Destiny 2: PvP tips for dominating in the Crucible

Destiny 2 hit shelves last week for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and fans of Bungie’s pseudo-MMO sci-fi shooter series have been devouring ever since it dropped. In addition to four planets full of cooperative story missions, public events, adventures, and strikes and raids, there’s also the Crucible where Guardians can engage in competitive player-versus-player (PvP) combat.

We’ve put together this list of tips and strategies to help you excel when pitted against your fellow Guardians. But before we dig into things too much let’s clear some things up that aren’t explained very well in the game. 

Quickplay vs. Competitive

Once you play the first few campaign missions in Destiny 2, you'll unlock The Crucible. One of the first things you’ll notice when approaching the Crucible in Destiny 2 is that it’s split into both a Quickplay option and a Competitive option. That’s it. Despite there being five different game modes, you can’t actually pick just one game mode to play, and you’re required to choose between one of the two categories.

As you can likely guess from the names of the playlists, they vary slightly in the types of games you can find. First, Quickplay has more casual and action-packed game modes that are often on larger maps: Clash, Control, and Supremacy. Clash is like Team Deathmatch, Control has three points that you have to fight over, and Supremacy is like Kill Confirmed where you don’t get points unless you pick up crests that enemies drop when they die.

You’ll have access to Quickplay first, and after doing two matches in that mode you’ll unlock the Competitive games: Survival and Countdown. Survival is a Last Man Standing mode where each team only has a limited number of respawns and you win by finishing them all off. Countdown works a lot like Counter-Strike’s most popular mode and involves setting and arming bombs at different points.

Game Mode-Specific Tips

Now that you know where to find each of the five game modes, let’s cover some of the main strategies.

Clash (Quickplay Only)

This is the bread-and-butter basic team deathmatch game mode. Two teams of four duke it out on maps in a contest to see who can get the most kills. That’s it, there’s nothing else to it. Naturally, as a result, the strategies are a bit more straightforward as well.

Since you don’t need to worry about control points or paying attention to respawn numbers you can coordinate with your Fireteam just to eliminate the enemy. You can refer to the general tips at the end of this article for more things to be aware of, but you’ll mostly just want to make sure you have good team composition and know your guns and the maps well. The most important factors in this game mode will be your own aiming and your damage output. If you don’t have the best aim then stay away from slow-firing hand cannons and focus on pulse and automatic weapons instead.

Sticking together as a team is always a good idea in Destiny 2 PvP, but you also have to know when and how to retreat and/or effectively split up. There’s nothing more frustrating than a Warlock scoring a four-person team wipe with a Nova bomb because you were all too stubborn to leave each other’s side. This is a great game mode to earn your footing.

Control (Quickplay Only)

With Control this is where things start to get a bit more interesting. At the start of the match each team has one point already secured with the third point unclaimed. In Destiny 1 none of the points were claimed at the start. Another big change is that putting more people on a point does not increase the speed at which you can claim it -- you only need one person to claim a point at a consistent speed.

The absolute most important thing in a Control match is communication and teamwork. With three different spots to fend for and only four total team members, a single costly death can really turn the tide of battle dramatically.

There are a few ways you can start the match: dashing for the unclaimed point to nab it quickly (likely just like the other team,) splitting forces between all three, or dashing for the team’s main point and nabbing it while they are likely taking the unclaimed point. Regardless of which path you take you absolutely want to have at least two points as quickly as possible to start building your point total.

In most cases I’d recommend sticking with only two points and hunkering down to defend them. This is strategic because having two means you’ll always earn more points than the other team over time and it also means that their spawn point will stay at the single point that they control. If you overextend and take all three points it’s virtually impossible to hold them all, it splits your team and weakens your ability to hold any of the three points, and it also means their spawn point is going to move and make it easy for them to grab whichever points are least guarded. Holding two points and then playing defense all game is smarter and more effective.

The caveat to that is if you notice they’re totally scattered and you have an opportunity to solo grab the third point quickly and then get out. This will force their team to panic and likely net you a minute or so of total domination, which is a big score multiplier.

I’d also recommend knowing when to give up on a point. If you’re holding A and B, for example, with two people on each and notice that all four of the enemy team is descending on A, you may as well send one person to grab C and have all three of the others hole up at B to fight them off. This way you’re maintaining two points at all times. Don’t be afraid to capture theirs while they’re capturing yours for a clean swap because the end result still has you on top.

Supremacy (Quickplay Only)

At first glance Supremacy is a lot like Clash, but it has a really interesting extra wrinkle. None of the kills count at all unless you pick up the glowing crest that a body drops when it dies. Since the same is true for both teams that means picking up your fallen teammate’s crest will prevent the other team from getting that kill.

Naturally, teamwork is paramount here once again. Sticking together is crucial because even if one person goes down the partner can grab their crest while continuing the fight. Theoretically you could have firefights where seven people die total but only one crest is left for the last man standing to grab. Field awareness, map knowledge, and being mobile is extremely important in this game mode.

If you’re a Warlock with the Blink ability then it’s possible for you to quickly slide into a crest to nab it then immediately blink (teleport) away before getting killed. This is advisable especially if there is more than one enemy crest within reach. If you can grab more than one then even your death is still worth it since the tradeoff is in your favor. Sometimes it’s even smart to have one player be the bait for an enemy and get killed to draw them out while the teammates pick up the fallen crest and wipe out the other team.

You can get creative with your strategies and being a ranged character is useful as a support role, but it’s difficult to grab crests when you’re never in range of enemies. On the flip side enemies won’t often get your crest if you fall back and fight from a distance.

Survival (Competitive Only)

That’s the last of the Quickplay game modes so now it’s time to focus on the Competitive playlist with Survival. Survival is basically Clash, except your team only has a very limited (eight) number of respawns. This means each and every death is super important.

Teamwork is crucial here, as-is map knowledge and positioning. You never want to be singled-out in an open field or ambushed by a group of enemies since that almost always results in death. Sticking together is crucial, but so is knowing when to retreat. Never charge headfirst into a firefight unless you feel confident about your chances of scoring or assisting in a kill.

Strategic use of supers is also crucial in Survival games because unlike Clash or any other game mode where you can quickly turn the tide, make a comeback, or go on a killstreak, there is only a limited number of lives to go around. If you have a super charged up then you should absolutely wait until the end of a round to use it. If the other team is totally out of respawns or down to their last few people then they will likely stick together in a group which is a great time to use a Nova Bomb or really any other power. Winning a game on a big super feels extremely satisfying.

Countdown (Competitive Only)

The last game mode is a brand new one for the Destiny franchise and it’s called Countdown. In this mode teams alternate sides between attacking and defending. The attackers are in charge of planting a bomb at one of two points and defending it until the timer ticks down. Detonating the bomb or killing all the defenders is a win for the attackers, while the defenders must kill all attackers or defuse the bombs.

That’s a lot to digest. It’s easily the most complex game mode and it plays out a bit like a mixture of Survival and Control in a way. What really makes it interesting is that each player only has one life per round, but allies can be revived by teammates once a timer is done ticking down on their corpse.

Naturally there are a few strategies here: if you’re attacking then you can go for kills and wipe them all out or you can plant bombs at the points. If you’re really greedy (or scattered) you might try a mixture of the two. Lacking a clear strategy and focus is one of the best ways to get your team wiped out.

In Countdown it’s important that you communicate clearly and openly as a team, especially on defense. Calling out where players are located, how many are at each spot, and when you need help is crucial, as is knowing when to retreat. Since life is so fragile in this game mode running into a room like Rambo isn’t going to cut it here. This requires careful planning and tactics over brute force and kamikaze runs.

When you’re playing defense it’s easy to fall back and just react to what the other team does, but depending on your team and how the other team is playing, taking the fight to the attackers could work as well. If they split up between the points trying to lay both bombs you could roll out as a full squad and swiftly take out each duo one after the other before they ever get a chance to revive.

General Tips for PvP in Destiny 2

Now that we’ve covered each of the specific game modes we can spend a bit of time going over tips and tricks that you can carry with you into any Crucible match regardless of game mode.

  • Focus on the campaign first. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to get better at PvP in Destiny 2 is actually to play the PvE content first. Go through the campaign for a while, reach level 20, unlock a bunch of different weapons and spend time experimenting, then come into the Crucible once you’re confident in your abilities and class build out.

  • That being said, your actual level, power/light level, and specific stats on gear don’t matter at all. All stats are equalized in the Crucible to avoid any unfair advantages. However, guns still act uniquely. A shotgun is still gonna be much better at close range than an auto rifle, for example, and knowing how each type of gun handles differently is extremely important.

  • When you first start attacking the Crucible you can only play Quickplay matches. Doing so will fulfill a “milestone” and then unlock a new one. Follow your milestones as they are received as a form of informal tutorial.

  • When it comes to picking up consistent gear in the end game, PvP is actually much more efficient from a time sink perspective than something like a raid or strike. Those take a long time to finish compared to just 5-10 minutes per match in most Crucible games and you’re guaranteed at least one piece of gear after each match. It may not be as great as some of the other gear from big PvE content, but it’s easy to grab.  

  • It’s important that you understand Destiny 2 is now 4v4 teams in all PvP game modes all the time. Nothing bigger and nothing smaller for the Crucible.

  • If you’ve got a Guardian coming at you full speed with their Super unloaded then you should switch to your energy weapon -- they do a lot more damage to Guardians with a deployed super.

  • Make sure to properly plan when to deploy your super and power ammo. Wasting it because you got excited or saving it until it doesn’t matter is a bad call. Look for the perfect time and let ‘er rip!

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These are our Destiny 2 tips and strategies for PvP domination in the Crucible. You can also read these articles for more Destiny 2 details, such as how to maximize the new world map and how to get a sparrow.