Update: We now know the power level recommendation of the raid. The original story is below.
Destiny 2's first Raid has a Power range of 260-280.— Luke Smith (@thislukesmith) September 11, 2017
Destiny 2’s Leviathan raid unlocks on Wednesday, Sept. 13. You will need to get your power level above 280 if you want to get into the groups with the highest likelihood of success.
We’re going to tell you how to do so in the shortest amount of time possible. I’ve personally tested these strategies, and have reached a power level of 283 ahead of Tuesday morning’s weekly reset, the first in Destiny 2.
So there may be some new information here for you, even if you think you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.
Weak Guardians can’t raid
Every activity in Destiny has a recommended power level. The fact that it’s called a “recommendation” may make it seem like it’s a polite suggestion, but that number marks a threshold below which players are penalized with a stacking debuff that quickly makes survival impossible.
In the original Destiny, every point of Light below the recommendation reduced your Guardian’s damage by 3 percent. So your damage was reduced by 45 percent if you were attempting to fight a boss with a recommended Light level of 300 and your Guardian was at 285.
Power levels in Destiny 2 work in a similar way to Light in Destiny. While the community hasn’t yet done extensive testing to see if there if there are any changes to the math, you can assume that you’re going to deal very little damage if you don’t at least get close to the recommended power level.
There are going to be many sub-270 power level Guardians on Reddit and in various forums complaining that elitist snobs won’t play with them, but that’s life. The last boss in Destiny raids has historically had a Light requirement that is the same as the Light cap itself. If that remains true in Leviathan and the final boss has a recommended power level of 300, your guardian with a 265 power level is going to be a serious liability. Your skill doesn’t matter at that point; the math is going to be working against you.
Most of the groups that will beat the final boss will consist of players who begin the raid above a power level of 280, and maybe even 290. Your odds of finding a group that will finish the raid if your power level is below 270 are very low.
Let’s explain how to get there.
The power level of your item drops is determined by the power level of your character’s current gear. Rare-quality (blue) drops will range from a couple of points below to a couple of points above your current gear, up to 260. You can slowly push your level up to that point by just grinding any activity with item drops.
Legendary-quality (purple) drops come from randomly dropped legendary engrams and from turning in tokens to vendors. These items will be five power levels above your current power level, up to 265.
The fastest way to generate tokens and blue drops is to farm heroic Public Events. These usually drop two blue items, a token and some Glimmer, and give you a low chance at legendary or exotic engrams.
Titan is the best place to do this. The area is small, but dense with spawns. There are plenty of other things to do nearby while waiting for an event to begin. To maximize your time while you wait, use a scouting report from Cayde or a Ghost that highlights loot chests.
You can also pick up Patrols in the area. The salvage Patrols, which have an icon that looks like a triangle, can be completed without leaving the immediate vicinity. The enemies that spawn during the Public Event will also drop Patrol salvage in many cases, allowing you to complete the Patrol mission while doing the Public Event. This will get you more experience points, Glimmer and tokens.
Only two kinds of Public Events spawn on Titan: the Weapons Exchange and the Witches Ritual. Most players have figured out the heroic trigger on the Arsenal Walker, and you can activate the trigger on the witch ritual by yourself.
The success rates for heroic public events are much higher on Titan than they are in places like EDZ in my experience. Some of those events, like the Glimmer Drill and the Cabal Excavation, have heroic triggers can be easily ruined by oblivious blueberries who don’t know what’s going on. Titan’s selection of only two events removes this issue.
You may want to consider using a Fireteam Medallion while you grind. These improve the quality of loot for your fireteam during public events, and they last four hours.
You can buy these from Tess Everis, but you can also get them without spending any real money on Eververse goods. You get one Fireteam Medallion free for finishing the campaign, and they cost 50 Bright Dust each after that.
If you dismantle a cosmetic item from one of your bright engrams, you can get about 100 Bright Dust. Buy more Medallions by dismantling any ships or Sparrows you don’t want.
Raising your power level with weekly lockouts and exotic engrams
There are four activities that drop gear that can upgrade your existing loadout past 270 power:
- the weekly Flashpoint milestone
- the weekly Crucible milestone
- the Nightfall strike
- the weekly clan XP milestone
The power level of the rewards you receive is determined by your the power level of the gear you already have. That means that if you collect one of these weekly rewards when your current power level is 240, your powerful gear reward will have an attack or defense rating of 247 to 248, and you will have wasted one of your few opportunities to push higher than 265 for the week.
If possible, you want to save these until you have already reached a power level of 265 from blue drops and legendary token turn-ins. If you do, your milestone rewards will have a power level above 270.
Collecting all four of these four rewards should get you close to a power level of 275 if you don’t collect any of them until you are 265. Join a clan, even if you’re not a social player, to avoid missing the clan reward. Reddit can be a good place to look.
You should strongly consider playing enough Crucible matches to get the weekly Crucible milestone. You can do it in the quickplay playlist, and you progress toward your milestone even when you lose. The pressure is low, and you might even have some fun.
If you like competitive PvP, Bungie is unlocking Trials of the Nine on Friday, Sept. 15. This high-stakes elimination competition requires an organized fireteam, and the best rewards in this mode will probably be restricted to players who can rack up a bunch of victories with few or no losses. But there also will be a fifth weekly milestone for Trials, and that loot will probably be accessible even to less-successful players.
So this is all going to be easy?
Hardly. The Nightfall milestone, which is a time-limited hard mode for strikes, is going to be the most difficult. But it’s still easier than the raid, and only has a recommended power level of 240.
But if you find raiding stressful — as many players do — the Nightfall milestone isn’t mandatory. You can progress all the way to 300 power just from doing public events for your weekly Flashpoint milestone each week, playing in the Crucible (even if you lose) and getting experience for your Clan milestone.
So you don’t have to go home if you’re not going to go hard. You can probably still reach the power cap of 300 before Curse of Osiris drops in December, even if you don’t bother grinding public events beyond your Flashpoint and you collect your weekly milestone rewards when your power level is below 265.
But you won’t be hitting the Leviathan anytime soon if you play that way.
A quest, marked with a blue crown icon, appears on the map for each of the planets after you beat the campaign. These quest chains lead to exotic weapons.
Here are the three exotics you can earn:
- On Nessus, you can help Failsafe learn what happened to the crew of the Exodus Black, and earn Sturm und Drang. Sturm is an exotic kinetic hand cannon and Drang is its companion legendary energy sidearm, with unique synergistic perks — kills with Drang give Sturm a damage bonus, and kills with Sturm reload Drang.
- In the EDZ, you can chase down a group of glowing Fallen to stop their supply of performance-enhancing drugs and earn the MIDA Multi-Tool, a beloved kinetic scout rifle from the original Destiny. Its perks keep the radar on-screen when aiming down the sights and improve your mobility, as well as the Multi-Tool’s new legendary companion SMG, the MIDA Mini-tool, which also improves your mobility. You go real, real fast when you have both equipped.
- Finally, on Titan, you can earn the exotic Rat King sidearm, which gets more powerful when other players on your fireteam are also using Rat Kings.
These quests aren’t particularly easy. Sturm und Drang requires you to decrypt five legendary engrams and an exotic. That’s a fair bit of grinding.
The MIDA quest has a recommended power level of 260, and requires you to find five scout rifles of rare or legendary quality to dismantle. Rat King requires you to complete a number of quest steps with other players who are on the quest, or who already have the gun, and it culminates with a quest to complete the Nightfall with five minutes left on the clock. That’s pretty hard! And nobody even uses sidearms!
Each of these will drop above your current power level, however, up to 300, so completing these quests will raise your power if you still need a boost.
A word about mods
Legendary-quality mods increase the power level of an item by 5. There are only two ways to get these mods until you reach a power level of 280, which allows you to buy them with Glimmer. You can find mods in Gunsmith packages and, sometimes, your legendary drops will already have one.
You need to check the details of every legendary you get from a reputation turn-in or an engram to see if it randomly has a built-in legendary mod. If it does, that means the item’s base power level is actually five points lower than the power level it displays.
So if you have two 265 helmets, but one has a legendary mod and the other doesn’t, the helmet with the mod is actually a base 260 helmet. If you infuse the 265 without a mod into the 265 with the mod, you’ll increase the base power level to 265. That means you’ll have a 270 helmet after the mod adds five points. We’ll take every advantage we can get.
Sometimes you just have to farm exotics
Exotic engrams drop infrequently during heroic public events. You can keep grinding public events for more exotic engrams, which can decrypt above your current power level.
This probably isn’t necessary for the raid, however. I was able to reach a power level of 283 after one week of lockout activities completed after reaching 265, and by completing the Sturm und Drang and MIDA exotic quests. I should be able to enter Leviathan close to 290 if I do the second week’s lockout activities. This should get me high enough to beat the final boss, after a couple of raid drops, even if he’s got a recommended power level of 300.
Second characters of the same class don’t seem to work right now
A popular gearing strategy in Destiny was to run two or even three characters of the same class. Two characters could pool their drops from lockout activities, since your characters can share gear through the vault. That meant you could have two Nightfalls and two raids each week.
This no longer works. If you complete a weekly milestone on a second character of the same class on the account, the rewards are currently decrypting at the same power level as regular legendary drops. We don’t know whether this is working as intended or is a bug, so you should avoid this strategy until it’s either fixed or we know for sure that Bungie closed the loophole for good.
The raid should be your goal
Whether you’re planning to scramble blindly into the raid the minute the doors open, or you don’t get there until sometime in November — when you’ve hit 300 power from weekly milestones and you’re playing in a group led by a patient and experienced sherpa — your goal in Destiny 2 should be to do Leviathan, at least on the normal difficulty level, while it is still current content.
Raids are the best part of Destiny. If you bought this game, you already paid for this experience. Don’t miss out on it.
Good luck, Guardian.