When it comes to Destiny 2, Power Level is everything. It gates your ability to participate in certain events, activities, and can dictate how much damage you deal. With every new expansion, the overall leveling landscape is tweaked and the values rise exponentially. It can be a daunting and time-consuming task to earn your way back into activities.
Here's everything you need to know about leveling following The Witch Queen's release and the most optimal way to ensure your Guardians' Power Levels are as high as they can be.
What is a Power Level in Destiny 2 and how does it work?
First of all, it's important to understand the "Power Level." Every piece of armor and weapon in Destiny 2 has a Power Level. Your total Power Level is the sum of all your equipment divided by eight – which is the total number of pieces you can equip that has a Power Level.
Each season has a series of different caps placed on equipment based on how you earn them. These caps are known as the Floor, Soft Cap, Power Cap, and Hard Cap (more on these later). With every new season, the caps are increased and in the event of an expansion, like the Witch Queen, there is often a far larger increase applied to all the caps.
What level do I start at with The Witch Queen?
While it might sound strange, you do not start at Power Level 0. Instead, Bungie has stated that all your equipment will be raised to a minimal Power Level at the start of The Witch Queen expansion. This expansion is known as the "Floor." The Floor in The Witch Queen will be set to 1350 which means every piece of eligible gear you have will be 1350 Power Level when you log in after the release of The Witch Queen.
What does 'Soft Cap' mean and what level is it?
The Soft Cap is the next major Power Level milestone after the Floor. After the launch of The Witch Queen, the Soft Cap will be increased to 1500. To reach the top of the Soft Cap, all you need to do is play the game. Every rare drop (blue pieces of equipment), legendary drop (purple pieces of equipment), and exotic drop (yellow pieces of equipment) will slowly contribute to an increase in your overall Power Level until you reach a Power Level of 1500.
What does 'Power Cap' mean and what level is it?
After you reach the Soft Cap, the only way to continue increasing your Power Level towards the Power Cap, which has increased to 1550 in The Witch Queen, will be through acquiring what is known as Powerful Engrams. Powerful Engrams are rewarded upon completing activities, decrypting Prime Engrams through Rahool, completing bounties, completing the Legendary story campaign, and various other seasonal activities. Each Powerful Engram will provide a random piece of gear that is higher than your current overall Guardian Power Level.
These Powerful Engrams have a specific weighting too, resulting in some guaranteeing your Guardian a slightly higher Power Level gain than others. While it's not known what specific types of Powerful Engrams will be available during The Witch Queen, you can be sure that there will be a variety of different options attached to Gambit, Crucible, Vanguard playlists, Seasonal activities, and weekly Nightfall completions. You will also be able to gain some additional Powerful pieces of gear from Prime Engrams that drop during play and can be decoded through Master Rahool in the Tower.
What does 'Hard Cap' mean and what level is it?
The final step in obtaining the highest Power Level to read the Hard Cap is through earning Pinnacle Engrams. The Hard Cap has traditionally offered an additional 10 Power Levels over the Power Cap and The Witch Queen is no different – making the highest possible Power Level your gear can drop at 1560 for The Witch Queen and the Season of the Risen. These drops are earned by completing the hardest content in Destiny 2 and they are often scarce when a new expansion launches, like The Witch Queen.
Similar to Powerful Engrams, Pinnacle Engrams also have a wide array of Power Level boosts based on the activity. However, unlike Powerful Engrams, these are far rarer and typically associated with more difficult content, such as completing the Nightfall with a certain score, completing raids, finishing encounters within dungeons, and, of course, completing Raids.
How does the Seasonal Artifact work?
While gear has its limits, your Seasonal Artifact does not. When the Witch Queen launches, players will need to seek out the Season of the Risen's Seasonal Artifact. The Seasonal Artifact can provide additional Power Levels above and beyond your gear, but it comes with a caveat that all this progress will be wiped at the end of the season.
To level up the Season Artifact, thus gaining more Power Levels, Guardians need to earn XP. XP can be earned by completing bounties, killing enemies, and just about anything else you can think of in Destiny 2. With each Power Level obtained, the amount of XP required to gain another Power Level incrementally escalates until it is in the millions.
What's the best way to optimize my Power Level in The Witch Queen?
While it's impossible to say exactly how to maximize your Power Level grind until The Witch Queen has been broken down, there are a few tips and tricks to ensure that you are well on your way as soon as the doors open. So, here they are in order:
- Complete activities that reward Rare (blue) gear while avoiding completing any major milestones that would award a piece of Legendary (purple) gear, Exotic (yellow) gear, or Powerful/Pinnacle engrams. While it might be tempting, do not pull any items from your Season Pass at this point.
- Check to see if you are capable of completing the Legendary campaign for The Witch Queen. Completing this will reward your Guardian with a full set of gear at Power Level 1520.
- Complete all available activities that will reward you with Powerful rewards and claim your Powerful Reward from Bungie.net's reward section. You can also start to review what you have unlocked in the Season Pass. From here, you will want to claim each piece of gear to replace whatever your lowest piece of gear might be.
- Complete all available activities that will reward you with Pinnacle rewards
While this might seem a bit rudimentary, it is the best approach to ensuring you squeeze every possible drop of Power Level juice out of our metaphorical Power Level Fruit.
After you have finished your first Guardians, you can then move across and tackle your other two Guardians – if you have them. When it comes to your additional Guardians, the rules are a bit trickier. When you switch it's best to bring across your weapons with you and review your current Power Level. If you are a high enough level, jump straight into the Legendary campaign. If not, you can boost your power level by pursuing Rare gear and follow the steps outlined above.
That's not to say that you must obey these rules. Everyone has their own preferences and that's OK. If there's a specific activity you want to play endlessly from the word go, you'll eventually hit the Power Cap too. In the end, it's all about pursuing whatever you enjoy the most…so long as it isn't AFK farming activities.
Survive the Truth
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Take back the Light
The new Witch Queen expansion features the sinister Savathûn and her brood of Light-wielding Hive, which will undoubtedly prove to be the most challenging foes faced by Guardians yet. Players can expect tons of new loot, enemies, locations, and more.
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