Destiny’s Docs Becoming Legendary - DESTINY YEAR ONE - NOW OUTDATED


“Your mission is vital, Guardian. If you succeed, you will become legend.” – The Speaker


Or How to Fight Better, Level Up, and Look Awesome Doing It

In running with multiple people throughout the game, I’ve noticed some confusion over how to get yourself leveled up, how to get legendary gear (besides blind luck), and some of the unspoken intricacies of the factions and whatnot throughout the game. Destiny is a game with numerous little nitpicks which it neglects to tell anyone about, and it can all get a little confusing.

Do I have to go into PvP? How do I get Exotics? Do factions matter? What do the numbers mean on the right side of the location map? How come that Titan’s got awesome fireworks coming out of his helmet? How come I don’t get the play the Vault of Glass? Why does everybody look prettier than me??

Don’t you worry – We’ll use this document to lay out some simple ways to make yourself legendary without relying only on Lady Luck, with all the shiniest armor to make all the other Guardians as envious green as Master Chief.

[As an aside, these guides assume that you’re at least level 20. If not, you’ve got some work to do, lads and lasses. Get through the story, get yourself ranked up to 20, and then come back. Consider yourself “Awesome-In-Training.”] Let’s get you fluent in Destineese.


Destiny’s Post-20 Leveling System

While the push to Level 20 in Destiny is fairly straightforward, everything after that point is based on your “Light.” Light is acquired by equipping armor with a light rating, beginning with high-level Rare armor and above. As you get new pieces, be sure to check a potential item’s Light rating, and if you’re looking to level up, equip anything with a higher one.

You can find an Armor Piece’s light rating by simply looking at it – The “Light” will be noted at the top-right of the screen. When you hover over a new piece that you’ve acquired, you can compare the two by pressing “R2” while in your Options screen. Note the “Light” differences, and make your choices from there.


As well, armors that are Rare and above (Blue, Purple, or Yellow) have three other types of ratings listed beneath their Defense rating. There will be three types of ratings, each affecting a specific ability cooldown:

Intellect reduces the cooldown time of your Super (Fist of Havoc, Nova Bomb, Golden Gun, etc.)
Discipline decreases the cooldown time of your Grenades.
Strength reduces the cooldown time of your Melee Strike (Disintegrate, Blink Strike, Scorch, etc.)

Light can also be obtained by upgrading pieces of armor, especially by increasing their defensive stats. This is done through utilizing the armor as you play the game, and then purchasing upgrades using collected materials. The game certainly changes after Level 20, so once you hit there, you’re really just getting started.


How to Schmooze for Gear

While you can certainly depend just on luck for your items, there’s no guarantee that you’re actually going to get something worthwhile, even from ten different legendary drops. Just always keep in mind, that as much as he may smile to your face, The Cryptarch is not your friend. With him, it’s only business, and he knows he’s the only decrypting game in town.

Still, though, that shouldn’t discourage a go-getter like yourself. You aren’t going to wait for someone to offer you a handout – You want to know how to guarantee yourself some Legendary Loot.

For that – You’re going to have to make some friends.

The Factions

There are technically three “factions” in Destiny’s tower, but in reality, there are five groups who would fall under this umbrella. The first two on the list here aren’t exactly factions per sé, but since they function practically identical to the other three, I’ll just group them all up. Here’s the deal:

The Vanguards

Throughout your time in the campaign, you’re going to be gaining Vanguard Reputation, and Vanguard Marks. These are gained in different ways, but primarily through Strikes, Bounties, Public Events, and Weekly Challenges (which we’ll talk about in a lower section). Just keep doing stuff throughout the system, and you’ll continually rank up your reputation and marks just for doing things.

Your goal here is to get your Reputation rank up, while at the same time earning enough Marks to make the purchases that you like. Your character will have three Vanguard vendors that they’ll be able to take advantage of:

  1. Your Class Vanguard (Located around the table past the Hall of Guardians)
  2. The Quartermaster (Located in the Tower Hanger)
  3. The Shipwright (Located in the Tower Hanger)

Each will provide you with different items to purchase, but in order to qualify to buy, you’re going to have to get that Vanguard Rank up. Your class Vanguard will provide you with Armor, Emblems, and Class Items; The Quartermaster will provide you with Legendary Weapons; and the Shipwright will provide you with Ships and Sparrows.

Some items do not require Marks, but instead require Glimmer, (especially the Shipwright). Just make sure you know what you’re spending on.

As well, when you purchase each piece, keep an eye on the Intelligence/Discipline/Strength bonuses, to make sure that you’re getting the gear that will work best for your priorities.

The Crucible

If PvP is more your game, you can absolutely multiplayer your way into Legendary gear. There are two Crucible vendors in the Hall of Guardians – The left bot sells weapons, and the furry-armored bloke on the right will provide you with armor to browse. As opposed to the Vanguard Reputation and Marks, you will need specific Crucible Reputation and Marks in order to make these purchases, which can only be obtained by playing through one of Destiny’s PvP modes.

The Three Factions

There are three actual “factions” in the Tower, each with their own small “camp,” with their own aesthetic and color scheme.

  1. New Monarchy (Located in Tower North)
  2. Dead Orbit (Located in the Tower Hanger, other side of the room from the Quartermaster)
  3. Future War Cult (Located in the Tower Hanger, up the stairs across from the Shipwright)

Each faction works fundamentally the same. In order to “join” a faction, you’ll need 2500 Glimmer to purchase a Faction Class Item. Wearing this item will convert All Reputation Earned into Reputation specific to that faction. In this way, you can do Strikes, Bounties, Patrols, and Crucible matches, however you please, and all that Reputation will be given to your faction as long as you’re wearing that class item.

Armor from factions is unlocked at Rank 2, whereas Faction Weapons are unlocked at Rank 3.

In addition, all faction gear can only be purchased with Crucible Marks, which means that in order to purchase faction legendaries, you’re going to have to spend some time in PvP.

Though there are aesthetic differences to the three factions (New Monarchy – Red; Dead Orbit – Black; Future War Cult – Blue), the armors have differences as well, based on the bonuses they provide:

  1. New Monarchy armor boosts Intellect and Strength
  2. Dead Orbit armor boosts Strength and Discipline
  3. Future War Cult armor boosts Discipline and Intellect

In addition, upon unlocking Rank 3 with any faction, that faction will mail you a “Thank You” reward of one Legendary item. This could be armor, it could be a weapon, but it will almost always be awesome, and worth taking a look at. So, if you’d like a guaranteed Legendary, toss on a faction item and go do some stuff.

Be sure to consider your choices, because that grinding takes some time. While you may certainly get lucky drops that will speed this up for you, these factions are the sure way to Legendary Gear, so you should focus on at least one of these factions as soon as you hit Level 20.

Maxing Bonuses

Just something to think about:

While it’s always awesome to get a new piece of armor, it’s a good idea to check and see if that armor piece fits with the rest of your gear.

Keep in mind, your three armor bonuses (Intellect, Discipline and Strength) do have maximum bonus limits, and after a certain point, the stats no longer improve your cooldowns. It can be a good idea to purchase a few different options for different situations that your Guardian runs into, such as needed a faster grenade instead of your melee strike, or vice-versa.

These different Legendary pieces can all be purchased from the Faction Vendors at Rank 2, so it may be worthwhile to hedge your bets and eventually rank up in all the Factions to give yourself the maximum amount of flexibility in your gear builds.


How to Buy Gear

So, let’s say you’ve got yourself a big, shiny pile of Glimmer. You’ve got your reputation up by doing a ton of patrols, so you’re all set to buy some faction armor, right?

Not quite.

You’ve got to get those marks, son! Marks are earned in only a few ways in Destiny:

Vanguard Marks

Vanguard Marks are earned in the Strike Playlist – The tougher the strike, the more Marks you’ll be rewarded with at the end of the mission. Please note, though, that you do not get marks for completing the strikes outside of the playlist.

It is also possible to sometimes get Vanguard Marks through Public Events while on patrol (or mission) on a planet. These are random events that display on your screen with an orange banner, and will reward you randomly. Not a sure way of getting marks, but it’s always worth doing these things to at least roll the dice. (Can’t win anything without playing the game, after all.)

The other way to earn Vanguard Marks is through weekly challenges. On the left side of the Galaxy Map, you’ll notice a number of symbols. Check over those to see which new challenges will offer Vanguard marks, and have at it!

Be aware, though, that Vanguard Marks can only be spent with the Vanguard Vendors (explained above), and not with the factions. For your faction favorites, you’ll need Crucible Marks.

Crucible Marks

Crucible Marks are much more straightforward. You’ll only get them by playing Crucible matches – That’s right, PvP. However, you will not need to worry about your score at all.

Crucible Marks are awarded to every player upon the completion of a match, win or lose. From what I can tell, (unless I’m wrong), your stats have no effect whatsoever on your Mark rewards (or your loot rewards, for that matter), so just find a gametype that you like, and go nuts.

Mark Limits

Keep in mind that you can only earn 100 Vanguard Marks and 100 Crucible Marks per week, and you can only “bank” a total of 200 of each type of Mark. Considering that the most expensive items in the Faction Vendors are weapons, at 150 Marks apiece, this means that you would be better off spending your Marks instead of hoarding them, because hoarding is basically not allowed.

Over-Max Marks

While this has not been completely confirmed, I’ll mention the overmax situation as a bit of caution. If you max out your Marks at 200, any Marks earned after that point will be lost to you. In addition, the marks that you earn over 200 will count as being earned for the next week.

What this means is that Your “next week” can lose the potential to earn all 100 Marks for that time period.

By example, if I have 200 Marks, and then run a couple strikes and earn 10 Marks, I will not receive those 10 Marks. But the next week, when I’m able to earn Marks again, I will only be able to earn 90 Marks for that week, because my 10 from the previous week have been counted.

It’s confusing, it’s dumb, but it’s what is being reported. I would recommend not maxing out your marks. Just buy yourself another Legendary item instead.


Monopolizing Bastard

Much like other “loot grind” games (such as Borderlands and Diablo), most of your gear in Destiny revolves around “drops” that come around by sheer luck. While this guide is generally about how to circumvent that system, (chiefly because the Gods of Destiny are notoriously fickle about whom they deign to bless with goodies), we should still talk about this stuff briefly.

The Cryptarch

This guy is a no-good bastard. While the patch on October 30th, 2014 has addressed some of this, those who have been in it from the beginning will always remember this dude as a jerk who refuses to cough up Legendaries, crushing dreams even when you’ve spent four hours grinding about and finally getting yourself a Legendary Engram.

Functionally, The Cryptarch will “unwrap” your Engrams for you, offering you a piece of gear in trade. Post-September 2014, this gear will be translated more closely to the quality of your Engram.

  1. Green Engrams – These will almost always be Green (Uncommon) items, and will be very likely useless to a Level 20 character. You may be better served by saving these for a second or third character instead of turning them in.
  2. Blue Engrams – Post-Patch, these will always translate out to at least being a Blue (Rare) item, with an increased chance of being a Purple (Legendary) item. Good news.
  3. Purple Engrams – Post-Patch, these are always Purple (Legendary) items or better, as well as sometimes turning out to be Yellow (Exotic) items. There’s a reason these little purples look like sweet, sweet, candy. Be aware, however, that Legendary engrams often translate into items for other classes, so they may not be as useful to you if you’re only running a solo character.
  4. Yellow Engrams – Exotic Engrams are extremely rare, excepting a purchase from Xur, Agent of the Nine (see below), but are an almost guaranteed Exotic item, though the item is likely not to be for your character’s class, similar to Purple Engrams.

Ranking Up

Similar to Reputation for Factions, The Cryptarch has his own Reputation Rank, which can be affected by two very simple actions:

  1. Bring him Engrams to Translate.
  2. Buy Engrams from him.

Either of these actions will fill the bar, though The Cryptarch seems to prefer to translate Engrams that you find more than simply you spending your Glimmer with him. The second action, however, can be very useful to get an extra 50 or so Reputation and ranking up with him.

Each time that your Reputation with The Cryptarch goes up a Rank, he will mail to you a “Thank You” package. Once you pass around Rank 10, these “gifts” will usually have a couple of Legendary Engrams for you to bring to him for translation, which now will be at least Legendary Items.

You don’t have to like The Cryptarch. But he does hold the key to your random Legendary Loot in his greedy hands.


Getting A Real Reputation

Though you won’t be leveling up past 20 with experience, netting huge chunks of XP is very useful for unlocking upgrades for your gear, so as long as you’ll be getting new gear (read: as long as you keep playing the game), you’ll want to keep getting a whole lot of experience.

This is done by checking in with the Bounty Bot, Xander 99-40. Every day, he’ll offer a fresh set of six Vanguard Bounties, and six Crucible Bounties. These bounties are generally not exchangeable, so I wouldn’t recommend mixing them up. Keep in mind, you can only carry five bounties at any one time, so it’s worth it to maximize your time by completing bounties that cross-over at the same time.

By example, “30 Melee Kills Without Dying” with “9000 Experience Without Dying”, “Complete 6 Cosmodrome Patrols” and “Earn 100 Precision Kills” can all be completed in a long run of bounties/missions on the Cosmodrome, which helps to make your earning more efficient.

Also, note that completing bounties offer a hefty amount of Reputation for whatever faction you happen to be working on (other than Crucible), so it’s worth it to complete them on your journey to sweet Legendary purchases.

The “Equip Switch” Trick

There’s a little trick that has been rather beneficial for me as I was ranking up, especially as I was trying to unlock the useful basics of my second subclass (double jump, grenade, ability). When I either didn’t have the tools to compete with my second subclass, or just didn’t feel like playing it, I would use my main subclass, and then switch to the second one as I was turning in bounties.

By example, I began as a Titan Striker, and completed that tree first. Later, as I was working on my Defender subclass, I would simply swap to Defender when turning in bounties, which applied those Bounty Experience gains to that second subclass.

The trick of “equip switching” is very useful to get alternate weapon and gear unlocks without having to drop your Light rating unnecessarily. Sometimes you can handle dropping a few levels just to do some Moon Patrols, but when you have to complete a Heroic Strike without dying, or in the Titan’s case, get 20 Super Triple-Kills, there are certain setups where that just won’t work.

But don’t you worry, Equip Switching is there to help you out.

Exotic Bounties

Though obtaining Exotic Bounties are a completely random event, it’s been determined that the more bounties that you get, the more likely the Bounty Bot is to offer you a choice of three Exotic Bounties.

These bounties are special, and you’ll only be able to choose a single one of the bounties offered, so when the three yellow bounties pop up, give yourself a second and look up what each one does.

Currently, there are only six Exotic Bounties being offered in the game, each with its own corresponding weapon reward:

  1. A Light in the Dark – Thorn (Hand Cannon, Primary)
  2. A Dubious Task – Invective (Shotgun, Special)
  3. Toland’s Legacy – Bad Juju (Pulse Rifle, Primary)
  4. A Voice in the Wilderness – Super Good Advice (Machine Gun, Heavy)
  5. An Unknown Patron – Fate of All Fools (Scout Rifle, Primary)
  6. Shattered Memory Fragment – Pocket Infinity (Fusion Rifle, Special)

When you select one of the offered bounties, that bounty will be saved in your inventory, and will offer a task. Much like an MMO “quest,” you’ll be given a series of several tasks, sometimes PvE, sometimes PvP, but usually requiring more effort than a standard daily bounty.

Complete the series of tasks, and you’ll earn your very own Exotic Weapon. Oh, and don’t worry about not getting multiples – New Exotic Bounties will keep coming up as long as you keep doing daily bounties.

Earn yourself something nice!


The Best Travelling Salesman in the Galaxy

If The Cryptarch is a monopolizing bastard, then Xur is your system-travelling salesman best buddy. This wiggly worm-faced shadow fella only ever shows up on the weekends, but when he does, you can bet he’ll have some awesome stuff on tap, such as guaranteed Exotic Gear, Exotic Engrams, and even some sweet Sparrow upgrades, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Xur will appear in a random place in the Tower every Friday at 9AM (GMT). In the past few weeks, he was found in the Hall of Guardians, once in the North Tower, and last week in the sub-basement hangout of the Tower Hanger. If you’re looking for him, just be sure to take a leisurely stroll around the Tower every Friday to see where he might be. (Usually, there’s bound to be a few people around him making purchases – Just look for a random group in a corner.)

Now, though it costs nothing to browse, be aware that Xur’s special items don’t come cheap.

Exotic Gear

Each week, Xur has offered an Exotic Armor piece for each of the three classes, as well as an Exotic Weapon of some kind. It’s assumed that this will continue, so it’s always worth checking out our favorite Agent each week if only to see the cool thing that your character can pick up.

XP Boosters & Sparrow Gear

The other miscellaneous things that Xur sells are relatively inexpensive, but debatably useful. He offers certain XP boosters which will increase XP gains for a certain type of gear (weapon or armor) that you have equipped for a limited amount of time. (Usually 30 minutes.) This can be useful for getting to the special features of a piece of Exotic Gear, but really is just a purchase to save a little time.

The Sparrow booster will increase the max speed of your Sparrow, (for all those nonexistent races that we’re all doing). Note that this booster will only work with a Rare Sparrow, which are only obtained by purchasing from either the Vanguard Quartermaster (for Vanguard Marks), or the Crucible Salesbot (for Crucible Marks). Both also require the appropriate Reputation with the corresponding faction.

Strange Coins

Most of Xur’s wares can be picked up in exchange for Strange Coins, which are rare trinkets which are either randomly awarded as a drop (usually from either the Crucible or an Engram drop), or earned during the Weekly Heroic Strike.

NOTE: While the Weekly Heroic Strike (located on the system map as an icon, far left) mentions that the reward for the Strike includes three (3) Strange Coins, the maximum reward is actually NINE Strange Coins if the strike is completed at maximum difficulty (Level 28).

Considering that each of your three characters can complete the Strike each week, that is a maximum potential of 27 Strange Coins per week if you complete all three, which is more than enough for at least a single Exotic Item per week. Just something to keep in mind if you find yourself strapped for some Strange Cash.

Motes of Light

While Motes of Light are also currency that The Speaker will accept, you should really consider saving them for Xur, instead. So far, Xur has offered an Exotic Engram for 23 Motes of Light, which offers a guaranteed Exotic different than those provided for with Exotic Bounties.

Again, Exotic Engrams carry with them the risk that the item won’t be usable by your class, of course, but considering how difficult Exotic Engrams are to find, it’s worth rolling the dice for.

All in all, Xur is an excellent resource each week, and worth the time to keep track of. Awesome gear for just doing what you’re planning to do anyway (hopefully), so I wouldn’t discount The Agent of Nine. He certainly won’t discount you.

– Special Note –

I would recommend, if you are going to be picking up an Exotic Engram and another Exotic piece, to turn the Engram into The Cryptarch before purchasing the item. Recently, players have purchased both, and then gone back to The Cryptarch to find that they now have two versions of the exact same item, which is both a waste of Strange Coins and quite the disappointment.

Just wanted throw out this forewarning so that Talons don’t have to go through that same issue. Those Coins are tough to find!


Oh my! How to Make Your Guardian Sparkle

As you’ve leveled up, you may have noticed that there are a lot of Guardians out there with some pretty sweet-looking styles. Blue and orange shiny coats, camouflage armor, and bright colors… You may have noticed that other players have cool logos on their usernames in the “Orbit” screen. For that matter, how come everybody has a cooler-looking ship than you? Where do these kinds of things come from?


Shaders are simple color schemes that will “unify” the style of all of your equipped gear. In the equipment menu, go to the lower section, and you can see what shaders you’ve picked up. There are several ways to get hold of some cool color schemes, especially from drops, Strikes, and Crucible rewards, but there are a few ways to guarantee that you at least have a few to choose from.

For starters, there are two Shaders, (Double Banshee and Oracle 99), which can be obtained using codes on the Bungie site (

  1. Double Banshee – 7MM-VPD-MHP
  2. Oracle 99 – RXC-9XJ-4MH

When you’re logged into your account and enter these codes, they will automatically appear for you at the Tower Postmaster, where you can pick them up and apply them to your character.

Secondly, there is the Tower Outfitter, located in Tower North, just to the right as you go down the stairs. She has a small selection of Shaders to choose from, but keep in mind that her stock of Shaders has not refreshed yet at all. Instead, she has kept four specific ones available, for sale for 2250 Glimmer each:

  1. Aurora Blur
  2. Jester Apogee
  3. Polar Oak
  4. Provincial Royal

Finally, you can earn Shaders in just a few ways. Either you can boost your different faction ranks, which will often give you Shaders when you hit at least level three on the faction reputation (It’s reported that you earn Bloodpact when you hit Vanguard 3), as well as others for hitting ranks with The Cryptarch. These, however, are not always accurate, so I wouldn’t rely too much on getting them in this way, as it’s very luck-dependant.

If you want to take a look at what your character would look like with one of the many, many Shaders out there, (read: if you’re looking to make yourself all jealous of other people’s styles), you can check out the Shader Previewer tool here:


Emblems don’t functionally do anything more than make your username look cool, but if that’s important to you, (and you know that it is), there are a multitude of ways to pick new ones up. Emblems can be changed in the main equip menu, in the lower section.

First off, Bungie has released a number of free emblems that you can grab by entering the codes in on the Bungie site (

  1. Sign of the Finite – 7F9-767-F74
  2. Binding Focus – FJ9-LAM-67F
  3. Ab Aeterno – JDT-NLC-JKM
  4. Field of Light – JNX-DMH-XLA
  5. Illusion of Light – JD7-4CM-HJG
  6. Lone Focus, Jagged Edge – 7CP-94V-LFP
  7. Note of Conquest – X4C-FGX-MX3
  8. Flames of Forgotten Truth – A7L-FYC-44X

Once entered, these will be delivered for you to the Postmaster.

There are also a large number of vendors who sell Emblems, so here’s a list of Vendors with Refreshes and Currency Required:

  1. Outfitter (Daily Refresh, Glimmer)
  2. The Speaker (Weekly Refresh, Motes of Light)
  3. New Monarchy (No Refresh, Crucible Marks)
  4. Dead Orbit (No Refresh, Crucible Marks)
  5. Future War Cult (No Refresh, Crucible Marks)
  6. Vanguards (No Refresh, Vanguard Marks)
  7. Crucible Vendors (No Refresh, Crucible Marks)

From what I understand, there aren’t really too many other ways to get Emblems, but considering the random loot methods of Destiny, it’s possible that you may find yourself getting one as a drop at some point.


Now, you may be rocking that sweet little classic that Ghost found for you in your first mission, but let’s be honest – You want something a little more… you. Ships, like Emblems, are completely aesthetic, and don’t do anything but make you look like awesome. (And, just like Emblems, they are changed in the lower section of the main equip menu.)

There are only a couple of ways to get new ships in Destiny. Either you find random blueprint drops, or you check what the Shipwright’s got for you. The Shipwright, located in the Tower Hanger, has a refreshing stock of ships that are often worth taking a look at.

Now, none of these things will actually improve the stats of your character, but if you want to be a Legendary Guardian, then you’ve got to look the part, and make sure that when The Darkness sees you coming, they’re awed by your sheer awesomeness before you shoot them in the face.


Make the Most of What You’ve Got

So, you’ve finally got yourself a Legendary piece, or maybe even an Exotic one. Awesome! You are now objectively more awesome than you were just a few seconds ago, if only because you’re suddenly super-stylish, or can now shoot things in the face much more effectively.

But once that initial shine starts to fade, keep in mind that in order to truly become Legendary, you’ve got some work to do.

Each piece of gear, (Rare or better), has upgradable slots which can increase the effectiveness of your gear. Some are fairly standard, such as increasing weapon base damage, or increasing armor defense, but others allow you to better specialize your gear to adapt to various situations, such as decreasing fire-rate in order to increase damage per shot, drastically improving reload speeds, allowing missiles to seek targets, and even damage-over-time poison or health per kill upgrades. (Destiny gear can get pretty awesome when fully loaded.)


In order to unlock the ability to upgrade a piece of armor, you’ll need to use it. This is done as easily as just equipping the weapon/armor in question, and going out and doing stuff. Every kill, mission, daily story, or whatever will contribute experience to the little green circles of your gear’s upgrades, and you’ll eventually see little “Upgrade Unlocked” icons popping up in the middle of your screen.

An efficient way of unlocking upgrades is to make sure that you have the gear in question equipped when you turn in bounties. This can boost your unlocks quickly, especially with a newly-acquired piece, allowing you to more quickly incorporate items into your kit.

Just as we talked about above, though, remember that you don’t need to have the gear equipped when you complete the bounty, only when you turn it in. This can be especially helpful when you come across pieces that would fit perfectly into your playstyle, but because they’re not upgraded, are going to drop your Light level significantly.


Once you’ve got your unlocks ready, you’re going to need materials to start improving your gear. Each piece of armor is an investment, so keep that in mind, especially because some of these items can be difficult to come by.

First off, you’ll need the basics:

  1. Glimmer – Many upgrades require this blue, hard cash, and in significant amounts.
  2. Weapon Parts – Most every weapon upgrade requires a few of these, which are obtained by breaking down the “junk” weapons that you find throughout your travels. Once you get to around 25 or so on your first character, you should have good portion of these. Just keep breaking down guns.
  3. Armor Upgrades – Each class has their own version of these (Warlock – Hadronic Essence; Titan – Plasteel Plating; Hunter – Sapphire Wire) which are used to upgrade armor pieces. Similar to weapon parts, these are obtained by breaking down “junk” armor that you’ll inevitably come across. Keep in mind, that upgraded pieces will offer more parts when broken down, but will not refund all the parts that were spent in upgrading. It’s just the cost of awesome.

Next, you’re going to need the mid-level materials, which are generally used to either boost defense stats for armor, or boost damage stats for weapons. These are a little harder to come by, but are still quite farmable, and are collected by simply walking to the appropriate material drop and pushing the button to pick up the material, or looting the material from random chests across the appropriate landscapes.

You’ll generally get a single piece of material for each collection, but you can eventually double your collection rate if you rack up enough kills in a given location.

  1. Spinmetal – Sprouting from some unknown canisters, Spinmetal looks like a chrome-plated branch found in the Cosmodrome in Old Russia
  2. Helium Filaments – These glowing yellow canisters are found in small piles across the Moon’s surface.
  3. Spirit Bloom – Take a trip to Venus to find these glowing green ethereal blossoms.
  4. Relic Iron – These chunks of ore are found all across Mars.

And finally, you have the two Legendary materials, which are not farmable by traditional means, and are exceptionally difficult to track down:

  1. Ascendant Energy – Used to upgrade Legendary/Exotic weapons, these can be obtained either by drop, or by breaking down Legendary and Exotic weapons.
  2. Ascendant Shards – Used to upgrade Legendary/Exotic armor, these can also be obtained by drop, or by breaking down Legendary and Exotic armor pieces.

The Ascendant materials can be farmed in only one way outside of looting random drops, and that is by purchasing Legendary Armor from the vendors, and breaking it down. It’s a slow process, but when some of the best pieces require 18 or more Ascendant Shards, it can be worth the hassle to get that light-level up.


A Guardian’s Work is Never Done

Destiny provides a new set of missions every week, as well as a couple new events every day. This means that even if you’ve got only an hour to play, you can quickly take a chance at some sweet loot to boost up your Guardian. Not all missions (or strikes) are created equal, however, so you’ll have to take a look at what’s really worth your time.

Daily Mission

Every day, there is a mission handed out, chosen (apparently) at random, for you to complete. This mission has an adjustable difficulty, so you can ramp up the numbers if you want to increase your loot chances, and you definitely should. Loot is only offered at the level of the mission, so be sure to have that difficulty to at LEAST 20.

It’s been debated whether pushing the mark past 20 actually increases your drop, but I’ve gotten some significant rewards (shards, energy, and even some armor) even just from the Daily Missions with my difficulty over 24, so it may be worth it to always attempt the toughest that you can.

Most Daily missions also have the “Heroic” modifier, which means there will be more enemies, and they’ll be more aggressive coming after you, so keep that in mind, though the Daily can usually be completed by a solo Guardian, no problem.

Weekly Mission

Every Tuesday a new pair of missions will be released that will let you take on a tough mission for a chance at some saweet rewards. This mission is very similar to the Daily Mission in difficulty, (usually with the “Heroic” modifier, though possibly with a second, additional one), but it’s encouraged to have at least one friend along to help you out. (Some of the situations can get a little hairy.)

The rewards for this mission, though, are better than those for the Daily, and success usually results in something worthwhile.

Nightfall Strike

Oh, the tough one. Outside of Raids, the weekly Nightfall Strike is often the toughest event of the week to tackle just for the sheer amount of determination it requires.

The Nightfall Strike is so-named because of the specific “Nightfall” modifier, which means that there are no checkpoints in the mission, so if your fireteam is completely wiped, (ie – everybody dies), you have to go back to Orbit and start all over again.

Nightfall Strikes are also notorious for always having a handful of modifiers to screw up your strategies, always including the “Epic” modifier, which cranks “Heroic” to 11 with more enemies, many with heavy shields and armored life bars. Be sure to check out the modifiers in the next section to prepare yourselves for this strike.

Always take friends with you, and be sure to communicate. While there are certainly exceptional missions where you may be able to solo it on your own, you’ll usually find people looking to complete the Nightfall themselves, and you would be foolish not to accept the help.

So, if these missions are such a hassle, then why bother? What could be worth it?

Strange Coins.

Completing the Nightfall Strike is the only sure way to gain strange coins, and you have it within your power to grab NINE of them for a successful Nightfall completion on maximum difficulty. Considering that Xur sells most of his Exotic items for just thirteen coins, it’s definitely worth your time to add some Strange Cash to your bank every week.

Now, some personal recommendations for you:

  1. Try to always have a variety of elemental damage types between your team. Enemy types often have unique shields that will only be weak to a single element, even when a different “Element Burn” modifier is active. To clear these enemies quickly, (and to avoid becoming overwhelmed), save the right elements for the right job as much as possible.
  2. Elemental criticals are your best friend in the Nightfall. Always aim for an enemy’s weak point, and with the correct Elemental Burn, you can be dealing over Three Times the damage for a successful shot, often wiping out lesser enemies with a single bullet.
  3. Play cautiously. Don’t just run into a firefight like you would in normal PvE. Be patient and take it slow, watching out for enemies and surprises. As well, avoid running out into the middle of the fight for ammo or even Legendary drops. Though you might think you can make it, your greed can likely lead to a team wipe if you’re not careful.
  4. Use ammo synthesis. Don’t be afraid to drop a synthesis now and again to top off the right damage type. Be mindful of the synthesis five-minute timer, however.
  5. Don’t group up in the fight. Several enemies use rounds that explode with a area-of-effect damage, and with heavier types such as Hive Knights or Vex Minotaurs, that single round can wipe out your entire squad, sending you all back to Orbit.
  6. Look for creative ways to approach a situation. Because many enemies in the Nightfall Strike can drop you in a single shot, look for ways to get any advantage you can think of. Utilize sniper rifles in faraway terrain. Look for creative cover, safe zones, and even special vehicles or weapons. The Nightfall doesn’t care how you win, it only cares when you do.

All in all, the Nightfall Strike is the best way to loot outside of Raiding, so it’s definitely worth your time. Get out there and become more Legendary!


Dealing With Destiny’s Dastardly Deceptions

On more difficult missions, (specifically Daily, Weekly, and Nightfall missions, as well as special events), you will sometimes notice small icons highlighted at the lower left of your screen. These little icons are called Mission Modifiers, and they often change up the battlefields in a significant way.

Here is a link to an image list with descriptions –


Each modifier can be either significant to your character or not, but there are strategies for dealing with each:

Epic & Heroic

“Heavily shielded and highly aggressive enemies appear in great numbers.” & “Enemies appear in greater numbers and are more aggressive.”

These modifiers are really just the “regular” and “jumbo size” of each other. Each specifically means that you’ll be dealing with “heavy” enemies, or enemies that have specific elemental shields as well as yellow health bars, which means they’ll take a concentrated effort to take down.

These enemies, unlike their “patrol state” cousins, will behave differently, seeking you out as much as possible and ganging up on you. They are more accurate, and also deal a significantly greater amount of damage.

Do not be afraid to “cheese” these enemies by taking as many down as possible at long-range, or by utilizing cover to give yourself space. The odds are already stacked against you, so the fight is in no way “fair.” So fight dirty and beat them, but watch out for overwhelming numbers, and clear the little guys as quickly as possible.

Anger Issues

“Minions of The Darkness display heightened aggression.”

Plain and simple, under this modifier AI enemies will hunt you down. They’ll chase after you more pointedly, and will focus their efforts. Though not one of the more difficult modifiers, it’s kind of like “Heroic-Lite.”


“Minions of The Darkness won’t flinch, even after massive damage.”

This one is unique, if only because it will force you to tackle enemies like the Minotaur, Knight, and Phalanx a little differently. Basically, with “Angry” active, enemies will not stumble, ever. Even after a sniper blast to the head. Even after a rocket to the balls. They will keep charging until they’re dead.

What this means is that you’ll need to concentrate accurate fire into an enemy until they go down. This is especially important for the Phalanx, whose shield doesn’t give you a lot of room for error already, and can knock you out in a single strike if they get close enough.


“No ammo drops for your equipped weapon.”

The bane of many a Nightfall strike team, “Juggler” forces you to consistently swap your weapons around throughout the mission in order to get ammo drops for your equipped firearm. This can be a pain, but the easy solution is simply to keep in mind which of your weapons are useful against the specific enemy varieties that you’re facing, and plan accordingly.

It’s often a good idea to clear out a specific enemy type first with an effective weapon, and then swap to another for a different type. Rinse and repeat.

If you’re really having trouble with this one, you can always pick up a couple of Ammo Synthesis packs to use in a pinch. Or just utilize the Icebreaker sniper rifle and negate the entire modifier. Also an option.


“Minions of The Darkness deal much more melee damage, often one-hit kills.”

Pretty self-explanatory, but here’s the gist – Don’t let anything punch you. Ever. With this modifier on, you should not be surprised if even a lowly Dreg scores a knockout punch while you’re at full health.

The easy solution? Just blow your enemies’ heads off before they get too close. Keep a special eye out for cloaked and teleporting enemies, however – They can get close without you realizing it, and wipe you out faster than you can say “What the ****??!!!”


“If all players die, you will be returned to orbit, no checkpoints.”

Exclusive to the Nightfall Strike, this modifier should be kept in mind by your entire fireteam – A full wipe means that you have to leave to Orbit and start the mission over from the very beginning. Hopefully, having to start all over once is enough for most Guardians to not go leaping into a fight without thinking.

Be the smart guy who uses a little caution and doesn’t die in a terrible spot so that your fireteam has to risk a party wipe to revive you.

Arc Burn, Solar Burn & Void Burn

“Element Damage from any source is greatly increased.”

These three modifiers can either be your doom or your salvation, all depending on what gear you have available, and how you utilize the three elements.

When any of these are up, the damage of a weapon that deals that specific elemental damage will be increased by roughly three times, and sometimes more for critical hits. This means that you can sometimes utilize one of your weaker (read – not yet upgraded) weapons in a unique situation, so be creative with your weapon choices.

What this also means, however, is that enemies also deal more damage for that specific element, which you should definitely keep in mind. (A single Minotaur grenade can wipe out your entire team, for example.) Plan accordingly.

Element Shields

“Epic” and “Heroic” enemies will often have elemental shields in addition to their normal defenses, which can sometimes make taking them out a little difficult. Though your gear may sometimes make this difficult, the solution to dealing with these shields is deceptively simple:

Solar Damage will wipe out an orange shield. Void Damage will quickly clear off a purple shield. And Arc Damage, well, it makes short work of blue shields.

Note that you do not have to utilize a shield’s damage type to do damage to an enemy, but the shield will resist any other damage type but what it is vulnerable to, and so will be less-effective.

These shields can often leave you at a disadvantage, especially because there are only a few primary weapons that deal elemental damage, which means that many Guardians will be battling with only two elemental damage choices.

An ammo-saving workaround is to clear off an enemy’s shields with a special or heavy weapon, utilizing the proper element, and then swapping to your Kinetic primary to finish the enemy off, thereby saving your secondary ammo types for the shields.

Though the shields can definitely make things difficult, with focus and awareness (as well as good aim), you should be just fine.


What to Do With This Stuff After Level 20

Once you start getting some good Legendary Gear, you’ll start to find that you tend to have more Glimmer than you know what to do with. Or, perhaps you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, needing some basic cash for upgrades, but don’t want to grind too long. Well, there’s some help for both situations here – How to get more Glimmer, and what to do with it when you’ve got too much.

Glimmer Basics

You can get Glimmer from a large variety of ways, including doing just about anything in the game. You get a certain amount for every Major or Ultra that you help defeat (Usually 25 or 50 for every enemy with a yellow life bar). As well, you get Glimmer for completing missions, dismantling gear, and exchanging items with vendors. As well, you’ll find it in just about every chest that you come across in the game.

Glimmer is shared between all of the characters on your account, which can be both a comfort and a curse, as it can give you quick access to gear and items quickly for a second low-level character, but at the same time, you’re purging out your only coffer, so keep that in mind.

Remember – Your account, shared between all three characters, can only hold 25,000 Glimmer, so you’re better off spending it regularly to keep your coffer somewhere in the 20,000 range just to always have room for more that you might found, but enough to handle any random purchases that you may want to make, or upgrade costs for your gear.


Throughout your adventures, you’ll come across certain items in your inventory which show up on the ground as small white pyramids. These are usually (what I call) “Glimmer Boosters,” small consumable items which can increase your Glimmer income for each kill of a certain race:

  1. Ether Seeds – Boosts Glimmer gained from killing Fallen enemies for ten minutes.
  2. Black Wax Idol – Boosts Glimmer gained from killing Hive enemies for ten minutes.
  3. Blue Polyphage – Boosts Glimmer gained from killing Vex enemies for ten minutes.
  4. Resupply Codes – Boosts Glimmer gained from killing Cabal enemies for ten minutes.

Keep in mind that you are able to activate all four consumables at once, which is handy for missions where you’re facing a persistent amount of “blended” enemy groups. As well, this will allow you to gain Glimmer drops for common enemies (such as Dregs, Goblins, or Legionaires) which would normally not award Glimmer for kills.

Ammo Synthesis

Some of the most important items to spend your Glimmer on in the Post-20 game are Ammo Synthesis packs, which are used to fully restock a certain type of your ammo (Primary, Special or Heavy) immediately. Though these packs each impose a five-minute cooldown for all synthesis each time that any of them are used, they are extremely useful in situations where ammo is less-than plentiful, such as the Nightfall Strikes or the Vault of Glass.

It’s always best to have at least a few of each ammo type on hand for emergencies.

Cryptarch Engrams

While The Cryptarch only ever offers green Engrams for sale, purchasing them can be very beneficial for you in a very specific instance – When you’re close to a new Cryptarch level.

Every purchase will increase your Cryptarch level by a small amount, so it can be smart to spend a few thousand Glimmer to boost up to that next level and the possibility of a new Legendary Engram sitting in your mailbox.


Sharing is Caring

– [Can transfer items to other characters]

– [Don’t destroy gear for other classes]

– [Instant 20 to 25]

– [9 Strange Coins Per Week]



Special Event

Be sure to focus on the special bounties during this special event called “Queen’s Wrath,” which can get you some guaranteed legendary gear. In just the first day of the event, I’ve gotten two helmets, and two chest pieces, all legendary, one per bounty. This has made me considerably more awesome than I was previously, and has encouraged me to encourage all of you to go and do likewise.

This is a quick way to get your Light ranks up, so it should not be ignored.

Three of the missions I completed solo – But it should be noted that my Titan is at Level 27. If you’re below 24, I would recommend that you bring a couple friends along to help you out.

The step-by-step:

  1. In the tower, speak with the Bounty Tracker, where you’ll notice a number of purple-colored bounties called “Queen’s Bounties.” Grab as many as you like (up to five), and you’re ready to go.
  2. Using the bounty’s instructions as your guide, go forth and complete the bounty. Most of the tasks are rather simple.
  3. Take the completed bounty back to the Bounty Tracker, and the bot will reward you with a marker, and Queen Reputation.
  4. Head off to Orbit.
  5. On the left side of the galaxy map, you’ll notice a small icon above your “weekly tasks” which is now selectable called “Queen’s Wrath.” Selecting this will begin a mission with your fireteam (even if it’s only a lonely fireteam of “one”).
  6. Once you complete the mission, you are guaranteed a legendary piece of gear from the Queen’s Armory.
  7. Rinse and Repeat.


  1. These missions can be rather difficult, usually with three mission modifiers, always including Epic, which will happily provide for you a healthy number of heavily shielded, aggressive enemies to shoot you in the face.
  2. Enemy shields are vulnerable to specific types of damage, which are indicated by the color of the shield. (Blue = Arc Damage, Purple = Void Damage, Orange = Solar Damage). Use the appropriate damage type to rip their shields off, and any type of damage will take down their health. This can help to conserve ammo for your weapons, as Kinetic damage can sometimes be a little useless in certain situations.
  3. Keep the “Solar Burn” and “Void Burn” modifiers in-mind as you go through, as that extra burst of damage can really turn things around for you in a bad situation. (Or, alternatively, kill you instantly if you’re not careful. Which I mention for no specific reason.)
  4. Try to avoid swapping your weapons in-menu if possible. Each time you do, you lose half of that type of ammunition. By example, in swapping my Void shotgun for a Solar fusion rifle, I will lose half my special ammo, which can leave me with just two or three shots. Keep that in mind. Sometimes, though, the risk is worth it to take out the boss with a Void blast to the face.




Discussion (9)

  1. Wow, @Nighthawkfury this post is pretty impressive.. I think we may need to give you author rights so you can post this kind of stuff to the news section.

    • Hey, that’s a fun thought. I’d be game for breaking this up into a series. Learning and explaining this stuff is fun for me. Lol.

      • Fury, so I was gaming last night with my Nephew xxMercailxx whatever you spell his name. I want to rank up to a level where I can particpate in the Raids and Strikes. But, I think like some, I have ADD and can’t spend the time to figure the best way to level up my guy to reach that rank. Here is what I suggest- Maybe a video series where you start at level 20-you explain what missions are need to support your recommendation of using that gear, gun or whatever. You could provide tips on short cuts and so on.

        I am sure you can find some willing volunteers to help you get this done. There is no one on Youtube that I could find doing it like this.. Thoughts??

        • I think that’s an excellent idea. You know, initially, I was just writing this thing out as an “all the information past level 20” initiative, but more of a step-by-step process might be the way to go.

          I’ve got a Warlock that I need to rank up – That may be worthwhile to get him to 20 quickly, but I don’t have a capture card. Hmm… Let me think on it.

          Or, perhaps we could actually do a “Ranking Up In Destiny” Series on the site. Maybe something like an item a day, where we could look at different parts of the post-20 process, and break it down into simple terms. I could make it less “firehose” than this doc is, and hopefully the bite-size nature of it could make this stuff easier to swallow.

  2. He Nighthawk, i love this initiative, keep this up, its much appreciated.

    Maybe you can add this:

    Each piece of armor has a base defense level. The base defense level reflects the strength of the piece of armor and contributes to the player’s overall defense level.

    Some armor may include bonuses to certain player attributes, allowing for additional bonuses as follows:

    Discipline – Decreases grenade cool down time.
    Intellect – Reduces the cool down time of the player’s Super Ability.
    Strength – Reduces the cool down time of a player’s Melee Ability.
    Light – Boosts the player’s level, increasing the damage done by subclass abilities.
    Additionally, some pieces of armor can be upgraded by gaining Experience. Upgrades may grant additional boosts to various statistics, such as the armor’s defense level, faster reload times for certain weapons, or faster cool down times for grenades or player abilities.

    • Good suggestion. I’ve updated to include the Dsicipline/Intellect/Strength in the “Light & Armors” section.

      I’m planning on doing a whole section on upgrading armor (“Upgrading Gear – Make the Most of What You Got”), including the different materials (Ascendant Shards, Helium Coils, Spirit Bloom, etc) as well as the Experience requirements. I may also mention the experience stuff within the Bounties section I’ll be adding next.

      Thanks for the suggestion, any help is appreciated!

  3. A suggestion; maybe you can explain a bit about the daily, weekly and nightfall missions, what they entail, what you get and the best way to tackle them.

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