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I've noticed that some portals seem to give out way better stuff than others. It seems to me that friendly, high level portals give out the best items when hacked, and enemy, high level portals give out the worst items when hacked. I also think the player level has something to do with it since I'm getting better items than I used to, even though I occasionally got higher level items when I was a lower level player.

Does anyone know for sure what the factors are for determining how good the items are from a hack? Or at least anecdotally know?

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Have a closely related question, so I'll just leave a comment: does progress towards next level affect items too? e.g. would someone who is almost L7 get better stuff than a new L6? – Alok Jan 17 '13 at 19:14
I wasn't looking for this, but certainly didn't notice it. – mmrobins Jan 23 '13 at 1:04
up vote 25 down vote accepted

As we found out today loot item quality depends on the following things:

  • Portal level - the higher the better
  • Level of the strongest resonator (I believe it determines the maximum item level you can get from the portal, not confirmed)
  • Player level. We made an experiment today L1 and L6 players hacked the same L4.75 portal several times today:
    • L1 player's loot consisted of L1 and L2 resonators and XMP + common shields
    • L6 player's loot mostly consisted of L4 items + several L5 and L6 items + rare and very rare shields.
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You forgot that friendly portals ALWAYS give items (and often more), whereas enemy portals may give you nothing. – Sentry Mar 14 '13 at 10:16

The higher the level of the portal, the better the stuff coming out. For example, an L4 portal will give you L6 resonators/bursts (and that was from an enemy portal).

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I agree portal level has something to do with it, and I've gotten stuff from high level enemy portals, but I'm noticing that in general friendly portals give better stuff - or at least don't end up coming up with nothing as often. Are you not seeing that? – mmrobins Dec 19 '12 at 3:08

The level of gear available from a portal is based on the minimum of the portal level and the agent level, which I call the hack level. The hack level also determines the number of symbols and time constraint for glyph hacks. which backs up this claim. From my experience you can get get resonators of the hack level +/- 1 level, bursters of +/- 2 levels, and cubes at the level of the hack. The distribution within those ranges seems to favor mid level gear (ie. a lv3 hack will get more lv 4 resonators than lv 2 resonators, but a level 6 hack will get more lv 5 resonators than lv 7 resonators)

The amount of gear drops seems to be less from enemy portals (though the distribution may be different depending on the resource; some claim viruses are more common from enemy portals, and during the thee weeks before the second anniversary bursters were much more common from enemy portals)

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