Attack and You: A Moderately-Sized Breakdown of Where and How Attack is Capped

After reading both of the recent threads discussing Attack and making some comments that likely did little more than add to the confusion, I decided to make a separate thread detailing how a weapon's Attack value works in Destiny and, more importantly, where and how that value caps.

I. How Attack Affects Damage

This has been detailed extensively and should be common knowledge at this point, but just so that we'll have it on-hand as a reference: the amount of damage that a weapon can inflict reaches a hard cap and will not increase further once the Attack value of the weapon is sufficiently greater than the Level of the enemy the player is attacking. The question (and the point of this post) is how large that difference has to be. Note that capped Attack is signified by a failure to increase damage inflicted when changing to a higher Attack weapon. More simply, it is denoted in-game by darkened damage numbers; body shots change from white to grey and precision shots from yellow to a dark gold.

II. Recommended Light Level can be Deceiving

Activities in Destiny can be (very broadly) divided into two categories: activities in which the player is expected to be the sole participant, and activities in which the player is expected to be a member of a team. The simplest example of this would be a Story Mission versus a Raid.

Team-based activities artificially inflate the HP pool and Defense value of any enemies that the player encounters. Note that for Strikes, this does not apply to public areas. However, the recommended light level that appears when a player is defeated by an enemy does not change; a level 320 dreg will still be identified as a level 320 dreg even if its statistics are those of a level 360 enemy. This is important because…

III. We Cannot Cap Attack in Heroic Strikes, CoE, or Raids

I've placed a table at the end of this post that details the samples I took to verify these values, but the short version is that for team-based activities, we are unable to cap Attack on any enemy that is Light Level 300 or higher. In other words, for Strikes and Raids, using a weapon with a higher Attack value will always result in higher damage. There is an Attack cap for these activities, but we cannot currently reach it. Using King's Fall enemies as a reference point, we can determine that the Attack value of the weapon being used must be 110 points greater than the level of the enemy being targeted. This gives us a formula of (Cap=(Enemy Level +110)) for team-based activities.

IV. We Can Cap Attack in Story Missions

Unlike their counterparts found in team-based activities, enemies in Story Missions do not possess inflated HP pools or Defense values. To cap Attack on these enemies, the Attack value of the weapon being used must be 50 points greater than the Level of the enemy being targeted. This gives us a simple formula of (Cap=(Enemy Level +50)). Note that this does not apply to any enemies located in public/patrol spaces.

V. Overall Light Level Does Affect Damage Output, but…

Overall Light Level does affect damage output, but only if this value drops below the Level of the enemy the player is fighting. When this occurs, a severe penalty (beginning at -50% damage) is applied to the player. This applies to both Story Missions and team activities.

VI. Conclusions

These conclusions are relatively straightforward; to be honest, this was a lot simpler than I was expecting.

  1. The Attack formula for Story Missions is: (Cap=(Enemy Level +50).

  2. The Attack formula for Strikes, Raids, and CoE is: (Cap=(Enemy Level +110).

  3. Overall Light Level does affect damage output, but only if this value drops below the Level of the enemy the player is fighting. When this occurs, a severe penalty (beginning at -50% damage) is applied to the player. This applies to both Story Missions and team activities.

VII. Testing Data

Activity 370 Weapon 390 Weapon 400 Weapon
320 Story Capped Capped Capped
350 Story Uncapped Uncapped Capped
280 Raid Uncapped Capped Capped
300 Raid Uncapped Uncapped Uncapped
320 Strike Uncapped Uncapped Uncapped
320 CoE Uncapped Uncapped Uncapped

Note that the values for the Raids are taken from the levels of the enemies themselves (found through dying) rather than the recommended level from the director.

Questions? Ideas? Things I missed? Let me know!

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