Destiny Beginner's Guide: Character Classes, Starter Tactics, and Tips

Destiny Beginner's Guide: Character Classes, Starter Tactics, and Tips

Looking for advice to get going? Beat those moon wizards with tips from the USgamer team.

Like much of the rest of the civilized world, the USgamer crew is wandering far and wide in Bungie's Destiny. Since we've already put a considerable amount of quality time into the game in alpha, beta, and launch, we thought we'd share our strategies and experiences with the rest of the world. You're welcome.

Note: We're all over The Taken King these days, so if you're planning to jump in and get your hands dirty with Bungie's latest DLC, you might wish to look over what we've been working on so far. Visit our Destiny: The Taken King Walkthrough and Guide, where we cover topics such as Raids, Strikes, story missions, bounties, and everything in between.

Building Your Character

General note on class choices: Destiny tends to dole out rewards for performing certain tasks, so pick a class whose perks align with your play style. If you prefer ranged attacks and precision headshots, you definitely want to go with a Hunter. If you prefer to close the gap with a foe and take them down with melee strikes, a Titan is probably the way to go. The Warlock is your choice if you're into being a support character and glass cannon; you can dish it out, but you can't take it.

This may seem an obvious rule, but it's especially critical in Destiny to find a class that works with your own habits. If you're not good with precision aiming, you won't be able to enjoy the Hunter's bonuses to their full extent. Unlike most MMOs, Destiny isn't strictly about stat numbers and RPG abstraction; while character levels play a significant factor, your twitch reflexes play a vital role in your combat performance as well.

The heavy Titan.


The Titan is intended to be the game’s heavy character, wading into a firefight ahead of everyone else. The class begins the game with the same auto-rifle everyone else gets, but adds a shotgun instead of a sniper rifle. The shotgun can do some damage, but you have to get real close to make it happen, whereas the Hunter’s sniper rifle can do more damage from far away.

Titans have the highest armor rating of the three classes, but early on, you probably won’t feel invincible. Stick to cover to thin out the herd and then head out to punish your foes when there are only one or two enemies left.

The Titan’s subclasses include the Striker and the Defender. The Striker is the offensive heavy of the game, while the Defender is all about soaking up damage for your fireteam.

The stealthy Hunter.


The Hunter begins the game with an auto-rifle and a sniper rifle. The sniper rifle trumps anything that you can get in the first few missions due to its range, power, and speed. Your primary weapon is a matter of taste, but an automatic or semi-automatic weapon is preferred for close encounters that negate the sniper rifle.

The Hunter’s two subclasses are Gunslinger and Bladedancer. Gunslinger is the ranged subclass, while Bladedancer gets up close and personal with knives and the Arc Blade Supercharged ability. The Gunslinger is also pretty good with blades, though; once you gain the ability to throw knives in lieu of a melee attack, you can hit foes with the force of a melee attack at medium range.


The mysterious Warlock.

The Warlock isn’t the greatest offensive character, but for those who are patient and are happy to use line of sight, Fast Recovery makes it a great all-rounder. I can’t understand why the character comes with a Shotgun as a second weapon. It’s fine, but upgrading to a Sniper weapon as soon as possible - level three - is a far better option. You don’t really need a close-range gun early on. If the enemy gets close, use your melee skill. Otherwise, sit well back and pick off the enemy carefully.

It pays to be patient with a Warlock. Enemies are most effectively dispatched by using cover and kite tactics. When you're behind cover or a door, watch where the enemy is moving, let them make the first move, and then just pick them off. Most enemies are impatient, and they're easy to snipe as long as you have decent cover. If your plans go awry and you get flanked or rushed, drop back further and heal. Just remember: it’s better to fall back and wait a few seconds to heal than rush in and then waste time having to spawn and re-run whatever you just did.

The Warlock’s two subclasses are the oddly-named Voidwalker and Sunsinger. The Void Walker is damage-oriented for the solo players, while the Sunsinger seems to be intended as more of a support character in a Fireteam.

Tips & Tricks

General Tips

  • You have 3 characters per account.
  • The second subclass listed above unlocks at level 15. Once they are unlocked, you can switch between subclasses at will.
  • Don't sell items, disassemble them in your inventory, which gives you crafting materials and Glimmer, Destiny's currency.
  • There a small audio cue when you're near chests. Learn what it is and you can find chests even through walls.
  • Items you store in your Vaults can be shred between your characters.
  • Collecting Spin Metal planets - the metallic stuff that looks like coral - is important. You can trade them for Reputation and other equipment back at the Tower.
  • You can access the upgrade sub-menu by pressing Triangle on PlayStation platforms and Y on Xbox platforms.
  • Killing enemies with Supercharged Abilities creates Orbs of Light, which can be collected by you and your team to recharge Supercharged Abilities faster.
  • Don't forget you have vehicles.
  • Interact with other players by targeting them and clicking the right analog stick.
  • Here's all 25 Redemption Codes to unlock Grimoire Cards, Emblems, and Shaders.

Combat Tips

  • Hitting the crouch button (Circle on PlayStation, B on Xbox) while running allows you to slide. This is useful for getting into cover quickly.
  • While in cover, pressing the Scope button (L1 on PlayStation, Left Trigger on Xbox) will allow you to peek out behind cover.
  • Crouching PVP means you pulse less on your opponents radar.

Equipment and Weapon Tips

  • Hold down R2 on PlayStation or Right Bumper on Xbox to compare items in your inventory to what you currently have equipped.
  • Exploration missions net you Vanguard Marks to buy Vanguard gear. Participating in public events will give you great rewards and Vanguard reputation
  • Encrypted Engrams can be taken back to the Tower to be decoded into equippable gear.
  • You gear can also level! Keep good gear equipped to unlock new abilities. Also have any gear you're leveling equipped when you turn in Bounties.

Starter Tactics

Factions: You'll notice a number of factions hanging around selling you expensive items in the hub without much explanation for their role. Their wares require Vanguard Marks earned by performing specific tasks via the Bounty Hunt board.

Captains: Captains are powerful foes who boast extra shielding. They are bullet sponges who will try and draw your attention while their minions finish you off. Make sure to take out the minions before trying to engage a Captain.

On the other hand, in the event of a Captain who has the ability to summon endless waves of support, you're better off making use of the environment to cluster foes together and give yourself opportunities to pick at the Captain while protected from its underlings' attacks.

Enemy Support: Just as the good guys have the Warlock support class, don't forget that the bad guys have their own support classes. You'll probably run into a fair few of the Fallen's Servitors, those strange floating black orbs that fire plasma beams at you. While their attacks pack a whallop, the real combat role of a Servitor is to buff its allies — nearby Dregs and Vandals will become immune to your attacks while in close range of a Servitor's shields. Rather than waste your ammo on protected targets, it's better to take out the Servitor first.

The good news? If you can pop it right in the center of its "eye," your attacks will hit for four times the normal amount of damage. The bad news? That eye will be pumping out multiple high-energy plasma bursts while you're lining up your shot.

Flanking: Flanking is a powerful tool when working together with a friend. Enemies will typically lock onto one player, freeing up the other to go around and attack. With many of the encounters taking place in large, open spaces, flanking maneuvers are especially potent. Don’t be afraid to abuse them against the computer.

Blind spot: Remember that enemies don’t have infinite awareness. If they’re hiding behind cover, it’s entirely possible that they can’t see you at all. Use this to sneak up on them and deal some melee damage.

Positioning: Be prepared to run wide whenever you can as a solo character. Make space between you and where the enemy is. You always want a killing zone between you and your foes - a wide space that they have to cross to get to you. ALways look for opportunities to set that up.

It sounds obvious, but in the excitement of combat, players often forget to stay aware of their surroundings. Don’t run into an area of low ground. Always try to take the high ground in any situation. And don't ever turn your back on an open door or cave, unless you've just come out of it and know it's safe.

Supercharged!: Use your Supercharged State when you have it, especially in a Fireteam. Each class has two different Supercharged abilities - which one you have depends on your subclass - but most players will stick with the default. The Hunter’s Golden Gun disintegrates foes it hits, the Titan’s Fist of Havoc is a great way to clear an area, and the Warlock’s Nova Bomb wastes enemies in its wake. When enemies die to Supercharged attacks, they drop Orbs of Light that can be collected by your teammates to help them get to the Supercharged state.

Advancement: Your class abilities break down in four different active categories: Grenade, Jump, Super, and Melee. In beginning, you'll unlock the first abilities in each category. Once you’ve done that, you’ll start to unlock the second tier. When you have more than one ability in each category, you have to choose which one you want to equip.

Example: The Hunter’s first ability in the Grenade category is the Incendiary Grenade, which catches enemies on fire. If you’re playing as a Hunter, you’ll unlock that first and then you’ll begin to unlock the next ability, Swarm Grenade. Once Swarm Grenade is completely unlocked, you can choose to equip it or stick with Incendiary Grenade.

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