So, you’ve heard of Bungie’s 2014 release called Destiny. Maybe you’ve seen so many articles recently talking about something called House of Wolves. It’s almost summer, you have a little more free time and you’re interested in trying the game out. But every review is from the release of the game and the same goes for all the beginner tips. You’ve read that Destiny has gone through a number of updates and at least one expansion, so how out dated is that information?Everything from articles to podcasts and YouTube videos focus on high level raiding. None of that is helpful to know whether this is a game you can actually pick up and enjoy today, right now. If you’re feeling like this, then you’ve come to the right place. I started Destiny fresh, a week before its second expansion, and in this series of articles, I want to outline what it is like to start playing this shared world shooter months after release. Here, I will provide tips that I’ve learned during my play time, what to expect from the game, it’s benefits and shortfalls, and whether it’s worth your time.
Some clarification up front. While I would consider myself a new Destiny player, I have dabbled with the game in the past. I purchased it digitally on PS3 upon release last September, when everyone I knew was saying how awesome the beta was and how much they were going to play. But with no cross platform gaming, I ended up trying it solo. Couple that with taking college courses and working and after 5 hours of play, I put it down. I just wasn’t having fun. When I bought the PS4, I noticed Destiny was listed in my games list on the PS Store. So I downloaded it again but didn’t touch it for the same work/school reasons.
Now that I’ve graduated, and the next expansion is upon us, I felt like it was time to give the game another shot. But how easy is it to jump into this shared world shooter 7 months after release with numerous updates and now 2 expansions? That’s what I’m going to explore in this series. So, if you’re a seasoned Guardian this might give you a new perspective when you see those level 8s running around the Crucible, and if you’re a fresh faced noob, this will serve as a guide for those new to Destiny in 2015.
The first thing you’ll need to know is that there are 3 classes in Destiny. The Titan is your tank/warrior type class. Big, tough, able to take a beating and dish one out, this is the class for if you want to wade right into the thick of things. The Hunter class is your ranged DPS type. While they can’t take quite the beating, a Hunter normally stays at a distance, picking off targets before they get too close. If sniping and headshots are your speciality, the Hunter may be a great pick. And there’s the Warlock. This “magic user” of the Destiny universe seems to be similar to the hunter in terms of being able to take damage, and in fact, they may be able to handle a little less in that department. But If you want to clear a room with one strong blast from your hand, this might be the class for you.
Keep in mind that many of these differences with the classes do not come into play as much early on. All classes can use all the guns, and everyone feels a bit vulnerable in the beginning story missions. But alongside guns, they all utilize different grenades, melee attacks, and special abilities. Also, each one has a subclass, but thats a topic for a later date. Pick whichever play style sounds fun to you and go. Also, you can have up to 3 characters in this game, so trying each one out is an option.
I started off by creating a new character. I could have continued with my Warlock, but it’s been so long since I played before that jumping back in fresh was vital. Plus, I really wanted to try the Hunter class. In other games, I enjoy picking off enemies at range so it sounded fun. After that, its on to character creation.
Don’t expect Elder Scrolls style character creation in Destiny. You can play a male or female of any of the 3 races and this has no effect on the game at all. In fact, you will only ever see your character’s face in the hub. Along with race and gender comes options to customize features. These are very limited and almost guarantee that you will occasionally run into similar looking players in the hub area. But don’t sweat this too much; pick a look and go, since character creation is not a huge aspect to the game. In fact, you don’t even choose a name for your character. So hopefully you like that PSN/Xbox Live name or are willing to fork over the cash to change it on Xbox.
I chose an EXO male for this character. They are robotic like humanoids who…, you know what. Like with the game’s lore, you’re just going to have to go online and read about them. Since it has no baring on the game, I won’t take the time explaining each one. My color scheme is black, blue, and white, giving him a TRON feel. At this point, its finally time to explore the world of the game.
The opening cinematic is good and establishes the setting of Destiny quite well. You are found by a small floating AI machine called a Ghost, and he leads you through a building offering a brief tutorial as a you go on how to use your primary and secondary weapons as well as melee. This ends with a mini boss fight. This is all pretty straight forward, and the controls and game play are very tight. Make sure you open the menu and go to the options tab to find a look sensitivity and button layout you like. There’s a number of options and you want to choose this early on.
Unlike Bungie’s last big franchise, Halo, I never feel super overpowered in this game. Master Chief always felt like the king badass, and that you could wade into swarms of enemies and take them all down handily. My Hunter in Destiny feels like I have to go in cautiously, utilize cover, and step out to take precise shots. This isn’t bad, but it can make for some slow going at times.
Another thing to know is that you can carry up to 2 types of guns at this point in the game: a primary weapon and a secondary weapon. The nice thing is that white ammo drops give you primary ammo, and this is shared between all different primary weapons, so there is no individual ammo for assault rifles, hand cannons, scout rifles, etc. These are also the most common drop. The secondary weapon is usually a more powerful one. Snipers and shotguns are common here. They use green ammo drops in the same way and often hold significantly less overall ammo. The drops to replenish this weapon are less common than the primary one, so use this weapon when it’s most advantageous. Don’t just waste all your secondary ammo on grunts.
The Tower will be your next destination. Here is where the game will allow you to interact with other players in non-combat ways as well as meet the majority of the games NPCs. The most vital of these at the beginning of the game is meeting your classes Vanguard representative. They are all located in the same area and will give you gear in exchange for completing certain story missions. You can also store items in your vault, which is shared with alternate characters. There are also vendors where you can buy weapons, armor, and vehicles.
Two big things that new players need to know. During the game, you will find engrams. These are weapons or armor of generally discernible types, but they give no stats. These items are decrypted by the cryptarch and its at this time when their stats will be “rolled” at random based on your character’s level. These items will often be better than what you currently have equipped, but remember that if you are close to gaining a level, wait until you complete that, then get the item decrypted. You also have limited space in both your inventory and your vault. A great feature of the game is you can dismantle unwanted items at any time, right from your inventory. This will give you money or crafting materials and can be done whenever, without having to return to a vendor every time.
The first time through the Tower, the story leads you to all the main NPCs. And when you’re there, NPCs that have something for you to do will be marked with a tracker. It’s all very easy to navigate. One thing the game doesn’t tell you is how to interact with players. By default, clicking in the right stick will highlight the first character you are facing. While you cannot trade items with others, you can view their gear, send messages, and request that they join a party. Keep in mind, as a new player, you will be at a significantly lower level than almost everyone else around you. Because of this, you may have a difficult time finding people to help with missions. If possible, try and get friends to play, return to the game with you, or create an alt with another class.
Now that we’ve explored the intro tutorial and the main hub, its time to look at the missions. There are 4 places to explore in Destiny; Earth, the Moon, Venus, and Mars. Each planet actually consists of one decent-sized area, with 5 story missions, a strike mission, and a patrol. Strikes are more difficult and rewarding missions meant for teams of 3 guardians that you can do with randomly assigned players or friends. Patrol missions allow you to explore the area openly, picking up and completing random missions at your leisure. Finally, the story missions will allow you to progress through the story of Destiny and unlock new planets to explore. Each mission can be completed on a normal or hard difficulty. Hard is often set at least 2 levels above the normal and provides you with better bonuses, like extra experience.
Story missions are where Destiny becomes the most tedious. First, the missions aren’t labeled in order. So there could be 2 missions with the same level suggestion, and paths going to each from the one you recently completed, and you’ll need to go online and find a guide to know which one comes next in the story. Also, up through the Moon missions, (the furthest I’ve gotten at the time of this writing), the story missions are almost exactly the same. Land on the planet, run toward the objective, kill many enemies, enter a respawn restricted zone where you know it will get more difficult, kill all the enemies, and end. Repeat for the next one. This isn’t bad, but coupled with a barebones story, I got tired doing the story missions after doing a few each day. Thankfully, Destiny offers a lot more!
When I needed a break from these story missions, the option to do patrols was welcome. There are beacons scattered throughout the level that will give you a random mission. Usually only taking a few minutes to complete, these have a greater variety of objectives than their story counterparts. The other nice thing about patrol is it gives you the opportunity to participate in public events. These happen throughout the days and allow you to team up with other players at the time to complete small objectives for good experience. These are great, and you should drop what you’re doing and complete these every chance you get.
Alongside this, at level four you have the option to take on bounties. DO THIS. Always and everyday, grab bounties for the areas you are planning on being in or the ones you think you can do and complete them. Bounties give you massive experience and can often be completed just by doing normal activities. There is no reason you should not be checking in on bounties everyday when you log in. Not only are there ones for solo play, but there are also bounties for the Crucible.
The Crucible is Destiny’s competitive multiplayer component. There are all the common game types that you expect to find, and it is a great way to level your Guardian and equipment. I do at least 5 Crucible matches every day, usually so I can complete certain bounties. You do run the risk of quickly becoming too overpowered for the story missions, but the hard mode option on those offsets the benefits.
As you make your way through Destiny, you’ll notice a unique component: equipment upgrades. Not only does your Guardian gain experience to advance to the next level and to unlock new moves, but when you use uncommon (green) and above armor or weapons you can unlock special traits to those as well. These traits improve the weapon in fairly significant ways. Keep this in mind when you are turning in bounties at the Tower and make sure the equipment you have on are the ones you want to level, because that experience goes toward those pieces as well.
I have spent a week now playing Destiny, and in that time, I have gotten to level 15 and just unlocked Venus. Storywise, I am behind where I should be because I’ve had more fun playing the Crucible and Patrol missions. I can say with certainty that now that I’ve had more time to put into the game, and have even played with a few friends, Destiny is a much better game than I originally thought.
If you are on the fence about playing this late in the game, let me advocate for it. The gameplay is solid and the most of the modes are great fun. If you can gather friends together, the game becomes even more enjoyable. There are downsides to be aware of. The story is intriguing but not strongly constructed. I never feel compelled to keep going through the story missions once I complete one, but with so many other activities, this isn’t really important. Some more tips: when you go to play, make sure you set aside a little time and definitely complete those bounties each day. In the early stages, focus on leveling. Everyone else in the game is a higher level than you, and that’s where you want to strive to be. At level 15, you unlock a subclass, which I will touch on in a later article.
While it can be lonely going at times, if you’ve been interested in trying out Destiny before, you’re not too late. It may seem challenging to get started, but the journey is worth it. Keep in mind that Destiny is a flawed game, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying it, even seven months in.
Hopefully, this has been helpful for those of you thinking about playing, or if you’re already deep into Destiny, it helped give you a different perspective from a new player. If there is anything I missed, a question you may have, or a trick or tip you want to share with newcomers, leave a comment below or send it to me at [email protected]. In Part 2, I’ll be discussing subclasses, strikes, and the lead up to raids. Also, if you do decide to start Destiny and want someone to play with, send a friend request on Playstation 4 to Obidan17. I can usually be found playing during the week from noon-7 daily and during the evenings most weekends.