Each time Bungie releases new content for Destiny, the game undergoes a renaissance of sorts. Players who had moved on to other games return to shoot their way through new story missions, cooperative strikes, and epic six-man raids that test the limits of teamwork on consoles. The game dangles new pieces of Exotic gear as carrots on the metaphorical stick, daring Guardians to “become legend” in pursuit of better guns, better armor, and a higher Light level.
The latest chapter in the Destiny saga, Rise of Iron, balances these activities in such a way that players can level up no matter which activity they’re playing through. In the past, rewards from raiding and completing weekly activities (such as the Nightfall strike) outweighed those from its competitive multiplayer mode, the Crucible. After Rise of Iron, though, you’re free to forge your own path to the top.
Destiny‘s competitive multiplayer suite has undergone wholesale changes in the last two years, and we aim to bring you up to speed with a comprehensive guide to the Crucible.
Overview and game modes
To make its competitive multiplayer balanced and fun for everyone, most Crucible modes do not factor in your gear’s light level. A level-10 Guardian can theoretically stand toe-to-toe against a level 40 Guardian and the winner will be determined by who has the quicker trigger finger, rather than the highest stats.
That being said, lower level Guardians aren’t on exactly the same footing as their more experienced counterparts. Legendary and Exotic items, which are much more difficult (and, in some instances, outright impossible) to acquire at lower levels, still have upgrades that give players an edge, such as quicker reload times. Similarly, each class (Titan, Warlock, and Hunter) is outfitted with three “subclasses,” each of which has its own subset of abilities. Newer players may not have access to as many abilities and upgrades as those who have put in significant time with their class.
The Crucible features several modes, each providing its own objectives, as well as a few special event modes that show up on a weekly or monthly basis. Today’s Crucible is a far cry from the multiplayer experience when Destiny first launched at the end of 2014: Originally there were four game modes to choose from. There are now 11 permanent and weekly rotating game types.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the Crucible’s standard game modes:
A 6v6 match in which both teams vie for control of three different capture points. The more locations your team controls, the more points you accrue for gunning down an enemy player.
To capture a flag location, simply stand inside the glowing circle that appears around it until a meter fills up. Players also earn points for capturing and defending flags.
A 6v6 match with radar trackers disabled. Kills are the only way to earn points; however, controlling flags grants bonus score for kills.
Your standard, 6-on-6 team deathmatch. Like Control, It’s just one team of six shooting at another team of six, with each fighting to be the first to reach the match’s point total.
The exact same rules as Clash, except all players’ abilities recharge much faster. That means more grenades, more melee charges, and — of course — more supers.
Just like Clash, but with radar trackers disabled. Kills are the only way to earn points.
A series of 3-on-3 matches with no respawns (revives are enabled). Once all members of a team are eliminated, the surviving team earns one point. First to five points wins.
This 6-on-6 match where teams must retrieve a “spark” from the center of the map and bring it to a “rift” near the opposing team’s spawn point.
Free-for-all. Six players. No teams. The basic rule in Rumble? If it moves, shoot it. No one works together in this mode, as everyone fights to have the highest point total once the match ends.
Like Mayhem Clash, but with six players and no team affiliations.
Much like Clash, Skirmish is a team-based match type with no objectives beyond the basic “Kill anyone who isn’t an ally” commandment. Unlike Clash, it’s a 3v3 mode, which makes working at part of a team all that much more important.
Downed allies can also be revived in Skirmish, which earns some points in addition to helping keep the team together.
Salvage functions as a sort of mashup of Control and Skirmish. It’s a 3-on-3 match wherein an objective location will spawn occasionally. Players must fight to capture and hold the objective to earn points, and revives are enabled.
Similar to “Kill Confirmed” modes in the Call of Duty series, the Rise of Iron-exclusive Supremacy match requires players to pick up “crests” dropped by players when after they’ve been killed. Players only earn points for a kill after someone on their team recovers the crest off an enemy you killed. Players can also pick up their fallen teammates crests to prevent the other team from scoring.
The exact same rules as Control, except kills won’t earn you points. This means you must win a match of Zone Control the old-fashioned way: by equipping a shotgun, hiding in the corner, and camping the flag until your opponents rage-quit.
While the game modes above are usually available — Supremacy, Control, Clash, and Rumble are permanent fixtures, while the other modes rotate weekly — there are a select number of Crucible “events” that appear less frequently. Here’s a quick roundup of the time-sensitive Crucible modes you might come across in Destiny.
Remember how we said most Crucible matches did not take players’ level level into account? This is the exception. For one week each month, players can participate in Iron Banner matches, which pit players against each other with their loot fully active. There is nothing fair or balanced about this mode, and generally you can expect to lose unless you have high-level gear. Traditionally, Iron Banner matches are always Control-type matches, but the October, 2016 Iron Banner event substituted it for the expansion’s new mode, Supremacy.
For players who have Rise of Iron, Lord Saladin, Efrideet, and the rest of the Iron contingent appear in the expansion’s Iron Temple social space, offering special quests and bounties that you can complete in Iron Banner Crucible matches. Players will be rewarded with gear themed around the Iron Lords, who are also the main focus of the Rise of Iron single-player storyline.
Trials of Osiris
Like the Iron Banner, Trials of Osiris, is a Crucible variant available for players with The Taken King expansion, which allows players to compete in the Crucible using equipment with light level stat boosts enabled. The elimination-style matches run every week from Friday to Tuesday. There is no matchmaking for this mode, so players must put together their own three-player teams to participate.
Rather than simply choosing to participate, players must buy their way to the mode with an in-game item called a “trial passage,” which can be purchased from a vendor in the Reef social space. Once a team buys in, they play against other teams until they lose three matches or win up to nine. Players can also use consumable items called “passage boons” at the start of the trial, which can enhance the team’s record.
The Combined Arms playlist doesn’t offer any special rewards, but it offers an experience that you can’t find anywhere else in Destiny‘s multiplayer suite: vehicles. Using only the largest maps in the game, Combined Arms provides players with Pikes (hover bikes similar to players’ Sparrow transports, but with mounted guns) and small tanks called Interceptors to shake up the action.
Gearing up for the fight
Destiny is, first and foremost, a loot-based game. While Guardians are certainly fighting to save humanity from the Darkness — or, well, something, anyway — they’re also fighting to earn those sweet pieces of Exotic and Legendary gear that can provide a leg up on the competition.
The Crucible is no different. There will always be certain weapons and pieces of armor that you’ll see more often than others. New players might feel overwhelmed or disadvantaged if they’re not in possession of that one gun that seems to be dominating the meta.
Fear not, though. With a little time, Destiny is designed to gradually build up unprepared players. Finishing a Crucible match will almost always net you a reward that’s as high as or slightly higher than your light level, or some useful items like Strange Coins (one of Destiny‘s many currencies). Performance has no bearing on your post-match loot haul, either.
Rewards for participating in Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris are scaled to reflect the difficulty of the events, and playing Iron Banner matches in particular will net you a ton of legendary gear. Just make sure you’re up for the challenge before queueing up for matches.
With the release of The Taken King, Destiny‘s vanguard marks and crucible marks were replaced with “legendary marks,” a currency built to reward players for participating in any activity — Crucible or otherwise — with awesome, though not quite elite, gear. Destiny‘s Navigator screen displays two Crucible playlists, one that rotates daily and a second that rotates weekly. Each week, you’ll earn 10 legendary marks (up to a total of 30) for completing a match in this playlist, win or lose.
There are several other ways to earn legendary marks. Dismantling legendary gear nets you between three and five marks per piece, completing the Daily Heroic Story mission is worth 15 marks, and completing your first public event each day will earn you 15, along with some Legendary engrams.
Legendary Marks (which cap at 200) are account-bound so, unfortunately, you won’t be able to grind them out for multiple characters.
Players can also earn legendary marks by build up a reputation with the game’s various factions There are several different factions in the game, each of which you’ll need to rank up with in order to purchase weapons and armor. Building your reputation with these factions is key to earning new gear, building your Light level, and dominating in the Crucible. Each faction starts off at rank zero, and can increase their reputation level by partici. Reaching rank two with a faction unlocks armor purchases, and reaching rank three unlocks weapon purchases.
In addition to the various factions you join throughout the game’s story missions and strikes, there are a few factions that specifically pertain to the Crucible. First and foremost, players earn points for the Crucible faction by simply competing in Crucible matches.
There are also three special Crucible factions, which will grant additional rewards and offer a new store with extra gear to anyone who pledges to their faction. Players can pledge their support to one of these three factions, The Dead Orbit, Future War Cult, and New Monarchy, at any time. You can switch to a different faction as often as once per week, without losing the progress you’ve already made.
Winning Iron Banner matches earns rep with a special Iron Banner faction, and losing a match will provide the player with a stackable buff that increases the rep reward from your next win. Rise of Iron players can also earn reputation with the Iron Banner through weekly bounties picked up from Lady Efrideet while the event is active. These are a little more involved than basic daily bounties, and might take a few days to complete, but the rewards are much more desirable.
Leveling up factions in Destiny is key for two reasons. First, each faction has different weapons and armor available for sale, with different stats and upgrade nodes. Bungie generally does a good job of making vendor guns competitive in Crucible, so anyone who puts in the time will be rewarded with usable gear. Second, each time you rank up with a faction (and this goes for the unlisted, PvE-focused factions as well), you’ll receive a package containing Legendary gear guaranteed to be higher in attack or defense than your current overall light level.
There are myriad ways to earn reputation in Destiny (in particular, many activities reward Vanguard rep — and, as a result, Pledged faction rep), but completing bounties is the most reliable. Each social space has a robotic vendor offering 12 daily bounties — six Vanguard, six Crucible — that’ll each earn you a bit of rep. These are usually quick and painless, asking you to do things like “Get two kills with heavy weapons,” or “Capture Zone B first in a Control match.” Completing Crucible matches in any playlist (excluding Private matches) will also earn reputation. A win, unsurprisingly, is worth more than a loss.
Destiny‘s Quest system received a serious overhaul with the release of The Taken King, and now provides an excellent way to get acquainted with the Crucible and earn some sweet gear in the process. There are introductory questlines for each of the nine subclasses in the game, and these questlines often require Guardians to, say, earn 20 kills in the Crucible with a particular grenade type.
Lord Shaxx (the primary Crucible handler) also offers a lengthy series of quests that ask players to participate in each Crucible match type and utilize each weapon archetype. It’s a great way to figure out which classes, subclasses, and weapons you’re most comfortable using, and it culminates with weekly Crucible bounties that provide bonus rewards and reputation.
Rise of Iron also includes a quest requiring players to complete several different objectives in the new Supremacy match type, and there are several questlines and bounties tied to Exotic weapons that include objectives that can only be fulfilled in the Crucible.
Tips, tricks, and tactics
Now that you’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time reading about the Crucible, it’s probably time to actually start playing. In case you end up having some trouble, though, here’s a handy list of tips to help you get revenge on that guy who just won’t stop crouching over your corpse.
Check your corners — Destiny is full of guns and abilities that can kill you in the blink of an eye. Instead of sprinting blindly around every turn, be patient and let the enemy come to you.
Use your radar — Radars and minimaps have been a staple of shoot-em-up games forever, and Destiny is no different. Learn how to read the radar, to determine whether enemies are above or below you, and how far away they are.
Adjust your loadout between matches — While Guardians can switch weapons and subclasses on the fly, it’s better to make a choice before the match and stick with it. Switching between subclasses in-game will automatically reset all your cooldowns, and switching equipped weapons (Special and Heavy only) will deplete your ammo supply. Switching equipped armor during the match generally has no consequences.
Play to your strengths — If you’re naturally aggressive, equip a shotgun and fly around the map. If you prefer the cautious approach, use a scout rifle and a sniper rifle. If you’ve read this far, you know that Destiny rewards you for both wins and for losses, so play the way you want to play and have fun.
Adjust to your competition — Sometimes, switching your loadout mid-match is a necessary sacrifice. Is the whole enemy team hiding in the back of the map with sniper rifles? Take an alternate route with a shotgun and break up the party. See an enemy Guardian glowing with power? His Super is active, so get the hell out of there.
Master the maps — Destiny has more than 30 Crucible maps, more than half of which are in rotation at any given moment. Some maps are wide-open and perfect for sniping, while others are full of windy corridors and hiding spots that promote close-range gunplay. It’ll be tough at first, but over time you’ll learn to pick your spots and adjust your play style accordingly.
Use ammo crates tactically — When the Heavy ammo spawns, everyone and their mother is quick to jump in and grab it. Use this to your advantage by heading to the spot a little early and unloading on unsuspecting enemy players who show up hoping for some free rockets.
Take deep breaths — Many Destiny players are veterans who have been taking names in the Crucible for more than two years. You will get frustrated by enemies who pop their super and kill you just after you activate yours. You’ll want to tear your hair out after spawning directly in the path of an enemy’s Gjallarhorn rocket. It’s okay. Over the long haul, patience and preparation always win out.
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