The hardcore Destiny community has discovered one of the best games of the year in the endgame, but the path to the best gear and equipment can be hard to understand without a good amount of study.
If you're interested in playing for the good stuff, without wasting much of your time, this guide will get you started.
Do Weekly Activities
Once a week, each character can earn rewards for a special Nightfall strike, a level 28 weekly heroic strike and a raid. Some players have been ignoring these activities, because there is no matchmaking for them, but this is where the best gear in the game comes from.
The weekly strike awards nine strange coins. The Nightfall gives you a buff that increases your experience and reputation gains by 25 percent until the next Tuesday reset, and it has a high chance to give you an exotic weapon or armor piece. The raid drops extremely high quality legendary weapons and armor that can’t be earned anywhere else.
For example, the Found Verdict is the only legendary quality shotgun that fires full-auto, and the Hezen Vengeance Rocket Launcher has a Mini-Mirv upgrade which creates a huge secondary explosion after the rocket hits.
The raid also drops primary slot weapons that can deal elemental damage, and armor that has enough light, when fully upgraded, for you to reach level 30.
If you don’t have friends to run these with, you can find groups for them on matchmaking websites. Nightfalls can be completed by a solo player, and the health of the enemies in strikes scales down when there are fewer players participating.
However, it's much less stressful to do these with at least one other player. The Nightfall modifier means that your group is sent to orbit if all the players are dead at the same time. If you run with a fireteam, they can pick you up if you die, but when you're running alone a single mistake is an old-school game-over.
Find the fastest farming routes
Upgrading gear in Destiny requires collecting resources on the various planets, like spinmetal leaves on Earth or helium filaments on the moon. Farming these materials can be a time-consuming grind, but it's necessary to maximize your light level and get the most damage out of your guns.
Fortunately, Destiny's community has crowdsourced this problem and discovered the most efficient methods of harvesting this stuff. If you stick to the routes shown in these videos, you should be able to collect enough planetary materials to fully upgrade an exotic weapon in about an hour of playing
Play multiple characters
Every character gets a weekly strike, a nightfall reward, and a raid, so if you have three characters, you can do three of each, which gives you triple the goodies, since you can share the gear among your characters. If you have no bounties left to complete, you've already finished your raid and weekly strikes, and you still want to play more Destiny, leveling another character is probably the most efficient thing you can do.
If you don’t want to collect a set of gear for each class, you can roll multiple characters of the same class, and collect your raid armor twice as fast. The first player to reach level 30 did it by running the raid three times a week on three hunters, in order to collect all the raid gear in just two weekly lockouts.
Having multiple characters can also save you time when upgrading your guns, because you can do the easiest bounties multiple times for huge experience gains while ignoring the more time-consuming ones.
Upgrade your gear
A fully upgraded exotic gun does 20 percent more damage than an un-upgraded exotic gun. Armor upgrades also upgrade the light on the armor, so if you have incomplete upgrades, your light level could be higher. For each level your character is below an enemy, your damage is reduced significantly. If you’re a level 27 character attempting to attack a level 28 enemy, like normal-difficulty Atheon, or anything in a weekly Nightfall strike, your damage is reduced 30 percent.
If you’re short on ascendant shards or ascendant energy, there is a daily heroic story mission you can run each day that gives you two ascendant materials. You can also get them from the package you get in the mail each day after completing your first public event, and you can get lots of them in the raid.
Don’t hate the cryptarch, ignore him
The Engram loot system has been a source of outrage since the game launched, leading to changes a few weeks after the launch of the game that improved the loot from legendary engrams, while reducing their drop rate.
Many players assume Destiny's loot works like the loot in Diablo or Borderlands, and that you earn the best gear from random drops. But the loot system is actually more like World of Warcraft's: the best stuff only drops in the raid.
But the legendary gear you get from engrams is worse than the legendary gear you get from the raid. So it’s better to just get the reputation to buy your entry-level legendaries from your Vanguard or Crucible vendor, and then move on to the raid and the Nightfalls.
Stop doing Tiger Strikes
This may seem obvious to some people, but I follow the Destiny Reddit and there are a lot of posts from players who have been running the level 24 strike playlist and don’t understand why they’re not progressing.
Strikes are a great way to get engrams, collect blue-quality gear and get to level 26. But you need to focus on Vanguard reputation to progress further, and bounties and patrols are a more efficient way of earning reputation.
A lot of people ignore the bounty robot in the Tower, but bounties are an important end-game activity in Destiny. They can reward as much as 5000 experience and 100 reputation, and this amount is increased by an extra 25% if you have done your weekly Nightfall. Bounties are the fastest way to earn the reputation you need to get legendary vendor armor, and the fastest way to upgrade your exotic weapons.
Every time you turn in a bounty, you also have a chance to randomly get an exotic Vanguard Mentor Missive, which sends you on a multi-stage quest to complete challenging activities, eventually rewarding you with an exotic gun.
Log in on the weekend to check out Xur, the strange coin vendor
Every week, a special vendor shows up in the Tower on Friday morning and hangs around until late Saturday night. He sells one exotic armor piece for each class, and one exotic weapon, and he can potentially sell any exotic except the five that you can get from exotic bounties, the two exotics that are exclusive to Playstation platforms and the Vex Mythoclast.
He has already sold the Ice Breaker sniper rifle, the Suros Regime auto rifle, and the Gjallarhorn rocket launcher, all of which are among the most awesome weapons in the game. If you want to be sure to have enough coins to buy a weapon from him every week, you should be doing the level 28 weekly strike on at least two characters.
Xur also sells consumable telemetry items that increases the rate at which your weapons level up. If you're rolling in extra strange coins, consider stockpiling these.
Play smarter, not harder
If there is one thing we learned from Bungie's loot cave saga it's that players love progression shortcuts. But the only way to really maximize the value you get for your time in MMO-type games is to identify and focus on the activities that provide the best rewards for the time you spend playing them.
If you stick to the most efficient activities, you can acquire and upgrade the best gear in Destiny without committing unreasonable amounts of time in the game. Good luck!