As Aaron mentioned in his review, Rise of Iron is light on content, but gets heavy on Light levels. The infusion system itself is unchanged since The Taken King’s April Update, but earning stronger gear slows to a crawl once you hit a certain point, which means reaching the maximum Light is a little more complicated.
There are three distinct phases to Light Level increases, so here is how to efficiently increase your level, with as little time and grind as possible, so you can start raiding (but there’s still plenty of time and grind required).
Getting to 340 Light
If you haven’t reached level 340 yet, you’re still in the easy part. You can play the game how you want, as rare (blue) quality gear will still quickly send you up; just make sure you’re equipping highest Light gear as you earn it so you maximise your gain. Save your legendary marks and buy a level 350 Ghost from one of the factions, as Ghosts are one of the hardest pieces to acquire.
Also be sure to buy and use Three of Coins from Xur to acquire exotic engrams. And most importantly: save any legendary and exotic engrams for now.
Rare engrams cap at 340, so you should now start decrypting legendary engrams as they cap at 365 Light (but continue to save exotics). However, once you reach 350 Light, your progress will slow to a crawl, and you probably won’t be able to acquire anything above 350 unless all your gear is at least 350 Light. If you’re short on anything, buy it from a faction vendor if you have enough legendary marks; or if you need an artefact, pray you get one from one of your legendary engrams.
Once everything is 350 Light most engrams will at best be one or two levels higher (it’s actually so slow that many people thought it was a glitch). It’s best to try and make all of your gear an equal level as you gradually increase. For example, if you’re 354 total Light, but have a heavy weapon at 352 Light then focus on getting that to 354 before you decrypt anything new.
If you’re low on legendary engrams, you can earn one from completing your first public event of the day (you can use ‘destinypublicevents.com’ to find a public events). Otherwise the heroic strike playlist is your new favourite activity. Bosses will drop already decrypted rare gear, including ghost shells, which will cap at 365 Light. The only issue you should have are artefacts, which you can obtain from legendary engrams. You can also ‘Omnigul Farm’ which involves exploiting one of the strike bosses. But as it’s an exploit, I wouldn’t know anything about that.
365-385 Light and Beyond
Once you reach the 365 soft cap, you’ve now reached the soul destroying phase. The only ways you can earn high level gear are difficult, time consuming, or limited to once per week. These include exotic engrams, Skeleton Key loot, Nightfall strikes, the Wrath of the Machine Raid, and Faction Packages.
It’s best to start with the Nightfall Strike every week, as it’s the easiest. High level weapons (but not armour) can also drop from Crucible matches, so if you want to maximise any potential gains, make sure to equip your best gear at the end of every match. Next on your agenda will be Faction Packages.
Levelled Faction Packages are:
- Vanguard/Crucible (weapons/armour/class items/ghosts)
- Dead Orbit/Future War Cult/New Monarchy(weapons/armour/class items/ghosts)
- Gunsmith (weapons)
- Queen’s Wrath (armour/class items)
- House of Judgement (weapons/class items)
- Crota’s Bane (artefacts/class items)
Ranking up most factions is pretty straight forward as you can earn reputation by completing bounties. However, Crota’s Bane, which is found with Eris Morn at the Tower, is a bit different; but important as it’s the only faction to award artefacts. To acquire the weekly Crota’s Bane bounty chain, you must complete a Reciprocal Rune in the Court of Oryx. Most Taken King players will have at least a few of these leftover, so you should be fine for a few weeks.
Note that some Crota bounties require an Antiquated Rune, which is usually received in the ‘King’s Fall’ raid. If you don’t have any of these runes, get rid of the bounty and wait for next week.
Skeleton Keys have a chance to drop from strike bosses, with higher chances to drop during Nightfall strikes and in the heroic playlist, and these keys unlock chests that spawn at the end of strikes. The rewards are strike specific gear as well as the occasional levelled artefact, but as they’re relatively rare, it’s a good idea to save your Skeleton Keys too.
I would suggest saving exotic engrams for when you have a piece of gear that’s dragging your Light down. The only reason I was able to complete the raid in the first week is because I had saved my legendary and exotic engrams for two months leading up to Rise of Iron (I had almost eighty engrams stored). So it does pay to be frugal!
Your final stop on your Light journey is the raid, ‘Wrath of the Machine.’ It opens at 360 Light, but the recommended level increases with each encounter, and the final boss is difficult if your fireteam is under 370. I recommend starting the raid at 365 at the very minimum, as you should reach a high enough level by the final boss, assuming you wear your strongest gear before each loot drop, something even I forgot to do twice.
Once you’re confident with the raid, it should be smooth, but slow, sailing until the hard mode releases. Light levelling will likely adjust again once Iron Banner, Trials of Osiris and the hard mode raid all release to accommodate the new 400 Light cap, so you might want to continue to save exotics on the chance that they will get a higher cap.
Hopefully any changes will make reaching higher Light a little more forgiving, so if you’re getting too frustrated with the current system, don’t be afraid to take a break from Destiny for a little while. After all, Destiny’s still a video game, and it’s most important that you’re having fun.
Just kidding, the loot is what’s most important.