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

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 1110 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.

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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 Chosen:

  • Base Gear level – 1120 Power Level
  • Legendary Gear cap – 1250 Power Level
  • Powerful Gear cap – 1310 Power Level
  • Pinnacle Gear cap – 1320 Power Level
destiny_power_level

Technically, however, the level cap goes beyond 1320 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 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 50 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 1250 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 1250, 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 1110.

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In short, to get to 1250, 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 1250 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 1310 cap in Destiny 2

Legendary Engrams and standard loot will stop at 1250, 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
  • 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.


Coming soon is Season of the Splicer, introducing transmog, the usual updates to Exotics and the max level cap, and in a few weeks, the return of Vault of Glass. If you’re catching up on previous activities, we have explainers for the Presage quest and its Captain’s Logs. If you’re still catching up with Beyond Light, make sure you pick up Salvation’s Grip, The Lament, Hawkmoon – which can be improved further with the Harbinger quest – and Augment Triumphs. As well as XP farm and Glimmer farm advice, looking to the year ahead, we explain everything we know about Destiny 2 crossplay and transmog.


Pinnacle Gear Tier sources to get to the 1320 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
  • From each of the six Valor / Glory (Crucible) and Infamy (Gambit) ranks*
  • Earning Clan XP for Tower vendor
  • Year 4 Raid Deep Stone Crypt encounter wins and completions
  • Prophecy Dungeon completions
  • Pinnacle mission completions, such as Presage
  • Trials of Osiris (seven wins, flawless)
  • Nightfall: The Ordeal reward for scoring 100,000 points or more
  • Defeating five Wrathborn Hunts (Season of the Hunt Crow weekly reward)
  • Iron Banner Bounties
destiny_2_pinnacle

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.

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.

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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