Threat Level is the game's way of determining a player's skill level compared to other players. It is not a character statistic, and relies only on the player's performance. The formula for assessing threat level takes into account wins, losses, participation in missionsand whether the player is on the team with a threat advantage or disadvantage compared to the other team. The threat level is the same for all characters on a given account.
Threat Categories and Identification
Threat level is split into 4 color-coded categories depending on your threat: Green (the lowest), Bronze, Silver, and Gold (the highest). This color is shown in the player's Rating icon / symbol.
Gold players count for more on a team than lower ratings do, so two silvers might find themselves teamed up against a singled gold. Or 3 silvers may find themselves against 4-5 bronzes. If a team has a "Threat disadvantage", the mission team leader may receive the option to call for backup.
District instances fall into a Threat Level category, as well, providing an indicator as to what instance the player should join when manually selecting a district.
If a player manually joins a district with a threat category lower than the player's current Threat level, the player will be receive a APB$ and [Standing] penalty, until the Threat discrepancy is equalized. The percentages are 25%, 50% and 90% penalties. This applies only to districts that are chosen via a manual selection of the instance, and it also applies for players who have a higher threat than the selected instance has. If your threat level changes while in an instance, you will also get reduced rewards.
Joining as a group or being put into a non-matching district by the system by clicking the district picture on the main selection screen will not reduce the rewards even if the resulting instance has a different threat level than the character.