Destiny 2 Engrams are essentially blind boxes for gear that help you increase your Power level as you make your way through the Destiny 2 endgame.
Engrams work differently to the first Destiny in a bunch of key ways - and mostly for the better - but there is some nuance to the system that is worth learning about.
Meanwhile, the Infusion system returns, but has grown in complexity with the introduction of new Destiny 2 Mods, allowing you to introduce new effects and Power to your gear - and can give you the edge in endgame levelling.
If you want to know more about levelling in general, our max Power Level page can help you make your way all the way to the cap by choosing the right activities.
When to decrypt Engrams in Destiny 2
As our Power Level page explains, this is a stat worked out by the average of your currently equipped weapons and armour, and Engrams are one of several sources of new gear to help bring that average up.
Engrams are important, and work a little differently from the first game for a number of reasons.
First (and best) of all, Engrams no longer have you equip the highest possible level gear before your go to the Cryptarch, as the game will work that out based on what's on your person and in your vault - so no need to shuffle your inventory round or Infuse things before you visit.
Whatever your highest potential is - the game will know it and take it into account when you pop an Engram.
This also applies to any drops, chests and activity rewards (such as Strikes and Crucible) - so feel free to use what you want without worrying about drops coming in at that lower average you've just changed it to.
When to decrypt Engrams drops and Engrams from Factions
However, Engrams will now give loot based on when they drop, not when they decrypt, so be sure to use them as soon as possible to reap their benefits before you level up past them.
If you head into your inventory and hover over an Engram, it'll tell you the Power level it'll drop around. (In our experience it can drop above, so use it as a rough guide rather than a definite cap. Still - use it sooner than later all the same).
Engrams from Factions, however, work differently still. Once you have levelled a Faction at a vendor - such as Zavalla, using Vanguard Tokens from Strike completions as an example - an Engram will be ready for the taking.
However, if you do not collect it, it'll sit with the Faction vendor and scale with your level. Below are a series of an images showing this in action, where we left it there while we continued doing other activities.
It means that you can hold off from using Faction vendors where possible, relying on easier-to-find regular blue gear drops as you make the road to the 265 soft cap, then coming back to it when you need a quick boost.
It's worth noting Legendary Engrams and Faction Rewards have a cap. From around 265/270 onwards you will outpace them and have to rely on 'Powerful Gear' Engrams instead. These have the same properties as Faction Engrams - they will scale with you as you play, so feel free to wait until as late as possible before collecting them.
If you're wondering which activities drop these high level 'Powerful Gear' Engrams, our max Power Level has the details.
The same also applies from quest-specific rewards from Vendors, such as those from Exotic weapon quests. So if you are doing the Mida Multi-tool quest, you can hold off from receiving the beginning Mida Mini-Tool that kicks it off until it's at a higher level, if you so choose. These also scale all the way to the max level cap.
Other things to know about Engram decryption:
- Rare Engrams (blue) will automatically decrypt when you collect them - no need to go to the Cryptarch. This means until you complete the story, you'll very rarely need to visit a social space to pop open gear.
- Again, Legendary Engrams - whether dropped from the field or from non Raid and Trials vendors, such as most of those in social spaces and on planets - will be capped at around 270. Exotic Engrams, however, will scale with you until the hard cap of 350.
- Bright Engrams aren't opened at the Cryptarch, but at cosmetics vendor Tyra Karn. I guess the idea is if you didn't like your free cosmetic drops, the ability to buy more with premium currency Silver is right there.
- One Exotic weapon quest - the Sturm and Drang quest - requires you to open Legendary and Exotic Engrams at a certain point. Since Engrams are at a fixed level we wouldn't recommend holding onto them for this quest, but if you are one or two steps away from getting there, it's something to keep in mind. Otherwise, Faction Engrams also fulfil these requirements.
How to Infuse weapons in Destiny 2
Infusing is the act of increasing the Power level of one piece of gear (weapon or armour) by 'consuming' it from a higher piece of the same type.
This allows you to ensure you favourite pieces - such as the Crucible favourite Mida Multi-tool or Raid damage dealer Merciless - can keep up the pace with your gear levelling elsewhere.
To Infuse, hover over your piece of Gear and press Preview (Triangle or the Y button) then select the left-most option in the Armor Mods selection. The available items to Infuse will be displayed underneath.
There are a few basic caveats to this:
- The gear you Infuse from (the one with the higher Power that will be taken to improve the lower Power piece you want to increase) will be removed from your inventory - so be certain you no longer want it.
- Infusion only works on Legendary and Exotic gear, not Rare (blue) gear.
- It requires one Legendary Shard and 500 Glimmer to perform an Infusion.
- Mods are taken into account, but only on the lower piece of gear (if it's higher, the Mod 'disappears' - it isn't transferred - see the end section for more on this). If a slightly higher level piece of gear is grayed out and cannot be Infused, it's likely because a Mod is inflating it and it's base Power isn't high enough.
- Infusion only works within the same subcategory of gear (from Fusion Rifles to Fusion Rifles, for example) but does work across weapon classes (Energy to Power).
It's this last point that you need to be more wary of. Unlike the first game, Infusion only works within the same subcategory of gear. For weapons this means if you want to Infuse a Sniper Rifle, you need another Sniper Rifle to pull Power from.
On armour this is a little more generous (helmets are helmets) but note it doesn't work across different classes (if you have bought Hunter armour from Xur or you've grabbed something from the Vault from another character and you are a Titan, you cannot use it to Infuse).
With weapons, some subcategories are harder to get hold of than others (such as Linear Fusion Rifles). Our recommendation, then, is to keep hold of any high Power items of a variety of classes once you're past a certain point - especially if they have a Mod attached - to make sure you have something to infuse it into.
Say for example you are level 300 and if you get an Exotic from Xur at the max of 270. Equipping this Exotic will bring down your average Power level, so it would be useful to have the same subcategory of weapon or armour on hand to Infuse it into so you can bring it closer to your Power level.
Though Infusion isn't as much of a priority when it comes to levelling as it was in the original Destiny (thanks to the fact the game will automatically work out your highest Power level from your gear equipped or not) it does equipping restrictions into account - so only one Exotic armour piece will count at a time.
Also, if you want to increase your average Power level for gameplay purposes (such as the Raid or Nightfall) and you cannot equip said high level Exotic, then Infusing it into a Legendary equivalent allows you to make use of that Power level in play, and not just for increasing your potential level.
Need more help? Our Destiny 2 guide and walkthrough gives you an overview of everything to do with the game, including the main campaign. We have guides for latest weekly reset activities, such as the return of Iron Banner, the Pyramidion Nightfall and latest Treasure Map locations, as well as regular activities such as Flashpoints, Heroic Public Events and Lost Sectors. We also explain how to Power level to the 265, 300 and 305 Power caps, what to spend Glimmer on, how Mods, Infusion, and Engrams and Legendary Shards work, what Ornaments you can get, how to unlock classes and subclasses, how to tackle Trials of the Nine, a Destiny 2 Exotics list and how to complete Exotic quests such as the Legend of Acrius, and how to complete the Destiny 2 Raid and its fourth and final Challenge Mode. Finally, we have details of December's Destiny 2 DLC Curse of Osiris.
Destiny 2 Mods explained
As well as Infusion, Mods are a useful way of getting a little more Power out of your endgame gear and help bring up your average.
Mods are a way to add new abilities and Power level to Legendary and Exotic (not Rare / Blue) weapons and armour. You get mods from the following sources:
- Bright Engrams
- Purchasing Random Mod packs from Banshee-44 (2500 Glimmer)
- Trading Rare (blue) Mods for Legendary Mods (from Power level 280 onwards)
- Gunsmith Faction rewards from Banshee-44
- Coming automatically installed into certain gear (including all Exotics)
Installing Mods works the same as Infusing; preview the gear by hovering over it in your inventory and pressing Triangle / Y button, then look at the Armor Mods section. If the square next to the Infusion is blank, there is no Mod, otherwise it'll show which Mod is currently installed.
Mods are one-time consumables, so if you use a new Mod, it'll overwrite and delete the one currently installed.
Mods are particularly useful if you want to add Power level to your Legendary gear, adding a possible +5 using a Legendary Mod, especially as you hit Power Level 280; this is when you can acquire Legendary Mods easily by trading your regular Rare mods with Banshee-44 (as well as change the Energy type of your weapons, if you so choose).
Not only can you buy and manually insert Mods to add into weapons, but when Infusing, Mods are also taken into consideration, but only on the gear you are infusing to, not from.
Take the below example. If you have a 270 Submachine Gun with a +5 Mod, and Infuse a 274 Legendary with no Mod on it, it'll become 279 - because it takes into account the additional +5.
The same with this armour, such as this Hunter Cloak - it's the same principle.
If, however, the higher item has a Mod on it and the lower one doesn't, it won't carry over. In the following Scout Rifle example, a 268 without a Mod and a 275 with a Mod only becomes gains 2 power levels to 270 - because the +5 from the Mod disappears and cannot be used to inflate the Power level after Infusion.
Once you hit Power Level 280, you can easily acquire Legendary Mods from Banshee-44 to increase the Legendary gear you own if they don't already have a Legendary Mod attached.
(It's worth noting Banshee-44 doesn't sell Kinetic (primary weapon) Mods, but TheIcarusSerinity on the Destiny subreddit has a possible solution - breaking down two Legendary Mods and using the resources you get to trade for a random Attack Mod - which has a chance of being Kinetic.)
Until that point, it's worth keeping as much Legendary gear with Mods in as possible. Then, if you get a higher level drop and it doesn't have a Mod installed, and you're not fussed about keeping it, then you can infuse that into a lower Power level piece of Gear with a Mod and get some easy levels out of it.
It's all part of that endgame grind as you make your slow way to the max Power Level cap - the prior link explains more about the activities and means required to slowly get you there once you get past the 265 soft cap. Good luck!