What is Destiny? Get up to speed on Bungie's blockbuster before the sequel comes to PC
As you’re probably aware, Destiny 2 is officially coming to PC, and it’s coming this year - September 8, to be precise. That means it’s not long now until we can tear across Milky Way planets on speeder bikes and bust open aliens like loot-filled pinatas. The first game was console exclusive, so if you’ve been gaming exclusively on PC the last few years it might have passed you by. With that in mind, we’ve put together this handy primer for anyone who doesn’t know their Gjallarhorn from their Dinklebot.
Wanting the lowdown on the sequel instead? Here’s everything we know about Destiny 2.
What is Destiny?
Destiny is a blend of MMO and FPS, developed by Halo creators Bungie. It’s got the incredibly satisfying core gameplay loop of Halo, but it’s married to a moreish loot system that’ll keep you plugging away until the sun goes supernova.
In it, you take on the role of a fully customisable Guardian, and you travel freely between different planets in our own solar system, completing missions, free-roaming, and taking part in the game’s Strikes and Raids. Like in an MMO, the game’s meta is always shifting and evolving.
At one point in the first game, players all gathered around a certain cave and farmed enemies non-stop in what was referred to as the ‘loot cave’. The cave gave out disproportionate amounts of loot, so long as you were willing to stand and drop constantly respawning enemies all day long. No doubt the sequel will have similar quirks crop up and be swiftly plugged.
When not exploring other planets, players gathered around a central hub called The Tower. There players were free to buy items, turn in engrams - RNG loot - and use a range of emotes to interact with other players. Impromptu dance-offs were common.
Destiny takes place in the aftermath of a ‘Golden Age’ of technological advancement, peace, space travel, and prosperity 700 years in the future. A mysterious moon-sized sphere dubbed The Traveller turned up to Earth one day, turning other planets in our solar system into livable worlds like some kind of terraforming comet. Humanity took advantage of these circumstances and colonised the worlds, but The Traveller also lured with it an ancient enemy called The Darkness. It’s a bit like UK’s radio stations during Christmas in that sense.
This event signalled ‘The Collapse’, the breakdown of this golden era and the start of endless conflict. In Destiny, all the colonies on other planets have been overrun, and the only safe bastion of humanity is the Last City, a gathering of humanity’s remnants sat beneath the shadow of The Traveller.
Players take on the role of a Guardian - Earth’s sworn protectors, each capable of harnessing a power called ‘Light’. Their mission is to revive The Traveller and to try shut down the alien threat throughout the Milky Way. They also like loot.
Destiny’s playable races
There are three playable races in Destiny, each with their own distinct look. When creating your character you get a choice of playing as the following:
With glowing eyes, dark blue and white skin tones, the Awoken are mysterious descendants of humans who tried to escape the calamity of The Collapse by heading to the edges of space. There, something changed them forever.
Have a quick look in the mirror - that’s a human, that is. Yer a human, Harry. Anyway, yeah, if you’re boring you can play as a human.
The Exo were self-aware machines created by humans. Just like humans, they have their own desires and needs - their original purpose lost to time.
Destiny's enemy races
Now let’s talk about the races you’ll be shooting in the face. Here are the alien factions:
Don’t vex the Vex. These lads turned up on Venus using some inter-dimensional gates. They have no interest in talking terms with humanity, and are like ants in their singular purpose: spreading throughout the galaxy.
Created out of an unidentified metal alloy, the Vex are a blend of machine and organic matter. Shoot their head off and they’ll still function until you drop them properly. The Vex don’t like the Cabal much, either - the two races are constantly battling for Mars.
The Cabal are a humanoid race whose entire empire is built on the military-industrial complex. They are hell-bent on commanding and conquering anything that stands in their way. The rhino-like aliens can’t breathe on Milky Way planets without their armour, though they seem to prefer desert climates.
These are the most tech-savvy of the enemy races, attacking with powerful weapons, armour, gun emplacements, and vehicles.
The Hive are called as such because they have burrowed into Earth's moon, creating a network of tunnels and a home for their ancient species. This terrifying enemy appeared along with The Collapse, giving humanity a constant reminder of the power of The Darkness.
These undead creatures travel between planets in spacefaring sarcophagi, before making their homes beneath the ground. Some of these creatures harness powers such as the ability to levitate.
The bipedal, four-armed aliens are a species of pirates who now strike from bases within the Milky Way. They are capable of speaking Earth languages, but most of them will still attack humans on sight.
Because of their physical attributes, they have the ability to climb on almost any surface. Killing them will snuff out the lights on their blue glowing eyes.
As well as choosing what race you are, Destiny also allows players to choose from a set of distinct classes. What you choose shapes how you’ll play, so it’s important to know which one is for you. Here’s what’s on offer:
The Hunter is the class you want to choose if you value agility above sheer power. These rogues are the fastest Guardians and are also equipped with a blade for close-quarters. These hooded assassins are as distinct in look as they are in ability, with their unique cloaks setting them apart from other classes. Hunter sub-classes include Bladedancer, Gunslinger, and Nightstalker.
The Titan is the tank of the Destiny world, specialising in armour and durability. These are encased in heavy-armour and wear a ‘mark’ by their hip, picking them out from the other classes. Titan sub-classes are Defender, Striker, and Sunbreaker.
As the name suggests, these are the mages of this sci-fi world. Utilising modern weapons and powers granted by The Traveller, this class can control the battlefield. Warlocks wear a unique armband that sets them apart from other classes. Sub-classes are Stormcaller, Sungsinger, and Voidwalker.
All of Destiny’s modes can be accessed from a galaxy map - you simply select what you want to do, then a cutscene plays and you’re off in your customisable spaceship. Here’s what you can do in the game:
As you’d expect, Destiny has a bunch of story missions that unlock new content and progress the plot. Players have to play these to keep unlocking new planets and such. You also have to get so far through the story before you can summon your Sparrow speeder bike. You can play these either alone or with two friends, or strangers.
Each day, a random story mission is selected as the Daily Heroic Story Mission, which uses difficulty modifiers to make it more challenging. It also drops better rewards. These are for players who have reached the level cap and are now levelling up with ‘Light’, an attribute associated with high-level gear that pushes your powers beyond that of the level cap.
Patrol is Destiny’s free-roam, essentially. Players use this to head down and explore each planet. It’s also useful for farming a specific crafting component or enemy type. Public events and Patrol missions can also be tackled, with other players appearing in the field and seamlessly joining up with you.
Strikes are challenging activities built around co-op play. Taking between 30-45 minutes to finish, these are linear missions designed to be played by up to three players in a squad - or, as Destiny calls them, Fireteam. Each one houses multiple boss enemies.
Strikes begin in a public area, with Fireteams battling through enemies on the way to their objective. Here they can encounter other Fireteams doing the same. Once they reach a certain point, they are plonked into their own instance and the Strike begins proper. Weekly Nightfall Strike offer weekly challenges for high-level players.
A Raid is Destiny’s biggest challenge. These are designed for Fireteams of six players, and they require not only high-levels and gear, but also communication and planning. As such, Bungie saw fit to not add in any kind of matchmaking for this mode. You had to tackle it with people in your friends list, essentially.
Players are encouraged to learn the ins and outs of a Raid on Normal, then crank up the difficulty to Hard for the ultimate challenge, and rewards. Raids are a commitment and each can take hours to finish. As such, the Fireteam leader can choose to exit a Raid, and the entire Fireteam can then resume it from the last checkpoint. However, a Weekly Reset will wipe your progress, so you need to make sure you can all pick it back up before then.
Raids house exclusive loot, including a full armour set for each class, as well as Legendary weapons for each weapon type.
This is where you go to batter your pals or show off your new guns, by shooting a stranger directly in the face. Yep, it’s a dedicated PvP arena, with a map for each planet and a handful of modes to get shooty in. As long as you get one kill, you’ll get the chance of a random reward at the end of each match, too.
As with every online game, Destiny has an evolving meta. When people figure out what works, it becomes the norm until it’s patched or balance addressed. One example is that loot cave I mentioned earlier. Until it was patched, some players just spent all their time shooting constantly spawning enemies in a cave.
Then there are the Exotic weapons - the highest tier of loot you can get. At one point, everyone was after the Gjallarhorn, an Exotic rocket launcher. This could be purchased from a vendor called Xûr or obtained as a reward from engrams (enemy pickups), Vault of Glass, Crota's End or the Prison of Elders. It got nerfed and people moved onto the next thing. Expect similar for the sequel.
Bungie released four major expansions for Destiny, adding a host of new content each year following release. No doubt Destiny 2 will follow a similar model. Here’s what Destiny players got:
The Dark Below
This expansion added new content based around the Hive enemy type, unveiling more of the lore behind the creatures and their deity, Crota, Son of Oryx. This expansion added a new Raid, Crota’s End, and also upped maximum attack damage and max Light level.
House of Wolves
This expansion was based around the Fallen, with players attempting to undermine a campaign by Skolas, Kell of Kells. Skolas is attempting to unite the Fallen, and it’s up to you to stop him. With bullets. Again, maximum damage and Light level were increased. Two new multiplayer modes were also added, one PvE and one PvE, as well as a new social space called the Vestian Outpost.
The Taken King
This one takes players up against Orxy, Crota’s auld da. Oryx isn’t happy about the death of his son, so he’s leading an army of new enemies called the Taken to get revenge. Players can take him on in King’s Fall, a new Raid added with the expansion.
As well as upping the maximum Light level, this expansion added a host of changes to the core gameplay of Destiny, introducing new sub-classes and more. There was also a new story mission that pit players against Malok, a Taken prince attempting to take Oryx’s place after you riddled him with bullets.
Rise of Iron
This expansion focused on the Fallen. The enemies have breached the wall of the Last City and are using nanotechnology to self-replicate. Players are led by an NPC called Lord Saladin as they become the next generation of the Iron Lord and attempt to put a stop to the nanotech virus.
A light level increase was added along with a new PvP mode, a new Earth Patrol mode, the Iron Temple social space, and a new Raid: Wrath of the Machine.
Destiny - how much will be carried over into Destiny 2?
We know for a fact that Destiny 2 marks a fresh start for the series. That’s why it’s such good news it’s coming to PC. This means Destiny players will be getting all their gear wiped and it’ll be a clean slate for everyone. Despite that fresh start, I’d expect a refinement on what was in the first game, rather than a complete reinvention.
No doubt the classes, races, and Milky-Way planets of Destiny will return for the sequel, though perhaps different locations on each. The modes will also come back, so expect to be battling in the Crucible and teaming up for Raids. Outside of that, it’ll be all about the new loot, and maybe different sub-classes. In other words, you should be all primed and ready for the sequel now. No worries.