There are a lot of activities and game modes you can enjoy in Destiny 2. This can be quite overwhelming for new players —especially since the game’s introduction only gives the briefest of overviews of the three core activities. Separated across three “factions,” the Vanguard, Crucible, and Gambit are the backbone of Destiny 2, and each plays completely differently while offering unique rewards.
Each of these activities has its own vendor located in The Tower, along with unique weapons and armor you can earn. Completing any of these activities earns your reputation towards that faction, unlocking additional rewards. You can level up a faction’s rank 16 times before it needs to be reset back down to 0. The vendors for each faction are Zavala (Vanguard), Lord Shaxx (Crucible), and Drifter (Gambit). Here’s a quick rundown of each of these playlist activities and the core modes in each one:
Solely tied to PVE (Player vs. Environment), these activities can be found by selecting the dark blue circle with the word “Vanguard” underneath in the Destination menu. Selecting this will bring you to a secondary menu where you will have four options presented before you.
Selecting Vanguard Strikes will drop you into an endlessly rotating playlist of various Strikes. These are three-player missions that have you fighting enemies through simple environments until you reach and kill a boss at the end. Each Strike is typically broken up across multiple encounters and usually takes around 10-15 minutes to complete. At the time of writing this, the recommended Power level for this activity is 1100 and there is no real punishment for dying. If everyone in the fireteam does die you will simply restart at one of the many checkpoints in the Strike.
Strikes in this playlist also have modifiers such as dealing extra damage with Power weapons or causing an enemy to drop a pool of fire at their feet when they die. Two of the three modifiers rotate daily, with the third modifier changing every Tuesday during the weekly reset. This third modifier will increase the damage of a specific element from all sources such as Void or Solar. If you are looking to snag the Pinnacle Engram (a high-power reward), you will need to complete three Strikes in this playlist with a subclass matching the weekly elemental modifier. So if the modifier is Arc Singe, you need to beat three Strikes with an Arc subclass equipped.
Battlegrounds are a PVE activity where you fight a ludicrous amount of enemies. Having a recommended Power of 1200, these are slightly tougher fights simply due to the sheer volume of foes on-screen at once. Unlike Strikes, these really don’t have a narrative around them and focus solely on slaying everything in an area before moving to the next one. There are very basic mechanics in Battlegrounds such as defending your Ghost as it hacks a door or throwing explosive orbs into generators.
Much like Strikes, there is a boss waiting at the end who can deploy an orange protective shield. When this goes up, run into it and shoot the power core until it’s destroyed. Currently tied to the Season of the Chosen, Battlegrounds will be folded into the Vanguard Strikes playlist when the Witch Queen expansion drops in late February.
Starting at 1250 Power, these are more challenging variants of typical Strikes. While the mechanics won’t change, enemies will hit much harder, tougher modifiers will be enabled, and you will face off against Champion tier enemies. There are three types of Champions (Overload, Barrier, and Unstoppable), each of which must be stunned using either an Exotic weapon that can intrinsically stop this foe or rocking specific weapon mods on your armor pieces. The latter is the most common and what Champion mods you can equip will change from season to season. For example, if you want to pierce a Barrier Champion’s shield, you will want to equip an Anti-Barrier Pulse Rifle Mod on your gauntlets and then use a pulse rifle. This allows you to break its shield and stun it.
Nightfalls have five difficulty tiers which can be accessed via the drop-down menu above the green “Launch” icon. Four of the difficulty options can be found in the regular Nightfall playlist. Keep in mind, what Strike the Nightfall is changed weekly and will remain the same for an entire week until the Tuesday reset. There is no matchmaking for Legend and Master tier Nightfalls.
The hardest PVE content in the game, Grandmaster Nightfalls are not for the weak at heart. If you’re new to Destiny 2, you don’t need to worry about these right now. They require a minimum Power of 1345 to even launch and are the most difficult variants of typical Strikes. These contain tons of Champions and extremely deadly modifiers. Additionally, if your entire fireteam dies you will be sent back to orbit and you only have a limited number of revives for killed allies. There is no matchmaking for Grandmaster Nightfalls.
Gambit is a PVPVE (Player vs Player vs Environment) activity where two teams of four compete to collect motes and kill a boss the fastest. Players load into one of a few arenas where they must kill enemies for motes. These are white triangles dropped from enemies and you can collect these items by running over them when they hit the ground. Players can hold a total of 15 motes and they are deposited in the cylindrical bank that spawns in the center of the arena.
Depending on the number of motes you deposit, you will send a Blocker to the other player team’s arena. When a Blocker appears, the Mote Bank will be inaccessible for that team until the Blocker(s) is killed. There are three types of Blockers, each tied to a specific mote value deposited. Your team can send as many Blockers as they want over at once, but remember if you deposit less than five motes you will not send a Blocker.
- 0-4: No Blocker
- 5-9: Small Blocker (Taken Goblin)
- 10-14: Medium Blocker (Taken Phalanx)
- 15: Large Blocker (Taken Knight)
The goal of Gambit is to be the first team to deposit a total of 100 motes which spawns a random Taken boss called a Primeval. The first team to kill the Primeval wins the match Gambit. Additionally, one member from each of the two competing teams may invade the opposing team’s arena. This happens after a specific amount of motes are deposited or when a team summons their Primeval. If you are the Invader, your goal is to kill the enemy team which causes them to lose the motes they were holding. If you die or the invade timer expires, you are sent back to your team’s arena.
Crucible is the PVP (Player vs Player) area of Destiny 2 and can be accessed by clicking the red circle in the Destination menu. There are multiple modes you can play in the Crucible, each with its own rules and player amount. Your Power level does not matter in any Crucible mode but Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris. There are no A.I.-controlled enemies in the Crucible, so be prepared to fight against real players when you load up one of these activities.
This is Destiny 2’s most popular PVP mode. Control is a 6v6 game mode where both teams battle to hold control of three different zones. These are circular control points labeled A, B, and C on your HUD. Each team is trying to reach 100 points, with a kill equaling a single point. However, the more control zones you hold, the more points you earn per kill. So if your team has two zones captured, everyone on your team will earn two points per kill instead of one. The winner is decided when someone either reaches 100 points or whoever has the most points when the timer ends.
In this mode, two teams of three battle against one another to see who is the last Guardian standing. There is no respawning in this mode. However, your allies can revive you after you die. A round ends when one side is completely wiped out. Games go until one team wins a total of five rounds.
This is a straight free-for-all deathmatch where six Guardians fight to hit 20 points first. Killing a Guardian nets you a single point and everyone is out for themselves. There are no additional objectives or rules.
This mode is similar to 3v3 Elimination, but the catch is each side has a pool of respawns that depletes whenever you, well, respawn. You can revive your teammates similar to Elimination, which won’t use up one of your respawns. Once your team is out of respawns and is eliminated, you lose the round.
Another popular mode, Clash is just your basic team deathmatch. Two teams of six fight against one another to score the most points until they hit 150 or the timer expires. Just like Rumble, there are no additional gimmicks or objectives.
Trials of Osiris
The premiere PVP competitive mode in Destiny 2, Trials of Osiris has the exact same rules as Elimination. The difference is Trials of Osiris is only available from Friday to Tuesday and what map you’re on won’t change until the following week. Additionally, you will need to pick up one of the cards sold by the vendor Saint-14 in The Tower. This will give you access to Trials of Osiris for that week and track your wins/losses. If you manage to get seven wins in a row without losing you will go “flawless,” which means you gain access to a special place on Mercury called the Lighthouse. Opening the chest rewards Adept tier weapons, which are some of the best.
Iron Banner is another premiere PVP mode that only appears a few times throughout a season. Similar to Control, this activity has two teams of six fighting over three control points. The only difference is if a team captures all three zones, they will temporarily lock allowing the capturing team to rack up a ton of points via killing enemy Guardians. The vendor for this is Lord Saladin who arrives in The Tower above the Gunsmith. Just like Trials of Osiris, Iron Banner has unique weapons and armor you can only earn in this game mode.