Destiny 2 Guide: Terminology

Commonly Used Terms

The following is a glossary of key terms used in Destiny 2. Use it to supplement your gameplay experience and deepen your knowledge of the Destiny universe.


Basic game world concepts and terms.

These are the player characters in Destiny 2, warriors who were born from the Traveler's Light and tasked with the defense of the City—humanity's last bastion on Earth.


An AI which originated from The Traveler's technology and Light, the hovering Ghosts follow their Guardian masters wherever they go. In addition to sporting a Nav Mode which displays navigation beacons and mission details, Ghosts can also summon a Guardian's Sparrow.

The Traveler:

A mysterious object which suddenly appeared in the Solar System. The spherical mass hangs over Earth, lodged in orbit. The Traveler granted immense wisdom unto mankind, advancing their mastery of fields from science to medicine and more at an unprecedented pace. As a result, man was able to leave Earth, colonizing other planets in the Solar System—thereby ushering in the Golden Age.

The Light:

A mysterious power given to Guardians by the Traveler. It is the source of the Guardians' imperviousness to death, and their greatest weapon against the Darkness.

The Darkness:

An invader which pursued the Traveler from the deepest reaches of space. It attacked mankind and its various homes throughout the Solar System, snuffing out most of humanity's greatest accomplishments.

The Golden Age:

An era of great prosperity in which civilization spread throughout the Solar System, thanks to the wisdom imparted by the Traveler.

The Collapse:

The bleakest event in known history, the Collapse marked the end of the Golden Age, brought on by the Darkness's invasion. This abrupt attack pushed mankind to the brink of extinction.

The Dark Age:

Though a mere step from extinction following the Collapse, the Traveler's self-sacrifice enabled humanity to live on. The price paid was the Traveler's dormancy—which signaled the advent of the Dark Age. And so it was the remnants of humanity gathered beneath the Traveler, building a fortified city in its shadow...

The City:

Erected beneath the Traveler by the surviving fragments of humanity, the City is mankind's final stronghold.

The Tower:

Headquarters to the Guardians, the stately Tower rises above all other City structures. Here, Guardians prepare for mission duty and coordinate their defense of the City.


A squad of Guardians. Teaming up in this fashion allows Guardians to undertake activities as a group. Fireteam size ranges from two to twelve members.

Fast Travel:

Travel instantly to a specific point (Landing Zone) at a destination.


The term for loot chests in the Destiny 2 world. Expect to find these scattered across each location.


NPCs (non-player characters) who deal in a vast array of goods to their Guardian client base.


The various species featured in the Destiny 2 universe. Players can select from the three races of Human, Awoken, and Exo; in addition to the alien race known as the Darkness.

Hardy and highly adaptable, the ancestors of the human race crafted the miracle that was the Golden Age.


Ages ago, when humans fled to the edges of known space, something there changed them forever. Although the Awoken share roots with humans, they are no longer entirely human due to the Collapse.


In the distant past, a long-forgotten war gave rise to these sentient combat machines.


Savage and merciless, they often settle in abandoned facilities. Following the Collapse, the Fallen came in their massive ketches to pillage and dominate the planets once pioneered by humanity.


An impossibly ancient, evil race. Their aversion towards the Light is rooted in something that goes beyond mere loathing. For the Hive, the endless battle between Light and Darkness is no war, but a crusade—one they hope ends with the Darkness devouring all light and conquering space.


Designers of ancient, complex structures said to be hidden in all astral bodies. They are connected via a network not present on Earth, and work as a collective towards a singular purpose that exceeds human understanding.


Bloodthirsty and well-coordinated, they execute their battle tactics with ruthless efficiency. Of all the known entities in the Solar System, the Cabal are feared as the strongest. While their origin and objectives are shrouded in mystery, it is safe to assume they have conquered far more worlds than humanity has confirmed.


An umbrella term for all the political organizations, groups, and parties populating the Destiny 2 universe.
A number of factions created by humanity can be found in the Tower.
Factions even exist within enemy alien races.

The Vanguard:
The faction charged with leading all Guardians. It is composed of three Vanguards, one for each class: the Titan Vanguard, Hunter Vanguard, and Warlock Vanguard.

The Cryptarchs:

A faction composed of crypto-archaeologists. They decode engrams found by Guardians for free, producing items from them.

The Postmaster:

It delivers emergency messages to Guardians as well as track items lost in the field. The Postmaster also holds items Guardians cannot fit in their inventory (or lose). Up to 20 items can be held. Exceeding this limit will result in deletion of the extra items, starting with the oldest ones first.


A special shop which sells Bright Engrams in exchange for Silver. Any Bright Engrams purchased can be decoded here as well. Items decoded from Bright Engrams can also be dismantled (save for a few exceptions), producing Bright Dust. The resulting Bright Dust can then be used to buy other special items.

Dead Orbit:

One of the many Destiny 2 factions. Their theology has evolved from mere fatalism to an obsession with outside worlds. To this end, Dead Orbit members are constantly sifting through ruins and tech in the hopes of constructing a spaceship—the tool for their eventual escape.

Future War Cult:

One of the many Destiny 2 factions. FWC has continued to be one of the Tower's openly-held secrets, giving gear and advice to any one who would represent it in the Crucible.

New Monarchy:

One of the many Destiny 2 factions. Under the banner of the simple yet inclusive motto, "Together We Rise," New Monarchy grew out of the ashes of the Faction Wars.

Red Legion:

The most elite of Cabal Legions, led by Dominus Ghaul. The Red Legion wields enough destructive potential to bring the City to its knees in a matter of mere hours.


After the fall of the City, those who managed to flee established the Resistance around Suruya Hawthorne's leadership. Based out of the Farm, they patiently await their chance to strike back.


A band of Guardians with a maximum of 50 members. Joining a Clan opens the door to Clan Perks, as well as item rewards for completing various milestones.


Destiny 2 features an extensive cast of colorful personalities.

Commander Zavala:
The Titan Vanguard and commander of the Tower. Reputation with him can be raised via Vanguard Tactician Tokens. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.


This freewheeling Hunter Vanguard sells chest maps in exchange for Glimmer. Flashpoint completions can also be reported to him.

Ikora Rey:

Warlock Vanguard and greatest disciple of Osiris. Reputation with her can be raised via Vanguard Research Tokens. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward. Accepting Meditations from Ikora will allow you to replay a portion of the Story Mode missions.

Amanda Holliday:

The Tower shipwright. She sells ships (jumpships) and other vehicles in exchange for Glimmer.

Lord Shaxx:

This Titan is tasked with overseeing the Crucible. Reputation with him can be raised via Crucible Tokens. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.

Suraya Hawthorne:

Talk to her for all Clan progression-related matters. Once a wanderer beyond the City, the Red War's aftermath saw Suraya Hawthorne act as a liaison between humanity and the Guardians. Contribute to your Clan to raise your reputation with her. Do this enough to receive a gear reward (once per week).

Devrim Kay:

Gentleman sniper and Resistance scout, Devrim Kay holds fast in the wilds of the EDZ. Reputation with him can be raised via EDZ Tokens and other collectibles. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.

Tyra Karn:

Custodian of the Cryptarchy archives, Tyra provides assistance to Guardians from the Farm. Go to her if you ever need an engram decoded.

Darbi 55-30:

The Farm Postmaster and supporter of Guardians, Darbi 55-30 also picks up lost items.

Tess Everis:

Eververse broker. Procures stylish products from both in and outside the City. Tess can decode Illuminated Engrams, as well as sell them to you for Silver. Bright Dust gains you access to other items in her stock.


A veteran of many battlefields, this Titan oversees operations on Saturn's moon of Titan. Reputation with her can be raised via Arcology Tokens and other collectibles. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.


AI of the colony ship "Exodus Black," Failsafe acts as a guide to the Vex-infested wastes of Nessus. Reputation with it can be raised via Nessus Tokens and other collectibles. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.

Asher Mir:

An eccentric researcher left scarred by his encounter with the Vex, the irascible Asher Mir holds Io for the Vanguard, and for science. Reputation with him can be raised via Io Tokens and other collectibles. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.


As master gunsmith for the Tower, Banshee-44 supplies Guardians with a variety of powerful weapons. Reputation with him can be raised via Gunsmith Materials. Do this enough to receive weapons and weapon parts.

Master Rahool:

A senior representative of the Cryptarchy, Master Rahool decodes engrams in the Tower.

Kadi 55-30:

The Tower Postmaster. Pick up items and messages sent to you from her.

Arach Jalaal:

Dead Orbit representative. You can side with him during Faction Rallies. Give him enough Dead Orbit Tokens to receive faction-specific weapons and armor.


Future War Cult representative. You can side with her during Faction Rallies. Give her enough Future War Cult Tokens to receive faction-specific weapons and armor.

Executor Hideo:

New Monarchy representative. You can side with him during Faction Rallies. Give him enough New Monarchy Tokens to receive faction-specific weapons and armor.

Benedict 99-40:

A Tower maintenance frame, eager to assist Guardians with treasures from the Emperor.

Lord Saladin:

Hero of the City and last surviving Iron Lord, Lord Shaxx and Commander Zavala were his students. He searches for the strongest of warriors to participate in his Iron Banner event.


Agent of the Nine. His objectives are unknown. Once each week, he will appear for a set period of time at a random destination to peddle rare items and armor.

Brother Vance (expansion pack #1, "Curse of Osiris"):

Scholar and devout acolyte of the mysterious Cult of Osiris. Reputation with him can be raised via Mercury Tokens and other collectibles. Do this enough and you will receive faction-specific gear as a reward.

Osiris (expansion pack #1, "Curse of Osiris"):

Former teacher of Ikora. Though recommended to the Vanguard as a hero, his research caused many problems, culminating in his banishment from the City. Osiris's whereabouts henceforth are unknown.

Ana Bray (expansion pack #1, "Curse of Osiris"):

A psycholinguist who helped develop the Warmind Rasputin, Ana was also a scientist during the Golden Age, as well as a Twilight Gap hero.


Explorable areas throughout the Solar System, in which adventures unfold for Guardians. They can be reached via jumpship.

The starting point of humanity's ancient, glorious history—and the location of its last bastion, the City. In Destiny 2, the only traversable location is the European Dead Zone (EDZ).


Saturn's largest moon. During the Golden Age, utopian cities were erected on it. Now, they lie toppled or half-submerged.


A planetoid with an irregular orbit. Transformed by the Vex into a machine world for purposes unknown.


This moon of Jupiter abounds with the Traveler's energy.

Mercury (expansion pack #1, "Curse of Osiris"):

The planet closest to the Sun—and most dominated by the Vex.

Mars (expansion pack #2, "Warmind"):

BrayTech Futurescape and Rasputin are based here. The planet is invaded by the Hive.

The Farm:

Located in the EDZ outskirts, it is home to those who fled the City, and the base of Resistance operations. It is also a social space Guardians use to prepare for combat.

The Tower (Traveler):

Beneath the Traveler is the Last City, which is protected by the base known as the Tower. It serves as a headquarters to Guardian forces, as well as a social space for combat preparation.

The Leviathan:

A massive flagship that appeared in Nessus's orbit. It is there that Calus, the former emperor of the Cabal Empire, awaits the arrival of Guardians.

Game Modes

Below are various activity types that Destiny 2 players can enjoy.

Accessible via patrol beacons on worlds you visit throughout the game. Starting up a patrol results in a simple mission that can be completed for a reward. Note that the icon over the patrol beacon indicates the mission type.


Accept these via beacons on the various planetary destinations. Completing them awards a wide range of items, as well as Upgrade Points.

The Crucible:

This game mode pits you against other Guardians. It includes areas such as the Quickplay and Competitive modes, which can be played at any time. Other modes, like Trials of the Nine, are only available for set periods of time.


This gametype allows for cooperative play with other Guardians. Choose from three different types: Vanguard Strikes, Heroic Strikes Playlist, and Nightfall.


Accessible via the blue flags on planetary destinations. Complete these to unlock events and obtain special weapons.


Playing an activity results in three challenges occurring. Complete them to earn reward bonuses. Challenges are renewed once each day. Simply enter Nav Mode to view the day's challenge details for a location.

Escalation Protocol (expansion pack #2, "Warmind"):

An activity exclusive to Mars, which features seven levels. Players who successfully complete all of the progressively more difficult levels will face a prestige-level boss encounter that rotates weekly.


The job that a Guardian selects. There are three types in total: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock—each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Each class is broken into three subclasses. At first, you will only be able to select one. The rest will be unlocked in time as your adventure progresses.
Each subclass has unique Supers—powerful techniques which can be unleashed after filling the required gauge.


Deft of hand and quick of foot, this class's agility is unmatched.

Default subclass when selecting the Hunter. Flow like lightning; strike like thunder. The Arcstrider's Super is known as Arc Staff. This technique forms a staff of pure Arc energy, which is then used to acrobatically take out foes.


A lone wolf who lives for the perfect shot, the Gunslinger's Super is Golden Gun— a technique which summons a flaming hand cannon to disintegrate enemies with Solar Light. Accessing this subclass requires you to fulfill certain conditions to unlock it.


Draw from the Void and light the way. The Nightstalker's Super is Shadowshot, which tethers foes to a Void Anchor, slowing, weakening, and suppressing them. Accessing this subclass requires you to fulfill certain conditions to unlock it.


A class skilled in both crushing offense and solid defense.

Default subclass when selecting the Titan. A valiant heart with an unwavering resolve. The Sentinel's Super is Sentinel Shield. This technique forms a Void shield, adding offensive and defensive options to your fight.


At close-quarters, a fist is better than any gun. The Striker's Super is Fist of Havoc, which smashes the ground, dissolving nearby enemies in Arc Light. Accessing this subclass requires you to fulfill certain conditions to unlock it.


Deal blows forged in the fury of undying suns. The Sunbreaker's Super is Hammer of Sol, which summons a flaming hammer to wreak destruction down upon foes. Accessing this subclass requires you to fulfill certain conditions to unlock it.


Warlocks wield powers granted by the Traveler in tandem with a modern arsenal.

Default subclass when selecting the Warlock. Spread your wings and set the sky ablaze. The Dawnblade's Super is Daybreak. This technique weaves Solar Light into blades, smiting foes from the skies.


From the smallest atoms bloom the greatest explosions. The Voidwalker's Super is Nova Bomb, which hurls an explosive bolt of Void Light at the enemy, disintegrating those caught within its blast. Accessing this subclass requires you to fulfill certain conditions to unlock it.


Harmony within, hurricane without. The Stormcaller's Super is Stormtrance. A powerful Arc storm is called forth, siphoned, and channeled through the wielder's hands to be sent surging between targets. Accessing this subclass requires you to fulfill certain conditions to unlock it.


These terms pertain to Guardian, weapon, and armor stats.


This value indicates a Guardian's current state of growth. Gear and some activities will list a minimum required level. Defeating enemies and completing activities such as quests, adventures, and public events will earn Experience, which in turn raises your level.


Represents the average of all attack and defense ratings for a Guardian's currently equipped gear. The higher your Power level, the more damage you will inflict on an enemy, as well as absorb. Some high-difficulty activities have a minimum Power level as a prerequisite for attempting them.


This stat determines your movement speed and jump height. All equipped armor is added together to derive this. The max value is 10.


The maximum amount of damage a Guardian can take. The higher the number, the more attacks one can absorb. All equipped armor is added together to derive this. The max value is 10.


This stat determines the speed at which lost health replenishes. All equipped armor is added together to derive this. The max value is 10.


Determines the damage inflicted on enemies.

The damage inflicted by a single round.

Effective shot distance. Targets outside of this range will incur less damage when hit.

Determines weapon recoil when firing.

The speed at which a weapon is readied, as well as when aiming down the sights.

Reload Speed:
The speed at which it takes to swap ammo for your weapon.

Rounds Per Minute:
The number of rounds that can be discharged in a single minute.

Charge Time:
The time required for a fusion rifle round to be discharged.

The number of rounds that can be fired without reloading.

Blast Radius:
Physical area the explosions caused by grenade and rocket launchers will cover.

Projectile speed for grenade and rocket launchers. The higher the velocity, the faster the round travels to its target.

Swing Speed:
A measurement of how quickly a sword can be swung.

The speed at which ammunition is drained while swinging a sword, as well as guarding. The higher the figure, the less uses will be consumed.

A measurement of the defense boost that occurs when guarding with a sword.

Ammo Capacity:
The energy required to use a sword.


Calculates damage reduction when sustaining an enemy attack.

This stat is enhanced via your currently equipped armor.

This stat is enhanced via your currently equipped armor.

This stat is enhanced via your currently equipped armor.


The various armaments used by Guardians, as well as their types.

Kinetic Weapons:
The most basic firearm type. Has no element attached. Effective when dealing precision damage. Against shielded enemies, however, the performance is inferior to that of energy weapons. Ammo can be replenished by picking up white ammo packs from downed enemies.

Energy Weapons:
Capable of dealing major damage to shielded foes, energy weapons are keyed to one of three elements: Solar, Arc, or Void. Solar is represented by orange, blue for Arc, and purple for Void. Ammo can be replenished by picking up green ammo packs from downed enemies.

Power Weapons:
Highly potent weapons which pack enough firepower to instantly turn the tide of a battle. They are also element-based, and keyed to either Solar, Arc, or Void. Power weapons utilize purple ammo packs.

Auto Rifles:
All-purpose firearms which are both popular and easy to use. Auto rifles work well at mid range. As these weapons are fully automatic, the greater their stability, the more shots you will land on your target.

Scout Rifles:
Precision weapons loved by master marksmen everywhere. Though clumsy when firing rapidly, their single-shot accuracy is second to none.

Pulse Rifles:
Both accurate at a distance and effective when getting up close and personal. Their three-round burst fire has less recoil than fully automatics, with high damage to boot.

Hand Cannons:
Best at close and mid range. Though consecutive fire is slow and accuracy somewhat lacking, their great handling and stopping power more than compensate.

Light and easy to handle, sidearms are great for squeezing out a rapid volley. They perform best at close range.

Submachine Guns:
Superior rapid fire meets a lightweight frame for high performance even while in midair. Exceptional at intercepting foes at close range.

Trace Rifles:
Special armaments capable of unloading continuous laser streams. Great for piling damage on mid to long range targets. Can be infused with auto rifles.

Grenade Launchers:
Fires grenades in a parabolic trajectory. Expect optimal performance at mid range. Landing a round damages the target as well as any other foes caught in the blast radius.

Fusion Rifles:
Pull the trigger to charge the rifle before letting off a powerful volley. Though firing requires time, a fusion rifle's capacity for destruction is massive. These are not made for picking off targets at a distance, however, and work best at mid range.

Linear Fusion Rifles:
Pull the trigger to charge before letting off a single, devastating shot. Boasting honed precision, these firearms will leave long range targets in cinders.

The perfect close range weapon. Anything within range risks being shredded with a fast and powerful spread.

Sniper Rifles:
A highly potent firearm type, tailor-made for terminating targets at long range. It is recommended that wielders use the attached scope to ensure they hit their mark.

Rocket Launchers:
Fires powerful rounds capable of scattering armored ground units and turning combat vehicles into smoldering scrap metal. No other weapons boast more tide-turning potential.

Made for close range encounters, swords have the destructive power to end most enemies in a single swing. In addition to the standard R1 button attack, some swords can be used with the R2 button as well.


Armor can be broken down into categories, based on the anatomical components they are designed to protect.
Furthermore, each comes with different intrinsic perks (Mobile, Heavy, and Survivalist). Note the intrinsic perks of Masterwork Armor pieces can be changed.
Armor is class-specific, meaning it can only be equipped by the appropriate class.

Armor designed to protect the head.

Armor designed to protect the arms.

Chest Armor:
Armor designed to protect the body.

Leg Armor:
Armor designed to protect the legs.

Class Armor:
Unique, class-specific armor. Where it can be equipped varies, depending on the Guardian's class.


Allow riders to traverse a planet at high speeds. Your Ghost can summon your vehicle at any time, provided you are on the right terrain.

Also called jumpships, Guardians use these vessels to travel the Solar System.

Displays behind the player's name on the menu and Clan list screens, as well as the results screen for both the Crucible and Strikes.

A visual effect awarded for completing a high-difficulty activity. An aura is purely cosmetic, and can only be donned during the week of the relevant activity's completion.

Emotes conveys emotion via the mapped action, allowing you to use the left button to dance, laugh, etc.

A currency circulating in the City, Glimmer is used to buy items, facilitate infusion, insert mods, attach shaders, and can also be used as materials/fuel.

Legendary Shards:
Shards produced from dismantling Legendary or Exotic items. Use these to purchase rare items, as well as attach shaders and mods.

Rare coins made in Reef settlements at the height of the Golden Era. Use them to purchase Eververse products.

Bright Dust:
Another form of currency accepted at Eververse. Produce by dismantling Bright Engrams, as well as items decoded from them.


Encoded items found in all in-game locations. Enlist the aid of a Cryptarch to decode these, producing weapons and armor. The engram color denotes the rarity of the item coded within.

Most items are of this rarity. These do not require a Cryptarch to decode.

Rarer than common items. These do not require a Cryptarch to decode.

Unique items that are few and far in between. These do not require a Cryptarch to decode.

Rare, though not to the extent of Exotics. Many Legendary items possess several perks. Change them to adjust combat performance.

The rarest and most valuable item type. Exotics have special abilities not present in other rarities.

Bright Engrams:
Can be bought at Eververse and earned as level up rewards. Most decode into cosmetic items for customizing your Guardian.

Many types exist. Some are used to purchase items from vendors, while others are used to produce bonuses. Includes Cayde-6's treasure maps, etc.


Used to add visual flair to your Guardian and strengthen gear.

Weapon and Armor Mods:
Items that can enhance and add special effects. Legendary mods raise an item's Power level by 5.

Transmat Effects:
Items applied to your jumpship. These modify the visual effects used by your Guardian when changing locations and respawning.

Weapon Ornaments:
Change the visual aesthetic of specific weapons. Once applied, they can be attached/detached as you please. Mostly acquired by decoding Bright Engrams.

Armor Ornaments:
Change the visual aesthetic of specific armor. Once applied, they can be attached/detached as you please. Access them by fulfilling the unlock objective set to the desired armor.

Cosmetic items that apply a color scheme or texture to weapons, armor, vehicles, ships, etc. Can be applied to individual pieces of gear.

Special effects attached to weapons and armor. A number of types are selectable. Some can be applied to customize combat performance.

A weapon/armor tier offering a number of bonuses. Denoted by a golden frame around their icon, Masterworks drop randomly when picking up gear rewards. Dismantling a piece of Masterwork gear yields one to three Enhancement Cores, which can then be used to upgrade other gear to Masterworks or re-roll the stats of a current Masterwork item.

A process which sacrifices one piece of gear to increase the Power of another. The gear used as the infusion material will disappear, with its Power transferring into the infused piece. Note that an item can only be infused with another item of the same type.