with the Shadowkeep expansion.
- The Glassway (Europa) - Belmon, Transcendent Mind (Vex Hydra); Added with the Beyond Light expansion.
- The Disgraced (Cosmodrome, Earth) - Navôta, Eir Spawn (Hive Wizard); Added with the Beyond Light expansion as part of the New Light experience.
- The Devil's Lair (Cosmodrome, Earth) - Sepiks Prime (Fallen Servitor); Reprise. Added on Season 13.
- Fallen S.A.B.E.R. (Cosmodrome, Earth) - S.A.B.E.R.-2 (Fallen Shank); Reprise. Added on Season 13.
- Proving Grounds (Arcadian Valley, Nessus) - Ignovan, Chosen of Caiatl (Cabal Centurion); Added on Season 13.
- The Lightblade (Court of Savathûn, Throne World) - Alak-Hul, The Lightblade (Hive Darkblade Knight); Added with the Witch Queen expansion.
- Birthplace of the Vile (Court of Savathûn, Throne World) - Heimiks, Warden of the Harvest (Scorn Raider); Added with the Witch Queen expansion.
- HyperNet Current (Neomuna, Neptune) - Pathenios, Drifting Mind (Taken Hydra); Added with the Lightfall expansion.
- The Pyramidion (Echo Mesa, Io) - Brakion, Genesis Mind (Vex Hobgoblin); Vaulted since Season 12.
- Savathûn's Song (New Pacific Arcology, Titan) - Savathûn's Song (Hive Shrieker); Vaulted since Season 12.
- A Garden World (Fields of Glass, Mercury) - Dendron, Root Mind (Vex Cyclops); Based on the mission of the same name. Added with the Curse of Osiris expansion and Vaulted since Season 12.
- Tree of Probabilities (Fields of Glass, Mercury) - Valus Thuun (Cabal Centurion); Based on the mission of the same name. Added with the Curse of Osiris expansion and Vaulted since Season 12.
- Strange Terrain (Hellas Basin, Mars) - Nokris, Herald of Xol (Hive Prince); Based on the mission of the same name. Added with the Warmind expansion and Vaulted since Season 12.
- Will of the Thousands (Hellas Basin, Mars) - Xol, Will of the Thousands (Hive Worm God); Based on the mission of the same name. Added with the Warmind expansion and Vaulted since Season 12.
- The Hollowed Lair (Tangled Shore) - Fikrul, the Fanatic (Scorn Chieftain); Added with the Forsaken expansion, is based on the mission Scorned, and Vaulted since Season 16.
- Broodhold (Tangled Shore) - In Anânh, Brood Queen (Hive Wizard); Added with the Forsaken expansion and Vaulted since Season 16.
- The Festering Core (Echo Mesa, Io) - Baurisk, Envoy of Savathûn (Taken Incendior); Added with the Shadowkeep expansion and Vaulted since Season 12.
Returning from the original Destiny, these unique endgame PvE events pit a fireteam of up to six Guardians against a series of challenging encounters in unique locations. Each encounter has unique objectives, mechanics, and constraints that require heavy use of strategy and communication, and provide unique rewards once completed.
Earlier Raids had a "Prestige" version in addition to the original, adding exclusive rewards with higher difficulty and new challenges. This was replaced with optional Challenge triumphs with the Forsaken expansion, although it was brought back later as a new "Master" difficulty option.
Each player's progress in each Raid is saved and can be returned to before the start of the next weekly rotation (where progress is reset). Players in smaller fireteams (known as "Seekers") can also use the Guided Games feature to pair up with larger fireteams (known as "Guides") to form a full team.
- Last Wish - Added in Season 4 and requires the Forsaken content pack. Set in the Dreaming City after the events of the Forsaken campaign, Last Wish has players making their way to a massive tower (the Keep of Voices) while freeing two Techeuns (Kalli and Shuro Chi) from Taken corruption. Afterwards, they must defeat the tower's guard (a powerful Taken Ogre known as the Spirekeeper Morgeth), find a way to enter the Vault, and destroy the corrupted Ahamkara known as Riven of a Thousand Voices.
- Garden of Salvation - Added in Season 8 and requires the Shadowkeep expansion. Set in the Black Garden after the events of the Shadowkeep campaign, Garden of Salvation has players searching for the endpoint of a signal broadcasted from a mysterious artifact from the Lunar Pyramid, all while battling the Vex collective Sol Divisive. Along the way, they must challenge two powerful Vex Minds: the Consecrated Mind and the Sanctified Mind.
- Deep Stone Crypt - Added in Season 12 and requires the Beyond Light expansion. Set on Europa after the events of the Beyond Light campaign, Deep Stone Crypt has players infiltrating the titular facility to prevent the Fallen House of Salvation from unlocking its secrets. Along the way, they must battle two Fallen commanders: Atraks (who has uploaded herself to an Exo body) and Taniks (who was previously fought in the original Destiny strike The Shadow Thief).
- Vault of Glass (Reprise) - Added in Season 14. Set on Venus after the original Destiny campaign, Vault of Glass has players infiltrating the timeless realm to put an end to the Vex's reality-bending operations and destroy its overseer: the Axis Mind Atheon.
- Vow of the Disciple - Added in Season 16 and requires the Witch Queen expansion. Set in Savathûn's Throne World after the events of the Witch Queen campaign, Vow of the Disciple has players infiltrating the Sunken Pyramid and fighting through Scorn forces to prevent the realm from being sealed in Darkness by the ancient Disciple Rhulk.
- King's Fall (Reprise) - Added in Season 18. Set on a massive Hive spaceship, the Dreadnaught, orbiting Saturn at the end of the Taken War, King's Fall has players infiltrating the furthest depths of the ship to find and eliminate the Taken King Oryx.
- Root of Nightmares - Added in Season 20 and requires the Lightfall expansion. Set on the Witness's Pyramid after the events of the Lightfall campaign, Root of Nightmares has players infiltrating the furthest depths of the ship and fighting through the Shadow Legion to find and eliminate the reawakened Disciple Nezarec.
- Crota's End (Reprise) - Added in Season 22. Set on the Moon, players must enter the deepest pit of an underground fortress known as the "Hellmouth", infiltrate the ascendant realm of the Hive Prince Crota, and kill Crota himself.
- Leviathan - Vaulted since Season 12. Set on the titular massive Cabal space vessel orbiting around Nessus after the Red War, Leviathan has the players invited by the former Emperor of the Cabal Empire to test their strength against his Loyalist forces. Unlike other Raids, Leviathan uses a central hub area (the Castellum) to link all four encounters (as "chambers") together. As progressing through the Castellum is a challenge in itself, players can optionally sneak inside a hidden part of the ship (the Underbelly) to skip the Castellum and find hidden loot.
- Leviathan, Eater of Worlds - Added in Season 2 and Vaulted since Season 12. Players are summoned back to the Leviathan to venture deep inside the Vex-infested vessel to find and destroy the Planetary Core Argos. This Raid is shorter than normal, and is sometimes called a "Raid Lair".
- Leviathan, Spire of Stars - Added in Season 3 and Vaulted since Season 12. Players are summoned back to the Leviathan to repel a Cabal Red Legion assault on the vessel and assassinate the fleet's leader: Val Ca'uor. This Raid is shorter than normal, and is sometimes called a "Raid Lair".
- Scourge of the Past - Added in Season 5 and Vaulted since Season 12. Set in a desolate section of the Last City occupied by a Fallen syndicate (known as Kell's Scourge), Scourge of the Past has players seeking the Black Armory Vault and preventing the massive war-mech Insurrection Prime from plundering it.
- Crown of Sorrow - Added in Season 7 and Vaulted since Season 12. Set within the Menagerie of the Leviathan, Crown of Sorrow has players infiltrating the vault to clear Hive infestation and retrieve the titular artifact from the corrupted Cabal Shadow Gahlran.
Similar in structure to standard Raids, Dungeons have a maximum fireteam size of three.
- The Shattered Throne - Added in Season 4 and requires the Forsaken content pack. Players are summoned to Eleusinia, Mara Sov's "throne world", in order to locate the source responsible for the Dreaming City's Taken corruption: the Hive Wizard Dûl Incaru.
- Pit of Heresy - Added in Season 8 and requires the Shadowkeep expansion. Players venture deep beneath the Scarlet Keep on the Moon to slay the Hidden Swarm's champion: the Hive Knight Zulmak.
- Prophecy - Added in Season 11. Players make their way through the Realms of the Nine and fight hordes of simulated Taken (led by the Kell Echo) to learn the true nature of the Darkness.
- Grasp of Avarice - Added in Season 15, requires the 30th Anniversary content pack, and is based on the infamous "loot cave" glitch from the original Destiny. Players explore deep into the caverns underneath the Cosmodrome on Earth to find treasure guarded by a band of Fallen (led by Captain Avarokk).
- Duality - Added in Season 17 and requires the Witch Queen Dungeon Key content pack. Players dive into the depths of Emperor Calus's mind, which is woven into the derelict Leviathan, to learn his dark secrets and fight his nightmares (including his greatest: the Nightmare of Caiatl).
- Spire of the Watcher - Added in Season 19 and requires the Witch Queen Dungeon Key content pack. Players investigate the Ares Spire, a long-abandoned Seraph complex on Mars, and clear it from the Sol Divisive and its two Vex Axis Minds (Akelous and Persys).
- Ghosts of the Deep - Added in Season 21 and requires the Lightfall Dungeon Key content pack. Players dive deep into the New Pacific Arcology on Titan and prevent the Lucent Hive (led by Ŝimmumah Ur-Nokru) from performing a dangerous ritual on the ocean floor.
Like the original Destiny, PvP multiplayer takes place in-universe in the Crucible: a series of live-fire training exercises that doubles as gladiatorial competition.
Each Crucible match takes place in dedicated arenas (most of which use environmental assets from areas used for PvE), with Lord Shaxx as the mode's primary announcer. By completing public matches, players can earn unique Crucible-themed gear for use in any mode.
At launch, the game had no private matches, no ranking system, and a player limit of 8 (restricted to two teams of four players). Along with the addition of private matches and rankings, the game later increased the player limit to 12 and added free-for-all play. Additional game modes and maps were also added post-release.
Along with standard ranks, Crucible includes a special ranking system for the game's "Competitive" playlist that rises and falls with each match. Prior to Season 19, the "Glory" system started each season with everybody at the bottom-most rank. With Season 19, the "Divisions" system used placement matches to determine each player's initial ranking.
Most game modes from the original Destiny return, along with new variations. The game simplifies the original's scoring system, with a traditional singular point structure and no bonus points per kill (headshots/assists/etc.).
Along with Private Matches, the game includes a variety of matchmaking playlists. The structure has changed over the years, with the common ones being a 6v6 standard "Quickplay" playlist (which primarily uses the Control mode and includes skill-based matchmaking), a 3v3 "Competitive" playlist (which primarily uses the Survival mode and uses its own unique ranking system), and a weekly rotating playlist between the game's other modes. A "Crucible Labs" playlist is also sometimes available to test modes and variations.
In matchmaking, single-round modes are usually played in a 6v6 format (4v4 in earlier seasons, 6-player for FFA modes). Most modes have "mercy rule" enabled in non-Competitive playlists, where a large team lead causes the game to end prematurely.
In addition, from Season 8 onwards, non-Competitive modes have "Shared Heavy Ammo" enabled, where instead of Heavy Ammo crates being limited to one player, players instead "unlock" the crate for their team for a short amount of time.
- Control - Teams fight over three neutral Control Zones throughout the battlefield. Neutral and enemy Zones can be captured for the team by standing on them uncontested for a moderate amount of time, which is faster the more teammates are capturing. Teams earn points for both eliminating enemy combatants and capturing Zones, with bonus points on kills based on how many Points they control and bonus points on captures based on how many teammates are capturing. In some earlier versions of the mode, each team started with one Zone controlled.
- Clash - Standard team deathmatch. Teams earn points for eliminating enemy combatants.
- Supremacy - Team deathmatch with a twist: killed players drop colored "crests" (blue for teammates, red for enemies) that can be collected. Teams can only earn points by picking up enemy Crests, and picking up a teammate's crest denies the opportunity for the enemy team to score with it.
- Mayhem - Similar to Clash. All Guardian abilities and Heavy Ammo crates recharge faster and grant extra points on kills (+1 for Grenades/Melee/Heavy Weapons, +2 for Supers). Added on December 19, 2017.
- Rumble - Free-for-all deathmatch. Players earn points for eliminating enemy combatants. Added on March 27, 2018.
- Team Scorched - Similar to Clash. Players do not have access to their standard weapons and abilities, instead having access to only one weapon: the Scorch Cannon. A free-for-all version, known as Scorched, was released alongside it and has been vaulted since Season 12. New for Destiny 2. Added on November 27, 2018.
- Momentum Control - Similar to Control. Increased zone capture speed and bonus points. Increased overall weapon damage. Improved both respawn rates and drop amounts for Heavy Ammo crates. All Guardian abilities can only be regenerated by defeating enemies. Increased damage resistance against non-Power weapons and abilities while in roaming Supers. Quicker respawn timer. Motion tracker disabled. Each team starts with one point controlled. New for Destiny 2. Added on October 29, 2019.
- Rift - Assault mode where teams fight over a single "Spark" of Light in order for a single player to take control of it and deliver it to the enemy "Rift" to score. Although it is single-round, scoring a point causes all players to respawn back at their starting location. Added on May 23, 2022.
- Zone Control - Similar to Control. Rather than earning points for eliminating combatants, both teams score points for capturing Zones and for every 15 seconds based on how many Zones they control (+2 for each Zone). Enemy Zones must be "neutralized" through capture before being fully captured. Added on June 21, 2022.
In matchmaking, multi-round modes are usually played in a 3v3 format (4v4 in earlier seasons). Once a round ends, all players respawn back to their starting location.
- Survival - Last team standing. Each team can only respawn a limited amount of times, and win the round by depleting the enemy team's life count and eliminating them. If the round timer is depleted, the team with the most lives remaining wins the round. Based on Elimination mode from the original Destiny.
- Showdown - Similar to Clash. Teams win rounds by either having the highest amount of kills when the round timer is depleted or by reaching the kill threshold. Teammates can be revived to negate the kill score. New for Destiny 2. Added on November 27, 2018.
- Elimination - Similar to Survival. Although players only have one life per round, they can be revived by teammates in a limited capacity. Added on December 10, 2019.
- Countdown - Asymmetrical assault mode where teams alternate between Attackers and Defenders. Attackers must arm and detonate a central charge, at one of two points, before the round timer expires. Defenders must either prevent the Attackers from arming, or defuse armed charges. Although players only have one life per round, they can be revived by teammates in a limited capacity. Teams win rounds by either eliminating all enemies or by completing their objective. New for Destiny 2. Vaulted since Season 12.
- Breakthrough - Symmetrical assault mode where teams fight to capture a central neutral Capture Zone ("deploying the Breaker"). Once a team deploys the Breaker, they must capture their enemy's Capture Zone ("hacking the Vault") to win the round. If they fail to hack the Vault in time, the other team wins the round. New for Destiny 2. Added on September 25, 2018 and is only compatible with certain maps (Wormhaven, The Citadel, Equinox, Firebase Echo, Bannerfall, Convergence, Twilight Gap, and Widow's Court). Vaulted since Season 12.
- Lockdown - Similar to Control. Teams slowly fill up their overall capture gauge by capturing and holding two uncontested Zones, and win the round when the gauge reaches 100%. If all Zones are captured and uncontested at once, the holding team wins the round automatically. Each team starts with one Zone controlled. New for Destiny 2. Added on November 27, 2018. Vaulted since Season 12.
These game modes are specific to events and are not available in Private Matches. They include exclusive mode-specific medals.
- Crimson Days Doubles - Similar to Showdown. Intended for 2v2. Players who are close together gain the "Reunited" buff (increasing the recharge rate of their abilities), while players who are too far apart gain the "Drifting Apart" debuff (marking them as waypoints for the enemy). When a player's teammate is defeated, they gain the "Vengeance" temporary buff (further increasing the recharge rate of their abilities while slightly healing them). New for Destiny 2. Added on February 12, 2019.
The base game included 11 playable maps, none of them returning from the original Destiny. Post-release, new maps were added to the game, bringing the total up to 32. (22 new and 10 from the original Destiny). As of Season 21, 8 of these maps are vaulted and unplayable.
Retribution, Wormhaven, and Gambler's Ruin were originally time-exclusive to the PS4 version of the game and became available one year after their release. During the game's first two years, certain maps added in expansions required ownership of those expansions to play (and were later made available to all players).
- Altar of Flame (Caloris Basin, Mercury)
- The Dead Cliffs (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Emperor's Respite (Prison Barge, Leviathan) - Vaulted since Season 12.
- Endless Vale (Arcadian Valley, Nessus)
- Eternity (Unknown Space) - Formerly exclusive to Trials of the Nine.
- The Fortress (European Dead Zone, Earth)
- Javelin-4 (Warsat Launch Facility, Io)
- Legion's Gulch (European Dead Zone, Earth) - Vaulted since Season 12.
- Midtown (The Last City, Earth)
- Retribution (Upper Startosphere, Mars) - Vaulted since Season 12.
- Vostok (Felwinter Peak, Earth)
- Pacifica (Tidal Anchor, Titan) - Added on December 5, 2017.
- Radiant Cliffs (Mercury's Past, Infinite Forest) - Added on December 5, 2017.
- Wormhaven (New Pacific Arcology, Titan) - Added on December 5, 2017.
- Meltdown (Clovis Bray Special Projects, Mars) - Added on May 8, 2018.
- Solitude (Warmind Facility Hellas, Mars) - Added on May 8, 2018. Vaulted since Season 12.
- The Citadel - (The Dreaming City) - Added on September 4, 2018. Vaulted since Season 12.
- Equinox (Unknown Space) - Added on September 4, 2018. Vaulted since Season 12.
- Firebase Echo (Arcadian Valley, Nessus) - Added on September 4, 2018. Vaulted since Season 12.
- Gambler's Ruin (The Tangled Shore) - Added on September 4, 2018. Vaulted since Season 12.
- Fragment (Unknown, The Infinite Forest) - Added on October 1, 2019.
- Disjunction (Runoff, Savathûn's Throne World) - Added on May 23, 2022.
- Multiplex (Vex Network Compiler, Mars) - Added on August 22, 2023.
In addition to new maps, the game has received remakes of numerous maps from the original Destiny.
- Distant Shore (Arcadian Strand, Nessus) - Added on October 10, 2017. Remake of Shores of Time.
- The Burnout (Vex Future, Infinite Forest) - Added on February 13, 2018. Remake of Burning Shrine.
- Bannerfall (The Last City, Earth) - Added on May 23, 2018.
- Convergence (Infinite Forest, Mercury) - Added on September 18, 2018. Remake of Pantheon.
- Twilight Gap (Last City Parameter, Earth) - Added on October 1, 2019.
- Widow's Court (European Dead Zone, Earth) - Added on October 1, 2019.
- Rusted Lands (European Flood Zone, Earth) - Added on December 10, 2019.
- The Anomaly (Mare Cognitum, Moon) - Added on March 10, 2020.
- Cauldron (Ocean of Storms, Moon) - Added on March 10, 2020. Remake of The Cauldron.
- Exodus Blue (Cosmodrome, Earth) - Added on March 10, 2020.
- Cathedral of Dusk (Dreadnaught, Rings of Saturn) - Added on August 23, 2022.
Returning from the original Destiny, Iron Banner is a special endgame event hosted by Lord Saladin where, for a limited amount of weeks per season, players can participate in a special "Iron Banner" playlist that grants unique themed gear. In addition, Lord Saladin replaces Shaxx as the mode's announcer.
Prior to Season 4, the playlist was restricted to one gametype that rotates every month (Clash, Control, or Supremacy). This was later changed to a special variation of Control and introduced the return of Power Level advantages (where players with higher Power levels have increased damage and resistance). This was then changed after Season 16 to special variations of other game modes while removing the Power Level advantages.
These game mode variations are specific to the playlist and are not available in Private Matches. These usually include a "The Hunt" mechanic, which shows when one team has a significant advantage in scoring.
- Iron Banner Control (Control, Seasons 4-16, 20+) - Once a team captures all three Zones at once, the Zones remain locked for that team for 15 seconds before they all reset to neutral.
- Iron Banner Rift (Rift, Season 17)
- Eruption (Clash, Season 18, 20+) - Each kill after the first per the player's life gives a +1 "Surging" point bonus and grants additional ability and super energy, with each kill after four giving an additional +1 "Primed" point bonus and even more ability energy. Those who are Primed show as a waypoint for everybody, has a 15-second timer before they die (which can only be replenished through kills), give ability and super energy to their teammates, and grant +3 points to the enemy team if they kill them.
- Fortress (Zone Control, Season 19, 20+) - After the first 40 and 80 points reached for both teams, all Zones disappear and a High-Value Zone appears in a central location (via a Cabal Drop Pod, along with multiple enemy Scorpius Turrets). The HVZ is locked until the Turrets are eliminated, provides points every 7 seconds (4 points for the team controlling it), is quicker to capture, and disappears after one minute (with the three original Zones reappearing as neutral).
The "Trials of Osiris" PVP endgame event from the original Destiny returned in two forms: first with "Trials of the Nine" (from Seasons 1-4) and then with an updated "Trials of Osiris" (from Seasons 10+). Both versions are special weekend endgame events where players participate in a series of highly-competitive matches on a specific rotating map. In addition, Saint-14 replaces Shaxx as the Trials of Osiris mode's announcer.
Trials of the Nine was a 4v4 mode that used either Survival or Countdown, while Trials of Osiris is a 3v3 Elimination mode (later "Dominion", which includes a single capture zone as an alternate objective) with Power Level advantages. Each match's introduction is extended and shows the loadout of all players individually (allowing teams to coordinate on countering their foes). Prior to Season 15, it required players must form their full fireteam before entering matchmaking and players could not modify their chosen loadout while in the playlist.
Depending on the amount of wins and losses on their "Trials Card", players could enter parts of an exclusive location ("The Third Spire" in Trials of the Nine and "The Lighthouse" in Trials of Osiris) to earn unique themed gear. In Trials of the Nine, players can no longer participate once they reach either 7 wins or 3 losses. In Trials of Osiris, the Trials Card is primarily used to determine "flawless" runs and can be refreshed.
Added in Season 4, Gambit is a unique "competitive PvE" game mode that pits two groups of four-player fireteams against each other to summon and destroy a powerful boss enemy (the "Primeval"). While it have elements of PvP multiplayer, it is outside of the scope of the Crucible and does not count towards Crucible bounties and challenges. It was formerly exclusive to owners of the Forsaken expansion and received multiple updates throughout the years.
In-universe, Gambit is a secret competition hosted by a mysterious Lightbearer, known as the Drifter, in order to generate and harness the Darkness (as portable "Motes"). It takes place at locations near the Drifter's ship (the Derelict, which tows a gigantic mysterious object throughout the solar system).
For each match of Gambit, the enemy faction, Primeval boss, and game map are randomly determined. Both teams spawn in the spawn area of their battlefield, with the battlefields of both teams being both completely identical and separate from each-other. Each battlefield has a central area (where a "Mote Bank" and an "Invasion Portal" are located) and three enemy spawn areas (each of which are named by the Drifter when enemies spawn, such as "the Cavern" and "the Base").
Enemies of the chosen faction then spawn in one of these areas, with enemies dropping anywhere from 1-5 "Motes of Dark" based on their difficulty. Once all enemies are cleared from that area, they begin spawning in one of the two other spawn areas. Although Motes disappear after a short amount of time, players can collect them to keep them in their possession (up to 15 at a time). Players can then deposit their current stack of Motes to their team's Bank, provided there are no enemy Blockers alive. If a player dies while holding a stack of Motes, part of that stack is "lost" and disappear.
Once a team deposits 100 or more Motes in their Bank, they begin their Primeval Phase, which removes all faction enemies from their battlefield, locks the Bank, and begins spawning unique Taken enemies. The objective of this phase is to eliminate the boss "Primeval" (who, like most PvE bosses, are very tanky and lethal). To help hasten the death of the Primeval, a stacking "Primeval Slayer" buff is applied by eliminating the Primeval's lieutenants (the Taken Wizards known as "Primeval Envoys"), which also temporarily brings the Primeval out of its damage immunity. The game ends once the timer expires (in which the furthest progressing team wins) or a Primeval is defeated (in which the team that defeated theirs first wins).
Prior to Season 12, Gambit was round-based, with a best-of-three system and 75 motes to summon the Primeval. Earlier changes also included a shorter tie-breaker round (which starts at the Primeval Phase and grants faster Super regeneration), automatic "Primeval Slayer" buff stacks (first after 30 seconds of the phase, then after every 12 seconds), the lack of damage immunity for the Primeval (causing very short Primeval Phases with the right builds), and normal random ammunition drops (which are now Team Crates that regularly appear).
At certain times of the match, a more powerful "High-Value Target" can spawn in a random location and roams throughout the battlefield. Damaging HVTs causes it to drop Motes, while defeating HVTs drop a large amount of Motes (up to 15 total) and Heavy ammo.
In addition, teams that are behind in score can find glowing "Catch Up Targets" with spawned enemies, each of which drop additional Motes on death.
Both HVTs and CUTs can be disabled in Private Matches.
When a player deposits 5 or more Motes at a time, they send a "Blocker" to the enemy battlefield near their Bank. As long as an enemy Blocker is alive, that team's Bank is "blocked" and cannot be used. If multiple Blockers are alive and the team is not in its Primeval Phase, the Bank begins draining Motes.
- For 5-9 Motes, Taken Goblins are deployed as Small Blockers, whose ability to shield other Taken from all damage makes them annoying in groups. Prior to the Gambit Prime update, these were Taken Phalanxes.
- For 10-14 Motes, Taken Phalanxes are deployed as Medium Blockers, whose defensive shield armor makes them tougher to dispatch. Prior to Beyond Light, these were Taken Captains. Prior to the Gambit Prime update, these were Taken Knights.
- For 15 Motes, Taken Knights are deployed as Large Blockers, whose lethality and tankiness makes them dangerous to deal with. Prior to the Gambit Prime update, these were Taken Ogres.
Players can still send Blockers to the enemy's side when their enemies are in the Primeval Phase, which can be detrimental to that team (as these Blockers can shield or distract from the Primeval and multiple Blockers continuously add Motes to the opposing team's bank).
Reminiscent of the Invader Phantom system in the Souls series, players can "invade" the opposing team's battlefield once their Portal is active and attempt to eliminate the team in a short amount of time. A Portal opens for the team after every 40 motes deposited (formerly 25), and at regular intervals during the enemy's Primeval Phase.
Invaders are transported to the furthest spawn area from the opposing players, are highlighted in red, have all enemy Guardians marked on their HUD, and cannot be targeted or damaged by PvE enemies. After either 30 seconds have passed or four enemy Guardians are eliminated, the Invader is automatically transported back to their battlefield.
Teams who are being invaded are notified (with heavy aural and visual cues) and have an incentive to hunt the Invader down:
- If the Invader kills an enemy Guardian prior to the Primeval Phase, that Guardian loses their stack of Motes. This can be detrimental for those carrying large stacks.
- If the Invader kills an enemy Guardian during the Primeval Phase, the Primeval gets healed for a small amount.
Added in Season 6, formerly exclusive to owners of the Forsaken Annual Pass, and removed in Season 12, Gambit Prime was a unique version of Gambit with some major changes:
- Single-round instead of best-of-three, with some enemy spawn changes and mote distribution changes to quicken the pace. This change was later brought into standard Gambit on Season 12.
- The number of banked motes that were required to summon a Primeval was increased from 75 to 100, and can be drained over time in two ways: when multiple Blockers are near the Bank, and when invaders with a certain Invader perk are standing near the Bank. This change (minus invader draining) was later brought into standard Gambit on Season 12.
- During the Primeval Phase, the Primeval was shielded and could only be damaged for a short time after all three Envoys are defeated, similar to a "damage phase" of a raid encounter boss, with a Well of Light available for buffing. This change (minus Well of Light) was later brought into standard Gambit on Season 16.
- Players were able to earn special armor pieces from the Reckoning activity that gave them points towards special perks. Perks were split into four combat roles: Reaper (green, focusing on clearing waves of enemies and defeating powerful enemies), Invader (red, focusing on invading enemy teams), Collector (white, focusing on gathering motes and sending Blockers), and Sentry (yellow, focusing on defending against both Blockers and Invaders).
Both Cathedral of Scars and Kell's Grave were not available in the Gambit Prime playlist.
- Emerald Coast (European Dead Zone, Earth) - Cabal, Fallen, or Hive.
- Legion's Folly (Arcadian Valley, Nessus) - Cabal, Scorn, or Vex
- New Arcadia (Hellas Basin, Mars) - Cabal, Hive, or Vex. Added on March 5, 2019.
- Deep Six (New Pacific Anthology, Titan) - Fallen, Scorn, or Hive. Added on March 12, 2019.
- Cathedral of Scars (The Dreaming City, The Vestian Web) - Cabal, Scorn, or Vex. Vaulted on Season 12.
- Kell's Grave (Tangled Shore, The Reef) - Fallen, Scorn, or Vex. Vaulted on Season 12.
The game received two beta testing periods: one for consoles (from July 18, 2017 to July 25, 2017) and one for PC (from August 28, 2017 to August 31, 2017). Those who pre-ordered received exclusive early access to the beta.