A Beginner’s Guide to Destiny 2 – WIRED

Destiny 2 is a lot. The-free-to-play-but-expensive-when-you-inevitably-get-addicted-to-it game has been out for nearly five years. In that time, it’s been a shifting, changing thing, with constant new additions and backstory and updates. The newest expansion, Witch Queen, is out on February 22.

Destiny’s long history makes it a tricky game to dive right into. You might have some questions, like “How do I level up?” or “What do you actually do?” or “Dear God, what is even happening?!” This is by no means a comprehensive guide to this absurd, convoluted game, but it should help you New Lights out there get your bearings.

A word of warning: If you let it, Destiny will suck you into its sinisterly satisfying gameplay loop and never let you go. It is a glutton for your attention, a devourer of downtime. I volunteered to write this guide because the only way to be rid of the curse is to pass it on to someone else. Here’s how to get started in Destiny 2.

The first thing to know about Destiny’s story is that you’re already behind. The lore is so dense it’s nearly impenetrable for newcomers. And Bungie, Destiny’s developer, recently made the controversial decision to “vault” game content, aka remove whole storylines and locations from the game. That means Destiny 2’s main campaign is not available in the game anymore. Dialogue and cutscenes will reference events you’ve never seen, characters you’ve never met, and decisions you haven’t made.

Also, keep in mind that Bungie will be vaulting stuff in the future, so theoretically even the newest expansion will fade away in time. If that’s a dealbreaker, no sweat. Go check out Horizon Forbidden West instead. (It’s incredible.) But if Destiny’s gameplay clicks for you and/or you have fun playing with your friends, there’s no need to get too worked up about the story. As my colleague and storied Destiny veteran Jess Grey put it, “Being lost is a part of the whole vibe.”

The gist of the story so far is this: It’s thousands of years into the future of the solar system. You’re a gun-toting space wizard caught in a standoff between good and evil. It’s a war between two gods, literally called Light and Darkness. The Light takes the form of a giant metal sphere that characters in-game call the Traveler. The Darkness resides in a bunch of massive pyramids that are slowly encroaching on the universe with clearly malevolent intent.

You play as a guardian, ostensibly an agent of the Light, who’s imbued with crazy space magic. There’s a little metal ball that hovers around you at all times, called a Ghost. It’s a fragment of the Traveler that resurrects you every time you die. (That’s going to happen a lot.)

If you want to go deeper into the narrative, this delightful tweet thread is a succinct yet comprehensive summary of the narrative so far. If you have a few hundred hours to spare, the game’s got a few different wikis that are Rosetta Stones of Destiny minutia. From here on, we’ll focus on gameplay.

The very first thing you’ll do is choose a character. Race and gender options are mostly cosmetic, aside from some dance emotes here and there. The more important decision is character class. You’ve got three options:

  • Titan: The tank, whose abilities mostly involve smashing everything at point-blank range.
  • Hunter: The rogue, who excels at sneaky stealthy subterfuge and stabbings.
  • Warlock: The wizard, a caster who smites from the sky and heals herself and allies.

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