Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have launched their live service-slash-Marvel Comics brawler extraordinaire, and it seems to be picking up steam. While the technical issues are strong, what’s even stronger are the heroes smashing hordes of evil robots. And to do the most smashing, you’ll have to really engage with the Destiny-like RPG structure in this game. To that end, there are two key pillars of strength holding up Marvel’s Avengers’ gameplay loop, and now’s a pretty good time to explain what they are.

Power Level Versus Hero Level: Getting Stronger in Marvel’s Avengers

If you’ve played a loot-driven game like Destiny, Diablo, or that other one with flying robots nobody likes, you’ll be able to speak the Marvel’s Avengers language right out of the box. Like those other games, the two pillars for making your superheroes stronger are associated with your hero’s personal abilities and strengths, and the gear they’re equipped with. Both of these together form your combat capabilities, and you’ll need to invest in both for each hero you want to take to the endgame.

Related: Marvel's Avengers: Combat Basics

Hero level is what goes up as you gain experience points for smashing bad guys and completing missions. This is the tried and true RPG staple of “hit the bad things and make the number go up.” Each time you level up, you’ll earn a skill point to use on your hero’s various skills and passive upgrades, and currently you can grind all the way up to Hero level 50. As you spend those skill points your heroes will get stronger, but they’ll also gain access to more complex and useful abilities. Thus, the combat gains more depth and complexity the more you play.

Power level is the overall strength level of your character’s equipped gear. It takes the general Power level assigned to your gear pieces (the big ol’ white number) and averages them out to assign an overarching Power level to the character. The maximum Power level right now is 150, and the maximum default value of a piece of gear is currently 130. In order to reach that 150 you’ll have to have a set of fully-upgraded gear, including your expensive Major Artifact.

Naturally, the deeper into the endgame content in Marvel’s Avengers you get, the higher Power level you’ll have to be. This is the driving force of the game after you finish the campaign, especially in its initial post-launch form. There are different ways to get there, depending on how sturdy your grasp of the basic combat is. If you can hold off on upgrading lover-level gear, you’ll be at a time advantage when you reach the endgame. But if you need to upgrade what you have at a given moment to get that slight edge or unlock a Perk, there’s nothing wrong with that, either. You just won’t have a stockpile of resources at the ready.

Are you finding your way through the power structures in Marvel’s Avengers? Do you have a solid build you’re working towards, or a favorite piece of gear? Let us know what you think over at the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!