How to Play Destiny 2

how to play destiny 2
Destiny 2 is an online first person shooter with role-playing game elements. Screenshot / Bungie

Destiny 2 is a first person shooter (FPS) in the tradition of developer Bungie's legendary Halo series, but it also has a progression style straight out of the role-playing game (RPG) genre. It's also all online, all the time, and you can play with people from all around the world. So while it isn't technically a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, it's not really that far off.

The original Destiny was only available on consoles, but you can play Destiny 2 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The platforms aren't compatible with each other, so you can't start a character on PlayStation 4 and use the same character on the PC version of the game. And if all your friends are on Xbox One, but you have a PC, you'll be playing alone.

Getting Started in Destiny 2

get started in destiny 2
Your first task in Destiny 2 is to select a class. Screenshots / Bungie

The first thing you need to do in Destiny 2 is choose a class. This is an important decision, because it will have a huge impact on the way you play the game. However, Bungie gives you three character slots, so you can actually play all three classes if you can afford that kind of time investment.

Each class also has three subclasses, which change up the way they play. You'll start with one subclass and gain access to the others as you play by earning class-related relics, usually by participating in public events and completing Lost Sectors.

Each relic will charge up slowly as you complete more content. Once it's done charging, you'll have to return to the Shard of the Traveler to unlock your new subclass.

If you're only planning on playing a single class, here's what you're looking at:

  • Titan: In a true MMO, Titans would be the tank class. They're capable of dishing out damage, but they can also take more of it without dying. If you want to shelter your friends behind a towering shield, and spend most of your time punching aliens in the face, Titan is your class.
    1. Sentinel: Excels at protecting teammates and has a shield that can be thrown at enemies. 
    2. Striker: A more offensive subclass that also has options to boost your own shields.
    3. Sunbreaker: Specializes in throwing flaming hammers, splashing fire all over the place, and standing in fire.
  • Warlock: The second part of the MMO holy trinity is healer, which is Warlock's niche. Since Destiny 2 isn't a true MMO, they're really more of a support class. Warlocks can throw out a beneficial rift on the ground to heal and buff teammates. They're also basically space wizards, so if you like floating in the air and dishing out flashy death from above in the form of lightning and flaming swords, Warlock is what you're looking for.
    1. Dawnblade: Killing enemies while airborne can recharge both grenades and melee energy, and gets a flaming sword and wings.
    2. Voidwalker: Capable of regaining health or grenade energy by attacking enemies.
    3. Stormcaller: Gets to use its healing rift more often if teammates are nearby.
  • Hunter: The final part of the traditional MMO trinity is damage dealer. All three Destiny 2 classes are designed to pump out damage, but Hunter has the most tools centered around damaging and debuffing enemies rather than protecting, healing or buffing teammates. They can also triple jump.
    1. Arcstrider: Dishes out electrical arc attacks and recharges its melee ability with artful dodging.
    2. Gunslinger: Features an exploding throwing knife and can reload or recharge melee attacks by dodging.
    3. Nightstalker: Has an ability that prevents enemies from using their abilities.

After you've chosen your class, you'll be thrown right into the action. It might all seem overwhelming at first, but completing the story missions is really the best, and easiest, way to progress through the early game.

If you get stuck with a level that's too low, or you just want some more gear or ability points, check out the next section.

Understanding Public Events, Adventures, Lost Sectors, and More

how to play destiny 2 public events adventures strikes
Use the planetary maps to locate fun activities. Screenshot / Bungie

When you open up your planetary map in Destiny 2, you see a whole mess of confusing symbols. Most of these symbols represent activities you can participate in, and most of those activities grant new gear, ability points, and other rewards.

Public Events
These pop up randomly around planetary maps, and they are represented by a blue diamond shape with a white center and an orange outline that represents a timer. Head to one of these markers, and you'll typically find a bunch of other guardians shooting aliens. Join in for rewards, or help turn it into a heroic event for even better loot.

Adventures
Adventures are like sidequests that you don't have to complete to finish the game. Each one gives experience and some other reward if you complete it, ranging from gear to ability points. Make sure to do the ones that give ability points.

Lost Sectors
Most of Destiny 2 takes place in an open world, but Lost Sectors are like instanced dungeons where it's just you and your fireteam against the aliens. Look for symbols on your map that look like two upside down Us stacked on top of each other, and you'll find a Lost Sector entrance somewhere nearby. Defeat the boss at the end, and you'll get a loot chest.

Patrol Missions
These are short missions that ask you to visit specific locations on the map, kill enemies, and perform other easy tasks. Complete the task, and you'll get a reward.

Destiny 2 Social Spaces: The Farm, The Tower, and The Lighthouse

destiny 2 social spaces
Social spaces allow up to 26 players to kick back in third person and enjoy some neon ramen. Screenshot / Bungie

Destiny 2 isn't a full on MMO, but it does have social spaces where you can mingle with your fellow guardians, show off your gear, or aggressively eat neon ramen at your salty friends.

The Farm
The first social space you'll run into is the Farm. This bucolic refuge from the ravenous alien hordes is where you can get your engrams decoded into powerful gear, pick up mail and items you missed the first time around, and grab quests.

The Tower
The second social space in Destiny 2 is the Tower. This features all of the same vendors and non-player characters as the Farm in addition to faction leaders and the Eververse, which is Destiny 2's cash shop.

The Lighthouse
The third social space was introduced in the Curse of Osiris DLC, and you need to buy the DLC to access it. It features a new NPC with new rewards and has a hidden chest if you can figure out a puzzle.

How to Play the Crucible in Destiny 2

how to play destiny 2 crucible pvp
Destiny 2's PVP mode, crucible, is accessible early on, and you can play it competitively even if you don't have the best gear. Screenshot / Bungie

The Crucible is Destiny 2's player versus player (PVP) mode where you can pit your skills against other guardians. It's available very early on, and you don't have to be level 20 or level 25 to participate.

How Does the Crucible Work?
The Crucible is a 4v4 team based activity. You can party up with a fireteam of four friends or clan members, or if you queue in by yourself you'll be automatically matched with four other guardians.

Level doesn't matter, so the most important thing is to choose the right subclass and weapon loadout. Don't feel pressured to bring your most powerful weapons, because gear level don't matter in this mode. Pick the weapon types you're most comfortable with and that you feel will be the most effective.

There are three different game modes available:

  • Quickplay is the more relaxed PVP mode where dying doesn't hurt your team as much.
    • Clash: a basic deathmatch mode where the first team that notches 75 kills wins. If the timer runs out, the team with the most points gets the win.
    • Control: a mode with three control points that you compete to capture and hold. Teams receive points for holding these areas and killing the other team.
    • Supremacy: killing an opponent causes them to drop an object that you need to retrieve. Picking it up gets your team a point, but if an opponent gets to it first then it's a wasted kill. The first team to collect 50 wins the game.
  • Competitive is a little more ruthless because your team has a limited number of respawns, so every death counts.
    • Countdown: an asymmetric mode where one team has to plant a bomb and protect it, while the other team has to stop them. You stay dead if you die, but each player can revive a single teammate.
    • Survival: a deathmatch mode where each team has a shared pool of eight lives. Dying and respawning consumes one of these lives. Run out of lives, and no more respawns. Win by killing all of your opponents or ending the round with more remaining lives.
  • Trials of the Nine is the most intense PVP mode in Destiny 2.
    • Only available each week from Friday through Monday.
    • Winning matches grants access to a new social space and rewards.
    • Win seven matches with no losses for the biggest reward.

Understanding Destiny 2 Milestones

how to play destiny 2 milestones
Milestones are weekly goals that grant powerful gear. Screenshot / Bungie

Once you hit max level, the most efficient way to get better gear is to complete your weekly milestones. These are basically just tasks you can complete by playing the game normally, but knowing exactly what you're going after will help make sure you don't leave any powerful gear on the table.

  • Call to Arms: Participate in crucible matches. You can play whatever mode you want to, but winning allows you to complete the milestone more quickly. Talk to Shaxx for your reward after you've completed this milestone.
  • Flashpoint: Travel to the specified planet and complete public events. Once you've hit 100 percent, go talk to Cayde-6 for your reward.
  • Clan XP: Join a clan and just play the game to earn clan XP. Once you've earned a total of 5,000 clan XP, you can go talk to Hawthorn for your powerful gear.
  • Heroic Strikes: Complete three heroic strikes.
  • Nightfall: Complete the weekly nightfall strike, which is a more difficult take on heroic strikes.
  • Leviathan: Complete the Leviathan raid or raid lair.

Milestones reset each week on Tuesday at 10:00 AM PDT / 1:00 PM EDT (9:00 AM PST / 12:00 PM EST), so you can repeat them every week.

Check out our guide to Destiny 2 cheats, codes and unlocks for specific information about how to unlock each milestone.

Clans Perks in Destiny 2

destiny 2 clans
Destiny 2 clans provide some nice perks and free loot. Screenshot / Bungie

Clans are groups of players in Destiny 2 that get benefits from playing with each other. You don't technically have to join a clan, but there's no real reason not to, and joining early will get you access to some nice perks.

In addition to the weekly Clan XP milestone, members of a clan also get weekly rewards if anyone in the clan completes specific tasks like winning crucible matches, beating the raid, or completing the weekly Nightfall strike.

These rewards can be pretty powerful, and they're essentially free, so there's no reason not to grab them. You'll also contribute to your clan just by playing the game and earning Clan XP, since clans get access to bigger and better perks as they level up.