Destiny 2 Finally Has A Great Onboarding Process
There’s never been a better time to start playing Destiny 2 than right now.
I have a confession to make. I was a New Light player when Destiny 2 came to Steam in October of 2019. I’d finally gotten what I felt was all I could out of Ace Combat 7 and it was time to move on to a new game. I’d heard Destiny 2 was a pretty good looter shooter and all my friends were going to give it a try too.
A little over a year later, I now have an almost embarrassingly high 1,500 hours clocked in Destiny 2, according to Steam. So yeah, Destiny 2 gripped me pretty hard.
But it certainly wasn’t because of Destiny’s New Light quest, the name Bungie gave for their new player onboarding experience. Back then, New Light was an almost laughably short tutorial that confused the hell out of both me and everyone I was playing with. We spent more time looking up guides on Google than we did listening to whatever the questline was telling us. And forget about learning anything about Destiny 2’s rich story — I had to look up an intro video from Byf for that.
It was bad. Obviously not bad enough to frustrate me into playing something else, but I’m dead certain it would have had I not been playing with friends.
Luckily, it was criticism that Bungie took to heart. In the weeks leading up to the release of the latest expansion, Beyond Light, Bungie announced that it had once again been redoing Destiny 2’s new player experience to be just all-around better, even converting the original Destiny’s Cosmodrome into a sort of tutorial zone.
At this point, I’m fairly confident that I’ve learned everything that I care to know about Destiny 2, but I couldn’t help but wonder what being a new player would be like. Thankfully, I didn’t have to delete any of my characters to play the new onboarding process. Anyone can go to the new Quest Archive kiosk beside the postmaster to play it themselves as veterans.
I’ve gotta say, I really wish this was the new player experience I had last year.
Meet Shaw Han, Your First Guardian Friend
The beginning of the Beyond Light tutorial starts the same just like it did in Shadowkeep. You wake up and your Ghost explains that you’re a dead guy who has to run into the Cosmodrome to find a gun and shoot your way to The City. Everything is exactly the same up until you reach the Fallen Walker tank, where you suddenly spot planetary materials and chests hidden in the bushes — your first sign that this isn’t just some one-off zone that you’ll never return to, but is actually a small piece of the returned Cosmodrome map.
After fending off the Fallen, you make your way to where you previously would have found your first spaceship. Instead, you’ll meet Shaw Han, a Hunter Guardian sent to the Cosmodrome to investigate some strange Hive activity. He provides the new player with another chunk of Destiny lore, explaining his class: he’s part of the Vanguard, and he’s part of a Fireteam.
Already, this new player experience is better than anything that Shadowkeep had given us. It’s not deluging new players with info, or worse, not giving them nearly enough background, but giving them easy-to-digest morsels that can be built upon later in the quest.
Greetings out of the way, Shaw Han sends you deeper into the Cosmodrome to investigate the Hive and see if you can track down his two missing Fireteam members. You spot one, but not before a Hive Wizard called Navota evaporates her right in front of you.
Now you go from merely being informed of Destiny 2’s world to being shown the stakes. On top of that, Navota suddenly becomes the antagonist in a short campaign that will introduce all of Destiny’s mechanics while also helping you become invested in the story.
I’m not going to go too deep into spoiler territory, but even for D2 vets, the new A Guardian Rises quest is definitely worth doing if you’re hungry for every bit of content that Beyond Light has to offer.
How To Be A Guardian
So already Beyond Light has blown Shadowkeep out of the water for getting new players invested, but it gets even better. Rather than forcing you to look up mechanics on Google, Beyond Light actually uses this quest to teach new Guardians everything they need to do.
The shooting part of Destiny 2 is pretty standard among shooters and is adequately explained before you even meet Shaw Han. What you get from Shaw Han is an explanation about Quests and Bounties, two of Destiny 2’s core mechanics that give content, rewards, and that sweet, sweet XP. You can even grab your first Exotic Quest to get The Chaperone Shotgun, and it’s a lot easier to complete this time around.
Pop-ups now direct the player to go through each of Destiny 2’s menus, which have been simplified slightly from the days of Shadowkeep. Map, inventory, and quest/bounty log are all given a detailed run through so that you know where to go if you ever feel lost.
The explanations continue even during gameplay. In Shadowkeep, I needed to have a friend explain to me the differences between all three of the Titan’s jump styles. Beyond Light just tells you the differences in a handy pop-up message.
Meet The Team
After you’ve helped out Shaw Han with his Hive problem, you finally get a ship to take your first trip to The Tower. This again improves on Shadowkeep by actually introducing each character separately and explaining what the hell they’re for.
Rather than drop you onto the core game’s Tower, new players are actually sent into a separate instance of The Tower so that they’re not distracted by all the other Guardians running around. You start by meeting Amanda Holliday, then your Ghost takes you to a new security wall and explains why The Drifter made such measures necessary.
Ghost continues to preview each new NPC before you meet them. And although only Zavala gives a sufficiently lively speech to convince you that Bungie actually has an ongoing contract with the voice actor, it’s once again giving bite-sized bits of information for you to easily digest rather than handing you Destiny 2 all at once to either swallow hard or barf.
And The Rest
After that, you’re taken to the last remaining portion of Destiny 2: the core playlists. Strikes, Gambit, and Crucible are all the quickest ways to get into Destiny 2, and the overall preferred ways for people who aren’t too big on the game’s open-world mechanics. After that, you get a final reward, and you’re set loose in Destiny 2 with a much better understanding of how the game actually works.
At the end of it, I honestly felt jealous of new players. They’re going to have a much better time getting into Destiny 2 than I ever did. I had to work to figure everything out. Now players just get it all handed to them from day one — and that’s great.
It’s not perfect — there’s still no explanation on armor or weapon mods, and heaven help you if you decide to dive into a Master Nightfall. But I think it’s fine for players to look up more in-depth guides for that sort of thing. Beyond Light has given new players what I wish I had back in Shadowkeep: a solid foundation. Everything else can be built up from there.
NEXT: Phil Spencer Has Played Elden Ring, Here’s What He Thought
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Actually a collective of 6 hamsters piloting a human-shaped robot, Sean hails from Toronto, Canada. Passionate about gaming from a young age, those hamsters would probably have taken over the world by now if they didn’t vastly prefer playing and writing about video games instead.
The hamsters are so far into their long-con that they’ve managed to acquire a bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo and used that to convince the fine editors at TheGamer that they can write “gud werds,” when in reality they just have a very sophisticated spellchecker program installed in the robot’s central processing unit.
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