Start your adventure off right with our Destiny 2 beginner’s guide

The highly anticipated sequel to Destiny has been around for a few years now. Bungie went to great lengths to make Destiny 2 faithful to the original — in its final, improved form — while also addressing some lingering issues from its first shared-world shooter. As a result, Destiny 2 is incredibly similar to the original mechanically, but longtime fans will notice that a significant part of the formula has been tweaked and enhanced. These changes essentially reboot the whole Destiny concept and, if anything, have made the game more approachable to newcomers. Destiny 2 is a game with immense depth, one that will evolve and transform over time. Whether you’re a hardened Guardian or entering the light for the first time, let us help you start your grand adventure off right with our Destiny 2 beginner’s guide.

Classes, Subclasses, level, and power

Choosing a Guardian class

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.

Titan

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. As you level up, you can choose between different grenade and melee modifiers to match your play style.

Hunter

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 to move endlessly, 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.

Warlock

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.

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.

Previously, subclasses needed to be unlocked one by one by collecting relics. As of New Light, all three of your subclasses are available to you at the start of the game. To get the alternate, you’ll need to buy Forsaken or Shadowkeep. Once you do, you’ll be able to activate the new subclass nodes in your menu.

Unlocking subclasses

To unlock subclasses, you must find relics. Relic locations seem to be completely random, and can be found by low- and high-level players in loot chests dropped after completing public events. After you secure a relic, you’ll have to complete additional public events to “charge” the relic, then complete a special quest that unlocks the new skill set.

Titan

Sentinel

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 two sectors — Code of the Protector and Code of the Aggressor. The former gives defensive boosts for melee attacks, while the latter 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.”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.

Striker

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 two sectors — Code of the Earthshaker and Code of the Juggernaut. 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.

Sunbreaker

The final Titan subclass, the Sunbreaker, returns from 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 two categories — Code of the Fire-Forged and Code of the Siegebreaker. 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.

Warlock

Dawnblade

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 and Attunement of Flame 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.

Voidwalker

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.

Stormcaller

The final Warlock subclass, which 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.

Hunter

Arcstrider

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 and Way of the Wind. 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.

Gunslinger

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 and Way of the Sharpshooter. 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.

Nightstalker

The final hunter subclass, the Nightstalker, hails from The Taken King. 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 and Way of the Pathfinder. 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.

Level and power

Destiny 2‘s progression system revolves around two things: Level and power. Just like in any RPG, players increase their level by killing enemies and completing missions to earn experience points. Unlike standard RPGs, though, your level has minimal direct impact on your stats. Instead, you gain an upgrade point for each level, allowing you to acquire or upgrade your Guardian’s abilities. Your level also affects your ability to equip new gear: Most weapons and armor have a minimum level requirement, so while leveling up doesn’t make you stronger, you need to keep playing to raise your level and use your best loot. Your character can get up to level 50 as of Forsaken.

The power soft cap as of Season of Dawn is 960, though leveling is a little more complicated post-Shadowkeep. You can level up to 970 by obtaining Pinnacle Gear, which is rewarded by completing challenging tasks.

Power level can go even further thanks to seasonal artifacts, which give you additional levels for playing the game. Every season, you’ll receive a new artifact, which can grant you as many extra levels as you can earn within a season. You can use this system to push your level well past 1,000. The catch is that your artifact will expire at the end of every season, so you’ll lose those extra levels eventually

Loot, resource management, and missions

How to pick your loot — play to your strengths

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. Explosive weapons such as grenade launchers and rocket launchers can only be categorized as power weapons. But you’ll also find that some weapons previously classified as special weapons — shotguns, sniper rifles, and fusion rifles — are now 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. Each weapon slot has its own ammo, some of which are more common than others. Generally, you’ll find more ammo for Kinetic weapons than Energy weapons, which leads Kinetic to be the “primary” weapon. Kinetic weapons also tend to have higher ammunition capacities. Power ammo is finite, and guns with power ammo hold only a small amount of ammo on average.

If you’re uncomfortable with a hand cannon, don’t use that over an auto rifle just because it has a higher attack. 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: Increases the cooldown time of your grenades, allowing you to use them more often
  • Intellect: Decreases the cooldown 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

some pieces offer points in multiple categories — mobility, resilience, recovery — while others help stats for just one or even none. Try and equip armor in a way that either balances out these three 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 be working at. 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. 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.

Resource management

Like the original, the main currency in Destiny 2 is “Glimmer.” Glimmer is acquired by killing enemies, completing missions, and dismantling old gear. Unlike the original, there doesn’t seem to be a limit on how much you can hold. It can be used to buy weapons and armor from the Crucible gunsmith and vendors on each planet. 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.

If you find yourself in possession of any legendary shards, know that they’re rare and difficult to find. 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.

A third currency, 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 single, matching color scheme, and sweet, sweet Guardian dance moves (emotes).

Tackling missions

Destiny 2 features five different campaigns between its expansions. Previously, you’d go through missions one by one when you started the game, unlocking each planet. As of New Light, that’s changed significantly. Now you’ll have access to every location as soon as you finish a short introductory mission.

While you don’t need to do the game’s original campaign to access activities, it helps to revisit them as they introduce the story, mechanics, enemies, and locations. We recommend doing these in the order of release to get accustomed to the gameplay properly.

To start The Red War, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind campaigns, talk to Amanda Holliday in the Tower. She’ll let you select them as “Legacy Content.” If you buy the Forsaken and Shadowkeep expansions, you’ll be able to access those stories as well. Start Forsaken’s campaign by going to the Tangled Shore on your director and selecting the Last Call mission. To start Shadowkeep’s story, travel straight to the Moon location.

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 and Sloan on Saturn to increase your reputation with them. You’ll want to do this since it directly goes toward being able to unlock their endgame gear.

In addition to Adventure missions, we recommend diving into the recurring public events, which let you fight powerful enemies with other Guardians. Participating in these events grants you access to loot chests, which can have Tokens and some pretty nice gear. Public events unlock as you complete missions in the area, so don’t be too quick to exit your location after wrapping up your objective.

Destiny 2 rewards those who spend more time in a destination after completing the campaign mission.

If you want to get up to speed with what’s happening in Destiny lore before you start, check out our Destiny story refresher, which will be beneficial to new and old Guardians alike.

Editors' Recommendations