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Destiny 2: after level 20, the game robs you of 50-95% of XP earned to prevent power-levelling - report

Destiny 2 players have done some testing and managed to find out exactly what's causing the drop in XP they've been seeing.

Shortly after the launch of Destiny 2, players realised that, in the levels post the cap of 20, the XP they earn wasn't reflected in the XP bar/progression. Some players like to grind XP and many realised that there's some sort of hidden cooldown on the amount of XP you can earn, but couldn't quite figure out when it kicks in.

The consensus at the time was that the cooldown is in place to prevent power-levelling, but the problem was that levelling up past 20 is the only way to get Bright Engrams (loot chests) without paying for them. This made it look like Bungie is curtailing the XP players earn to make paying real money for Silver more enticing.

Although Bungie has yet to comment on these findings, Reddit user EnergiserX decided to run more rigorous tests to find out out exactly what's happening, and at which point exactly this so called cooldown gets activated. Their findings are startling, as it reveals a hidden cap that takes out a portion of the XP earned in all but one play style.

The percentage increases the more XP you earn in a short time, up to 95%, according to the report. Here's how the player came up with these calculations. EnergiserX played for the entire week and recorded the XP earned with his Hunter and noted it in a spreadsheet along with a timestamp for when said XP got banked - a crucial point, since the player gets less than what's actually reported.

"Since the XP bar in-game is 360 pixels long, I calculated that 80000 XP/360 pixels= 222.8 (rounded to 225) XP per pixel could be used to estimate how much XP was being recorded in the backend," they explained.

EnergiserX performed three tests. The first test had him playing normally, going to a Flashpoint location to do some patrols, Public Events etc. In that test, he had the Well Rested XP buff, and the 10% bonus given by their Ghost. The player amped things up for the next test, playing two Public Events back to back. Well Rested was active during the test.

"The biggest thing to take from this is that the Estimated Recorded XP was roughly flat for the duration of both events, while the in-game XP skyrocketed," they say about the discrepancy in the second test.

In the third and final test, EnergiserX slowed things down considerably to see if the game will bank the same amount of XP reported when earning at a slow rate. "This time I killed one enemy at a time. Waited for the chain to bank, then moved on to the next enemy," they found.

"No estimations required this time. Across a 9 minute period the in-game tally and DIM lined up EXACTLY [emphasis theirs] – 4149 XP : 4149 XP (100% recorded)."


In short, there's a hidden algorithm that limits the amount of XP banked the quicker and more XP you earn from playing. Even during the first test, where they weren't going out of their way to grind for XP, the result was still less than half of what they earned.

"The scaling factor will increase at least to the point where you’re only really earning 4% of what you should. Public Events will only ever earn you 50% of what they say, as the end of event XP alone is enough to trigger a 50% scaling factor," wrote EnergiserX.

Do check the full post at the link above to see graphs and other details about each test, but the bottom line is that grinding for XP to earn Bright Engrams quickly won't work. You'll be hit by diminishing returns sooner than you think.

About the Author

Sherif Saed avatar

Sherif Saed

Staff Writer

Whether it's news, reviews, or interviews - Sherif is always eager to tell you about video games. He plays shooters more than a sane person should, and occasionally has the skills to show for it.

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