Destiny: The Year One Primer. (Part 1 of 3)

Ah yes, it’s Destiny. The game everyone loves to hate. I have purposely avoided writing about it for months now, and as I type this post I still feel like it is a mistake. With that said, this is the Ourcade. Our games, our way right? So regardless of how the readers may feel about the subject matter, we’re gonna do this anyway. I’ve included a full explanation of how all of the systems work and toward the bottom, a no-frills guide that’ll give you exactly what you need without having to re-read the entire post if you’re looking for something specific.

Destiny, if nothing else, is a fantastic case study for how social features can make or break a game. I’ve watched the hype machine for Destiny reach fever pitch pre-release, only to fail to generate enough power to keep functioning by the time The Dark Below DLC was released. The House of Wolves DLC gave the machine a boost, and the E3 trailer for The Taken King supercharged it leading up to Year 2 of Destiny. So here we are, 2 months away from Destiny’s 1 year anniversary, and the hype is almost as big as it was before release. What a chain of events for Bungie. Circle of hype I suppose. (Cue Rafiki holding up a Ghost to the Light of The Traveler.)

Year 1 was not without numerous issues, some of which are still present today. I don’t think anyone will argue against that point. Year 1 also saw Bungie navigate the rough waters of community complaints and make a lot of progress. I’m sure a bunch of you will argue against this point. However you feel, Destiny is still here, and new people are picking it up due to interest in The Taken King. Some players jumped off the train long ago, only to return for the House of Wolves. In either event, the game you saw last September is NOT the game you will be playing now. And that’s why we are here.

We, meaning the people I game with regularly, had quite a few Destiny players amongst our ranks that we lost along the way. I even put the game down for 2 months, and many of you think I’m the biggest Destiny fan around. Many of them (and myself) returned for HoW, and they found themselves lost as to how to move around this completely changed version of Destiny. There were those who were vastly under-leveled. Some didn’t understand the new economy. Most would simply repeat in our party chats “I want to play, but I don’t know what I should be doing.” So we thought it would be fun to tell everyone who fits in one of those categories how to brave Destiny’s post HoW world. We’re going to tell you exactly how to get from Rank 1 to Rank 34. We’ll even tailor a strategy depending on PvE or PvP as your strength. We truly hopes this helps someone, but if it doesn’t, I still have the satisfaction of knowing a post about Destiny has AWOKEN THE HIVE!

So, here you are with a Rank 1 guardian. The first thing you want to do is tackle the story. Until you hit Rank 4 I believe, you have no other options. Once you hit Rank 4, you can access the Tower. Now your next step is based on where you will spend the majority of your play time.


Once you hit level 4, visit him everyday.

  • If you plan to focus on PvE primarily, grab some Vanguard Bounties from the Bounty Vendor. This will help begin to rank up your Vanguard level.
  • If you plan to focus on PvP primarily, grab some Crucible Bounties from the Bounty Vendor. This will help begin to rank up your Crucible level. Be aware that you must reach Rank 5 to access the Crucible.

Now a few of my friends like to use the Crucible to rank up from 5 to about 12 before switching back to the story. Using this tactic will make most of the story missions a breeze due to you being overleveled. However, some of you may not want to play PvP. So for the PvE players, you will want to continue the story, making sure to complete each day’s Vanguard bounties if possible. The goal in either event is to reach Rank 2 Reputation for the mode you will play the most by Level 20. So grab the bounties that correspond to your game mode everyday, and knock them out. Simple.

Now if I remember correctly, you unlock Strike Playlists at Level 16. This will only affect those who are choosing to focus on PvE. You will want to play the Strike playlist once you hit 16 for a couple of reasons. The first reason is it will get you used to playing each strike. This will help you when you start tackling the Weekly and Nightfall Strikes. The second we will talk about in a moment.


PvE players, this is your home once you hit 16.

At level 18, you will earn the ability to collect Vanguard and Crucible Marks. This is the second reason to tackle the strike playlists. These marks will help you buy the armor that will ultimately get you to the higher levels. So here’s the plan once you unlock Marks.

  • If you’re focusing on PvE, ditch the story and focus primarily on Strike Playlists. They will give you rep, marks, and possibly legendary engrams. You’ll still be earning XP towards level 20 as well.
  • If you’re focusing on PvP, I would suggest playing the daily Crucible mode. You earn bonus XP, rep and marks for playing the mode of the day. So ditch your mode of choice and reap the benefits of whatever that day’s special mode is. You can do this prior to level 18 for extra rep as well.

PvPers, double swords on the left. Daily crucible list. Play it.

So let’s do a quick recap of how to get to level 20.

  • PvE: Story mode to level 16 (remember to start doing Vanguard bounties at level 4), then switch to Strike playlists to get to 20.
  • PvP: Story mode to level 5, then switch to Crucible. Play mode of the day as much as possible, but especially at level 18 and up.

Now the REALLY confusing part for most is what to do when you hit level 20. All of the post game content becomes available at this point. So you now have the option to raid, play Iron Banner, Trials of Osiris, or Prison of Elders. You can also access the Weekly Heroic and Nightfall Strikes. Not to mention the extra story quests attached to each DLC. And the Queen’s Bounties and Eris bounties pop up as well. That’s a lot! Now, most of this stuff can help you get from 20 to 34, but we want to do this as fast as possible right? So let’s talk about it.

First of all, we need to upgrade your armor. This is all that matters now when it comes to leveling up. XP can’t help you now. There are many different ways to get legendary and exotic armor, so how you go about it will primarily depend on 2 things. The first is whether or not you have people to play with. The second is what you excel in between PvE and PvP. I suck at PvP, so my path will differ greatly from someone who kicks ass in the Crucible. I’ll try to tackle both roads to the best of my ability. In part 2, we will detail a roadmap to 34 for PvE players. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Quick Reference Guide


1. Get to level 5 via Story mode. At this point, grab some Crucible bounties and head to the Crucible.

2. For the best gains, play the daily Crucible missions. (ESPECIALLY ONCE YOU HIT 18 FOR MARKS YES I’M YELLING THIS)

3. Bounties refresh every day. Don’t EVER start a play session without checking the Tower for daily bounties.


1. At Level 4, grab bounties daily to quickly increase your PvE level and character level.

2. If you have someone to play story mode with, have them help you tackle every mission on the “heroic” difficulty for more XP gains and faster leveling. If not, just grind it out until you get to level 16.

3. At level 16, quit the story and head to the strike playlist to level up. At level 18, you can acquire marks, I’ll expand on the importance of marks in the next post.

4. Bounties refresh every day. Don’t EVER start a play session without checking the Tower for daily bounties.

Special Note:

It’s important to note that while PVE and PVP reputation points are separate, the XP you garner from both will work to level up your character. So, even if you’re not particularly inclined for PvP/PvE, if there’s a simple bounty for each, it’s worth taking the time to do them. For example, a PvE bounty might be “30 melee kills without dying.” A player can go to the Cosmodrome and knock that out in less than 5 minutes, but get 2500 XP. Similarly for the Crucible, an easy bounty might be “Capture 10 zones in Control.” A player, regardless of skill level, can knock that out in 1-2 matches, tops.

The focus here is getting to level 20 as quickly as possible and lay-up bounties like this will make that journey as short as possible.


2 thoughts on “Destiny: The Year One Primer. (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Destiny: The Year One Primer – PvE Post Game (Part 2 of 3) | Ourcade Games

  2. Pingback: Destiny: The Year One Primer – PvP Post Game (Part 3 of 3) | Ourcade Games

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