Know the important weapon qualities
Picking the right Crucible load-out is a matter of knowing the stats that count. Your standard campaign load-out might not work very well in the Crucible at all, and vice versa. Effectively what you’re looking for are the ingredients for a short time-to-kill, in whatever situation you’re most likely to be using any particular weapon.
Range and Impact are crucial numbers for most weapons, the former dictating how far away you can still do respectable damage, and the latter explaining how much damage a hit is going to do in the first place. Do not make the mistake of thinking a weapon’s overall attack power is the be-all and end-all. Top-line power ratings and character levels are disabled in the Crucible anyway. You’ll also want to keep an eye on reload speed, rate of fire (which will dictate how fast you can deal out repeat servings of that Impact rating), and blast radius on explosive weapons. Loosely, you want to do an equation of Impact x rate of fire to roughly calculate base damage-per-second, and then take range, stability, and all the rest into account as modifiers to understand how and when you can use your weapon effectively.
Protect the Power ammo (and don't turn it against yourself)
Controlling the Power ammo can be a tide-turner and, in the more tactical modes such as Countdown and Survival, consistently locking it down can be key to winning the match. You always need to be aware of where the Power ammo spawn point is, and how long is left on the timer before it appears. Be ready to take and hold its position ahead of time, and always, always do so as a team.
The reason for that latter note? Power ammo can be a dangerous proposition for the player picking it up, as well as the one on the receiving end. Going to collect it is a dicey move, given that its location and spawn time are flagged well in advance, telling every Guardian in the map exactly where you’re going to be, and when, if you make a run. If you go in without back-up, those valuable seconds you spend opening the ammo box are seconds another player could be drilling you in the back with pulse rounds. It's always important to grab the Power ammo, if only to stop the other team from securing it, but you have to go about it the right way.
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But if you do safely manage to load up? You’ll still have to be careful. Having Power ammo makes for a hell of a temptation to get irresponsible and careless. Know this: just like having your super active, having Power ammo can give you an inflated sense of how dangerous you are. Every Power weapon has advantages and drawbacks, and all require skill and situational positioning to use well. So don’t go on an immediate Power spree. Save that weapon until the right moment. Don’t try using your fusion rifle or shotgun out in an open, middle-distance firefight. Wait for more cramped conditions, and sneak around to get the drop on your opponent. Similarly, don't waste rockets on single opponents. Wait for a cluster of targets, and then score a multi-kill.
Don't blame your guns
It’s easy to blame a poor performance on bad guns, but doing so only holds you back from improving. Yes, some weapons are absolute crap in the Crucible (refer back to my talk on weapon stats to help you spot which ones), but don’t be too quick to assume that a loss is the result of your equipment, particularly if you've just switched to new gear. Some guns take a while to really get a feel for before you can start doing strong and consistent damage – it’s often a case of knowing how to use something rather than simply what to use. Constantly chopping and changing, looking for a quick fix, will stop you from consistently improving through sustained experience.
Never forget: if you can get good with an average load-out, you’ll be brilliant once you put a great one together.
Know your grenades (and their limitations)
Another thing that has had its power downgraded in the new Crucible is grenades. Grenades are no longer the guaranteed kill-maker they were in the first game. Back then, you used to be able to knock down your opponents' shields a tad with a couple of good shots, and then simply throw in a 'nade to finish the job. Not so any longer.
Now, a good grenade hit – even using something as meaty as a full attached, sticky Fusion Grenade – will only knock down (roughly) a single shield or health bar, meaning that you’ll have to kill the other one manually. It’s still a good strategy to combine gunfire and grenades on a single target in order to end a one-on-one encounter quickly (particularly if you go in with bullets first, and then use the grenade as a surprise finisher), but be aware that you have to do more work now.
As for the kinds of grenades you should use, that will depend on the game mode. Grenades that deliver damage over time to a specific area - such as Vortex grenades, Pulse grenades, and Void Walls - are handy for clearing and scattering groups from capture points in Control, whereas more purely combat-driven modes such as Clash and Survival lend themselves to grenades with tracking damage.
In that respect, an Axion Bolt grenade or Arcbolt can make a great, throwable wingman, especially in fights where you don't have the time to safely finish the kill with your firearms. Just do as much damage as you can, then lob the grenade and back out. If you land it close enough to your target, the tracking will kick in, sending damage after them - even around corners - meaning that you can score many a kill while disengaged and backing away. It's a lot like throwing a red shell in Mario Kart.
Find your team before you find the enemy
This is more important than ever in Destiny 2’s very different Crucible. With reduced team-sizes of four, strength in numbers is a real deciding factor. Yes, one-vs-three, David and Goliath takedowns are possible (and are incredibly sweet when you pull them off), but in general, you do not want to be running in on a whole team without support. The Crucible is about combined fire-power and team tactics, so when you spawn back in after a death, you want to head to your team-mates before you start looking for targets. More often than not, that path will lead to the enemy anyway. Just travel it in the right order.
Know when to commit and when to disengage
Related to the above point, there is no shame in breaking away from a fight in the Crucible. It’s often the best thing you can do. If you feel the tide of a stand-off turning against you (and with practice you’ll be able to spot this very quickly) get the hell out of there, heal up, and regroup. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll get to cover, get clear of your attacker, and reset the encounter. But better, you have every chance of finding a more advantageous route to your objective, or surprising your opponent from another angle. And don’t forget, if you’ve been trading shots, your opponent is weakened too. It’s very likely that a team-mate in a better position will be able to finish them off. There’s nothing wrong with a shared kill, as long as the opponent goes down and you don’t.
Know how the scoring works
Before you do anything, make sure you understand how all of the Crucible events work, and don’t assume that their rules are the same as a similar variant you’ve seen elsewhere. If you don’t know how to score most effectively, you’re actively damaging your team, and contributing to a loss.
Most of Destiny 2’s Crucible events are objective-based, but you need to understand their nuances. In Control, for instance, it’s not simply enough to hold two out of the three bases. You then need to get fighting, as while you will get a healthy capture bonus for taking a point, the real value in doing so is the score multiplier it gives your team for kills. And in Supremacy, your kills mean next to nothing if you don’t collect the Crest that your downed enemy drops afterward. Ditto, you really have to deny enemy points by picking up the blue crests dropped by your fallen team-mates. I’ve seen (and been on) more than enough teams that have lost a match they should have won as a result of not understanding the objective. It hurts. Do not get hurt.
Support your team
And I don’t just mean in the holistic way that will come from doing all of the above. Certain Guardian classes now have active support abilities (the Warlocks’ ability to put down area-of-effect buffs for health regeneration and damage boosts springs immediately to mind). Don’t forget about them. Use them every time they might be useful. I promise you, they’re tide-turners. In a tight battle over an objective between two equally matched teams, the winner will always be the one that is using support abilities properly. Every time. Warlocks, empower your team against the oncoming assault, and make sure that your allies are doing as much damage as they can do when going into a fight. Titans, throw that shield down and bottleneck the enemy so that your team can take them down on your own terms.