Story Mode or Challenge Mode?
Story Mode all the way!
You can be done with the story in 10-15 hr's ending somewhere around level 25.
Challenge does offer Glory and slightly increased loot potential but doesn't increase xp gained on mission objective only slowing down your progress.
Vendor Trash or Break it Down for Materials?
Vendor it all
You will get enough materials in the campaign to craft if needed
Buying only the patterns that pertain to your Class & Desired play style.
While leveling the most important Items will always be your Weapon/Belt/Incoulator/Armor seeing as they make up all your abilities so no need to craft that much in the early game.
Check every hour periodically on the Vendor for she will sell once in a blue moon an Extreme Fortune, buy it! if you can't afford make sure within the hour you can before her reset.
Should I Level the Crafting Tech Tree?
Don't bother with it early on for it's a waste of credits/fate and you can't utilize it.
Overtime before hitting level 30 you can credit/fate sink into opening up Modify then later at 50 unlock Fusion
No need to bother with any of the other Perks of crafting, waste of credits, and you can't craft Relics or utilize perfect stat itemization.
Rare Items(Green not Blue "I know took me a min to get use to lol") are really all you need to complete the campaign so don't craft Artificer(Purple) items.
What do I do with Fate?
Just don't spend during the campaign !
Even if missions are starting to get slightly harder, stick to "story mode" and craft a few greens to round out your Power Rating.
I'll discuss later on how to "efficiently" use your increasing lump sum of Fate.
Make sure to complete the entire Campaign and the Investigation that follows to receive all the bonus XP/Fate for completion.
I've completed the Campaign, Now What?
You're probably around level 24-28 give or take.
Next take on the Priority Assignments, you will have maybe 2-3 to complete, don't make them too difficult since if you die you will loose Glory, and not get any XP, Fate or Loot rewards.
Once your done that Head over to the Dagnor System and do only random missions in this sector until you unlock the Hourglass Tarot Card (It's the first card unlock).
Get to level 30, by now you have a build you like but, are one perk off of getting it up and running with sub optimal gear. Once you're 30 you'll have 3 Perks for your build, then we can start The Real Grind.
How to Level from 30-50?
Lets run some Tarots!
By now you have a Lump sum of Fate more if you didn't upgrade Tech Tree for Modify/Fusion-you might want get the Modify now and Fusion at 50. (Edit: After looking at some comments it does make more sense to have the Fusion function unlocked earlier seeing as if you are lucky to get some lower level Relics they can be fused to increase your PR sooner thus increasing your missions xp gain seeing as higher PR = more xp).
You also Have the Hourglass Card, Currently Level 30, and Ready to Grind
Make sure you are capable of getting out of a jam quickly, depending on your build you'll need some speed or a way to bypass trash as this Method of farming can look dangerous but it's highly beneficial and maybe some major healing/suppression regen on your Inoculate would be nice.
Next Select Pestialiance(Major)/Hourglass(Minor)/Possession(Minor)[+250] This combo will give you a mission in which you will have 10 min to kill 3 Nergal Nests.
From the start check the map and run, leap, stun, and blast your way through nuking the Nests, complete and exit quickly.
You should have gotten 4.5k-6k(30-40) xp, a high chance at a Relic, and some Artificer gear, hitting level 31 in one run. From (40-50) you will see xp in the 6-8k Range.
You can burn all your Fate on this but keep in mind there are "Diminishing Returns" on every 10 Runs increasing the cost by 10 (110, 120, 130, etc) so do your first 10 and wait till a reset or burn it all now to 50.
For Those who kept a MEME Virus or 2 using this method from Level 40 on will net a level and a half every run to 50 cutting your time in half (8-12k xp per run).
OMG so many Relics....Indeed you will receive some not fit for you and you should bank all of them till you hit 50(Edit: or use them early to fuse with the usable Relics increasing the PR of your next mission and thus increasing the xp).
I'm level 50, Almost Fully Geared, What Now?
Wait for a Reset, or If already a New Glory Week Don't Run any Tarots Yet.
Now starts the Road to a 1500 Power Rating
You probably have little to no Fate but a healthy amount of Credits, with Modify and Fusion being available to you.
The Relic gear you do have that's fit for your build you'll want to use Fusion on with gear not suited for you. Weapons have the highest Fusion Potential for a quick max fusion where as Weapons need a few to hit 100% Fused.
By now you've fused the best Items for your build, now let's Modify a few ( Don't go crazy ) as you will see more Relics with already better rolls so just remove 1 undesirable stat for now.
Things like Crit Chance, Deflect, DoT, Single Target, Damage when Surrounded, etc are stats that work with most builds depending on Range or Melee.
At this point things are gonna get a little slow again but you have some options.
How to Grind for Fate, Influence, and Glory?
From your first Reset after power leveling through Tarot Missions you probably got the maxed 800/800 GloryReward and wonder how to do that every week? Like an MMO you can log on Once a Day and do the Priority Mission for around 40-50 a day on top of your week of Tarots and Random Maps for Infulence.
You probably have a stockpile of Artificer Consumables like the 50% damage buff for the next 5 missions which comes in handy on the +250 Priority Missions, usually strung together with 3-5 Missions, and Don't worry too much for the Collateral Damage as even the best outcomes will see a -8/-10 Glory out of 50 per/day
At your Current Power Rating I'd imagine Yellow/Red Missions are pretty doable at this point for you and you can now find random Missions in any Sector you like for more Influence, Fate, and Glory.
Now in Lower Sectors you will notice mostly White Mission worth nothing to you, However as long as your Star Map is in this zone you can just Create a Tarot in this Area at a high PR worth loads of Influence and Glory ( Edit: You can also complete the white mission and a new one at your PR will appear, I also notice even in the lower Sectors there's always at least 1 Mission that's Green/Yellow for me ) .
If you didn't already know by selecting a Sector in your Star Map prior to Creating a Tarot Mission actually creates the Mission in that sector counting for Influence of that Reputation allowing you to gain max Influence a lot faster and if you haven't started the 30-50 Power Level you can knock 3 birds with one stone by choosing the Sector you want to gain reputation, plow through a the Tarot Mission, and gain your Weekly Glory.
Finally and I'm not a fan of this, If you want a large amount of Fate again like you had before your Power Level then you only have 1 option, to Level another character through the Campaign as you can complete the Chapters again for there large Fate Rewards.
How to Relic Farm for those last few pieces?
If you're still shy of that 1500PR or missing a few items to round out the build or missing the correct affix on a Weapon or Armor then here is how you can find those Items.
If you have at least 500 Fate and an Extreme Fortune Buff in the Bank then here's a Tarot Mission Combo to find that desired Relic.
You want to Create a Hunt Mission, Execution(Major)/Hourglass(Minor)/Possession(Minor)[+250] and use your Extreme Fortune. This will be a difficult mission for some builds, you will have 10 min to kill 3 Bosses. These will be challenging for they are always surrounded by Champions, and it can be tough but while this will be the most challenging content setup the rewards are amazing as you will see a Relic for every boss killed, most of the times for every large chest if one is on the map, and Villains/Commanders also have a higher chance with the buff to Drop even more Relics. Completing the Mission can net you 4-8 Relics
3 for the bosses, 1-2 for Hourglass if procs, 1 in a Chest, 1-2 if Villains or Commanders are on the Map. ( Edit: this is subject to RNG people, I know some of you didn't get these numbers I'm only reporting my own data, yours will differ ! )
By Far the best way to find the gear you're looking for reaching that 1500 PR.
My thoughts on My Time Spent and Endgame Status
It took me roughly 4 days to hit 50 the first time, and around a week for a 1502PR.
The game needs more Fate farming options as currently playing through the Campaign again is the best way which I guess was intended? Seeing as if you level one of each class you have a nice pool of Attribute points but I would argue they don't make or break any build.
Speaking of Builds where are all the builds? At first glance you would think wow look at all these trees for build options than 30 comes around and you will be like, ("huh so I can either crit like a boss, face tank like a boss, or dot like a boss") and that's it.... A bit Bleak is you ask me.
Morality and the Trees look fun but at 50 I see no reason for them, a better way would be to grant us a skill point for those trees only per Morality Rank or, just let us to gain the passives once we reach a certain level of Puritan or Radicle.
Please Fix, or Flat out Remove Executions. If you play Crusader as your main( like me <---) you would already have noticed Skills like Runic Armor and Crisis Management lingering behind since the Heroic Deeds to gain them are still bugged! For Runic Armor if running a shield the Block on the 1 button counts as an Armor Ability since it uses Focus like your Armor would on the 4 button....This is lazy coding at best, and Crisis Management Arguable one of the Best Perks again if playing Melee, Elites are also the same Targets you can execute which doesn't count towards the Heroic Deed. I had to almost kill 55 of them with my sword, swap to a gun to finish them off just to unlock it! That is unexpectable and ridiculous to the point that Executions should just flat out be removed.
In closing I'm now waiting on Warzones as I'm 1502PR and have nothing else really to do, I have max Influence on all but 1 Sector Left and I can face roll "Everything", I want to Love this game but man it's tough. I hope any or all of this helps those wondering just how the hell do I play this game in the a somewhat optimal way, I doubt I discovered everything.
PURGE ON INQUISITORS!