Dave’s Destiny Tips: First steps with House of Wolves Expansion


House of Wolves (HoW) is the second Expansion Released for Destiny since the game’s launch. With this update comes lots of new armor and weapons as well as two new End Game modes: The Prison of Elders (PoE) and Trials of Osiris (ToO). PoE is a 3-player co-operative mode featuring players vs environment. There is a level 28 event as well as levels 32, 34 and 35. Only the level 28 event features matchmaking.

ToO is a Player vs Player elimination mode: 3 vs 3 with no matchmaking at all. It is a very competitive PvP mode, as some of the best Crucible players will be teamed-up to earn the best weapons and gear that the trials have to offer.

Disclaimer: Some of the tips I mention here are known, others will be my own. Destiny drops based on a Random Number Generator (RNG). Sometimes you get awesome drops, and sometimes you get useless drops. Nothing is guaranteed.

Nightfall/Weekly Heroic Strike
House of Wolves will not be released by Bungie until 10:00 AM Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday May 19th, but Destiny normally resets at 5:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. It is my belief that the nightfall/weekly strike will not be a HoW strike as in Expansion I: The Dark Below.

First tip: DO NOT run the nightfall at reset. Wait for HOW content to be added to the game. You can receive many engrams or other drops such as legendary/exotic weapons or exotic gear. You will be shorting yourself a chance at new armor/weapons by doing this strike before HoW is officially released.

Etheric light will be added to the Nightfall loot table. Etheric light is the material needed to level-up your legendary armor and weapons, but you will not need etheric light for exotics. The Nightfall should still be the first thing you do before any other objectives, since the Nightfall gives you an XP boost for the rest of the week helping you boost reputation for any faction or any Queens Reputation that you are working toward.

Light Level
Your light level is the most important element in Destiny. Higher light level means more damage from your character. Many weapons which have been maxed-out at 300 attack power are still viable over weapons which are maxed at 331.

For instance: A guardian with light level 30 and a 331 weapon will do less damage to an enemy than a level 32 guardian using a maxed 300 weapon. Getting your guardian to level 33 or 34 should be your top goal, and here’s how:

Exotic armor
You can take your exotic armor to the new level 34 defense as soon as HoW content is available. You will need glimmer, class armor material, and an exotic shard.
exotic armor large

You can only have one exotic armor piece equipped per guardian. Do this upgrade before you run story missions or nightfall/weekly strikes. You will need every boost you can get, and you will not have to re-level your exotic if it is maxed out.

This will apply if you have an exotic that is maxed-out at the previous level cap of 30. For example. if you got this exotic to drop prior to the first expansion and have not purchased the upgrade through Xur.

Legendary Armor
Legendary armor will need etheric light to upgrade to the max level. The same upgrade rules apply for legendary armor as with exotic armor. You may upgrade any legendary armor you like and it will register the new maximum level.

upgrade leg

Etheric light will only drop from the Nightfall, PoE, ToO and Iron Banner rank 3 and 4 when available. If you have a Dead Orbit chest-piece that you love, you can keep it and upgrade it to the max level.

Herein lies the critical decision-making! Getting to the highest level possible is your first priority. Any exotic armor with the most important perks per your style of gameplay should be your first upgrade. Next, your hunt for etheric light is the next most important step.

Pick one guardian you want to reach the level cap first and focus all your effort on that guardian. If you get etheric light to drop on another guardian, move it to your vault for use on your primary guardian. If you’re lucky, you could have a guardian with a maxed-out exotic armor piece and a maxed-out legendary piece in a relatively short amount of time.

If the current information is accurate, this should get you to level 33.

Exotic Weapons
If you have a decent number of exotic shards in your inventory, I recommend after upgrading a piece or two of exotic armor, you pick a weapon or two that you want to upgrade. Maybe Ice Breaker, maybe Red Death, or your favorite exotic weapon.
exotic ascend

Don’t upgrade legendary weapons until your light level is maxed out. Both legendary weapons and armor require etheric light to ascend to max level. As long as the weapon or armor is maxed-out it will remain so. After ascending, you will not need to re-level the gear. However, if you have a piece of gear that is only half-upgraded and you choose to ascend that piece, your upgrade tree will still remain at half. It will not max it out automatically. Only ascending gear that is already maxed will do the job completely.


I have seen lots of questions about what to do before HoW launches. If you get some of your faction rep to where they are almost leveled to rank three or above, finish leveling them after HoW launches.

Get new gear via postmaster packages?
Yes, however this new gear will be only level 32. This gear can not go higher than level 32 without etheric light. There is a chance for some of the new weapons that the vendors will be carrying, but I am guessing, as with all the previous content, that the best weapons will be coming from drops in the PoE or ToO. In the previous expansion, and original content of Destiny, all the best loot came from the raids.

Do not forget about the Commendations that you have been earning since the release of The Dark Below expansion. These are now considered consumable items. You can use them to earn rep towards which ever faction class item you are wearing at the time of consuming them. This could help you level-up your faction for a chance at some new gear.

Not 32 Yet?
Lets look at players who are not max level. There are two types of these players:

The first type are unlucky RNG players. You raid when you can and just haven’t gotten the armor pieces you need.

The other player has all the gear they need to reach level 32 but is short of needed material, like PS Nation writer Keith! The speaker will now exchange materials for you. You can exchange radiant energy for radiant shards. You can exchange ascendant energy for ascendant shards. The speaker also will have other options for material exchanges as well. Get your gear maxed-out prior to putting etheric light into it.
speaker use

Tips: Focus on the exotic armor you have and ascend that to max level. Then focus on what ever gear you have maxed-out and ascend that. If it’s vendor gear that is only level 31, you can ascend that to max level with etheric light.

Bungie has done an amazing job at listening to the community about what they want out of this latest expansion. They have made it very accessible to new players as well as giving the hardcore players new goals.

Let me know what you are doing to prepare for House of Wolves. What’s the first piece of gear you’re gonna ascend?

Written by Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt

Podcast Co-Host
Reviewer/Features Writer

Helping people in games is the most fun I have ever had.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook