Season of the Undying’s base power level cap is 960. 950 is the hard cap, where powerful rewards will stop dropping above 950 and the only way to progress past 950 is via pinnacle reward sites. Pinnacle rewards drop from the raid, 100k Nightfall and Iron Banner… so far. A lot of hardcore players have hit 950 in the first couple of weeks of the game, unsurprisingly, and are starting to progress towards 960. However, due to the lack of reward sites, progress is slow. It’s SO slow that it may be impossible to actually hit 960 in a single season simply because there aren’t enough reward sites, at least as of the making of this video.
For the purposes of this video, I’m going to be talking about base power level; I will not be including artifact bonus power. Leveling beyond 950 works like this: in order to even start leveling to 951, every slot must be 950. Then, you’ll get 951 drops from ONLY pinnacle sources, Prime Engrams are NOT pinnacle sources. Then, when you have 951 in every slot, you’ll see 952s drop, and so on. This means you need 8 unique drops to go up 1 level. Meaning you need 80 unique drops to get to 960. The raid drops 4 rewards per week at pinnacle level per character, plus 100k Nightfall is 5. Iron Banner has 4 pinnacle reward bounties once a month, call it 3 times a season (yes, I know it’s bugged as of this video, but let’s pretend it’s not). A season has, what, 10 weeks in it? So, 4+1 times 10 is 50 drops, plus 4 IB drops x 3 a season is 12. That’s 62 drops maximum for a season, including the first two weeks where most people were not 950. Also, the raid doesn’t have a power weapon in it, so you’d need to get a power weapon from a non-raid source.
So if you have PERFECT RNG, it is still impossible to hit 960 in a season based on current information. We’d need an additional 18 drops in a season at perfect RNG to hit 960. We still have the new dungeon coming in, raid challenges and the Final Assault coming, which may or may not give pinnacles. Essentially, it will be impossible to hit 960 this season as of current information and if this trend continues, it will be impossible to ever hit the pinnacle cap. I don’t necessarily think that the pinnacle cap being impossible to hit is outright bad, although I think the expectation for a lot of people was that you could actually hit 960, or whatever the pinnacle cap is in a season. I dunno if I missed it somewhere that Bungie said or didn’t say how feasible it was to hit this pinnacle cap, but if they didn’t say anything, then I think the pinnacle cap grind was a bit misleading due to the fact that we’ve always been able to reasonably hit the cap maybe minus Destiny 1 launch. I would definitely like to see Bungie come out and make some comments on the goal of pinnacle power progression, the 950-960 grind.
Is it supposed to be possible to hit 960 in a season and they just missed the mark? Is it supposed to just be a continued bonus to playing the game and doing end game activities? I have my own thoughts, which I will now say with mouth noises. 950 is effectively the cap for the average player for this season, season 8. And I don’t think people should look at the 960 pinnacle cap as their ultimate level goal for the season based on the information we have right now, partly because it’s literally impossible.
Anything above 950 should be viewed as a bonus for continued play, and 950 should be your typical “I’m done leveling,” goal. In previous seasons, once you were at the power cap, you were done. But now, you can continue to grow your power level bit by bit, which I think is better than previous seasons, incentivizing continued runs of high level content instead of having them become irrelevant almost immediately after hitting the cap. Sure, it probably won’t be a lot, I imagine a good chunk of hardcore players will cap out around 953 or so with average RNG, but, I do think it’s better than nothing, and it makes something like the Master Nightfall a tiny bit easier for each level you gain. I imagine Bungie wants to keep the Master Nightfall a consistently challenging activity. Any base levels above 950 are essentially a status symbol; leveling through the artifact is far more consistent. Even if it does take millions of experience to gain levels, you know exactly when you’re going to get a new level.
By the way, the 950 and 980 Nightfall being repeatable activities that reward high level items is a VERY welcome addition to the game, as being able to have an avenue to farm something like rolls on exotics is nice to have. Where the frustration comes in, like all frustrations with leveling for the past few years, is the RNG nature of loot drops and the lack of protection on drops, or what feels like a lack of protection. In this week’s raid for example, I got 6 special weapons across my 3 characters in my pursuit of trying to get 951 weapons and armor. Although statistically speaking, with the raid having as many special weapons as there are unique armor slots, this is actually average.
The raid is just heavily weighted towards having a lot of special weapon drops. The leveling experience continues to be an RNG fest, praying and hoping you get the items you need as opposed to knowing you’ll keep leveling if you do X, Y, and Z activity. It feels awful to continue to miss the slots that you need upgrades in. With regards to pinnacle leveling, despite the fact that it really doesn’t matter too much in the grand scheme, it still feels bad to get duplicate items that don’t increase your level, when it feels like the entire point of the system is to slowly gain levels. It still adds to the stress of leveling, even though, again, it doesn’t really matter that much. In fact, I’d be willing to have a slower leveling experience overall if it meant that RNG drops weren’t going to mess with me. Part of the frustration is also that hitting max level in a season or expansion is typically the number one goal on people’s minds for “finishing” a season or expansion.
Not titles, not raid completions, not god roll items, just hitting the cap. And now, technically speaking, basically no one will be able to do that, although again, the main cap that people should strive for is base 950. 950, I imagine, will give most people that “done” feeling, but maybe not. And I do think a big part of this argument is how you feel about “completing” a season or expansion of Destiny. If you want to hit a power cap and have a feeling of being done, then technically, Destiny is not offering that, although again, I think 950 is your number. If you want to always feel like you are progressing or have the potential to keep raising your power, then Destiny is currently offering that.
On a more personal level, I am pretty indifferent to the pinnacle system. I don’t think it makes the game worse in any way. I like being able to have the raids and high level activities continue to be worthwhile after I’ve hit the base 950 cap. Is it THAT much more worthwhile? Probably not, but it’s more worthwhile than the zero it was in previous seasons. Is getting to 952 or 953 over the course of a season really that big of a deal? Not really. Couple of levels for Master level content won’t do a ton. It’s better than nothing though. But, if this pinnacle grind system didn’t exist in the first place, I really wouldn’t care either. If the intent was that it would be possible to hit the pinnacle cap in a season, then Bungie either missed the mark or there’s still WAY more reward sites to come.
If the intent is that it’s not possible to hit the pinnacle cap in a season, then Bungie should’ve made and should make that more clear and if they DID do that and I just missed it, then link me the source in the comments. The pinnacle cap is pretty driven towards hardcore players, giving them tiny increases that make things slightly easier, but not drastically so that it’s vital to the experience of the entire game that you get pinnacle rewards 100% of the time. Pinnacle levels both matter and don’t really matter. Let me know how you feel about pinnacle leveling in the comments, thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time..