Destiny Preparing for The Dark Below Guide by dinedal
In order of priority, here’s exactly what you need to do to be prepared for The Dark Below (TDB), all in one place. Remember Guardians, when things get hard, play harder. ThatGuyLeroy reminds me to remind you all that this is based on what we do know right now, and is subject to change on the whim of Bungie unbeknownst to us. Updated to include new news in the weekly update, Updated to include Xur’s offering this week and how to deal with it.
- Skip Xur this week, save the coins Any exotic he sells will be much more powerful next week.  Next week you can buy vendor items to get to 30. While you can get a new exotic armor to potentially upgrade to 30 this week, any exotic you get next week brand new for your class will be better. Don’t bother buying shards either, since you can get those every week.
- Do not use Exotic Shards. Seriously, just don’t use them. Feel free to spend time on your exotics if you want to, ideally don’t bother to level them anymore, but for a fact do not use Exotic Shards. You will need them for upgrading them to the next level of attack power.
- Do not turn in the last step of Exotic Bounties until TDB hits. The exotic you get will already be upgraded.  Do however, go all the way until the last step.
- Have a fat stack of Ascendant materials. Any vendor weapons and armor post TDB you get will need them to be upgraded. If you’re like me, do VoG and that’s all you’ll get anyway. Or just keep doing the daily story and public events.
- Do not dismantle any duplicate Exotics. If you are lucky enough to have more then one exotic, that you want to upgrade, the best thing to do is to have one maxed (or near maxed) that you can use in the short term, and one that is unleveled. When Xur comes around, scrap your maxed one for 2 to 3 Exotic Shards  and have him upgrade your unleveled copy. Then re-level your copy, and you will either break even on exotic shards or have one left over.
- Pour as much experience as possible into your Exotics that you intend to scrap for shards. This will let you get the most shards as possible.
- Grind tiger strikes until your eyes bleed. Tiger strikes are the most blues per hour currently. Blues can become Strange Coins, and Strange Coins are the currency to have for Xur and all your upgrade needs. Aside from the Weekly, this is the fastest way currently known to get Strange Coins. Also a good idea to do the daily story
and at least one public event at gold tier per day for the care package that can contain a Strange Coin.scratch that,CosmicPrankster pointed out this is bugged and you don’t get the care package at present.  This will be fixed on TDB release 
- Save 5000 EXP Bounties. Do them and hold onto the completed ones without turning them in. Then when TDB hits, use them to level your new or upgraded gear back up.
- “Edge” your reputation with
factionsVanguard and Crucible Get all the way to “almost” being done with a reputation rank increase for as many factions as possibleVanguard and Crucible, and then when you are turning in bounties to upgrade your Exotics post TDB, flip around your class item to push them over the edge. This way you will have a chance to get a Commendation in the mail, which lets you buy the new vendor gear. Make sure you are at least rank 3 in the faction before you do this. Thanks to edwahgezhuck for pointing out that only Vanguard and Crucible are likely to give out Commendations. Update there is on going discussion here
- Exclusion Zone, Resupply Codes, Repeat. Grind out to max glimmer to upgrade your gear ASAP.  Alternatively use Blue Polyphage and a Gatekeeper checkpoint. 
- Get past the Glimmer cap by vaulting the 200 Glimmer items. Network Keys, Silken Codex, House Banners, and Axiomatic Beads. Does anyone have a good spot to farm these? Please let me know! Seems like Bandin03 likes to get his Axiomatic Beads from the Gatekeepr checkpoint  thirtytwoutside says the “Phogoth/Xyor part of the Thorn bounty is excellent for Silken Codexes”
- Save and/or Farm Black Wax Idol Per B_adl_y “You may also want to stock up on Black Wax Idols in order to purchase new upgrade materials, Ruined Core and Embalming Orb from Eris Morn. Nice place to do this aside from the Phogoth strike is the three hive underground just to the left of spawn in the Cosmodrone.” 
- Armor First, Weapons Second. Xur appears to be offering Armor upgrades in the order of 2 Hunter, 2 Titan, and 2 Warlock pieces . This means that you are fairly likely to have an Exotic armor piece that can be upgraded. Light Level is the most important thing in your damage output. Getting your armor upgraded to TDB level exotics should be your top priority after release. Level 31 will be accessible via the new vendor items AND one upgraded or expansion level exotic  so plan accordingly. Per madcatz1999 there currently is no known source that proves that armor will increase in light via an upgrade, however unlikely it may be that this is the case. I hope we can see the new stats we will get from an upgrade, but we may not.
- Primary Weapons First, Special and Heavy Weapons Second. New Crota’s End (CE) Primaries will not be available until January. This means that unless the new vendor legendaries out perform upgraded old exotics, your best bet is to upgrade a primary exotic and then obtain new vendor items for Special and Heavy Weapons, and/or obtain the CE Special and Heavy Weapons.
- Obtain new TDB Armor and Weapons before upgrading, if possible. These items are going to be so damn cool and they are going to already be stat-wise better then the other options. For the Forever 29s, these and the Exotic upgrades, will not only make 30 accessible but also 31.
- Save your blue/purple engrams Per RiohtGaming “you should save all your blue/purple engram’s until after the patch. That way, while you may not get post-DLC from those items themselves, you will get fresh post-DLC cryptarch packages that may provide new gear and exotics.” Will all this saving, I hope you have some extra characters to act as additional vault space.
Xur may no longer be selling engrams. I have no idea if Motes of Light are useful after TDB This is answered, he will be selling them “sometimes” per Deej 
- Xur may not be offering upgrades for
Exotic Bounty Weaponsor the Vex Mythlocast Anything that was not in Xur’s original offering is still unknown if it is going to be upgradable or not. The answer may be that you have to go and re-earn them at the new upgrade level. Update: Thanks to rink245 who pointed out that Super Good Advice is in the screenshot, so it is likely that Exotic Bounty Weapons can be upgraded via Xur.
- Xur may not be offering upgrades for PS4 Exclusives.
You may have to wait for a second drop of the Hawkmoon or Monte Carlo in order to find yourself with the upgraded version.Appears there is some information on Gamespot  that Xur will be able to do this upgrade
- Armor may not give more light after upgrade There’s nothing in the post that offers any indication upgraded exotic armor will give light, only ” higher Attack and Defense values than current Exotic Gear”  This is unlikely due to the fact that without additional light, old Exotic armor becomes useless even once upgraded.
- Armor may not retain original stats Since upgrading is a complete reset, the armor may have it’s stats re-rolled during this process.