By now there are plenty of gamers who feel they have seen all Destiny has to offer, both in terms of single player and multiplayer content. They've beat the "campaign," they've done the raid, and are uninterested in seeing what The Dark Below DLC expansion has to offer. But, there are still plenty out there who return to Bungie's hybrid MMO/FPS on a daily basis.
Some do it for the love of the game while others feel compelled by the need to procure new loot and upgrade their best weapons and gear. And amidst those players is a large selection of devoted Destiny fans that are trying to make it to the game's level cap. It may be the completionist that's in all of us or maybe it's a need to be better prepared for that expansion; whatever the case getting to level 30 is still a goal that many are reaching for but having a hard time attaining. That's where we hope this guide will help.
Destiny's Leveling System
As most know, Destiny features a unique leveling system whereby an armor's light rating determines the player's level beyond the soft level cap of 20. It's an incremental system that starts at 20 light for the first additional level, goes up by 12 to get to the next, and then normalizes to 11 light per level. So, for example, if a player's armor contains 54 light (level 24) they will need 11 more light to get to level 25 (total light 65).
In order to hit level 30 – Destiny's current level cap – players will need a total light of 120, but the only way to do so (currently) is with raid armor. Whereas most legendary (purple) pieces of armor top out at 27 light per piece, raid armor (a special type of legendary) tops out at 30 per piece. This legendary armor is an important step on the road to level 30, but outside of some specific pieces most legendaries are eventually disposable.
With the recent Iron Banner 2.0 event, however, Bungie introduced a new way for gamers to earn armor with 30 light maximums, but that event only included gauntlets and boots. It was a good way to complement the raid armor, but it didn't outright replace its necessity. At the very least, players still need at least one piece of gear that can only be earned in the Vault of Glass raid - provided they have two Iron Banner items and one exotic (yellow), which also top out at 30 light. Remember, only one yellow exotic armor piece can be equipped at a time, so the goal is to acquire three pieces of Iron Banner/Raid gear for the other slots.
It's no doubt a confusing system, but since it's not going anywhere it's best to make do. Where grinding may be key in other MMOs, Destiny is more about luck when it comes to loot rewards. And so even though we may have some tips for getting to level 30, there's never going to be a guarantee.
Get to Level 29
Even though players can't get to level 30 without raid gear they can get to level 29 with any combination of three legendary armor pieces and one exotic, leveled up to the maximum. Leveling up gear that you will eventually throw away may seem like a waste of Ascendant Shards (required to upgrade Destiny's legendary and exotic armor), but there comes a time when Ascendant Materials feel insignificant. Eventually, you'll feel the same way about Shards as you do Strange Coins. They are easy to get if you want, and require minimal effort.
Getting to level 29 is key for two reasons. First, it makes all Vault of Glass runs easier on the normal difficulty and therefore far more tolerable. Since Destiny only lets players get the four raid drops once per week, the goal is to make the experience as painless as possible.
Second, level 29s can also run the raid on hard, which means instead of getting just one item (armor, materials, weapon) per section, you can get two (you can do it on normal first and again on hard to get the extra drop per section). It's true the Vault of Glass raid on Venus is no cakewalk but a level 29 can make it through, provided they have the right team. For a little extra help beating the raid make sure to consult our Destiny Hard Raid Guide.
Maximize Raid Runs
Once you've become accustomed to running the raid on normal and occasionally on hard, it's time to start thinking about maximizing time. It's also time to think about how committed you are to getting level 30.
Those who could go either way on hitting the level cap will be fine with a weekly Vault of Glass run and maybe a second run on Hard. But those devoted others may want to consider starting a second character of the same class so they can run the raid (and get drops) again. It may seem like a lot given the time it took to get to level 29 the first time, but remember that characters can share armor through The Vault. So once that second character hits level 20 they can instantly jump up to 29 just by wearing the armor from the first character. You just have to put the little extra effort to unequip your gear, put it into the Vault and load in the other character to pick it all up.
Obviously, it's going to take time to get a second character to level 20 (about 8-10 hours in our experience), so this is where the devotion comes in. Those who do think it's worth the effort get 16 potential armor drops instead of 8 on a weekly basis. And yes, if you feel so inclined you can even create a third character to bring that total up to 24 drops. Having a second (or third) character also means you can run the Weekly Heroic Strike and Nightfall Strike more times per week, but the main focus should be on multiple raid runs. Is it a little crazy? Yes, but at least you're working towards something instead of just running Strike Playlists hoping for a Legendary Engram that can't get you to 30.
Visit Xur Weekly
We all know Xur the Agent of the Nine, who visits Destiny's Tower every weekend with a selection of exotic armor items (one per class), one exotic weapon, and one exotic engram. He's become both a weekly delight and a source of constant frustration. And while most players tend to focus on his weapons, we'd recommend picking up every armor piece Xur has for your class, or at least one of every type (helmet, chest, gauntlet). That way, you're open to any raid armor drop and not pigeonholed into specific pieces.
For that matter, while most do tend to use an exotic helmet and collect the other three pieces from the raid, getting a raid helmet is actually fairly easy. However, since a raid helmet only drops during the Atheon fight (the Vault of Glass' final boss) there is some effort involved. First, you'll need to find a group with the Atheon checkpoint, either through friends or by visiting a matchmaking website like DestinyLFG. Then, follow the strategy from our Vault of Glass guide and Atheon should be down in no time. In fact, those who don't need anything but the helmet can skip right to the Atheon fight if they like.
But like we mention, it's best to keep your options open in case certain pieces drop first. Obviously, players will want to use the armor with the best abilities, but that will come in time. First, get to level 30 and then start being a little more selective with armor.
Pray To The RNG Gods
(RNG = "Random Number Generator")
Even after creating three characters (of the same class) and running the hard raid three times a week there's still no guarantee that the armor will drop on even the first, second, or even the 40th try. Some will be luckier than others when it comes to drops, and that just seems to be the nature of the Destiny beast. You may have to beat Atheon 50 times before the Vex Mythoclast drops, while others might get it on their first try .
Obviously, that's not going to make players still working towards level 30 feel any better, but hopefully these tips will help them rethink their approach. Destiny can feel like a fruitless grind, that's why it's up to you to make every minute online count towards something.
Do you have any tips for players trying to get to level 30? How long did it take you to get over the hump?
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