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Destiny: you have almost no chance of hitting 320 without Challenge Mode and events

Destiny players aiming to hit the Light level cap won't get there just by running Hard Mode raids.


Destiny: The Taken King rejigged the shared-world shooter's levelling system. Uncoupling levels from Light meant even the most casual player could hit 40 with ease, while higher Light levels became a badge of honour - something only the hardcore could aspire to.

Opinions are mixed on this subject; some players are disappointed that they can't get to the cap, while others appreciate the fact that reaching the upper echelon requires dedication and effort. But one opinion is universal: RNGesus is a massive shithead who never drops 320 rated gear.

In a wonderfully vindicating analysis, Redditor FluxDipole has crunched the numbers and come to the conclusion that we're not imagining it - it's virtually impossible to reach 320 unless you run Challenge Mode in raids.

Drawing on a data set of 282 drops from 74 full clears, FluxDipole calculated the probability of each kind of drop in the King's Fall raid, the only one to offer 320 drops. You have a high chance of getting a secondary weapon (77%), a pretty high chance (40% or more) of getting a class item, primary weapon, leg armour, gauntlets or chest armour; slightly less chance of a heavy weapon or Ghost shell (35% and 38% respectively); and about a 22% chance of getting a helmet, although this statistic is the least confident one.

As for whether they'll be rated 320, your chances of higher drops increase as your Light level does - up until a point. 320 drops are unusually rare, deviating noticeably from the curve of the distribution graph. The diminishing return makes a lot of sense in terms of game design, but the drop off at 320 is frustrating to say the least.

"Without challenge mode, you would not reach max level, ever, due to the pitiful 320 drop rate," FluxDipole said.

"After a year of playing the raid, three times a week, every week, totalling 156 clears, you would be, on average, 319.94 (assuming you got a 320 artifact somewhere), and that number is after you infused all your highest light gear onto one character."

Because hard mode drops are actually less likely to be 320 rated, FluxDipole argues that there's no incentive for players to go through the full raid when they might just run the Challenge Mode checkpoint - which is a shame, as raiding is one of the best experiences in Destiny.

Okay, so: you have to run Challenge Mode if you want 320 drops - not ideal, but okay. But it gets worse; the chances of a 320 Ghost shell or class item dropping seem to be much lower than other gear (a 1.7% chance of a 320 Ghost from any raid, for example), to the point that many hardcore players are perpetually stuck at 319, the new "forever 29".

The answer? Participate in limited time events, where the drop rate on these particular items seems to be higher.

The key takeaways of the data and FluxDipole's analysis are:

"320’s do not drop outside of challenge mode. It is impossible to reach level 320 without challenge mode. You probably need to play PvP special events to hit max level."

Hit the link above for graphs and more detailed discussion of the data and analysis. The picture FluxDipole paints, of a system designed to reward the most hardcore players and lure them into event participation, is a compelling one. The perfidy of RNG means we can never be 100% confident in this information, but it's an interesting look behind the curtain.

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