Update 7/5/2021: This guide was updated with some current details about Power Level in Destiny 2.
Destiny 2 and its expansions Forsaken, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light recently arrived on Xbox Game Pass alongside the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. This means that people who want to check out everything Destiny 2 currently has to offer can now do so at an incredibly low cost.
Unfortunately, though, there's a problem: Destiny 2 is not an easy game to jump into if you're just starting out. Don't worry, though, because this guide contains all of the information you'll need to get started off on the right foot, as well as some tips and suggestions that will help make your first foray into the Destiny universe a smooth one. Let's get started.
Destiny 2: Picking your class
The first thing you'll need to do when you start up Destiny 2 for the first time is pick a class to play as. Each class has different types of jumps, grenades, and melee abilities, and each one also has "Supers." Supers are ultimate abilities that take a while to charge, but have a dramatic impact on combat, and give you damage resistance while active.
There are three classes: Titans, Hunters, and Warlocks (listed left to right in the above image). Titans are the closest thing Destiny has to tank classes, featuring a skill that lets them place down a protective wall and several abilities focused on damage mitigation. Hunters are like rogues, able to perform a dodge, move around quickly, and use abilities to deliver large amounts of burst damage. Lastly, Warlocks are similar to mages, bringing supportive things like healing or damage boosts to the table with rifts. Additionally, they also have the highest (and trickiest to learn) jump of the three.
There are elemental subclasses (red is Solar, blue is Arc, purple is Void, and dark blue is Stasis) for each class, which can be switched at any time. These subclasses change what your abilities do, so as you play, try them out and see which one suits you best. Access to Stasis requires owning the Beyond Light expansion, beating the campaign, and doing some of the Exo Stranger's quests. There are also Aspects and Fragments that you can unlock for Stasis that tweak what your abilities do; don't miss our guide on how to get Aspects and Fragments.
Ultimately, you shouldn't stress about this decision, as you have three character slots. This means you can have one of each class if you want. Plus, all classes can use the same guns, so there's no need to worry about missing out on a cool weapon just because you're a Titan and not a Warlock.
Destiny 2: Combat basics
Now that you've picked a class, let's talk about the basics of combat. In Destiny, there are three types of enemy ranks: Minors, Majors, and Bosses. Minors (red health bar) are weak but plentiful, Majors (yellow health bar) are tougher but rarer, and Bosses (orange health bar) are the strongest but will usually only be encountered once per session.
In terms of your arsenal, you can wield three different types of guns: Primary (white ammo), Special (green ammo), and Power (purple ammo). Primary weapons (assault rifles, pulse rifles, handcannons) come with plenty of ammo but the lowest damage, making them ideal for mowing down Minors. Special weapons (shotguns, sniper rifles, fusion rifles) do higher damage with rarer ammo, making them best used on Majors. Finally, Power weapons (grenade launchers, machine guns, swords) are the most powerful, but ammo drops for them the least common. Therefore, you should save Power weapons for usage against Bosses or very large groups of Minors or Majors.
If you notice that an enemy has a shield glowing around their body, pay attention to the color of it. Red means that the shield is weak to Solar damage, blue means its weak to Arc, and purple means its weak to Void. You can use either your subclass abilities or an elemental guns to exploit these weaknesses. When you do, the enemy shield will instantly explode, hurting enemies close to the enemy you damaged, too. Stasis, the newest element, is less of a damage tool and more of a crowd control one. You can use Stasis to slow, freeze, and shatter enemies.
Lastly, when you notice your Super is ready, I recommend saving it for one of three situations: damaging a boss, clearing out huge groups of Minors/Majors, or staying alive at low health. Supers take a while to recharge, so you don't want to use them wastefully.
Destiny 2: What is Power Level?
Power Level in Destiny 2 is best described as the primary statistic you're aiming to increase as you play. Certain activities are only suitable for players who have reached a certain Power Level, therefore if yours is too low, the enemies will kill you extremely quickly and take little damage.
As a new player, your Power Level is at 1,100. This allows you to play in the game's patrol areas, Forsaken content, Shadowkeep content, normal Strikes, Crucible matches, and Gambit matches. As you play this content, you will find and earn new guns and armor that have a higher Power Level than your current average, which is displayed on the top right of your character overview. As you equip them, your Power Level will go up.
Eventually, you'll reach a point where you can't go any higher from these types of drops. From there on out, you'll have to start engaging with specific tasks and activities that reward Powerful Gear. These primarily include completing 8 bounties (simple missions like "kill 25 enemies with a sword") for vendors in The Tower each week. It also extends to special Nightmare Hunt and Nightfall Strike missions, completing the weekly Flashpoint (go to the planet with the yellow icon above it and do simple activities for the vendor) or finding Prime Engrams randomly as you play.
After doing this for awhile, you'll reach the Power Level soft cap, at which point you can only increase your Power Level 10 points further by completing harder activities that reward Pinnacle Rewards such as the Deep Stone Crypt Raid, the Prophecy Dungeon, and bounties for the Iron Banner Crucible mode that rolls around monthly.
Power Level also increases by 1 for every time you level up the seasonal artifact every player gets during in-game seasons. You do this by getting XP from vendor bounties, quest completions, and enemy kills. This helps ensure your Powerful Gear grind isn't too long, but the Power Levels do go away when a new season starts and you get a new artifact. Therefore, these Power gains are just a temporary boost. Additionally, Bungie raises the Power Level caps with each new season, so you'll never truly be "done" chasing Power Level increases in Destiny.
Destiny 2: What are seasons?
Seasons in Destiny 2 are (roughly) three month long periods of time where a special activity is added to the game and players complete it in order to earn new loot. Additionally, a battle pass is added for each season, and players have the option of paying $10 for a season battle pass that enables them to unlock cool stuff like cosmetics as they accrue XP.
Destiny 2: Loot stats and tiers
As you unlock new weapons and armor, you'll notice that in addition to randomized perks, they'll also have randomized stats. Here's a breakdown of what each stat means for weapons:
- Impact: The damage the weapon does.
- Range: How far away you can shoot at a target before damage falls off.
- Stability: How steady the weapon stays after trigger pulls.
- Handling: How quickly you can switch to or put away the weapon.
- Reload Speed: This one explains itself, no?
Here are the different stats for armors:
- Resilience: How much damage resistance your armor provides.
- Recovery: How quickly you regain health after being damaged.
- Mobility: Jump height and how fast you walk (sprint speed is universal).
- Intellect: How quickly your Super recharges.
- Discipline: How quickly your grenade recharges.
- Strength: How quickly your melee recharges.
On top of the stats that weapons and armor pieces have, it's also important to pay attention to their rarity tier, which is determined by color. There are five of them, but the Common and Uncommon variants (white and green) are effectively nonexistent in Destiny 2 for 2020. Therefore, we'll cover the three relevant ones:
- Rare (Blue): These are the worst tier of gear you'll come across. They drop often, so they're great for getting your Power Level up . However, you should look for Legendary items, since Rare weapons have fewer perks, and Rare armors have fewer mod slots.
- Legendary (Purple): Legendary gear will be your bread-and-butter in Destiny 2 endgame, as they offer more perks/mod slots and better overall stats compared to Rare gear.
- Exotic (Gold): Exotic gear is the rarest type in Destiny. Pieces of Exotic gear typically change the way your Guardian interacts with enemies and the world by way of a unique perk. You're only allowed to equip one Exotic weapon and one Exotic armor piece at once.
Powerful Gear and Pinnacle Gear drops will never be Rare. They will always be Legendary or in very rare cases, Exotic. If you see a golden engram while playing, make sure you grab it since it's a lucky Exotic drop.
Destiny 2: Important vendors and services
Though Destiny 2 has tons of different vendors and NPCs to talk with, some are more important than others. While I recommend talking to them all as you play, the ones I list here are the ones you'll want to prioritize as a new player.
- Zavala: Vanguard vendor, provides Vanguard bounties and Strike quests. Also gives Vanguard-themed gear in exchange for Vanguard Tokens you earn while playing Strikes. Gives Powerful Gear after 8 bounties are completed every week.
- Lord Shaxx: Crucible vendor, provides Crucible bounties and quests. Also gives Crucible-themed gear in exchange for Crucible Tokens you earn while playing in Crucible. Gives Powerful Gear after 8 bounties are completed every week.
- The Drifter: Gambit vendor, provides Gambit and Gambit Prime bounties and quests. Gives Powerful Gear after 8 bounties are completed every week.
- Banshee-44: Weapon/armor mod vendor, provides Gunsmith bounties, weapon quests, and mods. Gives Powerful Gear after 8 bounties are completed every week.
- Xur: Sells Exotic weapons and armor on weekends. Also sells a special engram that is guaranteed to give you Exotic gear you don't have yet.
- Postmaster: This vendor is where gear you either don't have inventory space for or forget to pick up off the ground when it drops goes to. Make sure to check it frequently, as if the Postmaster gets full, items you forget to collect will simply be deleted instead of sent to the Postmaster.
- Exo Stranger: Owners of the Beyond Light expansion will need to frequently work with the Exo Stranger in order to receive and upgrade their Stasis subclass.
- Ada-1: Speak to Ada-1 to use Armor Synthesis, which allows you to turn any armor pieces in your Collections tab into a universal armor ornament through the use of Synthweave, a currency earned from Ada-1 for killing enemies and completing her bounties. Ada-1 also sells some valuable Charged with Light and Warmind Cell mods that allow players to craft deep and unique builds (her inventory changes daily).
- Quest Kiosk: If you ever abandon one of your quests and want to activate it again, it will be found here. Also, this is where existing players will be able to access the new tutorial quest that came with Beyond Light.
- Monument To Lost Lights Kiosk: This Kiosk is where players can obtain Exotics and other special weapons exclusive to content that was put into the Destiny Content Vault (When Bungie removes old content to make the game install size smaller). It will cost a hefty amount of in-game currencies for these items however, as they required completion of difficult quests and missions and are priced highly as a result.
All of these vendors can be found in The Tower hub, although Xur also has a chance to spawn in other locations in the game as well. Keep an eye on this tracking website during weekends in order to figure out where he is every week.
In addition to the above vendors, there's also Tess Everis. She runs the Eververse store on The Tower, which is Destiny 2's microtransaction shop. In it, you can find different cosmetic ornaments for your armor and weapons, new types of Sparrows (a speeder bike you can ride in open areas), shaders, and more. Some of it can be purchased with Bright Dust, a special currency you get for doing weekly bounties for vendors. However, most of it has to be bought with Silver, a currency bought with real money.
Destiny 2: Major game modes
Below follow the main gameplay experiences that you'll be able to have outside of doing the story missions or just aimlessly exploring Destiny 2's worlds.
- Strikes: These Vanguard missions involve a team of three players fighting their way through a traditional-style shooter mission. At the end of the level, players have to face off against and defeat a boss. Afterwards, you'll usually end up getting Vanguard Tokens and a rare piece of gear or two, with a lower chance for Legendary gear.
- Nightfall: The Ordeal: These are harder versions of Strikes called Nightfalls that have more durable and deadly enemies. However, to compensate, the chances of good loot dropping have been increased significantly. High difficulty Nightfalls will even drop Exotic gear and upgrade materials for armor and weapons commonly; you'll need to be at the Power Level soft cap, though.
- Crucible: The Crucible is Destiny 2's PvP arena and where players can go to fight against other Guardians. Free-for-all, 4v4, and 6v6 modes are all available, and there's a special competitive 4v4 Elimination mode too. Finishing matches usually nets you Crucible Tokens and a Rare or Legendary gear drop.
- Gambit: This mode fuses together PvE with PvP as two teams of four compete to see who can kill a Taken Primeval first. The core mechanics are banking motes to spawn Taken on the other team's battlefield and work towards spawning a Primeval, as well as Invading to try and kill players who have motes.
- Dungeons: These levels bridge the gap between Strikes and Raids, offering a decently long and challenging PvE experience with light puzzles for a group of three. They reward two Powerful Gear and a Pinnacle Gear when completed each week.
- Raids: These are six-man PvE missions that often take several hours to complete and require crystal clear communication due to the complex puzzles and difficult combat in them. Raids are the hardest things in Destiny 2, but are also often considered one of the most fun things as well. Currently, you get five Pinnacle Gear drops when completing the reprised Vault of Glass Raid. Older Raids drop unique loot, though it isn't Pinnacle Gear.
In general, I recommend avoiding Dungeons and Raids until you get more comfortable with Destiny and have a relatively high Power Level. Those activities don't have matchmaking, either, so you'll have to form your own fireteams. The Destiny Sherpa subreddit is a good place to look if you want to try a Dungeon or Raid.
Destiny 2: Upgrading and customizing gear
In Destiny 2, you'll need to use a combination of Glimmer (drops from fallen enemies), Legendary Shards (obtained from dismantling Legendary/Exotic Gear), and rare currencies called Enhancement Cores, Enhancement Prisms, and Ascendant Shards (most reliable drops are from Nightfalls) in order to fully upgrade your weapons and armor. You can upgrade every weapon and armor piece 10 times each, with each level adding more to your stats. Additionally, with armor specifically, upgrading it gives you the ability to use more impactful mods. Mods are very valuable since they can provide all sorts of beneficial effects, so upgrading your kit and leveraging several great mods at once is the right call. At the tenth upgrade level, weapons and armor become masterworked and can't be improved any further.
If you want to customize your weapons or armor, scroll down to the Appearance tab underneath the item's inventory page. Here, you will be able to apply shaders that you've found during gameplay (think of them as paint schemes), and you can also apply any ornaments that you have available (either bought from Eververse or earned in gameplay) for the weapon or armor piece in question. These will make your armor or weapon look completely different. However, you can switch back and forth at any time, so don't be afraid of "wasting" your ornament.
Finally, you can speak to Ada-1 in The Tower to use Armor Synthesis, which is a system that allows you to turn any armor piece in your Collections tab into a universal ornament through use of the Synthweave currency that you can earn from Ada-1 by killing enemies and completing her bounties. Check out my breakdown of the system for more details.
If you have any questions about the game that you'd like to have answered, feel free to drop them in the comments. Destiny 2: Beyond Light is available for $40 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. If you don't feel that Destiny 2 is right for you, make sure you check out our list of the best Xbox One shooters available.
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