Date: October 23, 2017
Author(s): Rob Williams
After months of anticipation, the PC version of Destiny 2 is soon to drop. That being the case, there may be things you’d like to know about before jumping in, whether you’re entirely new to the Destiny universe, or are transitioning from the original on console. Fortunately, some of those things can be found right here!
Whether you’re a returning Guardian about to jump from Destiny straight to the PC, or you’re going to be discovering the Destiny universe for the first time ever on PC, there are some things you may like to know upfront that will help you grasp certain mechanics of the game easier in the earlier hours of the game.
This post is going to be packed with minor spoilers (no story), so if you want to continue avoiding information at all costs, you can close this tab, and I wouldn’t blame you at all. Having played Destiny 2 on PlayStation 4 enough to earn the Platinum trophy, I’m still excited to dive into the PC version, and I appreciate knowing certain things now that I didn’t around the original launch of the game.
Don’t take this list as gospel; it’s just a personal look at ten things I either wish I knew from the start, or think new players (returning from the original, or not) should be aware of. If you don’t feel like reading some 3,000 words, I’d recommend scrolling and just reading the subheadings that grab you. You don’t need to know everything on day one, after all.
Despite what some might say, Destiny isn’t an MMO, and it doesn’t try to be one. It’s an “online game” that just happens to have some mechanics that make it a little more complex than say, Unreal Tournament. That lack of complexity means that you can easily play the game on three different characters, which would let you experience the game as a Warlock, Hunter, and Titan. You don’t have to play more than one character by any stretch, but the game makes it easy enough to do so, so if you end up enjoying the game to a significant enough degree, you’ll more than likely be playing all of the classes, eventually.
That of course means that the class you choose from the get-go won’t matter too much, because you’ll be experiencing them all at some point. But if you’re already sold on the idea of sticking with just one character, which should you go with? Here’s some basic explanations:
Hunter: Quick and nimble. Supers include Golden Gun (one-shot kill in PvP… usually), and a void tether that lets you hold enemies in-place for a certain amount of time. The downside to being quick and nimble means that Hunters are kind of like a “Glass Cannon”, in that they are pretty squishy. Players choosing to roam the Destiny 2 world as a Hunter should be prepared to handle accelerated death.
Titan: If Destiny had a “Tank” class, Titan would be it. Supers include a shield barrier that keeps those hiding behind it safe (for a time), and a satisfying slam that lets you kill many regular enemy mobs at once. For PvP, you can throw flaming hammers at people, nailing an opponent’s coffin shut. Unlike the quick Hunter, Titans are a bit slower, but that comes with the trade of improved survivability.
Warlock: Warlock falls somewhere in between Hunter and Titan, in that it’s not quick, or slow. It’s the more ‘magical’ of the three classes, as the name might suggest, allowing you to create a healing puddle on the floor, or hurl a debilitating Void bomb at your enemy, or enemies. In either PvE or PvP, your Stormtrance super can make for some pretty easy kills.
Some might disagree, but there’s a lot of value to be had in any class you choose. And, as mentioned, you may very well create all three characters at some point anyway, so just choose your first based on what sounds the most tempting.
You’re going to be earning a lot of gear before you know it, but you truly don’t have to worry about your full loadout until you reach the level cap of 20, which should happen after about 10 hours of gameplay. At level 20, you can begin earning Legendary Engrams and items, and after a few hours, you’ll probably have a Legendary item in each slot.
Instead of worrying about what you look like, what you should be concerned over is how high your Power Level (Light Level in the original) can get. If you’re wearing a Power Level 112 Helmet and find a 118 one next, equip it! With armor, it truly doesn’t matter what you wear, because it’s the Power Level that matters. While gear does include different stats and capabilities, they can largely be ignored for the most part – until you begin refining your character because you’ve hit a high Power Level.
A note about weapons, though. If you find yourself with a 120 Hand Cannon that you’re worse off using over another weapon, say, a 110 Auto Rifle, put the Hand Cannon back in the bag – but don’t delete it. At any given point, you should never delete the highest Power Level item you have, even if you are not equipping it. As long as it sits there, the game will use it in its calculation to give you the highest-level loot possible.
Gear matters a lot in Destiny 2, but really only after you are well leveled. It also implies you understand infusion, which I’m going to cover next.
In the original Destiny, you could “Infuse” the Light Level of one piece of gear into another similar piece of gear. Chest pieces could be infused into Chest pieces, for example. It didn’t matter if one Chest piece was meant for Hunter, and the target for Warlock. Ditto for weapons – a Special could be infused into a Special, regardless of its actual type (Shotgun, Fusion Rifle, etc).
In Destiny 2, your three available characters are far more independent. If you want to improve the Power Level of your Warlock helmet, for example, you’ll need another Warlock helmet of higher Power Level to infuse it. The same applies to weapons: shotguns can only infuse into shotguns, grenade launchers into grenade launchers, and so on. It’s important to note that if you have a Grenade Launcher in your Power slot, you can infuse it into a Grenade Launcher in the Energy slot. Not all slots share the same weapon types, but there are many redundancies.
This design change makes a lot more difficult to hit your peak Power Level, but there’s another design change that makes that not matter so much. In Destiny 2, there’s a point when your Power Level is higher than it needs to be. If a piece of content requires a Power Level of 200, for example, you only need to be Power Level 200 to tackle it efficiently. It doesn’t matter if you’re Power Level 300 – you gain absolutely no strength over the Power Level 200 standing next to you.
In the original game, PvP modes Iron Banner and Trials scaled player abilities based on their Light Level, but that’s been completely changed in this sequel. A good or bad change, depending on your perspective.
It is important to note that like your gear in general, you shouldn’t worry about infusion until level 20. That’s because infusion requires a Legendary or Exotic base, and also requires Legendary Shards, which you’re not going to be earning until you start dismantling Legendary items. And to do that, you need Legendary items, which don’t start dropping until you’re level 20. It’s a catch 22. Err… 20.
As you’ll be exploring the likes of Earth (ooh, exotic!) and Titan, deeds done will earn you specific currency that can only be used on that given planet. EDZ tokens will be supplied for Earth, where you hand them over to an NPC that can grant you some quality gear – and gear of a specific set. It requires 20 tokens to earn one Legendary Engram, and anything you do on a planet will reward them: finding chests, or completing Public Events, Adventures, or Lost Sectors.
As you travel around, you’ll probably notice some out-of-place plants or objects that can be picked up (they will glow if someone else in the area picks one up, but loot is not shared). These items will grant an itty bitty amount of reputation with the vendor on that given planet. I’d wager these “plants and things” could be picked up only if you pass by it, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to pick one up if you see it in the distance.
It’s worth noting that when you rank up anywhere, and are given the opportunity to collect a Legendary Engram, you can hover over that Engram before choosing to accept it, and then hit a key to preview what’s inside. This will give you a good taste of what you can get from it, and help you decide whether or not your time would be well spent trying to earn tokens on that particular planet.
Clans in Destiny meant nothing more than having a dedicated friends list of people you regularly play with. In the sequel, each clan member will contribute XP towards leveling up the clan (to enable certain gameplay boosts), and, if you end up doing activities with other members in your clan, you will end up earning additional “Powerful Engrams” each week. Powerful Engrams are arguably more important than Exotics, because they ultimately help level you up the fastest. By the time you hit max Power Level, you’ll probably have all of the Exotics you desperately want.
If you don’t like having to chat with other people while you game, you shouldn’t rule out joining a clan. There are definitely going to be clans out there catering to mic-less Guardians, so please don’t hold yourself back because you think a clan will force you to a certain playstyle. Looking for Clan lets you see which clans are actively seeking members, and also what they’re looking for in members. You may wish to spend some time looking through the list, as there are already many PC clans available.
If you don’t mind using a mic, it means you’ll be able to tackle the most difficult content Destiny 2 has to offer with greater ease. And, I will say this: some events in Destiny 2 dwarf the difficulty of the same events in the original. Nightfalls in particular have become a genuine challenge, and Prestige Nightfalls prove to be a true test of your character (and your loadout). With the raid, it’s extremely encouraged to come equipped with a mic, because it is not easy (or intuitive for those going in for the first time).
If you’re a “get to the end-game as quick as possible” kind of person (like I will be, as I will essentially be starting my fourth character), your time will be well-served by focusing on Public Events scattered around the world. These seem to give the highest possible XP reward for the amount of effort required in the game, and since they’re actually fun to do, it’s a satisfying way to level up, and gear up.
If you’re more of a casual gamer, and especially a solo one, you’d do well to pay attention to the Lost Sectors found around the map (the game will fortunately introduce you to them at some point), as well as Adventures. Lost Sectors are entire areas hidden below the area you’re in, and after traversing down and beating a small boss at the end, you can loot a chest with some gear. Adventures are like mini-quests that reward you just the same, but at least to me, they are not as satisfying as Public Events or Lost Sectors, and you’re bound to reach a point real quick where your Power Level will be too high to make them relevant, anyway.
Don’t expect to get to 20 and suddenly have the full game unlocked, though. There are still some steps required to unlock the bulk of the game, which at the very least requires you to complete the main story. If you reach level 20 before you complete your important prerequisite steps, you’ll begin to earn Legendary gear quicker (since that’s tied to level, not progress).
Public Events are one of the best additions to Destiny 2, as far as I’m concerned. It allows up to 6 Guardians who happen to be on Patrol (simply exploring a given planet) to team up and take care of business, wherever that business may happen to be (blue diamond icons on the map will highlight Public Events).
After clearing through a Public Event, a chest will spawn, and you’ll be able to enjoy whatever loot Bungie’s randomizer decided to leave for you. If the Public Event becomes Heroic, the quality of the loot improves, granting you a better chance at earning an Exotic Engram – or in other words, an Exotic armor piece or weapon.
What the game doesn’t explain at all is how you turn a regular Public Event into a Heroic one. Because each Public Event requires a different method of triggering the Heroic, I am not going to explain how to do each one. If you are truly desperate to know, you can refer to this Polygon guide (I am considering doing a similar video guide, but at higher resolution and higher FPS – let me know if that’d be useful!)
What I’d recommend doing as a new Guardian is keeping your eyes wide open during Public Events, to see if you can figure out on your own how you’re supposed to trigger the Heroic. In most cases, the steps are not entirely intuitive, so don’t be afraid to look at your fellow Guardians and see if they’ve happened to figured it out. If you see a random guy shooting at a totally random object – maybe there’s a reason!
This is unfortunately a bullet point that tackles something people shouldn’t have to endure: Public Events that don’t have a single other soul present. In most of my Destiny 2 life so far, I’ve found myself really annoyed by going to a Public Event area and finding no one else there, so I decided to take the advice of a random stranger at reddit and simply load back into the same area over and over, hoping for the best.
If you’ve never paid attention to Destiny 2 up to this point, Public Events show on your map as dark blue diamonds which have an orange border that fills up as the event nears its start. Personally, at around the 1-minute-start mark, if no one is still in my instance, I’ll load up my map and travel to the exact same drop spot I used before. Sometimes even that’s not enough – I’ve had to reload the instance up to three times before I’d see people doing the event, but there were also times when I’d have to give up because no one would ever end up appearing before the event itself disappeared.
It takes more than one person to complete a Public Event, and honestly, since it’s a “Public Event”, that much is probably obvious. This tip is me assuming the PC version will be just as bad for Public Events, but I pretty much have to assume it’ll be the same way at this point.
Not long into your Guardian’s life, you’ll be able to hop into the Crucible to try your hand at taking down some enemy players. There are two primary modes in Destiny 2, both acting as playlists. Quick Play will let you play Clash (Team Deathmatch), Control (Zone Capture), and Supremacy (Kill Confirmed). Competitive has Countdown and Survival, and is arguably the much more difficult playlist. Don’t worry: you’ll be playing both before you can begin choosing which mode to play on your own.
Clash and Control are pretty easy to understand, but Supremacy is one that many players don’t seem to grasp at first. In it, killing an enemy will result in a crest dropping to the ground. If you get the crest, you get a point; if the enemy gets the crest, they do. In this mode, killing people isn’t what wins you the round: picking up the crests is what wins you the round.
A couple of weeks into the game’s life on console, I was playing a Supremacy map with a friend, and despite performing seriously awful that night, we ended up winning. Why? Because I stopped focusing on killing, and started just running around the map, picking up crests that half the people seemed to be ignoring. I won the round without focusing on killing, just because other people didn’t understand the concept of the mode.
Countdown may be a little hard to understand at first, too. At the start of a Countdown round, you’ll notice numbers at the top; usually (or maybe always) 8. If you die, that number goes down. If your teammate dies… ditto. Once those numbers hit 0, anyone dying after that point is out for good. Well, at least until the next round. It’s an exciting game mode, albeit one that can make the match (and round) durations fairly long.
Crucible is also a good way to level up, although it doesn’t seem to be quite as effective as running Public Events (especially the Heroic versions). But if you love PvP, Crucible can be a good way to level and gear up while having competitive fun.
If there’s such thing as a “best kept secret” in Destiny, it’s that companion apps exist that most people don’t use. And it’s not for good reason. The amount of people I’ve bumped into who’ve never even used the official Bungie produced Destiny companion app blows me away, because if I didn’t have apps like it, I don’t think I’d play. That’s not an exaggeration.
I hate to be blunt, but the in-game item management system is absolute junk in Destiny 2 (the same reality cursed the original). Finding an item you need in your vault is like rummaging through the discount movie bin at Walmart – you have to dig to find what you’re looking for. Apps like the official one from Bungie allow you to log into your account on your phone (or tablet), and move items between characters, or between your characters and your vault. In the case of the official app, you can also track quests and things like that, although if you’re already in-game, that information isn’t too hard to gather (unless you’re wondering about a character other than the one you’re on).
Here’s what the official companion app looks like:
A couple of alternatives include Ishtar Commander on mobile, and Destiny Item Manager on PC (seen below). I use both Ishtar and DIM while playing, depending on whether I have my laptop next to me. Both serve the same kind of purpose – allowing you to move items around while playing, and avoiding the actual in-game vault at all costs (seriously, it’s bad).
Ishtar Commander is available for both Android and iOS, whereas DIM can be used in any web browser (including on mobile, although experiences will vary). If you use these apps, and then stop; believe me, you’ll quickly pick up using them again. At least for me, they’re an extremely valuable addition to the game.
And speaking of that, also valuable is the Destiny community over at reddit. The game’s biggest Destiny subreddit is /r/DestinyTheGame, but another worth checking out is /r/Destiny2. Want to hook up with random people targeting the same goals? You can hit up /r/Fireteams to either create a post, or see if you can get in on someone else’s run. For those who want to look good, you may wish to peruse /r/DestinyFashion to get some ideas.
If you managed to read through all of that, then you deserve my praise, Guardian! Hopefully by now, you’ll feel a bit more comfortable jumping in, and if at any point you’re confused by anything while playing, you can comment your question here, or refer to the many subreddit communities I linked to above.
For the launch of the PC version, I am planning to stream the game to our YouTube channel for much of the afternoon and evening. So, if you’re bored at work, or want to see what the game is all about (and ask questions), stay tuned, and I’ll post the link to our social channels (and our news section) when the time comes. After giving myself the first day to play, I’ll jump on benchmarking after I hop off for the night, and work on getting a detailed performance look up the day following. For initial benchmark results, you can refer to the benchmarking guide I produced for the beta.
And with all of that said, I look forward to bumping into you guys in-game! Mouse and keyboard? HIGH FRAMERATES? Bring it on! I am just a little bit excited…
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