With the most recent hype trailer giving fans a mountain of things to be excited about in the world of Destiny 2, many players who may have taken a break from the game are left scrambling to catch up. Destiny is a big game. Huge, in fact. On top of this, many of the systems change regularly making it difficult for players to quickly return to form even after a season away from the game. As is tradition in the summer before a large expansion, Guardians are flocking back to the game in order to power up in preparation for new content. Here we’ve made a guide to help even the most lost players get the most out of their time with the game over the final few months of Year 3 for Destiny 2.
Remember, trying to catch back up to “current” with a game like Destiny will never be easy. There will always be players who have more time, more dedication, and more cool loot to show off because of it. The best advice I can give is to talk to your friends about what kind of loot you like, what kind of quests you enjoy, and then go after those things first. Make a list. Check things off one at a time.
Before we dive head first into how to get ready for Year 4, we’re going to make a couple of assumptions about the current state of your content. We’re going to assume that you’re so excited to get back in the game that you have bought the Shadowkeep expansion from September of 2019. In addition to the yearly expansion, we’re also going to assume that you’ve bought into the most recent season. This confirms that you have access to the most activities as possible to level up quickly and efficiently.
Get Your Power Up!
The very first question to answer as a new or returning Guardian is: What is your current Power level? This can be found in the top right of your character screen page in big yellow numbers. Power is an average score of the power level of all your currently equipped gear. It determines how challenging the enemies will feel. Being underpowered for an encounter will make enemies do more damage and take less damage so everything becomes more complicated.
If your power is below 1000 (huge number, I know) then the first part of the climb will actually be super easy. Power level 1000 is currently the “soft cap” meaning that virtually every piece of gear that drops will be an improvement in that slot. Don’t worry about keeping most of your gear during this run as most of it will be blue and you’ll find MUCH better versions later in the game. In order to maximize loot drops, try running the campaigns again by talking to Amanda Holliday in the Hanger of the Tower. This will give you tons of enemies to fight and lots of loot to boost your level. Crucible will also give you 2-3 pieces of gear every match so if you’re into PvP, QuickPlay is always a great option.
Get Your Power Up HIGHER!
Now that you’re at 1000 Power, the fun begins. The only loot that will give you meaningful increases in gear power are called “Powerful” drops and “Pinnacle” drops. Powerful loot is tiered in Destiny where Tier 1 is a small boost while Tier 3 is a bigger boost. As a casual player, even if you’re starting from scratch, you have plenty of time to get your power up without worrying too much about “big brain optimization”.
The best practice is to just follow the golden stars on your Director map. They’ll outline different activities that you can participate in that will give you great loot. Running strikes while matching your subclass to the weekly elemental burn, playing crucible matches, playing gambit, doing bounties for the Tower vendors. There’s a LOT that you can do and much of it can be done solo. My best advice here is to pick an activity and commit a couple hours. For example, if you want to do strikes, go to the tower first and talk to Zavala. Pick up as many bounties as possible and try to bang them out while completing the weekly three strike goal. That way, when you’re done, you get rewarded for finishing the strikes and also rewarded for completing the bounties without much extra work. This same thing can be done for Crucible and Gambit.
Ah yes, the good stuff. The peak of what makes Destiny 2 one of the best looter-shooter-MMO-but-not-but-kind-of on the market today. Destiny 2 is one of the few places that gives the FPS genre a place to go for large-scale, team-oriented activities and in that it is second to none. These are the activities that are the most challenging but also offer the best rewards.
Pinnacle loot in Destiny 2 has a few important traits to it. First, Pinnacle drops provide the largest Power boosts in the game. You’ll see big leaps forward every time a piece drops. Pinnacle gear can also provide Power beyond the current cap. The current “max” power is 1050, but Pinnacle drops can take you up to 1060 if you’re really looking to get a leg up. Secondly, Pinnacle loot has a high chance to drop with very excellent stat rolls. Focusing your endgame loadout on pinnacle gear will give you better cooldowns for abilities, faster Super regeneration and more. Finally, there are many pieces of gear, both weapons and armor, that look amazing, and can’t be found anywhere else in the game.
Some activities only require a fireteam of three. The Pit of Heresy Dungeon on the Moon, the new Prophecy Dungeon in the Tower and the recently returned Trials of Osiris are all three-man activities that provide amazing experiences and even better rewards.
Finally there is the Raid. Currently, the Garden of Salvation raid on the Moon (kind of) is the only six-man pinnacle activity. Bring your fireteam and be ready because this one is tough. The first couple encounters can be relatively quick, but the bigger boss fights require coordination, skill, and more than a bit of luck to be successful. Full guides on these activities can be found pretty much anywhere with a quick search.
Bounties, Bounties, and More Bounties
The current state of Destiny 2 has a VERY heavy focus on bounties. Doing strikes? Grab some bounties. Running Gambit? Bounties. Open world? Bounties. They are everywhere. Keeping them in mind, though, can be very beneficial for all players. Without a doubt, completing bounties provides a more concentrated source of XP than any other farm in the game by a mile.
This means that if you want to progress your seasonal pass (which you definitely do) then bounties should always be on your mind.
It’s not very difficult to inject these extra objectives into a play session. Normally this might just mean running with a certain element or weapon type. Maybe today you’re focused on precision kills and tomorrow it’s punching everything in sight. Learning what you have in your arsenal and how to use that gear to efficiently complete bounties while you play will net you a ton of extra progress and rewards.
In what has been one of the most contentious decisions yet, Bungie has announced that a great deal of gear available in the game will eventually become obsolete in high-level activities. As of this fall, any gear that became available during Shadowkeep or before will have a “maximum” power level that it cannot be infused above. This means raid gear, Pinnacle weapons, god-rolls, all of that will no longer be usable in activities that are affected by Power. These activities include new Raids, Dungeons, Iron Banner, many seasonal activities, and Trials of Osiris.
Thankfully, many core activities will remain unaffected. Heroic strikes, Quickplay Crucible, Gambit (except for invades) and many open world areas should not see any changes. These things are always set to minimum light, so caps won’t matter.
What this means for new players is to make sure you focus on acquiring gear that will last you the longest. Chase god rolls on new Umbral weapons. Get that great Trials loot. Garden of Salvation, Prophecy Dungeon, and all Umbral Engrams will give you loot that will last you at least a year! Thankfully exotics are exempt from this sunsetting so chase as many of those as you want!
As we mentioned before, Destiny 2 is a huge game. It takes up an enormous amount of space on the hard drive, and it has systems stacked on systems stacked on systems across the board. This has made for a pretty significant technical challenge that the devs want to ease up on. Starting in the Fall, many locations are being put in “timeout” for an unknown amount of time. While many of the exotic sources on these maps are being relocated, there is one destination that I’m shocked is leaving: The Leviathan.
Home of nearly all the previous raids and some other activities as well, the Leviathan houses some of the coolest loot in the game (albeit all of it subject to sunsetting). If you have a fireteam of six, I urge you to spend as much time as possible enjoying what the Leviathan has to offer. The Leviathan raid, Eater of Worlds, Spire of Stars, Crown of Sorrow, The Menagerie, The Tribute Hall (maybe?) and the Bad Juju mission are all on this ship. Every one of these activities with its own special loot and amazing experiences. I’m very sad to see it go, so please find a team and go enjoy it before it’s gone.
The volume of new loot that you’ll find along your journey can be daunting. Deciding what to do with all that gear can also be confusing and, unfortunately, Destiny doesn’t do a great job of showing you your options. Thankfully, some amazing community members have created tools to help make managing your inventory significantly easier. Which to use kind of depends on you.
Destiny Item Manager (DIM) is a website that you can log into and it makes all of your gear, both weapons and armor, drag and drop from your characters to your vault. It literally could not be any easier. Compare weapons, pull items from the Postmaster, randomize your loadouts and more. DIM is an insanely powerful tool that works great on your desktop.
If you want to go mobile with your gear, try an app called Ishtar Commander. Ishtar is an in-game lore reference, but the app allows you to search your vault for gear and assign it to your guardian of choice. You can also easily look at all of your weapons and armor on the go. Both of these tools are invaluable to making the power-up process smoother and I highly recommend you check them out.
Eyes Up, Guardians.
Approaching the entire game all at once can be intimidating to say the least and many are put off just through sheer paralysis. When Destiny is running on all cylinders, there’s quite honestly nothing like it. Everything feels good. Shooting, punching, supers, exploring, leveling up, there’s so much here that defines the entire looter/shooter genre and with good reason.
If you think now is the time to get back into the game, I highly recommend doing so. This will give you a leg up onto the newest content next season, and perhaps you may even be ready to try the new raid the day it comes out (Destiny’s biggest challenge). The Fall brings with it the new Beyond Light expansion with new locations, new super abilities, and, as always, new cool loot to chase. Hopefully we’ll see you there!