Destiny is designed to let you set your own agenda in the end-game, but if you’ve hit a wall and the top’s come off, maybe it’s time to let us do it for you.
Destiny doesn’t hold your hand when you hit end-game. Whatever your ultimate goal is – the raid, level 30, Exotic gear for PvP – it can be easy to run into a wall at about level 25 and not know how to progress.
Don’t worry. It happens to a lot of people.
Paraphrasing from memory, Bungie once said that its aim is to have players ask themselves every day what they can do to become a little stronger. So let’s talk about the most efficient way to do that.
Hopefully by now you understand that the key to levelling up your character is by increasing the amount of Light on your armour. Just doing Strike playlists or random missions hoping for drops won’t help you here; you should actively work towards obtaining Legendaries via the Vanguard or Faction vendors.
Most importantly, once you have a decent set of Legendaries (and an exotic or two), you need to upgrade it. Even if you have the best gear available – Exotics and the Raid set – you’ll need to max out your equipment’s upgrade tree to reach level 30.
There are three things you’ll need to upgrade equipment – XP, materials, and Ascendent Materials. XP and regular materials are easily obtained, as we’ll discuss momentarily, so it’s really the Ascendent Materials that stand between you and level 26 and beyond.
There are multiple ways to earn Ascendent Shards and collecting them should be your first priority when planning how to spend your time with Destiny. Remember that any spare legendaries (except Queen’s Wrath items) can be broken down for Ascendent Materials, so if you have a full set of decent pre-Raid or Raid gear and have some spare Vanguard and Crucible Marks, do spend up and break down.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what you’re trying to do, let’s talk about the most efficient way to do it. If you only have a couple of hours a couple of times a week to play – like me – then the scheme I propose is the best for rapid progress.
Pick up Bounties as soon as you log in.
Bounties give you a fat XP boost (make sure you’re using the gear in need of levelling when you cash them in!) and earn you Vanguard reputation points. Every Vanguard reputation level above three, you get a Legendary. Unwanted or duplicate legendaries can be broken down for Ascendent Shards. You see how this works now, don’t you. There are usually at least a couple of Bounties that you can do while doing everything else, like killing a certain number of a type of enemy. Hot tip: Use the Destiny companion app to see what the daily and weekly Heroics are when you’re browsing bounties and let this inform your choice; if you’re going on a Hive mission, take the Hive majors bounty, for example.
Do the Nightfall right after the weekly reset.
The Nightfall Strike is hellishly hard and you’ll need to be high level with lots of elemental weapons to tackle it, so skip this step if you’re not ready. If you can do it (ask your mate’s to nurse you!), then it’s absolutely your first priority, because it gives you a 25% bonus on all earnings from that point on. The weekly reset takes place on Tuesday morning, US time. Apart from the bonus, you have a very good chance to score an Exotic or Legendary.
Do the weekly Heroic at the highest possible difficulty setting.
The weekly Heroic is much easier than the Nightfall, while still being a right pain in the arse. If you can manage it at level 28, though, you’ll get nine strange coins. Nine. Two weeks of that and you can buy the best thing Xur has on offer when he strolls into the tower, even if you don’t do anything else at all. If you can’t do 28, do the best one you can. Buy yourself an Exotic hat if you can, and make it the heart of your build (the Raid set helmet only drops on hard mode, so with an Exotic hat you can hit level 30 before you attempt the nastier version of the Vault of Glass). You may also get a Legendary drop, which you can keep or turn into sweet, sweet Shards.
Do the Raid once a week
You can only collect loot from the Raid once a week, so there’s no point doing it more than once (unless you can handle hard mode, in which case – why are you reading this?) unless you’ve got alts. You don’t need to finish the raid; just getting in the door is enough when you’re low level, as there’s a chest a short way in, before the Templar fight. You might get a decent weapon, a bit of Raid gear, a vanity item or even, yes, some Shards. Once you’re comfortable raiding, try to do it every week till you have a full set of armour and enough Shards to upgrade the full thing.
Do the daily Heroic story mission every day, on the highest possible difficulty setting
Whenever you can fit it in, do the Daily Heroic at the highest difficulty setting. You may earn legendaries or Shards, and the XP’s not bad, either.
Do at least one public event every day
Log onto the excellent DestinyPublicEvents.com and track yourself down an easy one marked in green. Get a gold rating. The Vanguard will send you a packet of goodies, usually including Ascendent Materials. Hooray! You can do this every single day for maximum Shard collection. You will also sometimes earn an Ascendent Shard (or Energy, for your weapons) just for finishing the event, and this can happen multiple times a day.
Finish off those bounties
No, seriously: if you have any time left once you’ve done the daily Heroic, your first go polish off those Bounties. You need the XP to level up all your Legendaries and Exotics, and you need the Vanguard reputation to earn more Legendaries. Which you will turn into Shards. While you’re doing bounties, take Patrol missions and collect materials from nodes and chests. You’ll be filthy rich in no time, and when you need to upgrade a gun, you won’t have to go wander around sadly farming helium coils or whatever. Do as many public events as you can during this time, too.
Do Strike playlists
Now we’re into the optional territory. You can earn your weekly allocation of Vanguard marks quickly and easily by packing in a few Strikes from the playlist – Tiger, for preference. I generally don’t do this till Monday night, when I’ve done everything else, because by then I’ve earned so many marks through other means that I only need an hour or two to max out.
Run out of PvE tasks? Grab a ton of Crucible bounties, get in there and earn some marks. Marks can be used to buy Legendaries, and Legendaries – I remind you again – can be turned into Shards. Don’t go do crucible expecting Legendary, Exotic and Ascendent drops, though. This incarnation of RNGesus is the most fickle of them all. I don’t do this at all, personally, because I’m awful at it and don’t have the time, but you should go for it if you’re at a loose end. I hear it’s pretty fun if you don’t utterly suck.
If you follow this pattern of activity priorities and are assiduous about collecting materials and upgrading your gear, the path to level 30 is nothing more than a few hours of non-repetitive tasks each day. Get to it, Guardian.