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Tech Radar / Tech - Game

Destiny 2 tips and tricks: everything you need to get started

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Destiny 2 is an excellent game, as we wrote in our review, but as a beginner it’s easy to feel lost among the long list of game modes, endless loot drops and higher level players. 

But it needn’t be a struggle: Bungie has made Destiny 2 an easier game to get into provided you’re armed with the basics. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of top tips for newcomers. Here’s how to find your feet in Destiny 2’s massive world.

First up, go with the flow

Destiny 2 has a dizzying amount of content. At the start, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, with terms like ‘Clans’, ‘Raids’, ‘Strikes’, ‘Flashpoints’ and others flying around. Don’t worry about learning all the jargon: the best way to get to grips with Destiny 2 is to dive in.

The game does a good job of incrementally introducing you to different game modes and systems, particularly while you play through the campaign. In the social space, The Farm, try to speak to all the NPCs you can (hitting the central button on your controller will bring up icons for everyone you can talk to). Return to these NPCs often and look for a red icon over their head, because that means they’re ready to alert you to a new activity.

Blast through the campaign immediately

The strength of Destiny 2’s 12-hour campaign is enough to warrant a playthrough – but it’s also vital to enjoying the rest of your time with the game. 

Early on, the campaign is a great way to get to grips with Destiny 2’s weapons, its loot system and the way you travel between planets. Blasting through the story is the only way to unlock other parts of the game, too, including three-player co-op missions called strikes and a myriad of dungeons and side missions. 

Completing the campaign is also the best way to get your first Sparrow – a hover bike that lets you traverse areas much faster. It’s pretty much essential for getting around, and another incentive to jump straight into Destiny 2’s story.

Take care when choosing your class

Destiny 2 has three classes: Titan, Warlock, and Hunter, all of which have class-specific weapons and abilities. At the start of the game you pick one, and you can create multiple characters if you want to try them all out. 

However, to start with we recommend thinking carefully about which one you plump for, because you may well stick with that character for a good 10 or 20 hours and it could color your impression of the game. Creating a new character means starting from scratch in many ways, and you might not feel like doing that later on.

So, do your homework. Titans are well armored and have powerful weapons, with abilities focused on defense. Warlocks are the closest things to magicians in Destiny 2, dealing devastating burst damage with healing abilities, while Hunters are the most agile class. If you want to know more, this GamesRadar article is a good place to start.

Be patient with your subclasses

You’ve probably heard a lot about subclasses in Destiny 2: variants of the three main classes that change the style of play. But, you’ll notice, you don’t have access to subclasses at the start. What gives?

Subclasses, like most things in Destiny 2, have to be unlocked through playing. Once you reach level 7 you’ll have a chance to find what’s called a Subclass Relic in any chest. You ‘charge’ these relics by murdering Cabal, and when they’re fully charged, voila, you have access to your first subclass (the second will be available around level 14). 

Make sure you play around with the subclasses, too, and decide which is your favorite. 

Play with a friend if you can

We can’t emphasize this enough: Destiny 2 is a social game. You can certainly play it alone and have a lot of fun, but popping Cabal heads with a buddy is so much more satisfying. 

Now, we know it’s not always an option for a lot of people, but if you can convince a mate to buy the game alongside you then you’re both going to have a great time (it’s a good way to stay in touch, too!)

Failing that, try to make friends in the game – not all Destiny 2 players bite. Grab a microphone and speak to your squad mates during Raids or Strikes. Eventually, you may well get an invite to a Clan, groups of players that consistently play together. 

Oh, and note that co-op is only available after the first two (short) campaign missions, so you can’t team up straight off the bat.

Explore every class, subclass and skill tree

For anyone new to the Destiny series it can be easy to miss the levels of customization that come with each character. Weapons and armor can be modified and there’s heaps of abilities to unlock. 

All you have to do is look out for the “details” pop up over any icon, which usually means there are some tweaks you can make.

It’s especially important to customize your character’s base abilities. To do that bring up your character menu and click on the largest icon at the top of the list. From there you can change things like grenade type and jump abilities.

Look for your enemies' weak spot

Normally in Destiny 2 you’ll be aiming for the head, which gives you critical hits (indicated by yellow damage numbers spilling out of your target). Not only do enemies drop faster, but you’ll save ammo.

However, some enemies have less obvious tender points. As in Destiny, goblins, which you’ll see plenty of, have a weak spot on the bright power core in their chest. Incendiors, flamethrower-wielding Cabal that are new to Destiny 2, have a weak spot on their fuel tanks that they carry on their backs. Try and get them down quickly, because they can deal a lot of damage if left unchecked.

Wait for the drop

Destiny 2 is all about loot. You’re always looking for your next go-to assault rifle or the prettiest armour, and you’ll get them in ‘drops’. When you’re fighting enemies, keep your eyes peeled for glowing orbs that pop out from an enemy when they die – different colours represent different levels of rarity (you’ll get to know them fast). Keep your eyes peeled for chests, too.

Also, when an ally pops their super ability they’ll drop orbs of light. Collect them to refill your own super for the chance of chaining your attacks together: it can work well against large groups.

Keep an eye out for Exotics

Even if you’re new to Destiny’s universe you’ve probably heard of Exotics. They’re essentially the most powerful weapons and armor in the game, and having them in your inventory will turn you into a killing machine. They’re very rare, so you’re going to want to hunt them down.

By simply playing through the campaign you’ll unlock a few, so that’s a good start. Most of the others come from Engrams, which are basically unidentified Blueprints that you can ‘decrypt’ into items in the social space, The Farm. Exotics come from yellow Engrams – the rarest kind.

Sadly, there’s no hard and fast rule to getting them. The best way is simply to play through Destiny 2’s main game modes – including Nightfall, Strikes, Public Events and PvP in the Crucible – during each of which there’s a small chance you’ll find an Engram.

Don't wait to decrypt your Engrams

In the first Destiny, it was advisable to hold onto Engrams (remember, they’re basically unidentified blueprints) before decrypting them into real items because the power of the resultant armor or weapon depending on your level and Power at the point of decryption. Having your best gear equipped when decoding also proved beneficial.

That’s all changed: the power of Engrams is determined when it’s dropped, not when it’s decrypted. It also doesn’t matter what items you have equipped: Destiny 2 will work out your best possible loadout when decrypting based on all your items, so feel free to have your favorite Energy weapon equipped even if it isn’t technically your most powerful weapon.

Mark your calendar

Destiny 2’s persistent world runs on a tight schedule, the highlight of which is a weekly reset. Some activities are only available once a week, including the Nightfall Strike, an uber-difficult version of the game’s regular strikes that rewards you with some of the best loot in the game. The destination of Flashpoint, which gives you with powerful gear for completing events in a given location, also rotates weekly.

The reset happens every Tuesday at 2am PT/5am ET/10am BST. So, make sure you’ve completed your weekly challenges by that time, because you won’t get another chance to play them – or grab their loot.

Consider holding onto upgrade points

Every time you level up in Destiny you get an upgrade point that you can spend to unlock new abilities. While it can be tempting to plough them into your character straight away, holding off might be a good strategy. Upgrade points can be used on any subclass and, as we mentioned earlier, you won’t have access to all subclasses immediately.

Your best bet is to only spend upgrade points when you’re absolutely sure you want to unlock a new ability. That way, you’ll always have some spare. Then when you’ve tried out all the subclasses you can decide which one you like best and drop all your points in one go, kitting out your character to the max.

Don't ignore the squishy enemies

Destiny 2’s missions are packed with bosses that eat a lot of bullets before they go down. It’s easy to just concentrate all your fire on the big baddies, but don’t forget about the little ones. We’ve often made the mistake of having tunnel vision for a boss only to be taken out by a Goblin weakling that we haven’t been paying attention to.

Make sure at least one person on your squad is scouting the area for these squishies and taking them out as soon as they spawn: it will make the team’s job a whole lot easier.

Revive, revive, revive (but not if it's too dangerous)

Destiny 2 can be a tough game that requires a lot of co-ordination, particularly during its three-player strike missions. When a teammate goes down your mind should immediately jump to getting them back in the action. 

Revives don’t take very long – you stand on the spot they died, hold the relevant button for a few seconds, and they’ll pop back up. However, try and make sure the area is safe first. 

If there are a few squishy enemies around then you’ll be fine, but if a boss is stomping on the spot where your teammate died, or there’s enemies swarming all over it, then it’s not worth it. All you’ll do is get yourself killed. Reposition, and the remaining foes will move away from the revive spot. Then, fly a safe route to your downed friend, and help them out.

Be patient with your Super Ability

Super Abilities are slow-charging beasts, but when you unleash them they cause havoc. They’re specific to classes and subclasses, so get to know them every time you switch.

We’d recommend saving it until you really need it: in Strikes, for example, hold onto it until you feel like you’re being overrun (which will happen a fair amount). In PvP, use it when you have the drop on a group of enemies to make sure it counts. It can turn the course of a round.

Use elemental damage whenever possible

Elemental weapons are vital to surviving in Destiny 2. There are three elements – Arc, Solar and Void – and they’ll do more damage to enemies depending on their shield types. If you see a blue shield, switch to an Arc weapon, it’s Void damage for purple shields and Solar damage for orange shields.

For PvP, the thing you need to know is that any elemental weapon does extra damage against enemies using their super. When you see a foe pop theirs, switch to an elemental weapon and keep firing. You might as well go down fighting, and you might just get lucky.

Don't neglect your class ability

Destiny 2 adds a new class ability for every Guardian, and they’re useful. They cool down pretty fast, so make sure you’re using them whenever possible. The best two probably belong to the Titan and the Warlock: the Titan can summon a stationery shield that blocks damage (great if you’re backed into a corner), while the warlock either heals or boosts the damage of anybody nearby. Spam them.

Pay attention to recommended power levels

Some activities in Destiny 2, including raids and strikes, have recommended power levels: yours is determined by the strength of your gear. 

You can go ahead and ignore them but you’re not going to have a good time. Trying to fight above your level will mean dealing less damage than you expect and taking more punishment. It won’t be pretty.

So, if you’re confronted with a recommended power level higher than your own, focus on beefing up. Lower level strikes, PvP in the Crucible, and Patrols are good ways to power up. Jump in and get grinding.

Stick together in the Crucible

Destiny 2’s Crucible pits you against other players in PvP matches. There’s several modes, all of which are four-on-four. We’ll leave you to discover your favorite but the most important thing to remember is to stick with your teammates whenever possible. 

It’s easy to go all headless chicken and run off to try and win the game on your own but, early on, you’re not going to have the skills or gear to do that. Stay with your squad and play the numbers game. 1v1s are tricky when you’re a beginner, but if you’re on the good side of a 2v1 you’re going to get a lot more kills.