Leveling up in this Vermintide isn't the same as the last game. There are some complicated elements you should be aware of. While some guides have touched on the progression systems in the game, I feel like going a little more in depth and offer strategies for smooth progression.
Other W:V2 Guides:
- Beginners Guide.
- All Tomes and Grimoires (The War Camp).
- All Tomes and Grimoires (Righteous Stand / Athel Yenlui / Against The Grain).
- Sienna (Unchained and Pyromancer).
In the previous Vermintide game, your effectiveness was dependent on your skills and the quality of weapons/gear you have. Higher rarity weapons granted small bonuses to damage and trinkets gave you a selection of effects that meshed with your playstyle. Things have changed a bit.
There are two progression systems in Vermintide 2. One is your level and the other is your gear power, both of which contribute to your character's Power Level, the singular stat which defines your effectiveness in combat. Skill also plays a large part but you're going to be heavily limited by your power.
Leveling serves a far greater purpose in this game. It contributes to your overall character power (discussed next) and also opens up talent slots. Talents offer adjustments on your character's abilities or boost some aspect of play. Levels are isolated to each character, so you can have a level 15 elf, but a level 4 witch hunter. Each sub-class is opened up at levels 7 and 12 and offer different playstyles for each.
Finally, level dictates what rarity (color) items will appear when you open loot boxes. On a low level character, even the highest grade box will mostly produce white items. There's no way around it other than leveling or taking risks to get higher grade boxes. (grims, tomes, etc) Level is the easiest of the two mechanics to understand.
What Does the Scouter Say About His Power Level?
Like it or lump it, your effectiveness will be tied to power level in this game. Your damage, the force behind each strike, all dependent on that one little stat. So naturally, to progress, you have to raise that stat. This is accomplished in one of two ways. Leveling up, which contributes to your power, and loot. So loot itself can be considered a progression system.
Long story short, as you open more chests, the gear inside will have progressively higher power levels attached to them. The game observes the highest level item you've received, then rolls a dice to see if the next will be higher. As you open more loot boxes, the items inside will grant more power and thus increase your killing abilities. Apparently, 10 power equates to 1% more damage. So judge if you want to equip that white 150 power trinket over the 140 power green trinket that grants 6% more damage to armor.
There are limitations to this gearing system which are very important. The entire point of this guide is to describe them and offer strategies to avoid or mitigate these limitations.
For those who are curious about how power level is ultimately calculated, I'll paraphrase a post by Cat_Thulhu, in which he describes how overall power level is tallied.
All of your equipment power is added together, then divided by 5 (for five items), then added to your character's base power (level times 10) and rounded down.
((m+r+c+n+t) ÷ 5) + (character level x 10)
That gives you a good idea where your power comes from. While weapons are individual to each character, charms, necklaces and trinkets are shared. So even on a level 1 character with power 5 weapons, they'll still have a bit of a boost if they equip those shared items from higher level characters, at least until they open some boxes and get some decent weapons.
So now we understand how looting gear increases your character's power. What are these limitations I mentioned? Well each difficulty mode offers its own loot box. Strongbox at Recruit level, Coffers at Veteran level, Chests at Champion level and Vaults on Legendary. There are also Commendation Chests, which have an upper limit of power level 300 drops, but I'll go into more detail about those later.
Ultimately, Strongboxes have a 100 power level limit on the items you can get out of them. The same thing goes for Coffers, which are limited at 200. Once you've opened enough boxes, the items coming out of them will exceed power level 100, making the Strongboxes you get from Recruit difficulty useless, except for scrap. This is where a little pre-planning comes in handy.
The Chests, Vaults and Commendation Chests are limited at the game's maximum of 300 power level, so they aren't considered 'limited' for this guide.
So say you've been playing Bardin pretty heavily. You're at level 10, sitting pretty on some level 120 gear since you've since moved to Veteran difficulty level for its higher limited Coffers. Now you want to play Kruber, who is still level 1. You've reached a dilemma, and you have choices.
- You go back to recruit difficulty. Its easier, to match your character's low level, but any gear you get will be limited to power level 100, stalling your gear progression. You can certainly open Commendation Chests, but you've been told to save those. (More on that later)
- Suck it up and play on Veteran with a level 1 character. You won't have the talents, weapons or overall power level to compete very well, but at least your gear drops won't be limited to 100. The higher level trinket, charm and necklace helps a bit, but you won't have the blueprints yet to build your own weapons. You won't make many friends and you'll spend some time on the ground. Hopefully the first few Coffers you get will yield some good weapons.
- Farm crates with your higher level character(s) and open them on your lower level characters. It'll allow you to keep your gear power moving in an upward direction and it'll offer your new character a chance at kitting out without opening those Precious Commendation Chests. You'll still be gimped in the overall level and talent department and whatever you get out of those chests will likely be white, but at least you have a leg-up on Veteran difficulty.
See? None of these options are a perfect fix. Once you pass the 100 gear power breakpoint some hard decisions come down the pipe. Those decisions get even harder once you approach the 200 power breakpoint. That's where you're going to have to do some real planning.
What About Those Precious Commedation Chests?
Commendation Chests are granted each time you level up. Naturally you get a few pretty fast as you level up your characters from 1. This is meant to offset the dilemma mentioned above I'm sure. But since they're limited at a lofty gear power 300, many players believe opening them at a low level is akin to casting pearls before swine and save them for when your gear progression is quite a bit higher.
Something important needs to be remembered: Gear progression = opening chests. The more chests you open, the faster you'll start pulling higher power gear out of them. So someone who opened every chest will have a higher gear score over time than someone squirreling them away. That said, there are reasons to purposefully stall your gear progression. And that brings us to the meat and potatoes topic...
Gear Progression Pre-planning
The top tip I can give is to make yourself prepared for each breakpoint. Ideally, you want all of your characters (or at least the ones you intend on playing) capable of playing on Veteran difficulty before you get to the point where power 100 gear start dropping out of your Strongboxes. At least level 5 with that starting talent under your belt. You'll want a complete set of weapons for each character, if only to test each out and know which you like and which you don't. Being prepared for Veteran means you don't have to make the hard decisions above and you'll keep your gear progression going smoothly. It's not essential, but it's good practice for the next breakpoint at gear 200.
Personally, I chose to open all commendation chests on my primary character, just to give my gear score a solid boost until I was comfortable in Veteran, then I started saving them on that character and all others, though I have broken down and opened one or two at a time when I felt like it. :) It's a game after all!
Once you're in Veteran difficulty, start looking ahead to that power 200 breakpoint. I'd say by now you've found a character you like to play. Get them comfortable rolling through Veteran and start stockpiling Coffers. This will stall your gear progression for the moment, but leave you the potential to increase it when you open them on a character you want to level up. For me this was when I was getting power 125 items or so, you can keep going into the 150s if you want but I'd say stop before the 175 range, just to give your next characters some room to open a few.
The overall goal here is to have as many characters as you enjoy playing prepared for Champion difficulty level by the time you reach the second breakpoint, when you're getting gear with a power level of 195-200. That way, you won't have to step back a difficulty level and stall your gear progression to get them leveled, or get press ahead unprepared and get rofflestomped.
The Role of Crafting
As you play (and mostly as you die, oddly enough) you'll gain access to blacksmithing patterns for each of your character's weapons, and one for trinkets, necklaces and charms. Weapons are unlocked per character of course. White items can be crafted and upgraded in color. This might be done if you're not getting a weapon you particularly like to use and want one of a higher power, since upgrading existing items never increases their power rating.
If you're leveling up a low level character (1 thru 7 or so) you may not have a full collection of patterns yet, so they'll offer only limited assistance once you hit the 100 power breakpoint. But by the time you approach the 200 power point and you've played the character enough as I encouraged above, you'll have a full set of weapon patterns and know which ones you'd like to build.
Maybe you have some rating 200+ gear on your main and want some matching weapons for a character that's just too low to fend for themselves in Champion. That's a smart idea. But be mindful that building weapons and upgrading them will end up eating a lot of scrap. If you're running through Veteran after that 200 breakpoint, you're probably going to be melting most of it down.
While it won't stop your gear progression, relying on smithing for your gear will slow it to a crawl, at least until the character is ready for Champion or you go back to your main to stockpile Chests for them. In the end, the best gear possible will only partially offset an under-leveled character. But at least it'll help until they're self-sufficient in the higher difficulties.