So you’ve decided to get Destiny 2: New Light. You’ve made a great choice! Destiny 2 is a fantastic, well-established game, with tons of players and loads of free content. You’ll be playing for quite a while before you even scratch the surface of stuff you might be tempted to pay for, and if you’re a new player from the great Steam migration, then you might have already purchased the Shadowkeep expansion and have even more content to play through.
But as much as that massive amount of content is a big strength for Destiny 2, it’s also its biggest flaw. There’s so much that you COULD do in Destiny that it can feel more than a little overwhelming - especially to brand new players that have never played Destiny before.
On top of that, Bungie’s new player experience is a little bit lacking in most departments. The first section where you basically replay the beginning of the original Destiny by killing the giant spider walker is good fun and does a decent job of getting the player acquainted with the basic controls, but after that, the New Light quest throws the whole world of Destiny at the player without much of an explanation.
Worse, the opening stages of New Light can feel aimless, devoid of purpose or even necessary information. New Light just doesn’t explain some core concepts, like setting waypoints or how faction resources work. And while you’re at it, your bounty and quest tabs fill up with tasks so fast it’s like you’re playing a speedrun of Skyrim.
Just about the only thing that New Light does well is give the player an overview of The Tower, where all the important NPCs are, and familiarizes them with the menu system. After that, players can be left adrift in a sea of content--all of it amazing, but at the same time, paralyzingly intimidating.
That’s why we’re here to help. Destiny has so much content that it’s helpful for the player to ask themselves what they want to do from the very beginning: progress their character, experience the story, or just start killing fools right away. We’ll help you with all of them.
Getting Started With New Light
Right after you do the Spider Walker intro, you’ll get dumped on The Tower and New Light will direct you to all the NPCs. We recommend following New Light’s directions to start. You’ll want to acclimate yourself to the big names like Zavala, Ikora, and Banshee-44, as well as the mailbox dude, Kadi 55-30. Eventually, New Light will send you the European Dead Zone (EDZ) where you’ll do some quests for Devrim.
This is likely the point where most of you will want to take a bit of a breather. Destiny 2 has gone through a lot of changes over the years, and while none of that is really important for a new player to know, it does mean that Destiny 2 might have forgotten to explain a few things that are important.
First, when you drop in the open-world areas of planets, you’ll want to figure out how to navigate around. Hit M to bring up your map. You’ll be able to set waypoints by left-clicking, and if your radar isn’t directing you to your objective it probably means that you need to create a waypoint on the map. Get used to this as some questlines are broken up and require the player to activate the next step by going to a specific location on the map--a location that won’t always be illuminated, so you’ll have to select it as a waypoint.
Another thing that New Light doesn’t explain is how all your powers work. If you’re in the free-to-play version of Destiny 2, you should have all three major subclasses for your main class, and then two specializations for each subclass. If you purchased Shadowkeep you’ll have all three specializations. That introductory Spider Walker sequence probably didn’t give you much time to test drive all those different abilities, so now’s a great time to give them all a whirl while you’re in an open-world area with loads of respawning baddies.
Keep following the New Light quest, completing the Introduction: Earth quest at the same time by doing activities and bounties at the EDZ. Use this time to get acquainted with skills, map management, and finally, how gear progression works. Since Destiny 2 doesn’t have traditional levels, everything depends on the gear you find. The higher the power level, the strong your Guardian will become.
Going over how Destiny 2’s gear system works is an entirely different guide unto itself, so for now, just equip whatever weapons and armor have the highest power level. You’ll find out about mods and weapon perks later on when they start to matter.
At some point, New Light will basically task you with achieving a certain power level. You start at 750, which is enough to do most of the content in the game, and the New Light quest will ask you to get to 770, then 790. That’ll naturally happen as you equip higher-level gear.
It’s at this point in the New Light questline that you should again stop and ask yourself a very important question. Destiny 2 can be experienced in many different ways, and while following New Light will explore many of them, it doesn’t explore all of them, nor does it do so in a way that explains to the player what they might want to know.
So ask yourself: what do you want from your Destiny 2 experience?
If Story And Lore Is Important, Play The Legacy Campaigns
Destiny 2's original new player onboarding process was to throw them into The Red War campaign. It's still accessible to new players after they arrive at the Tower by heading to the shipwright's bay and speaking to Amanda Holiday. She has all the old campaigns, including The Red War, The Curse of Osiris, and Warmind. The Red War is the first one, so start there.
The Red War does a better job of introducing all of Destiny 2's lore than New Light does, and it does a MUCH better job of introducing all the important people. If it’s more important to your experience to be immersed in the world of Destiny 2, then we highly recommend taking a break from New Light and getting into Red War as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that The Red War won’t give you as much gear or experience as your other options, so there’s a bit of a sacrifice to be made. Take this path if you’re in no hurry and want to get as much of Destiny’s rich story as possible. And even if you’re already level 900, we highly recommend playing through the old campaigns at some point.
If Character Progression Is Important, Stick With New Light
What New Light does well is keeping players on the fast track to getting to level 900 - the first "soft" level cap in Destiny 2. This is done by ensuring that players achieve a steady path of rewards and experience towards Destiny 2's seasonal battle pass system. Getting more rewards means faster leveling which means you'll hit the cap sooner.
However, going down this path has some inherent problems. All these personalities you'll be introduced to won't mean a whole lot and your quest log will be pages long, not to mention more bounties than you can reasonably do in a single day.
The important thing here is getting used to having a full quest log. Destiny 2 is a game about choices, where you pick what you want to do, when you want to do it. Picking New Light will keep you on the path to seeing much of what Destiny has to offer and will keep you grinding away at levels, even though it doesn't tell you much about the world or why you're even fighting.
If that's fine with you, then by all means, keep grinding your way through New Light.
And If PvP Is Important, Play The Crucible
The Crucible is Destiny 2’s PvP arena. It’s basically like taking the whole game and distilling it into a series of Team Fortress matches, only you’re Light-wielding Guardians instead of snipers and heavy weapons dudes - although you can be both if you enter The Crucible with a sniper rifle or a rocket launcher.
You’ll get introduced to The Crucible by way of New Light when you’re tasked with meeting Lord Shaxx, the somewhat Viking-like Titan in The Tower. There are quite a few rewards associated with playing in The Crucible (especially if you win), so it’s certainly not going to stall your progress fighting here instead of playing through New Light.
If you want to get into The Crucible, be sure to pick up your daily and weekly Crucible bounties to further enhance your rewards/experience progression. Also, leveling up your Crucible standing by turning in tokens to Mr. Shaxx will net you some sweet gear, so don’t forget to do that in between bouts.
The only problem with The Crucible is that eventually you’ll find yourself against opponents that have acquired better weapons and armor from different areas of the game. When this starts to happen, you might want to consider taking a break from your Crucibling to head back into the main game - either by continuing New Light or by taking a peek at some of Destiny 2’s legacy campaigns.
What we can’t stress enough is that Destiny 2 is a game where the player sets their own path. This is both Destiny’s greatest strength and greatest shortfall. If you’re a player that loves being given a great big world to play in, you’ll feel right at home. For players that might need a bit more direction, it can feel a bit daunting. We hope this gives you at least somewhat of an idea of where you should direct your energies first.