The IVPN Hardened mode DNS essentially tries to block the Facebook (Meta) and google tag trackers/links that many websites have which try to tag you while visiting websites. Keeping mind that using this will also block use of playstore and Aurora store as they utilize google addresses.
It sounds like your threat model might be a little higher than average so even better would be to use Tor/orbot instead of VPN however I can only speculate on your adversary and threat model as of now. Bear in mind Tor is very slow to use but it helps to always have it on and not switch it off whichever one you choose. I prefer the speed of VPN personally and my threat model isn't so extreme that I must use Tor for everything.
Aurora Store is a more private front end of the playstore. In very short it is like the playstore without the account IDs. It is not F-droid. The apps in aurora store should be the same as playstore.
It all comes down to which you prefer to trust. There are always pros and cons to either choice. You can choose to download from the official webpages for your apps but you are choosing to trust that you can keep all your apps manually updated on time. Some of these apps do not self update. You must also trust that their website download page is not unknowingly compromised and also you must trust that developer or team for that app being published on that page.
Aurora/playstore does have its own app checks however there definitely has also been malware known to be hidden in the playstore in the past. So in either choice there can be risk involved depending on which you prefer to trust.