For anyone who doesn't already know, The Taken King introduced new "secret patrols" while doing patrol activities on each destination. I've done a ton of these in hopes that they'd yield some sort of clue for one of the undiscovered weapons, but so far that hasn't bore fruit.
What is a "Secret Patrol"?
When you're on Patrol on any destination, there's a chance that you'll just automatically pick one of these up. They start off with an objective description that's looks like ????????, they're three steps long and each step requires a different action, and they've got decent patrol rewards for completing them.
How do I get a Secret Patrol?
So far as I can tell, a Secret Patrol has about a 10% chance to automatically be picked up following the completion of any normal patrol. I like to get mine by doing kill and VIP patrols, but you can really complete any patrol beacon and it will have a chance to give you a Secret Patrol when you finish. Expect to do about 5-15 patrols before you get one.
What do I get for doing Secret Patrols?
For completing all three steps, you get a bit of rep, a chunk of glimmer, possibly a blue engram or two, and a guaranteed 2-3 strange coins. I don't think it's the best way to get strange coins, but it's a good way and doing it this way allows you to get your coins from patrols and that's cool in and of itself.
Secret Patrol steps have a finite number of possibilities, so you have to either test those or wait until some of the letters automatically begin to unscramble over time.
Those possibilities are:
Get precision kills
- Get kills
- Get enemy-specific drops (e.g. kill Cabal for something they drop). Thanks /u/uyuni_ss!
- Generate orbs of light
- Do an emote (point, wave, dance)
- Dance (Yes, there's an emote step that's specifically "Dance Floors Mastered")
- Open chests and resource nodes
I may have also seen melee kills as an objective once, but I can't remember for sure and if it did happen it hasn't happened again in a long time. If you see any other objectives, let me know and I'll update this section.
Can I get more than one Secret Patrol in a single destination visit?
So far as I can tell, no you cannot. You can only get one, then you have to go to orbit and come back to be eligible for another.
I know this because I specifically tested that exact question in a /r/searchforthesleeper thread. I did 5 patrols and got a Secret Patrol, then did at least 60 more on the same planet and didn't get a single Secret Patrol in that time. It's not statistically conclusive, but it's anecdotally pretty solid evidence. If there's a 10% chance of getting a secret patrol after normal patrol completion, there's only a 0.0017% chance of doing 60 patrols without getting one. If this were Mythbusters, we'd solidly classify that question as BUSTED.
It's worth noting that since you can only complete one per visit, the possibility exists that doing a secret patrol is a prerequisite for doing something else on the same planet in the same visit. That said, don't go hog wild looking for secrets unless you're into that. I searched pretty thoroughly on Earth and Venus and found absolutely nothing. Your mileage may vary.
Update: It's possible you can only do each planet once per day. Thanks, /u/ZiathanVX!
Do I get anything special for doing secret patrols on each destination?
No. I mean, if you do, I haven't gotten it yet. I finished doing a secret patrol on each destination on Day 2 of TTK and didn't find anything at all for doing so. Again, it may be a background prerequisite for something else, but who knows?
It's possible that doing a secret patrol on each destination in a particular order does something, but damn that's 120 possibilities and I'm certainly not doing that on my own. If someone wants to coordinate a brute forcing search, be my guest. If you do, strap on your spinmetal hat and post your results to /r/searchforthesleeper.
Are there any secrets at all in Secret Patrols?
Not that anyone has found yet. There's some cool dialogue for completion, but none of it has led anywhere interesting yet. If there are secrets to be discovered, that search is broadened by educating the community on what Secret Patrols are/aren't and how to get/complete them. That's part of my goal, here. The other part is telling people about this cool thing that they might not have known about, which is a big part of what makes Destiny in general a fun game.
That's it! I hope you enjoyed my guide. Have fun with your Secret Patrols and best of luck finding any fun clues if they're out there!
Update: The possibility exists that Secret Patrols are involved with the Sleeper Simulant quest line, or specifically finding the transponder signal source mentioned when you turn in the fourth fusion rifle relic. If you're interested in testing that, I made a Google Doc to methodically test as a community effort on posted it here. The truth is out there and we can find it together.