There are a number of ways in which Destiny takes cues from massively multiplayer online role-playing games, but its class system is not one of them. While MMORPGs are often designed to all but require parties to have a balanced assortment of classes in order to succeed–healers, tanks, damage dealers–Destiny is not aiming for the differences between classes to be quite so important. As Destiny’s investment lead, Tyson Green, explained when I went to see the game at Bungie back in April, “We don’t have the so-called holy trinity from MMOs. Titans aren’t tanks and warlocks aren’t healers.”
Still, there are meaningful differences between the game’s three classes, and there is probably one that will appeal to you more than the others. We’ve update our class guide with additional details and videos to offer you a quick breakdown of the meaningful differences between Destiny’s Titan, Warlock, and Hunter classes:
If you enjoy playing shooters as Spartans and space marines, Titan may be the class for you. Destiny describes Titans as armored engines of war who can “control any battle with strength and strategy.” But we like to think of it more like Hulk in The Avengers. Remember what Hulk did to Loki? Yeah that’s what the Titan will give ya.
The starting subclass for the Titan is Striker. Striker is the more offensive of the Titan’s two subclasses, and gives you the ability to clear out enemies with ease. The Striker’s special move is the Fist of Havoc, which is a leaping ground smash that damages and dissolves nearby enemies. It can be upgraded to leave a damage-dealing field in its wake, to allow you to leap and then smash enemies below you, and finally, to unleash a shockwave of energy. In addition, when you’re playing as a Striker, your melee attack deals bonus damage. Fist of Havoc is especially good for clearing out waves of minions during an objective hold or during a boss battle. And in The Crucible it allows you to take out multiple guardians when they cluster. But be careful when using this ability at low health because there will be times you’ll die while in the casting animation, and you’ll then lose your overcharge.
The Titan’s primary grenade is a flashbang that disorients your enemies. You’ll know when they’re flashed because enemies will have a red cloud over their head making them easy targets to close in on with a shotgun or a melee strike. The secondary grenade is a pulse option that deals damage over time to enemies inside its explosion radius. Since it’s easily avoidable, this grenade might not seem as strong. However, it works great in the Control game mode where you can throw it on a control point to keep enemies from taking it over. You can even turn yourself into the Juggernaut (so to speak). As you run you’ll pick up momentum and once you’ve acquired a target let your melee trigger rip and send your opponents flying with a running shoulder tackle.
If this style doesn’t suit you, you can choose the Titan’s more defensive support subclass, the Defender, at level 15. This is the subclass to go with if you want to be able to take as much punishment as possible. The Defender’s melee attack creates a damage-absorbing barrier around you, and it can be upgraded so that, while the barrier lasts, you can reload and ready your weapons a lot more quickly.
The defender’s special is the Ward of Dawn which creates a large bubble that makes you and your teammates temporarily impervious to bullets, rockets, lasers and more. Use this to revive your fallen teammates, or in a pinch when you’re surrounded and running low on health. The Ward of Dawn can be upgraded to last longer, to give you a temporary shield of your own, or to increase weapon damage. The only drawback to the Ward is you can’t shoot from within the bubble, however if enemies walk inside you can still melee. And speaking of Melee, the Defenders melee skill Disintegrate gives you a force barrier that absorbs incoming damage. And the Defender’s magnetic grenade sticks to either the enemy or whatever surface that you throw it at, and it explodes twice.
The Titan’s double jump is the same for both subclasses, and on first upgrade allows you to ascend higher into the air. This skill is a bit sub par because you end up just floating in the air making you easy to pick off. The upgraded control double jump is much better as it allows you to change which direction you boost to in the air; a skill that’s especially important if you know a rocket is coming at you — you can just boost the other direction.
The Titan class gives you the flexibility to play two very distinct styles. Just make sure whichever one you’re more interested in is the one you level first, as you have to level these separately. In addition, when you first pick up the Defender subclass you’ll have to start leveling it from scratch. That’s right no double jump or grenades right off the bat. To help level the freshly unlocked Defender subclass, complete bounties as The Striker, but then switch to Defender before cashing them in. Whatever class, weapons, and gear you have equipped when you actually turn in your bounties will receive the XP boost.
Like the rogues of so many RPGs, Hunters specialize in sneakiness and accurate, extremely damaging attacks. There are two distinct subclasses of Hunter that differ significantly in play style. From special abilities, grenades, jumps, and melee attacks to powerful attribute tweaks and ability modifiers, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your class. If you want to sign up for the Hunt, it’s best you know what you’re getting into.
Gunslinger, the first Hunter subclass, brandishes the burning revolver of justice. Super charging yourself and whipping this weapon out is a great way to wipe out three low-to-medium level enemies without breaking a sweat. Aim it towards a tougher foe and you might have to spend more than one of your precious Sun Bullets, but taking a big bad out of action clears the field nicely for you to mop things up with your hand cannon. The Golden Gun is also helpful for boss fights and can clean house in the Crucible. The only drawback, really, is that you can miss pretty easily. Taking your time to ensure on-target shots is a must for the Gunslinger, but if you’re really more of a pray and spray kind of player, perhaps another class is for you.
At level 15, hunters unlock their other subclass: Bladedancer. Like Gunslinger, it’s very attack-focused, but the difference is range of engagement. The Bladedancer’s super is Arc Blade, a lethal lightning attack that lets you get up close and personal. It can be upgraded with an area-of-effect damage radius, or to unleash a wave of energy, which is is great for clearing house in the Crucible.
Like the Golden Gun, it can take a few strikes to take down bigger foes, but unlike the Golden Gun, the Arc Blade is almost useless against big bosses, because getting close to them usually means getting stomped by them. Close combat always has it’s risks, but with the exception of boss enemies, the Bladedancer can usually get in and out of dangerous situation without taking much damage.
To further the melee madness, the Bladedancer’s special melee attack is a Blink Strike and not a throwing knife. The blink strike teleports in a bit, letting you stab from further away. Again, you’re getting in close, but if you level even further, both the special ability and melee special can enable temporary invisibility, so you have a better chance of getting out of the fray unharmed.
But it’s not just the Super Ability that distinguishes each subclass. You’ll also get different grenade types, special melee attacks, and some high-level tweaks to your jump ability. Gunslingers start with incendiary grenades that deal lingering damage, and later unlock swarm grenades that burst into a bunch of little grenades and seek out enemies. In general, grenades that diffuse damage into a bunch of little projectiles are tougher to ensure a kill, but if you follow up with some stabbery, then you’re in business. Like with the Golden Gun, aim is paramount.
As for the Bladedancer, it’s all about the flux a.k.a. sticky grenade. Throw it directly at an enemy and that enemy will die, directly. But the Skip grenade, which fragments and then seeks enemies, might be a bit better for mobs or for players hiding around corners.
Really it comes down to a simple question: Are you a cowboy or are you a samurai? Do you like the beautifully simplicity of Bang, Dead; or do you prefer the elegant carnage of SlashSlashSlashSlash, Silence? All of this lies in store for the Hunters of Destiny. And one extra incentive? The Hunter’s double jump is actually two successive jumps, not the weird float-around-in-the-air styles of the Titan or the Warlock. And you can upgrade it to a triple jump, or replace that second jump with a teleport.
Rounding out Destiny’s trio of classes is the Warlock. As the name implies, this is the closest thing to a mage Destiny has to offer. The Warlock’s initial subclass is the Voidwalker, the darker, edgier option that focuses primarily on dealing damage, draining the very life from foes, and putting them in a deeply uncomfortable position. The Voidwalker’s super ability is the Nova Bomb, an explosive bolt of energy that damages all enemies within its area of effect. This secret weapon is clutch in PvP and PvE situations alike, and it only grows more powerful over time, as later skill unlocks place a damaging vortex at the site of impact, improve the range and damage of the ability, split it into multiple smaller bombs, and allow other abilities to recharge your super at a greatly accelerated rate.
The Voidwalker’s starting grenade is like a weaker version of the Nova Bomb that creates a similar damaging vortex. These two abilities add an element of crowd control to the Warlock that strengthens the class’ support capabilities. On the melee side, the Voidwalker’s Energy Drain allows your physical attacks to leech life force from your foes, recharging your grenade at their expense. The Surge ability modifier further empowers your melee strike by granting temporarily increased weapon and movement speed after each use. Additional upgrades cause the ability to recharge your Nova Bomb and steal health with a killshot, as well, increasing the survivability and deadliness of the glass cannon that is the Warlock.
After passing level 15, Destiny’s space wizard has the opportunity to opt into the Sunsinger subclass, a more support-and-ability-oriented alignment. The Sunsinger is not incredibly different than the stock Warlock at first: their stat modifiers are exactly the same, and save for the Voidwalker’s blink skill, their glide-jump unlocks are identical. However, as you progress deeper into the skill tree, the advantages and disadvantages become increasingly apparent.
Most prominent is the replacement of the Nova Bomb with the Radiance skill. Activating this skill causes the Warlock’s other abilities to regenerate at a ridiculous rate, allowing you to spam out a handful of grenades and a couple scorching punches in short order before you run out of juice. Considering the Sunsinger’s grenades, among which are a fire-spec’d lookalike of the vortex and a Halo-esque sticky grenade, this is a fairly decent replacement for the Nova Bomb. It’s worth noting that Gift of the Sun also grants an extra grenade for each recharge, enabling you to make it literally rain grenades when combined with your super. Further unlocks enable Radiance to reduce allies’ cooldowns, reduce incoming damage, and self-revive from the grave, giving the Sunsinger a distinctly team- and survival-oriented tinge, much like a Priest or Paladin of the MMO ilk.
The melee ability for the Sunsinger is called Scorch. This fits squarely into a few fire-based abilities that ignite enemies for more damage after the initial hit. Deeper into the skill tree, Scorch triggers a Flame Shield upon a successful kill, significantly reducing damage for a short time, and making a huge difference during hairy firefights. Much like the Voidwalker’s Energy Drain, Flame Shield should be saved for troublesome moments when it’s absolutely necessary, as your survival outweighs the need for a little extra damage here and there. A later ability modifier causes enemies killed with Scorch to burst into flame, splashing AOE damage onto other baddies nearby to maximize your killing potential.
Remember, while you can always switch back and forth between classes, you’ll only accrue skills for the class that is currently active, so be mindful of which you’ve got equipped if you’re reaching for that next ability unlock. Though it pays to try out both to find the play style that suits you best.
In addition to choosing a class, you must also select from one of Destiny’s three races. Unlike the choice of race in many MMOs, there are no stat bonuses or penalties associated with the game’s races. This is just a cosmetic choice designed to give players an additional way to express themselves and to make the world of Destiny feel more diverse. You can play as a human:
as one of the mechanical exo:
or as one of the etheral awoken.
And don’t worry. No matter which combination of race and class you select, your character will be extremely skilled at one of the most popular activities in Bungie’s sci-fi universe: dancing. I mean, how else are you going to celebrate your triumphs than with impromptu dance parties?
Be sure to read our full Destiny review and let us know your own thoughts on the game.