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 - but 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.

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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 for Season of the Lost:

  • Base Gear level - 1100 Power Level
  • Legendary Gear cap - 1270 Power Level
  • Powerful Gear cap - 1320 Power Level
  • Pinnacle Gear cap - 1330 Power Level
destiny_power_level

Technically, however, the level cap goes beyond 1330 with the artefact. Introduced in late 2019 with Shadowkeep, every new season will give you this item, and by levelling it up with XP, 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 nudge towards it.)

The end of each 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 with XP once more. As well as this, the gear cap itself will increase - usually 10 per 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 1270 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 1270, 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)
  • Previous Raids from Year 2 and Year 3 (such as Last Wish, Garden of Salvation) encounter wins and completions
  • Previous Dungeons from Year 2 and Year 3, including The Shattered Throne and Pit of Heresy
  • 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 the base gear level.

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In short, to get to 1270, 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 very quickly.

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 1270 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.

Remember to also complete some bounties at the same time (the Destiny app makes it easy to collect these - get them for the planet the Lost Sector is located on, as well as Gunsmith and seasonal bounties) which will give you XP and help level the artefact - giving you a bonus season-long Power boost when you level it up enough.

Speed levelling to the soft cap 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 fast way to level past it faster than usual.

Powerful Gear Tier sources to get to the 1320 cap in Destiny 2

Legendary Engrams and standard loot will stop at 1270, 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
  • Europa's weekly Exo Challenge
  • Season pass drops
  • Seasonal activity reward (in Season of the Lost's Astral Alignment, open three Wayfinder's Troves)
  • 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.

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.


Season of the Lost is here, with new Exotics such as the Ager's Scepter and the long-awaited arrival of crossplay. New activities include the Wayfinders Voyage, the Astral Alignment activity and finding Atlas Skew, Trivial Mystery, Enigmatic Mystery, Ascendant Mystery, Data Cache, Parallax Trajectory and Ascendant Anchor locations. Elsewhere, we've seen new Nightfall weapons such as the Uzume RR4, Plug One.1 and Hung Jury SR4. Other recent new features include transmog and materials Synthstrand, Synthcord and Synthweave, the Splicer Gauntlet and Decrypted Data used to upgrade it.


Pinnacle Gear Tier sources to get to the 1330 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 playlist challenges for certain activities, such as Crucible, Strike and Gambit
  • From each of the six Vanguard (Strike), Crucible and Gambit ranks*
  • Seasonal activity reward (in Season of the Lost's Shattered Realm, defeat four Champions)
  • Earning Clan XP for Tower vendor
  • Latest raid Vault of Glass encounter completions
  • Latest Dungeon (Prophecy) completion
  • Presage completion
  • Harbinger completion
  • Trials of Osiris (seven wins, flawless)
  • Nightfall: The Ordeal reward for scoring 100,000 points or more
  • Iron Banner Bounties

To clarify - this means previous raids (including Deep Stone Crypt) no longer drop Pinnacle rewards:

Our recommendation here are weekly playlists - combine it with ranking up, as well as focusing on any Triumphs, Seals or Pinnacle Weapons you want to chase to make best use of your time and effort - 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. Pinnacle and Dungeon completions, meanwhile, are useful to practice as they can be reliable fast Pinnacle sources over time.

destiny_2_pinnacle

It's worth adding that seasonal events - such as Festival of the Lost during Halloween or the final Solstice of Heroes armour set - can offer max level weapons or armour upon completing certain requirements, regardless of your current power level. If you're behind, these are well worth completing to raise your average level quickly.

Getting Pinnacle Gear is a grind - but 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.

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

It's also worth adding the power level cap increases by 10 across all tiers every three months when a new season arrives. This is much better than the 50 previously, making the push to very specific end-game activities - such as the Grandmaster Nightfall - each season much less work than before.

No matter your goals - we wish you the best of luck!

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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Associate 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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