Continuing from part 1 of our leveling guide we look at what you should be doing from level 26 on in Destiny…
Mini-goal #3 (Level 26) Let’s Get Raid-Ready
To hit level 26, you’ll need to get to 76 light. That’s 11 more than you’ve got after your first upgrade.
At this point, you’re probably starting to figure out what you can do on your own. You’ve got options as to how to proceed:
- Continue upgrades on your first Legendary. A fully upgraded legendary will give you another 8 Light, putting you 1 Light away from 26. The later upgrades can get intense, though. If you highlight the upgrades in your menu, you can see what they require, and if you like, try and include a little patrolling on the necessary planet (i.e. Venus from Spirit Blooms) to gather in between your other activities. How to get the advanced mats is outside the scope of this guide, but you can hit 26 without needing every single update on the thing.
- Purchase and upgrade another Legendary with marks after the weekly reset. This is the easiest way, and really just requires patience. Buying another Legendary and upgrading it once will put you at 75 light- 1 away from 26. Upgrade either one a second time, and you’re there.
- Rank up and earn marks for the other Vendors (Vanguard if you first bought from Crucible/Faction, and vice versa), and purchase an additional legendary from them. Upgrade once, etc.
The game time it takes you to go from 25 to 26 will, interestingly, be substantially less than getting from 24 to 25.
Okay so great. You did it! You’re 26, without a single shred of RNG required to get there. If you did happen into a lucky drop at some point and already have an exotic or legendary on you, you’re already well on your way past 26 into the upper levels.
Well, you can also save up your marks for Legendary weapons from these vendors. While weapons have no Light on them, they do enable you to hurt things more.
“No, no! I mean…”
Jeez! Getting to 26 without any RNG wasn’t enough for you? You want to get to the higher levels with zero RNG too? Fine. Cause you can.
Mini-goal #4 (Level 26+) Collect 13 Strange Coins and 23 Motes of Light
This is Xûr. This dashing creepyface will show up at the tower every Friday and Saturday with a fresh haul of absolutely incredible gear- Exotics, the best gear in the game so far. I have no idea why the tiers were named this way, but Exotics have far more unique qualities than Legendaries, and only one Exotic armor piece and one Exotic weapon may be equipped at a time. They are beastly.
Xûr will sell you:
Any of 3 available exotic armor pieces for 13 strange coins <- this is your ticket to guaranteed light progression
1 available exotic weapon for 23 strange coins
1 available exotic engram, which is guaranteed to be exotic, for 23 motes of light <- warning, there is potentially a 66% chance this item will be for another class
Exotic armor pieces have even more base Light than Legendaries and upgrade to feature even more bonus Light. You know what to do.
At this point in time, one Exotic armor piece and three Legendaries, fully upgraded, will bring you to level 29. To reach 30, you’ll require raid gear with bonus Light on it that must be earned inside the Vault of Glass. But don’t worry about that for now.
Motes of Light are earned by simply earning XP. Bounties, beacons, PvP, killing stuffs, everything. At every point you’d have leveled prior to 20, a mote will be generated and pop right into your inventory. Additional random chances for Motes of Light come from completing Crucible matches, completing Vanguard Strikes, in loot chests, or in any type of engram.
Strange Coins are earned by completing the Weekly Heroic Strike. Depending on the difficultly level you complete it at, you may earn up to 9 (with a minimum of 3) coins per week. Additional random chances for Strange Coins come from completing a Public Event, Crucible match, or Story mission, decrypting engrams, or loot chests.
Get all legendaries from your Vendors, plus an Exotic from Xûr… get on the upgrade grind, and you’re headed for 30.
“Whew that was a lot of information. So when-“
I wasn’t finished! It’s important to note that your rate of acquiring legendary/exotic gear may rapidly accelerate over time.
Loot as a Reward for Challenge
When it comes to loot drops governed by RNG, I’ve frequently heard the complaint that loot is not awarded consistently for tackling difficult content, and thus doing easy content for reward chances is just as efficient if not moreso as the toughest.
This will no longer be accurate once a certain echelon of content is attained.
By all accounts, the Weekly Nightfall (a very tough strike in which your fireteam gets punted to orbit if you die, rated at level 28 but has been completed at 26) and the Raid itself have farhigher chances of rewarding players with difficult-to-obtain Legendaries and Exotics.
You may have heard that the raiders got “no loot” for completion. There’s not much data to go on yet- but I have heard consistent reports of Legendary item drops- not engrams, the items outright- along the way. Some reports seem to apply that boss loot actually goes directly into your inventory.
These can be done once a week; if/when you can do them reliably, expect your piles of loot to grow.
If you’re anything like me, these are what you’re gearing up for.
Yup. There is a level of depth to the reward structure for things like Strikes that the community just doesn’t even comprehend yet.
On Bungie’s Grimoire, under Activities->Strikes, you can see this:
Class items can drop as a bonus for having crossed a certain threshold of total completions. Rank 2 and 3 are a mystery to me so far.
They get reallllllly detailed and nuanced with these grimoire rewards, even if you’ll never necessarily even know they’re happening as a player.
(VIP Kill beacon missions, where you’re guided to a tougher-than-usual mob to kill on Patrol, contribute to an “additional resources” bonus for completion of ALL beacon missions, and then… who knows what else. This could eventually speed up the acquisition of mats for upgrading legendaries/exotics, etc.)
“Holy crap. Why did they even bother going to all the trouble?”
I have no idea.
“Okay, this was all well and good, but the freaking engrams…”
Yeah, I know. If Bungie made one giant misstep in communicating its systems to the player, it was coloring purple engrams purple.
What the Hell is Up with Engrams?
Engrams seem exactly like unidentified item drops in Diablo. They show you what kind of item it is. They show you a rarity. You can’t pop it open until you get back to town to see what magical goodie you have received. Your palms begin to sweat and you gesticulate wildly in anticipation as you get back to the Cryptarch and get…
…nothing. Junk. A blue or some crafting materials, or an item your class can’t use. Then you get resentful, like the game tricked you upon finding the drop. Why would they tease me like that?! Ugh.
Here’s the thing. Engrams are not unidentified Diablo items. They’re a roulette spin. They’re lotto tickets.
Imagine if purple engrams were white or multicolored or something. They weren’t called “Legendary Engrams” but “Corrupted Engrams” (thanks Wallach) which need to be decrypted to see their rarity and not even an item type. Now imagine that you’re told these corrupted engrams have a random chance of being anything– from a Rare to an Exotic with all manner of special materials and currencies in between. Think you’d be a little less pissed when you opened it and a blue popped out?
This is a much more fair representation of what Legendary engrams are in the structure of Destiny. While you’re playing through content, working on your next goal, every so often you’ll have one of these pop out of a Dreg’s head. You’ll bring it to the Cryptarch and get something useful, even if not something exciting, and have a teensy chance of getting something amazing. They are largely tangential to your experience as a hero progressing with painstaking effort to your next conquest. They are not intended to be a primary route for character progression in this game.
Now, that said, Bungie did screw the pooch on this one…
..and so many people are bitching about this that I’m just stockpiling any that I find in case they do cave in and make them more valuable. But understand what they are intended to be and you’ll earn +1000 Better Time.
PSA with regard to farming: I’m not going to tell anyone not to farm in this game. It’s the kind of game that lends itself to farming, in general. Mindless tasks you can execute between more demanding ones- whether at home or on your Vita through some sort of Magic Voodoo Link- are totally something I can get behind.
However, and this is big, farming is not a viable method of gear progression in Destiny, no matter how good the farm is. A lot of that has to do with the additional variables of purple engrams (chance to be a blue, chance to be something other than weapon or armor, chance to be for one of the two other classes), but it also has to do with RNG in general. It doesn’t matter if the person who told you about the farm got 3 legendaries in 20 minutes- you could try for 10 hours and wind up with two blues and two greens.
If you attempt to do this to gear up in Destiny, you are introducing RNG to your experience when it was not necessary before. Farming is great because it gets you tons of items to break down into useful mats, tons of glimmer, tons of XP, and lots of small chances at something great- but trying to rely on it to advance is a little bit like trying to pay your rent by searching through a dumpster for lotto tickets.
*deep breath* “Jeez man. I got it.”
Sorry, I just don’t want people to get pissed off at this game. It’s a lot of fun. 🙂
Players are intended to control their own progression with Reputation and earnable currencies. Engrams are not meant to be an alternative to this path but to compliment it.
Thanks for reading. Until next time!