As a long-time Destiny 2 fan, it's a fantastic sight to see so many returning players and newcomers join the fray thanks to Season of the Lost and the upcoming Witch Queen expansion. While Destiny has always had a story, it truly feels like the Forsaken DLC kicked off a new wave of inspiration from the team. The studio over at Bungie continued that flow with Shadowkeep and the current expansion, Beyond Light. From there, the seasonal content hit a crescendo that is nothing short of inspiring, especially so with Season of the Chosen and Splicer.
With Season of the Lost bringing back a beloved character from the first game, many veteran Destiny players are returning after long hiatuses. That, and newcomers are finally checking out what the space shooter has in store. That being said, the Destiny 2 available today is almost nothing like it was at launch, and that can be very intimidating when looking at all of the different content. Where should you start? What should you skip? What should be your focus? Well, Guardian, strap in, because here's your Destiny 2 Beginner's Guide for new and returning players before diving into what Season of the Lost has in store.
Should I pay for the expansions or try free-to-play first?
Free is always good but in this case? Paid is way, way better. If you're looking for story, the expansions are the way to go. Forsaken, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light are the current expansions you can dive into, with the first being a true pivot for the Destiny 2 experience. When the game first launched, it was rough, which we talked about here, but Forsaken truly acted as a catalyst for positive change. Then Shadowkeep came and took the story into an even darker place with the current expansion, Beyond Light, shattering us in ways (sometimes literally) that are both painful and beautiful. Purchasing the expansions is also a great way to get better gear because it's assumed that you've played the game before now while also granting access to higher-tier content such as Raids.
The free version isn't a bad start if you are on the fence about whether or not the style of gameplay is right for you. You can play PvP events like Crucible, PvPvE events like Gambit, and enjoy additional content such as Strikes. You can also enjoy the Vault of Glass raid, the only raid that is free for everyone that has returned from its Destiny 1 glory. Expansion-specific Exotic quests are also limited to paid players. What you will also be missing out on is some of the best storytelling in Destiny history, as well as the seasonal content that adds gut-wrenching lore and tales of inspiring feats.
Classes and Subclasses
There are three classes to choose from, I recommend running one of each to level faster and to experience the wildly different ways each one approaches combat:
- Hunter - Perfect for rogue lovers
- Titan - Perfect for tank lovers
- Warlock - Perfect for magic lovers
- Think of Warlocks as a Support character due to healing rift abilities and its Well of Radiance Super
Each class has four subclasses to master, individually unlocked:
- This can only be unlocked if you have Beyond Light
Each subclass has three skill trees to unlock, which are different from class to class. Play around for different trees depending on the instance. For example, when I run raids as a Warlock, I'll typically either go top-tree void or Solar for Well of Radiance to keep my fireteam alive. Or, if I want to do massive damage with my Titan, I will go Thundercrash using the Arc subclass. Paired with a unique Exotic chest piece, that damage is increased even more, making this a powerhouse addition to any fire team. Hunters also have a unique Tether ability which is great for clearing large groups of enemies at one time.
Where should I start?
It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first, whether you are completely green or a returning player. When dropping into Destiny 2 for the first time, New Light starts you with doing the introduction mission on the Cosmodrome. This is a tutorial segment of the game that shows you the basic ropes, such as Supers, basic combat, weapon types, and varying NPC roles. When you are there, you will be directed to your first NPC that will dole out what are called Bounties. These are specific tasks that give instructions on what players will need to do in order to complete them. They are great for getting XP to level while also earning Pinnacles and Powerfuls, which is something we'll go into more detail about in the Gear section.
When running around to get your first ship, it can be a little disorienting because a new player isn't going to be super familiar with how Destiny works quite yet, which can be a tad overwhelming. Pay attention to what the NPCs that have a marker over them tell you, grab bounties, and then pay attention to your Quest log to track which action items you want to do first. This will get more complicated as you go on, but the start of your journey will focus on catching you up on everything to do in-game. Once the New Light campaign is complete, you'll then head to the Tower where there will be quest markers for key characters:
- Shaxx - Crucible, PvP
- Banshee - Weapon bounties, consumables, purchasable items with Glimmer (in-game material used as currency), Legendary Shards, etc
- Drifter - Gambit bounties
- Zavala - Titan vanguard for Strike bounties, Strikes in a playlist can be found in the Destinations tab on your menu alongside Gambit and Crucible
- Ikora Rey - Warlock vanguard
- ADA-1 - Armor Synthesis agent for transmogrification, offers unique bounties for materials needed to make cosmetic changes
Eventually, there will be an extension to the Tower called the H.E.L.M, but you don't need to worry about that until you reach Beyond Light content and continue on with Season of the Chosen and everything after that point.
Unlocking worlds will be key when first starting out, and this can be a pain in the butt because it depends on your Power Level. New areas will also unlock as you go into each expansion, opening up new content like Strikes and Season-specific activities. Which brings us to our next point: what is a Power Level?
What is a Power Level?
Power Levels is the current level of your character, an average of the gear levels you have equipped both with armor and weapons. Power Levels are key in knowing which content you should tackle and what you should hold off on. If you dive into an activity that recommends a 1300 Power Level at 1240, you're going to get crushed and that could ruin your Destiny experience.
You'll also deal with what's called an Artifact, which was introduced in Year 2. Artifacts will be key when leveling up, offering up a boost in your Power level from your Base level (pre-Artifact) while also unlocking powerful mods for your gear. The quickest way to level up your PL is to run three characters of each class and do all of your Pinnacle and Powerful bounties (marked by a gold symbol in your Destination and Map tabs. Hover over where the symbol is marked to see what you need to do, depending on the activity). Pinnacles and Powerfuls will increase your Power Level if you aren't at that season's cap yet through completion, dropping weapons and gear at a higher PL.
Gear and how to approach earning it
Good sources for Legendary gear:
- Blue and Purple drops from enemies
- Decrypting engrams, which are world drops and rewards for bounties
- Clan bounties
- Join a clan! There is an XP boost, and you'll ensure you always have a fire team for those matchmaking activities versus going with randoms you don't know.
- Older raids
- Nightfall playlists
- Highly recommend Pit of Heresy and The Shattered Throne
- Lost Sectors, Strikes, Public Events, Crucible
For Powerful gear:
- Exotic quest rewards, which are limited
- Trials of Osiris, which is hardcore PvP and I recommend avoiding this as a new player
- Completing eight bounties from vendors that offer Powerfuls, you'll see this when you hover over the vendors marked with the gold symbol mentioned previously
- Europa's Weekly Exo Challenge
- Season Pass
- Prime Engrams (Visit Cryptarch in the Tower to decrypt them)
- Exotic Engrams
- Crucible, Gambit, and Nightfalls
For Pinnacle gear (once you've reached the Powerful cap):
- Weekly playlists
- Crucible, Strikes, Gambit
- Clan XP
- Exotic quest completion like Presage from Season of the Chosen
- Trials of Osiris (7 wins)
- Nightfall: The Ordeal (100,000 points or more)
- Iron Banner
- A Crucible playlist that rotates in and out of the game
- Seasonal Activity reward
- Newest raid runs, Vault of Glass
- Newest Dungeon, Prophecy (Found on the Tower)
For both weapons and armor, you'll see the following options:
- Blue (don't worry about stats if it's blue, just choose the highest Power Level to level up)
- Purple (Legendary)
- Gold (Exotic)
There are three weapons you'll see on the left side of your character screen. From top to bottom indicates impact. The first weapon slot is your Kinetic weapon, which means it does not have an energy type attached to it. The second slot is your Energy, which provides bonus energy type damage such as Solar, Arc, and Void. The third slot is your Power weapon, which specifically uses purple ammo bricks. Like armor, there are three color options with Blue, Purple, and Gold. Exotic (Gold) is the best, but you can only equip one Exotic at a time. Legendaries are also powerful and can be made more so with the help of mods. There are mods you can slot in your armor that make it easier to find certain types of ammo. Weapons like Snipers, Fusion Rifles, and Shotguns use green ammo bricks, which work similarly to purple when looking to stay loaded. Purple ammo bricks will always be needed for your Power weapon.
For armor, there are various stats to keep in mind, which will vary in importance depending on the class of your choosing:
- Mobility - Ideal for Hunters
- Resilience - Ideal for Titans
- Recovery - Ideal for Warlocks
- Discipline - Grenade Cooldown reduction
- Intellect - Super Cooldown reduction
- Strength - Melee Cooldown reduction
Armor and weapons can also be enhanced with the use of mods:
- General mods, boosts basic stats
- Slot-specific mods, increases ammo finds, improved ADS times on weapons, and how combat affects you such as decreased incoming ranged damage
- Combat-style mods, powerful mods that include Charged with Light, Elemental Wells, and Warmind Cells (which are fun to explode for clearing out enemies)
- Raid mods, only active for specific raids
Obtain mods by buying them from vendors and seasonal-specific characters.
You can also level your gear, as well, with Legendary Shards, Glimmer, and other materials. Level them all the way up to 10 to Masterwork them, making each piece the most powerful it can be without mods. You can obtain Masterwork material from a few different locations, but Spider on the Tangled Shore is my favorite. There are also consumables that you can purchase with Bright Dust in the store tab seen in the image above that will drop Enhancement Cores and Upgrade Modules from defeating powerful enemies.
There is A LOT in Destiny 2. Focus on the story first, story by story. Each expansion will be marked with a certain symbol: Forsaken, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light. I recommend finishing each expansion individually to keep the story linear and making sense. This will also naturally level you up while also making you more familiar with the game mechanics and the story thus far. You'll also unlock Lore tabs in your character screen, read those to see behind-the-scenes instances within the world for even more story and worldbuilding.
There are certain instances you will need to matchmake for with other players, with the exception of higher-difficulty Strikes, Grandmasters, Raids, and Trials. For the latter three, try to group up with friends, if you can. You can't solo a Raid, sorry. With crossplay now live, getting with friends is even easier. For other instances like Gambit and Crucible, Bungie provides matchmaking and you don't have to listen to chat if you don't want to (I never do during the rare times I play with people other than my clan).
The story is wonderful but it's set up in a way that is a little unique to Destiny, which means some elements are easily missed. To avoid this, honestly, do everything - strikes, seasonal content, story missions, etc - especially when limited-time events like Guardian Games and the Halloween event roll around, because they have neat drops and enjoyable breaks from the doom and gloom narrative.
I hope that helped! Please feel free to reach out to me @DirtyEffinHippy if you have any questions. And remember, gaming is there to enjoy. If you're not having fun, it's not worth it. So get out there, Guardian, and show the Darkness what Light can do!