Destiny 2: Forsaken is out, and comes with a lot of new adventures to experience and places to explore. But you don’t have time to experience and explore things, because the raid comes out on Sept. 14, and you want to maximize your chances of doing well.
The raid will also have an entry-level gear requirement that will be hard to meet on that day, which means you likely have some work ahead of you if you want to get there as soon as it launches. And there are some limits on how much you can get done per day, making it important to use your time as efficiently as possible.
Here’s how to do it.
Public Events are still the fastest way to grind
The original level cap in Destiny 2 was 20. The Curse of Osiris expansion raised the cap to 25, and the Warmind expansion raised it to 30. Forsaken is a full leveling and gear reset, however. It inflates the level cap to 50, and the gear power level cap, which maxed out at 385 in Warmind, has been raised to 600.
Your first goal is to reach the level cap of 50, and the soft cap on power levels, which is 500. The soft cap is the maximum power level you will find on items from vendors and items dropped by basic overworld activities like public events, Lost Sectors and random drops.
The good news is that the power levels on the items you find are tied to your level, and will rapidly rise as you level up, rather than inching up as they have in some past games. The bad news is that the campaign itself doesn’t give you enough experience to get to the new cap.
In fact, the campaign has some major power level spikes from mission to mission that make it extremely difficult to play straight through when you’re starting from level 30.
The middle mission of the campaign is broken into seven adventure mini-missions to hunt down the Barons who helped Prince Uldren kill Cayde-6. The first of these adventures has a recommended power level of 380, and the last one has has a recommended power level of 440. You get a fair amount of experience and drops while playing through these, but not enough to hit the cap during the campaign, and not enough to keep you from falling behind this steep increase in recommended power levels.
This is by design. Sharp level spikes are a game design decision meant to encourage, if not force, players to step outside the main story and explore. Bungie wants you to play some of the new Public Events and bounties with your campaign missions. But it’s more efficient to just pop a Fireteam Medallion and do a couple of hours of Public Events, preferably with a friend or two.
You don’t need to bother with the events in the new areas; enemies in old areas drop leveled blue items and give just as much experience, so you might as well do events you’re familiar with in a zone where you have ghost shells that will give you a 10 percent experience buff. EDZ is great for this, because there are lots of events, and the waves of enemies that spawn during the heroic Glimmer Drill event give you tons of experience points.
You don’t have to do your grinding before you finish the campaign; you can just as easily do your Public Events afterward. But in order to hit level 50 and get near the soft cap, you’re going to need to do a couple of hours of some kind of grinding, and Public Events remain the most efficient source of experience. This will also help get you through the campaign itself.
Once you hit level 50, getting to the soft cap is pretty easy this time around. If you played Destiny 2 heavily in year one, and you’re sitting in a bunch of planetary tokens, you can turn them in for leveled gear. Just make sure to wait until you’re level 50 to do it, because higher power levels are gated behind character level.
It shouldn’t take you too much longer if you don’t have tokens, though; last year, I had to grind lots of Public Events that awarded inferior loot for the possibility of a drop with a higher roll to reach the soft cap, But, in Forsaken, every drop seemed to leapfrog me forward until I hit 500.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that things slow down from there.
Focus on Powerful Gear
Once your power level is 500, the only way to get upgrades is from activities with awards that are labeled “Powerful Gear.” Activities that award “Legendary Gear” will give you Legendary items below your current power level at this point, so don’t waste your time.
Activities that award upgrades above the soft-cap are time gated; mostly refreshing once per week. Once you have done the activity, you can’t do it again until it refreshes, and you lose the ability to collect an upgrade if you don’t get around to doing it before the refresh.
The most important thing to know early in the expansion is that you should not collect from events that award “Powerful Gear” until you reach the soft cap of 500, and you should try to hit the soft cap as quickly as you can so you won’t miss your weekly activities.
There are more ways to earn powerful stuff in Forsaken than there were in vanilla Destiny 2, so you’re going to be a little bit busier after hitting the soft cap now.
There are weekly quests for Gambit, Crucible, Strikes and Heroic Missions that all award powerful gear. Strikes and Gambit now have daily quests that also award powerful gear. The Nightfall Strike still awards an upgrade, and Spider has one weekly Wanted bounty that awards powerful gear.
Some other quests have powerful rewards, including one Spider gives you to clear out Lost Sectors. There are also quests in the tower to do Gambit, Strikes and and play in the Crucible in full matched sets of gear from the current season of respective activities. It will be tough to collect those sets before raids launch, though.
Once per day, Rahool the Cryptarch will now give you a buff that gives you a chance to find a “Prime Engram,” which will also contain an upgrade.
This all sounds like a lot, but power level is extremely important in Destiny. It increases the damage you deal and reduces the damage you take in all contexts, and when your power level is below the recommended level for the activity you are trying to do, your damage is sharply reduced as a penalty.
In the first weeks of the raid, a high power level will get you invited to groups, and a low power level will get you snubbed. So, if you want to raid, you need to try to do all these activities every time they’re available, and you want to start as soon as possible.
Random rolls and expensive infusions
In Forsaken, Bungie brought back the original Destiny’s randomly rolled perks on weapons and armor. That means that otherwise identical guns or armor pieces can have significantly different perks, and some will be better than others.
Because of the harsh penalties for falling below recommended power levels, perks probably won’t matter as much as power for the first few weeks. But people will eventually want to optimize their loadouts by infusing their highest power items into their gear with the best perks.
That means that there are still reasons to go after Legendary items that won’t improve your power level; you might get a “god roll.” And you might want to hang onto under leveled Legendaries in case they turn out to be useful; for example, a pair of gloves with a perk that gives you more ammo for Linear Fusion Rifles seems pretty bad because Linear Fusion Rifles haven’t historically seen a lot of use. However, we’re in a new expansion, and we haven’t seen the raid bosses we’re going to be facing. It may turn out that Linear Fusion Rifles are optimal in the new raid, and that this is therefore a good perk.
Bungie has increased the size of your vault to 500 items. Use that space to save Legendaries unless you are certain you will never need them.
However, you will want to hold off on infusing your highest level stuff into your preferred gear for now, because Bungie has decided that infusion, which previously cost very little, should be incredibly expensive. Each infusion now costs three Masterwork Cores, and those are scarce. You can get them from dismantling Masterwork gear or buying them from Spider. The first one you buy each day costs 10 Legendary Shards, and after that the price doubles every time.
That means when you get a new item with a higher power level, you’ll want to just equip it instead of infusing it into your preferred piece. Delay infusing your highest level gear into favorite gear until you’re near a the hard cap to save yourself a ton of cores.
Those who fall behind don’t necessarily get left behind
Last year it was harder to reach the soft cap in vanilla Destiny 2 than it is in Forsaken, but there were fewer activities to keep track of that offered upgrades beyond the cap. There’s now a lot more to keep you busy.
And it’s important to stay on top of things if you want to be serious about the raid. You will have a lower power level than many other Guardians when the raid launches if you don’t handle your leveling with care. Bungie hasn’t announced what the power level recommendation for the raid is going to be, but it’s always best to be prepared in order to perform at your best.
Pickup raid groups that form on matchmaking sites prefer players with higher power levels, for obvious reasons. If you’re behind, and you don’t have a clan or a group of friends to raid with, you’ll have trouble getting a group for at least the first week or two.
But a lot of Destiny 2 players take pride in being “sherpas” and helping inexperienced players get through the raids. Groups led by these players will be available after the first couple of weeks, so don’t despair if you’re not interested in power-leveling your way to raid preparedness. Players become a little less stringent about who they invite once they’re able to reach higher power levels through raids or activities; their increased power gives them more of a margin for error in in the raid.
If you’re behind, you might miss the first one or two raid lockouts, but if you keep collecting powerful gear at your own pace, you should be able to get there eventually. If you want to hit the ground running, however? You might want to clear out your schedule, starting tonight.