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Destiny: The Taken King guide - Light level 290, King's Fall, Crucible, Rift, Mayhem

Our guide to Destiny's Taken King expansion, from reaching Light level 290, to beating the King's Fall raid and mastering the new PVP content.

It's been an interesting first year for Activision and Bungie's blockbuster shooter Destiny. On the one hand the game's been criticised for a story that isn't so much incoherent as absent without leave, before going on to cause no minor, internet-igniting furore over the publisher's pricing plans for this, the third piece of Destiny's episodic content. Then of course there's the rather stale narration provided by Peter Dinklage, since replaced with the very capable talents of Nolan North.

Yet for the shortcomings that the game can be fairly accused of, it has at the same time attracted a loyal and engaged audience who are more than happy to dive deep and focus on the game's many positives: Bungie's perfection of the thirty-second firefight, some of the most desirable weaponry you could hope to get your greedy hands on, and team content that can give even the most prominent MMOs a run for their money.

As Destiny enters its second year, then, we're putting together a guide that will help both new, lapsed and existing players get the most out of The Taken King. There's a new recommended Light level to reach for raiding, for example, and so we'll show you how to get there and get stuck into the end-game with the minimum of fuss. Over the coming days, we'll also be adding a guide to all of the new player-versus-player content in the game as well, not to mention a step-by-step guide to polishing off the tricky new raid itself once it's out in the wild.

On this page:

Destiny: The Taken King - Light level 290, Legendary Marks, Reputations, Engrams
Tried and tested tips for hitting the recommended Light level 290 for the new King's Fall raid.

Other pages:

Destiny: The Taken King - PVP, Crucible, maps, tactics
How to get ahead on all of the new PVP maps in The Taken King.

Destiny: The Taken King - King's Fall, Basilica, Warpriest, Golgoroth, Oryx
How to finish the King's Fall raid with tactics for all bosses.

Destiny: The Taken King - King's Fall Hard Mode
How to beat The Taken King's raid on Hard Mode.

Destiny Calcified Fragments locations
How to find all 50 hidden collectables in The Taken King.

Destiny: Moments of Triumph Year 2 guide
Exotic Sword quest, finishing The Mountaintop and more.

Destiny event schedule - Calendar of weekly and seasonal activities in 2016
What you need to do before Rise of Iron, when Sparrow Racing returns, the days Xur drops by each week and more.

Destiny - How to reach Light level 385, Rise of Iron's new level cap
The best ways to reach the highest possible Light level.

Destiny: Rise of Iron guide, tips and tricks
How to get ahead in Year 3 of Bungie's shooter.

Reaching the new level cap won't provide too much of a challenge for the seasoned Destiny player, but as we all know, reaching the new cap is only one part of the job. After reaching XP-level 40, you'll no doubt have Oryx in your sights, but achieving a Light level of 290 is required to even consider that first assault on the high-level Dreadnaught content.

Let's kick this off with some good and kind of bad news combined: with time and careful thought, anyone can meet the criteria necessary to start the King's Fall Raid, but it demands a hard-fought three of four days' worth of effort. More specifically, that's 15-20 hours from the moment you start the new story, through to the relief of seeing that golden 290 on the Character screen. It takes as long as it takes, and there are no short-cuts. There is, however, a solid road map that saves plenty of time. Having pushed ahead and got there ourselves, this is what we intend to describe for you now.

Reaching the 290 Light level

Your Guardian's Light level is based on every item of armour, weaponry and accessory that you currently have equipped. Your goal is to boost each one as far possible, so that the average remains as high as possible, bearing in mind that even one item with a very low Light level will need your attention fast.

There's no time or need to be precious as these item drops happen regularly throughout each Mission, Strike and Patrol. You'll pay countless visits to the Cryptarch to have Engrams decoded, in between trying specific items on for size that drop conveniently in the field. Whatever you have in your possession, equip the highest level example, or Infuse one that you especially like with a higher level equivalent.

Infusion is simply the act of absorbing one item into another, although keep in mind that only the Legendary or higher items can do so. It raises the Light level of your lowest item to more or less the same as the much higher one, which more often than not is going to be Blue rarity. Yes, Blue. But more on that further down.

Using Reputations to aid the Light levelling process

You'll breeze through the story, but while you do, make sure that you are aligned to one of the three factions (either New Monarchy, Dead Orbit, or Future War Cult) in order to amass Reputation rewards in addition to those granted by the Vanguard.

This becomes more relevant the longer you progress toward Light 290, but it's seriously worth doing as a foundation. The faction packages received upon ranking up contain Legendary items that may well be just the ones you're looking for. Since Legendary items are typically high level, this is a great way to accelerate progress - even if only a little to begin with.

Don't forget that you can also boost EXP progress by cashing in Motes of Light, Vanguard and Crucible Commendations, character specific armour materials, and radiant/ascendant energy or shards that are now useless.

Use Legendary Marks to obtain Light 290 gear

The new currency for the Taken King allows you to purchase Light 280 gear from vendors, Year Two Exotics from blueprints, or contribute a small fee towards Infusing. The latter route is your more likely path towards the end-game, unless there's a specific weapon that you prefer to use, or there are desired perks across weapons and armour. You're advised to wait for that Exotic until your Light 290 is almost secured.

Legendary Marks are rewarded upon completion of certain Quests that are unlocked after finishing the story. For example, The Vanguard's Hand from Cayde-6, and Ikora Rey's The Taken War: Venus pay handsomely at 25 and 20 Legendary Marks respectively. They're both quick and easy to complete as well.

The Daily Crucible mode, accessible to all, along with the Daily Heroic story mission (suggested at Light 240), deliver 15 Legendary Marks apiece, once per day. After hitting Light 260, there's the Weekly Heroic Vanguard Strike playlist to attempt also, which will contribute a further 30 Legendary Marks to your bank, and you can do so once per week as the name suggests. Needless to say, there should be enough here to get you through to your target.

How to use Blue items to get ready for raiding

Throughout Year One, Guardians avoided stepping on anything Blue-rated. Now, though, your heart will leap every time that shimmering sight of cyan pops from fallen enemies. In The Taken King, Rare class items are now at least equal in terms of attack and defence power to their Legendary counterparts, forming the backbone of your quest for Light 290. Legendary items (which are coloured purple) are still harder to come across, but this does not matter at all in the short term. Blues drop with astonishing regularity on the battlefield, and you should greedily gather them all up.

The best places to guarantee a healthy supply of these items are from Strike playlists (even non-Heroic), and the Court of Oryx which is accessible in the Dreadnaught during standard Patrols or while in a Mission. When you're running the Strikes, it's worth playing several in succession so as to benefit from the newly implemented streak bonus - if you don't quit to orbit, Reputation is boosted and drops improve.

We can't stress enough how important Blue (Rare) items are in The Taken King. It's possible to have a Light 280+ Guardian whose load-out consists entirely of Blue gear. One of our Fireteam has a Blue gun that's Light 299, which you might assume is a question of good fortune, but was actually the result of a manufactured approach.

Use Engrams to boost your Light level

If you take nothing else from our guide, burn this final piece of advice into your brain, which came into common knowledge via Reddit. It seems that Engrams that are decoded by the Cryptarch have their stats influenced by your current Light level.

So, when handing them over, do the following. Have one decoded, check the item against the one you already have equipped, and then - if the new one is even only slightly better - equip this before moving on to decode the next Engram. By doing so you improve your chances of gaining a higher Light level item from each successive decryption. Among our fireteam, we've observed at least a 70 percent success rate from doing this.

Good luck with the grind, Guardian. It will be worth it!

- The next part of our guide explains how to gain the upper hand on the new Taken King Crucible maps.