As you’re probably aware, Destiny 2 is officially coming to PC, and it’s coming this year. 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 never came to our towers, so if you’re exclusively a PC gamer 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.
Want 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 satisfying gunplay of Halo, but it’s married to a moreish level-and-loot system that’ll keep you plugging away until the sun goes supernova.
You take the role of a fully customisable Guardian, wielding space magic called Light that's been gifted by the Traveler (the big white ball). You travel freely between different planets in our own solar system, completing missions, free-roaming, and taking part in Strikes and Raids - small and big dungeons, to oversimplify.
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’. This was back when ordinary mobs still had a minute chance to drop decent loot, and spawned quickly enough to make the drop rate somewhat tolerable. No doubt the sequel will have similar quirks crop up, and be equally swiftly plugged.
When not exploring other planets, players gathered in a social hub called The Tower. There they bought items, turned 'engrams' into RNG loot, and used a range of emotes to interact with others. Impromptu dance-offs were common.
Destiny's story begins with the discovery of the Traveler by one of humanity's first missions to Mars. Through the gift of its Light, a centuries-long 'Golden Age' began, which saw rapid technological advancement, colonisation of much of the solar system, and incredible prosperity.
Unfortunately, the Traveler had an enemy - an antagonist to its Light named The Darkness. Lured by the Traveler's activities, the Darkness came to Earth as it does to the UK's radio stations during Christmas. Humanity's colonies were overrun and the Traveler knocked into a coma in an event called ‘The Collapse.’ The Traveler's last action was to create Ghosts - friendly, faintly robotic sentient creatures whose job is to bless worthy individuals with a fraction of the Traveler's Light, transforming them into Guardians.
Throughout 'The Dark Age' humanity fought a losing battle, eventually congregating beneath the Traveler itself. Protected by Guardians, they built walls to protect what became known as the Last City, beginning the City Age. The original game begins with your resurrection as a new Guardian in a Cosmodrome in Old Russia. You find yourself a ship, fly to the City, and join the fight to protect it and revive the Traveler. Also, to claim lots of loot.
There's lots more to Destiny than just this. If you've got a spare 90 minutes, here's YouTuber MyNameIsByf, with about the most thorough story primer you could hope to find:
Destiny’s playable races
There are three playable races in Destiny, each with their own distinct look. When creating your character you got a choice of the following - and it looks like this is almost identical in the sequel:
The Awoken are the descendents of humans who tried to escape The Collapse by fleeing into the depths of space. It didn't work out too well. Most Awoken now live in the Reef - a tangle of their ancestors' wrecked ships scattered amidst the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Though some Awoken have since returned to Earth - such as the Guardians' leader, Commander Zavala - the Reefborn regards the Tower with cool neutrality. Thanks to whatever disaster befell them after the Collapse, Awoken have glowing eyes, spooky blue-white skin, and are said to exist between the Darkness and the Light.
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 during the Golden Age. Unlike the robotic frames who tend to the Tower's more menial tasks, Exos are self-aware, with their own desires and needs. Their original purpose is lost to time.
Destiny's enemy races
Though Destiny's ultimate antagonist is The Darkness, no-one really knows what it is - not even Bungie. That question may be settled later in the series, but for now, all we know is there are several horrid alien races that want to finish humanity for good. Some may have a connection to The Darkness, but for Destiny 2 at least, that's not important.
With a presence right outside the Last City's walls and right across the surface of Earth, the four-armed Fallen are one of humanity's most immediate and prevalent threats. The Battles of Six Fronts and Twilight Gap are just two of their many assaults on the City.
Ther reason they're so mad at us is they were once favoured by the Traveler, before it abandoned them for humanity. They got addicted to its Light, such that they now have to produce their own poor substitute - a substance named Ether. Under the Traveler, they were a noble, even peaceful culture, but now they're a savage race divided into several Houses, each led by a Kell.
The Fallen spend most of their time raiding and reaving across the solar system and bickering with each other, but were they ever to unite, they'd be a serious threat - that's explored in the original Destiny's House of Wolves DLC. In its last expansion, Rise of Iron, the Fallen House of Devils started hacking their bodies with a biotechnological plague named SIVA, and it seems some SIVA-infected Fallen will return in Destiny 2.
The Hive are creepy. They look like dessicated corpses and travel between planets in spacefaring sarcophagi before burrowing, hive-like, beneath the ground. They do this to get closer to The Darkness, which they worship, and to which they are more closely connected than any other hostile race in Destiny.
The Hive have a hive on the Moon, and when a whole army of Guardians went to flush them out, they were massacred by a prince named Crota. Destiny's first DLC, The Dark Below, dealt with him, but then his daddy, Oryx, came for his revenge...
Oryx and his two sisters were once among the weakest, most insignificant lifeforms in the universe. Determined to survive, they struck a bargain with the Worm Gods - implied to be direct agents of the Darkness and enemies of The Traveler, but the lore gets a bit vague at that point.
Anyway, Oryx grew to be very far from weak. His progeny are The Hive, but he also has the power to suck souls into another dimension, granting special gifts. Anyone subjected to this treatment is said to be 'Taken'.
Seeking vengeance for Crota, Oryx and the Taken invaded the solar system in Destiny's first big expansion, The Taken King. Though the Guardians defeated Oryx in the following raid, the remnants of the Taken army still linger, even in Destiny 2.
The Vex are a malevolent, hyper-intelligent species of cyborgs. The milky-white liquid seen flowing across the surface of Nessus in Destiny 2 is implied to store their consciousness, so they're partly organic, but have somehow crafted robotic bodies for themselves out of a mysterious alloy.
Using spacetime teleportation technology, The Vex seek only to spread throughout the galaxy, but they have a problem. Using computers the size of planets to model all possible versions of the future, they find themselves going extinct in every timeline. Their solution is to weaponise ontology, to write themselves into the very laws of the universe such that the existence of anything is impossible without them.
The Vault of Glass, Destiny's first (and some would say best) raid, was their attempt to do that: a pocket of spacetime in which the Vex defined reality. The Vex are back in Destiny 2, dominating the small planetoid of Nessus. From what we hear, they'll be the focus of Destiny 2's first DLC, the Curse of Osiris.
The Cabal are a militaristic Empire of rhino-like humanoids. Whenever they are sent on campaigns, they are literally exiled from the rest of the empire unless they can return victorious. They have no word for 'retreat'. They blow up entire star systems just for getting in their way - you get the idea.
The Cabal had bases on Mars and its moons in the original game, but between the Guardians and the Taken, their presence in the solar system was effectively wiped out. Destiny 2 begins with their counter-attack on the Tower, led by Dominus Ghaul and his elite personal army, the Red Legion. More on Ghaul in a bit.
As well as choosing what race you are, Destiny also allows players to choose from a set of classes, each with different abilities and roles. Here’s what’s on offer:
Hunters are all about agility and flair. They serve the Vanguard - the Guardian elite - through scouting and reconnaisance, often operating alone in hostile territory.
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's Child was an American girl group whose best-known line-up was made up of Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams. Their body’s too Bootylicious for you, babe.
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.
Destiny's classes and races will return for the sequel, alongside the signature modes, so expect to be battling in the Crucible and teaming up for Raids. Outside of that, it’ll be all about the new loot, different sub-classes, and a variety of fresh activities. In other words, you should be all primed and ready for the sequel now. No worries.