Beginner’s Guide to the Crucible

Let’s say you just came into Destiny with Rise of Iron, or perhaps you’ve been around for awhile, but you haven’t spent much time in PvP. Now, you’d like to make a go of it, but there’s so much info out there, so it’s difficult to know where to start.

Let’s start at the beginning, with a few things you should do before you even jump into your first Crucible game.

Pick a control scheme that is optimal for PvP

Using anything other than Puppeteer or Jumper means you are handicapping yourself in the Crucible. I’ve already done a breakdown that explains exactly why, so if you’d like to read a more in depth version you can find it here.

The default control scheme basically has you wasting a button. When you play multiplayer, emphasis should be put on how many of the necessary buttons you can press without moving your fingers off of the thumbsticks, as doing so prevents you from aiming for a brief moment. With the Default setting, clicking the right stick brings up Player Highlight, which is never something you should be using in PvP.

Try switching to Puppeteer, which makes clicking the stick Crouch instead, and watch how quickly you can improve at slide-shotgunning and crouching while strafing. Jumper is a much larger departure from the Default settings and can take a little more work to get used to, but it plays especially well with people who use the aerial aspects of the game and want to be able to jump and aim at the same time. Either one that you choose, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in how easy it is to do maneuvers that high-skill players use that previously appeared too complicated.

“Best” Weapons

The meta exists because there’s guns which have the perfect compromise between ease-of-use and fast times-to-kill. You may really want to use your god-rolled Hung Jury in the Crucible, and there’s something to be said for playing with a gun that you’re comfortable with, but a weapon like that can only take you so far. When you do get to higher levels of gameplay, you’ll find yourself landing all of your shots, playing perfectly, and still losing battles, and it’s because the gun is letting you down.

MIDA can kill in four shots too, and it can do it more quickly than a Hung Jury, so at some point you’ll have to make the switch if you want to improve. The key is to find a gun you like within the meta, learn how to kill optimally with it (meaning does it take all headshots, or can I hit a couple body shots and still get the fastest TtK?), and then stick to it, practice with it, and get comfortable.

The good news is, at this point in time in the crucible, despite how the game has slowed down, the weapon classes are overall as balanced as they’ve ever been. You can basically pick any primary weapon class and find a gun that is competitive (maybe not at the very highest levels of sweaty gameplay, but at a high enough level to be usable in most Crucible experiences, including Trials). You can grab some of the vendor weapons which are great right out of the box, you can use Three of Coins to get several exotics that are powerful, or you can rely on other RNG aspects like the Gunsmith, faction rank-up packages, or just straight drops.

Right now the meta is heavy on fast low-impact ARs and PRs, mid-impact HCs, MIDA, and shotguns. Keep that in mind when selecting a weapon. Here’s some of the best that are easy to acquire:

Auto Rifles

Arminius-D

  • Pros – Very high aim assist and mag size. High reload speed. Very fast TtK with body shots (1.00s, 16 body shots to kill).
  • Cons – Very low range and recoil direction. Below average stability.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Column 1 – SC Holo
  2. Column 2 – Crowd Control, Hot Swap, Army of One
  3. Column 3 – Counterbalance
  4. Column 4 – Braced Frame, Smallbore, Rifled Barrel, Hand Loaded

SC Holo again, Crowd Control is the best to me, but Hot Swap is also a strong contender. Counterbalance is the only way to go in the middle column, and Braced Frame is by far the best option too. If you don’t get Braced Frame, you can make do with Smallbore in a pinch, but the vertical kick will be a little more difficult to control. You could also choose to increase the range using perks in column four if you think you can control the recoil on your own.

Assembly II

  • Pros – Very fast TtK with body shots (1.07s, 17 body shots to kill). Very high aim assist. High mag size. Above average reload speed.
  • Cons – Very low range and stability. Below average recoil direction.

Recommended Vendor Perks:

  1. Column 1 – Your choice of sight
  2. Column 2 – Quickdraw or Armor Piercing Rounds
  3. Column 3 – Perfect Balance
  4. Column 4 – Counterbalance

Recommended Perks:

  1. Column 1 – Reflex, SureShot IS, OEG Riflescope
  2. Column 2 – High Caliber Rounds, Quickdraw, Armor Piercing Rounds, Lightweight, Extended Mag
  3. Column 3 – Perfect Balance, Hammer Forged, Smallbore
  4. Column 4 – Counterbalance

RoI marks the first time a 100/2 archetype auto rifle has ever been sold at a full time vendor with the much coveted Counterbalance+Stability Perk roll. It’s not quite as good a Braced Frame or Hand-laid Stock DoP, Arminius, or Soulstealers, but this is still an excellent option for anyone looking to get into using this type of weapon. Your choice of sight for the vendor version will depend on whether you want to boost stability or push out the range with higher zoom.

Stability is recommended first and foremost, because all the zoom in the world doesn’t help when you can’t stay on target. On a random drop, you’ll want Reflex as the primary option for the increased aim assist and slightly higher zoom, SureShot for just the aim assist, or OEG Riflescope if you can handle it for the highest zoom option.

In the second column none of the perks are really necessary for a god-roll, so you can go with either HCR for flinch and range boosts or APR for over-penetration and range boosts, or Quickdraw for faster equip and ADS speeds. Lightweight and Extended Mag are both acceptable as well.

In the third column most people will prioritize a stability perk, so Perfect Balance is the best choice to keep the recoil under control. If you can’t get that you can try to max out range with Hammer Forged, or go for a combination of both range and stability with Smallbore. Combine any of those with Counterbalance in the last column (which makes the recoil pattern nearly completely vertical) and that should be enough for most people to handle this weapon.

Pulse Rifles

SUROS PDX-45

  • Pros – High aim assist. Very high stability and reload speed. Above average mag size.
  • Cons – Very low range and recoil direction.

Recommended Perks:

  1. SPO-28
  2. Perfect Balance, High Caliber Rounds, Hammer Forged, Fitted Stock
  3. Counterbalance, Hidden Hand, Rangefinder, Headseeker
  4. Rifled Barrel/Smallbore

SPO-28 is the best sight for the AA boost. If you grab Perfect Balance here, it will push the stability up high enough that you can use Rifled Barrel in the last column, and end up with massive boosts to both. If you aren’t lucky enough to get Perfect Balance, then Smallbore is the best option in the final column, and either of the other three second column options will work.

You can even match Smallbore with Perfect Balance to achieve literally maximum stability, but you won’t get as much range as you could with Rifled Barrel. High Caliber Rounds does well on the PDX-45, simply because the RoF is so fast that landing all of your shots will have the other person’s screen jumping almost constantly. Hammer Forged can help with the very low base Range, and Fitted Stock doesn’t give much of a Stability bonus, but it’s still a helpful in tightening up the bullet spread. Counterbalance in the middle will always be the best choice to improve recoil direction, but Headseeker or Hidden Hand can both make the gun more forgiving than it already is. Rangefinder is less useful than the others, but still an option.

B-29 Party Favor

  • Pros – Very high reload speed. High aim assist.
  • Neutral – Average stability.
  • Cons – Low range and mag size. Below average recoil direction.

Recommended Vendor Perks:

  1. Red Dot-ORA2 or OEG
  2. Partial Refund
  3. Smallbore
  4. Glass Half Full

Recommended Perks:

  1. Reflex, SureShot IS, SteadyHand IS, OEG Riflescope
  2. Life Support, Outlaw, Feeding Frenzy, Eye of the Storm
  3. Perfect Balance, Rifled Barrel, Smallbore, Braced Frame, Hand-laid Stock
  4. Counterbalance, Rangefinder, Third Eye, Headseeker

A member of the ever popular Hawksaw/PDX-45 archetype, this Crucible sold variant is basically just a poor man’s version. Compared to other similar weapons, the range isn’t bad, but the stability and mag size leave something to be desired. The aim assist does a valiant job attempting to make up for it, but in a world populated by god-rolls, the perk options here fall short. Smallbore decreases an already low mag size, but you really need to the range and stability boosts, and fortunately Partial Refund offers some help. Glass Half Full is nice perk to have, but realistically does very little in the Crucible. I’m not a fan of the sights, either, but you take what you can get. If you missed out on the previous Hawksaw, and you’re waiting for a great PDX-45 from the Gunsmith, you might as well pick this up to use in the meantime.

If you get one of these from a rank-up package, you’re going to want to look for the Reflex sight to improve zoom and aim assist. SureShot IS or SteadyHand IS can be passable as the increase aim assist and stability, respectively. OEG Riflescope will push out that damage fall off but can be difficult to wield. In column two, Life Support is fast becoming one of my new favorite perks for how useful it can be in clutch situations. Outlaw and Feeding Frenzy are both quite good considering the lower mag size, and Eye of the Storm can be helpful too. In the third column most people will want to improve stability to decrease the size of the burst spread, and I’d like to try to do that without killing the range or mag size. With that caveat, Perfect Balance is the best option. If you want to increase range then Rifled Barrel becomes the best choice. If you can’t get either of those, then you’ll end up with perks that have decent effects but handicap another part of the weapon, like Smallbore, Braced Frame, and Hand-laid Stock. In the last slot Counterbalance is always the best perk for ease of us, with Rangefinder and Third Eye coming in behind it. Headseeker isn’t the most useful on this particular archetype of weapon, but it can still make the gun more forgiving.

The Waltz

  • Pros – Very high aim assist. Above average mag size.
  • Cons – Very low range, reload speed, and recoil direction. Low stability.

Recommended Vendor Perks:

  1. SteadyHand IS
  2. Lightweight
  3. Perfect Balance
  4. Rangefinder

Recommended Perks:

  1. Reflex, SureShot IS, SteadyHand IS, OEG Riflescope
  2. High Caliber Rounds, Extended Mag, Quickdraw, Flared Magwell, Armor Piercing Rounds
  3. Perfect Balance, Hammer Forged, Smallbore, Outlaw, Feeding Frenzy, Third Eye
  4. Counterbalance, Headseeker, Rangefinder

Finally, we get more weapons in this highly sought after archetype! The sole previous member, the Grasp of Malok, was getting lonely, and it looks the The Waltz may well turn out to be the perfect companion. Stat-wise the two guns are very similar across the board, with The Waltz lagging just a bit behind in most categories. The vendor sold version won’t quite be a game changer straight out of the box, but it does come with a decent combination of perks. SteadyHand and Perfect Balance will help to neutralize the difficult to control recoil of the high RoF weapon, and Rangefinder gives it that little extra boost needed to keep it competitive in the middle ranges. Lightweight, as always, is a perk I enjoy, but it doesn’t do much for this weapon. If you haven’t managed to snag yourself a well-rolled Grasp, then this can be a good placeholder until you do.

If you get one of these from a rank-up package, you’re going to want to look for the Reflex sight to improve zoom and aim assist. SureShot IS or SteadyHand IS can be passable as the increase aim assist and stability, respectively. OEG Riflescope will push out that damage fall off but can be difficult to wield. In the second column almost all of the perks will have some usefulness, so you can pretty much be assured you’ll get something good. Extended Mag and Flared Magwell can both be used to help out with the lower mag size, and HCR and APR both add a bit to the range stat in addition to their main perk. Quickdraw is always a nice PvP perk to have. In column three most people will want a stability or range perk here, so Perfect Balance is the optimal choice with Hammer Forged following that up. Smallbore is a less useful perk because the mag size is already low to begin with, but boosts to stability and range are nice to have. Outlaw, Feeding Frenzy, and Third Eye are all excellent, just not top tier in this situation. In the last column Counterbalance is the most sought after perk for the majority of players, as it helps with the poor recoil direction. If you don’t get that, Headseeker or Rangefinder are decent, but not god-roll material.

Grasp of Malok

  • Pros – High mag size. Very high aim assist.
  • Cons – Below average range and recoil direction. Very low stability. Low reload speed.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Red Dot-OAS, Red Dot-ORS1, Red Dot-ORES
  2. Counterbalance, Rangefinder, Headseeker, Life Support, Eye of the Storm
  3. Braced Frame/Smallbore/Perfect Balance, Hand Loaded, Fitted Stock
  4. Third Eye, Glass Half Full, Feeding Frenzy, Grenadier, Army of One

Part of one of the most popular archetypes in the current meta, a well-rolled Grasp was the white whale of many players in year 2. Fortunately, the archetype has been padded by a couple of easier to acquire weapons (The Clever Dragon from Iron Banner and The Waltz from the FWC Vendor), but the Grasp still has some statistical benefits like higher base range and aim assist that keep it on top. In terms of perks, Red Dot-OAS will help to increase the aim assist, but this gun doesn’t really need it, so if you have a sight you like, you’ll be good to go. Any combination of Counterbalance and Perfect Balance, Braced Frame, or Smallbore will be great in terms of getting a stable and easy to control recoil pattern. If you can’t get Counterbalance, Rangefinder is probably my next favorite option, as the increased zoom will tighten up the burst pattern a small amount and negate damage and aim assist fall off. You’ll be left with some sideways movement, but pairing it with one of the aforementioned column 3 perks will give you a solid mix of range and stability. In the last column, I like Glass Half Full for the bonus damage, but Third Eye probably has the most utility for PvP. Feeding Frenzy is also a nice to perk to have for the faster reload speed after kills.

Hand Cannons

The Palindrome

  • Pros – High range. Above average mag size and recoil direction.
  • Neutral – Average stability, reload speed, and aim assist.
  • Cons – Below average equip speed.

Recommended Vendor Perks:

  1. TrueSight IS
  2. Spray and Pray or Mulligan
  3. Rifled Barrel
  4. Rangefinder

Recommended Perks:

  1. SureShot IS/TrueSight IS
  2. Icarus, Outlaw, Hot Swap
  3. Rifled Barrel, Hammer Forged, Smallbore, Reinforced Barrel
  4. Rangefinder, Luck in the Chamber, Hidden Hand, Third Eye, Reactive Reload

This weapon is proving to be very, very popular in the Crucible. With a near perfect perk-set right out of the gate, on top of fantastic base stats, this gun may become the most prevalent hand cannon in PvP. Comparing it to Eyasluna head-to-head, the only places The Palindrome falters are the lower base stability (39 to 51) and equip speed (46 to 59), but it more than makes up for it with significantly higher aim assist (76 to 50) and much better recoil direction (94 to 60).

In addition to that, it’s sold by the vendor with an AA boosting sight, Rangefinder, and Rifled Barrel. It doesn’t get much better than that. For the vendor version, Spray and Pray or Mulligan will round out your perk tree, and you can choose either one. If you get a randomly rolled version, in the second column you’ll want Icarus for the god-roll, but Outlaw is also a fantastic perk.

If you aren’t lucky enough to get Rifled Barrel and Rangefinder, then any of the other perks that increase range in column three will make do, and every option in the final slot is solid. Luck in the Chamber is something of a gimmick, but can basically guarantee you win your battles when it activates. Hidden Hand increases the already high aim assist, and Third Eye is incredibly useful for PvP, even if it’s looked at as a crutch by some players. Reactive Reload is the least useful of the last options in most cases, but pairing it with Outlaw and Hand Cannon Reload gloves makes for a very deadly weapon.

Imago Loop

  • Pros – High range, mag size, and recoil direction.
  • Cons – Below average aim assist. Low stability and reload speed. Very low equip speed.

Recommended Perks for PvP:

  1. SureShot IS/TrueSight IS
  2. Rangefinder, Outlaw, Hot Swap, Spray and Play, Underdog
  3. Rifled Barrel, Smallbore, Reinforced Barrel, Hammer Forged, Braced Frame, Explosive Rounds, Hand Loaded
  4. Hidden Hand/Icarus, Luck in the Chamber, Life Support, Third Eye, Reactive Reload, Grenadier, Army of One

As always, the two best sights on HCs are SureShot and TrueSight, since they both help to boost the average base aim assist. In the second column, Rangefinder is universally considered to be the very best perk, and no God-Roll is complete without it. Outlaw is a very passable second option, but after that it’s a steep drop off to Hot Swap and Spray and Pray, neither of which are optimal choices. Underdog brings up the rear, but at least it can give you a range bonus in some situations.

In the third column, Rifled Barrel is again the universally acclaimed choice, but Smallbore, Hammer Forged, and Reinforced Barrel (if you don’t care about the massive hit to stability) are all very passable second options. If you are trying to get a Luck in the Chamber build, Smallbore and Braced Frame will be your two best choices. Explosive Rounds and Hand Loaded bring up the rear of the preferred perks in this slot, with ER greatly increasing your opponents flinch, and HL giving a small boost to the range stat.

In the final column, Hidden Hand and Icarus are my two top choices, given their all around usefulness, but some people will want Luck in the Chamber, depending upon their play-style. Having started to play with Life Support more, I’m really noticing its usefulness and beginning to lean towards recommending it as a higher tier perk. It activates quite often, multiple times per game, and saved me on enough occasions that, despite its random nature, is a beneficial perk. Third Eye is always solid in PvP, though some people look at it as a crutch, and Reactive Reload can be put to fantastic use situationally, so don’t sleep on either of those. Grenadier and Army of One are all also okay options, so you really can’t go wrong in this column, unless you get Mulligan.

Scout Rifles

MIDA Multi-Tool

  • Pros – Very high mag size, reload speed, and aim assist. Above average stability.
  • Cons – Low Range.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Your choice of barrel perk
  2. Third Eye
  3. Lightweight
  4. MIDA Multi-Tool

One of the most popular exotic primary weapons in use right now, the MIDA has everything you need to dominate the Crucible. Starting with it’s insanely high aim assist, reload speed, and mag size, the only real downside is the lack of high base range, which unfortunately none of the barrel perks will help. Soft Ballistics decreases the damage per bullet by a small amount but pushes the aim assist up to a perfect 100. Smart Drift Control makes the recoil direction also a perfect 100. Third Eye is one of the most useful perks in PvP, and Lightweight combines perfectly with the increased movement speed granted by the exotic perk.

Shotguns

Field Choke, Linear Compensator, Accurized Ballistics all increase the damage per pellet by 2.5%. Aggressive Ballistics increases it by 5%. Soft Ballistics decreases it by 2.5%.

Last-Ditch 001

  • Pros – Very high range and max range. Can still hit the range cap using Hand Loaded and Hammer Forged with Accurized Ballistics, Linear Compensator, or Field Choke.
  • Neutral – Average mag size.
  • Cons – Below average reload speed. Very low aim assist and equip speed.

Recommended Vendor Perks:

  1. CQB Ballistics
  2. Quickdraw
  3. Hammer Forged
  4. Rangefinder

Recommended Perks:

  1. Linear Compensator/Accurized Ballistics/Field Choke, Smooth Ballistics, Aggressive Ballistics
  2. Hand Loaded, Quickdraw, Snapshot
  3. Hammer Forged
  4. Rangefinder, Full Auto, Crowd Control, Final Round

The Matador class of very high-impact shotguns was on a short hiatus during year two, but they’re making their return felt with the Dead Orbit Last-Ditch 001. With a tremendously high base range of 23, this gun is capable of killing Guardians with a single blast at distances other shotguns can only dream of. The vendor version isn’t perfect, as it lacks a good barrel perk, but Quickdraw, Hammer Forged, and Rangefinder make a deadly combination. If you get a random roll, you’ll be looking for the aforementioned combination on a good barrel perk, Hand Loaded, Hammer Forged, and Rangefinder to squeeze every last drop out of the 1-hit kill range.

With those examples out of the way, let’s move on to the last couple things you should do before you even start your first game.

Loadout Optimization

Helmet

  • Ashes to Assets
  • Orb Pickup Perk that compliments our playstyle

Gauntlets

  • Reload Perk for our preferred weapon
  • Ability Improving Perk that compliments our playstyle

Chest

  • Increased Armor for our subclass
  • Increased Ammo for our preferred weapon

Boots

  • Increased Ammo for our preferred weapon
  • Agility Increasing Perk for our playstyle

What perks do you have? What stats on your armor? Try to play to your strengths with your perks and choose perks that help you out. Let’s take a look at our armor for a second. Do your perks help you out in the Crucible, or do you have some tier-9 gear and a helmet with Inverse Shadow on it? For those people who don’t know what I mean when I say tier-#, it’s simply a shorthand for discussing how well rolled the armor stats are.

For someone just getting into the Crucible, maximizing their stats to tier-12 isn’t that important. Tier-12 is something the most hardcore players chase, but we’re going to focus more on getting a solid combination of tiers (let’s shoot for 10 or higher) and perks that complement our playstyle.

First things first, let’s toss out the idea that our Guardian has to look sexy. Figure out the perks you need first, then move onto finding the best looking gear that has them. Starting from the top, the first priority is we’d like to try and make sure our Helmet has Ashes to Assets, simply because it is the only perk in that slot that will provide us with any use in PvP. Any of the orb pickup perks will due, but if you really like using grenades or melees specifically, maybe try to find a helmet that gives you bonus energy in your preferred ability for the orbs.

For the arm pieces, what’s your favorite weapon to use? Try to find a pair of gauntlets that allows you to reload that weapon type faster. If you can match that up, then you have the option of several other perks which recharge your abilities or make them slightly more powerful, like increasing melee speed or throwing grenades farther. Any of these will work, but if you can, again try to match them to your preferred playstyle.

For chest pieces, increased armor for your subclass is the first thing we need to look for. Some people say one extra armor doesn’t do much in the Crucible, but I say every single hit point of health counts, and it definitely can make a difference. Once we get the armor increase we want, let’s try to find a chest piece that increases the ammo carried for whatever our preferred special weapon is.

For leg pieces, the best perk is one that increases either our preferred heavy or special weapon first, and then whatever the second perk is is just a bonus.

For artifacts, you just want to make sure you have one that is beneficial for PvP. An Intellect/Discipline artifact is preferred because they can give you more of a bonus towards your stats, but it’s not necessary. Once you’ve got all of these perks, you can use an app like Destiny Item Manager to figure out what the best tier combination is. We’d like to shoot for tier 10 at the least, but 11 is very good, and 12 is perfect.

Party Up

Now that you’ve got your controller, weapons, and armor set up accordingly, there’s one more thing to do before you hop into the Crucible.

Its more fun playing with friends, and you’ll have more success. In a game like Destiny, playing with a group can be the difference between victory and rage quitting. I know this is a hard thing to do for a lot of people. Not everyone has friends that are on when they are, and not everyone likes playing with other people, but the truth of the matter is you’ll have a lot more success playing in a fireteam. If you don’t have friends to play with, there are a ton of great resources out there that can help you find people to play with, including LFG.

Also consider joining the game chat! Even casual Destiny relies heavily on communication, timing, and teamwork, and playing with other people who you can coordinate with makes everything run so much better and more smoothly. Plus, talking to other people in game can help you to learn callouts and how to communicate mid-battle, two skills which are necessities at higher levels of play.

So those are the four major things to look at before you even select a gametype. If you’re looking for someone to play with, my GT is Mercules904, and I’m always happy to run Crucible with anyone who wants to.

Mercules904
Author of Massive Breakdowns, Crucible enthusiast, recovering re-roll addict.