Destiny Guide for Returning Players

Destiny Guide for Returning Players by General_C

So I’ve been seeing a LOT of questions along the lines of “I haven’t played in x amount of months and have no idea what’s new, please help.” Hopefully, I can do my part to make this guide to solve this growing trend as The Taken King comes closer to launch.

This list is made to attempt to combine all of the most useful information to one place for easy access. Each section will deal with 1 time period and on, so if you left during vanilla Destiny, you should continue to read on through the details that are listed under the Dark Below as well.

If you started playing Destiny at or shortly after launch, and before The Dark Below released

In the base game, the leveling system worked in 2 parts. The first part is level 1-20. You start at level 1, and you play the campaign missions, bounties, patrols, and PvP to earn experience that will automatically level you up. Once you reach level 20, armor will light begins to drop. Using armor with light, you will increase your level further up to the cap, which was level 30. The only way to reach level 30 was to get a full set of Raid armor from the Vault of Glass. You could also pair this armor with an Exotic if desired or necessary.

Notes of the time:

  • Planet materials had to be farmed planet-side. This was changed in update 1.1 on 12/1/14, where Daily missions and patrol bounties would award planet materials, and planet materials were purchasable from the Vanguard and Crucible vendors for their respective marks. This eliminated the ability to trade in planet materials for faction reputation. Notes
  • The loot cave in the Skywatch could be farmed for engrams. This was fixed in a Hotfix which launched 9/25/14, where they increased the respawn timers from 6 seconds to 40 seconds. Notes
  • The Templar could be cheesed by teams huddling on floating platforms outside of the typical play area. This was fixed by a Hotfix released on 10/14/14 which added a kill timer to those areas. Notes
  • The Atheon encounter was programmed to teleport the 3 players farthest from Atheon at the time of the teleportation command. This was fixed in update on 10/28/14. Notes
  • The Templar and Atheon encounters could be cheesed with AoE grenades. Both of these were fixed on 12/1/14 and 10/28/14 respectively. Templar Atheon
  • The Cryptarch would generally decrypt engrams into lower rarity items. This was fixed in patch 1.0.2 around 10/1/14. Notes
  • Early on, there were only 5 slots for bounties in your inventory. This was increased to 10 in update 1.0.3. Notes
  • In vanilla gameplay, if you entered into any matchmaking activity alone, or with a fireteam that was not fully, any ally you were paired with would be unable to communicate with you unless you all met up in a party chat. This was fixed in update 1.0.3, where Bungie added voice features, which can be toggled while viewing your Ghost in any matchmade activity (Strikes and Crucible, mainly). Notes
  • Exotic armor and weapons used to require Ascendant materials to upgrade. This was changed in update 1.1 on 12/1/14. Now, only the final upgrade node requires a special material, which was changed to the Exotic shard, which can be purchased from Xur or acquired by dismantling another exotic item. Notes

Things to know: Since this period of Destiny, The Dark Below and the House of Wolves have been released. Make note of the changes that have taken place during those times. As of this moment, you will be underleveled and will be unable to participate in most of the new end-game content. The new max light-level is 34, and the max light on any piece of gear is 42. All Exotics and old legendary armor can be Ascended with Exotic Shards and Etheric Light respectively to gain this light level, so as long as you are able to acquire these items, you will not be required to replace your old gear if you so desire.

  • Your Crucible and Vanguard marks are still useable, and getting armor from those vendors will give you a nice level boost right out of the gate.
  • Your Exotics can be easily ranked up by Ascending them with Exotic shards, easily purchased from Xur with Strange Coins.
  • If you were or nearly max level when you left (That being, 29-30), you can give Crota’s End on Normal a go, which will drop armor far more often than the VoG did.
  • You can also participate in lower-level weekly heroic strikes.
  • Once in the 31-32 range, you can begin Hard Mode Crota’s End, 32 Weekly Heroic strikes, and the Nightfall strike, as well as the lower level Prison of Elders, which will net you an armor core that will grant a 42 light level armor piece.
  • Once level 33, you can complete the level 34 Prison of Elders to start acquiring Etheric Light to level up your legendary armor.
  • Once level 34, you can complete the level 35 Prison of Elders for more Etheric Light and the ultimate end-game goodies.

If you stopped playing after The Dark Below was released, but before the House of Wolves was released

When The Dark Below launched, leveling still works the same as it did. The level cap increased to 32, and Crota’s End has a much higher drop rate for armor than the VoG did. However, Crota’s End was plagued by glitches and cheeses.

Crota’s End had a different loot system than the VoG. All the new Raid primary weapons are only obtainable from the hard raid, while all secondary and heavy weapons are only available in the normal raid. Both difficulties will drop armor.

Radiant materials replaced Ascendant materials for upgrading the new raid items. However, the two types worked the same: shards for armor and energy for weapons.

Notes of the time:

  • To upgrade your vanilla exotics from their old values to new values, you had to use Xur. He would have an inventory of 5 weapons and 5 armors that would be upgradable at a cost of around 7000-8000 glimmer, an exotic shard, and resetting the level progression of whatever it was you upgraded. This was replaced for Ascending when the House of Wolves DLC launched, and is no longer relevant.
  • Vanguard and Crucible commendations were instituted. These were currencies you gathered from faction packages. When the House of Wolves came out, this commendation system was scrapped. Commendations can now be discarded for a hefty 250 faction rep reward.
  • When originally launched, the Black Hammer encountered a glitch where the Hive Disruptor perk would disrupt the White Nail perk. The Hive Disruptor perk was removed in hotfix on 1/12/15, and was added back in working as intended on 5/15/15. Removal Return
  • Shortly after TDB launched, Bungie fixed the Exotic damage numbers on drops from the VoG in Hotfix Notes
  • When Crota’s End first launched, the chest in the Thrall Abyss had an Exotic drop chance, similar to the chest at the beginning of the Gorgon Labyrinth in the VoG. This was changed in Hotfix, and now drops Radiant materials. The loot pool from that chest was moved to the Deathsinger encounter, and due to this switch, you cannot complete the Deathsinger encounter for a second reward drop on Hard Mode AFTER already completing it on Normal Mode. Notes
  • There was an exploit in the Thrall Abyss that involved taking advantage of the physics of the lamp explosions in the Abyss to fly a player most of the way through the maze, bypassing most of the Thrall spawns. This was also fixed by Hotfix Notes
  • The Bridge encounter in Crota’s End has had more exploits than anything else in the game, I believe. Too many to name. To combat sword-flying, they added a kill-wall in the center of the ravine. The only opening in this kill wall is where the bridge will be when it is built (You have plenty of vertical clearance, but not much horizontal clearance). To combat teams wiping to let 1 or 2 Sunsingers self-revive to snipe the Ogres, they added a fail-safe, where if there are no players in the play area on the Ogre side of the ravine, the Annihilator Totems will activate and cause a wipe. To reiterate: All classes are still able to use a jumping path to reach the top of the tower on the spawn side of the ravine, or self-revive as Sunsingers to despawn the enemies on the spawn side and activate the Ogre timer. However, before doing so teams need to ensure they have at least 1 person on the Ogre side of the ravine to prevent a wipe. These changes were added in Hotfix Notes
  • There was an exploit that allowed a team to keep Crota in his kneeling position by having the host of the lobby suddenly disconnect, either by turning off his console, or opening the disk tray. This was fixed in Hotfix Notes
  • During this period of time there was a large weapon tuning. This drastically nerfed Auto rifles, buffed pulse rifles by a good margin, nerfed Handcannons (This was mainly a range nerf and you will notice a different in accuracy at range), nerfed the spread of Fusion rifles, and significantly buffed the damage of Shotguns in PvE activities (PvP remained largely unchanged). For more details on the changes made, refer to the notes. Update 1.1.1
  • From release, armor that increased the ammo capacity you could carry would cause you to lose ammo upon death. This was fixed in update 1.1.1. Notes
  • Update 1.1.1 added matchmaking for the Weekly Heroic strike. It works as any other selected strike now. Notes
  • There was a glitch that would prevent ammo consumables from working properly if that part of your inventory was full. This issue was fixed. Notes
  • From launch, the Vault was pretty small. This was a major player complaint especially after The Dark Below released and players had a large influx of weapons they wanted to keep. Bungie added slots to the vault so now the vault has 24 armor and general slots, and 36 weapon slots. Notes
  • There was an issue in where Xur did not reliably sell Heavy Ammo synthesis. He does now. Notes
  • Valus Ta’aurc had his health reduced by 33% to much player happiness. Notes
  • Since launch, relic carriers in the VoG had issues with hit registration against Minotaurs and Praetorians. This issue was fixed in 1.1.2. Notes
  • Update 1.1.2 made modifications to the drop rates, drop features, and locations of special and heavy ammo in the Crucible. Basically this resulted in a lower availability of these ammo types. The full list of changes is in the notes. Notes
  • A connection recovery system has been added to attempt to reconnect players upon a disconnection that would have previously kicked them from a match. It works. Sometimes. Notes
  • The speaker now has a material exchange for certain materials. Visit him with your materials in your inventory to ensure all options will appear. Notes

If you stopped playing shortly before the House of Wolves was released but haven’t played the House of Wolves

The new campaign has been released along with a new social space that has all you need for the new activities. The Prison of Elders is the new PvE endgame activity, which is a round and wave based gamemode, not unlike endurance gamemodes such as Nazi Zombies (CoD) or Horde Mode (Gears of War). The main difference is the Prison actually has a conclusion.

  • There are 3 leveled modes that can be completed once a week for their rewards.
  • There is a level 28 playlist that works similar to the strike playlist, and can be completed as desired for rewards.
  • The Gunsmith can now reforge any of the new House of Wolves legendary weapons.
  • The Blades of Crota that appeared during The Dark Below have been replaced by Packs of Wolves that will appear in patrol areas. To complete Eris Mourn’s bounty for the Blades of Crota kills, you must launch the Fist of Crota mission.
  • There is a large reward chest at the end of any Prison of Elders activity that requires a Treasure Key to be opened. These keys can be obtained from the Ether chests that appear after defeating a Pack of Wolves, completing a queens bounty each week (1 key from the first bounty turned in, per character, per week), Packages from the Queen, and the smaller chests in the Prison treasure room.
  • Upon release of the House of Wolves, Ether chests from Packs of Wolves could be looted multiple times by leaving the play area the chest was located in and quickly returning. This was fixed. Notes
  • Ammo consumables have had their stack limit increased to 100 due to the previously mentioned multi-dipping from Ether chests and being awarded an inhumane number of special weapon synthesis. Notes
  • When initially launched, if your bounty inventory was full during the Skolas encounter, you would be unable to receive the Elder Cypher as a possible reward upon completion. This was fixed. Notes
  • Originally, the Skolas encounter would rotate burn modifiers (Solar, Arc, and Void burn). Bungie replaced this with other modifiers that better complement how the encounter was intended. Notes
  • When the House of Wolves launched, and upon removing the Blades of Crota from the patrol areas, Bungie mistakenly made it impossible to be rewarded a Husk of the Pit from the Fist of Crota mission. This was addressed and the drop rate was also increased. Notes

The new PvP endgame activity is Trials of Osiris. It resets every Friday at 6pm GMT, 1pm EST, 10am PST. To compete, you first need to buy a card from Brother Vance in the Vestian Outpost for 100 Glimmer. The card has 9 wins available and 3 losses available. Once you finish the card by filling either of those sets, you can turn in the card for free for a new one.

  • You can buy boons from Brother Vance using Passage Coins that drop from any Crucible activity. One will give you a free loss; you can lose a game and it will not give a mark on your card. One will give a free win; this must be purchased before you play any games. The last will give you an extra win, provided your next game after purchasing the boon is a win.
  • If you are disconnected from a game while competing in the Trials, it will count as a loss, even if you have the Mercy boon (It will not use the boon, however).
  • If you complete your card 9-0 (Boons change how your card looks. If your card says 9-0, it counts. With the boons, that will allow you to go 7-1), then a new destination will appear on your destination map. Mercury. Mercury is simply a social space with nothing in it as of this moment other than a chest that gives good end-game rewards, such as elemental primaries, Etheric Light (Confirm?), exotic chance, among other lesser rewards.

This list should cover all of the changes to the game that are important for someone coming back may need to know to properly level up and understand what has come and gone. I can’t imagine I’ve included everything important in this list, and encourage others to point others out, and I can add them to the list to help others in the future, and possibly update this farther after The Taken King is released.

I also apologize for any type-o’s, grammar mistakes, or inconsistencies among this massive wall of information.

I hope this helps.

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