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Your ultimate Destiny 2 guide to power levels and infusion

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Grind smarter, not harder

Bungie/Activision

Destiny 2 is a game with many complicated systems, and few of them are explained within the experience itself. The infusion system is one of the most opaque ones, so we’re going to teach you how to use it to get the highest level possible. But there’s much to understand before we get there.

Let’s dive in.

What’s your base power level?

Your base power level is an average of the attack or defense ratings of all of your best equipment for each slot, minus any power added by mods. This isn’t the number shown on your character sheet, which we’ll get to in a bit.

Your base power level is technically a weighted average, so your kinetic weapon’s damage score contributes more to your power than your class item’s defense score. This doesn’t matter in a practical sense, because you’ll generally want to keep your number for every slot as high as possible.

Your base power level isn’t even the average of your equipped items; it’s the average of the highest-power loadout available to you, factoring in items in your inventory, in your vault and on your other characters (if any). Using your Sunshot with an attack value of 290 doesn’t impact your base power level if you have a 300 attack weapon in your inventory somewhere. It’s the highest possible number that matters, not what you’re carrying at the time.

Base power level is not displayed anywhere, and it will be different from the power level displayed on your character sheet. That number is an average of the power level of your equipped gear, because base power level does not include your modifications, but does include unequipped, higher-power gear in your inventory and your vault.

Think of it this way: Your base level affects what loot gets dropped, while your displayed power level effects how much damage you can do or withstand at that moment. You can change your displayed power level by shuffling equipment, but your base power level will remain the same (until you get your next piece of stronger gear).

Why your base power level is important

Your base power level dictates the attack or defense rating of the gear rewards you get from nearly all sources in the game. If a player with a 270 base power level completes a Nightfall strike, their rewards might come in at a power level of 277. If a player with a 290 base power level completes the same Nightfall, their reward might have a power level of 297.

This system is designed to ensure that activities that are supposed to provide power level upgrades always give upgrades. But it also sets a ceiling on how much power you can expect to gain from any single activity.

Trials of the Nine is one of the most challenging areas of Destiny 2, but it also offers the best chances for great gear. Trials gives you powerful rewards for three, five and seven wins, and more if you go flawless. You also get tokens that will let you buy more Trials loot from a vendor. If you get very good at Trials, it’s basically all you need to do. You’ll also be fighting some of the best players in the game, so good luck.

Destiny 2’s best rewards — which are denoted in the Director as “Powerful Gear” under the associated activities, and which you can collect only once a week — will typically drop between five and eight power levels above your current base power level.

Look at all that Powerful Gear that’s up for grabs!
Bungie/Activision

This means that the journey to the maximum power level is one that you will measure in weeks, and weekly reward lockouts, instead of in hours played.

This is a radical shift from most games of this type; you will reach a point every week where there is very little you can do to increase your power level if you’ve gone through your Milestones and other activities.

How does infusion work?

Infusion is a system that allows you to increase the attack or defense rating of an item by feeding it more powerful items.

This is useful if you have an item that works well with the rest of your gear, but has a power level that’s bringing your displayed power rating down. Infusion lets you keep your favorite items by giving you a way to constantly improve their attack or defense value. Infusing items into each other will also cost Glimmer and Legendary Shards, so keep your supply up.

Let’s say you have an exotic weapon with a power level of 270 that you love, and a legendary weapon with a power level of 295. If both guns are the same type, you can infuse the 295-level weapon into your exotic. That will raise the base attack rating of the exotic to 295, consuming the legendary gun in the process.

This is complicated by mods, items that attach to your gear that provide different effects or buffs to attack or defense ratings. Legendary mods add five points to the attack or defense rating of an item, but that total is not taken into account for infusion. If you have legendary mods on every piece of equipped gear, your base power level will be five points lower than your displayed power level.

Destiny 2 - Conspirator scout rifle with legendary arc damage mod
This gun has a base attack level of 300, plus a legendary mod that adds five more points.
Bungie/Activision

That scout rifle with 295 attack that you’re infusing into your favorite exotic? If it includes a legendary mod, it will provide the benefit of a gun with an attack rating of 290.

It’s also important to note that all exotic weapons and armor pieces come with a legendary mod already attached. Going back to the aforementioned example of infusing a 295-power item into a 270-level exotic, the exotic’s final power level will actually be 300: a base power of 295, plus the built-in five-point mod.

This can all seem confusing, but it will soon seem simple once you start looking at the mods attached to items you’re consuming or infusing and considering how they will impact the final result.

There are more rules to consider, however.

When can you infuse a weapon into another weapon?

You can only infuse a weapon with a weapon of the same kind. Hand cannons only infuse into hand cannons, scout rifles only infuse into scout rifles and so on.

This is different from infusion in the original Destiny, where primaries, secondaries and heavies could all infuse into other weapons in those categories. Another new limitation is that you can’t infuse gear across classes: That Titan armor you bought from Xur won’t help with your Warlock loadout.

Don’t worry if you’re infusing your way into powerful weapons you’re not actually using; your base power level is determined by whatever is in your inventory, not what you’re using. So if you have the chance to make a really powerful sword, you should take it. Yes, even if you hate swords. It will increase the quality of your drops across the board to have an item with a higher level than your displayed power level in your inventory. (Of course, you could always just leave the higher-power item in your vault, but that would be a waste of a vault slot and a wasted chance to increase the power of an item you might actually use!)

Where do I get the best gear every week?

Here is a list of the activities that will always grant rewards with higher attack or defense than your current base power level, until you reach the maximum base power level of 300.

  • “Call to Arms” Crucible Milestone
  • Flashpoints
  • weekly Clan XP reward
  • Nightfall strike
  • Prestige Nightfall strike
  • Leviathan raid
  • Trials of the Nine

Nightfall strikes drop a powerful-level reward upon completing the strike, in addition to the reward you get for turning in the Milestone for completing it to Zavala. Clearing the raid or a successful Trials run can award you with multiple upgrades as well.

Grind your way to 265

Since the base power level of the equipment you currently have determines the base power level of the gear you get from these activities, you want to push your power level as high as it can go before you go to collect any of your Powerful Gear rewards.

If your base power level is below 265, any blue drops you find will randomly roll a power level from a range that can fall between a few points below your current base power level to a few points above.

You get blue drops from public events, end-of-strike rewards, end-of-match rewards from the Crucible, Lost Sectors and Adventures. Heroic Public Events yield the highest number of blue drops relative to the amount of time required to complete them.

Below a base power level of 265, any legendary (purple) gear you get from a token turn-in reward or a legendary engram will also be guaranteed to drop above your current base power level. Take advantage of this fact to get to 265 before collecting your powerful rewards.

When do you stop grinding?

Once you get above 265, weekly activities are the only way to increase your power level via grinding. There’s little reason to continue grinding after completing them.

There are a couple of reasons to keep doing strikes and Public Events, however.

  • There are a few legendary guns that you can only earn by redeeming faction tokens. That may be enough of a reason to run more Crucible matches or strikes, or to finish Ikora’s Meditations.
  • You can collect the different gear sets. Other than the fact that each gear set’s stats may be tilted toward mobility, resilience or recovery, the choice of gear you wear is mostly cosmetic. Collecting a complete set of faction armor can be a pretty substantial project, because the loot tables for all the faction turn-ins are larded up with common sets that drop from all sources. You’re going to have to spend a lot of time farming to get it all.

Beyond that, making another character is your best option. Weekly Milestones do not drop upgrades for a second character of the same class. Your second character can get an upgrade from the drop at the end of the Nightfall strike — but not for turning in the Nightfall milestone — and an extra set of max-level raid and Trials loot if you want to do those activities more than once a week.

Drops outside weekly events remain situationally useful

Once you go above 270, your rares (blues) and legendaries (purple) will start dropping consistently about five points lower than your base power level. That’s still high enough to be useful.

You can use these items to upgrade alternate sets of gear. That could help if you want to swap your gear when you use a different subclass, or if you want to swap among exotic armor pieces, since you can only equip one at a time.

Suppose you’re at a base power level of 285, and you turn in your Milestones for Flashpoint, “Call to Arms” and clan XP. Say these rewards let you update your helmet, your chest piece, your kinetic weapon and your power weapon to 292, bringing your base power level up to 289.

If you haven’t received leg armor upgrades in a Milestone in the last couple of weeks, and your boots are still at a base defense of 278, you should see blue-quality boots dropping around 284 if you farm Public Events. You can improve items at least a little if your highest-level item in any slot is more than five points behind your overall power level.

It’s best to use that strategy before you collect another Milestone reward or do another weekly activity, because the quality of those rewards is determined by your base power level. If you really want to maximize your farming and activities, always be looking for the item that’s lagging behind your base power level and get to farming if there’s a significant weak spot in your loadout.

You’ll gain power over time no matter what you do

There are players who pushed themselves to 265 power before collecting any Milestone loot in the first week, who have been beating Nightfalls, clearing the raid and competing in Trials, and have already reached the maximum power level of 305. Destiny 2 launched three weeks ago. That’s an impressive feat performed by people who understand the game’s systems nearly perfectly.

However, Bungie seems to want to make progression in Destiny 2 available to everyone. You can hit the maximum power level well before December’s Curse of Osiris expansion just by earning your weekly Milestones for clan experience, the Crucible and Flashpoints. It will take much longer, but you can avoid the more stressful activities in the game and still gain power.

So, if you feel like you’re falling behind, or if you’ve exhausted your Milestones for the week and have no further way to progress, you can relax. Enjoy the ride, and maybe lay off the grind for a bit.

You’ve got plenty of time — just remember to check those mods before infusion