Destiny is both refreshingly simple and terrifyingly complicated. It’s mostly about shooting aliens in the head... but it’s also about mastering a complex system of currencies, equipment, reward tiers, and experience points. I’m here to help.

Over the past year, I played more than 700 hours of Destiny. Since The Taken King expansion came out a couple weeks ago, I’ve played a ton more. I thought I knew every little thing there was to know about Destiny, but I’ve been overwhelmed by how much The Taken King has changed things.

In the course of writing my review of The Taken King, I learned everything I could about the new, expanded Destiny. I’ve been playing alongside some very helpful friends, and between us we’ve figured out a lot of what’s what.

In the time that I haven’t been playing or sleeping, I’ve been reading up on the game online to learn as much as I can. The Destiny community has spent the last year becoming a well-oiled machine, and players around the world have been dismantling The Taken King and examining its guts. It’s been extraordinary to watch.

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This article is a work in progress. I’ve given it one revision so far (on 10/2/2015), and I’ll almost certainly be changing it over the days and weeks to come, as my and the community’s notion of the game becomes more refined.

For now, I’ve written out every tip I can think of, both for newcomers and for returning veterans. The majority of my tips focus on Player vs. Environment (PvE) play, though I have a section at the end for getting started with Crucible, where the competitive Player vs. Player (PvP) stuff takes place.

I’ve arranged our tips as follows:

  • Big-picture advice for beginners
  • Basic tips for staying alive
  • Advanced tips for everyone (including returning players)
  • How to get the most XP possible
  • How to maximize your gear and light level
  • How best to earn legendary marks
  • What to do on the Dreadnaught
  • How to survive and thrive in Crucible
  • A few extra tips about gear and weapons

Ready? Let’s do this.



BIG-PICTURE ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS



First of all, the section for people who just got Destiny. Congrats, you took the plunge! Hopefully you won’t hate it. Let’s start with the most important tip of all.

Relax and enjoy yourself.

Even in its “streamlined” year-two version, Destiny hits new players with a ton of information. It can be tempting to overthink things and become paralyzed.

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Yes, you can level up faster and get better gear quicker if you prioritize some things over other things. Yes, you can ruthlessly optimize your time with the game and have a cooler gun or helmet than your friend. But now more than ever, the best thing you can do is simply relax and play the game.

You’re just starting out. You have a ton of stuff to discover, so give yourself mental space to discover it. The game is now far more rewarding for players who simply sign on, play some stuff, and sign off. Embrace that fact. This tips post will be here for when you want to know more.

Find some friends to play with.

While it is possible to play Destiny solo and have a pretty good time, this game is much better when you play with a friend, or better, a group of friends. This might require some legwork on your part, but: Try to find out which of your friends have the game on your console of choice. This might require you to put out a question on Facebook, which might feel kind of revealing. It’s okay. Just ask! You’d be surprised who you might re-connect with, and Destiny friends tend to beget more Destiny friends. Before long you’ll have a regular raid crew.

Bigger numbers = good.

Obviously, the real goal of Destiny is to have fun. (See tip #1.) But according to the game’s systems, the player’s goal in Destiny is the same as in lots of video games: To get better and better shit with higher and higher numbers attached to it. You’ll hit level 40 pretty quickly, which feels good, but that number doesn’t mean very much. Your light level is the important number, and you want to get it as high as you can.

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Your light level is an average of all the numbers on your guns and armor, so each piece with a higher number will raise your light level. So! At the start: higher numbers = good. Most of the tips in this article will be about how to get stuff with higher numbers.

Focus on one class for now.

You can have three characters, and I’d eventually suggest trying one of each class. They’re all fun! For starting out, however, it’s best to pick one class and stick with it. More than ever, Destiny lets you get the most out of “maining” a single character, so that’s the way to go.

Pick the kind of class you think you might like.

If you’re starting out in Destiny, your first question is probably “what class should I play?” In some ways, the classes are similar. They all use the same weapons, and they’re all equally skilled with them. There’s no “sniper class” or “melee class” or anything like that. But the classes each do have specific strengths and weaknesses, mostly tied to their rechargeable super ability. Here’s the gist:

  • Warlocks: Good all-around class with a really powerful melee attack and a floaty, maneuverable jump. Super abilities include: A vortex bomb, the ability to resurrect yourself on dying, and a chain-lightning power that destroys nearby enemies.
  • Titans: Solid, sturdy class with a kinda shitty melee, the highest jump of all three classes, and tough armor. Super abilities include: An electricity-charged body slam, a protective bubble that you and your teammates can hide under, and the ability to throw exploding, flaming hammers.
  • Hunters: The most distinct class, with high maneuverability, lower armor, and a double-jump that doesn’t go as high as the other two classes. Hunters have lots of cool tricks, including gas-bombs that can blind enemies and the ability to go invisible and escape hairy situations. Super abilities include: A wicked arc-blade attack that lets you cleave through foes, a “golden gun” that gives you three extremely powerful shots from a flaming pistol, and a magical arrow that tethers enemies together and makes them more vulnerable.

Pick the right sub-class.

Once you’ve picked a class, you’ll be given a “spark” that lets you jump your character up to level 25. That’s great! Less great: You’ll still have to level up your subclasses to unlock all of their abilities. If you’re starting out, pick the subclass you want to focus on first.

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Here’s my advice: Warlocks, focus on Sunsinger first. The “Radiance” ability is the signature warlock super because it lets you resurrect yourself when it would’ve otherwise been game over. Hunters, focus on Bladedancer first. In the right combination, the invisibility moves can make you extremely useful against bosses and let you pull off some strategies that no other class can manage. Titans, focus on Defender first. The new Sunbreaker subclass is really freakin cool, but the Defender’s defensive dome is a crucial skill that can save your whole team.

Get the hang of elemental damage.

As you go, you’ll get guns that do one of three types of elemental damage: Blue arc damage, purple void damage, and red solar damage. Some enemies in the game will have shields, and those shields will be blue, purple, or red. You can whittle down those shields with any weapon, but you can do it much faster with a weapon that does the same kind of damage.

Get outside help managing your inventory.

As you play, you’ll start to accumulate gear. You’ll probably want to store some of it in your vault, or keep things around without cluttering up your character’s inventory. There are a few third-party apps and plugins that will make your life a lot easier. I use Destiny Item Manager, but you can also use Tower Ghost or any of a few others.

Bungie’s website and app are pretty good, too.

Bungie’s site and corresponding app are both helpful, and are a good place to keep track of all the information you may need about your character. It’s not all that easy to sort through of a lot of your stats and ranks in the game, but the game’s site makes it simpler.

Understand what you’re earning.

Each thing you do in Destiny offers some sort of reward, but it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting. Obviously there’s just the “drop” at the end of each mission, which gets you guns and armor along with various items, shaders, emblems, runes, or other usable thing.

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Experience Points still matter after you hit level 40; they go into whatever gear or subclass you have equipped, which is how you unlock new perks and abilities. Each time your XP bar fills after level 40 you’ll get three Motes of Light, which you also get for completing various in-game challenges. Motes are all-purpose doohickeys that can be traded for various items in the tower, consumed to get a small amount of XP, or used to upgrade gear. You can also earn Strange Coins, which you can spend on cool stuff when the weekend vendor Xur turns up on Friday.

You’ll also occasionally get Legendary Marks, which are the sought-after currency you use to buy good gear in the tower—more on how to earn a lot of marks further down. Lastly, you’ll earn Faction Reputation, which gets you higher ranks at a whole bunch of different vendors in Tower and in the Reef. Most basically, PvE activities get you Vanguard reputation, most PvP Crucible activities get you Crucible reputation. You can track your various reputation rankings over on the “quests” tab in your inventory.

Almost everything you do will earn you some combination of the above XP, items, currencies, and reputation. Start getting comfortable with keeping track of it all.

Learn the game’s schedule.

Destiny has some events that reset daily, and some that reset weekly. Each day changes over at 2AM Pacific, and the week changes each Tuesday at that same time. If you want to get the rewards for a daily or weekly event, be sure to do it before the new day/week begins!



BASIC TIPS FOR STAYING ALIVE



Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are a few basic tips for staying alive.

Don’t beat your head against missions that are too hard for you.

If a mission suggests light level 260 and you’re light level 252, don’t beat your head against it. Instead, go do something that’s appropriate to your light level. You’ll quickly get gear that will raise your light level, so you’ll be able to try that harder challenge in due time. It sucks to endlessly fail against a fight that was intended for higher-level players. You can always try to punch above your weight class, but don’t be afraid to bail and come back later.

Reviving is almost always your top priority.

If you’re playing with a team, make reviving your teammates a top priority in a fight. Sure, there are exceptions to this—times when staying alive is more important than getting an immediate revive—but generally speaking, revive people as fast as you can.

Carry some heavy ammo synths.

Ammo “synths” are items you can consume to replenish your ammunition. Always carry 10 or so heavy ammo synths—there will frequently be battles where you’ll really want to get some instant rockets to take down a boss. You can buy ammo synths from the gunsmith in the tower, but if you have a stockpile of ether seeds (which drop from various Fallen enemies) you can get them from Variks in the Reef for much cheaper.

Backpedal and take advantage of cover and invisible walls.

A lot of fights in Destiny can be beaten if you’re cautious and don’t run out into the middle of the room. Stay near the entrance, with clear ground behind you, and you should generally be able to backpedal out of danger if you’re really getting hosed. Pick enemies off from a distance and you can thin the herd until you’re able to close more aggressively. Enemies in Destiny are always constrained by invisible walls, so if you’re really stuck, try to figure out which lines they won’t cross and take advantage of that.

Only switch guns after dying.

This is a good all-purpose tip: You can switch your guns around while you play, but you’ll lose a lot of ammunition if you do so mid-game. Instead, wait until you’re dead and waiting to be revived, then switch your loadout. You’ll save a lot of ammo.

Aim for the soft spot.

When you shoot an enemy, you’ll see damage numbers flying off of it. When the numbers are yellow, you’re hitting the monster in its critical spot—you always want to get those yellow numbers, so aim for the sweet spot! It’s usually the head, but sometimes it’s somewhere else. Look for whatever’s glowing and try that.

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That covers most of the basics, so let’s get into the more advanced stuff. Starting with...



HOW TO GET THE MOST XP THE FASTEST



At any point in time in Destiny, you can probably be earning experience points and making progress at a few things at the same time. Here are some easy, economical ways to quickly earn XP and reputation.

Sign up for a faction.

As soon as you can, pledge your allegiance to one of the three factions in the tower: New Monarchy, Future War Cult, or Dead Orbit. Take a tour and check out the gear they’re all selling, and if you like the look of something, go with that faction. Vanguard and Crucible reputation gains also go toward your chosen faction, so there’s absolutely zero reason not to have a faction active at all times.

Get as many bounties as you can hold.

You should always have a full passel of bounties as you play. Each day, there’ll be new bounties. Go get as many as you can carry, and gradually you’ll become more discerning about which ones you pick. Don’t even worry about trying to go “complete” them specifically; just play normally and you’ll finish off 80% of the bounties you take.

You can turn in old bounties twice.

If you have an old, unclaimed bounty and that same bounty turns up on a new day, you can actually get it again and do it twice. I’m not sure if it’s a bug or a player-friendly change from last year, but it’s nice!

Use telemetries to quickly upgrade weapons.

You can buy items called telemetries from the Gunsmith at the tower. When you use one, all XP you put into a weapon of that type will get a significant bump for the next 30 minutes. If you’re trying to level up a certain weapon, start by saving up a bunch of completed bounties, then use a telemetry and turn them all in at once.



HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR GEAR AND LIGHT LEVEL



Do strike playlists to get to the highest light level.

As far as I can tell, strike playlists are the best way to quickly raise your light level in PvE. Those strikes pay out in blue and purple engrams, guns, armor, and other items that all will steadily raise your light level as you go.

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Do the “Neverending Battle” questline that tasks you with doing 5 strikes from the vanguard playlist. Then you’ll be high enough light to do 5 strikes from the vanguard heroic playlist. Just keep doing strikes, and you’ll get high enough light to take on the Nightfall strike.

I’ll say it again: Strike playlists are the best way to quickly raise your light level. And hey, bonus! The new strikes are cool as hell, and some of the old strikes have had some surprises added.

Blue items go all the way to the top.

Unlike in the first year of Destiny, you can now get above 280 light with only blue items. Blue (rare)-tier gear doesn’t become automatically irrelevant when compared with purple (legendary) and yellow (exotic) gear. Whatever you’re doing, the gear that’ll drop will correspond with your current light level, meaning that you’ll always be getting gear that will raise your light and make you more powerful. I’ve seen light level 290 players rocking mostly blue gear. It’s weird, but there you go.

Get your light level as high as possible before you decode engrams.

To get the most out of the new loot system, you should push your light as high as possible before you decode engrams at the Cryptarch. Equip whatever dumb gun or class item you just got that has a slightly higher number on it, and the gear you get from engrams will be better than it would’ve otherwise been.

Pause at the Cryptarch to equip new gear.

If you’re stopping off at the Cryptarch to decode 8 new engrams, pause after each one and see if it’s got a higher number than what you have equipped. If it does, pause, equip the new item, then decode your next engram. It’s tempting to blow through all of your engrams at once, but raising your light level in the middle of a Cryptarch visit really does get you better stuff.

Give new engrams to your character with the highest light.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s no longer nearly as necessary to play Destiny with more than one character, even if you’re a high-level power player. However, if you‘re running two or three characters, be sure to have your highest-light character decode every engram, particularly guns. They’ll automatically decode to higher levels just because of who took the engram to the Cryptarch. Be aware, though, that blue and purple armor engrams go to whatever class decrypts them—if you really want more armor for one of your lower-light characters, they’ll have to decrypt the armor engram.

Don’t worry about infusing at first.

You can now upgrade legendary and exotic gear with the “infuse” system, which lets you sacrifice a similar piece of gear with a higher number and raise the stat on the gear you’re upgrading. Don’t worry about infusing, at least at first. If you get a legendary item that you really like, hang on to it and plan to infuse it later. For now, though, just equip the gear with the highest number and keep playing. You’ll get so many drops as you go that it’s not worth infusing anything for a while. And when it is time to infuse…

Infuse using significantly more powerful weapons.

When you infuse a gun with a higher-level gun, the less powerful weapon will get 80% of the difference between the two. So, if you infuse a 180 attack weapon with a 200 attack weapon, the 180 gun will get 80% of the difference and become a 196. The Destiny infusion calculator can be useful to figure out what you’ll wind up with.

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Because of the way infusion works, it’s a good idea to wait to infuse a gun until you’ve got something that’s substantially higher in power. You’ll get a lot more out of each infusion. Note: The math can get a little weird on this; I’ve sometimes gotten less from an infusion than I should’ve, and a couple times have even gotten a point more.

You can infuse legendary gear with blue gear.

This is crucial: You can infuse with blue gear. That means that the trash blue guns that you’re getting will have a purpose—they’ll help make your legendaries and exotics better. You can always find a use for whatever random blue guns drop in the wild, so don’t just junk them because they’re blue.

You can infuse one class’s armor into another’s.

If you mostly play on a Titan and have a bunch of 298 Titan gauntlets sitting around, you can actually infuse those into your Warlock’s lower-level gauntlets. Just because your Warlock can’t use your Titan’s gloves doesn’t mean she can’t infuse them into her own.

Use the Three of Coins wisely for great profit

Each week, Xur turns up somewhere in the tower selling exotic items. This year he’s also selling something new—five-packs of something called the Three of Coins. If you use the Three of Coins wisely, you can snag a handful of very powerful new exotic items each week. Here’s how to do it:

  • Buy four or five packs of coins per character, per week. If you’re playing a lot, that shouldn’t be that hard to do. I’ve been earning more than 100 coins per week, though I do play a lot.
  • Aways keep a coin active on each character. When you’ve used a Three of Coins, you’ll see a roman numeral “IX” icon on your character sheet over next to your primary weapon. That means the coin is active and will remain so until you kill the next named boss. Always keep a coin active, then just play as normal.
  • Decrypt exotic engrams on your highest-light character. In particular, if you have a character who can get over 300 light, have them decrypt the engram. There’s a good chance that it’ll decrypt to 310, which is (apparently) the current highest spec a weapon or piece of armor can have. Some engrams will still decrypt to 290, which is still 10 better than what you would’ve bought form Xur.

Fully check your armor perks.

If you get a piece of armor that doesn’t seem all that great, inspect the gear and read all the perks. Most armor perks can be toggled between two options, and while the first one that shows on the item’s description may not look good, the second option may be exactly what you want.



THE BEST WAYS TO EARN LEGENDARY MARKS



In these first few weeks, Legendary Marks are a precious resource. You can use them to straight-up buy good gear from vendors in the tower, and they’re required to infuse guns and unlock exotics you earned in year one. Here’s how to maximize your legendary marks.

Do the daily crucible playlist and story mission every day.

This one’s easy: The daily crucible playlist and the daily heroic story missions net 15 marks apiece every day. That’s 30 marks a day for a single crucible match and a single (tough but doable) mission. Do those every day and you’re looking at 210 marks a week, guaranteed.

Lots of Taken King quests give guaranteed marks.

Once you finish the The Taken King’s initial story missions, the game opens up and you’ll get a bunch of quests to complete. These aren’t just time-wasters—they’re really fun, multi-stage challenges that eventually unlock more full-blown story missions. They also frequently pay legendary marks upon completion.

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The first of these, “Dread Patrol,” is one of the first quests you get after completing the story. It’s really easy, and gives 25 legendary marks. (If you want marks fast, beat the story and dread patrol on three characters and you’ll have 75 easy marks. Kinda grindy, but it works.) Keep doing quests, in particular the “Taken War” questlines, and you’ll keep unlocking new missions and getting more legendary marks.

Level up your legendary items before breaking them down.

If you break down a (year two) legendary item, you’ll get legendary marks. This is a surprisingly solid way to get marks, particularly because so many events give you legendary gear that you may not want to keep. Before you break down an item, level it up. You’ll get 3 marks for an unleveled item, and 5 for a fully leveled one. It adds up.



WHAT TO DO ON THE DREADNAUGHT



The new patrol zone on the Dreadnaught is complex and sprawling, full of mysteries to be discovered. There’s a lot to do there, and it’s fun to simply screw around and see what you can find. Like everything else in The Taken King, patrolling the Dreadnaught can net you good gear and other items that make your character more powerful. Here’s what to keep in mind as you explore:

Remember that you have a map.

For the first time ever, I’m actually glad Destiny has no in-game map or minimap. The Dreadnaught is really fun to explore, but it’s meant to be labyrinthine and confusing. It’s actually easier to get your bearings than it seems at first, and centers around a few core areas: The beachhead (where you land), the mausoleum (through to the right of the Cabal ship), the Cabal ship itself, and the Court of Oryx.

Remember, though, that you do have a map—it shows when you choose your destination before embarking.

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It’s helpful to keep that on hand as you explore. Take a screenshot and save it on your phone, or just call it up in your console’s image library. If you feel lost, pull out your ghost and see what area you’re in, then find that on the map.

Get those calcified fragments.

As you explore the Dreadnaught, you’ll find little blue glowing “calcified fragments.” There are 50 in total, and they can be found in hidden spots, uncovered in various chests, and earned from bosses and other challenges in the game. It’s a good idea to start collecting them, because once you get 45, you can earn Touch of Malice, a ridiculously weird and cool gun. Don’t be afraid to use a guide—I used the USGamer guide to find a few of the tricky ones, and it was very helpful.

Only get calcified fragments on one character.

This tip’s a little weird—I’d strongly suggest only grabbing calcified fragments on one character. There’s a really useful site for checking how many you’ve found, but it can only check across your entire account. To get Touch of Malice, you need to get 45 on the same character. That can make it very confusing as you get near the end, if you can’t remember which character grabbed which fragment.

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This is further complicated by the fact that an early Eris Morn quest has you get six fragments in total. Do that quest, but make a note of which fragments you grabbed on your other characters and try not to get any more. When you’re at 43 or 44 fragments, you’ll be really glad you kept things focused.

Read about the items you discover.

The Dreadnaught hides an unusual number of secrets. It’s a lot of fun to figure them out for yourself, so for now, I’m not going to post detailed explanations for each item, key, or rune you might find. As a general rule, if you find a thing, it can be plugged into something somewhere in the Dreadnaught, which will probably summon an enemy or other challenge for you to complete.

If you get a named key or access code, it’ll probably work with a correspondingly named chest or access terminal. The best thing you can do is actually go into your inventory and read the item’s description. Runes will tell you what you have to do to charge them, and keys will give you riddles that’ll help you locate their corresponding chest.

Take notes.

If you find a chest that requires a certain key, take a note to remember where it was. That way when you find the key, you’ll have a reference for where the chest is. Sure, you could always just use Google to find what you need, but it’s much more enjoyable to gradually chart the Dreadnaught yourself.

Look in dark corners.

There are lots of hidden doorways and tunnels on the Dreadnaught, and some of them hide cool secrets. Don’t just run around the main areas shooting aliens—if you see a weird dark doorway, see if you can go inside. Look into the farthest corners and see if you can find anything.

If you see something going on, join in.

You’ll often come around the corner and see a bunch of other players fighting a giant-ass enemy of some sort. Join in! If you help out, there’s a chance you could get something cool at the end of the fight. That also goes for the Court of Oryx public events—as you explore around the court, you’ll see players in there fighting. Go ahead and hop in anytime; there’s no penalty for losing, and each win will either get you rewards or count towards various quests and bounties.



HOW TO SURVIVE IN CRUCIBLE



Most of these tips are for PvE, but Destiny has also got an enjoyable collection of PvP modes, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least offer some starter’s tips. I’ll probably share more advanced Crucible tips later, but if you’re just starting out with the game, I really do recommend playing around in the Crucible. Here are some tips to get you going.

Lord Shaxx’s quest-line can be a good primer... at first.

Lord Shaxx is the guy with the horns who stands to the right on the way to the big Vanguard table. He’s also the announcer for every match in Crucible, and is basically your Crucible dad: proud when you’re winning, sad when you’re losing. He gives you a quest early on that tasks you with accomplishing specific tasks in each Crucible mode.

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Now that I’ve played through more of that quest, I’m altering this tip somewhat. The starter crucible quest is actually fairly awful and seemingly endless, and can be frustrating and time-consuming to complete. Play through the first parts, which act as a good primer for Crucible. Just don’t try too hard to complete the whole thing. Once you’ve played every mode once, back-burner the quest and just play whatever mode you like best.

Don’t get discouraged.

Crucible is not a welcoming place. It just isn’t! It’s not possible for a competitive arena to be all that welcoming. At first, you’ll probably feel like you’re just getting whupped, as players run all over you and kill you before you can blink. Don’t get discouraged—keep playing and you’ll quickly learn how to stay alive, and you’ll quickly start getting kills.

Consider re-speccing your character for Crucible.

You may play your subclass a certain way in PvE, but some subclass perks are more designed with Crucible in mind. In general, spec toward high armor and recovery, and go for perks that replenish your health and give you overshields. As for grenades, when in doubt look at what other players are using and try those grenades. Some grenade-types are far, far better for Crucible than others.

Pick weapons based on how you like to play.

In Crucible, weapons have their numbers filed off, so you should really just pick a gun based on how you like to play. The archetypes are as follows, so consider which primary works well with which secondary, and which ones work for how you like to play.

PRIMARIES:

  • Hand Cannons are good for mid-range encounters, fire slowly, but each bullet does a lot of damage.
  • Auto Rifles are good for mid-close range encounters and fire quickly but don’t do much damage with each individual bullet.
  • Pulse Rifles are good for mid-long range fights and fire three-shot bursts that can be deadly if you group them well and land headshots.
  • Scout Rifles are best for long range, and fire individual shots that do a lot of damage apiece.

SECONDARIES:

  • Shotguns are currently very popular in Crucible; you’ll need to get in close to use them, but they’re a one-hit kill if you’re near.
  • Fusion Rifles are solid for close/mid-close range but take a minute to charge up, so the best approach can be to “feather” your trigger to get your charge ready, if you know someone’s coming.
  • Sidearms are the newest type of secondary weapon and are a great deal of fun as mid-close-range weapons; I have a feeling they could wind up being very popular.
  • Sniper Rifles are one-hit-kills if you get a headshot, and can be extremely dangerous from a distance but require skill. (If you see a guardian from a distance and a red light flashes from their gun, that’s their sniper scope—get down!)

HEAVIES:

  • Rocket Launchers get easy kills but don’t hold much ammo.
  • Machine Guns do insane damage and carry lots of ammo but require a bit more skill to use.
  • Swords are new to the game and mostly untested, but seem like a weird and interesting option, particularly given that they can block incoming fire. They have the added benefit of being motherfucking swords.

Aim for the head.

The reason you’re getting killed so quickly is that lots of people are good at getting headshots. If you’re squaring off with another guardian, the player who scores the most headshots will always win the fight. So, aim for the head. To that end…

Get your crosshairs up.

Even when you’re not aiming down your sights, you have a crosshair in the middle of the screen. If you play a lot of PvE, you may have developed some bad crosshair habits. In PvP, keep your crosshair UP and centered on where an opponent’s head would be. If you’re going around a corner, keep your crosshair right on the line where the edge of the wall meets your view. If you get in the habit of doing that, you’ll start to quickly get more kills.

Watch your radar and play smart.

Your most useful tool in Crucible isn’t a gun or a piece of gear—it’s your radar. Keep an eye on it at all times; learn to check it obsessively. If you see a line of red at the edge, it means there’s an enemy about a room away from you. If you see a radar pie-piece fill up with red, that means there’s an enemy in the very next room. If the circle around you lights up red, there’s an enemy in the same room, or possibly in a room above or below you.

Don’t rush in guns blazing.

If you’re smart about your radar, you can also be smart about your positioning. Don’t just rush into fights. Wait for your opponents to come to you. I cannot stress this enough: Wait, wait, wait. Everyone rushes everywhere in Crucible, but the majority of the time, the patient player will be the one who wins the fight. If you know someone’s coming and are ready for them, you’ll beat them out unless they’re just way better than you are.

Don’t be afraid to flee.

If your shields get taken out, run. If an enemy sees you before you see them, run. If you’re getting shot by more than one person, run. Lots of players treat each shootout as a fight to the death, but the smart Crucible player quickly identifies when they’re at a disadvantage and lives to fight another day. If your opponent sees you first and gets a few hits up on you, you will lose nine fights out of ten. There’s no shame in bailing.

Remember your grenades.

It’s easy for Crucible beginners to forget about their grenades. Don’t do that! Grenades are the best, and a carefully placed grenade can disrupt the battlefield, scatter your opponents, secure ground for your team, and score quick multi-kills. Keep an eye on your grenade and make a mental checklist for when it’s charged up. Use it or lose it.

Watch for heavy ammo.

Every now and again, Shaxx will announce that heavy ammo is inbound. This is a key moment in any Crucible match. You should make heavy ammo a priority, but keep in mind that both teams will be heading for one of the two heavy ammo crates.

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Don’t just rush up to the nearest crate unless you know the coast is clear (check your radar). Sometimes it’s smarter to wait behind cover, pick off overeager opponents, then grab the heavy. Last thing: Heavy ammo goes to anyone on your team who’s with a certain proximity of the crate when you open it, so if you’re at the crate and it’s all clear, maybe wait a couple of seconds for nearby teammates to get close enough.

Save your super for the right moment.

Your super abilities will almost certainly get you some kills each match, but only if you’re careful about when you use it. When that yellow bar starts popping, don’t just rush forward and use your super on the first jabrone who wanders into your sights. Save it for the right moment, and you’ll get a ton of kills.

There are few things more satisfying than landing a perfect super and wrecking the other team.

Figure out how to help your team win.

Learn the rules of each mode, and try to help your team win. That doesn’t just mean killing the enemy team, though that’s never a bad thing to do. In Rift, you’ll need to get the spark into the opposing team’s rift. So, run ahead of whoever’s got the ball and keep them safe. In Control, you get points for capturing control points and scoring kills. So, get control points and get kills; don’t just chase opposing players around. Read the rules and learn the match, then try to help your team win.

Don’t leave matches, ever.

Even if you’re losing by a lot, don’t leave the match. For starters, you won’t get any drops at the end. But more than that, it’s just a dick move. You don’t want to be a dick, right? If you leave your team, you’re almost certainly dooming them to failure. Other players will get dropped in, but they’ll be pissed, too—no one likes getting matchmade into a losing game. So, just don’t leave matches partway through. If your team is losing by enough, Shaxx will just call the match and set up a new one.

Watch good Crucible players who stream.

You can learn a lot by watching good players who stream PvP Destiny. TripleWRECK and Mr. Fruit are good players to start with, but there’s a huge scene out there. Find a streamer you like and watch their highlight reels; you’ll learn a ton about how each map works and which strategies are best.

Be a good sport, and laugh at yourself.

It’s easy to rage in the Crucible. There’s no worse feeling than having some asshole snipe you right after you triggered your super, or getting run over by a shotgunner from behind when you were looking down your sights.

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When that happens, the best thing you can do is laugh. Laugh at yourself; laugh at exceptional displays of skill by other players. Be a good sport, and celebrate your opponent’s victories. There will always be bullshit losses, and there will always be things that try your patience or make you mad. Try to laugh. If you’re not having fun, take a break and go do something else.



A FEW EXTRA TIPS ABOUT GEAR AND WEAPONS



Take the time to test guns for the Gunsmith.

So far the Gunsmith’s “test weapons” have been pretty easy to go out and fill up, and it’s a good idea to do that. The starting area of the “Siege of the Warmind” mission is a good place to quickly mow down Hive enemies.

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The higher your gunsmith rank, the more choices you’ll have for perks on the weapons you order from him each week. At ranks 2, 3, and 5, you’ll also unlock new (simple) quests that get you nifty class-specific guns. The Titan guns aren’t all that, but the Warlock and Hunter ones are pretty great.

Save blue weapons to make the Gunsmith quests go faster.

As one step get those special weapons, you’ll have to break down rare or legendary guns of the same type. As you decrypt engrams, save five blue guns of the type you know you’re going to get, and you can blow through that step of the quest without having to wait. Warlocks will need to save fusion rifles and scout rifles, Titans will need to save shotguns and auto rifles, and Hunters will need to save sniper rifles and hand cannons. Five blues apiece. Easy.

Get your Queen’s rank up by playing old quests.

If you complete the questline for Petra Venj on the reef, you’ll get a cool new exotic scout rifle called Boolean Gemini. However, you have to be at Queen’s rank 3 for her to give you the gun. Petra doesn’t offer that many bounties each week, so it may seem like it’ll take forever to get your Queen’s rank up. Definitely do those bounties, but also go back and play through the House of Wolves missions that appear in your quests page. They’re pretty fun, and each one pays in Queen’s rank.

Go for the arc sword.

Once you collect 25 hadium flakes for Lord Shaxx, you can craft a sword for your character. You get to pick which element you want from Void, Arc, and Solar. I strongly urge you to go with the Arc sword.

Once you fully upgrade the sword and infuse it up past 280, you’ll unlock a new quest that eventually gives you an exotic sword. For the exotic sword, you’re locked into the element you chose for your starter sword.

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Of the three exotic swords, I’d say the arc sword Bolt-Caster is easily the best. It has a bananas ranged special attack that hurls a spinning bolt of electricity. It destroys enemies in PvE and PvP. It’ll also make the PvP step of the exotic sword bounty easier for your other characters, should you decide you want to get the other two swords as well.

You can quickly level up guns with motes of light.

You’ll probably wind up with a ton of motes of light as you go—it’s a good idea to keep a stockpile of those around, but remember that you can use them to quickly get some XP, should you need it. For example, I was able to immediately max out a legendary pulse rifle by using a primary weapon telemetry and about 26 motes of light. Not bad!



ONE FINAL VERY IMPORTANT TIP



Phew. We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post! I’ll conclude with one final tip. It may sound familiar.

Relax and enjoy yourself.

Many of the tips here have been about how to get the MOST stuff, how to earn the BEST gear, how to get the HIGHEST level in the FASTEST time. It can all be a little bit exhausting. Here at the end, I’ll restate my tip from the beginning: Relax. Just play the game!

Destiny is more welcoming than ever, and if you just play, no matter what you do, you’ll get improved gear and unlock interesting new things to do.

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Let the hardcore clans power-level their way through everything in a week. Let the die-hards finish the raid 90 minutes after it launches. It’s not a race. Take your time, play with your friends, and enjoy yourself. It’s a long time until the next expansion.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way in the new and improved Destiny. I’ll be updating this post as we go, and if you have any good tips of your own, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.

Good luck out there, everyone! Say hi to Oryx for me.

To contact the author of this post, write to kirk@kotaku.com.

Update 10/2/2015: I’ve added several tips about weapons, the gunsmith, swords, and calcified fragments.

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