Destiny 2 levelling guide: Max level cap and Powerful Gear, Pinnacle Gear sources explained

The best ways to reach the level cap and beyond for the latest Power level increase.

Each new Destiny 2 expansion and season brings with it a higher Destiny 2 Power level cap to work towards.

In Destiny 2's fourth year, the Power level system was tweaked yet again. Every player now starts at 1050 Power, and as always, each new piece of Gear will increase that level.

As before, 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 access and survive end-game content.

It's a slightly overwhelming system to get your head around at first, and this page will explain how to navigate each step of the way.

On this page:

What to expect from Beyond Light's new Exotics and gear.

How gear levels work in Destiny 2 and the max level cap explained

Destiny 2's levelling system 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 - 1200 Power Level
  • Powerful Gear cap - 1250 Power Level
  • Pinnacle Gear cap - 1260 Power Level
destiny_power_level

Technically, however, the level cap goes beyond 1260 with the artefact. Introduced in late 2019 with Shadowkeep, every new 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. (Or, if you're not there yet, a slight boost to nudge you towards it.)

The end of season, however, sees things reset and change. This includes the artefact, which 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 50 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 1200 Power Soft 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 1200, 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
  • Individual Clan Bounties
  • Completing activities (such as Public Events, Lost Sectors, Strikes, Crucible) and opening Loot Chests
  • Daily Heroic Story Mission (Vanguard playlist)
  • Year 2 and 3 Raids (such as Last Wish, Garden of Salvation) encounter wins and completions
  • Year 2 and 3 dungeons
  • 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.

Additional note: Redeeming Tokens at Vendors no long drop up to the soft cap as with previous years, and will give you gear 20 power lower. Gear from Collections, meanwhile, will always drop at 1050.

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In short, to get to 1200, 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.

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.

Though it's advised you play the game normally, there is a method to get to the soft cap quickly...

Destiny 2 fast levelling: How to reach the soft level cap fast in Destiny 2

If you want to reach the soft level cap of 1200 quickly in Destiny 2, then you can find a grinding spot to quickly get Engram drops. The fastest is finding a short Lost Sector, and repeating it over and over, giving you Legendary Engram drops on each boss completion.

One such location is the Widow's Walk Lost Sector, in the EDZ, one of the original areas of Destiny 2. (Update: November 12th: Bungie has since lowered the drop rate for this particular Lost Sector, so maybe look elsewhere.)

Another example is The Weep, also on the EDZ, as shown by Coozco on YouTube:

Now leave and return to the Lost Sector you've chosen, and repeat. If you keep this up, you can reach the soft level cap in no time at all.

Doing this will make the Beyond Light story missions a little easier to overcome; though they are designed to increase gradually, they can be difficult in spots, and this gives you a way to level past it faster than usual.

Powerful Gear Tier sources to get to the 1250 cap in Destiny 2

Legendary Engrams and standard loot will stop at 1200, and so you must seek out 'Powerful Gear'. This means you have to switch and work on specific activities to increase your level.

This is where the grind gets a bit more serious. Instead of having each individual activity likely to drop something which can increase your Power level, you now need to focus on completing Weekly Challenges.

These include:

  • Strike, Gambit, Crucible playlist activity completions *
  • Completing eight Bounties for a vendor
  • Wraithborn Hunts (Powerful drops capped per week; Season of the Hunt only)
  • Europa's weekly Exo Challenge
  • Season pass drops
  • Trials of Osiris (third win)
  • Prime Engrams (drops at random; 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
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* A change in Year 4 is all playlist activities have a chance to drop Powerful Gear after each completion, even if you have completed their respective weekly challenge.

Our recommendation? Focus on the eight Bounties for each vendor. Though many of these are area or activity specific, some such as Banshee in the Tower can be completed while doing any activity. Bounties should be a priority anyway to get you XP to level your artefact and level your season pass for additional drops.

Otherwise, if you have Season of the Hunt, Wraithborn Hunts are not only quick, taking perhaps 5-10 minutes, but allow you to specify which drop you'll earn, if you're after a particular weapon or armour slot that is dragging your overall level down.

Also, remember you can also get Pinnacle Gear to boost your level - such as from the Raid - which you'll be strong enough to compete in before you reach the cap.


There's plenty to do in Year 4! Learn about new Exotics, including post-campaign quests for Salvation's Grip, The Lament, Hawkmoon and Born in Darkness, plus how to reach the new Destiny 2 max level cap and how sunsetting works. In the end game there are plenty of other things to find and complete, including Augment Triumphs and penguin locations. There are a couple of new and returning areas in the game - here's how to track down Perdition, Bunker E15 and Concealed Void on Europa and Exodus Garden 2A and Veles Labyrinth on the Cosmodrome - and new collectables to find in the form of Entropic Shards. Looking ahead beyond this new expansion, we explain everything we know about Destiny 2 crossplay and transmog.


Pinnacle Gear Tier sources to get to the 1260 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:

  • Weekly playlists for certain activities, such as Crucible, Strike and Gambit
  • Earning Clan XP for Tower vendor
  • Year 4 Raid Deep Stone Crypt encounter wins and completions
  • Prophecy Dungeon completions
  • Trials of Osiris (seven wins, flawless)
  • Nightfall: The Ordeal reward for scoring 100,000 points or more
  • Iron Banner Bounties
destiny_2_pinnacle

Our recommendation here are weekly playlists - combine it with unlocking Triumphs, Seals or Pinnacle Weapons so maximise your time - and when you reach the required Power, the Raid - where in an evening you can get four drops that will give you a solid levelling boost.

It's worth adding that seasonal events, such as Festival of the Lost during Halloween, sometimes offer 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.

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You can see an Engram's Power level in your Engram collection in the menu.

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.

Best of luck!

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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Guides Editor  |  Crazyreyn

Matthew edits guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer.net. When not doing that, he's out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.

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