This week, Bungie released their latest expansion for their influential sci-fi looter shooter, Destiny 2. But rather than just adding more content to an already large game (it took up over 100 GB on console's for crying out loud) the expansion also severely overhauled the entire experience. Locations vanished, the file size shrank, and the woefully undercooked new player experience was given a considerable facelift. Basically, if you are new to Destiny 2, now is the time to jump in. Better yet, if you're new or are now coming back, we have a guide to help you come to grips with things.
Where Do We Begin?
If you're loading up Destiny 2 for the first time, your first big decisions will come with character creation. The customization options aren't exactly stellar, but since you'll be spending most of the game in first-person, it's not a big deal. Just focus on what looks neat to you. There are no in-game benefits for picking a certain race or gender.
The big choice to worry about will be your class: Titan, Hunter, and Warlock. There is wiggle room when it comes to more defined builds, but each of these classes has their own strengths. Titans are heavy and tough, able to take a lot of damage at a time but can struggle with navigating terrain quickly and elegantly. Luckily, they can summon barriers for extra cover, which is a decent trade-off in the thick of a fight. If you like being a walking tank, this is the class for you. Warlocks are slightly more technical with what they can do. While their health is decent it regenerates faster than the others. In fact, their special ability is a rift that heals them and other players nearby, making them a nightmare for swarms of cannon fodder. Warlocks also have the most control over aerial movement with their glide, making them great for some good old fashioned death from above. If you're a more aggressive or reckless kind of player, this is a good start. Hunters require the most spatial awareness since their whole gimmick is fast movement, double-jumping, a dodge roll, and having armor made of tissue paper. If you have a thing for twitch aiming and fast movement, you'll be right at home.
Once you've picked one of these three classes, your introduction to Destiny 2 will begin. If you're a returning player and need a refresher, there is a way to return to the game's new introductory campaign. First, head to the Tower then head to the Postmaster's desk. To the left of the Postmaster tucked away near a ramp is a kiosk. Accessing it will let you replay single-player campaigns at your leisure. Go to the tab called New Light, then acquire the quest titled “A New Guardian Rises.”
This questline is essentially Destiny 2's tutorial. You'll start off in the Cosmodrome on Earth, get some starting gear, and learn the ins and outs of your class. You'll also get to help a brand new character, Shaw Han deal with an alien threat in the area.
Overall, the tutorial does a good job with the basics. You'll be shooting aliens, completing bounties for experience points, and participating in sandbox activities like patrols and public events. It's a great starting point for Destiny 2. But we like to go one step beyond when it comes to these guides, so let's get into the weeds.
Weapons, Armor, Power Levels, and You
All of this shooting is done for the sake of that sweet loot. You'll be constantly getting new weapons and armor, riddled with stats and perks. At first glance, it can be overwhelming, but for now focus on the Power level. The higher your Power, the better your overall attack and defense gets. Every little bit helps in the think of things.
There are five colors of loot. White, Green, and Blues are common and are forgettable. Unless it's got a higher power level than what you already have, dismantle it from your inventory. Trust me, you'll find plenty more like it.
Next up are legendary purples. They have better stats than blue items and have better perks overall. Better still, they can be enhanced with weapon mods and infusion. You'll earn weapon mods as you play and they can be slotted into a weapon in the menu. These mods can include better balancing, target acquisition, or deal more damage to certain enemies. As for infusion, you can use an Upgrade Kit to break down a different weapon and upgrade the Power level of your weapon. If you found a legendary weapon that you really like for one reason or another, hold on to it. It can be a great long-term investment.
Finally, there are yellow Exotics which are Destiny 2's big selling points. In addition to having fixed perks, meaning it has the same abilities for all players, every Exotic has an completely unique ability. These can range from chest armor that gives you a second grenade to a bow that shoots three arrows at once charged with chained lightning.
The trade-off for this power is that you can only have one exotic weapon and one exotic armor piece equipped at a time. On the other hand, once you have received an Exotic, it's permanently tied to your account. This means at any time, you can go to your Collections menu and (for a price) get a copy of that Exotic.
There are only two ways to get an Exotic item. The first is in random drops, but that is extremely rare. The second method is through Exotic Weapon Quests. These are long missions where you'll go through multiple steps and objectives, usually ending in a challenging story mission. These quests can be a headache, but the reward is usually worth it. The rule of thumb is if you see an NPC with a blue crown, they have an Exotic Quest for you.
Perk Rolls, Armor Slots, Stats, and Resources
Now to really get into the guts of Destiny 2's numbers. Every weapon has a number of perks on them. Examples include Dragonfly, which causes an explosion when you get a headshot kill, and Multi kill Clip which buffs your weapon's damage for a short time. While some weapons have the option for you to switch between different perks already on it, what you see is what you get. If you want a different set of perks on a weapon, you'll have to keep grinding until it drops.
This is what a lot of Destiny 2's meta boils down to getting the right perks on the right weapon.
Finally, if you have a weapon, you might want to upgrade it. Every legendary weapon has a randomly assigned stat that can be improved like reload speed, stability, or range. These stats start at 1, but with a bit of glimmer and legendary shards, you can improve it. Once you get to rank 5 or so, it will start asking you for a third resource: Enhancement Cores. We'll get into how to get those later.
Once you invest enough glimmer, shards, and cores to hit level 10, your weapon is Masterworked. This means that in addition to overclocking the ranked stat, the weapon will now spawn Orbs of Power whenever you perform multi-kills. These orbs can be collected by you and fireteam members to help speed up certain abilities and Supers. This is extremely useful in co-op activities like Strikes, Lost Sectors, and Dungeons.
As for armor, they're a much larger investment. Instead of perks, armor has six stats on them. Mobility determines how fast and agile you are. Resilience measures your maximum health. Recovery marks how long it takes for your health to start regenerating. Strength helps speed up the cooldown on your melee ability. Discipline speeds up your grenade cooldown. Finally, Intelligence helps you charge your Super faster. These are added together on the right side of your character's screen and help contribute to your armor's overall build. Generally speaking, if a stat is above 60, it's better than normal, but it cannot get any better past 100.
If you want a good shorthand for good overall a piece of armor's stats are, check its total number found at the bottom of its window. It's a quick and easy a good way to see how much it affects your stats. The general rule of thumb is that totals in the 50s range are alright, 60s are good, and anything close to 70 or 80s are godlike.
Next up are armor slots. These are improved the same way you Masterwork a weapon, in the case of armor you get additional defense against certain elemental damage Void, Arc, and Solar respectively. Unlike weapons, more advanced improvement require Enhancement Prisms and Ascendant Shards. Get as many armor slots as you can because you'll need them for mods. Basically, these are customizable perks. They can range from giving you extra control over a certain weapon type to speeding up ability cooldowns when doing a certain action. Each mod has an energy cost, and if it exceeds the number of slots you have on that piece of armor, it cannot be equipped.
Like weapons, armor can be Masterworked when they hit level 10. In addition to having the most freedom with armor mods and some extra elemental defense, doing this slightly raises the item's overall stats, which can help give a certain build just that extra punch.
The rabbit-hole goes very deep with this armor system, but thankfully you are free to experiment here. Once you get a mod, it's yours forever, and the cost for switching them around is negligible.
Now about those fancy resources. Once you get into the more advanced activities of Destiny 2, you'll need to keep an eye out for Enhancement Cores, Enhancement Prisms, and Ascendant Shards. Cores are the easiest ones to get. You can buy them from a vendor called Spider in the Tangled Shore. They cost 30 legendary shards a piece, and you can only buy five a day. Alternatively, you can play more difficult content like the PvE Nightfall: The Ordeal, which has a chance to reward cores upon completion. If you're here for PvP though, the Glory playlist and Crucible might be more your speed. As for Enhancement Prisms, you can buy them from Banshee-44 in the Tower, but it'll cost you (among other things) 10 Enhancement Cores. The same goes for Ascendant Shards, but you'll need at least 10 Prisms to get one of those. It's a major grind, but the payout is more than worth it.
Helpful Tips and Beyond Light Content
Finally, I just have a few rapid-fire tips. These are generally good habits to get into until you find your footing.
The first is to be mindful of using Upgrade Kits. These things cost a lot of resources, and you will not get the most out of them if you settle for going up by 1 or 5 points. Thankfully, there's a trick to get the most bang for your buck. If you get an item that has a higher Power level than what you have equipped but it's a really small improvement, keep it in your inventory. The way Destiny 2 determines loot drops is that it looks at what you have on you overall, not just what you have equipped. Eventually, you'll get something that's a lot better, like 30 or 40 higher. Once it's in that range, infuse away.
Eventually, you'll hit a soft Power cap where the numbers will even out. In Beyond Light, that soft cap is 1200. From there, you'll have to slow down and start tackling more challenging content if you want to boost those numbers further.
Second, experiment with your subclasses! Every class in Destiny 2 has three distinct subclasses, and each one of them has their own skill trees. These skill trees can drastically change your overall playstyle and help keep things from feeling stale.
Finally, stock up on bounties and invest in your Seasonal rank. Destiny 2 has a battle pass, and each rank you achieve nets you resources. These include brand new armor, resources, and even unique finishers and emotes. The quickest way to level this up is to complete bounties. Get into a habit of heading to the Tower every time you log in and just stock up. Start with Banshee-44's weapon bounties, which reward you with Upgrade Kits and Enhancement Cores, then go to Zavala, Shaxx, or The Drifter and pick up bounties for whatever you're in the mood for. Even if you just want to bum around in an overworld, pick up bounties from a vendor. Not only does it help with your season pass, the rewards usually include local resources, which beats the hell out of collecting them one by one on foot.
Now that all of that is done, what about the big piece of new content that is Beyond Light? Well, that is a lot to get into, in fact, we're gonna have guides specifically about those soon. But in the broad strokes, the reason to get into the new content on Europa is a brand new campaign that continues the cosmic war between Light and Darkness and unlocks a brand new fourth subclass for your character. As for how that works and how to improve it, that's a guide for a different time.
But for now, this should help answer your questions if you're new to Destiny 2 or are a lapsed player coming back.
Per Audacia ad Astra.