Destiny 2, as I stated in my review, is a very different game to the first one. Far more open, far friendlier, and far deeper, broader, and richer in its list of Things To Do, it effectively lets you do what you want, when you want, in order to reach its highest levels. You no longer need to plough into repeats of the same, elite, high-level content in order to get great gear and level up. Hell, you don’t even need to play in co-op.
And many don’t. Although Destiny 2 presents some of the finest co-operative activities in gaming, that sort of thing isn’t for everyone. Not everyone likes to team up with buddies in their ear. Not everyone even has friends who play Destiny 2. Or, perhaps, video games in general. So I decided to put together a guide for the solo player, who wants to play things on their own, and on their own terms, but still wants to hit the reaches of the 280s, and earn access to the high-level game without relying on online meet-ups and the wrangling of Raid teams.
So let’s crack on with the first tip, which will see you levelling even when you’re not playing.
Join a clan
This might sound at odds with the notion of playing solo, but trust me, joining a clan early is The Best Idea. Clan membership, you see, comes with serious rewards. Every clan member’s activity in any area contributes to a clan XP pool every week, and clan XP has a levelling system of its own. At certain milestones, you’ll earn permanent buffs. Better rewards from Public Events. Additional Glimmer. Better rewards from killing Cabal. Theses are all advantages worth having.
All clan members also get immediate, high-level engram rewards the first time that clan members complete one of four weekly challenges. Not that I’m condoning a freeloading approach of benefitting from others’ work, at all. You can at least help with the ‘Clan XP contribution’ Milestone on Tuesdays. That benefits everyone. And hell, if you’re playing solo due to a lack of Destiny-wise friends rather than personal preference, then all your problems are solved. Join a clan, buddy up, and feel free to be done with the rest of this article.
Did I mention that we have a rather excellent clan here at GR+? We’re all lovely, and you’re very welcome to join.
Remember to do Patrols early on
They’re easy to forget later, being rather slight activities compared to Heroic Public Events and Milestones (which I’ll explain later), but pre-260, when you’re hammering Vendor loyalty levels for all that they’re worth, you can hammer harder and faster if you’re completing Patrol missions along the way. All relatively simple – tasking you to do things like kill a certain number of enemies, or scout a particular position in the open-world – Patrols will reward you with Tokens for minimal effort. In fact, if you stack their completion with Public Events (say, picking up a ‘Kill a Bunch of Fallen’ mission before triggering a Fallen event), you’ll basically double your Tokens for free.
And speaking of Public Events…
Make all of your Public Events Heroic
Seriously. Every time you do a Public Event, you should go in knowing how to trigger the Heroic version, and fully intending to. It won’t always be possible, mind. Most of the Heroic versions require multiple Guardians to effectively activate and complete them, so if no-one’s around, you’ll have trouble. But you should always aim for a Heroic. They tend to give better rewards (Exotics are not unknown), and they’re also way more fun. Check out our How to trigger Heroic Public Events in Destiny 2 guide for the run-down on how to do them all. Public Events are the fastest way to get rewards, but you really should take a little extra time to get the best gear out of them that you can.
Recognise the levelling plateau, keep calm, and change your thinking
For a long time, any activity in Destiny 2 will push you forward, thanks to the excellent universal currency system of Tokens. But eventually, some time between the mid-260s and mid-270s, you’re likely to spot things slowing down. This is The Plateau. Do not panic. It happens to all of us. Here, the focus of Destiny 2’s levelling changes, moving away from Vendor rewards and random Legendary dropa, and toward the accruing of Exotic gear and stand-out, high-level drops. Legendaries will start to drop at levels too low to give you a huge boost (if any), but when they land, these rarer drops will bring sizable jumps.
Don’t worry. It’s fine. Just keep cool, follow the advice in the rest of this guide, and you’ll keep moving.
Hold off on the Quest lines until later
At certain points after the campaign, Quests will appear on the map. Multi-stage storty missions, these can be identified by their purple description box and crown icon. And although they tend to take a while, they will give you seriously high-level Exotics.
An important point to note though: This seriously high level will be relative to your current level. And because they’re attached to story missions, each with a single, specific Exotic item, you can only do them once per character. Thus, you should not rush to complete them in the early stages, when higher and higher level loot is raining in from mere Token exchange. Wait until you hit a levelling wall (which, as I said, will probably kick in around 265 – 275), then start completing Quests. Just don’t do them all at once. Get your Exotic, boost your levels, then hit the next Quest when things slow down again.
Focus your gear
A pretty straightforward but very helpful tip, this one. In post-campaign Destiny 2 levelling, you’re effectively trying to put together a load-out of weapons and armour that will get you the highest collective average of Power to create your overall rating. You’ll achieve this by getting higher Power gear, and also by Infusing the Power of unwanted, higher-level gear into your favourites, to boost their levels. You only need one equipppable set to hit 280, and then you’re away into the really upper tier of Destiny 2. So that in mind, there is very little point in having too many of a certain gear type to concentrate on.
I’m not saying that you should run around with a single gun in each of your Kinetic, Energy and Power weapon slots. Far from it. That would be miserable. A huge part of the joy of Destiny 2 is in playing – and falling in love – with all of the wildly differently, excitingly perked guns and armour waiting out in the world, ready for you to cause some creative havoc with them. But do you really need those five, barely distinguishable fusion rifles? A more focused collection, built out of, say, one good example of each weapon category (with the option of doubling up for Kinetic and Energy versions), will keep your levelling efforts purposeful. Your numbers won’t go up half as fast if the Power is being spread around too much.
Always focus your attention (and Infusion) on the best of each gear type you have, and when a better one comes along, Infuse your existing one into that instead. For any particular favourites you want to come back to later, there’s always the Vault. Stash them in there, and start levelling them again when you’ve hit your Power goal and have resources to spare. And on that note…
Don’t shy away from breaking down your Exotics
I know. They’re your precious yellow babies. Your shimmering, golden, magical tools of death. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t Infuse them for the cause of getting to 280. In terms of raw Infusion fuel, Exotics will usually be the most powerful drops you get, tending to come at a significantly higher level than your Legendaries, whatever levelling plateau you might have hit. So if you get an Exotic that you’re not a huge fan of – it’s okay, they’re not always amazing, even if they look frickin’ beautiful, much like people – and it will seriously boost the level of a much-loved Legendary, burn it straight in there.
In fact, as you get further into Destiny 2’s higher-level game, it becomes clear that Infusing Exotics is something you’re supposed to do. You receive them way more liberally than in the first game, and if you do Infuse them into other gear or break them down for Legendary Shards, you can just buy them back from the Vault for a by-that-point nominal cost. You are clearly meant to use them.
Tuesdays are levelling Christmas, but make the most of their opportunities
Hitting a plateau during the second half of the week? Don’t worry. The path to big increases will re-open every Tuesday, when the weekly reset brings back the Milestone challenges. At higher levels, these are your key to the big drops. Concentrate on the ones that promise “Powerful gear”. If all of your normal Legendary engrams and Vendor rewards are topping out around your minimum useful level, or even your maximum useless level – and at some point, they will – the Milestone engrams will sort you out. And the level bump they give you will probably kickstart the bog-standard Legendaries into landing at a slightly better level too.
It is worth noting though, that as plateaus kick in, it might be worth saving Milestones until the end of the week (ie. Sunday and Monday), in order to eke out increases via other means, before hitting a higher number with your big rewards.
However you time them though, for efficiency, you can do several at the same time. Look out for Milestones that reward you for completing the smaller, local Challenges that pop up on the right-hand side of the screen when you press the touch-pad on PS4 or the View button on Xbox One. You can do those at the same as Flashpoint Milestones (Need to kill five Fallen Captains? Then hunt out Fallen Public Events for the Flashpoint) and the same goes for completing Crucible Challenges at the same time as PvP Milestones. If you’re in a clan, you can combine all of this with the XP contribution Milestone, and also get the clan rewards for other players’ co-op activities in the Nightfall Strike and Raid.
Even solo players can benefit from Fireteams
If you drop into the Strike playlist (which is match-made, and so totally possible to enjoy pseudo-solo), always pop a Fireteam Medallion. Available from Tess Everiss at the Eververse stall in exchange for 50 Bright Dust (check out our How to get Bright Engrams and Bright Dust guide for the full details on this particular economy), each Medallion will give you four hours of increased rewards and XP from team activities such as Strikes and the Crucible. They also work in Public events, whether you’re Fireteamed up or not.
That means a higher drop rate for engrams, and a faster influx of the cosmetic-filled Bright Engrams you get every time you level up the XP clock. And, as their name suggests, you’ll also get the benefit if someone else in your Fireteam has activated one – it’s currently unknown if the effect stacks – so it’s absolutely worth hitting events and playlists that use them. Compared to the high-level, team-requiring activities, it might not entirely make up for the gear shortfall that comes from not partaking in the Nightfall (which needs a pre-assembled Fireteam of three), but it’s certainly a more economical approach than the Raid.
Know how to get the best mods, and how to use them
When you hit 280, you’ll gain access to the buying of Legendary Mods for your gear, available from Banshee-44. It’s not announced, but it does happen. Here, Destiny 2 changes into a new game, again. Legendary Mods, as well as adding a new perk to your gear - such as faster recovery, or quicker ability cooldown - will add five points each of attack or defense. At this point, you can start adding your own Power level to your gear, while also customising its functionality.
The best part? To access Mod sales, you only need to equip a single set of gear that gets you to the magic number, rather than having all your stuff levelled up. That weird, high-level hand cannon that dropped at 290, but which you never actually use? Keep it, equip it to temporarily boost your level, buy all the mods you can, and crack on with the gear that you actually want to use. You’ll keep the Mods even if your Power level drops down. You only need to be at 280+ when actually buying.
As for how to buy, you’ll probably devour Banshee’s entire stock in one go, but if you dismantle unwanted Mods you’ll get Mod components, which you can give to Banshee in order to roll random new Legendaries. You can get the complete lowdown on farming them in our How to get Legendary Mods in Destiny 2 guide.