Destiny 2 Crucible tips to help you master PvP

destiny 2 crucible tips
(Image credit: Bungie)

Destiny 2's Crucible plays very differently to the PvP of the Halo trilogy, but despite some frustrations tied to the lack of dedicated servers, the gunplay has undoubtedly got Bungie's signature polish and flair. Destiny 2 PvP is fast and chaotic, and features several game modes that encourage varied strategies and team compositions. It can be intimidating at first, but if you want to get the most from the game—including some of the best loot—it's worth learning the ropes. PvP adds a whole new wrinkle to weapon collection, and you'll also need to spend some time in the Crucible for several exotic quests, so you might as well brush up.


(Image credit: Bungie)

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Even if you don't plan on climbing to the highest rank in the Competitive playlist, you should at least get the basics down.With that in mind, we've rounded up some essential tips to help you learn and master Destiny 2's Crucible.

Choose your weapon wisely

Step one: gear up. Every shooter has top-tier, meta weapons, and Destiny 2 is no different. Of course, you don't have to stick to the meta: off-beat loadouts can be the most rewarding, but you should always use weapons that can hold their own. Pretty much any weapon archetype can compete, but as a general rule, stay away from sidearms, bows, non-heavy grenade launchers, and swords.

We recently rounded up the 25 best Destiny 2 weapons, and most will serve you just fine in both PvE and PvP. The most important thing is balancing your loadout: for example, if you're using a scout rifle, try pairing it with a shotgun or fusion rifle so you can compete at long and short ranges. Equally, if you're using a hand cannon, bring a sniper rifle along, too. Experiment and see what feels right for you based on your play style and the map.

Benefit from good armor and mods 

Guns are only half the battle in the Crucible. Thanks to the new Destiny 2 armor 2.0 system you have access to various play style-defining mods. Here's a quick breakdown of the basic armor stats and what they mean in PvP:

  • Mobility: determines base movement speed (note: not sprint) and jump height. Mobility is great for strafing and should be one of your highest priorities. You can also use exotics like the ST0MP-EE5 and Transversive Steps to boost your mobility further without relying on the stat itself. 
  • Resilience: slightly increases maximum health. The effects are negligible in PvP, so you can all but ignore it. The time-to-kill values of the majority of weapons are unaffected, so even at higher levels, it doesn't do much. As long as you have at least ten Resilience, you'll likely be fine.
  • Recovery: affects how quickly you regain health after taking damage. The higher your Recovery, the faster you can safely re-engage after a gunfight. For most this is the best stat in which to invest. It lets you play more aggressively by reducing downtime between engagements, and it's defensive in that it literally keeps you alive. 
  • Discipline and Strength: shortens the cooldown of your grenade and melee abilities, respectively. The usefulness of these stats depends on your build: if you're a Void Warlock using Contraverse Hold and Handheld Supernova, Discipline will work great. If you're a Titan that loves Shoulder Charge, you'll value Strength more than most players. As a general rule, aim to get at least 30 points in each of these, then specialize from there. 
  • Intellect: shortens the cooldown of your Super. I've singled Intellect out here because, unlike Discipline and Strength, it doesn't affect your moment-to-moment abilities. More importantly it doesn't matter much in PvP. No matter how high your Intellect is, you'll almost never get more than two Supers in an average game. If you get a third Super, it will be because you were absolutely slaying (likely thanks to your other, more relevant stats), not your Intellect. Again, just aim for roughly 30 points, but don't be afraid to skimp on it to get higher Mobility or Recovery. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Finally, let's talk armor mods. A good PvP armor set will have Targeting, Unflinching, Loader, and Dexterity mods for your primary and/or special weapons (depending on which one needs the most help), as well as a Scavenger mod for your special weapon. Ignore Ammo Finder and Reserve mods: they don't work in Crucible. Additionally, try to use armor with the right elemental affinity for your weapons, as weapon-specific mods are more efficient than generic mods like Precision Weapon Targeting. 

For your class item, use mods that support your play style. If you're using a strong grenade skill like Handheld Supernova or Arc Web, then Ashes to Assets is a great pick. You can also use mods that grant bonus Super energy for fusion rifle, sniper rifle, or shotgun kills depending on your preference. Don't forget about the Artifact mods, either. You can make some nasty specialized builds with those. 

Let's look at a sample loadout. Say I'm using a hand cannon with a sniper rifle, a classic Destiny combination. My hand cannon feels pretty crispy on its own but my sniper rifle has low handling, so to give it a boost, I choose Enhanced Sniper Targeting for my helmet mod. For my gloves, I use Hand Cannon Loader since it will be more relevant in firefights than Sniper Rifle Loader, and it's cheap enough that I can pair it with a Mobility, Recovery, Discipline, or Strength mod. 

I prioritize the Unflinching Sniper Aim chest piece since flinch is more noticeable with sniper rifles due to their zoom factor. I also want Sniper Scavenger on my boots to make sure I don't run out of ammo. Since my sniper is sluggish, Sniper Rifle Dexterity is a must. Finally, Remote Connection gives me extra Super energy for sniper kills, so it's an easy pick for my class mod. I can also pair that with another stat mod or squeeze in an Artifact mod like Arc Battery which will pair amazingly with Hunter's Wormhusk Crown exotic to double dip on health buffs when dodging. 

This is a solid, neutral PvP armor set that only uses six-to-eight energy per armor piece. All bases are covered, a sniper play style is clearly fleshed out, and there's still wiggle room to customize stats and weapon handling depending on the gear used. If I had nine or even ten energy on our armor pieces, we could fit in more mods or Enhanced mods to improve things even further.

Learn the game modes

(Image credit: Bungie)

Most of Destiny 2's PvP modes will feel familiar if you've played other shooters. Here's a quick outline of how they work:

  • Clash: 6v6 team deathmatch. Shoot the human targets and don't die. This mode is part of the Classic Mix playlist. 
  • Control: 6v6 king of the hill. Claim and hold zones. The more zones you have, the more points you earn for killing enemies. The A, B, and C zones will help you get a feel for where enemies spawn based on your team's location, and they'll give you a reference point for callouts. Control has its own dedicated playlist, and it's also part of Classic Mix. 
  • Supremacy: 6v6 kill confirmed. Enemies drop a token when they die, and you have to pick it up to earn points. You can also claim ally tokens to deny points. Close-range special weapons and Supers are great in this mode since you'll be right next to downed enemies.
  • Rumble: six-player free-for-all, and the first person to get 20 kills wins. This is the best mode to play to practice your gun skills and map awareness. Rumble has its own dedicated playlist. 
  • Survival: 3v3 Clash with limited lives. Your goal is to run the enemy team out of lives and eliminate them. The first team to win four rounds wins the match. This mode is exclusive to the Competitive playlist.

These are the main modes that you'll encounter in Quickplay and Competitive. There's also Lockdown, which is like Control only you can win by taking all three zones. In Elimination, yow wipe out the enemy team to win, and revive allies if they go down. You won't really run into those two in the current Crucible makeup, though. Bungie sometimes runs wild, experimental modes in the Crucible Labs playlist too—like one where everyone spawns with a one-hit Scorch Cannon—so keep an eye out for those.

Know your weapon ranges 

Let's move onto more specific tips and tactics. Firstly, learn your weapon's effective range and how to take advantage of it on different maps. How close do you need to be to deal full damage, or at least reliable damage? How many shots does it take to kill at 20 meters versus 30 meters? 

Auto rifles and hand cannons are good for short-to-medium range, while pulse rifles and scout rifles excel at medium-to-long range. Shotguns and submachine guns are short-range tools, fusion rifles excel at medium range, and snipers dominate long range. Find sightlines that support your ranges. Play to your strengths and engage on your own terms. 

As with almost any shooter, knowing when to disengage is vital. If an enemy gets a good first shot off on you there's almost no point trying to duke it out. Take evasive action and wait for your health to come back before going again.

Play for Power ammo

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No matter what mode you're playing, you're going to run into Power ammo a few times each game. The team that claims Power ammo will have rockets, machine guns, and grenade launchers; you don't want to be on the receiving end of those. Keep track of where Power ammo is spawning and the current timer. Don't idly sit on the Power ammo location for too long before it spawns—instead, defend the area nearby, ready to claim it for your team. Power ammo can often swing a match, so it's worth fighting hard for.

Use vertical space

Destiny 2 is about space magic as much as gun skill, so don't forget that you can fly, glide, and triple-jump. Unlike most first-person shooters, Destiny 2 has a proper X axis, so use it. If an enemy is chasing you, break line of sight, jump above them, then stuff your submachine gun or shotgun into their head as you descend. Don't just walk around corners when you can jump around them: it makes you tougher to track and predict. Use Icarus mods to improve your in-air accuracy, jump to surprise enemies, and find new angles of attack from above. You'll be surprised how many players won't expect it.

Stop sprinting everywhere

Holding Shift+W is a bad habit that will get you killed. Sprint to re-position, retreat, or pursue, but that's it. Charging ahead constantly will often result in you getting caught in no man's land without cover, making you an easy target for the enemy team. Be cognizant of where you are in relation to your team and the enemy, what cover is available to you, and how you can retreat. Backing up is often the correct answer. Your K/D ratio is about more than just getting kills, and dying less is the easiest way to improve.

Stick to your team, but not literally

(Image credit: Bungie)

Apart from Rumble, Destiny 2's PvP modes are all team-oriented. You're stronger together, so group up. Don't push too deep into enemy territory on your own, and don't try to engage multiple enemies without backup unless you're very confident you can win—in other words, you have a Super or heavy weapon). If your teammates get wiped out, you're probably better off regrouping rather than pulling a Rambo and going out in a blaze of glory.  

Now, don't literally hold hands. If you stand right next to a teammate, you'll both be an easy target for a grenade or Super. Plus you'll probably bump into each other when you try to move. There's no friendly fire in Destiny 2, but there is friendly collision, and it can be almost as bad. Everybody hates the guy who gets you killed by standing in your way when you try to take cover. Don't be that guy.

Wield Supers carefully

Super armor (ie the amount of damage you can tank whilst in your ult) was toned down in Shadowkeep, so now more than ever, roaming Supers like Fists of Havoc, Spectral Blades, and Daybreak can be foiled. Your Super is not an 'I win' button: it's a powerful ability that, when used correctly, can wipe the entire team and swing a close match. The sooner you use it you can start building to another Super. But, be sure to use it strategically. 

Don't activate your roaming Super out in the open in front of four enemies. team-shooting is a thing and you'll be dead before the animation is even over. If you're playing Control, use your Super when your team has zone advantage so your kills are worth more points—ideally when your opponents are huddled over a point they're trying to cap. Don't use your Super to counter another unless you're confident you can beat it or, in a pinch, trade evenly. Moreover, don't activate a roaming Super if you suspect a nearby enemy has a shutdown Super like Nova Bomb or Blade Barrage. Use the roster to keep track of which enemies have which Supers, and operate accordingly.

Austin Wood
Staff writer, GamesRadar

Austin freelanced for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and has been a full-time writer at PC Gamer's sister publication GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover-up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news, the occasional feature, and as much Genshin Impact as he can get away with.