Tips For Playing Destiny

Tips For Playing Destiny

Greetings, Guardians! You’ve picked up Destiny for your gaming console of choice, loaded up your pulse rifle, and you’re getting ready to head to the Cosmodrome to fight The Darkness. It’s dangerous to go alone, you know.

We’ve been playing the game since the servers went live yesterday morning, and have amassed a bunch of starting tips to help you on your way. Notes: These tips are mostly focused on the single-player/co-op stuff, and not on the crucible multiplayer. Also, these tips will doubtless evolve somewhat over the weeks to come, and in their current state are aimed mostly at players starting out, not at anyone concerned with high-level play or endgame stuff.

Ready? Let’s hop on our speeder bikes and set a course for knowledge.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Don’t Worry Too Much About Your Class

Unlike in some other types of RPGs (or RPG-like games), your class in Destiny doesn’t make a huuuge difference. It’s mostly about what kind of abilities you want to use – the Titan gets an aggressive ground-pound that puts him or her out in harm’s way, the Warlock gets a superbomb that he/she can toss from a distance, and the Hunter gets a golden gun that does a ton of damage. They have stat differences, but once you’ve put on some levels you can choose to focus on different areas. As far as we can tell from our time with the game, the class you choose comes down largely to personal preference.

If you want to know more, IGN has some terrific wikis dedicated to each class: Warlock, Hunter, and Titan.

Tips For Playing Destiny

DO Worry Too Much Your Hair

Destiny has the best video game hair we’ve ever seen. If you’re going to spend a long time on something, spend a long time deciding on your character’s hair. Sure, it will spend most of the game hidden underneath a helmet, but in cutscenes and when walking around town, it’s worth taking the time to make sure you look pretty.

Don’t Forget About Loot Chests

This might seem obvious for anyone who has explored games with big maps or a heavy emphasis on weaponry — think Borderlands or any MMO — but it’s particularly noteworthy in Destiny, because chests are pretty rare. There are, as far as we can tell, roughly five gold chests per planet. They usually come with a stack of glimmer — Destiny‘s currency — and either some armour or guns.

If you’re not sure how many chests you’ve found, don’t worry. The destination map from your ship’s command will clue you in.

Tips For Playing Destiny

The Chests In Russia Are The Same As The Beta

Back during the Destiny beta, there were five gold loot caches that would give you good gear. Those caches are in the same places in the final game, and they’re worth picking up on your first time through those levels, since they will give you some solid stuff.

Loot Chests Do Not Level With You

You’ll definitely want to get chests your first time through an area, since chests don’t level up with you – if you come back for them once you’re above the general level of the patrol zone, you’ll wind up with gear you don’t want.

Engrams, However, Do

If you get an encrypted engram, it actually does level with you – it’s locked to whatever rarity it was when you discovered it, but it won’t be assigned stats until you have the cryptarch in town decode it. So, if you’re about to level up, wait to have the cryptarch decode it until you’re sure you’re ready for an upgrade of whatever weapon or armour type it is.

Dismantle The Gear You Don’t Want

Happily, you don’t have to go to a shop to sell extra gear in Destiny – you can dismantle it directly from your inventory and get cash in return. Do so often, particularly with common weapons that you’ve long since outgrown.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Consider The Robot

There is a sad, lonely robot in the hallway between the town plaza and the lady who sells ships. He stands there all day and night, tirelessly sweeping the same spot on the ground. When you pass him, pause to consider the robot. See how he ceaselessly repeats the same activity over and over, how unaware he is of his own insignificance? Perhaps we’re more like the robot than we’d care to admit.

Remember That You Can’t Pause

You can’t pause in Destiny. Ever. Don’t forget that! Otherwise you’ll proooobably get killed in an embarrassing way next time you get up for a pee.

Master The Boost-Jump

The boost-jump is one of Destiny‘s most mechanically interesting tricks – after you get a few levels, depending on your class, you’ll get an ability that lets you make special jumps. Each character has a specific sort of move, and they all take a bit of getting used to. For example, as a Warlock, if you tap the jump button twice quickly, you’ll get the maximum boost – don’t wait until the pinnacle of your jump to press it, or you won’t get much juice. However, there are times, particularly in competitive multiplayer, where you won’t want to ride a full boost, since it will leave you vulnerable up in the air.

Eventually you’ll level up enough to unlock the ability to control what direction you float in, too, or upgrade its speed. It’s worth taking some time in a safe area to practice and get a feel for getting around.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Play A Dangerous Drinking Game

Every time Peter Dinklage reads a line in a way that indicates he has no idea what the words he’s speaking are supposed to mean, take a drink. Warning: Only play this game if you’ve had something to eat first.

You Don’t Always Have To Be A Hero

On missions, you’ll occasionally enter an area where there are no respawns. That means that if your whole team goes down at the same time with no one to revive them, you’ll have to start back at a checkpoint. Sometimes, your teammates will get aced out in the open, and you’ll have to risk your neck to revive them. Remember, however, that they also have a countdown respawn timer. If you’re safe behind cover, it can be smarter to wait for your teammates to respawn on their own, rather than risking dying to revive them, since if you die, you’ll all have to start over. You’ll feel guilty leaving them out there, but it’s ok – you have your team’s best interests at heart.

Keep Up With Bounties

Bounties are basically challenge-based quests — sometimes with specific orders to carry out or just a specific enemy to kill — that offer substantial XP boosts and can really help boost your level.

You can only hold a certain number of bounties at a time, so you’ll want to prioritise. Are you planning on spending the next few hours in the Crucible for rounds of competitive multiplayer? Then you’ll want to take all the Crucible-specific bounties so you can (hopefully) knock them out in one or two gos. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time on the Moon, it makes sense to carry only the Moon-based bounties so you don’t have to do too many return trips. Also, remember that the bounty robot refreshes its stock every so often, so check back whenever you’re in town.

Get A Bounty For Patrol Missions

You can usually get a bounty that gives you an XP reward for completing six of the “patrol” sidequests on each planet, so it’s a good idea to wait to do too many of those until you have a bounty that will give you extra rewards for completing them.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Remember To Check In With Your Vanguard

Each class has a specific Vanguard character that they can check in with between story missions. That person is usually waiting for you to turn in trophies after completing major quests, and it’s a very good idea to check in with them on the reg. Not only will they give you a reward of a good piece of armour, you can also buy some really powerful gear from them for cheap, provided you meet the level requirement. It’s also smart to look at the loot you can’t afford to use yet, and make a mental note to come back once you’ve reached the appropriate level.

Give The Crucible A Go, With Bounties

Some players will likely skip Destiny‘s player-vs.-player Crucible multiplayer entirely, preferring to focus on the co-op grind of the campaign stuff. (Of course, other players will probably focus only on the Crucible.) If you’re one of the former type, push yourself to give the Crucible a shot. You can earn some hefty XP rewards in the early goings by taking bounties to complete a certain number of matches — which, crucially, you don’t have to win, just complete. As it just so happens (clever Bungie), that number of matches is right around what it takes to get yourself familiar with Crucible multiplayer, and likely get interested in playing more.

Pay Attention To The Waypoint On Your Mini-Map

This might sound silly, but it’s actually pretty easy to forget to check the waypoint in the upper-left corner of the screen and spend a while cruising in the wrong direction. Destiny‘s waypoint-checking system is a bit annoying, since you have to take out your Ghost to get the markers to appear on the screen, but once you get a certain rhythm down, you can check pretty easily.

Un-Check Waypoints Before Hopping Off Your Sparrow

When you’re on your Sparrow speeder bike, it’s easy to hit the button to make your mission waypoints pop up. However, if you just hit the button once, you’ll have your ghost out (instead of a weapon) if you hop off your bike shortly afterward. Which is annoying. Get in the habit of pressing the waypoint button twice, which will “put away” your ghost (and waypoints) so you’re ready to rock in case you need to quickly dismount.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Consider Playing The Story Missions Solo

Kirk: I’ve also found that the story missions are generally pretty enjoyable when played solo, and you won’t wind up in the annoying position of having a higher-level friend doing all your killing for you. Destiny co-op is at its best when either running around doing patrol missions or going on intense co-op “strike” raids; if you’re going to set aside time to play with your friends, prioritise that stuff. That said…

Try To Start At The Same Level With Your Friends

Kirk: That said, if you’re going to play the story missions in co-op, I’ve found it’s more fun to play along with people who are around your level. So, while it’s annoying, if you’re planning to play through the campaign with one or two friends, try to start out together and don’t get too far leveled when you’re apart.

Consider Setting Your Fireteam Visibility To Public

Tina: I much prefer taking teammates with me on strikes and missions if I can help it. I find it’s even worth making your fireteam public, which you can change in the character roster menu. If you prefer to keep things solo, or play only with friends, that’s of course your choice. But public matches can work well, and most of the co-op stuff doesn’t require chat for a team to work well together.

(We obviously don’t entirely agree the optimal way to play the campaign stuff, which really just means everyone will probably have their own preference. Solo, co-op, some blend… go with whichever sounds better to you.)

Be A Brawler

Your melee attack is one of your most useful weapons, and careful tactical use can help you dominate the battlefield. Enemies will usually stick to one piece of cover, so if you can clear a path up and around that piece of cover, then melee the enemy who was hiding there, and you’ll have headed off one of the flanks of the battlefield, killed a hiding enemy, and wound up safely behind cover. Provided you’ve spent points building your character in this way, you’ll also be granted some kind of bonus for each melee kill.

Aim For The Head

A slightly obvious tip, but: If you’re taking on a bunch of the Fallen or the Hive, remember to aim for the head. You can one-hit-kill a number of enemies that would take a few body shots to go down. That can be particularly useful when dealing with the Hive’s running melee attackers, since you really don’t want to let more than one get within swatting distance.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Go In One Level Up

Especially if you’re playing solo, Destiny becomes a lot more fun if you’re just sliiightly higher level than the enemies you’re fighting. If there’s a level 10 story mission, hit it at level 10 or level 11. If you go in at level 8 or 9, it will be much more of a slog. That said, if you’re really good at the game, or have a few high-level friends, going in too early is a good way to give yourself a stiffer challenge.

Leave One In The Chamber

Remember to reload your weapons, particularly your special and heavy weapons, in between encounters. Nothing’s worse than whipping out your rocket launcher to hit a massive boss, only to find yourself hiding behind a rock because you forgot to reload the last time you used it.

Use Secondary Weapons Or Lose ‘Em

It’s tempting to be stingy with your grenades and secondary weapon ammo, but it’s actually best to use both liberally. You’ll find secondary ammo lying around all over the place, so it’s pretty easy to use your shotgun/sniper rifle/whathaveyou more often than you might think. Obviously, save your grenades for groups of enemies; it’s rarely worth it to waste a grenade on a single enemy, unless it’s a big raid boss. You may also want to consider saving grenades for crowd control when things get too chaotic for comfort.

Ration Your Super Attacks

Once you’ve played a few hours, you’ll have a good collection of abilities at your disposal. You’ll have your primary weapon, your secondary weapon, your special weapon, your grenade, your melee power-attack, and your super attack. Learn to inventory each of those separately, which will give you a sense of what you’ve got “loaded” at any given moment.

You’ll want to ration your special attacks so that you aren’t wasting overpowered weaponry on lower-level enemies. Almost every encounter builds to a crescendo with a boss or a mob of powered-up regular enemies, so keep that in mind. If your super is charged midway through a wave-defence challenge, save it for the boss that’s likely just around the corner.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Don’t Pick Gear Just Based On Basic Stats

It seems like an easy calculation: This pair of gauntlets has 80 defence and this other one has 110, so…obviously the higher number, right? Destiny‘s weapons and armour that are categorized by either a blue or green icon are upgradeable. So if you’re a fan of Auto Rifles and if that 80-defence gauntlet has an upgradeable perk that works specifically for Auto Rifles, it actually might be more useful to you to build on the setup you want. Before the upgrades are made available to you, you can view them by clicking for details on each item. It’s a good way to plan ahead and think a bit deeper about how you want to customise your loadout.

Keep Two Different Secondary Weapons On Hand

Your primary weapon will be something like an Auto Rifle or Hand Cannon or Scout Rifle or Pulse Rifle. The secondary weapons are a bit more diverse, like energy weapons, sniper rifles, and shotguns. It’s important to keep both a sniper rifle and a shotgun on hand for both the campaign and the Crucible.

At any point of time, you can swap between items in your inventory. When you’re trying to pick off enemies from a distance, you can rely on your sniper rifle. But at the end of that raid, when you’re likely in a more enclosed area stuck with a raid boss of some variation, the shotgun becomes incredibly useful. Same goes for multiplayer matches, which will occasionally call for different tactics based on which map you’re on.

Tips For Playing Destiny

Dance Like No One’s Watching

It’s maybe our favourite thing to do in Destiny, and we’ve certainly captured enough GIFs of it for our own amusement…but there’s something so pleasant about exchanging a hurrah amongst strangers turned comrades. You’ve emerged victorious — while it’s smart to do a quick run to check for ammo and loot, it’s still worth taking a few seconds out to do a dance with your new friends. It’s actually surprising just how much more fun and meaningful a bit of goofy interaction can make Destiny feel. Embrace it!

Those are our tips for starting out in Destiny. We hope they’re helpful, and if you have any other advice (or want to pick a bone with anything we’ve got here), we hope you’ll sound off in the comments. Good luck out there, and keep an eye out for us. We’ll be the ones dancing like idiots.

To contact the authors of this post, write to or, or find them on Twitter @kirkhamilton and @tinaamini.


  • My tip- Use the long loading times to do the stuffing around with your gear etc. When I realised you could get to the loadout screen whilst your ship is flying/loading it made the time fly.

  • Tip #31: Business as usual

    Remember to complain on the internet about how overhyped the game is and try to ruin everybody elses fun.

    • I have not seen this on such a scale ever before. Probably has something to do with every idiot thinking that they spent 500 million on one game.

    • That Destiny game sucks! No where near as good as thay Existential Sweeping Robot Simulator!

      IGN 9/10

  • Probably a noob question, but how do I get my special edition bonuses?
    Like the red skin for my ghost, where do I get that exactly? and is it not able to be collected till a certain level or whats the go?
    Cheers for the help

      • I have a bunch of the internet codes redeemed, but I got through PSN so it was digital and the add-ons install, but no items in game =/

      • There’s a bug going around that I had where you have to go into your ps4 settings and reset your licences to make the extra content show up.

        I also have the problem where it looks like I haven’t purchased the game :/

        I think I’m going to not preload my games anymore

    • Enter codes on psn, make sure to d’load them all, then the postmaster and special order lady in the tower should have them

    • My wife redeemed the legendary item codes and I can access them too. Once you’ve reached the tower and can equip items they should simply be available for you to use – bear in mind your ship/vehicle and Ghost are managed from the second inventory screen, accessed by hitting the down arrow on the left side of the menu.

    • You can collect most of your CE bonuses from the postmaster once you’ve redeemed your codes on PSN (ghost skin, emblem, etc…), the Vanguard Armoury stuff is from a Vanguard guy in the Hangar next to the NPC that sells you ships.

    • When you press start to bring up your character/legend with armour and weapons there is a down arrow below your weapon selection.

      Click on that and it will take you to other options where you can change your ghost skin, sparrow, ship and emblems.

      Also at the “Legend” screen, you can press R1 and L1 (playstation user) and it will show what bounties you have and the progress of those bounties as well as other items you have picked up.

  • I want to play this, and I’ll probably give it a try, but the whole online-only thing is really overwhelming to me 🙁

    • It doesn’t feel like an online-only game unless you want it to feel that way, I spend most of my time wandering around by myself, so no need to be overwhelmed 🙂

    • It’s not too bad considering there are local servers. If you’re playing in WA that might be a little different, but hopefully not game breaking.

      • Also it’s not multi-player only if that’s what you’re worried about. It’s enjoyable with friends but it doesn’t really force you to be particularly social. There are group missions and PvP but aside from that it’s mostly like Borderlands or Diablo.

        • Thanks. I guess this is what concerned/confuses me? Like, I guess it saved them money to make a single-player campaign part of an online world? Or does it? I don’t know… all I know is it has good hair, and Dinklage doing a poor job. I’ll give it a whirl!

          • It’s more of a logistics thing. They wanted to make an inherantly social game like a MMORPG but they also didn’t want to shove the social side down peoples throats. So it’s this big, shared, persistent world that keeps on going when you’re not there, but the content is also sort of focused into a campaign with seperate levels/maps and junk rather than just a series of quest hubs where you pick up as many as possible and go out into the world.
            Judging from the beta you can play almost all of it while being totally anti-social. As long as you know what you’re doing the group stuff doesn’t need communication. At least until the end-game where you want to do the more challenging group activities.

            Overall I’d highly recommend checking it out. The only reason to dislike it right off the bat is if you’re not into the idea of gear based stats determining how much damage a weapon does. It always takes me a while to get used to FPS games like this and Borderlands where you’re better off spraying shots roughly at head high, only managing to score three hits, rather than taking five seconds to line up the perfect headshot.
            It’s not bad but I have a personal preference for hardcore style shooters where a well placed pistol shot will take down anything.

          • It probably is slightly cheaper, as they only have to implement one game mode.

            So far I’ve only played single-player, and it’s pretty decent as such. Note that I’m not generally a fan of FPSes on consoles (I hate targetting that way) but Destiny has been interesting.

        • In my books that’s pretty good but still unacceptable if the game doesn’t really need it (although I suspect Destiny lets you cheat a little in single player stuff to counter minor latency issues).

          I just have to remind myself that just because (for once) I’m not having latency issues in an online game that doesn’t mean I can forget about them. 70-100ms isn’t game breaking, but if it were 150-200ms and that threw the game out of sync I’d consider them jerks for selling the game at full price in a region where it’s fundamentally broken.

    • it’s annoying because you can’t pause. i wish it was like diablo 3 where even though you’re connected to a server if you’re playing solo you can pause. then you can open it up for mp if you choose.

  • I don’t particularly agree with some of those, so here are my alternatives:

    – Class does matter in terms of your playstyle and how you can benefit a Fireteam. From what I’ve seen the loose translation into RPG terms are Titans are the Tanks, Hunters are DPS and Warlocks are the Support/Crowd Control.
    – Loot chests are good for glimmer, but the guns/armour you get aren’t really that useful most of the time.
    – Keep in mind that the boost jump talked about is Warlock only, the other classes work differently.
    – IMO, story missions should be played with friends otherwise it’s the same dull experience as playing Borderlands solo. This is especially so when you go down and it’s an instant respawn instead of a bleedout.
    – I agree melee is preferable against AI a lot of the time. It often does more damage than headshots, and the AI is a little rubbish and likes hiding behind things so it’s easy to run around behind them and melee everything to death.
    – Headshots are vital to master. If you can get even 50% headshots, missions and enemies several levels above you will be no problem as long as you stay out of their firing line. Or just use a sniper rifle as your secondary.
    – It’s not worth trying to get one level up on a quest, just get a good gun and make sure you go for headshots and melee.
    – Keep in mind that armour bonuses apply to specific weapons and abilities, so choose a couple of things you use often and structure your armour around them.

    • Yeah I also find the game way more fun with friends on missions. Some of the missions are darn near impossible too without a team unless you are way over levelled (I guess this is where the authors level suggestion comes from).

      The classes arent as important in the way that they really impact how well you fare against enemies but agreed it really is about play style. I like to run and gun and get up close so I like the Titan.

      Also if you really want headshots get good at using Hand Cannons, love those things 🙂

  • Super tip

    Find the soccer ball in the tower and get a match going. Avoid kicking the ball off the side of the tower

  • Ridiculous, Bungie Support is pathetic, it’s basically a forum with unpaid community ‘mentors’ providing support, with no direct contact for support available.

    Game crashes my 360 Elite every time, not a matchmaking timeout, the console hard locks and I have to restart. Cannot get beyond tutorial. Haven’t played a Bungie game for a while and I wont be paying for any in the near future at this rate.

    • They’re doing a shit job, indeed. I’m playing (or trying to play) at my university and it doesn’t work, haven’t been able to play at all. Same with literally everybody else playing from a university network, and they will not acknowledge this fact.

      • Yup head buried in sand is the response I’m seeing so far. Not like Bungie are new to console gaming…..really poor service at the moment.

      • They have actually acknowledged the issue (2 days ago, from what I can see), and have stated that they’re working on a fix. Obviously doesn’t fix your issue now, but at least something is being done about it.

  • My Tip:
    When turning in bounties make sure you equip/buy any new uncommon weapons or armour first so that the XP bonus from the bounty levels up the skill on the weapons or armour.
    Even if you are just going to dismantle the item you’ll get increased resources if it is levelled up 🙂

  • Is there really much to do when it comes to hair? It looks pretty but you pick a haircut, pick a face, colour it all in and you’re done. I was really hoping for more customisation in the retail release than Beta. I know under your helmet 99% of the time but it feels like they would have been better off with Halo 3’s multiplayer character creator.
    At least there’s more customisation on your gear as you get further into the game.

    • We were hoping you would allow to turn your avatar around during character creation. I remember choosing the mohawk in beta, only to realised that it continued across the back of the head once arriving at the city.

  • Oh, an important tip would be to remember that not all critical hits are simple head shots. In the beta I kept getting put into groups that didn’t understand that to beat the big spider tank thing you have to shoot the legs so it’ll expose the weak spot on it’s neck.
    If something is taking forever and you’re in decent gear and the appropriate level, odds are you’re not hitting it right. Try hitting it everywhere to see if anything particular spot gives critical damage, if not play around focusing fire on various locations or watch how the enemy reacts.

    A more general MMO note, bosses tend to have patterns and tells. If you’re struggling with an encounter stop attacking and just watch the boss. Learn how it moves and reacts. Then when you’re comfortable switch back to attacking. It can be a little hard to do it in a group of strangers but it’s a good way to get better.

  • There’s more nuance to the Warlock jump than described. Hit the jump button a second time depending on the your current trajectory. i.e. Press if when you’re flattening out to get more of a horizontal boost. Also remember that you can hit the jump button a third time to fall out of the air and effectively cancel your jump.

    And I know this is just according to my personal tastes, but I wouldn’t bother with single-player unless you particularly enjoy the gameplay regardless of the repetition and there being little narrative. I’ve taken to playing Fez while waiting for my friends to be ready to play. Once they’re involved it can be a blast, but on my own I find it very boring (which I worked out in the beta, as such I bought this game specifically for co-op).

  • There is one thing that you haven’t mentioned.

    *Headshots mean NOTHING for the Vex. In fact, if you headshot a Vex, their heads will explode and they will rush you. You have to target their center to get that critical hit.

    • Actually, vex headshots are good for the hobgoblin and minotaur. It wont give extra damage, but destroying the head stops them from bringing up the shields

  • Good write-up. I’d actually consider hitting higher level missions as soon as you can. Generally myself and the fireteam I’ve been rolling with have been dropping in on level 11-12 missions at level 8 with few problems.

  • This tip mainly applies to the Crucible. But don’t stay overly attached to a weapon type. Change your weapons depending on the environment. If you’re close quarters go with a shotgun/hand canon combo. Long range would be riffle/sniper riffle. After leaning how to adapt my weapons to my environment, my pvp score would shoot up significantly.

    • Agree, you can get away with 1 weapon type in single player but taking a 4 shot hand cannon into a match is going to end badly.

  • Does anyone know if you miss out on anything by being dead (i.e. waiting for a revive) when your Fireteam downs a big boss in a Strike mission? After doing the majority of the damage to the Devil Walker in the Strike Mission Devil’s Lair I caught an unlucky blast radius death about a second before the walker died… so am not sure whether I missed out on anything because of that and need to re-do the mission. Might just go back and do it for fun again tonight anyway, but just thought I’d ask if anyone knew whether it makes any difference being dead for the boss kill? Cheers.

  • the chest one is false! The chests respawn, so once you open it, then it’s locked to the level you were when you did. However if you’ve never found it before, it will level with you. I didn’t test this extensively, but I was biking around Russia yesterday with my lvl 17, and I open an old chest and got a lvl 1 gun, and found a new one which gave me a lvl 16.

    I’ve read so many inaccurate things about destiny from many major sites, it’s not even funny.

  • I’d disagree about checking waypoints. They are displayed on the minimap as the little white arrow, so unless you’re on patrol looking for missions, there’s no need to bring up the ghost

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