Destiny 2 is a game of two halves. You’ve got a brilliant universe dripping with the story, filled with some of the most exciting and innovative FPS multiplayer action you’ll ever see in a video game. On the other side, you’ve got a game that can seem utterly impenetrable, especially to newcomers and lapsed players.
This reputation for impenetrability has permeated the narrative surrounding the game, meaning many are tempted into playing by the fantastic trailers and tales from their friends of adventures amongst the stars that can bounce off the game. Given the amount that it shoves at new players, along with some notable gaps in the game’s story caused by the removal of some earlier content this reputation for inaccessibility can sometimes be justified.
But fear not, dear reader. We’ve compiled a beginner’s guide that should help you get up to speed with the game both mechanically and in terms of the game’s ongoing story. If you’ve ever wanted to play Destiny 2 but been put off by rumors of impenetrability or been overwhelmed starting the game, this is the guide for you.
It’s time to begin your journey into Destiny 2.
Destiny 2 Beginner’s Guide
Starting your Destiny 2 journey can seem daunting at first, but with a few things to bear in mind you’ll soon be hopping between planets and taking the fight to the enemies of humanity. Here’s what you need to know as you start a new life in the far future.
Choosing a Class
First up is your class. There are three classes in Destiny 2: Titan, Warlock, and Hunter.
Titans are your brutes, standing wherever the fighting is thickest, shrugging off damage, and engaging the enemy up close and personal. They tend to have shields that can protect teammates and have abilities that deal colossal damage to nearby foes.
Warlocks offer support to their fellow guardians, buffing damage or boosting healing whilst utilizing elemental spells to lay down ranged damage. Think of them as warrior scholars, using deadly magical arts to level the playing field.
Finally, we have Hunters. Outlaws, scouts, and deadly assassins, Hunters focus on mobility and misdirection to dance through the battlefield leaving corpses in their wake. Able to dodge damage whilst dealing it, they are skilled both with the blade and ranged attacks.
Each of the classes offers a unique class fantasy, from stalwart Titans to fast-moving deadly Hunters. That said, all classes can use all weapons, so there’s nothing stopping you from playing a Warlock who specializes in shotguns or a Titan who uses sniper rifles.
It’s their abilities that help determine their role on the battlefield, so feel free to try them out and find out what best suits your style of play. We’ll cover more about abilities further down this guide.
When you start Destiny 2 you’ll wake in the Cosmodrome on Earth, coming back to life for the first time. This tutorial mission gives you a few basic weapons and an idea of how to play so it’s definitely recommended to run through it. You’ll cover mobility, and abilities, and meet your Ghost – more on Ghosts later.
This mission segues into several other story missions which will see you meet a few characters, explore the Cosmodrome, and get your hands on transport. It’s utterly essential as a new player to go through these missions as they’ll give you the solid basis on which to rest your entire adventure. Basically, if you’re following the A Guardian Rises mission you’re doing the right thing.
This mission will eventually lead you into the Vanguard playlist, which forms one of the core repeatable mission types you can perform for fun, rewards, and snippets of the story.
One of the issues when starting Destiny 2 is that the game isn’t shy about trying to get you to do other things.
If you log out during your first time playing, when you log back in again you may be presented with a cutscene followed by a loading screen followed by finding yourself in current content, such as Witch Queen missions or a mission from the current season.
Should this happen to you, simply open the director (default, the M key on PC) and head back to the Cosmodrome on Earth to continue A Guardian Rises or whatever other quests you were doing.
Nothing in Destiny 2 is particularly urgent so take your time and follow the strands of plot or questlines you were already doing. You can always head to places like Savathûn’s Throne World later.
Do Campaign Missions in Order
Of course, this bit of advice comes with a caveat: you’re in control so do whatever you want in whatever order you want. That said, we would recommend as a new player that in order to get the best grounding in what the hell’s going on and what you’re doing you play through the campaigns in order.
In 2023 these would be:
- Beyond Light
- The Witch Queen
Then work on the current season to get the full picture of the available content.
Destiny 2 Tips and Tricks
Now you’ve started playing, here are our top Destiny 2 tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your time in-game. We won’t be going too deep into anything but these should help you get a firm grounding on the basics.
Your character’s level in Destiny 2 isn’t the same as most games you’ll encounter. Instead of your character levelling up, your level is determined by the gear you’re wearing.
Simply put, bigger numbers on your gear = higher level, which determines how much damage you can output and how much you can withstand.
There are other stats that will determine things like how fast your health recharges, how quickly you move, how fast your abilities recharge etc. These can be found on your character screen and hovering your cursor over them tells you what their effects are and what your current stats will do. Every bit of gear will affect these so if you want to make your character as strong as possible you’ll want to keep an eye on these stats.
Learn Weak Points
If you’ve played modern FPS games before you’ll probably be familiar with aiming at the heads of foes. In Destiny 2 that’s still important…but there are exceptions.
As you’re not facing humans (most of the time) the ‘head’ of the creature you’re shooting at may not be its weak point. Vex, robotic AIs, have brightly lit weak points that are often found in the center of their mass. The juggernaut-Esque Cabal will have weak points on their heads but also on the vents of their powered armor.
By paying attention to where the weak points are on your opponents you’ll learn to be more effective in combat encounters. Also, you’ll have more fun!
Try out New Weapons
Every class can use every type of weapon, so whilst you may find Warlocks a little more squishy in combat there’s no reason you can’t kit them out with close-range weapons and dive right into the fray.
There will be many websites and opinions online telling you what the best weapons are for PvP, PvE, etc. We’re not going to tell you that. All we can say is to try them out. Find what works for you. Forget the meta, find a loadout you like and then focus on that.
It’s your game after all. Don’t let anyone – least of all us – tell you how to play.
Experiment with Exotics
Exotics are the rarest of gear. Yellow-colored icons will let you know when you’ve got one and each Exotic features special effects which have the potential to drastically change how you play.
Whilst they’re rare you still will end up swimming in them after a while playing, so like weapons in general we can only recommend experimenting with them. Some will enhance their abilities, and some will do weird and wonderful things. Some you may simply not like – it’s up to you to find what works with the way you want to play and what enhances your playstyle.
Mobility is Key
Destiny 2 is a game about shooting stuff but there’s a big focus on mobility. Every class can double jump, glide, and has a rocket-powered jetbike called a Sparrow. Many dungeons and encounters will have puzzle-platforming sections to them, so learning how to jump, when to jump, and how best to move is key to getting to the rewards at the end of each instance.
In addition, many areas are huge with tons to see and do. Using your Sparrow to get around is something you’ll get very used to, so make sure you learn how to take corners and when to use your boost to make the most of available ramps.
Abilities are More Important than you Think
Once upon a time Destiny 2 was much more a game about shooting. Whilst shooting is still the majority of what you’ll be doing, class abilities are so much more important now.
Each class has four flavors of ability to choose from (don’t worry, you can swap these out whenever you like). Solar for fire-based abilities, Void for purple-powered magics, Arc for lightning attacks, and Stasis for frost and cold skills. Each of these subclasses has options to choose from, a couple of different super abilities, different grenade types, and other passive effects you can tweak.
In addition, the subclasses have all been recently revamped and are generally much more powerful than they used to be, making mastery the key to effective combat.
There’s a lot to grapple with, but learning what your skills do and what you prefer is how you’ll really gel with your chosen class and get the most out of the game. Just take it slow, you’ll only start out with one subclass and earn the others as you complete quests. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
Patrols, Bounties, and Public Events
Many areas in Destiny 2 are filled with different varieties of small, repeatable missions you can perform for rewards.
Patrols are dotted around areas, if you press Tab you’ll usually be able to see their icons around you. You can take one at a time and they offer bitesize objectives that’ll usually give you a bit of XP and currency as a reward.
Bounties are usually offered by an NPC and will play a huge part in the game. They will focus on getting kills with specific weapons or achieving certain objectives and will tend to offer greater rewards than patrols. You can take quite a few of these so load up!
Finally Public Events will appear on your map whilst you’re in an area. If you rock up to these you’ll join in a mini-mission with other nearby players, usually giving you a hefty bit of experience and a chest to loot. Tasty.
Playlists, Playlists, Playlists
Along the top of the Director map, you’ll see several different icons, these are playlists. Each one focuses on a different type of activity and it’s these that are your bread and butter for things to do that aren’t usually related directly to quests.
Vanguard strikes are a rotating series of missions you run with other players that are PvE in focus. Gambit is a PvE/PvP mode that sees two teams work against each other to summon and defeat a boss. Finally, Crucible is where you’ll find all the game’s PvP modes. You’ll also see a Legends section which houses some older content, such as the Vault of Glass raid.
These are all termed ‘playlists’ as you’ll join up and work your way through a series of maps or missions. Often, you’ll gain enhanced rewards for doing a few at once rather than dipping in and out, though there’s nothing stopping you from nipping into a strike or two during a lunch break (for example).
Use the Mobile App
Many games offer mobile apps but frankly, the Destiny 2 app is one of the best we’ve seen. Not only does it allow you to group up with people and check your inventory, but it also allows you to check vendors and accept bounties without having to travel in-game to the NPC offering them.
It’s safe to say this is a massive time saver and with Destiny 2 taking a few moments to launch and log in, you can be ready to hit the ground running every time if you get into the habit of checking for new bounties before you start playing.
Most Importantly: Shoot Stuff
There’s a lot to see and a lot to do in Destiny and this beginner’s guide can only cover so much without being several thousand words long. So we end these tips and tricks with the following advice:
This game is, at its core, a shooter and the feel of using its many weapons is excellent. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another FPS that simply feels this good, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed or swamped by quests or lore titbits or missions…just load up an area and shoot some stuff. Do a strike. Play a playlist. Reacquaint yourself with the core gameplay mechanics of shooting stuff and being a cool space wizard from the far future.
Worry about all the other stuff later.
Destiny 2 Story Guide
The story is often where many new players fall away from the game, becoming a little lost in characters, plots, and terms. We’ve compiled the key beats and basics of what you need to know to at least keep your head above water whilst you get a real grip on the sprawling Destiny 2 story.
Warning: Spoilers up until Destiny 2: Shadowkeep will be found beyond this point.
Destiny Story Background
When you start playing Destiny 2 you’ll get a cutscene that shows people landing on Mars in the current day only to find a giant ball that’s pouring rain.
This is the Traveler, a mysterious object that has existed for millennia and travels the universe, uplifting species to fight against the encroaching Darkness.
When we found it we entered a golden age where we spread throughout the solar system with advanced technology, terraforming the moons and worlds we found.
Eventually, though this all came to an end with the Collapse. The Darkness found us and brought humanity back to the dark ages, until the Traveler intervened once again to face down the Darkness and banish it from the system.
This took a heavy toll on the Traveler and its last act was to send out Ghosts, small parts of itself each with their own personality, tasked with seeking out the corpses of those long dead in order to bring them back to life. The cost to the Traveler of this act was for it to become dormant, dead, and shattered, hanging above the Earth’s surface as a testament to its sacrifice.
You are one of the newly risen, now known as a Guardian – one of the defenders of humanity, granted new powers and the ability to return after death. The price is that your memories of who you once were are wiped away, giving you a completely clean start on life.
Players are given the choice of choosing to be a human (you should know what humans are), an Awoken (humans who have become changed by interactions with forces beyond our understanding), or Exos (robots who house human consciousnesses). Whichever you choose has no bearing on the story, but Exos, Awoken, and Humans all make up the last forces of humanity facing off against the Darkness.
Destiny 1 Story
In the original Destiny, the player found their way to the Last City, the last bastion of humanity on Earth which had been built under the floating Traveler. Here the player encountered The Speaker, the leader of this city who spoke for the Traveler.
From here the player began to undertake missions to defend the Last City and keep humanity alive despite being beset by many terrible foes. The first enemies we encountered were the Hive, a race of alien creatures who worship the Darkness, thriving on destruction. Next up was the Vex, a microscopic robotic species that pilot mechanical frames that seek to control the universe through an AI-powered simulation of reality.
The first year of Destiny 1 saw the player Guardian, known as the Young Wolf, take the fight to the Vex’s Black Garden to fight a Darkness located at its core. In addition, a Hive God named Crota attempted to take over Earth which received a swift end thanks to the work of the player as well as Eris Morn, a researcher who has given up much to study the Darkness.
Finally, this year saw the introduction of the Fallen, a four-armed alien species who once were blessed by the Traveler before it moved off to our system. Desperate to reclaim the Traveler, or the ‘Great Machine’ as they call it, they attempted to invade the Last City in the first of many altercations.
In Year 2 of Destiny, The Taken King expansion was released which saw Crota’s father, Oryx arrive with his army of Taken. The Taken are recognizably enemies encountered previously but who have been ripped out of reality, giving them blurry, dark, indistinct forms and dangerous powers. Oryx, The Taken King, was eventually defeated thanks to the intervention of the Young Wolf, a team of Guardians, Eris Morn, and fan-favorite Exo Hunter extraordinaire Cayde-6.
Finally, Destiny 1 ended after the discovery of SIVA. This nanite-powered technology was harnessed by the Fallen to become cyborgs, thankfully Lord Saladin – a legendary Guardian – and the player were able to destroy SIVA, defeat the Fallen, and usher in a new era of peace for the Last City.
For Destiny 2 we’ll cover the story up until we reach content that can be played in-game, which remains the best way to experience the huge narrative Bungie has created.
The Red War
Well, that peace didn’t last long.
Enter the Cabal, a warlike species of aliens who conquered myriad systems in their quest for glory. Led by the fearsome Dominus Ghaul, they managed to take the Last City and depower all Guardians by caging the Traveler, sealing it off from its Ghosts.
Ghaul didn’t account for the Young Wolf, however, as they managed to use a shard of the Traveler to regain their powers. A desperate assassination mission led by the Young Wolf, Titan Commander Zavala, Warlock Ikora Rey, and Cayde-6 saw Ghaul empower himself with Light stolen from the Traveler, becoming a colossal ephemeral monster that threatened the entire solar system.
Thankfully the Traveler wasn’t having any of it, it awoke and repaired itself after years dormant, taking back its Light from Dominus Ghaul and becoming whole once more.
Though in doing so a flash of Light spread through the galaxy, letting the Darkness know that the Traveler had survived their prior battle.
Curse of Osiris
The Curse of Osiris expansion saw the player head to Mercury to help the fabled Warlock Osiris take the battle to the Vex. Their simulation known as the Infinite forest was being used to calculate a means by which they could take over the universe. Obviously a bad idea, so Osiris, their Ghost Sagira, the Young Wolf, and Ikora Rey defeated the Vex Mind Panoptes to put an end to this once and for all, leaving Osiris to guard the Infinite Forest.
Heading to Mars the player encountered the long-missing Guardian Ana Bray, a powerful human-created defensive AI known as Rasputin, and the evil Hive Worm God Xol. Here the Young Wolf was able to defeat Xol and unleash Rasputin back into the solar system where the AI-seeded satellites known as Warsats. These Warsats are tasked with defending humanity against encroaching threats, putting Rasputin back in their historical position as defenders of the solar system.
If you speak to a long-time player of Destiny 2 then you’ll know that Forsaken is a high point for many. Instead of focusing on planet-shattering events, this was a smaller in-scope expansion that focused on character narratives.
In the far future it turns out we still need prisons and in one, the Prison of Elders, a breakout and riot drew the attention of Cayde-6, the player, and Petra Venj who had helped a few times in previous expansions.
This riot was caused by a new faction The Scorn, resurrected Fallen who served a new master: Uldren Sov. Uldren had appeared a few times throughout the game, the brother of the queen of the Awoken, Mara Sov. Now, twisted by madness by a pan-dimensional creature known as Riven, he had turned on the Awoken, seeking to destroy them.
In the depths of the prison, the Scorn ambushed Cayde-6, destroying his Ghost, and leaving him vulnerable to assassination. In one of the most memorable moments in Destiny 2 Uldren Sov murdered Cayde-6, killing him with his own gun.
What followed was a hunt by the Young Wolf to take down each of the Scorn leaders one by one to draw out Uldren Sov and take revenge once and for all. Eventually, the player learned of Riven’s existence, killing both it and Uldren Sov – though it’s not known to this day if it was the player or Petra Venj who finally pulled the trigger on the betrayer.
This storyline ends with a solitary Ghost locating the corpse of Uldren Sov, scanning it much as the player was once scanned at the start of their journey…
Shadowkeep and Beyond
Our story recap ends here. In 2023 it is still possible to play through the Shadowkeep and Beyond Light campaigns to get up to speed with the story, and we would heartily recommend doing so.