Welcome back, Guardians! Glad you’ve decided to join us again in the fight against Oryx, the Taken King. If you quit playing Destiny after it’s initial launch or never gave it a try because of the super-grindy, clumsily designed progression system and horrible RNG mechanics not rewarding your time you’re in luck finally. With TTK they’ve revamped all of that so now you can just play naturally. It’s designed with traditional leveling/loot concepts, and a combination of reworked level path and much improved characterizations of it’s NPCs in The Taken King’s campaign really makes this feel like the game it was meant to be. Previously the storyline just ran you through a linear chain of levels that didn’t make a lot of sense at times. Now it’s been designed with branching quest lines, broken down into logical bite size collections of 4-6 missions each. On top of that the Light Level system has been reworked. In vanilla (original) Destiny once you hit level 20 you switched into an entirely new progression system where your level climbed with the gear you equipped instead of a traditional XP gain system. The gear required to advance was fixed to a select few pieces that could only be obtained from the hardest encounters. The random number generation (RNG) for loot meant leading up to that gave you no direct way to actively level. You were at the mercy of random drops that were scarce at best already. To really top of the ridiculousness of this they made it so the best gear that got you the final few levels required you to repeatedly run a six-player raid that didn’t support match-making.

ALL OF THAT HORRIBLENESS IS GONE. Level progression now up to 40 is purely from very reasonable XP gains. Pick up some daily bounties before you play each day and just keep advancing through whatever missions / quests you have and you’ll hit the cap of 40 in no time. Light level (LL) still exists, but it’s an average of all your gear’s damage/defense. So there is a difference in being level 40 with 180 LL and being level 40 with 280 LL. The higher the LL, the more damage you deal and hits you can take. What’s really nice about this change though is drops now scale based on whatever your LL is so you’ll constantly be progressing. Say if your helmet has a 180 armor rating when you kill something, it’s likely to drop gear that has an armor of 185 or 187. Equipping that and killing the same mobs (which are all level 40 now) are likely to drop a new helmet that is 190 or 193 armor now. It basically opens the door for constant improvement so you never hit a rut. All of this improves through natural play too. No need to worry about organizing with five of your friends a night you all have 1-3 hours blocked out to run a raid together. If you’re spending time in Destiny, you’re advancing your character.

Infusing your gear – The other option you have is if you love a piece of gear, you can break down any higher ranking gear of the same type to up it’s rating. In the event you really love your gun but something with a higher attack rating drops that you don’t want you can infuse it into your beloved. It’ll break down the new to boost your favorite by a part of the difference between the two. So a 250 attack weapon infused with a 290 weapon would come out to like a 268 attack. It’s a great option if you have a gun that you really enjoy the build of. If the new drop isn’t stronger it can be broken down for currency or upgrade materials as well. Every drop is useful now.

Currency has been simplified! – In vanilla Destiny they started with too many kinds of currency and just made it worse and worse. I complained about it a lot here so I won’t go into details, but in short there was WAY too much and it was super confusing without reading online. Now it’s come down to just three types of currency:

  • Strange Coins – Spent with Xur, a special weekend only vendor
  • Glimmer – Used to buy low level essentials like weapon synths (replenishes ammo) and upgrading gear
  • Legendary Marks – Used for buying high end armor and weapons from vendors).

Motes of Light are no longer currency. They’ve been turned into a consumable for a quick boost to XP for your guns and armor.

Advice for progression –  To anyone returning and wanting to get the most out of it – Just play for fun and switch out to new gear when you find it. If you do this you don’t need to worry what activity you’re running or if you’re spending your time in the best way possible. Armor in particular you will be getting new gear so often that it’s almost a waste to spend resources upgrading it. It’s very feasible to save that stuff and just swap to whatever new drops you get. Until you start getting purple gear… Then maybe it’s time to consider if it’s worth keeping pieces and infusing them instead of equipping new drops.
Weapons are a little different as you should dress to your style. Aggressive close-range players will probably want to stick with Auto-rifles or Pulse Rifles (burst fire), and maybe a shotgun or fusion rifle as their secondary. Stealthy or ranged players that just likes to pop out to kill a few mobs would probably be best served with a Scout Rifle or Hand Cannon, with a Sniper Rifle as a back-up. Either way as long as you continually equip new drops you will get constantly get new gear. One last thing though, remember to change your Subclass if you max one out. It’s great to have access to all of them in different scenarios. You’d be surprised how differently a Defender Titan plays like versus a Striker Titan, and you may find something that is more enjoyable to play for you.

General Advice –  Don’t rush to the top. Destiny: The Taken King has made it an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Don’t burn yourself out with the push for being top level thinking all the fun comes from being the most powerful. ALL of it is fun now. Beyond that though if you need some more direction here’s a road map for how I approached it personally.

  • If you’re returning, grab any abandoned quests from the terminal in the Vanguard Hall (behind Ikora Ray/Zavala/Cayde-6).
  • Pick up Daily Bounties (the gray PvE ones) before you start running missions. A lot of them you’ll passively complete for bonus XP.
  • Run the story missions. If you’re going through the original content, run each quest line to completion before jumping to another.
  • If you already finished the original content, jump into the new Taken King story missions (starting on Phobos)
  • After the first TTK mission, head to the Reef and speak with Pedra (to the left of where you spawn). She has quests that you can passively complete while running future missions.
  • Once you finish the campaign section of TTK, return to the Tower and just start tackling any quests available. There are tons of them.

That’s about it. The game is built in a way now that as long as you’re chasing any objective you’ll continually advance.

Gameplay Basics –

  • Enemy shields: There are three types of shields. Void (Purple), Solar (Red/Orange), and Arc (Blue/White). Hit enemies with a skill or weapon that matches the color of their shield. Once the shield is down it takes a few seconds of not taking damage to regenerate, so you can swap to another gun if you want at this point. Health will not regenerate, but their shields will.
  • REVIVE YOUR ALLIES: In PvE or some PvP you can resurrect other guardians. Always make this a priority. When you up an ally both of you get an overshield so you can absorb more damage briefly. Other benefits are now there are two targets for the enemy to try and take down instead of you taking all the heat. Your team also is dealing additional damage as well. In short, keeping your team alive up at all times is the smartest choice you could make. Don’t be a hero when you don’t have to be.
  • Play to your style: If you’re an aggressive player, run with the appropriate gear. If you prefer to be up close a lot, a scout rifle or sniper rifle regardless of how amazing it is will be wasted. If you’re one to stand in the back and assist, shotguns and auto-rifles aren’t going to be much help.
  • Aim Assist is powerful: Don’t try for random body shots. There are so many modifiers that increase your accuracy and the hit box of weak spots you should always be aiming for them. It’s the head for most enemies, yellow stomach area for Vex, or the big white eye for ALL Taken regardless of what their weak spot used to be. Precision shots do massive damage and a lot of perks rely on precision hits or kills.
  • Stuck on an encounter? Fall Back!: With few exceptions such as strike bosses you are able to back up after activating an encounter. This lets you “300” style thin out their ranks by keeping all enemies in front of you and it lets you control the choke points. So if you’re getting overwhelmed, run back a few hundred feet from where you came and pick off whatever you can to whittle down the horde of enemies giving you a hard time. You’d be surprised how much it helps to just take out one or two key enemies before charging back in.

Playing with others – 

  • Again, keep your team alive: Aside from making it a more enjoyable experience for everyone (no one likes staring at their corpse) – Your team is far more effective when you’re all standing. If someone is down, get them up and enjoy both of you having that overshield for a bit.
  • Orbs of Light:
    • Picking up orbs charge your Super faster which then lets you generate more orbs.
    • Killing enemies with your Super creates orbs of light. While you don’t get to collect them, your teammates do.
      • Get super, get kills with super, generate orbs for your team to collect and repeat the cycle.
      • Once you get a good flow going you and your buddies can keep the orb train rolling and you will clear the strike / mission in no time flat.
    • Try not to just save your Super for the end encounter. Once you have it charged you should consider using it.
    • If someone else activated their Super, stand back and let them get all the kills to generate more orbs.
    • Using your Super on bosses to chip away at their health should be a last resort when there is nothing else to kill, or it’s almost dead to finish it off.
  • Stick together: Focus fire (everyone shooting the same enemy) is ideal in bringing down annoying enemies. Witches, Ogres, Knights, Centurions, Minotaurs, whatever. If you die next to your crew you’re an easy revive. A kamikaze rush that leaves you singled out against the boss does no one any good. Which brings  up the next point…
  • Die in a good spot: We all die. It’s going to happen. If you’re getting overrun and you know it’s inevitable, do it in a spot where you can be safely resurrected. Look for an area mostly covered, out of the line of sight of the heavy fire, and as close to your allies as possible. If you rush a boss and die at their feet it will be hell for your fireteam to reach your body to get you up. So avoid open spaces, stick to cover, and die where they can get you.
  • Communication: Even if you aren’t playing with your microphone, you can communicate in other ways. Shoot at a ledge if you want someone to go there. Use your point emote to indicate a direction to go. Punch someone to get them to pay attention. If you’re playing with friends over mics don’t be shy to count out things or make callouts. “Minotaur on the left”, “I’ve got 5 seconds left with the buff”, or “I’m about to use my Super”. It goes a long way towards being successful if you want to run the higher end strikes / raids down the line.
  • Don’t Be the Hero: Mentioned above, charging a boss may seem awesome in most games. Here it will end in your death and might possibly wipe the party. It’s frustrating to have to constantly pick someone up or be stuck on an encounter for 30 minutes because one player doesn’t understand success is reliant on the team, not the individual. Play defensively, chip off adds first, take shots when you have an opportunity.

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