Destiny 2 is no spring chicken. Since the shared-world shooter first landed in 2017, Bungie has released a steady stream of paid annual expansions and tweaked the core formula to various degrees. Keeping up with Destiny 2 is a commitment—of time, of money, of patience—so there’s no shame if you’ve jumped ship. But it’s never too late to get back on board.
It’s impossible to say whether or not Destiny 2 is better than ever, because that is a perpetual debate that will wage from now until Bungie’s server farms have operated into dust. But it’s fair to say that the barrier for re-entry is lower than ever, at least for the millions of you who are members of Xbox Game Pass. Destiny 2 and all its expansions—including last year’s well-regarded Beyond Light—are all on the service. Being able to pick up the latest expansion at no extra cost is a huge boon.
I played Destiny 2 a few years ago, clocked 60-odd hours, and hung up my hat, figuring I was done for good. Then, a few months ago, to help cope with a covid-19-induced quarantine, my roommate and I got extremely into Destiny 2 again, thinking it’d be a rote if entertaining shooter to bide the time. I’m now unleashed from said quarantine, and have not stopped playing.
Kotaku has previously run down everything you need to know to step into Destiny 2 as a newcomer, as well as an exhaustive compendium of tips specific to the Beyond Light expansion. You can brush up on all the lore here (trust me, you’ll want to). Kotaku’s tips for Destiny 2 remain (mostly) relevant. But the following advice is keyed more toward helping out prospective players who played Destiny in the past but bailed before the eras of Forsaken (2018), Shadowkeep (2019), or Beyond Light (2020) and would love to hop back in.
If you, say, played Destiny 2 on PS4 back in the day but now want to try out Beyond Light on your Xbox One, you can pick up your Guardian more or less where you left them. The process is extremely straightforward and self-explanatory. Just pop over to Bungie’s cross-save site, punch in your info, and activate the platforms you’d like to be able to play on with one profile. You can unify your account across PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, and Stadia.
If you’re returning after a long while away, maybe the idea of starting fresh is more enticing than dusting off an old character. We’ve got you covered:
There’s no real use in busying yourself on all the tiny changes that happened in Destiny 2 over the years. Combing through every developer blog and weekly update would be enough to drive any Guardian mad. It’s more beneficial to brush up on the way things currently are.
Forget what the solar system looked like the last time you played. Last year, Bungie “vaulted” a whole bunch of the game’s locations, making them inaccessible to players. These days, Destiny 2 features Nessus, the Moon, the Tangled Shore, the Dreaming City, two locations on Earth (the Cosmodrome and the European Dead Zone), and the ice-ensconced Europa, the smallest of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons.
Next up: Power levels. Any Destiny player surely knows what a Power level is. Whatever Power level you were at before, forget it. With the addition of Beyond Light, you’ll now find yourself—and all of your gear—at the new floor of 1050. There’s currently a “soft cap” of 1200. You’ll progress apace toward that point as you equip new weapons and armor. (Remember: Your Power level is decided by calculating the average of all the Power levels of each piece of gear you have equipped.)
How this change affects your old gear might catch you off guard. Some stuff has a maximum Power level of 1060, which is obviously not helpful for your purposes. Other gear can be leveled up as high as 1410, a number I promise you will not hit. (The current seasonal cap is 1260.) You can see the maximum Power level of a specific piece of gear by viewing its details and hovering your cursor over the Power level.
My suggestion? Don’t sweat your old gear. If you haven’t played in years, you probably don’t care about a dusty Origin Story, no matter how many hours you had it on your person before. You had some good times. Now it’s time to move on. (Bungie’s Luke Smith agrees.) You’ll constantly find new equipment, anyway.
If you dipped out before 2019’s Shadowkeep expansion, you could probably use a refresher on stats, which received a slight overhaul. Each piece of armor now has six, rather than three, stats to pay attention to:
- Mobility: Makes you move faster and jump higher. (Mobility also reduces a Hunter’s class ability cooldown.)
- Resilience: Beefs up how much damage you can take before you die. (Resilience also reduces a Titan’s class ability cooldown, not that anyone plays as a Titan.)
- Recovery: Speeds up how quickly your health recharges. (Recovery also reduces a Warlock’s class ability cooldown.)
- Discipline: Decreases the cooldown for your grenades.
- Intellect: Decreases the cooldown for your Super.
- Strength: Decreases the cooldown for your melee ability.
These stats are tiered by multiples of ten. So if your Mobility stat is at 66, you’ll reap the same benefits of a Mobility stat at 61, since you’re at “tier 6” Mobility either way. To see a stat boost, you’d have to hit tier 7 by pushing your Mobility to 70.
Oh, and you very well might have a bunch of mods that you can use to give yourself a small boost. Once you earn a mod, you can use it ad infinitum. You can apply these by viewing the details page for a piece of armor and hovering over those gray squares in the center of the page. (I tend to apply my Discipline mod on literally everything, because I spam my Hunter’s grenade.)
If you’ve outleveled a beloved gun, helmet, or any other piece of gear, don’t toss it. By using an Upgrade Module, you can infuse higher level gear into anything of a lower Power level, provided they’re both of the same category: kinetic weapons into kinetic weapons, leg armors into leg armors, and so on. This will destroy the high-leveled piece of gear but, in the process, boost the Power level of the lower-leveled one to whatever the Power level was of the thing you destroyed. It’s a key way to keep your favorite gear in the mix. (Our Beyond Light tips suggest holding off infusing anything until you hit the soft Power cap of 1200.)
You can buy Upgrade Modules from Banshee-44—the Tower’s gunsmith vendor—but they’re prohibitively expensive, particularly for those who play casually and thus won’t have as many Dusklight Shards on hand. You’ll have an easier time sourcing Modules by either cashing in on your seasonal rank or by knocking out Banshee-44’s weekly bounties. Speaking of…
While you’re there, pick up as many bounties—optional objectives that you can knock out while you’re playing—as you can by chatting up the Tower’s principal vendors. Bounties are easy, usually of the “kill X of Y” variety, and will reward you with experience points, in-game currency, rare materials (like Upgrade Modules), and, in some instances, Legendary (purple) gear. Each vendor corresponds with a mode or broad facet of the game:
- Commander Zavala: Strikes
- The Drifter: Gambit matches
- Lord Shaxx: Crucible matches
- Banshee-44: General shooty-shooty challenges (these are the easiest, as you can complete most of them in any mode)
Each vendor will have two weekly and four daily bounties up for grabs. Pick them all up regardless of whether or not you’re not planning to complete the challenges. You never know which objectives you may complete without even realizing it.
Bounties technically cost Glimmer, Destiny 2’s most basic currency, but you needn’t concern yourself with the sticker price. Glimmer is so common these days as to not even be a currency anymore. (At the moment, the Glimmer cap is 250,000, a benchmark you’ll hit in no time. You could buy literally everything you possibly want and still not see a noticeable dent in your coffers.)
Loot games have trained us to follow a Crayola-themed system, where rarer gear must be better, right? But a purple helmet isn’t necessarily better than a blue one. Maybe your playstyle is focused on being able to zip around the battlefield. If the blue helmet seriously outclasses the purple one in Mobility, it might be a better fit for your build. Look into the stats, rather than glancing at the rarity and equipping the rarer stuff with abandon.
I know. Such bullshit.
It is difficult to oversell how awesome Destiny 2’s Gambit mode is. Whereas much of Destiny 2 can be classified as competitive (Crucible) or cooperative (basically everything else), Gambit falls somewhere in the middle.
There are two teams per match. Your goal is to kill cannon fodder enemies, collect the resulting dropped currency (glowy triangles called Motes), and cash it into a central bank. Cashing in 100 Motes will spawn a high-level boss. First team to kill it wins. Meanwhile, each team can send one player to “invade” the other team’s zone, generally with the goal of wreaking havoc and hampering progress.
Gambit bounties tend to be the easiest to knock out, too. I have a weekly Gambit bounty right now called “Do It,” which demands I “earn 5 points.” Winning a match will give me three points; losing a match will give me two. For my efforts—if they can be called that—I’ll earn a piece of Legendary gear, plus some Glimmer, some Bright Dust, and some experience points.
As you play, you’ll earn experience points, which doesn’t affect your Power level but does increase your seasonal rank. Ranking up can earn you some good rewards—everything from Legendary gear to Bright Dust (currency for cosmetics) to valuable Upgrade Modules. Thing is, you have to actually remember to hop into your Seasons tab in the Director menu to actually cash in those rewards. It’s all too easy to forget about the Seasons tab. Check in on it periodically.
There’s a second tier of rewards available to those who purchase the paid Season Pass, which costs 1,000 Silver ($10, or $9 for Game Pass members). Essentially, you can earn extra prizes for each rank, including experience boosts and some cosmetic options.
Though much of Destiny 2 was tossed into a vault (R.I.P. Titan and its endless sea), you can still play the previous campaigns, provided you have the Forsaken or Shadowkeep expansions. (They’re available at no extra cost to Game Pass subscribers.) Both campaigns are worth checking out sooner rather than later, as the recommended Power level is set at 1050.
Yes, Destiny is rooted in a feedback loop that any observer could reasonably call a “grind.” There’s no wrong way to play any game, of course, and if you get a real kick out of marginally boosting your Power level, by all means, focus on that. Personally, I’ve found that Destiny’s fun factor wanes when I laser-focus on the grind.
For instance, I could nab a sweet piece of “Pinnacle” gear for playing three Crucible matches in the span of a week. But I don’t enjoy playing Crucible, and the matches aren’t exactly short. Earning that one piece of Pinnacle gear will mean I’ve spent up to 45 minutes of my life having no fun just for the off-chance that my little number might go up by an incremental amount.
Trust me: Whatever factors contributed to you putting down Destiny 2 years ago, playing like that is a surefire way to stoke burnout and throw you off it again. Find the modes you like to play and play those. The higher Power will come.
To the longtime players reading this (I know you’re lurking), yes, yes, I’m sure I missed something. Destiny 2 is a massive game—a literal entire solar system and some. I am but one Guardian. So chime in with your best tips and tricks for the lapsed players out there!