Destiny 2 is a great game. It has some of the best gunplay of any shooter out there (it comes from the creators of Halo, after all) and features hundreds of things to do.
Problem is that new players are easily overwhelmed, and developer Bungie hasn’t done enough to help them learn the ropes. This results in many giving up way too soon. A new Tutorial and Guardian Ranks have been introduced to better explain the game to beginners, but New Lights still feel lost.
But fear not. After reading this guide (which I’m keeping as short as possible), you’ll have a good understanding of how the game works and how to best enjoy it.
Updated as of Season of Defiance (S20).
0. Essential tools every player needs
Destiny 2 may be a great game, but it desperately needs a few basic features. Namely, a better inventory manager and an in-game group finder. You can still play and enjoy Destiny 2 “out of the box,” but these third-party tools will greatly improve your experience (plus, they’re all free and come from reliable sources):
- Destiny Item Manager (DIM): My go-to inventory manager; with DIM, you can easily move items between characters and vault, create loadouts, and so much more. It’s free and works on any browser.
- Destiny 2 Companion App: Somehow, Destiny 2 doesn’t have an in-game Fireteam finder (yet, one should come later this year). Luckily, this companion app has a good LFG (looking for group) system, plus it lets you collect bounties on the go!
- Light.gg: Probably the biggest D2 database around; I use it all the time to check stats and rolls for weapons.
🔷 Pro tip: You can find more essential apps and tools for Destiny 2 players on our dedicated resources page.
PS: You can grab the digital edition of our Beginner’s Guide (for free, of course) here:
1. The Basics: A Destiny 2 New player guide
Unlike your average beginner’s guide, we won’t spend too long talking about the different classes. At this stage, any class will do. If you like punching things, Titans are great. If you’re into going invisible and such, you can try out a Hunter. And if you’re more interested in healing, you can go with a Warlock. That was a crude description of each class, but really, any class will do.
We won’t cover the absolute basics (such as changing weapons) either. Bungie’s New Player Guide does that just fine. We’ll focus on the true foundations of the game: The activities, your character, and weapons.
Activities: Planets and game modes
When you first load into Destiny 2, you’ll be confronted with an overwhelming menu (called Director) filled with planets and game modes. The Director is the tool you’ll use to load into the different activities the game has to offer.
It includes the following game modes (also referred to as Playlist activities):
- Vanguard: This mode features matchmade 3-man “mini-dungeons,” in which you basically need to slay everything in your way until you get to a final boss. This mode doesn’t have any complicated mechanics you need to learn. Just get in and shoot everything on sight.
- Crucible: This is the PvP area in Destiny 2 and includes several PvP modes such as Control, Survival, etc. Some are better suited for beginners (such as Control), whereas others are definitely geared toward hardcore players (Trials of Osiris).
- Gambit: A mixture of PvE and PvP; I recommend not starting here if you’re new to Destiny 2.
The Director also includes the game’s main social spaces:
- The Tower: This is where you’ll find most Vendors and quest givers.
- The H.E.L.M: This area is mostly reserved for seasonal quest givers and vendors.
And finally, it includes several planets:
- Explorable planets: Neomuna, The Throne World, Derelict Leviathan, Europa, Cosmodrome and European Dead Zone (both on Earth), Moon, Dreaming City, and Nessus.
Each planet is full of activities you can participate in, either solo or in a Fireteam (Destiny’s word for “Party”). On a planet, you’ll find Patrol Zones (open areas you can freely explore), Public Events, Raids, Dungeons, and more.
Entire paragraphs could be written to properly explain each and every one of those activities. But for now, let’s keep things simple and talk about how the weapon system works in Destiny 2.
🔷 Pro tip: Free-to-play VS. Expansions: With Expansions for purchase, free-to-play content, and removed content, Destiny 2 is a complicated game to get into. This guide explains what content is still available, what expansion it requires, and more.
Destiny 2 features a powerful weapon system that is, unfortunately, not very intuitive for newcomers. In fact, even experienced players can have a hard time explaining the difference between weapon classes and types, special weapons and energy weapons, etc.
Weapons in Destiny 2 are divided into three classes:
- Primary weapons
- Special weapons
- Heavy weapons
These classes are defined by the type of ammo they require, either the always available Primary ammo (white boxes), the rarer Special ammo (green boxes), or the hardest-to-obtain Heavy ammo (purple boxes). And as you would expect, the harder-to-find Heavy ammo is used by the hardest-hitting guns in the game: Power weapons.
The several weapon types available in the game fall into one of those 3 classes:
⚠ Note that some Exotic weapons do not respect the table below. More on that later.
In parallel, there are three different weapon slots:
- Kinetic weapons: These deal more damage to enemies without a shield. Stasis weapons also fall into this slot.
- Energy weapons: These deal elemental damage (either Arc, Void, or Solar) and deal extra damage to shielded enemies with matching elements.
- Heavy weapons: Can also deal elemental damage and are extremely powerful. However, they require Heavy ammo (which is harder to find).
Note that these three slots match your character’s inventory slots. A Guardian will always carry 1 Kinetic, 1 Energy, and 1 Heavy weapon at all times.
These are the symbols representing the five elements in the game:
🔷 Pro tip: Always use your Energy/Heavy weapons on shielded enemies when the elements match! Example: Use your solar sniper rifle on an enemy with a solar shield for extra damage!
Using the right weapon at the right time
As a rule of thumb, Special weapons are more powerful than Primary weapons, and Heavy weapons are more powerful than Special weapons. In parallel, Special ammo is rare while Primary ammo is infinite, and Heavy ammo is even harder to find than Special ammo. This means you’ll want to use your Primary weapon on the weaker enemies and save your Special and Heavy ammo for the Majors and Bosses.
🔷 Pro tip: Always carry a Special weapon alongside your Primary weapon, as Special weapons deal much more damage.
2. Where to get started: New Light Quest
Destiny 2 used to have the worst tutorial for new players. It was extremely short and barely scratched the surface. It left players lost and overwhelmed, and many quit because of it.
With Beyond Light, Bungie added a new Tutorial called the New Light quest. This questline is better and properly explains the absolute basics. It also gradually unlocks activities and planets to better explain what everything is.
How to play the New Light quest?
If this is your first time playing Destiny 2, the quest will automatically start as soon as you create your first character. If you’ve dabbled with Destiny 2 before but would still like to experience this quest, you can grab it from a Quest Archive. One is located in the Tower, next to the Postmaster, the other in the H.E.L.M.
Once you have the quest in your inventory, you can launch it from the Director when selecting the Cosmodrome.
3. Leveling Up & XP in Destiny 2
In Destiny 2, your character’s level works differently than in most MMOs. For example, your Guardian will start at 1600 Power Level, which means it’ll be strong enough to tackle most core activities on Day 1. But as you progress towards more difficult content, you’ll need a higher Power Level, which caps at a maximum of 1810.
The Road to Max Power Level
This is how Power Levels work in Destiny 2:
1. Your Power Level dictates how much damage you inflict and receive.
2. All activities have a recommended Power Level; you’ll want to be as close to it as possible.
3. Your Power Level is 100% determined by the Level of your equipable gear. By equipable, this means you don’t need to equip your highest Power Level weapon at all times. You just need to keep it on your character or your vault to count toward your average Power Level.
4. There are different level caps, and each cap requires specific rewards from more challenging content to continue leveling up.
This chart summarizes what gear will be needed to increase your Power Level until reaching that elusive Max Power Level, currently set at 1810:
|Level Cap||Power Level||Gear needed|
This means you should always pay attention to the Power Level of the gear you find. If something has a higher Power Level on a specific slot (Heavy weapon, helmet, etc.) than what you already have, keep it until you find something higher. This includes Blue gear, which is otherwise useless outside of leveling up.
Any piece of gear you find can help you increase your Power Level to the Soft Cap. After that, you’ll have to tackle specific activities that reward Powerful Gear to reach the Hard Cap and then Pinnacle Gear to reach the Pinnacle Cap. While leveling up, just make sure you never dismantle a piece of gear unless you have something with a higher Power Level on that same slot.
Example: Even if you know you’ll never use that ugly blue helmet you just found, keep it until you find another helmet with an equal or higher Power Level.
As you level up, your favorite gear, especially weapons, will quickly have a Power Level that is too low to use. You can use a mechanic called “infusion” to take another item with a higher Power Level and destroy it to increase the Power Level of your preferred item.
This means you can use infusion to continuously increase the Power Level of your favorite weapons. Infusion does cost materials; therefore, keep it to a minimum, especially at the beginning. Until the Soft Cap, you’ll level up so fast that infusing is a huge waste of materials.
1. As your favorite weapons are left behind in terms of Power Level, store them in your vault.
2. In parallel, experiment with the new, higher Power Level weapons you find along the way, even if they aren’t great on paper. This will allow you to try many different weapon types and eventually find the weapons that work best for you.
3. Once you reach a high enough Power Level, you can use infusion to increase the Power level of some of your favorite weapons stored in the vault and use those in more challenging content.
This guide covers exactly all the Powerful and Pinnacle sources in the game and provides tips and strategies on how to level up fast:
In Destiny 2, XP is useful for two different things:
- Unlocking your Season Pass rewards
- Upgrading your Seasonal Artifact to unlock Mods and bonus Power Levels
The Season Pass includes two tracks: a free track (available to all) and a paid track (available to owners of the current Season). The Season Pass does include a lot of good things, such as weapons, armor, Exotic engrams, and more. Needless to say, you’ll want to grind XP to get all the rewards.
The fastest and most efficient way to earn XP in Destiny 2 still revolves around doing bounties (which you can pick up from different vendors in the game).
The community has complained a lot about “bounty farming” and with reason. But if you’re looking to get XP efficiently, you don’t have a choice but to grab the best bounties and work on them simultaneously.
This guide explains how XP works and provides the most efficient XP farming methods available:
Finally, if you’re mainly interested in PVP, there’s another leveling system you should be aware of: Glory ranks.
In a nutshell, Glory is a skill ranking system. Winning games grants Glory points that will help you climb the ranks, and losing games will cost you points.
If you are an average or below-average PVP player and are looking for a game mode where you can slowly improve as you gradually face tougher opponents, the “solo” playlist called Survival: Freelance is for you. There, you can be sure you will only match against other solo players (and therefore avoid stacked teams).
This guide covers everything there is to know about Glory. How it works, what awards are locked behind it (spoiler: some of the best weapons in the game), and more:
4. Upgrading your gear
Now we can finally talk about the most exciting part of any MMO: the loot.
One of the most engaging aspects of Destiny 2 is the chase to get better gear. And as can be expected from a looter shooter, Destiny 2 has hundreds of items available for you to discover. But not all gear was created equally. You have different rarity levels, Exotics, and more. In this section, we’ll cover the basics regarding weapons and armor in D2.
Side note: In most MMOs, rarity levels play an important role (blue gear is better than green, purple is better than blue, and so on). But in Destiny, rarity levels are close to meaningless. You should only care about Legendary gear (purple) and Exotics (gold).
Chasing the best Weapons
Obviously, you’re also here because you want cooler weapons. This section covers the principles of chasing and collecting the best gear in the game.
Let’s start with one of the foundations of Destiny 2’s weapons: Perks.
Good weapon = Good base stats + Good perks
Don’t make the mistake I did in thinking base stats were all that mattered. I used to google “best destiny 2 weapons”, read Spare Rations somewhere in a list, grind until I found one, and call it a day.
But a weapon’s perks are equally important. And as perks are randomly assigned to weapons, it can take a while before you find the right weapon with the right perks. So be prepared to dismantle a lot of “good” weapons because they rolled with the wrong perks.
Take the Gnawing Hunger auto rifle. It’s an excellent PVE weapon but only if it has the right perks (Subsistence + Rampage for example). Therefore, always pay close attention to perks and not only the weapon itself. Finding a “good weapon” is nearly worthless if it has the wrong perks.
🔷 Pro tip: Never dismantle a “good” weapon before paying close attention to its perks.
PVP and PVE needs
The best PVE weapons are rarely the same as the best PVP weapons. There are exceptions of course, but PVP requires very different perks and stats than PVE. For that reason, you have to see PVP and PVE weapons as two separate things. When chasing gear, you have to know in advance what you’re looking for: PVP or PVE gear.
The best weapons in Destiny 2
This guide covers in detail the best weapons in Destiny 2 (including the best exotics, PVE, PVP, and more):
Great yet accessible weapons
Many of the top weapons in Destiny 2 are hard to obtain (as they should be). But there are some great weapons out there that are much easier to find and can help you quickly build a good arsenal for both PVE and PVP.
Every season brings new weapons that are relatively easy to farm, and while some seasons have better weapons than others, there will always be a couple of good weapons that will be easy to farm.
This is not the place to cover all the best weapons or perks but Light.gg is a great resource to check what the better perks are:
Perks highlighted in gold are considered the best all-around, those in red the best ones for PVP, and those in blue for PVE.
Also, to keep in mind: Exotic weapons are extremely powerful; that’s why you can only carry one at once. Prioritize finding the best exotics (this guide should help).
High stat Armor
Armor in Destiny 2 is all about the stats. In a sense, the looks of a piece of armor are unimportant.
What you’re looking for is armor with high stats (anything with over 60 total is considered good) and good stat distribution. Not all stats are equal, and some will be vastly more important than others, depending on what class you’re using. For example, Mobility is always nice but is crucial for Hunters.
Other things to keep in mind:
- The Energy level (ranging from 1 to 10) in a piece of armor dictates how many Mods you can apply to it.
- The Energy level can be upgraded at any time. The first levels are cheap, but the latter are definitely not.
- Mods can increase the armor’s stats or provide other benefits such as faster reload, etc.
- You can Masterwork your armor to increase even more your base stats (Masterwork = Energy level 10 = very expensive).
- But your base stats are the most important part of your armor and cannot be increased!
- If you find armor with good base stats, keep it!
I’m sorry that I keep repeating myself, but I personally made that mistake when I first started. I didn’t know what was worth keeping and ended up randomly dismantling great armor…
This guide covers every Armor set in the game and explains what are the best sources of high-stat armor:
5. Endgame: The most challenging activities
Destiny 2 is notorious for offering new players a horrendous experience. The current introductory New Light quest barely scratches the surface and leaves new players with absolutely no idea of what to do next. What should you do now? Buy an Expansion? Should you buy the current Season? Is the free-to-play side beefy enough to have fun?
Preparing for endgame content
These questions are, unfortunately, complicated to answer. This is, after all, the worst side of Destiny 2 right now: The game is too fragmented with too many different DLCs, Seasons, and now vaulted (removed) content. This guide properly explains what is included in each Expansion, what is free, and what is no longer available:
In the meantime, you have two options in front of you:
- You want to experience as much free-to-play content as possible and then decide if you want to spend money in Destiny 2.
- You are sold on the excellent gameplay and want to buy an Expansion.
If you’re part of the first group, these are the free-to-play activities and Destinations available to New Light players:
|Vault of Glass Raid||PVE||
Average to Hard
|Trials of Osiris||PVP||
This is how I would recommend a new player to tackle the different activities available for free:
- Do the New Light Quest
- Head over to the Vanguard Playlist and do some Strikes
- Slowly work on increasing your Power Level by targeting the right challenges
- Once your Power Level is high enough, work towards playing with others as a Fireteam
- Slowly work your way towards harder and harder Nightfall: The Ordeals
- Your end game is to tackle the Prophecy Dungeon, one of the best pieces of content in Destiny 2.
Obviously, following this list is not as easy as it sounds when you’re new to Destiny 2. But if you take it step by step, I promise you’ll make it.
And if you’re willing to purchase your first Expansion, you absolutely need to purchase Lightfall. Don’t stress about completing the campaigns in the “right order.” You can always purchase Beyond Light or even Shadowkeep further down the line.
Once you’ve leveled up and acquired good weapons and armor, it’s time to tackle the most challenging activities in the game. Some of these activities will become part of your weekly routine as you’re trying to reach the max Power Level. On top of rewarding players with Pinnacle gear, some of them can also reward you with some of the best gear in Destiny 2.
Other than meticulously tracking the upcoming features and changes with our Destiny 2 roadmap, these activities are what you could call Destiny 2’s endgame.
Raids are considered the best PVE content in Destiny. They are challenging, fun, complex, and take place in some of the most memorable locations in the Destiny 2 universe. Raids are particularly tough to organize, too, as they are 6-man activities requiring coordination, good communication, and skill.
Grandmaster Nightfall: The Ordeals
Grandmaster Nightfalls are among the few Pinnacles in the game. Grandmaster Ordeals also reward the Conqueror seal and Adept gear.
Legend and Master Lost Sectors
One of the most recent additions to the game, Legend and Master Lost Sectors are some of the best endgame content for solo players. On top of being challenging and fun, when completed solo, they can also reward you with unique Exotic gear.
At this stage, you’ll want to have the best setup possible. Our Pro Settings guide includes the gear (mouse and keyboard, controller, etc) and main settings (sensitivity) of 40+ of the best Destiny 2 players and can serve as inspiration to help you find the best setup for you.
Trials of Osiris
The equivalent of raids, but for PvP, Trials is the most challenging PvP activity in Destiny 2. This is a 3-man activity that will put you in front of the best players in the game. Needless to say, good communication is mandatory if you want a remote chance of success. If you prefer to experience the competitive scene solo, the Freelance Survival mode is a great option.
You’ll need a Fireteam!
All of these activities lack matchmaking, however, which means you’ll have to assemble a Fireteam yourself. This can be challenging for new players, but this guide can help you use Discord to easily find other guardians on PC to play with:
It’s worth mentioning that most third-party tools and resources to LFG (looking for a group) cater to the PC version of the game because PS4 players use the companion app while Xbox players have a built-in system.
On PC, on the other hand, players can use Discord servers, Reddit, and dedicated sites such as the100.io.
Destiny 2 tips and tricks for beginners
Now, before you go on to your adventures, these are some last-minute tips and tricks for you:
Get used to the Weekly Reset
Most challenges are dependent on the game’s Weekly Reset. Many rewards and activities are limited to one per week, and that limitation is lifted every Tuesday at reset. This page tracks all the current challenges and provides tips on how to best tackle them.
Visit Xur every weekend
Xur is an NPC that sells Exotics. As mentioned before, Exotics are powerful, and you should try to find as many of them as possible. To find Xur, you can use an app such as Where is Xur on iOS or visit a website like WhereisXur.com.
Finding the perfect weapon is all about its perks
Don’t delete anything before carefully looking at the roll you got (roll = combination of perks). I used to Google the best weapons and then be happy with the first version I found, regardless of the perks (shame on me). For legendary weapons, the roll you get is just as important as the weapon’s base stats.
Don’t infuse your gear too soon or too often
When leveling from Level 1350 to 1510, you will be switching weapons so much that you shouldn’t waste Upgrade Modules infusing weapons or armor. Make sure you always keep the gear with the highest Power Level on your inventory. This will keep your guardian’s Power Level as high as possible.
Always aim to do precision damage
Most enemies receive extra damage when hit on their critical spot (usually the head). In that same vein, always try to use elemental damage (arc, void, or solar) on matching elemental enemy shields. Doing so will melt their shields and make them explode in a very satisfying way.
Before you go…
Completing all the steps in this guide should put you on track to tackle more challenging (and rewarding) activities in Destiny 2. If you’re feeling to tackle the best activities Destiny 2 has to offer, I suggest tackling the following:
- Spire of the Watcher dungeon: Dungeons are challenging but much easier than raids
- Nightfall weapons: Nightfall: The Ordeals have several difficulty settings and are a great activity to ease you into more difficult content
- Legend Lost Sectors: The best challenging activity you can tackle solo, at your own pace, and without the pressure of having to find a Fireteam