There are many, many launch day Destiny 2 players that were charmed by the game’s improved storytelling and characters, and the increased legendary drops. However, in the weeks and months that followed, the hollowness of Destiny 2 showed itself and lots of players bailed. If that’s you, and the recent release of New Light & Shadowkeep has you back to give it another go, we’re here with a Destiny 2 returning player guide to get you caught up.
In this returning player guide we’re going to go over a few things. First, a little catch-up on what happened over the last year from a gameplay perspective.
Then we’ll focus on what content is a high priority for you to focus on to catch up on important gear. Then finally we’ll wrap up with how to get you up and over 900 power level so you can be ready to go for Shadowkeep’s end game activities. Let’s begin.
Returning Player Guide – Destiny 2
How Has Destiny 2 Improved & Changed?
Destiny 2 prior to Forsaken was in a rough spot as you probably know. Guardians felt weak, and the endgame was extremely thin with very few things worth grinding for.
PvE was a mess and Trials of the Nine, the pinnacle Crucible activity, was so bad Bungie straight canceled it and it still has yet to return.
Curse of Osiris was pretty bad and while Warmind wasn’t much better, it did start to lay the groundwork for the major improvements that would come prior to and with the Forsaken expansion last year.
More exotic quests that rewarded powerful guns were added, Guardian strength was dialed up (so much so that Shadowkeep actually toned us all down a little), random rolls and god roll chasing was put back in, and raids started to include items that you would actually want to grind for such as One Thousand Voices and Anarchy.
The Annual Pass content (Black Armory, Season of the Drifter, Season of Opulence) doubled down on the work that Forsaken put in. They all added more exotic quests and more (fun) repeatable battle content with powerful weapons worth grinding for such as the Forges and the Menagerie.
Crucible… isn’t much different to be honest and Bungie pretty much admitted that they need to give PvP more love.
The PvE changes though do spill over to Crucible and it’s at least better than vanilla Destiny 2 Crucible, which isn’t saying much to be sure, but yeah.
Gambit was added with Forsaken and it’s a very fun PvEvP game mode where you work together with a group of three other players to kill enemies quickly to collect and bank motes, and then burn down a boss enemy once you’ve banked enough.
All the while players from another team doing the same thing can disrupt you.
While it has its own set of balancing issues, Gambit is still a pretty solid game mode that lots of people enjoy. You can learn a bit more about playing Gambit the right way here.
This is the state that Destiny 2 arrived in for the Shadowkeep expansion and year 3. The fans that stuck with the game since vanilla, or returned when Forsaken dropped, have generally been satisfied with the improvements Bungie has made, hence the positivity surrounding Shadowkeep’s release.
Story-wise, a lot has happened since the Red War.
Returning Player Guide – Destiny 2
What Older Content is Still Worth Doing?
Although we’re onto a new era with Shadowkeep, surprisingly a lot the stuff that released over the last year or so is very much still worth doing.
Before we dive into a whole lot, if you simply want to just know the best weapons to collect for each game mode without a long-winded explanation of all the relevant content that gets you that stuff, go ahead and check out our best weapon guides for PvE, PvP, and Gambit. Now, back to the returning player guide.
Black Armory Forges
It’s worth visiting Ada-1 in the Annex of the Tower and getting familiar with the Forges. You’ll get an exotic quest for Jotuun, an extremely powerful fusion rifle that is good in pretty much all of the three core modes: PvE, PvP, and Gambit.
You can also start the exotic quest for Izanagi’s Burden, which is among the most meta weapons right now for high-end PvE content. Finally, you can try and obtain the Le Monarque, which is a really great bow if you like bows.
Forges aren’t that hard to do anymore. You simply need to work with two other guardians to quickly kill blue (phased) enemies that drop batteries.
Try not to waste time killing anything else unless you have to. Throw those batteries into the Forge at the center of the map enough times and the next round starts. At round three, a boss spawns that you need to kill.
The Menagerie and the Chalice of Opulence
The Season of Opulence introduced The Menagerie and the Chalice of Opulence, which is effectively a system where you can craft your own guns and try to grind out god rolls for the guns that you crafted in a raid-lite environment.
The Chalice of Opulence stays in your quests tab, and you can interact with it to slot in runes that you’ll get automatically from completing activities within the core three game modes (Crucible, Gambit, Strikes).
The Chalice though has to be restored to full power using Imperials to get the most out of it (unlocking additional runes so you have more crafting options for example).
Imperials can be obtained by completing the Triumphs in the Menagerie (Destinations > Minor) tab, and opening up weekly chests for glimmer at the Nessus Barge for 5K a pop.
We highly suggest pumping all your Imperials into Rune Compatibility so you can obtain all the rune combinations, and then go for Power and Efficiency.
Once you set all the runes you want to use, you enter the Menagerie on Nessus which is a matchmade raid-lite experience for six people.
While it’s slightly more challenging than your usual matchmade stuff don’t worry because it’s impossible to fail. If your team really sucks, it will just take longer.
You can check out all of the crafting combinations here. Some popular meta options include: Erentil FR4 (PvP), Beloved, and Austringer.
So first off, all of the old raid armor in all of the raids prior to Garden of Salvation now drop armor 2.0 variants. So if you just like the look of the older raid armor, that alone is worth running them for.
But in addition to that, there are still pretty fine weapons that drop from the older raids such as Leviathan’s Midnight Coup and Last Wish’s Chattering Bone.
Most importantly though, many of the raids are tied to important exotic weapons worth grinding for.
Anarchy from Scourge of the Past and One Thousand Voices from Last Wish are arguably two of the best PvE weapons right now in the game. A Leviathan clear is required for Legend of Acrius’ exotic quest.
While Legend of Acrius isn’t quite at the level of those two other guns, it’s still quite good. Finally, Crown of Sorrows drops Tarrabah which is a solid SMG that might rise in usage now that Recluse has been taken down a few pegs.
Exotic & Pinnacle Quests
Finally, you should definitely start taking on as many exotic quests as you can. Many of them have grindy steps that can be knocked out while you’re doing all the other catch up stuff above.
The older ones that you should prioritize above all are: Outbreak Perfected, Whisper of the Worm, Izanagi’s Burden, Jotuun, Truth (if you like PvP/Gambit), and Sleeper Simulant.
There are of course other really great weapons too that you can quest for but those will give you the most bang for your buck.
Since you’ve been gone, Bungie also added and removed something called Pinnacle Weapons. While they won’t be updated with new weapons as of Shadowkeep, you can still quest for the old ones.
These are essentially extremely powerful legendary weapons that border on being exotic. You obtain them by grinding a bunch of objectives within a certain game type.
They have been nerfed heading into Shadowkeep but a few are still definitely worth getting. For PvE content: Recluse (Shaax/Crucible), The Mountaintop (Shaax/Crucible), Loaded Question (Zavala/Strikes), 21% Delirium (Drifter/Gambit).
If you’re astute you might have noticed that Pinnacle Weapons that drop from Crucible were really important for PvE.
Bungie didn’t intend for this and thus, that is why they have revamped this going forward by getting rid of Pinnacle Weapons entirely and replacing them with Ritual Weapons which you can read about here.
Destiny 2 Returning Player Guide
Getting Ready for Shadowkeep Endgame
If you feel pretty good about your gear and want to start getting ready for Shadowkeep endgame content here’s what you’ll need to do.
Complete the Shadowkeep Story
First things first, complete the main campaign of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. This will fully unlock all of the game modes that are currently available such as Adept Nightmare Hunts and will unlock more as Bungie releases them.
Completing the campaign will also ensure you have as many powerful engram sources as possible.
Getting to 950+ Power
Before you start knocking off the weekly powerful engram sources and using up your Upgrade Modules, you should first get to the soft cap of 900 if you’re not there already from doing older stuff.
Completing the campaign and just naturally finding new rare and legendary quality gear will get you pretty close to 900 from your starting point of 750.
If you’ve done that already, just grind a bit of Crucible, Strikes, Gambit (whatever your favorite is of the three, the fastest is Crucible).
Completing these activities will drop something for you every time that will increase your overall power up to 900. Go ahead and grind out an exotic quest step or something while you do it.
If you have a bunch of tokens, turning those in will instantly drop you something that will increase your power level as well, again, up until the soft cap of 900.
After you hit 900 overall power level, then you have to start doing your weekly engrams to level up.
Simply use your director to find all of the weekly sources and grind them out since powerful engrams will always give you something that is higher than your total power.
You’ll also find prime engrams randomly while you play which work similarly.
Endgame: Vex Offensive, Garden of Salvation, Nightmare Hunts and Collecting
While we don’t know exactly what the Vex Offensive and Garden of Salvation will entail at the time of this writing, we do know that they are going to be the high-end PvE activities during the Season of the Undying alongside Nightfall: The Ordeal, and the most difficult Nightmare Hunts.
As a raid, Garden of Salvation will be the toughest challenge. I recommend joining a clan and trying to find a chill group of people that are happy to take on new players and teach them the ropes once, you know, the ropes have been established for Garden of Salvation.
Otherwise, you should download the Destiny 2 app and use the LFG feature built into it as that’s where the wide majority of players set up groups now.
If raids are too intimidating for you, challenge yourself with the other content such as the highest difficulty Nightmare Hunts and Nightfalls which only need a group of three instead of six.
Finally, if you’re not into any of that might I suggest just trying to fill out your exotic collection or going for Triumph/Seals.
There’s something cathartic about just checking things off a list, and other than a few Triumphs/Exotics, most things can be done without having to dive into super hardcore content.
I could go on, but let’s not overwhelm you any further. Hopefully, this returning player guide for Destiny 2 was helpful for you and if you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment down below and I’ll get back to you.