Destiny 2: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s a lot of work to get through DESTINY 2. It has been nearly five years since the free-to-play but expensive-when-you-inevitably-get-addicted game was released. A constantly shifting, evolving thing with new backstory and updates has been going on for the past few years. On February 22nd, the Witch Queen expansion will be released.

Destiny is a difficult game to jump into because of its long history. It’s possible that you’re wondering, “How do I level up?” or “What exactly do you do?” (Or, “Dear God, what the hell is going on?!”) The information in this guide is by no means exhaustive, but it should help those of you who are playing for the first time get your bearings in this absurd and perplexing game.

In the event that you succumb to Destiny’s addictive gameplay loop, be warned that it will never let you go. It’s a scavenger of your time, a voracious eater of your attention. I wrote this guide because the only way to get rid of the curse is to give it away. Here’s what you need to know to begin playing Destiny 2.

What’s the Story?

To begin with, you’re already behind in Destiny’s storey. It’s nearly impossible for newcomers to wade through the voluminous lore. It’s also worth noting that Destiny’s developer Bungie recently made the controversial decision to “vault” game content, which means removing entire plotlines and locations from the game entirely. As a result, the main campaign from Destiny 2 is no longer playable. Events and characters you haven’t seen, people you haven’t met, and decisions you havent made will be mentioned in dialogue and cutscenes.
Bungie is going to start vaulting things in the future, so even the most recent expansion could fade away in the future. There is no need to worry about that. Instead, head over to Horizon Forbidden West. (It’s mind-blowing!) However, if you enjoy the game’s gameplay and enjoy playing with your friends, there’s no need to worry about the storey. ‘Being lost is a part of the whole vibe,’ said my colleague Jess Grey, a seasoned veteran of the Destiny series.

According to what we know so far, The solar system has thousands of years to go. This space wizard is in the middle of a battle between the forces of good and evil. It’s a battle between two gods, Light and Darkness, who are literally battling it out. The Traveler, a massive metal sphere that represents the Light, is the name given by the game’s characters. Large pyramids with clearly sinister intent are slowly encroaching on the universe. The Darkness resides there.

As a guardian of the Light, you’ve been infected with a bizarre form of space magic. It’s called a Ghost, a small metal ball that floats around you at all times. When you die, you’re revived by a piece of the Traveler. There are going to be a lot of times like that.

In order to get a fuller picture of what’s going on, check out this delightful tweet thread that summarises the storey thus far. It’s possible to learn a lot about Destiny by reading the game’s numerous online encyclopaedias. We’ll be focusing on gameplay from here on out.


The very first thing you’ll do is choose a character. Aside from a few dance emotes, the race and gender options are largely ornamental. The more important decision is character class. Your choices are as follows:

Titan: The tank, whose abilities mostly involve smashing everything at point-blank range.
Hunter: a rogue with a penchant for cunning deception and lethal stabbings.
Warlock: The wizard, a caster who smites from the sky and heals herself and allies.

After you play a bit, you’ll get access to three different subclasses: Solar (fire damage), Arc (electric/lightning damage), and Void (purple space explosions) (purple space explosions). You can unlock Stasis, an icy-themed fourth subclass, only once you’ve completed the paid Beyond Light campaign’s main storyline. (More on that in a bit.) To access your subclass settings, go into the menu at the top left of your character menu. Each subclass can then be further customised by choosing from a variety of skill trees.


You’ll be shooting stuff with guns, of course, but you’ll also have access to a set of rechargeable abilities. A defensive class ability and your Super are among the options available to you in melee combat (a flashy, high-damage attack that annihilates everything nearby). How these operate varies depending on your class and subclass. To tweak the settings, go into your subclass menu and let your eyes boggle at all the options.
A special note about jumping: There’s really nothing more frustrating in the game than face planting into the side of a wall because you mistimed a jump. There are many, many platforming sections in Destiny. Each class jumps a little differently, so you may want to experiment with these settings to find the one that works best for you.

Doin’ Stuff

You can do many of Destiny 2’s activities solo, but you’re better off in a group, called a fireteam. Go to the director’s menu, then the Roster tab, to form a group with your pals. If you want to play with people on different platforms, you’ll need a Bungie account. Having a group of friends is ideal, but if you’re playing alone, you’ll be paired up with the entire squad on most missions.
Go to the Director menu and select the Destinations tab to move between locations. There, you’ll see a map with a bunch of different planets and locations on it. A non-combat zone known as The Tower serves as your primary hub. Vendors sell goods here, and quests can be found there as well.

The core gameplay of Destiny 2 varies depending on what you’re into. There are player vs. player battles, and co-op player vs. everything else missions where you and your allies battle NPCs.

Crucible: This PVP mode is about as straightforward as Destiny gets. It’s team deathmatch, where the goal is to eliminate other players and capture territory. This is the place to be if your goal is to shoot other players in the face.

In regular Crucible modes, guardians’ power levels are balanced so that everyone has a mostly even playing field. Iron Banner, a variation of Crucible that becomes available once a month, does away with that power balancing, so only the strongest survive. If you’re brand new to the game, you’ll probably feel very underpowered.

GAMBIT: A mix between player-versus-player and player-versus-computer gameplay. You’ll battle alien NPCs with your squad while a competing fireteam does the same. Rival guardians can invade the other team’s game and wreck havoc on the competition at certain points.

Vanguard Strikes are one-shot missions that you and a team of three guardians can undertake repeatedly. If you aren’t familiar with the storey campaigns, the plot and dialogue may feel a little disjointed. Even though nightfall strikes offer better rewards, they are more difficult to complete and may necessitate the use of specialised weapons in order to be successful.

Story Missions: If you want to play through the main storylines, you’ll need to pay for expansions. The campaign expansions available ahead of Witch Queen are Forsaken, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light. If you care about the storey, you’ll want to play them in that order. Just be aware that on February 22nd, Witch Queen will vault Forsaken, which is widely regarded as one of the best expansions. You can likely finish the campaign in under 10 hours, but if you won’t be able to get through that before the 22nd, don’t bother.

Using the mission selector in Witch Queen, you’ll be able to go back and play your favourite parts of the campaign. You can even increase the difficulty all the way to legendary status.

While the Beyond Light campaign isn’t essential to the game’s narrative, it’s still worth playing through at least once. It sets up a lot of what’s to come in Witch Queen, and completing the campaign is the only way to unlock the Stasis subclass.

The Grind

Season Pass: This is a limited-time battle pass that lets you unlock reward tiers as you level up. Depending on what you do with them, you can earn anything from crafting materials to high-end weapons and armour pieces. For the most part, it only lasts a few weeks at a time. Silver, the game’s premium currency, is required to unlock the season pass, and getting your hands on it will cost you real-world money. (There are some freebies in the season pass, but they’re nothing substantial.)

Bounties are short-term tasks that grant you experience, currency, or resources in exchange for completing them. Pick them up from vendors in the Tower, or in free roam areas for tasks specific to that zone. A bounty that gives you experience will have a “XP+” in the rewards section. The more plus signs, the more experience you’ll get. Some bounties also give you Bright Dust, a currency type that lets you buy weekly cosmetic items you’d otherwise have to fork over real money for. (More on that in the Currency section below.)

The Gear


Any gear that you find will fall into a quality class: rare (blue), legendary (purple), or exotic (yellow) (yellow). The best weapons and armour tend to be exotic in nature, providing unique and interesting benefits to the user. The downside is that you can only equip one piece of exotic armour and one exotic weapon at a time, forcing you to choose which powerups work best with your character and play style.

Legendary-class items make up the bulk of Destiny’s gear offerings (indicated by their purple background). These spawn with random attributes that you can peruse by hovering over the item and tapping the Details button. If you don’t like the attributes on a particular roll, you can safely discard the weapon. Chances are you’ll find it again with different attributes.
You don’t need to worry about blue item drops, to be honest. As the game has evolved, newer and more powerful items have been introduced, and these are severely outclassed. Recently, Bungie made changes to the game to reduce the frequency with which they drop. Once you really get into the swing of things, purple legendary gear will drop so often you’ll never need to worry about blue again.


You’ve got three guns at a time: kinetic, energy, and power. Some guns use special or heavy ammo, which you gather by killing enemies. Guns with a primary ammo type have infinite ammo but tend to be a little weaker than special and heavy weapons.


You wear five pieces of armour at one time, each with its own stats. Armor pieces have energy types (Solar, Arc, Void, or Stasis) that dictate what kind of modifications you can make to them. If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of armour, you can do so by reading this comprehensive guide to the subject.


Your core stat is your Power level. (It’s the big number right up by your head in the character screen.) Each piece of gear you have equipped has a power rating, and this number represents the average of those ratings. In order to participate in more difficult activities, such as Nightfall strikes and raids, you must have higher power ratings. As of right now, the highest possible power rating is 1320. When Witch Queen releases, that cap will increase to 1500.

You can immediately improve your stats by paying attention to the benefits that your armour provides you with.. Each piece gives boosts to stats that dictate how you play.

The ability to move quickly and jump high.
Resilience: How much damage you can take.
The speed at which you recover your health after being damaged.
Discipline: How fast your grenade recharges.
Intellect: How fast your super recharges.
Strength is measured by two metrics: melee range (the distance you can punch) and the rate at which your powered melee attack refuels itself.

Hover over the little icons to the left of your armour in the Character menu to see what rank each stat is at. For every 10 points boosted by your armour, each stat improves by another tier. However, the most desirable armour statistics will vary depending on your playstyle. Always look for armour with high numbers in the stats you desire.


Unless you’re also going to look good while you’re doing it, there’s no point in traipsing across the solar system to face endless alien hordes. To customise your duds, go into the Character screen. At the very bottom of the screen, there’s a button with a down arrow next to it. You’ll be taken to a screen where you can customise your device if you do so. You can customise your character’s appearance here, including the colour of their armour, the design of their ship, and the finishing moves and emotes they employ.

There’s a way to get more colour options for less money if you’re frustrated by your current selection. In the Store menu, go down to Archive. Scroll over a couple of tabs and look for the Year 1 Shader Bundle. More than 30 colour schemes for your equipment can be obtained for a small amount of Glimmer. You can acquire additional shaders as loot, or buy them for Bright Dust from week to week.

If you want to go deep, there’s a (controversial) transmog system that will let you take one piece of armour and convert it to a cosmetic that you can wear over another. To help with that, I’ve put together this guide.

The Vault

In the HELM or the TOWER, you have access to your vault (just above the Tower on the Destinations screen). The vault can store up to 500 items, and any character on your account has access to them all.


As you play, you’ll find that gear drops with higher and higher power levels. However, there are times when you find the ideal firearm and find yourself unable to part with it. Fortunately, you have the ability to increase an item’s power level so that it keeps pace with the rest of your accoutrements.

Access the item’s details screen from your character menu to increase an item’s power level. When looking at that screen, you’ll see a box with the word Infuse in the left-most corner. Other items can be seen if you move your mouse over it. The weapon or armour you want to keep can then be strengthened by sacrificing an item of the same class with a higher power rating.
In addition, a process known as Masterworking can be used to improve the state of an item. Go into your character menu, then into an item’s details screen. The energy bar will have an upgrade option if you’re using armour. On weapons, it’s the middle box in the middle left of the screen, where it should say Tier Weapon. If you have the requisite materials (see the section below) you can boost an item. The max level rating is 10, at which point the weapon or armour piece becomes a Masterwork item and receives a boost in stats.

Keep in mind that upgrade resources can be rare, so be discerning in what you choose to invest in. In the event that a product does not have all of the features that you desire, you may want to hold off on purchasing it until you locate one that does.


In order to increase the power of your weapons and armour, you’ll need upgrade items. They come in a few shapes and sizes. From least to most rare, you’ve got Upgrade Modules, Enhancement Cores, Enhancement Prisms, and Ascendant Shards. Most of these can be purchased from Banshee-44 in the Tower, but you may also come across them in the wild. Ascendant shards are especially rare, and necessary in the final stage of masterworking an item. You should exercise caution when utilising these resources due to the difficulty in locating them. (To learn more, see this page.)

Unlocking an engram reveals a (mostly) random item hidden inside the dodecahedron. They can be obtained in a variety of ways, including as part of a quest or as random drops. The rarity of the gear inside will be indicated by the colour and power level of the item. Take them to Master Rahool in the Tower or go to the Umbral Decoder in the HELM to unlock.

Planetary materials are bulk collectibles found on planets in free roam areas and on missions. You can use them to barter with various vendors for various items.

Legendary shards are a form of currency used to acquire legendary and exotic items. Gain them by breaking down legendary or exotic weapons, or by ranking up in the season pass.

Consumables are one-time-use items that can be used during missions to boost stats or increase your chances to get loot. A Raid Banner, for example, will give everyone on the fireteam Super energy and refill all of their ammo.

All of your characters’ resources, consumables, shards, and upgrade materials are pooled together in your character menu.


Glimmer is the easiest to get. You’ll find it in missions and receive it as rewards for certain quests and bounties. Glimmer can be used to acquire bounties, as well as to purchase equipment and resources from merchants.

Bright Dust can be used to colour your armour, skins, and other accessories. What’s available to buy depends on the rotation of items for the week. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) In the store menu, there are Bright Dust offerings at the bottom of the Featured screen and in a separate Bright Dust tab. The items available there change weekly. In-game sources of Bright Dust include completing storey campaigns or achieving a high enough season pass rank, but it’s rare to find it this way.

The premium currency in Destiny is silver. In the Eververse shop, you can use your real-world cash to purchase skins for weapons and armour as well as additional emotes. Make sure you know what you’re buying before you make a purchase. Each exotic gun and armour ornament can only be used on a specific piece of equipment. Before you can use the visual skin you paid for, you’ll have to find the gun in-game that the ornament is meant to fit on.

You have seven days from the date of purchase to return an item if you made a mistaken purchase. Wrapped Items will appear in your Inventory once you’ve made your purchase. Hover over your recent purchase and press refund. Just be sure not to open it, otherwise there are no takesy-backsies. Many items that previously could only be purchased with silver do come back in the Bright Dust section. It’s never really clear what will return, so it’s a bit of a gamble. But if you’re patient, you might be able to snag a skin without having to pony up.

Stray Tips

There is a vendor named the Postmaster in the Tower. Any items you missed grabbing during a mission will be moved there so you can pick them up again. There are a limited number of inventory slots, so be sure to check back frequently to see if you’ve missed anything.
Some things are shared by the characters, while others are not. Quest progress and bounties are character-specific, so you’ll have to replay storey missions with each character you want to level up through the campaign. Most inventory items, season pass experience, and victories are shared by all characters you play.
Every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Pacific, the Destiny servers are reset. The weekly bounties offered by vendors, as well as the items in the featured and Bright Dust sections of the store menu, are refreshed at that time.
Xur is a mysterious character who travels between Destiny’s locations and reality planes. Xur reappears in one of the free-roam areas every week, from Friday at 9 a.m. Pacific to Tuesday at 9 a.m. Pacific. He trades legendary shards for a random assortment of exotic and legendary gear. and other useful websites will tell you where to find him each week.
Download the Destiny 2 app. It works incredibly well and greatly simplifies inventory and menu management. The app allows you to transfer items between characters and collect bounties in real time. Destiny will now follow you wherever you go, for the rest of your life. You are now a member.

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