Your all-purpose beginner’s guide to the Destiny beta

By Brenna Hillier
18 July 2014 07:56 GMT

Destiny is an unusual game in many ways, so if you’re finding it hard to get into this guide to getting started may help you out.


Almost everything in Destiny seems a bit baffling at first before very, very quickly becoming second nature. You will find yourself casting sideways glances at games with less delightful inventory management, for example. You’re a smart type, you can probably just figure it out as you go – but if you don’t feel like you’re “getting it” (or haven’t even got the client) maybe these various explanations will assist you before fashion leaves you behind.

Getting started with the Destiny beta

First you’ll need the beta client. Redeem your invite code at to receive three download codes for your platform of choice. After that, or if you’ve only been given a download code, redeem this second code at the PlayStation or Xbox Store. You need to download the client and any update files, but once that’s finished, you’re not done; fire up the client itself so it can download the rest of the content.

Once you’re in, your first task is to choose a class.

  • Titan:
    The basic commando class. Play this if you want to be powerful and survivable; run and gun. Your first special power is an area-of-effect attack triggered at dangerously close-range; in later levels, you’ll unlock a defensive sphere which will have tactical applications. The Titan hits hard with an electrical punch melee, and is identified by heavy armour and a swathe of cloth worn on one hip. The Titan’s special melee does a megaton of damage; its grenades will disorient enemies
  • Warlock:
    The “magic” class. Play this if you want to rely on more than your guns and twitch skills. Your first special power is an area-of-effect attack triggered at medium range via a leaping throw, which must be carefully aimed; in later levels, you’ll be able to apply a self-buff. The Warlock thrusts an outstretched palm before them crackling with Traveler light to melee, and are easily spotted thanks to their long dusters or robes. The Warlock’s melee special reduces grenade cooldown; note that the Warlock’s grenade explodes on first impact, which can be easier for beginners to use effectively.
  • Hunter:
    The sniper or rogue class. Play this if you like to play either a precise distance game, or get up close and personal with melee. Your first special power is a powerful, three-shot weapon; in later levels your melee attacks will become even more deadly. The Hunter wears a short cape around their neck, and uses a brutal knife attack to melee. The Hunter’s special melee is a thrown knife which requires skilful targeting but is a lifesaver when retreating before a pack of enemies, and its grenade does persistent fire damage.

The rest of character creation is entirely cosmetic; there are no gameplay difference between the races. The Awoken are a race born from humans who fled the Collapse and returned changed. The Exo are a race of Golden Age machines far beyond the capacity of post-Collapse human science. Apart from the obvious cosmetic differences, the races have different emotes. You know who to pick if you want to do the robot.


Important controls

Most of Destiny’s controls are pretty standard fare so I won’t bug you with “right stick to aim” and “left trigger for iron sights” waffle. Here are the things you need to know about:

  • Summon Ghost:
    Summon your ghost to reveal a waypoint where applicable, and in later levels to summon a sparrow (ground vehicle) or return to orbit. Call Peter Dinklage to you with Select (PS3), the touch pad (PS4), Back (Xbox 360) or View (Xbox One; that’s the weird overlapping boxes one).
  • Grenade: left bumper. It’s on a cooldown and isn’t available at first level.
  • Melee: right bumper. A few levels in you unlock a special melee effect governed by a cooldown timer.
  • Super attack: left and right bumper. It charges with damage dealt and isn’t available at early levels.
  • Emote: D-pad
    – Up is “wave”, a greeting that varies by race
    – Down sits
    – Left points
    – Right is dance, an animation that varies by race
  • Player interaction: right stick tap. Highlighting and then selecting another player with this will allow you to open a menu with interactions like party up or inspect.


First steps

Unlike the alpha, the Destiny beta actually starts at the beginning of the game. Your character is revived by a ghost, and guided through a tutorial – how to sprint, how to use a gun, and so on. In this early mission you are only first level and won’t have access to your powers – grenades, double jumping, special melee and special attacks. Grit your teeth and push on; you’ll get to the good stuff.

Once you’ve finished this mandatory first section, visit the tower and have a bit of an explore. Green markers show important destinations; you need to check in at the post office (this is where you’ll find loot you failed to collect, but for now Bungie has a message for you) and possibly the decoder (who identifies equipment for you), as well as visit your class leader (an armour vendor) and visit the shipsmith and weaponsmith.

It’s a good idea to open your inventory and have a fiddle in this safe space; the weird virtual mouse takes a while to get used to, and it’s in your interests to learn how to quickly equip new gear, as there’s no pausing out there in the wild.

The other vendors aren’t useful to you right now, but when you come back at higher levels (or with more cash in your pockets) you can buy new ships and ground vehicles and well as cloaks and other customisation materials, and accept bounties for PvP and PvE.

It’s a good idea to open your inventory and have a fiddle in this safe space; the weird virtual mouse takes a while to get used to, and it’s in your interests to learn how to quickly equip new gear, as there’s no pausing out there in the wild. Any rare items you want to keep and share across characters can be deposited in the vaults in the Tower courtyard, but otherwise highlight and press square on PlayStation or X on Xbox to disassemble. You don’t sell stuff at shops; you trade it in for materials and currency right in your inventory.

Note that some equipment supports upgrades in addition to existing bonus stats; if you use these items enough, you’ll be given the option to pay a fee to unlock these, which range from faster reloading with specific weapon types to finding more items to better scopes. Press triangle on PlayStation or Y on Xbox to access the upgrade sub menu. The same system applies when upgrading your character, so check that out, too.

Do not jump off the balcony in the Tower if you value your skin.


Choosing a mission

Until you hit level 5 you cannot access the Crucible, Destiny’s multiplayer arena, and the Moon is off-limits in the beta even though it appears on the map once you’ve done a few missions. Nevertheless, the first time you visit the map you can learn all the basics.

In orbit, you access the map by selecting “choose destination”. You can then mouse between the Tower, the Earth and later the Moon and the Crucible.

What you see on the Earth map depends on what missions you’ve done and your level, but all you need to know is there are three kinds of mission available:

  • Story:
    You can play these alone or with up to two friends in a fire team (party), and if you go in alone you may see other players wandering the map with you. They unlock as you progress and unfurl the narrative. If you are well-equipped and in the right level range there’s no reason not to try these on your own.
  • Strike:
    A co-op mission, and Destiny’s equivalent of a raid. You must play these in groups of three; if you aren’t already in a fire team Destiny will matchmake for you, but you may then drop in halfway through the mission. These story missions feature difficult boss encounters and set-piece battles, and having a headset will be a major advantage. You will be rewarded with gear if you complete the mission. You can revive fallen comrades and if the whole party wipes you just restart at the last checkpoint.
  • Explore:
    Wander the environment with no narrative goals. Optional side-quests are automatically generated for you at various fixed points across the map, and mostly include visiting specific points, clearing out enemies, or collecting items. This is a great way to collect loot, level up and get to know the environments intimately if you’re not feeling up to a story or strike mission.

When you highlight a mission you’ll see a description with its name, type and suggested level range. Once you choose a mission you’re given the opportunity to choose a difficulty level; there are various rewards on offer for those who elect to challenge themselves, and a guide will show you whether your equipment is up to the challenge, so you can always go shopping before you do.



To access PvP, you need to reach level five and visit the Tower to speak to a Crucible recruiter. Accept his invitation, then return to orbit.

All PvP takes place in the Crucible, a map area to the right of the Earth. Any help you need beyond this point is best provided by the steep learning curve of going up against Bungie fans.

So what’s going on here?

Humanity was visited by a mysterious construct called the Traveler, which triggered the Golden Age, a period of expansion and scientific advance that saw humanity take to the stars.

Unfortunately, the Traveler was followed, centuries later, by its ancient enemy the Darkness, causing the Collapse. Humanity slowly worked its way back to a modicum of its former glory, but the Darkness is stirring again – and this time, we have no chance of survival.

Before the Darkness rendered it silent and powerless, the Traveler granted humanity one last gift – Ghosts, tiny independent AIs which seek out worthy warriors to take up the mantle of the Guardians, working with humanity’s remaining leaders to secure the Earth and fight off the encroaching Darkness once more.

That’s pretty much all you need to know to get in and start enjoying yourself in Destiny. Do you have any hot tips for your fellow players? Let us know!

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