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Destiny 2: What are Ritual Activity Playlists? Explained

The core ritual activities are at the heart of the Destiny 2 gameplay loop.

Some MMO tasks you do every day, some every week, and others are at the core of the experience. That could include quests, activities, trade, or any other number of options. In this guide, I’ll go over what ritual activity playlists are in Destiny 2.

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What are the Ritual Activity Playlists in Destiny 2?

In the simplest terms, ritual playlists in Destiny 2 are the Vanguard, Gambit, and Crucible playlists. You’ll find them at the top of the Director, the map screen with all the planets, called Destinations.

Vanguard Playlist Details

Vanguard is a pure PvE playlist where you take part in Strikes and Battlegrounds, curated missions against Destiny 2‘s enemy factions that take anywhere from 10-15 minutes for an average run. There are three types of Vanguard activities: Ops, Nightfalls, and Grandmaster Nightfalls. The first, Vanguard Ops, is the entry point. It has few modifiers changing how the game feels to play and the enemies are all easy to defeat and deal only moderate damage.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

The weekly Nightfall changes every Tuesday at 12:00 EST, and has three difficulty tiers:

  • Hero,
  • Legend, and
  • Master.

Each tier vastly increases how hard the activity is with additional modifiers, enemy Power requirements, and increases to incoming damage and decreases to outgoing damage. The enemies are much spongier, in other words. Nightfalls also add Champion mini-bosses, special enemies that require specific weapons and abilities to stun to negate their health regeneration.

Grandmaster Nightfalls are one of the capstone activities in Destiny 2 that lock you a full 25 Power underneath everything you fight, meaning you don’t deal nearly as much damage and take a ton more. There are more Champions and modifiers, as well. Succeeding at a GM Nightfall is one of the most rewarding things you can do in D2, essentially guaranteeing an Exotic drop, endgame upgrade materials, and more.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

Gambit Playlist Details

Gambit is Destiny 2‘s PvPvE mode, where you and three other players fight both the game’s enemy factions but also other Guardians. The premise is simple. You defeat the Fallen, Cabal, or any of the other enemy types and pick up the glowing, triangular Motes they drop. You then deposit these motes in the central bank summon Blockers that keep the opposing team from banking.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

At two Mote thresholds, an Invasion portal will open, allowing one member of your team to enter the other team’s arena and take out as many players as they can. Any Guardian so defeated will drop any Motes they were carrying.

Once a team reaches 100 banked Motes, the Primeval phase starts and a giant Taken boss appears. You’ll need to defeat two Primeval Envoys, Taken Wizards that appear at a specific point on the map. Once they’re dealt with, you can damage the Primeval. Beware, though: when your Primeval is up, there are far fewer limits on enemy invasions.

Crucible Playlist Details

Screenshot by GameSkinny

Destiny 2‘s PvP mode, the Crucible is where Guardians face one another in combat. You can use any weapon or ability available anywhere else in the system. If you can equip it, you can use it. That doesn’t mean everything will actually be good when you’re fighting other humans, and there is a fairly consistent set of meta loadouts. There’s also a robust selection of modes, though you’re likely to only play a few regularly.

  • Control. D2‘s version of Domination, players fight over three zones and gain points for defeating enemies based on the number of zones held. One zone means one point per defeat, two points for two defeats, and so on.
  • Rumble. D2‘s Free for All mode, pitting six Guardians against each other in the race for 25 points.
  • Competitive: The only truly ranked playlist in the Crucible, Competitive pits four guardians per side against four others in higher-stakes fights.
  • Trials of Osiris. Only available on weekends, Trials is the premiere endgame PvP experience. Two teams of three play an elimination game mode. Win seven matches in a row without losing and you go to the Lighthouse for weekly Trials gear. Lose, and you start again from zero.
  • Weekly Rotator. Every week sees a limited game mode returning. Team Scorched is a party game with rocket launchers. Mayhem vastly increases your ability’s power.
  • Iron Banner. A limited-time mode with rotating objectives and its own reward structure.
  • Crucible Labs. This playlist has unfinished or experimental game modes Bungie is bringing in the community to test. Expect some…interesting choices.

Those are the basics of the ritual activity playlists in Destiny 2. There are some additional complications like challenges, bounties, and scoring, but for now, what’s here is a good starting point. The most important thing is to get in there and experiment with your builds and have fun. For more Destiny 2 content, check out our guides on the best ways to farm Exotics, how to get the Gjallarhorn Exotic Rocket Launcher, and more in our D2 guides hub.

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John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.