Engrams are loot that the the Cryptarch can unlock for you when you return to the Tower. They’re special rare loot that you don’t know the specifics of until it’s unlocked by the Cryptarch. There is a lot of interesting little facts to these weapons and armor that you need to know before you start decrypting, but first how to decrypt.

It’s a simple enough process, talk to the Cryptarch at the Tower who will, for free, decrypt any Engrams you have in your inventory. Once decrypted, it will create an item with either one rarity above, below, or exactly the same rarity as the Engram that is equivalent to your level. So yes you can, if you wish, save Engrams until you’re a higher level and this is generally advisable for rare and legendary Engrams for weapons you plan on using a lot.

Engrams, once decoded, will generally be the same rarity of the Engram itself, however, the community has done research and found that Legendary Engrams are more often than not Rare Engrams. The rarity schedule is as follows:

  • Encoded (White) -> Decoded in the field.
  • Encrypted (Green) -> Decoded in the field or by the Cryptarch. Uncommon / Rare
  • Decoherent (Blue) -> Can contain rare items.
  • Legendary Engram (Purple) -> Available from Postmaster when a player reaches a new reputation level and has enough rank with the Cryptarch, purchased from the Cryptarch, or found within the world. About a 1 in 3 chance of getting a Legendary item.
  • Exotic Engram (Gold) -> Bought from Xur for 23 Motes of Light.

When you decode an Engram, you may again get a weapon or armor piece better, worse, or the same as the rarity of the Engram.

Obtaining Legendaries / Farming Engrams

The real meat of this is how do you get the super rare Legendary or Exotic Engrams so you can gear yourself up for the endgame? Well, there are a lot of different ways. The easiest way is to earn marks, then exchange those with the vendors in town.

However, on Fridays and Saturdays Xur shows up and you can trade, if you’re level 20, Mote of Lights for Exotic Engrams. Likewise, Xur also takes Strange Coins for Exotic Engrams.

To farm engrams, you’re gonna want to find an area of the map with a fast spawn rate with lots of mobs. Most guides say roll on over to the moon to accomplish this, but you never know how Bungie will balance spawns, so the best advice is to play the game, do strikes, and have fun and the stuff will spawn as you complete the game.

If you’re super into farming, then do some research on what’s the current best farming area. I’ve looked at so, so many of the various “guides” online to the best spots and checked these spots out and they were just literally regular areas where enemies spawn. Keep your eyes peeled maybe I’ll figure out the voodoo method and post my own guide here.

Exotic Armor Warning

You can only wear one piece of exotic armor. Do not delete exotic armor because you never know when you’ll need to equip a better exotic, but then find yourself replacing that with a regular piece of gear.

That’s it for Engrams! To summarize, get loot, decrypt it, and find out what treasures await!

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Last Updated: Mar 18, 2016

About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.