Destiny 2 is all about earning new loot and growing as powerful as you can. But figuring out how to get your strength up quickly, especially following the massive system overhaul that came with the Shadowkeep. That’s why we’ve made this Destiny 2 power leveling guide, which breaks down everything you need to do to max out your power level.
Step one: Get to level 900
Leveling can be a little confusing in Destiny 2 if you’re a newcomer. In previous iterations, you had both a character level (gained through experience) and a power level (gained through gear stats). With the New Light update, character levels are now gone completely. Instead, you now only need to focus on raising your power level.
As with Light in Destiny, power level is the average of all your gear, and is a measurement of your overall strength, offensively and defensively. As you move through the story, each activity has a suggested power level in the Director. If your power is low, spend time completing side objectives like public events and adventures to get better gear.
As of the most recent updates to the game, every player now starts at power level 750, with every characters’ subclasses unlocked. Your first grind goal is to hit the game’s soft cap of 900. As you play, you’ll get different gear drops, which are color coded by rarity. You’ll mostly be seeing rare (blue) drops during this stretch, which will give you gear above your current power level until you hit that soft cap. This grind can go by really fast if you’re simply playing through the game’s campaign, as you’ll constantly get new gear just by playing.
Don’t be too precious here. You’re going to be switching gear constantly while you work up to 900. You shouldn’t get tied to any one piece of equipment. Instead, keep equipping your highest level gear. This will raise your power level and in turn make it so you receive higher random drops.
Raise your rep
Everything you do on each planet earns you reputation tokens for those planets. Once you have a good amount, take those tokens to the quest giver on each planet — Devram in the EDZ, Failsafe on Nessus, Sloane on Titan, Asher on Io, Brother Vance on Mercury and Ana Bray on Mars. Every time you turn in enough tokens to fill up the reputation meter (that appears when talking to each quest giver), you’ll receive some new gear that will be more powerful than what you have, until you hit the cap.
Just about everything you do on a given planet will give you reputation tokens. Completing adventures and patrols earns, clearing challenges, finding supply caches (treasure chests randomly scattered around on planets), clearing out Lost Sectors (hidden tunnels full of bad guys with a special loot box that can only be opened if you kill the big enemy with the yellow health bar at the end), and taking down high-value targets around various planets (tough enemies with yellow health bars that sometimes appear wandering the wilderness). You can also complete public events to earn more rep, and you’ll find gear drops at the end of those as well.
A quick way to boost your level quickly when jumping into Shadowkeep is to save your Tokens for the vendors. Up until you hit the expansion’s soft cap, you can purchase gear from vendors that’ll boost your power level. This is faster than looking for better gear out in the world and allows you to quickly get to your Milestones.
Dismantle old stuff
In more traditional role-playing games, you might sell your old equipment, but in Destiny 2, you simply dismantle it from your menu screen by holding a specific button (Square on PlayStation 4, for instance). You should scrap any old green or blue drops with power levels below your most powerful items. When rare and legendary drops are dismantled, they yield gunsmith materials. Take these to the Gunsmith at the Tower to increase your reputation with him. Just like turning in reputation tokens, if you give the gunsmith enough parts, you will fill a bar on the screen and eventually earn some new, more powerful gear.
Make some alternate characters
You can have a total of three characters in Destiny 2 — a Titan, a Warlock, and a Hunter — and using two or all three of them gives you the chance to sort of leapfrog your characters by sharing equipment between them. That can help you get all of their power levels to about the same place, which will mean that instead of doing five milestones per week, you can do 10 or even 15, and then pool your characters’ resources together.
Once you get your alt character pretty close to where your main character is power-wise, start knocking out alt character’s milestones for guaranteed high-level gear drops. Armor will have to stay on your alt since it’s not interchangeable between classes, but any weapons you get that are above your power level will also give a boost to your main character. Sharing weapons back and forth can quickly increase the level of your characters up each week.
Step two: The road to 950
Things slow down significantly once you hit 950. While every piece of gear you receive prior to hitting the soft cap will help you grow, only specific activities and methods will get you gear above your current power level. In order to grind your level, you’ll mostly be relying on activities that drop “powerful engrams.” These contain gear that drop above your power level. There are different tiers to these rewards, with tier 1 yielding items that drop +3 over your base power, tier 2 dropping at +4, and tier 3 dropping at +5. On top of that, there are also “Pinnacle” engrams, which only drop from the highest level activities at a +6 gain (don’t worry about these yet).
These rewards are earned by completing certain weekly objectives and milestones. If you look at your director, you’ll find golden marks which indicate the ways you can get powerful gear. Think of these as your weekly chores; log in every week and complete as many of these as you can to optimize your grind. In its current state, you can pretty much gain rewards for doing any activity, so let’s break down some of the things you can focus on.
Strikes are a collection of longer missions that have their own playlist on your director. Each week, the playlist will have a different “burn” active, which means that a certain element’s power will be boosted during the strikes. Each week, you’ll get a Tier 1 reward if you complete 3 strikes while using a character subclass that matches up with that burn. For example, if Void Burn is active, you’d want to make sure your Warlock had their Void subclass equipped. Completing 3 strikes with that matching element equipped will give you a reward.
While you’re here, don’t forget that about Zavala’s Vanguard bounties. His bounties specifically deal with PVE activities and strikes, so this is a great way to accomplish those and get your weekly Vanguard reward for completing 8 bounties.
Enter the Crucible
Each week, you can get Tier 1 rewards by completing matches within different Crucible (the game’s PVP mode) playlists. First, there are “Core Match” playlists. These are essentially basic game modes that are always available, like Control. Compete in 4 matches between these playlists and you’ll get a reward. You don’t even need to win to accomplish this, so don’t worry about your skill level here.
Then there are Rotator playlists, which are special PVP modes that swap in and out every week. Rewards here work the exact same way as core matches: compete in 4 matches between these playlists and you get a Tier 1 reward, win or lose.
On top of all this, the Crucible includes a ranking system which can net you even more rewards. You’ll get experience for every match you complete, with wins in a streak upping your experience gain. Every time you rank up, you’ll get a package which contains a Tier 1 drop. This makes Crucible one of the most reliable methods for leveling up if you’re trying to grind. Between rank up rewards, Shaxx’s weekly bounty engram, and the prizes for weekly playlist completions, you can get a ton out of Crucible every week.
Many of the Tower’s basic vendors will give you Tier 1 engrams for completing 8 of their bounties in a week. For example, you can complete 8 of Shaxx’s Crucible bounties in a single week to gain a reward. You should always pick up as many bounties as you can, as completing them has a number of benefits (including giving you experience that goes towards unlocking seasonal rewards). If you don’t know where to start, focus on Gunsmith, Crucible, Vanguard, and Gambit bounties. All of these can be obtained within the tower, and you’ll get Tier 1 gear from their corresponding vendor for completing 8 of each every week.
Gambling on Gambit
Gambit is Destiny 2’s unique hybrid of PVE and PVP, and like Crucible it can be very rewarding. For completing 3 Gambit matches every week, you’ll get a Tier 2 reward worth +4 to your base power. Much like Crucible, you’ll also get Tier 1 rewards every time you rank up, which can be achieved quicker by stringing together wins. Note that Gambit matches can be significantly longer than Crucible matches, so this might not be as fast a grind.
Again, the Drifter will give you a Tier 1 reward for completing 8 Gambit bounties in a week, so make sure to pick these up before jumping in.
Nightmare Hunts are a new activity in Shadowkeep that pit you against powerful Nightmare versions of old bosses. This one is pretty straightforward: complete 3 of these every week and you’ll get a Tier 1 reward.
Every week, a different planet will host what’s called a “Flashpoint.” This is basically a weekly objective that tasks you with completing different activities on that planet. Completing this will grant you a Tier 1 reward. All you have to do here is load into whichever planet has the flashpoint that week and complete things like patrols and public events to raise your progress bar.
Eris Morn’s Tasks
Every week, the Moon’s vendor, Eris Morn, will give you 2 objectives that will net you Tier 1 rewards. The first is a weekly story mission, which will just send you back through one of the Shadowkeep expansion’s campaign missions. The other comes from a “Memory Pursuit” which ask you to do a specific task like melee killing powerful enemies in Nightmare Hunts, for example. You’ll only have access to these if you’ve bought Shadowkeep, so you may as well take advantage of this if you spent the cash.
Fight the Vex
Destiny 2 now features rotating seasons, which will bring new challenges and activities to the table. Currently, the game is in the Season of the Undying, which features a Vex assault on the Moon. There are several ways that you can get high level rewards from this, mostly revolving around the Vex Offensive mode.
Vex Offensive is a wave defense PVE mode where you need to kill a whole bunch of robots. These are timed encounters and you’ll get more rewards for completing them within the time limit. There are 2 things you can get from running these enough times in a week: a Tier 2 reward for completing it enough times, and a Tier 3 reward for killing a certain number of Vex every week. At the moment, this appears to be the only way to get a Tier 3 engram, so it’s absolutely worth grinding this mode while it’s active. But you might want to hurry as this is won’t be around for too long. Hopefully whatever replaces it also gives equally good rewards.
Join a Clan
If you play Destiny with friends, you’ll want to make a clan. Clans are an incredibly valuable way to get rewards. Each week, you can get Tier 1 engram in the Crucible, Strikes, Gambit, Nightfall, and Raid activities when you play them with clanmates. It’s an incentive to make some friends in Destiny 2 which makes the gear grind quicker and more fun to work through. Plus, you’ll get a Tier 2 reward every week for contributing enough clan XP, which simply translates to “play the game enough and you’ll get a good reward every week.”
Speaking of just playing the game every week, Prime engrams are their own X-factor here. These are completely random drops that contain powerful rewards. Even if you’re not doing something on your checklist, there’s a good chance you’ll just get these randomly every once and a while, whether from random enemies or as rewards for completing activities. Always make sure to bring these to the Cryptarch when you find them for a little boost.
Do some Quests
After completing the story campaign in Destiny 2 and in the expansions, you can return to each planet and speak to its quest giver to open a new multi-stage mission called a quest. Quests are like more involved Adventure activities, and when you complete all of them on a planet (usually three), you’ll get some quality rewards.
Quests can often drop legendary and exotic weapons that can drop above your light level. So not only are you getting some cool gear, but you’ll also be getting a power boost for doing these. If you don’t know where to start, try digging into Shadowkeep’s Pain and Gain and Deathbringer questlines, both of which will net you high level exotic weapons shortly after completing the campaign.
Step three: Pushing your power level to the limit
The road to 950 is long, but it’s technically not the end. You can actually push your power to 960 with the help of Pinnacle rewards. These rare engrams are only awarded for the game’s most difficult activities, but if you’ve made it this far you’re probably up for the challenge. Just note that you may want to find some friends if you’re going to tackle these, as a coordinated fireteam can really help in the endgame.
Crash the Crucible
We mentioned earlier that the Crucible is an extremely lucrative way to get powerful drops. But you can also get a Pinnacle drop for mastering it. Each season, you’ll get a Pinnacle reward for reaching Legend Glory rank in competitive mode. That means getting thousands of points over the course of a season in the game’s most challenging PVP playlist. If you just don’t have the patience for raids or Nightfalls, this at least gives you something to work towards, even if it’s only for 1 drop.
Run the raid
If you’ve hit 950, that means you’re ready for the biggest piece of endgame content Destiny has to offer: raids. Raids are complex missions that require 6 Guardians to complete. Completing the garden of Salvation raid will give you a Pinnacle drop. If you’re able to do the raid once a week, you can march to 960 with ease, though getting 6 people together every week is a challenge in itself.
Turning in raid reputation tokens will also get you great raid gear, but as with other reputation vendors, equipment will be below your level if you’re at or above the soft cap. As you’re working through a raid, there’s a chance that chests will drop higher-level gear. Run each raid after the weekly reset if you’re really interested in grinding your level up.
Even beyond Pinnacle gear, you’ll get extremely powerful gear for completing raid encounters, so if you’re all in on the grind, raids should be on your to-do list.
Mastering the Nightfall
Nightfalls are souped up versions of strikes that switch things up by adding in random modifiers. As of Shadowkeep, Nightfalls have undergone a significant rework and now run under the “Ordeal” system that offers different tiers of difficulty for increased rewards. Simply completing a few every week will give you a Tier 1 drop, but Nightfalls are also a source of Pinnacle rewards.
To do this, you need to complete a Nightfall with a score of 100,000 or more. Unlike normal strikes, Nightfalls give you points for different things, such as killing enemies. In order to get enough points, you’ll need to play on one of the highest difficulty settings, meaning you’ll need to be close 950 to even attempt this. To pull this off you’ll need to work fast, as the longer it takes, the more points you’ll lose, so try doing this with friends if you can so you can make sure you’re perfectly in sync.
There’s one last weird quirk to power levels: seasonal artifacts. This mechanic is new to the series and gives players a way to boost their power level without needing high level gear. To unlock this, you’ll need to hit level 7 of your season pass, which will unlock the artifact. It’s essentially a passive perk which will raise your overall power level more and more as you gain experience. So, if all of your gear is 915 but your artifact is leveled up enough that it’s giving you a +5 boost, your power level will be displayed as 920.
Despite the fact that the official level cap is 960, seasonal artifacts can get you closer to 1,000 depending on how much you level it up during a season. So if you’re having trouble gaining levels once you’ve hit 950, just keep doing what you like doing. You’ll gain XP no matter what and that will buff your power level. Even if your gear isn’t 960, you’ll still climb that mountain eventually with enough patience and grinding.
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