clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Destiny 2 dictionary for Guardians new and old

And everyone in between

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Destiny 2, like every other (massively multiplayer) online game, has its own language. And not knowing that language can make watching videos, reading articles, listening to your Fireteam or just talking about the game confusing as heck.

It’s also really intimidating. When someone is shouting for “a roaming super to handle those adds” during the Raid while you’re just trying to stay alive, you don’t have time to figure out what everyone’s talking about. Nor is it a great time to ask, what with all the shooting and not dying happening. (Other times, you just won’t understand what they’re saying due to age-related hearing loss.)

So instead of forcing you to ask someone, thereby opening yourself up to ridicule from friends and strangers alike, we’re gathering some of the most important vocabulary you’ll need to be a productive member of a Fireteam.

Adds. Additional enemies. These are the lackeys that show up while you’re fighting a major bad guy. You’ll usually hear something like “ignore the adds” or “handle the adds.”

Adventures. Open-world missions with an orange sword icon on your map. These are bigger than a Patrol, but smaller than a Quest. They’re useful for leveling up mid-range gear — between, say 100 and 250 — but will only drop high or Raid-level gear at the whim of RNGesus.

Blueberries. Blue dots on your minimap. These are other Guardians in your area or those participating in the same events who are not part of your Fireteam. (Members of your Fireteam are green on your minimap.)

Buff(s). Buffs are those phrases that pop up along the left side of your screen with timers. They’re temporary boosts or penalties that you get for doing certain things. Sometimes, these are objects you pick up — like the Blight Retreating you get during the Taken Public Event — and sometimes it’s something you do — like standing in fire for the Burning effect. Buffs like the Empowering Spores in the Pleasure Gardens room of the Raid are wildly powerful, while others, like the Tap the Trigger trait on the Uriel’s Gift auto rifle, help, but you probably won’t notice them.

Challenges. With the Daily Reset, each planet, moon and centaur gets three Challenges to complete for rewards. The rewards are usually Glimmer and Tokens, but you’ll get the occasional Engram as well.

Crucible. Where to go if you’re feeling too good about yourself or your abilities. Here, you fight against other players in PvP (player-versus player).

Daily reset. At 5 a.m. ET, the Daily Reset occurs. Mostly, this resets the daily Challenges.

DPS. Damage per second, or damage phase. Some of the bosses in Destiny 2 are immune to damage for periods of the fight. When they’re not, it’s time to deal as much damage as possible as quickly as possible (as much DPS as you can). This phase inevitably starts when you haven’t loaded your gun in a while.

Dunk/Slam. Several encounters in the game involve taking a glowing orb (they all have different names, but they’re all glowing orbs) and placing it in a receptacle, hence the sports term, “dunk.” The most common one of these you’ll encounter is during a Weapons Exchange Heroic Public Event where you take Arc Charges and place them in the shield generators. When someone is carrying an orb, they don’t have a weapon, so they’re vulnerable. If this person is on your Fireteam and nice to you, you should protect them. If this person is a rando or has been mean to you, they are on their own just like you are. Life is unfair like that.

Engram. Those transparent dodecahedrons you pick up from loot drops or vendors. A cryptarch can decrypt Legendary (purple) and Exotic (yellow) into the armor you’re already wearing or a gun that’s 20 levels lower than what you’re using. You can decrypt Rare (blue) Engrams into disappoint gear all by yourself.

Enrage. The part in a fight when the boss switches over to just being super aggressive toward you. Usually it means you’re running out of time to finish off a raid boss.

Factions. A misnomer, since there is only one faction — the Future War Cult. (OK, fine, there’s also Dead Orbit and New Monarchy.) Factions are basically places for more token-hoarding vendors. Activities will earn you Faction Tokens, which players exchange for engrams. At the end of the Faction Rally, the Faction with the most tokens turned in gets a deep discount on a Faction-specific gun.

Fireteam. When it’s your friends, a Fireteam is a group of people that are there to help you. When it’s constructed via matchmaking, a Fireteam is a group of people that immediately go AFK and contribute nothing.

Lost Sectors. Marked on your map with a two-arches-and-a-dot icon, Lost Sectors are enemy-controlled mini-dungeons. There’s a lot of shooting involved, and you’ll face a Yellow-Bar Enemy at the end. Lost Sectors are good for loot and XP and they tend to come up in Daily Challenges.

Main. Your main Guardian as opposed to alternates (alts). You can create up to three Guardians in Destiny 2. Since they all share the same Vault, this is a quick way to level up your alts. Doing Milestones and Challenges with all three of your Guardians increases your chances of picking up some loot for your main.

Milestones. Milestones are weekly goals that change with the Weekly Reset. These are similar to Challenges, but they’re not tied to locations. You just have to complete various tasks like Cayde-6’s Flashpoint or Lord Shaxx’s Call to Arms. These result in Powerful Gear drops which are your key to leveling up to 300 (and then 305).

Modifiers. Modifiers are changes in a Nightfall strike.

  • Attrition. Your health and shield recharging are limited, but enemies will drop things that look like Light that aren’t Light that you can use to heal.
  • Loadout Lock. You can’t change your equipped items.
  • Momentum. Players’ movement increases.
  • Prism. One elemental damage type will deal more-than-average damage while the other two deal less. This cycles throughout the Nightfall.
  • Timewarp: Anomaly. You start the strike will less time than usual and have the chance to shoot or jump through rings to gain more time.

Nerf. Nerfing takes its name from the significant other- and/or parent-annoying toy for all ages. Nerfing reduces the damage something deals — either an overpowered weapon you like to use to make the game harder, or an overpowered enemy to make the game easier.

Nightfall. Like a strike, but harder. A lot harder. Each week (with the Weekly Reset), a strike will become a Nightfall strike. This is a three-person, non-matchmaking Fireteam event. Nightfalls come with Modifiers and usually take a coordinated effort to pull off.

Patrols. Small, bite-sized, open-world missions scattered around planets. They’re good for quick glimmer and XP.

Powerful Gear. Gear that is better than a normal drop — usually five to eight Power levels better. Powerful Gear Milestones refresh with the Weekly Reset.

Public Events. Enemy encounters that take place in a Public Area (someplace where you see other players running around). They’re good for fun, XP, glimmer and loot. Turn them into Heroic Public Events for even better loot. The other people taking on a Public Event will either be way better than you or have no idea what they’re doing. There is no in between.

Quests. Quests are long, planetary missions you take on for the local NPC after completing the campaign on their planet. These result in some really good gear and, sometimes, in an Exotic (yellow) weapon.

Raid. The culmination of everything you’ve been working for in Destiny 2. A raid is an hours long, high level, wildly difficult, six-person Fireteam, non-matchmaking, puzzle-filled not-quite-mini-campaign. They’re not for the faint of heart or the short on time.

Raid Gear. The loot you get from completing the raid. It’s better than what you have.

Rando. Random person. Matchmaking will introduce you to randos (randoes?). See also: Rando Calrissian, Marlon Rando, Antonio Randeras.

RNGesus. A portmanteau of “Random Number Generator” (RNG) and “Jesus.” Since loot gets dropped based on a roll of the (virtual) dice, you are at the whim of RNGesus. RNGesus is fickle and usually mean-spirited.

Roaming Super. A crowd-control Super that lets you wander around dealing damage to multiple enemies. An example would be the Warlock’s Stormtrance which lets you float around for a bit with Force Lightning, as opposed to the Hunter’s Golden Gun which only lets you fire off three admittedly devastating shots. Some Supers are better for crowd control than others.

Scout rifles. A myth.

Shards. Refers to legendary shards, which you get from dismantling legendary and exotic gear. If you “shard” something, it means you just dismantled it.

Starter. Starting Pokémon. First, wrong game. Second, the only starter that matters is Bulbasaur. Fight me. (Note: Please do not fight me, I’ve never played a Pokémon game and I’m just trying to sound edgy.) For a better answer, see Main.

Status(es) or Status Effects. See Buffs.

Strike. A cooperative, three-person Fireteam mini-campaign. You and two other people — either a Fireteam or randos — fight through a series of objectives and take out a boss. These are usually similar (or identical) to a Quest.

Super. Your subclass’s Super Ability.

Teleporting. Bullshit.

Ult. See Super. For everyone that says “ult” instead of “super,” what do you do with all the extra time you save by not saying that extra syllable?

Weekly Reset. Tuesday mornings (with the Daily Reset), weekly progress is reset as well. This changes the Milestones and resets everyone’s Clan XP progress. (For details, see our Weekly Reset guide.)

“WHAT’S UP EVERYBODY IT’S YOUR BOY … HIT SUBSCRIBE AND SMASH THAT LIKE” (Shouted.) The legally-mandated opening and closing to every YouTube video game tutorial.

Wipe. Everyone die. Similar to a Total Party Kill (TPK) in D&D. When you hear this (or declare it), you’re asking all of your Fireteam to either kill themselves or to let themselves get killed. You’ll probably hear this in a Nightfall Strike or a raid, usually when something has gone wrong and you need to try again. When everyone is down, the encounter will reset. This lets your team regroup and start over.

Xur. A weird octopus man who shows up every Friday in a random location, offering a handful of exotics in exchange for legendary shards.

Yellow-bar enemy. Extra-tough enemy. You can tell they’re extra-tough from the yellow health bar over their head. Bosses at the end of Lost Sectors are yellow-bar enemies. They tend to drop a loot chest.