claws of ahamkara exotic armor

MEGA Dark Below Preparation Guide

Published on: Dec 6, 2014 @ 2:15

The Dark Below drops December 9th at 9 AM GMT (weekly reset). It’s going to be a very exciting day, but with so much new content to experience, you might find it slightly overwhelming…

There’s new missions, a brand new quest activity, gear, crucible maps/modes, and of course the Crota’s End raid.

This article will give an in-depth look at all of the new content coming in The Dark Below, and also provide tips and tricks to prepare for it all.[divider]

Gearing Up For Crota’s End

As you shift your gaze from the Vault of Glass to Crota’s End, it’s time to start gearing up for your descent into the Hellmouth.

You're going to need more than a shovel.
You’re going to need more than a shovel.

The Dark Below raid will be available immediately, and you won’t need to complete any missions/quests to gain access.

To check out all of the raid weapons, armor, and upgrade perks, click here.

Day One Recommendations

First of all, you’ll want to think about an enemy’s shields. Wizards have solar shields, while Knights have Arc shields.

Use the following suggestions to help maximize your damage to shielded Hive. Also be sure to coordinate with your team of 6 of who has what, so you can split up the elemental duties.

In a perfect world, each of you would have a Vex Mythoclast that ignores shields – but there’s no such thing as a perfect world.

Unless you know you will have teammates who will be focusing exclusively on solar or arc damage, your best bet is to bring and equip weapons that can work for both shield types.


Any of the raid weapons that have been upgraded to have the Oracle Disrupter perk will allow you to shoot through a Knight’s Wall of Darkness shield.

If you don’t have one of the following primary weapons, you might not be ready for Crota’s End.


  • Ice Breaker is in on our Top 5 Exotics list for Destiny, and certainly will be useful in Crota’s End. If you have it, bring it to help deal with Wizards at a distance (or simply use it to recharge your other special’s ammo).
  • Praetorian Foil, obtained in the Vault of Glass, is another great Solar choice. It made the #1 spot on our Top 5 Fusion Rifles list.
  • LIGHT/Beware, a high Impact fusion rifle, can be bought from the Vanguard Quartermaster.
  • Plan C, or really any Arc fusion rifle, is perfect for dealing with Knights, but Plan C is on sale for the low low price of 17 Strange Coins.. for now.




  • Going with a Bladedancer might seem like a tempting choice, especially since you’ll be able to take out a lot of Cursed Thralls when they inevitably swarm around you. Hive attack in large groups; use that to your advantage.


  • A Sunsinger’s ability to self-revive is too valuable, especially when facing the great unknown that is Crota’s End.
    • The Angel of Light perk (aiming your weapon while in the air will hold you in place for a short time) could be useful when overwhelmed by a group of thralls.


  • Defenders are going to be the real MVP in this raid. With the sheer number of enemies, having Armor of Light or Blessing of Light could be incredibly helpful.

[divider]Prioritizing Exotics

As most of you will know, there’s a new ultimate Exotic upgrade process that will increase its defense/attack level.

Because of the nature of this process, you need to consider which Exotic will be most useful to you, and which you should use your Exotic Shards on.

You’ll also notice that Xur has a couple of new Exotics for sale, which you can’t equip unless you buy The Dark Below. We don’t know how much the Mk. 44 Stand Asides will cost.

xur exotic shard
A sample of what Xur will offer us in The Dark Below; 2 per class

Each weekend, Xur will have a selection of Exotics in his inventory. These are not necessarily the Exotics you own, just a random selection from Destiny.

If you do not see any of your own Exotics in his “upgrade” selection, then you’ll just have to wait until you do in order to improve your Exotic(s).

I have The Last Word, and Xur has The Last Word!

This is it: Your first Exotic upgrade. Can you feel it? The excitement running through your veins? The obscene amount of damage that your new and improved hand cannon will now be able to dish out…

But wait. Ask yourself this: Is it better to upgrade my favorite Exotic armor piece first, or my trusty hand cannon so it hits harder? 

You honestly do need to ask yourself that question, because Exotic Shards won’t come cheap, and progression is completely reset on your Exotic when you upgrade it – so which is worth doing first?

Exotic Armor vs Weapons

  • Having to choose which to upgrade first begs the question of which is more important.
  • IF upgrading Exotic armor does not increase Light rating, then it’s really a matter of personal preference.
  • IF upgrading Exotic armor does increase Light rating, without a doubt, upgrade the armor first. Higher Light rating = 31/32.

Primary Weapons First

  • When you’re finally ready to make your choice on December 12th when Xur is in town, prioritize Exotic weapons.
  • As we explained in this article, the new raid primary weapons will not be available until January, and the new Vendor items (listed below) won’t be as strong as a fully upgraded Exotic.



  • First of all, on the topic of Exotic Engrams, DeeJ said that “The plan is for shards to be available all the time. Engrams will appear from time to time.”
  • As for Rare & Legendary Engrams, hold on to these until The Dark Below drops.
  • The infamous Cryptarch’s reward packages “now have an increased chance for Legendary Engrams.” Those Legendary Engrams might contain new DLC gear!


This section will focus on Crucible and Legendary gear. If you’d like to learn about the new upgrade perks for the raid weapons and armor, click here.

When the expansion goes live, all of the gear in the Tower vendors will be replaced; they’re being donated to the less fortunate in the City.

What does this mean for us? It means that there’s tons of fresh gear for each vendor that’s going to be even more powerful, and will get us to Light level 31.

How Does Light Work?

Game Version Rarity Max Light Rating
pre dark below Pre-Expansion Uncommon 0
pre dark below Pre-Expansion Rare 15
pre dark below Pre-Expansion Legendary 27
pre dark below Pre-Expansion Raid Legendary 30
pre dark below Pre-Expansion Exotic 30
dark below symbol Expansion I Legendary 33
dark below symbol Expansion I Raid Legendary 36
dark below symbol Expansion I Exotic 36

As you can see, the Light rating for The Dark Below is 33-36. A piece Legendary Crota’s End armor will be equivalent to an expansion Exotic.

Here’s some options to get to level 30, 31, and 32:

  • Level 30 (120) – pre dark below x3 Raid Legendary + pre dark below Exotic
  • Level 31 (132) – dark below symbol x4 Legendary
  • Level 32 (144) –  dark below symbol Exotic +  dark below symbol x3 Raid Legendary

Simply add up the “max Light” values above until you reach 120, 132, or 144 to see what gear it would take to reach Light level 31, 32, or 33.

[divider]Tower Vendors

The vendors, with all of their new items, are now operating under new management. ‘The Man’ has recently informed all of the vendors that they’re losing money, and need to handle business differently.

All Legendary gear requires Ascendant materials for their damage/defense upgrades – click here for tips to quickly gaining endgame materials.

In order to purchase one of the new Crucible/Vanguard items, you must first acquire a Crucible/Vanguard Commendation (after Rank 3+).

  • Commendations are received in Reputation Reward Packages delivered by the Postmaster upon reaching a new Reputation Level.

Ranking up with each Crucible/Vanguard vendor will allow you to receive these.

Crucible/Vanguard Gear

There’s a lot of it, take a look for yourself.

[divider]Trials of Osiris

The Trials of Osiris mode is rarely talked about, but lucky for you, we basically know everything there is to know about it.

We predicted it was going to be introduced with The Dark Below, and that’s been confirmed in triplicate now.

Trials of Osiris
Trials of Osiris in the middle

Notice the symbol in the middle? That’s how we’ll acquire the elusive Fate of All Fools with its respective Exotic bounty.

The weapon was actually updated silently with the latest ‘Exotic patch.’ We talk about its updates, along with the new Inferno/Hardcore modes in this video:


Unfortunately it’s not widely known that completing Exotic bounties, or using Exotic Shards, before the expansion dropsis not a good idea.

It’s confirmed that waiting to turn in your Exotic bounty until after December 9th @ 4 AM EST, you’ll automatically get the new and improved upgraded version that you would otherwise have to pay for – if you turned in the bounty now.

As for Exotic Shards, there’s not much use in using these right now. So, you purchased that last defense node for your Light Beyond Nemesis… but what about when Xur is selling the upgraded version next week?

The Shard you spent on an upgrade now, could have been much better spent on actually purchasing the improved version of that item.

Pro tip: You’ll get more Exotic Shards for dismantling an Exotic that has perks unlocked via XP, even if the perks aren’t purchased/being used.

Exotic Upgrading Pre/Post Expansion

It’s going to be slightly quicker to upgrade expansion Exotics.


pre dark below These Exotics need a total of 162,500 XP to unlock every node.


dark below symbol These Exotics need a total of 160,000 XP to unlock every node.



pre dark below These Exotics need a total of 285,000 XP to unlock every node.


dark below symbol These Exotics need a total of 237,500 XP to unlock every node.


[divider]But Wait (Again), There’s More

For anyone who’s consistently following our updates, you already know about the new Exotics, Eris Morn’s bounties, etc.

For those of you who aren’t, that’s OK!

Check out these articles for more information (this article is too long as it is):

If you want to learn more about something, just ask in the comments below, or use the search bar – it’s pretty robust.