Each new Destiny 2 expansion and season brings with it a higher Destiny 2 Power level cap to work towards.
In Destiny 2's third year, the Power level system was tweaked yet again. Every player now starts at 750 Power, and as always, each new piece of Gear will increase that level.
Confusingly, there are multiple level caps, and multiple Gear sources which will increase them - Powerful Gear and Pinnacle Gear.
It means at certain points, you'll have to change your focus to certain activities to keep levelling, all to help you survive in end-game content - and this page will explain how to navigate each step of the way.
On this page:
- How gear levels work in Destiny 2 and the max level cap explained
- How to get to Legendary Gear to get to the 900 Power Gear cap in Destiny 2
- Powerful Gear Tier sources to get to the 950 cap in Destiny 2
- Pinnacle Gear Tier sources to get to the 970 cap in Destiny 2
- Destiny 2 activities by Power level restriction
How gear levels work in Destiny 2 and the max level cap explained
Destiny 2's gear operates with three different caps to work towards, each requiring different sources of gear to level up past. Here's what they are at a glance:
- Legendary Gear cap - 900 Power Level
- Powerful Gear cap - 960 Power Level
- Pinnacle Gear cap - 970 Power Level
Technically, however, the level cap goes up to 999 with the introduction of the artefact. Each season will give you this item, and by levelling it up, you'll receive a series of bonuses - including temporary additional levels that adds to your Power, allowing you to go beyond the level cap.
The end of season, however, sees things reset and change. The artefact will start over, so you have to level up the power level bonus once more. As well as this, the gear cap itself will increase - usually by 10 or so each season.
This way, there's always something to work towards each season, even if you've got all your gear to the cap.
How to get to Legendary Gear to get to the 900 Power Gear cap in Destiny 2
Learning which sources give what Power loot is key to faster and more effective levelling. The vast majority of activities will drop loot up to the 'soft' Legendary cap of 900, meaning when you start out playing Destiny 2, you simply play the game how you want to level up.
Here's an idea of what this includes:
- Blue and Purple drops from enemies
- Decrypting Blue and Purple Engrams
- Levelling up Tower vendors Zavala (Strikes), Shaxx (Crucible) and Gunsmith (Gunsmith materials)
- Individual Clan Bounties
- Completing activities (such as Public Events, Lost Sectors, Strikes, Crucible) and opening Loot Chests
- Any matchmade activity released in previous expansions (such as Altars of Sorrow, Menagerie, Blind Well, Reckoning)
- Daily Heroic Story Mission (Vanguard playlist)
- Year 1 and 2 Raids (such as Leviathan, Last Wish, Scourge of the Past, Crown of Sorrows) encounter wins and completions
- Shattered Throne (Dreaming City dungeon)
- Regular Nightfall playlist
You can also complete Powerful Gear and Pinnacle Gear activities, though the drops will be in line with your current level than leapfrog you past that.
In short, to get to 900, it's simple a case of playing any activities you like. If you want to speed this up and have completed all story missions, then Crucible matches and Public Events are among the fastest way to do it. It's also worth cashing in any Vanguard, Crucible and Gunsmith tokens, too.
We'd also suggest you avoid infusing - which enables you to change the Power of a certain piece of Gear by 'consuming' another one - until you at least hit the Powerful Gear stage, since until then be getting gear so regularly it'll be outstripped by something else in no time at all.
Powerful Gear Tier sources to get to the 950 cap in Destiny 2
Legendary Engrams and standard loot will stop at around 900, and so you must seek out 'Powerful Gear'. This means you have to switch and work on specific activities to increase your level.
To complicate things further, Powerful Gear sources now work in tiers. The higher the tier, the higher the power gear will drop at. All the following are weekly completions, with new rewards appearing again on the following weekly reset:
Tier 1 Powerful Gear sources (+2-3 Power):
- Nightmare Hunts
- Defeating 30 Nightmares (Moon vendor)
- Luna's Calling (Lectern of Enchantment)
- Vanguard Strikes playlist
- Nightfall: The Ordeal playlist
- Complete eight Bounties for each Tower vendor
Tier 2 Powerful Gear sources (+3-4 Power):
- The Sundial (Season of Dawn activity)
- Crucible (Core playlist)
- Crucible (Rotator playlist)
- Weekly Moon Story Mission
- Gambit playlists
- Earn Clan XP for Tower vendor
Other non-Tier Powerful Gear sources:
- Prime Engrams (essentially a permanent Three of Coins buff in-all-but-name)
- Exotic Engrams
- There are also a handful of 'one-time' sources of Powerful Gear, such as Exotic quest rewards.
Additional note: Standard Legendary sources, such as those from Vendors, will increase in power as you do, but at a pace of around 10 levels behind. For example, if you are 931, this loot will drop at around 921.
Pinnacle Gear Tier sources to get to the 970 cap in Destiny 2
Once you have reached the Powerful Gear cap, you then have to switch to Pinnacle Gear to give you the last 10 levels you need to reach the absolute Gear cap.
These are amongst the most challenging or time-consuming activities in Destiny 2. Not only that, there are fewer of them, ramping up the grind.
Here are all the current Pinnacle Gear sources:
- Year 3 Raid (Garden of Salvation) encounter wins and completions
- Pit of Heresy dungeon
- Nightmare Hunts (Master difficulty)
- Nightfall: The Ordeal (score 100,000 points or more)
- Iron Banner Bounties
It's worth adding seasonal events, such as Festival of the Lost during Halloween, offer a max Gear level weapon upon completing certain requirements, regardless of your current power level. These are well worth completing to raise your average level quickly.
Getting Pinnacle Gear is a grind, and as mentioned earlier, your seasonal artefact can boost your Gear's Power level too - so if you're struggling with the above multiplayer-centric activities, then simply playing and getting XP will eventually see your Power level increase.
In 2020, we've seen several new additions - from the Empyrean Foundation to new Season of Dawn quests, from the Corridors of Time, to Bastion and Devil's Ruin. If you haven't started this new season yet, you can begin by completing A Matter of Time as you collect new Powerful and Pinnacle Gear. Earlier in the year, we've seen the recent arrival of the Garden of Salvation raid challenges, and elsewhere in Year 3 Armor 2.0, K1 Logistics, K1 Revelation, K1 Crew Quarters and K1 Communion locations. There are also several new weapon quests, including the Deathbringer quest, Divinity quest, Leviathan's Breath quest and Xenophage quest. We also have a list of our best Destiny 2 weapons recommendations, which includes Jotunn and Le Monarque.
Destiny 2 activities by Power level restriction
The reason behind improving your Gear level at all is to take on increasingly difficult activities.
If you are below a recommended level, you'll deal less damage and be more vulnerable - and if you're too far below, you might not be able to damage enemies at all - with enemies having an ?? icon in their name.
These mostly affect end-game activities, such as the Raid, and those that give Pinnacle Gear drops, so for most players starting out, this won't be an issue.
But if you're hoping to join a fireteam for the Nightfall or Raid, you'll have to put the work in first before you can realistically help out.
With the arrival of Shadowkeep and the free-to-play expansion, the vast majority of activities now start at 750 Power Level - that includes Patrol spaces, any matchmade activity released in previous expansions (such as Altars of Sorrow, Menagerie, Blind Well, Reckoning) and Year 1 and 2 Raids (such as Leviathan, Last Wish, Scourge of the Past, Crown of Sorrows).
Here's a list of the most prominent activities that require specific Power levels:
- Regular Nightfall playlist - 820
- The Sundial (Season of Dawn activity) - 850
- Weekly Moon Story Mission - 860
- Altars of Sorrow (Moon patrol activity) - 880
- Pit of Heresy (Moon dungeon) - 940
- Garden of Salvation (Shadowkeep Raid) - from 940
- Nightfall: The Ordeal - from 750 to 980
- Nightmare Hunts - from 860 to 980
Remember, the boundaries for the above shift as Bungie continues to introduce new activities and areas every season and year, and at times, can make levelling feel like a never-ending treadmill. But, if you don't plan to play most end-game activities, then reaching the Powerful Gear cap is enough for most players to get what they need to do out of Destiny.
Best of luck!