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Unpacking Destiny

December 18, 2014


Now that the DLC is out of the way we can finally see a clearer big picture of what the franchise is and where is heading, and more importantly how to thrive in it. In my opinion this is one of the most misunderstood games in many years. If you are on the fence on this game and are waiting for a sale, or already own the game and can’t seem to extract the most out of it, read on. Hopefully you will have a better experience after this.

Unlike Borderlands which to me was undervalued before release because of it’s different visual approach to the shooter genre and it’s unproven RPG elements, Destiny’s problem was the opposite. It was overvalued in certain areas that quite frankly anyone who played the Alpha or the Beta could have seen it coming, and undervalued in everything else that was in plain sight.

This created a hilarious scenario that would have critics bashing in constantly with all the “Flaws” from the game, while the large community, that still plays the game, was discovering why this would be a long lasting franchise. It was even funnier when most of the critics were still playing the game even after giving better reviews to other games, and deemed it boring and even unplayable.

There are still some challenges in the game and the way it is setup, but by now we know that it has been proven a worthy investment of time and money, and brings to the table elements within it’s world that are very hard to come by in other games. In order to enjoy it, I had to accept certain things along the way, and modify the way I was playing it in order to enjoy it more.

#1 There is no story. This is not a storytelling driven game. At is core is basically a raw version of “Halo:Reach” Firefight missions stitched together to bring you along a certain path, and show a preview of all the stuff you will be doing repeatedly in the future. Many people say there is a story, but to me it is mostly Back Story, a minimal buildup that rarely even affects the game. You can finish the game and feel no different from the first time you have played it. This carries on the DLC.

The critics of the game love to hate on this, but in the overall game mechanics, it becomes irrelevant. I would actually even prefer less story, and the ability to skip all cutscenes. Trust me, when you hear the same dialogue for the 100000000th time, you will be glad the game did not have a big story.

#2 This is not a “loot” game. All the poor souls that wasted hours upon hours in a loot cave soon found out, that all their legendary drops and even some exotics were not as useful in the grander scheme of things. This is not Diablo or Borderlands. You will not find a chest at every corner or boss that will drop ultra rare items. But by the same token, you grind the right areas and you will be handsomely rewarded. This is how I ended up with better gear than people who “cave looted” their way into the game or did the raid constantly hoping for all the better gear.

It was ridiculously simple when I figured it out. Use your three character slots, level them up to 20, rank up your vendors, and play on the weekly heroic strike. The first guy who reached level 30 did this, he made three of a hunter and just transferred Gear, and did all the important stuff each week without spending as much time waiting for ultra rare loots.

I still find people who only play one character and depend constantly on the “Loot System” to kick in. It does kick in, and it’s better than before, but it is highly inefficient way to play Destiny.

These are the same people that will take them forever to level up those ultra-rares, since there is a finite amount of bounties each day vs. that amount times 3 with three characters swapping the same gun.

Once you do this, and you position yourself each week for a good item sell from Xur (the ultra rare exotic vendor), you will have a vault filled with these items in the upcoming months.

The loot changes the entire game and makes very hard portions of the game possible, if not ridiculously easy in comparison. This is why it is hard to get, and very rewarding when it happens.

#3 This is not a Social game. This one took me the longest to realize. It came in different stages, but I was glad to finally understand it again recently. See I started with a group that was sold on this game before the alpha. This game was going to be played at least every tuesday night religiously kind of in the same manner we played Halo 2 since ’06. Except some didn’t get past the last two points I mentioned plus another one which is: This game doesn’t play like Halo at all on multiplayer.

So eventually the group split up in different stages and we couldn’t play the raid (To this day we haven’t). Now usually we would let the game blow over a certain portion and sort of regroup and get back on the same page, but unless you really approach the game a certain way it will be hard for everyone to have the same experience and be at the same level.

However by the same token you can find randoms each week that are at the same level you are, that are doing the same activities, have the same weapons, etc. Which many times is better than having a group of 3-6 people with different schedules to sync for a very difficult Raid run, etc.

I understood this part and it was much easier for me. I didn’t then rush to join raids just because a friend was inviting, because if you are really not ready for it, it just becomes a much frustrating and harder experience.

Same way I don’t accept invites if I am in the middle of something, having control of what you are doing and when you are doing it with three characters is vital to just getting things done quicker.

Ironically by having sort of a anti-social attitude in-game, it helps then to get things done and be able to join someone else regardless of what they are playing. Or to put it another way, you take care of your stuff regardless what everyone is doing, and you can be everyones friend.


Ok so… I am confusing myself how is a “loot” game not centered in “loot”? An online only game not centered in the social aspect? A repetitive story-less journey become Legendary?

Well the repetition serves as the backbone of getting little things as expected, and over time you become much more efficient at doing all things because you have done them so much. Bounties no longer take a long time to accomplish if you find a better way, and this is echoed in every single activity up to the hardest one which is the raid.

Because of this, everyone who played Destiny from day one, and even now, are essentially learning together to do things more efficiently, and it is an unprecedented Community mentality in the shooter genre.

The game builds up from this repetitiveness and becomes a much more in-depth experience in gameplay as you learn more things, and acquire more items than in turn provide different ways to play it.

That’s when it becomes Legendary. When you unlock a Rocket Launcher like the Gjallarhorn, which carpet bombs with guided mini warheads.

When you learn how to use armor pieces to speed up the recovery of your grenades, your melee abilities or your super.

Also to have different builds for different activities, Raids, PvP, Strikes, etc.

That’s why if the demo is anything like the Beta, and you are restricted to level 8, and you only get to see the very basic armor items, weapons, and don’t even get to see a second subclass, you will not understand any of this.

Ok? So where to then? How do I thrive in a “loot-less”, repetitive, anti-social environment?

From Level 1 to Level 20 all it really matters is that you rank up your vendors. Finishing the story itself, doesn’t matter for a while, and it becomes extremely easy to get it out of the way once you are a higher level.

The number one tool to acquire a higher rank is to do Bounties. You only need to do enough of the story to open up all the worlds, up until Mars. Once you have Mars you can tune out of the story and start doing bounties left and right.

Then if you are feeling up to it, you can jump on the crucible and do bounties from it as well. Usually they put 2-3 bounties that are very easy and basic, and can gain xp just by completing games.

What I did was focusing on one character until I reached level 8-10, and then switch to another one until reaching that same rank, and so on. Then did the same for ranks 10-20. The idea is having 3 characters that can do the same set of bounties, that you can finish what is available for the day in just a few hours.

If you wear the default class item for these, you will level up your Vanguard (PvE) vendor rank quicker. When you get to Rank 2, you can then buy armor gear from your mentor that will get you above rank 20. When you get to Rank 3, you can buy weapons.

By rank 2-3 and level 20 you should be able to breeze through most of the content that is available. Including finishing the story which will give you a unique Pulse Rifle. Many people see it as meaningless, but it can actually still be good for PvP on the long run. PvE it does become meaningless eventually.

At this stage is when I recommend to ditch the Class Item that is default (Titan Mark, Warlock Bond, Hunter Cloak, etc.) and buy one from the factions. You will not be able to buy anything from them until it’s Rank 3, and you have enough Crucible Marks. However you will gain rank regardless of what activity you do.

This is important because as I have said before, Bounties are your first key to leveling up a character, and now after Rank 3 on a vendor, better loot. The faster you gain rank on a vendor after Rank 3, you will receive a legendary package with Legendary items, therefore the faster you will have better random gear. You can at any moment switch back and forth between items, if you are looking for something specific.

By default, per Character, you can only buy two armor pieces per week for Vanguard, and then two more for Crucible. You can at this stage decide to stick with one, and do all the Vanguard/Crucible Bounties, for two weeks or so, and have a possible maxed out character (Meaning it has enough light to be maxed after the armor gets ranked up). Then switch to another one, and so on after each is maxed.

So Technically in a month or month and half, depending on time invested or luck, you will have three characters able to do all the activities. If you want to play it even smarter, around that time you should have all subclasses almost maxed or maxed.

This is when my formula for a Destiny week will make sense:

Nightfall>Heroic Strike>Bounties>Daily>Crucible/Strikes>Raid

What does that mean?

You start with Nightfall strike on Tuesday, a strike which will give you an XP bonus throughout the week as well as a chance to get an exotic item.

You follow that with a Heroic strike on the same day or the day after if you are doing three at the same time. That gives 27 coins per week, an exotic weapon is 24, and is sold on Friday to Saturday. If you do only one character is only 9.

From Tuesday to Thursday I prioritize my bounties according to time I will be spending doing them, and I usually have something saved up for the day after I am done with the Nightfall/Heroic Strikes. If they are short and easy, this means I can be focusing on Bounties and Daily mission as early as Tuesday, if not then I will just save the best ones and piled them up for one day, to turn in on all three characters which works awesome if you are leveling up an Exotic.

From Friday to Sunday. I should have leveled up an Exotic I bought the week prior and then I can work on Daily Missions (if I haven’t already), and then to finish up any marks missing from the week on all three characters.

Then Lastly I do the raid from Friday to Monday. Mostly for Shards and Energy, because with this system you don’t need loot to drop as much.

This cycle does not repeat each week. Eventually there are times when you do not need to level up amor pieces or weapons as much, and a lot of the activities of the week can be done in one or two days for all characters. That’s how it was prior to the DLC, and could then spend plenty of time away from Destiny without having to invest too much time in order to keep a constant stream of loot and new stuff coming in.

Post-DLC most of the content grind was done in a week and half. It will be much easier going forward until I have to level up Raid Gear, but I plan to take my time with that as I would prefer to have all of my best weapons fully upgraded before going in with randoms.

  1. December 18, 2014 10:49 pm

    Great write-up, Frenik! Thank you for taking the time to give us this guide!

    (It was me who added the image.)

  2. Blankman permalink*
    December 19, 2014 1:33 am

    Tons of info! Thanks, Frank!

  3. Herandar permalink
    December 20, 2014 10:06 am

    Normally I follow the Bambi rule, but I feel compelled to say that reading this just makes me glad I never invested in Destiny. It’s not for me, but it’s okay. I’ve got a new gaming obsession.

    • December 20, 2014 2:49 pm

      So, what is it, Herandar? Are you back in the big beautiful fields of battle, where death can come at any time from any place? Or, did Threes! grab you by the small hairs?

    • Herandar permalink
      December 20, 2014 11:07 pm

      RimWorld on PC. First time I’ve paid for a game in alpha state. Also pretty much the antithesis of the AAA game developed by a staff of hundreds.

    • December 21, 2014 6:42 am

      Herandar, thank you for the heads-up. It looks totally awesome. They basically have me by the short hairs when they mention Firefly. Outstanding!

    • FrenkoFrenik permalink
      December 20, 2014 8:43 pm

      That’s just the Grindier side of Destiny in a nutshell, but the payoff for the grind. The gameplay, weapons, super abilities, etc. I haven’t elaborated on those yet, but you can’t get the full picture without it. Will post on this soon though.

  4. FrenkoFrenik permalink
    December 20, 2014 8:27 pm

    Wanted to add that the exotic weekly sales the most expensive weapons are 24 coins but the rest are cheaper, including armor pieces.

    The easiest order to buy armor in order to rank up: Boots>Gauntlets>Chest>Helmet

    Exotics will add another special ability node to upgrade, so they are more expensive in glimmer, but now require no ascendant materials except exotic shards.

    Exotic Bounties happen randomly but there is a greater chance of them happenning if you turn in a lot of bounties at the same time.

    Toland’s Legacy – or Bad Juju, so far it’s the easiest for me to complete. It requires 25 strikes, but weekly Nightfall counts as 3, and Weekly Heroic counts as 2, So that’s a given 5, plus helping others complete will make that go even faster. The second part requires Xur, which worked prefectly because i was done with the strikes by Friday. Then lastly the Crucible portion which took about 1-2 days of crucible.

    Thorn (A light in the dark) might be easier depending if you have Void weapons, or a Voidwalker Warlock. Doesn’t require Xur, but the crucible portion is much dependent on good games.

    These two bounties will be my way of acquiring free exotic shards.

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