Our recent visit to Bungie provided us with hours of hands-on impressions detailed in this month’s magazine cover story, and one of the major changes we learned about is a new approach to leveling. Players earn XP by killing monsters, completing missions, and turning in bounties, as has always been the case, but that experience now feeds directly into your level progression all the way from 1 to the new level cap of 40.

Meanwhile, weapons and armor continue to provide increased power to your character, with new gear unlocking for use as you level up. “The conflation of gear and character level led to this place where your identity was determined by things outside of your control,” says creative director Luke Smith. “We don’t want to do that.”

We were also told that Destiny’s loot system will now pay closer attention to the loot you have already received when determining an appropriate drop, so that players will more consistently receive armor and weapons that provide meaningful power growth, items that vary their gear slot from one drop to the next, and fewer drops of items that a player has already attained. 


Our Take
The original release of Destiny had an unusual progression system. Leveling followed a traditional RPG structure for levels 1-20, but switched over to gear as the main path to advancement for subsequent levels. Not only did the system lead to some confusion, but it also left many players stuck at a given level for too long as they waited for the loot drop they needed to progress. The new system should be friendlier to new players, but should also benefit veteran guardians who are eager to see their extensive play time met with commensurate progression and rewards. In my hands-on time, my existing level 34 guardians transitioned seamlessly into the new system, and leveling during subsequent story missions was smooth and engaging.