Payday 3 Leveling Guide: Fastest Way to Farm XP for Guns and Skills

Time is money, friend.

by Thomas Cunliffe
Image: Starbreeze

Leveling up weapons to earn new modifications and researching new skills makes Payday 3’s Challenges far easier and more fun. Without challenges, you can’t earn IP (Infamy Points) to earn new customization options, and you can’t heist good if you ain’t lookin’ good. This guide walks you through the fastest way to farm gun and skill XP in Payday 3 and impress your friends by completing a heist in just a few minutes.

How to Level Up in Payday 3

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Completing a heist in Payday 3 earns you XP for your selected skill tree and equipped weapons. You don’t have to use your guns or use your skills to level them up; you’ll simply earn XP based on the difficulty of the heist.

If you’ve yet to unlock a certain Skill Tree, marking it for Research in the skills menu will allow you to earn XP towards your first skill of the tree. Once this is unlocked, the only way to progress a skill tree is by having at least one skill from that tree equipped.

Your Infamy (player level), on the other hand, can only be leveled up by completing challenges that reward IP. The level cap is currently Level 150, though you’ll earn every non-preset weapon by Level 100.

Fastest Way to Earn Weapon and Skill XP in Payday 3

The best way to quickly farm weapon and skill XP in Payday 3 is by replaying stealth runs of Dirty Ice. Now, I know what you’re thinking — but with this guide and a little practice, Dirty Ice can be completed in 2-5 minutes. That’s an entire heist’s worth of XP in less time than it takes to brew a cup of tea.

How to Quickly Complete a Stealth Run of Dirty Ice

If you have them, equip the skills Escapist, Swift, Infiltrator, Quick Fingers, and Bagger, as well as the Standard Armor Lining, to ensure you’re able to complete the heist as fast as possible. ECM Jammers can also come in handy if things go awry. Select the weapons and skill trees you want to level, equip one of your guns with a silencer, and you’re good to go.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Launch an invite-only match of Dirty Ice on Normal difficulty. Mask up, sprint into the alley, and give the civilian a good thwack to subdue them. Hide ’em so the guard doesn’t get suspicious.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Climb the wooden pallets to the roof. Jump on the vents, open the window, and drop in. Disable the camera as quickly as possible, then grab the civilian inside.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Poke the civilian over to the managers’ office and make them get down. You’ll need them later. Use the computer to take note of which code you need. Then, collect a QR code from a phone in the office.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Kill the patrolling guard, answer the radio, and open the VIP Showroom with the QR code. Remember to take care of the camera.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Take note of the code to the vault. Depending on what the computer said earlier, it’ll be in a book in the VIP room, on the whiteboard, or on the employee of the month photo.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Head downstairs, disable the cameras, remove the final guard, and enter the correct code. Enter the door in the basement, pick up the red keycard, and disable the power.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Run back upstairs and grab the civilian we prepared earlier. Shove them into the button so you can use the keycard to open the vault.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Lockpick the glass case, collect the rare stone, and load it into the van. Collect the jewelry you need to complete the heist and make your escape. Told you it was quick.

Related: All Voice Actors in Payday 3

Rinse and repeat until you have the XP needed to purchase your weapon upgrade or skill. You’ll notice your runs become faster each time (provided you can actually get into the game again).

Fastest Way to Earn Infamy XP/IP in Payday 3

Unfortunately, completing challenges is the only way to earn Infamy in Payday 3. Unlike the Dirty Ice method for weapons and skills, we’ve been unable to find an ultra-fast method to earn Infamy Points (IP). Why not have a go at the Quiet and Smooth challenge for 99 Boxes?

This guide was written while playing Payday 3 on Xbox Series X.

- This article was updated on September 26th, 2023

About The Author

Thomas has been a freelance writer since 2021 and considers himself a connoisseur of all things Nintendo, Blizzard, and Marvel. Since amassing 145,000+ followers on a Facebook page about Diddy Kong with a backward hat in 2015, Thomas has become a trusted voice in the gaming community across publications such as AOTF, PC Invasion, and Gfinity. His greatest achievements include catching every Pokémon, completing every quest in World of Warcraft (yes, all of them), and naming his dog 'Mass Effect 3.' Thomas is extraordinarily passionate about the video game industry and its community. He enjoys writing about various topics, including popular games like Destiny 2, Fortnite, and WoW, and exploring the latest AAA and indie titles.