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Destiny 2 beginner’s guide: How to get the most out of your Guardian

In the years since the launch of Destiny 2, the game has been through plenty of ups and downs, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that it’s always attracting new players. With constant reworkings of existing content and frequent expansions, there’s always something new to see in Destiny 2, whether you’re jumping in for the first time or returning after a hiatus. After splitting with Activision, Bungie has been making even bolder moves than before, changing up what has made Destiny 2 popular for all these years.

With all those changes, let us help you start your grand adventure off right with our Destiny 2 beginner’s guide, whether you’re stepping into the light for the first time or taking your Guardian armor back out of mothballs.

Further reading

Classes, subclasses, level, and power

Choosing a Guardian class

Destiny 2 Classes

The three character classes from the original — Titan, Hunter, and Warlock — carry over into the sequel. Classes in Destiny 2 don’t have the same hard-coded roles as seen in traditional MMOs, but each type has its strengths and weaknesses.


For players unfamiliar with Destiny, the Titan class is the most forgiving. Titans effectively play like tanks: They don’t get around the map as quickly as the other two classes, and their melee attacks also take longer to execute. That said, they also generally have higher resistance to damage, and their shields regenerate quicker when nearing death. Since they can take the most damage, the Titan should be your go-to class if you plan on flying solo.

The Titan’s default skill tree emphasizes more powerful grenade and melee attacks, but you can choose from three different skill trees with different modifiers to match your play style.


The Hunter class, the most nimble of three, is the hardest to get the hang of for most players. Along with being super speedy, Hunters can triple jump. For newer players, the Hunter may feel a bit unwieldy at first: The lightweight class can’t take much damage, so if you aren’t evasive and always on the move, your Hunter may go down — frequently. That said, all these differences end up becoming strengths, as a player with great FPS handles will likely find the Hunter class to be the most tactically engaging. If you want a challenge and a class that will keep you on your toes, the Hunter class is for you.

The Hunter’s skills focus on movement, from your Guardian down to your weapon. The Hunter has unique dodging abilities, too, along with possible reload and melee attack bonuses.


The Warlock class winds up serving as the middle ground between the Hunter and the Titan. The Warlock is faster than the Titan but slower than the Hunter, more durable than the Hunter, but less resistant than the Titan. The Warlock is great for both close-quarters combat — especially when it comes to clearing out large groups of enemies — and competent for long-range attacks. Warlocks jump in a floating manner, as if they are ascending on a broomstick.

The Warlock’s skills are both supportive and self-serving. Warlock’s can heal areas around them, including themselves, or increase attack temporarily.

If you stick with Destiny 2 for the long haul, you’ll probably end up having a character from each class, especially if you wind up joining a Destiny 2 clan. If you’re still unsure which to play as at the start, we suggest running through the first mission with each class to get a feel for each one’s quirks.


Destiny 2 Stasis Subclasses

Each class — Titans, Warlocks, Hunters — has three primary subclasses, which dictate your character’s super ability, modify their skills, and provide unique upgrades designed around playing your class in a specific way. Each subclass contains three variants, which allow you to tweak your abilities in different ways.

As of New Light, all three of your Light-based subclasses are available to you at the start of the game. It’s worth playing around with each of the three subclasses of your chosen class to get a feel for how they operate. Make sure to pay attention to the descriptions for the subclasses’ abilities, too, as some of the changes they make might escape your notice in the course of regular play. Subclasses can be vastly different from each other, though, and making the best use of all of your abilities is key to surviving and thriving in Destiny 2.

Unlocking subclasses

Previously, players had to undertake hunts for relics to unlock each subclass. As it currently stands, you’ll have access to the three classic subclasses for each Destiny 2 class, but there’s still work to be done to unlock your full suite of powers. The Beyond Light expansion adds a long-awaited Darkness-based subclass using the new power of Stasis. Unlike the traditional Light-based subclasses that have been in Destiny 2 from the beginning — or added long ago — each Stasis subclass is still locked behind a quest.

In order to fully embrace the Darkness, you’ll need to complete the entire Beyond Light campaign, which should only take up to five hours or so if you’re focused exclusively on getting it done. You’ll get to use the new Stasis subclass at various points throughout the quest, but you won’t get the ability to switch to it at will until you finish the story. Once you fully unlock your class’ Stasis subclass at the end of Beyond Light, you’ll be able to start taking on missions to unlock Aspects and Fragments, which will further empower your new abilities.


Destiny 2 Titan
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The Titan starts in the sentinel class. The Sentinel’s super ability, aka the aptly titled Sentinel Shield, summons a large shield that allows your Titan to rampage through a swarm of enemies. Sentinels can choose between two class abilities, a large barrier that you cannot shoot through or a waist-high barrier, which you can crouch behind, and pop in and out of cover.

The Sentinel’s passive abilities are divided into three sectors — Code of the Protector, Code of the Aggressor, and Code of the Commander. Code of the Protector gives defensive boosts for melee attacks, while Code of the Aggressor emphasizes getting more out of melee and grenade attacks. For instance, with the “super arsenal” passive skill, successful grenade moves replenish your grenade energy instantly.” Added in Forsaken, Code of the Commander changes your super to Banner Shield, which is a throwback to the first game’s bubble ability. Casting Banner Shield will create a bulletproof dome that your teammates can hide in and shoot out of. This tree’s passive abilities let you attach “detonators,” which cause extra damage against enemies they’re attached to, and grants the ability to heal teammates with certain attacks.


Retooled from the original, the Striker is great at inflicting damage across a wide area. Its special move, Fists of Havoc, lets you either repeatedly barrel down on enemies from above or come down once and then use your shoulder to charge through them.

The Striker’s passive abilities are broken down into three sectors — Code of the Earthshaker, Code of the Juggernaut, and Code of the Missile. The former includes an ability that lets you shoulder-ram enemies after sprinting. This collision creates a mild explosion as well. Code of the Juggernaut features defensive passive skills, which allow you to automatically regenerate health or reload your weapon after performing melee executions.

Code of the Missile provides a slight variation on Striker, allowing you to slam down on a targeted area with a ball of arc energy. The tree path features skills that give you added perks for sliding, meleeing, and attacking while airborne.


Premiering in The Taken King, The Sunbreaker focuses on inflicting burn damage. Its special ability, the Hammer of Sol, allows you to sling a barrage of fiery hammers at crowds of enemies.

The Sunbreaker’s passive abilities come in three categories — Code of the Fire-Forged, Code of the Siegebreaker, and Code of the Devastator. Sunbreaker Titans can melee while sprinting to throw a hammer at enemies with the former. The latter has neat abilities like “mortar blast.” Melee attacks will trigger an explosion and burn surrounding enemies.

If you don’t feel like throwing your hammers, Code of the Devastator gives you the Burning Maul super. When activated, you’ll get two giant hammers that can attack rapidly or swing around to create fire tornadoes.


In Beyond Light, Titans gain the Behemoth Stasis subclass. This subclass changes your Melee ability to Shiver Strike. Shiver Strike gives Titans a dashing strike that knocks the target back while slowing any enemies near the point of impact.

The Glacial Quake Super ability is similar to the Striker Super, in that it gives you two new melee attacks for its duration. The primary attack is a powerful fist strike to a target, and the secondary attack lets you slam the ground, sending a shockwave that damages and freezes nearby foes.


Destiny 2 Warlock
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As the starting Warlock class, Dawnblade Warlocks give you your first taste at powers such as healing or increasing attack with the Warlock’s class abilities. The Dawnblade’s super ability, Daybreak, turns light into sharp blades that rain down from the sky.

Attunement of Sky, Attunement of Flame, and Attunement of Grace separate Dawnblade’s passive abilities. The former offers airborne skills, like the ability to restore grenade and melee energy after killing enemies while off the ground. Attunement of Flame moves, such as “igniting touch,” burn and subsequently cause enemies to combust following melee attacks.

Dawnblade can be used to create buffs by selecting Attunement of Grace, which activates the Well of Radiance Super. Instead of attacking, you’ll plant the sword into the ground, creating a large rift that your teammates can stand in to gain buffs and heals.


The Voidwalker’s super attack, Nova Bomb, throws a beam of light at enemies, decimating anyone in its wake. The Voidwalker inflicts damage with large scale attacks.

With Attunement of Chaos, a Warlock can manually drain power from its super meters to amplify grenade attacks. Attunement of Hunger skills include the ability to sacrifice grenade energy to replenish health.

As an alternative, Attunement of Fission gives you Nova Warp. Instead of shooting a big ball of nova energy, this super lets you teleport short distances and create energy explosions where you appear. Essentially, it gives you a roaming super option if you’re committed to using void energy.


AWarlock subclass that originally appeared in The Taken King is the Stormcaller. Its super ability, Stormtrance, lets Warlocks hover around an area and electrocute herds of enemies from above. The Stormcaller uses its hands to deploy electrified damage.

Players can damage multiple enemies with a melee attack with an Attunement of Ions passive ability. Chain Lightning creates an electrical current that emanates from melee attacks to hit nearby enemies. The Attunement of Elements subset focuses on preservation. One passive ability, Gale Force, replenishes super, melee, and grenade meters after performing a melee attack.

You can completely change your super by equipping the Attunement of Control node. This will give you Chaos Reach, which lets you fire a giant, Godzilla-like beam of arc energy at your opponents.


The Shadebinder is the Warlock’s Stasis subclass. As with all Stasis subclasses, it focuses on freezing and shattering enemies. Shadebinder adds the Melee ability Penumbral Blast, which lets you fire freezing bolts from a staff.

The Winter’s Wrath Super ability summons your staff for a longer period of time. With the ability active, you can fire stronger projectiles from the staff that freeze anything they touch, then activate a secondary ability to shatter frozen enemies in your path.


Destiny 2 Hunter
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The starting Hunter subclass, Arcstrider, summons a staff that the Hunter can use to swiftly dismantle enemies.

The Arcstrider’s passive abilities are divided into Way of the Warrior, Way of the Wind, and Way of the Current. The former includes a skill that will automatically recharge your dodging meter when killing enemies via melee. Way of the Wind focuses on speed. Focused Breathing will replenish your dodge meter from sprinting, while also increasing your max speed.

For some defensive utility, there’s Way of the Current, which changes your super to Whirlwind Guard. This lets you block incoming projectiles by holding down the aim button to create a shield.


Carrying over from the original, the Gunslinger’s super ability summons the fan-favorite Golden Gun. This sun-soaked pistol instantly vaporizes enemies on contact. The Gunslinger is ideal for pinpointing specific enemies for huge chunks of damage.

The gunslinger’s passive abilities are separated into Way of the Outlaw, Way of the Sharpshooter, and Way of a Thousand Cuts. Way of the Outlaw skills increase the Hunter’s gun reload speed and rate of fire, while Way of the Sharpshooter offers contextual damage buffs, such as damage bonuses for performing precision kills.

Way of a Thousand Cuts changes your super to Blade Barrage, which trades in your gun for flaming knives. Rather than shooting your opponents, you’ll throw a wall of knives at them, taking anyone in its path out quickly.


The Taken King hunter subclass is the Nightstalker. Its super move, Shadowshot, allows you to impair a wide area of enemies, lowering their defensives and ridding them of their own abilities. The Nightstalker focuses on immobilizing and slowing enemies.

The Nightstalker’s passive subsets are Way of the Trapper, Way of the Pathfinder, and Way of the Wraith. Way of the Trapper emphasizes tripping up your enemies. With Snare Bomb, hunters can send a smoke bomb via melee attacks, which let you slow down and confuse enemies. Way of the Pathfinder abilities such as Lockdown can up your grenade and smoke bomb effects, making them last twice as long as normal.

For a stealthy option, Way of the Wraith grants you Spectral Blades. This super turns you invisible, allowing you to sneak up behind enemies and kill them with void blades, Assassin’s Creed style.


The Hunter’s Stasis subclass, Revenant, turns the Melee ability into a ranged shuriken attack called Withering Blade. The shurikens will bounce to multiple enemies, slowing and damaging anyone they hit.

With Revenant equipped, the Hunter gains the Silence & Squall Super ability. While using it, you’ll gain one ability that freezes enemies in a large area and a second ability that summons a Stasis storm to follow enemies. The storm damages anyone it touches and will freeze enemies solid if they stay in its area of effect too long.

Level and power

Destiny 2 Power Level
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Destiny 2‘s progression system currently revolves around two things: Power and season level. The entire progression model in the game has been completely reworked, and there’s no longer a level requirement to equip certain pieces of gear. The experience points that used to determine your level — and thus the equipment you could use — now go toward increasing your season level.

This level, as the name implies, gets reset every season and is tied to rewards on the current season’s Battle Pass. As you earn experience, you’ll be able to claim more useful items and gear, and you’ll also add bonuses to your seasonal artifact. A relatively new addition to Destiny 2, the seasonal artifact is a piece of gear that you’ll hold onto through an entire season, growing more powerful the more you play. Seasonal artifacts add a bonus to your Power level and also grant you especially strong mods that you can add to strengthen your weapons.

The main way of tracking your character’s strength in Destiny 2, though, is through your Power level. You increase your Power level not by earning experience points but by equipping stronger gear. In your early days in Destiny 2, your Power level will grow rapidly as you quickly find new weapons and armor and swap them out for what you’re currently using. This progress will slow as you climb the Power ranks until you’re eventually fighting to increase the last few levels to the top. Power essentially functions like a character’s level would in most RPGs, increasing how much damage you do and decreasing how much you take. Because of that, taking on enemies with even a slight Power advantage over you can prove incredibly difficult.

Loot, resource management, and missions

How to pick your loot — play to your strengths

Destiny 2 Season Of The Hunt Gear

While the character screen in Destiny 2 remains similar to the original, your Guardian’s gear is organized differently. In Destiny, you had three weapon slots: Primary, Special, and Heavy. In Destiny 2, weapons are broken into three categories: kinetic, energy, and power weapons. Since weapons are classified by the type of damage they do, you’ll find that some types of weapons come in both kinetic and energy forms. There are kinetic auto rifles and energy auto rifles, so you can equip the same type to both slots, and you’ll now find even grenade launchers outside of their traditional power weapon slot. Some weapons, such as swords and rocket launchers, will only appear as power weapons.

The new classifications may sound confusing using “kinetic” and “energy” rather than “primary” and “special,” but here’s what you should remember: Kinetic weapons dole out more damage to unshielded enemies, but they cannot inflict elemental damage. Energy weapons work better against shielded enemies in which elemental damage is a must. Keep in mind that weapon slots no longer correlate with a certain ammo type, meaning that you could potentially have a weapon in either the kinetic or energy slot that uses special ammo. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on the ammo type of the weapon you have equipped, or you may end up running out of special ammo quicker than you expected. Generally, you’ll find more primary ammo than special ammo, so it’s a good idea to keep at least one weapon that uses primary ammo on hand at all times. Power ammo is finite, and guns with power ammo hold only a small amount of ammo on average.

More important than a weapon’s slot is its type. Destiny 2 has a wide range of weapons, from sidearms to machine guns, and finding the type that works best for you will be fundamental to becoming a better player. If you’re uncomfortable with a hand cannon, don’t use that over an auto rifle just because it has a higher Power level. Similarly, look at the range, stability, and handling of your weapon. If you prefer to run and gun, you may not need a lot of range, but if you like to hunker down, using weapons with solid range is helpful. If you aren’t the best marksman, a better gun with a high recoil (poor stability) will probably be less effective for you than a lower-rated gun.

Meanwhile, Destiny 2‘s armor classifications are similar to the original, though there are several new systems at play.

Each piece of armor features individual stats — mobility, resilience, recovery, discipline, intellect, and strength. These stats allow you to optimize your loadout and focus on raising specific traits. You can check each stat by hovering over the icons next to the armor in your inventory. They’ll show you what tier you’re at and how much that’s changing your base stats.

  • Mobility: Increases your movement speed and maximum jump height
  • Resilience: Increases the amount of damage you can take before dying
  • Recovery: Increases the speed at which you regain lost health
  • Discipline: Decreases the cooldown time of your grenades, allowing you to use them more often
  • Intellect: Decreases the cooldown time of your Super ability, allowing you to use it more often
  • Strength: Decreases the cooldown time of your melee ability, allowing you to use it more often

Every armor piece will offer different stats, meaning that two helmets of the same Power level can have very different advantages, and better stats can sometimes beat out a higher Power level. Try and equip armor in a way that either balances out these your stats or plays to your strengths. If you like to move, focus on your mobility stat when deciding between armor. If you tend to take a lot of damage, lean on the resilience stat. The recovery stat, which determines how fast your shield recharges, is always something to prioritize, as the game’s long time to kill means you’ll often have time to retreat from a tough fight and recovery will get you back in the action sooner. Even great Destiny 2 players will be on the brink of death in many areas.

You can add perks to your armor to further customize your gear. Modifiers can be obtained in several ways and can be used for a variety of applications. You can only equip a certain amount of modifiers. Every modifier has a value, and each piece of armor has a limit to how many mods you can attach to it, determined by the Energy stat of the armor (which not every piece of gear will have). So if you only have six slots on your helmet, you could equip three mods with a value or two, or a four and a two, for example.

When it comes to what to do with old gear, we recommend dismantling almost anything you won’t ever use again. Weapons and equipment become obsolete quickly as you level up, and while you can hoard old gear in your Vault, if you’re never going to use it again, why bother? Plus, you get Glimmer (money) for dismantling equipment.

The only types of gear that we think twice about before dismantling are exotic and legendary gear, the first of which you will receive early on in the game. Exotic and legendary items can be modified with dismantled materials to increase its stats. On the other hand, both types can be dismantled to get legendary shards (more on that in the next section), a valuable form of currency that can be spent to buy new exotics. You can also sacrifice a piece of legendary gear to make another legendary stronger. There are limits to this, though, as legendary and exotic gear now has a Power cap. You can see this limit when hovering over the item. You’ll only ever be able to increase a piece of equipment up to its Power cap, meaning that legendaries you pick up in Beyond Light won’t remain useful several expansions from now.

Destiny 2 is also adding a “transmog” system, which will let players transform any armor they’re wearing to look like another armor piece while keeping the original’s stats. Bungie has confirmed that you can match the look of any piece of armor you’ve ever collected, so if you’re holding onto a piece of armor just because it looks good, you can safely dismantle it and copy its style when the transmog system goes live.

Resource management

Destiny 2 Resources
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Like the original, the main currency in Destiny 2 is “Glimmer.” Glimmer is acquired by killing enemies, completing missions, and dismantling old gear. It can be used to buy weapons and armor from the Crucible gunsmith and vendors on each planet. Purchasing bounties and performing other weapon upgrade tasks can also consume varying amounts of Glimmer. Thankfully, stockpiling Glimmer early in the game is both easy and smart. Generally speaking, when you buy a piece of gear from a vendor, you are almost sure to find a better alternative shortly after. The current Glimmer cap sits at 250,000, which will likely take a while to reach, but once you’ve been playing for a while, you’re likely going to be hovering near that cap most of the time unless you’re doing some serious shopping.

If you find yourself in possession of any legendary shards, know that they’re rare and difficult to find, and they’re still far more plentiful than they were earlier in the life of Destiny 2. The vendor Xur will gladly take them off your hands in exchange for exotic and legendary gear — if you can find him, that is. In Destiny, he asked for Strange Coins, but this time around, he’s all about those Shards. Legendary shards can also be used to purchase legendary engrams from Rahool at the Tower, which will grant you random legendary equipment. They’re also needed to perform weapon infusions, which can increase the Power of legendary and exotic weapons.

At higher levels, even more resources will come into play, such as enhancement cores. These high-level resources can be used to upgrade your equipment to its most powerful state or to purchase exotic and legendary gear from previous expansions that are no longer available. This won’t come into play until well into your time in Destiny 2, though, as you’ll neither find them nor have a use for them until you’ve gotten into the end game.

Each planet in Destiny 2 also has its own unique resource, like Glacial Starwort on Europa. You’ll find these items out in the world or earn it for doing activities on a given planet, and you can trade them to planetary vendors to increase your reputation with them. Doing so will give you access to higher-level gear, which can be helpful when you’re in the Power grind during the campaign.

Silver can be used to buy items from the Eververse trader on the farm. Silver can only be obtained via micro-transactions and can only be used to purchase cosmetic items like shaders, which “dye” your armor with a new color scheme and sweet, sweet Guardian dance moves (emotes).

Tackling missions

Destiny 2 Destination Map
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Destiny 2 has been through several different campaigns through its expansions, which took players to new planets to tackle their most recent foes. Previously, you’d go through missions one by one when you started the game, unlocking each planet. As of New Light, that changed significantly, giving new players access to every location as soon as they finished a short introductory mission. If you’re coming to Destiny 2 for PvP, the Crucible mode is also available right from the start of the game from the Destination map in the main menu. With Beyond LightDestiny 2‘s campaign has had its most significant change yet, which actually removed a large portion of the game’s content.

Bungie’s reasoning for the change was that Destiny 2 had become too difficult to maintain, and its file size was growing to massive proportions. Now, Destiny 2 is actually a smaller game, but one that’s much easier to manage both for players and for Bungie. Bungie refers to this as the Destiny Content Vault, saying that the content that disappeared in Beyond Light could return from the Vault in the future.

As of Beyond Light, Io, Titan, Mercury, Mars, and Leviathan are no longer available to visit, and any content in those locations is gone for now. That still leaves Nessus, the Moon, Tangled Shore, the newly added Europa, and Earth (which now contains both the EDZ and the Cosmodrome). As in New Light, any of these locations can be visited right from the start of the game.

Most players will probably want to dive into the new Beyond Light content on Earth and Europa right away, but players who own the Forsaken and Shadowkeep expansions can also run through those campaigns first. In between and after main story content, players can also explore planets and do side activities to boost their Power level and change up the content they’re experiencing.

One benefit of doing missions and exploring locations is that you’ll receive planetary Tokens, which can be given to vendors like Devrim on Earth to increase your reputation with them. You’ll want to do this since it directly goes toward being able to unlock their endgame gear.

On top of their host of Adventure missions, try to check out their recurring public events, which gives you the chance to join other Guardians and fight against wicked enemies. Those public events can help get you access to loot chests, which may have Tokens or gear you can store. Regardless of the places you’re exploring, we recommend stocking up on Bounties before you even think of exiting the Tower and as soon as you get back to the planetary vendor. You can collect these Bounties with no additional effort; They help users build up extra points by just multitasking and switching up their use of weaponry and actions. 

When you’re on the planet, we recommend trying to get access to a Patrol. You’ll know you’ve found one because Patrols appear on your HUD when you pull up your Ghost. We prefer aiming for the Patrols featuring a pyramid symbol. That typically means these Patrols are completed just by beating an enemy and picking up any items they may drop. It automatically gives you a way to collect rewards as you play.

If you’re new to the game, Destiny lore may seem to have a pretty extensive history. To help catch up on all of the stories and tips, new Guardians should consider reading over our handy Destiny story refresher for a bit of help.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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