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Feature Article

Destiny: Guide to Level 20 and Beyond

Finished the main campaign and want to know what to focus on next? Check out our handy guide to see what else Destiny has to offer.

After hours of travelling across hostile lands, fighting waves of relentless alien soldiers, and testing your might against your fellow guardians, you have finally reached level 20 in Destiny. By now, you must be wondering what is next. There is, in fact, a whole new world of goals to achieve and things to do, but figuring out what they are, and how to access them, can be confusing. Destiny is unfortunately rather ambiguous on the subject, so let this be your guide to your world beyond level 20.

Following the Light: Going Beyond Level 20

Destiny sets a soft level cap at 20, and reaching the current maximum level of 30 requires that you hunt down rare pieces of armor imbued with light points. Light is a value found only in rare, legendary, and exotic armor (colored blue, purple, and gold, respectively), and the amount varies. For example, you could find a pair of gauntlets that gives five light points, or a helmet that grants 14.

The Light. Head towards the Light.
The Light. Head towards the Light.

A yellow progress bar in your character menu increases as you slowly equip armor instilled with light. The more light points you gather, the closer you get to breaking through that level 21 ceiling and beyond. Why should you care about increasing your level, you ask? Well, as you rise in level, you gain access to more difficult strike missions and raids in which you will be rewarded better, much cooler loot, eventually transforming you into an alien-stomping force to be reckoned with.

It's important to note that light points are permanently attached to the armor. De-equipping armor with light points decreases your progress bar, which could cost you your level. Before you start swapping out different pieces of armor, be sure it will be worth the change.

Getting that armor, however, is the part that takes work. You can purchase armor through one of the several faction vendors in the Tower, but if you're just starting your quest for light at level 20, it's highly unlikely that you'll have enough reputation right now to purchase this legendary gear.

Until then, you can gather the necessary armor engrams by completing missions or strikes, or by participating in the Crucible. This route, however, means that the necessary armor engrams are doled out randomly, so there's really no telling how quickly you will be able to level up. But they do come, and with some persistence, and several hours shooting and looting, you'll soon find yourself entering the ranks of Destiny's elite.

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Choose a Path to Level Up Faster

Do you take comfort in watching hordes of alien soldiers fall before you, or do you find the heat of player-versus-player action more rewarding? The difference can mean a lot in the way you level up beyond 20.

Both the vanguard and crucible factions have vendors who offer an impressive selection of powerful weapons and armor, the latter of which offer a hefty helping of light points. But unlike the Tower's other vendors, you won't be able to purchase them with glimmer. You can only purchase these items once you reach level 20, and gain enough reputation and marks--your level in the faction and the exclusive currency, respectively--in each faction. With the vanguard, reputation and marks come by completing strikes and raids, while the crucible faction awards them to you by completing matches in its multiplayer arena.

As stated before, if you're starting out at level 20, it will take time before you gain enough reputation and marks in either faction before you can purchase the vendors' finer goods. However, focusing on one path over the other will allow you to unlock gear much faster than if you hop from vanguard to crucible and back again. There is still a lot of work ahead of you, but with commitment, reputation and marks will flow less like an infrequent trickle, and more like a slow, but steady, stream. Keep in mind you can only earn 100 marks per faction each week.

More and More Bounties

Though you've been able to access bounties since the tender level of four, it's important to keep at it. Completing bounties awards reputation for vanguard, the crucible, or to your choice of one of the three other factions, if you've chosen to side with one.

Recall the section on choosing the path that is right for you? Here is where bounties can give you a welcome boost along the way. If you've decided to hunt down armor engrams in the strike playlist, focus on vanguard missions. Otherwise, make sure the bounties in your inventory stay red.

Xur is one important dude.
Xur is one important dude.

Secret Coins and Motes of Light

As you played through Destiny's story, you should have acquired at least one of the mysterious (and warm, and…vibrating?) Secret Coins. These coins can actually be traded for super exotic goods, and even sparrow accessories, from a vendor named Xur, Agent of the Nine, who shows up in the Tower only on the weekends. You can find him peddling his unusual wares down below, near the crucible vendors--and probably making them feel a little nervous.

You are handed your first Mote of Light after finishing Destiny's story. But what do you with it? Like the Secret Coins, Motes of Light can be traded at a vendor. As you acquire more motes from daily missions or crucible matches, take them to the Speaker in North Tower to trade them for legendary accessories, such as cloaks, marks, and bonds, as well as emblems.

Weekly and Daily Missions

Weekly and Daily missions, ranging from story to strikes, available via the destination menu, offer tougher challenges than your conventional missions. Each one is designed to test your mettle, but you're set to be rewarded handsomely in experience points, vanguard marks, and reputation, if you make it out alive.

Raids

If you thought weekly missions and strikes were tough, you haven't seen anything yet. The six-player raids represent the pinnacle of challenging missions in Destiny. There are no waypoints to follow, and Bungie said that you may need to seek guidance from the Internet.

Earlier this week, developer Bungie unleashed the first raid, Vault of Glass, located on Venus. Requiring players to be at least level 26 before starting, it was reported that the first team took more than 10 hours to complete the massive raid. Fortunately, you won't have to finish a raid in one sitting. Your progress is stored, with the caveat being that Bungie will perform a weekly progress wipe.

New Monarchy 4 lyfe yo.
New Monarchy 4 lyfe yo.

Join a Different Faction for Even More Gear

Did you know that there are other factions--complete with vendors for unique gear--located in the Tower that you can actually join?

There are in fact three factions, whose representatives can be found in the Tower. Those factions are Future War Cult, Dead Orbit, and New Monarchy. You can only join one faction at a time, and to do so, you must purchase and equip a faction-themed Hunter Cloak, Titan Mark, or Warlock Bond.

You unlock faction-themed gear by collecting crucible marks and increasing your faction reputation. To clarify, all reputation points gained through completing strikes, patrols, bounties, and crucible battles get converted to your chosen faction. You can always change your mind later if you want.

Here are the locations of each faction representative:

  • Future War Cult: You will find the representative of this enigmatic group in the second floor of the hangar bay, just across from the shipwright.
  • Dead Orbit: The representative of Dead Orbit is located in the hangar bay, just to the left of the staircase that leads you to the shipwright.
  • New Monarchy: North Tower, where the Speaker dwells, is where you can find the representative for New Monarchy. Hang a sharp left as you enter the area and you will find him.

Which Faction is Right for You?

As you no doubt have already noticed, armor often comes with three different attributes that aid you in battle: strength, discipline, and intellect. Each one reduces the cooldown for your special attacks. Strength affects your melee attack; discipline favors your grenade; and intellect charges your Super.

The three factions sell powerful legendary armor imbued with two of the aforementioned attributes. If you want to join a faction, you must first decide what kind of guardian you want to create.

Future War Cult focuses on intellect and discipline; Dead Orbit with strength and discipline; and the New Monarchy faction specializes in intellect and strength. As a fan of tossing grenades and breaking out my super move, I opted to don the blue and red banner of the Future War Cult.

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Finally, Accessorize!

Tired of trying to match mustard color and Navy blue? At level 20, you can now purchase armor shaders from the guardian outfitter. You will find her in North Tower, the same area as the Speaker. As you enter the area, hang a sharp right past the map robot, and you spot her at the end of a short hallway.

If she isn't carrying anything that strikes your fancy, her stock refreshes throughout the week. So keep coming back and eventually you will find the color scheme right for you. Though you won't be able to view how the shader looks on your guardian while in Destiny, this website has a nifty shader previewer, so check it out before you hand over that precious glimmer. You can also get armor shaders randomly by fighting in the crucible.

According to Activision, Destiny is here for the long run. As the game continues to grow and evolve over the years, keep coming back to GameSpot for more hints, tips, and guides. Good luck, guardians!

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