Destiny 2’s first raid is near, here’s how to get your power up ASAP

Destiny 2’s Leviathan raid unlocks on Wednesday, Sept. 13. You will need to get your power level above 280 if you want to get into the groups with the highest likelihood of success.

We’re going to tell you how to do so in the shortest amount of time possible. I’ve personally tested these strategies, and have reached a power level of 283 ahead of Tuesday morning’s weekly reset, the first in Destiny 2.

So there may be some new information here for you, even if you think you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.

Weak Guardians can’t raid

Every activity in Destiny has a recommended power level. The fact that it’s called a “recommendation” may make it seem like it’s a polite suggestion, but that number marks a threshold below which players are penalized with a stacking debuff that quickly makes survival impossible.

In the original Destiny, every point of Light below the recommendation reduced your Guardian’s damage by 3 percent. So your damage was reduced by 45 percent if you were attempting to fight a boss with a recommended Light level of 300 and your Guardian was at 285.

Power levels in Destiny 2 work in a similar way to Light in Destiny. While the community hasn’t yet done extensive testing to see if there if there are any changes to the math, you can assume that you’re going to deal very little damage if you don’t at least get close to the recommended power level.

Destiny 2 - character screen of Warlock at 283 powerDestiny 2 - character screen of Warlock at 283 power

Try to power up as quickly as possible!

There are going to be many sub-270 power level Guardians on Reddit and in various forums complaining that elitist snobs won’t play with them, but that’s life. The last boss in Destiny raids has historically had a Light requirement that is the same as the Light cap itself. If that remains true in Leviathan and the final boss has a recommended power level of 300, your guardian with a 265 power level is going to be a serious liability. Your skill doesn’t matter at that point; the math is going to be working against you.

Most of the groups that will beat the final boss will consist of players who begin the raid above a power level of 280, and maybe even 290. Your odds of finding a group that will finish the raid if your power level is below 270 are very low.

Let’s explain how to get there.

The grind

The power level of your item drops is determined by the power level of your character’s current gear. Rare-quality (blue) drops will range from a couple of points below to a couple of points above your current gear, up to 260. You can slowly push your level up to that point by just grinding any activity with item drops.

Legendary-quality (purple) drops come from randomly dropped legendary engrams and from turning in tokens to vendors. These items will be five power levels above your current power level, up to 265.

The fastest way to generate tokens and blue drops is to farm heroic Public Events. These usually drop two blue items, a token and some Glimmer, and give you a low chance at legendary or exotic engrams.

Titan is the best place to do this. The area is small, but dense with spawns. There are plenty of other things to do nearby while waiting for an event to begin. To maximize your time while you wait, use a scouting report from Cayde or a Ghost that highlights loot chests.

You can also pick up Patrols in the area. The salvage Patrols, which have an icon that looks like a triangle, can be completed without leaving the immediate vicinity. The enemies that spawn during the Public Event will also drop Patrol salvage in many cases, allowing you to complete the Patrol mission while doing the Public Event. This will get you more experience points, Glimmer and tokens.

Only two kinds of Public Events spawn on Titan: the Weapons Exchange and the Witches Ritual. Most players have figured out the heroic trigger on the Arsenal Walker, and you can activate the trigger on the witch ritual by yourself.

The success rates for heroic public events are much higher on Titan than they are in places like EDZ in my experience. Some of those events, like the Glimmer Drill and the Cabal Excavation, have heroic triggers can be easily ruined by oblivious blueberries who don’t know what’s going on. Titan’s selection of only two events removes this issue.

You may want to consider using a Fireteam Medallion while you grind. These improve the quality of loot for your fireteam during public events, and they last four hours.

You can buy these from Tess Everis, but you can also get them without spending any real money on Eververse goods. You get one Fireteam Medallion free for finishing the campaign, and they cost 50 Bright Dust each after that.

If you dismantle a cosmetic item from one of your bright engrams, you can get about 100 Bright Dust. Buy more Medallions by dismantling any ships or Sparrows you don’t want.

Raising your power level with weekly lockouts and exotic engrams

There are four activities that drop gear that can upgrade your existing loadout past 270 power:

  • the weekly Flashpoint milestone
  • the weekly Crucible milestone
  • the Nightfall strike
  • the weekly clan XP milestone

The power level of the rewards you receive is determined by your the power level of the gear you already have. That means that if you collect one of these weekly rewards when your current power level is 240, your powerful gear reward will have an attack or defense rating of 247 to 248, and you will have wasted one of your few opportunities to push higher than 265 for the week.

If possible, you want to save these until you have already reached a power level of 265 from blue drops and legendary token turn-ins. If you do, your milestone rewards will have a power level above 270.

Collecting all four of these four rewards should get you close to a power level of 275 if you don’t collect any of them until you are 265. Join a clan, even if you’re not a social player, to avoid missing the clan reward. Reddit can be a good place to look.

You should strongly consider playing enough Crucible matches to get the weekly Crucible milestone. You can do it in the quickplay playlist, and you progress toward your milestone even when you lose. The pressure is low, and you might even have some fun.

If you like competitive PvP, Bungie is unlocking Trials of the Nine on Friday, Sept. 15. This high-stakes elimination competition requires an organized fireteam, and the best rewards in this mode will probably be restricted to players who can rack up a bunch of victories with few or no losses. But there also will be a fifth weekly milestone for Trials, and that loot will probably be accessible even to less-successful players.

So this is all going to be easy?

Hardly. The Nightfall milestone, which is a time-limited hard mode for strikes, is going to be the most difficult. But it’s still easier than the raid, and only has a recommended power level of 240.

But if you find raiding stressful — as many players do — the Nightfall milestone isn’t mandatory. You can progress all the way to 300 power just from doing public events for your weekly Flashpoint milestone each week, playing in the Crucible (even if you lose) and getting experience for your Clan milestone.

So you don’t have to go home if you’re not going to go hard. You can probably still reach the power cap of 300 before Curse of Osiris drops in December, even if you don’t bother grinding public events beyond your Flashpoint and you collect your weekly milestone rewards when your power level is below 265.

But you won’t be hitting the Leviathan anytime soon if you play that way.

Exotic quests

A quest, marked with a blue crown icon, appears on the map for each of the planets after you beat the campaign. These quest chains lead to exotic weapons.

Here are the three exotics you can earn:

  • On Nessus, you can help Failsafe learn what happened to the crew of the Exodus Black, and earn Sturm und Drang. Sturm is an exotic kinetic hand cannon and Drang is its companion legendary energy sidearm, with unique synergistic perks — kills with Drang give Sturm a damage bonus, and kills with Sturm reload Drang.
  • In the EDZ, you can chase down a group of glowing Fallen to stop their supply of performance-enhancing drugs and earn the MIDA Multi-Tool, a beloved kinetic scout rifle from the original Destiny. Its perks keep the radar on-screen when aiming down the sights and improve your mobility, as well as the Multi-Tool’s new legendary companion SMG, the MIDA Mini-tool, which also improves your mobility. You go real, real fast when you have both equipped.
  • Finally, on Titan, you can earn the exotic Rat King sidearm, which gets more powerful when other players on your fireteam are also using Rat Kings.

These quests aren’t particularly easy. Sturm und Drang requires you to decrypt five legendary engrams and an exotic. That’s a fair bit of grinding.

Destiny 2 - MIDA Multi-ToolDestiny 2 - MIDA Multi-Tool

The MIDA Multi-Tool in Destiny 2.

The MIDA quest has a recommended power level of 260, and requires you to find five scout rifles of rare or legendary quality to dismantle. Rat King requires you to complete a number of quest steps with other players who are on the quest, or who already have the gun, and it culminates with a quest to complete the Nightfall with five minutes left on the clock. That’s pretty hard! And nobody even uses sidearms!

Each of these will drop above your current power level, however, up to 300, so completing these quests will raise your power if you still need a boost.

A word about mods

Legendary-quality mods increase the power level of an item by 5. There are only two ways to get these mods until you reach a power level of 280, which allows you to buy them with Glimmer. You can find mods in Gunsmith packages and, sometimes, your legendary drops will already have one.

You need to check the details of every legendary you get from a reputation turn-in or an engram to see if it randomly has a built-in legendary mod. If it does, that means the item’s base power level is actually five points lower than the power level it displays.

We’re fighting for every point possible

So if you have two 265 helmets, but one has a legendary mod and the other doesn’t, the helmet with the mod is actually a base 260 helmet. If you infuse the 265 without a mod into the 265 with the mod, you’ll increase the base power level to 265. That means you’ll have a 270 helmet after the mod adds five points. We’ll take every advantage we can get.

Sometimes you just have to farm exotics

Exotic engrams drop infrequently during heroic public events. You can keep grinding public events for more exotic engrams, which can decrypt above your current power level.

This probably isn’t necessary for the raid, however. I was able to reach a power level of 283 after one week of lockout activities completed after reaching 265, and by completing the Sturm und Drang and MIDA exotic quests. I should be able to enter Leviathan close to 290 if I do the second week’s lockout activities. This should get me high enough to beat the final boss, after a couple of raid drops, even if he’s got a recommended power level of 300.

Second characters of the same class don’t seem to work right now

A popular gearing strategy in Destiny was to run two or even three characters of the same class. Two characters could pool their drops from lockout activities, since your characters can share gear through the vault. That meant you could have two Nightfalls and two raids each week.

This no longer works. If you complete a weekly milestone on a second character of the same class on the account, the rewards are currently decrypting at the same power level as regular legendary drops. We don’t know whether this is working as intended or is a bug, so you should avoid this strategy until it’s either fixed or we know for sure that Bungie closed the loophole for good.

The raid should be your goal

Whether you’re planning to scramble blindly into the raid the minute the doors open, or you don’t get there until sometime in November — when you’ve hit 300 power from weekly milestones and you’re playing in a group led by a patient and experienced sherpa — your goal in Destiny 2 should be to do Leviathan, at least on the normal difficulty level, while it is still current content.

Raids are the best part of Destiny. If you bought this game, you already paid for this experience. Don’t miss out on it.

Good luck, Guardian.

ASAP on board with NASA’s DSG as stepping stone to Mars

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NASA’s major push towards building a new outpost near the Moon has received encouraging words from its key safety advisory body. NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) was told the build up of the outpost in the 2020s represented an ambitious, forward-looking and credible plan that has both agency and political support.


NASA has been realigning its exploration plan to involve a Deep Space Gateway (DSG) over recent months, somewhat moving priority away from sending crews out to explore Near Earth Asteroids (NEA) which has only received lukewarm interest from NASA’s political paymasters.

This “interim” step in the overall exploration roadmap will involve a number of the 2020s missions involving NASA’s new heavy-lift launch rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).

SLS still needs to conduct its test flights, which are going to receive officially realigned launch dates in the coming weeks following the decision not to modify Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) to a crewed flight.

Although the opening two missions have returned to their previous plan, the dates are still going to later than originally advertised, with a NET (No Earlier Than) August 2019 for EM-1 and June 2022 for EM-2 on the current internal schedule.

The large gap between the opening two missions is unavoidable per NASA direction, with EM-1 launching on the Block 1 SLS, before major changes – especially to the Mobile Launcher (ML) – are conducted for the larger Block 1B SLS.

*Click here for more SLS News Articles*

The Block 1B, however, will be NASA’s HLV workhorse, providing an upmass capability not seen since the Saturn V days. It will also be capable of an array of missions thanks to its powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS).

Providing her with missions that utilize the power of the rocket, while also progressing on the stepping stones towards Mars missions, has resulted in numerous studies that have changed numerous times.

The latest, and fast becoming a favored approach from both within NASA and political circles involves the DSG. This plan is a partial throwback to the L2 Gateway that gained interest at NASA in 2011.

Its first major public overview of the new plan came via the NASA Advisory Council (NAC), where Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), presented the NAC with the agency’s Deep Space Gateway and Transport Plan.

This phased approach ties in current NASA exploration goals, which includes the wealth of knowledge being gained into long-duration human space flight on the International Space Station (ISS).

“At the very top level, NASA’s plan involves using the ISS now, operating near the Moon in the 2020s, and then leaving the Earth-Moon system and reaching Mars orbit after 2030,” noted the ASAP minutes from the body’s latest meeting.

“The more detailed plan contains four different phases. Phase 0 involves continuing research and testing on ISS to solve exploration challenges, evaluating the potential for the use of lunar resources, and developing standards.”

Advancing the work already conducted, NASA will leverage its own goals with commercial partnerships, with NASA expected to publish individual documents for each system, such as environmental control and life support, power, data, storage, etc., that would contain voluntary standards rather than requirements, with the hope that both international and industry partners would be able to develop hardware and software that could easily be incorporated into the overall architecture, per the overview to the ASAP.

Phase 1 will take place in the 2020s, when NASA undertakes missions to cislunar space for construction efforts of the DSG. By this time commercial partners will be onboard, providing elements of the DSG to be launched on SLS missions. The stock in Cislunar has risen over recent years, with the United Launch Alliance (ULA) – and others – working on large-scale plans to commercialize this region of space.

“In terms of basic functionality, the DSG is being planned to support multiple NASA, commercial, and international objectives,” added the overview. “It would be designed for the deep space environment and would support a crew of 4 for total mission durations of up to 42 days with the Orion vehicle attached.

“It would include a power and propulsion bus and a habitat, and would incorporate a logistics strategy that could involve cargo resupply or crew transportation flights by industry or international partners, such as what is done now for the ISS.”

However, it would not be of the size nor complexity of the ISS, with an intent to “keep it simple”. The entire DSG could be launched on three SLS Block 1B missions over three years, according to the latest overview.

Phase 2 will see the construction of the Deep Space Transport (DST) and its subsequent shakedown and verification.

“Phase 1 marks the beginning of missions in cislunar space, including building the DSG and initiating assembly of the Deep Space Transport (DST),” added the minutes. “Phase 2 involves completion of the DST and conduct of a year-long, Mars-simulation mission – sometimes called a ‘shakedown cruise’ – in 2029.”

This is where the DSG effort directly benefits missions to Mars, with this stepping stone providing the tools to naturally progress to the major challenge of sending humans to the Red Planet.

The DST element of the DSG will have Mars in mind, potentially be used for the human missions to the vicinity of Mars – such as the touted Mars flyby mission – and could be a hybrid system with chemical propulsion for Mars gravity-well capture and departure, and SEP (Solar Electric Power) for the rest, per the overview to the ASAP.

“This would potentially eliminate the need for a pre-deployed propulsion system at Mars for crew return. The DST would be designed for 3 Mars-class missions of about 1000 days each with a crew of 4, launched on a single SLS Block 1B vehicle. The thinking is that it could be refueled, resupplied, and have at least a minimal outfitting performed in cislunar space.”

Phases 3 and 4 would involve the beginning of sustained crew expeditions to the Martian system and to the surface of Mars, with a mission to Mars orbit in 2033.

The usually conservative ASAP noted that while it encouraged NASA to start doing more detailed planning for exploration related launches post EM-2, seeing that now – with the kind of system design and engineering trade studies that are being conducted – was pleasing.

“The Panel acknowledged a lot of progress (has been made) and believes NASA is on the right track. (And that) while the timelines on some of this may seem lengthy, when one considers all of the technical challenges that need to be addressed and the constraints on resources, NASA appears to have a very credible plan going forward.”

(Images: NASA and L2 artist Nathan Koga – The full gallery of Nathan’s (SpaceX Dragon to MCT, SLS, Commercial Crew and more) L2 images can be *found here*))

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To Get to Mars ASAP, Pull the Plug on The ISS

In Brief

Buzz Aldrin believes that if we want to colonize Mars we need to end our participation in the ISS as soon as possible. Although NASA has stressed the role of the ISS on the road to Mars, after 2024 the U.S. may well drop out of the project.

Aldrin Clashes With NASA

At the 2017 Humans to Mars conference — which was held on Tuesday May 9 in Washington D.C. — Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin had a clear recommendation for NASA: if we’re serious about reaching Mars, ditch the International Space Station (ISS).

“We must retire the ISS as soon as possible,” Aldrin told the conference. “We simply cannot afford $3.5 billion a year of that cost.”

Aldrin made some alternative suggestions for NASA’s Mars program, including handing low Earth orbit (LEO) projects like the ISS over to private companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and Orbital ATK. He’s also recommended that private companies like Axiom Space and Bigelow Aerospace build their own independent LEO stations.

Journey To Mars Vision

NASA, however, has a different opinion about the role of the ISS in getting to Mars. Thus far, the ISS has been part of the first phase of the project, which includes testing and developing partnerships with private companies. Furthermore, as reports, “NASA officials have repeatedly said that the ISS is a key part of the agency’s ‘Journey to Mars’ vision.”

In March, members of the House Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space testified that extending U.S. participation in the activities of the ISS beyond the existing 2024 commitment date might not be prudent if getting to Mars is a priority. Right now, NASA spends around $3.5 billion annually on the ISS. The committee’s Chair, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, commented during that hearing that “Tax dollars spent on the ISS will not be spent on destinations beyond low Earth orbit, including the moon and Mars. What opportunities will we miss if we maintain the status quo?”

Trump Looking to Drop Paris Climate Accords ASAP

Photo: Getty

Donald Trump is a professional liar. Now that he is the President-elect with actual President-ing to do, he’s angling to make the United States a liar on the international stage.

Citing an anonymous source from Trump’s transition team, Reuters reports that a major short-term priority is to weasel out of the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that went into force on November 4th. From the report:

“It was reckless for the Paris agreement to enter into force before the election” on Tuesday, the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Paris Agreement won enough backing for entry into force on Nov. 4.

Alternatives were to send a letter withdrawing from a 1992 Convention that is the parent treaty of the Paris Agreement, voiding U.S. involvement in both in a year’s time, or to issue a presidential order simply deleting the U.S. signature from the Paris accord, he said.

As it stands, any violation of the agreements procedural commitments could mean the United States is breaking international law. This was the primary reason President Obama rushed to get it into force without full congressional approval. Right now, a withdrawal from the agreement would be a four-year process.

Michael Wara, an environmental law professor at the Stanford Law School, told Scientific American that at this point a Senate vote wouldn’t be “relevant legally, given the status of the agreement.” But relevance, legality and formal commitments have never stopped Trump before.

Right now, international leaders are assembled in Marrakech, Morocco to discuss climate change and the Paris agreements that 200 nations have signed on to honor. Of those, 109 countries have formally ratified the accords, which represents 76 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. If the United States decided to withdraw that number would drop by 18 percent.

Other nations would have to step up and continue the mission to fight global climate change but a decision by the new administration withdraw could encourage others to do the same—especially countries that are directly competitive with the U.S. economically.

The legal complications could make this a tough nut for the amateurish Trump team to crack and Obama’s gamble could pay off. Additionally, reneging on the agreement would also damage international relations in ways that even Trump might not like. Speaking at a briefing in Marrakech, Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “If a President Trump were not to honor U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement, it will negatively impact his ability to get the cooperation of world leaders on other issues he cares about, such as trade and terrorism.”

It’s going to be an unpredictable ride. Trump is quite likely to go back on pledges that he’s made to his supporters. But considering that he’s installed one of the most prominent climate change deniers on Earth to lead the transition process for the E.P.A., destroying the planet seems like one promise he could keep.