If you’re just now joining the Destiny 2 universe, you might be confused about its storied past. The game went from pay-to-play to free-to-play in a span of two years, irritating some players who paid for the early content since launch. Nowadays, anyone can hop on the game for free.
So if the game is free, does that mean Destiny 2 can be played without signing up for any services? After all, the only things Bungie charges for nowadays are the expansion packs. With that said, can you play Destiny 2 without Xbox Live?
Technically speaking, you cannot play Destiny 2 without Xbox Live. An Xbox Live account is needed for you to connect to the game’s servers. However, you don’t need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access the multiplayer features.
Confused? Don’t be. Let’s take a closer look at what this information means for you.
How to Play Destiny 2 Without Xbox Live?
It’s understandable if you’re confused about the difference between Xbox Live and Xbox Live Gold. Xbox Live is the term Microsoft uses for your account that accesses any basic online features. Your player profile that shows your recent activity to other players is your Xbox Live account.
Xbox Live refers to the account that you create with Microsoft when you play any games on their platform. You know that profile you use to sign in to your Xbox, the one that cost you nothing to create? That’s an Xbox Live account.
On the other hand, Xbox Live Gold is the subscription that lets you access multiplayer features on games. You can still play games on your own without Xbox Live Gold so it’s definitely not a requirement. But if you want to play with your friends online, you need to pay for this service
Now that we know the difference, we can answer this question properly. You cannot play Destiny 2 without an Xbox Live account; you need this to create your character. But don’t worry, this won’t cost you anything.
Can You Play Destiny 2 Without Xbox Live Gold?
You could get different answers to this question depending on when you ask. That’s because Bungie, the creators of Destiny 2, have made changes to how you play the game over the years.
When the game was first released in 2017, players had to pay for the base game. They also had to pay for the expansions that gradually came out as the year progressed, on top of an ongoing Xbox Live Gold subscription.
In 2019, things changed. Bungie made two major announcements for Destiny that year: the release of the new expansion, Shadowkeep; and a new version of the game, New Light.  While Shadowkeep is just your typical paid expansion announcement, news about New Light turned heads.
That’s because Destiny 2: New Light became the free-to-play version of the game. It contained all of the contents released during the first year for free. The only paid content beyond that would be the newer expansions.
At the time, players who wanted to access Destiny 2’s online multiplayer features needed Xbox Live Gold to do so. There simply was no way around it. The base game may have been free but online content was still locked behind a paywall.
Thanks to the game becoming free-to-play in 2019, Destiny 2 was included when Microsoft removed the Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play games.  Starting in April 2021, you can play Destiny 2 without Xbox Live Gold.
Is There a Way to Play Destiny 2 Offline?
If Destiny 2 is free-to-play in single and multiplayer, does that mean you can play Destiny 2 offline? If you’re someone who wants to play the game by yourself without having to deal with the online crowd, we have bad news for you.
Even though you can play Destiny 2 without spending a single cent, you cannot play Destiny 2 offline. That’s because the game is a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO for short. You need to connect to Bungie’s servers every time you want to play the game.
So how does that work? The files that you download or are loaded on discs are called client-sided files. They usually contain the game’s assets so you can load them when you start the game.
And then there are server-sided files. These are usually the files needed to bring the game to life, such as the online marketplace or other in-game events.
You might be thinking: if you already have the client-sided files, surely you can play solo offline, right? Though that would have been nice, that’s unfortunately not the case. You still need to be online even if you only want to play Destiny 2’s story campaign.
To summarize: you cannot play Destiny 2 offline even though the game is free-to-play and accessing multiplayer features does not cost anything. You need an Xbox Live account and you need to be actively online just to play the game. As long as you have a stable internet connection and Bungie’s servers are online, you should be able to enjoy Destiny 2 just fine.