Destiny 2 Max Light Level: Power Leveling Guide

by | Jun 27, 2024

In Destiny 2, your Guardian’s Power Level is the average level of all its equipable gear and dictates how much damage you can inflict on enemies and take before dying.

Needless to say, Power Leveling is an essential part of the Destiny 2 experience, allowing you to tackle endgame activities. Our Destiny 2 Beginner’s Guide covers all the other cornerstones, including XP farming, but Power Levels should remain a top priority.

Episode 1 Echoes icon Destiny 2Updated as of Episode 1: Echoes. See Updates.

Destiny 2 Power Caps

Power Level Caps remained unchanged for a few seasons, but that changed with the release of The Final Shaoe. As such, Light Level Caps as of Episode 1: Act 1 are the following: All Guardians start with 1900 Base Power Level, the Soft cap is 1940, the Powerful cap is 1990, and the Pinnacle cap is 2000.

Level Cap Power LevelGear needed
Starting Level1900
Soft Cap1940Any
Hard Cap1990Powerful
Pinnacle Cap2000Pinnacle

Destiny 2 Pinnacle Gear

Unlike most MMOs, you can only increase your Power Level by finding higher-level gear. These are all the activities in the game that reward Pinnacle gear (needed to reach the Pinnacle cap):

SourceLocationRewardsFrequencyNeed Fireteam?Fireteam neededTypeRequires
Salvation's Edge Encounters
4 Total Rewards
Legends+2 x 4Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Warlord's Ruin Dungeon Encounters
3 Total Rewards
EDZ+2 x 3Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleLightfall Preorder icon
Lightfall Dungeon Key
Excision Mission
Complete Quest
Pale Hearth+2Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Cooperative Focus Mission
Complete Quest
Pale Hearth+2Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Ghost Bounties
Complete Bounties & Open Chests
Pale Hearth+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Rituals Pathfinder
Complete Path + Resets
Playlists+2 x 3Weekly

No

NoPinnacleFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Seasonal: Arena Breach Executable
3 Completions
H.E.L.M+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleEpisode 1 Echoes icon Destiny 2
Episode 1: Echoes
Seasonal: Arena Breach Executable (Expert)
3 Completions
H.E.L.M+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleEpisode 1 Echoes icon Destiny 2
Episode 1: Echoes
Seasonal: Enigma Protocol Mission
Open Chests
H.E.L.M+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleEpisode 1 Echoes icon Destiny 2
Episode 1: Echoes
Failsafe V1.0 Bounties
Complete Bounties & Open Chests
H.E.L.M+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleEpisode 1 Echoes icon Destiny 2
Episode 1: Echoes
Nightfall: The Ordeal
Score 200,000 Points
Playlist: Vanguard+2Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Trials of Osiris
Win 7 Matches
Playlist: Crucible+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Trials of Osiris
Win 50 Rounds
Playlist: Crucible+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Trials of Osiris
Win 7 Games with no Losses
Playlist: Crucible+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Competitive PvP
Complete 7 Placement Matches
Playlist: Crucible+2Season

No

NoPinnacleFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Weekly Raid
Full completion
Various+2Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleVaries
Weekly Dungeon
(Full completion)
Various+2Weekly

Yes

YesPinnacleVaries
Iron Banner Dailly Challenges
(4 total rewards)
Playlist: Crucible+2 x 4Monthly

No

NoPinnacleFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Hawthorne It's in the Cards Challenge
Give 5 Commendations
Tower+2Weekly

No

NoPinnacleFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play

PS: This post only covers how to increase your Base Power Level. You can also gain extra Power Levels by earning XP. We cover that and how to unlock your Season Pass rewards in our XP farming guide.

Destiny 2 Powerful Gear

These are all the activities that reward Powerful-level gear (needed to reach the Powerful Cap):

SourceLocationRewardsFrequencyNeed Fireteam?Fireteam neededTypeRequires
Pale Hearth Pathfinder
Complete Path
Pale Hearth+5Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Ritual Activities
Complete 3, 6, 9 Activities
Tower+3 x 3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Gunsmith Spare Parts Challenge
Complete 8 Bounties
Tower+3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Onslaught: Playlist
Complete 50 Waves
Playlist: Vanguard+3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Onslaught
Complete 30 Waves within a single activity
Playlist: Vanguard+3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
The Final Shape Exotic QuestsExotic Quests+3Season

No

NoPowerfulThe Final Shape icon
The Final Shape
Legend & Master Lost Sectors ExoticsWorld drops+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Exotic EngramsWorld drops+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Prime EngramsWorld drops+4Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Clan Engram Rewards
4 Total Rewards
Tower+3 x 4Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Trials of Osiris
3 wins on the same card
Playlist: Crucible+4Weekly

Yes

YesPowerfulLightfall Preorder icon
Lightfall
Trials of Osiris
5 wins on the same card
Playlist: Crucible+4Weekly

Yes

YesPowerfulLightfall Preorder icon
Lightfall
3 Completions of Strikes, Crucible or Gambit matches
3 Total Rewards
Playlists+3 x 3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Reputation Rewards Rank UpPlaylist: Crucible+3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Reputation Rewards Rank UpPlaylist: Gambit+3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Reputation Rewards Rank UpPlaylist: Vanguard+3Weekly

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Major Infamy Rank UpPlaylist: Gambit+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Major Valor Rank UpPlaylist: Crucible+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Major Vanguard Rank UpPlaylist: Vanguard+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Major Master Rahool Rank UpTower+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Major Hawthorne Rank UpTower+3Repeatable

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Obtain Pursuit weaponTower+3Season

No

NoPowerfulFree to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play

These two tables cover absolutely every Powerful and Pinnacle gear source in Destiny 2. Depending on where you are on your road to Max Power Level, you can filter the tables accordingly. For example, you can filter sources to only see:

For more details about these activities that rotate weekly, you can check out our Weekly Challenges guide, which we update every Tuesday at reset!

How to reach Max Power Level in Destiny 2

You may be familiar with the struggle of chasing Pinnacle gear to eventually reach the Max Power level (and the frustration of getting everything but the one item you need for three weeks in a row).

But whether you’re a returning player or a brand-new player, this section covers how leveling works and how to level up as fast as possible this season.

Guiding Principles to Leveling in Destiny 2:

  • Your Power Level is the average of the Power Level of all your gear
  • That average takes into account equipped gear, gear in your inventory, and even gear in your vault.
  • Never dismantle your highest Power Level item per slot (even if it’s a blue).
    • Worst case, you can infuse that blue into a better item.
  • Playing on 3 characters will help you level up faster
  • The activities and strategies to level up will change depending on what cap you’re currently at.

As a reminder, this chart summarizes what type of gear you will need to increase your Power Level until you reach that elusive Max Power Level, currently set at 1810:

Level Cap Power LevelGear needed
Starting Level1900
Soft Cap1940Any
Hard Cap1990Powerful
Pinnacle Cap2000Pinnacle

Destiny 2 Soft cap: 1940 Power Level

Drops from any source will help you increase your Power Level to reach the soft cap (1900). 

This part is simple. Basically, everything in the game will drop gear that will help you increase your Power Level. This includes Legendary and Rare gear. In fact, Rare gear (blues) plays a vital role at this stage, and you should be actively seeking blue drops whenever possible!

✅ You should preferably never chase Powerful or Pinnacle rewards before hitting the soft cap first.

Power Level Season 20 Destiny 2

Tips to reach the soft cap as fast as possible:

  • Play the Lightfall campaign in Legend Mode:
  • Participate in Public Events when you see one (and turn them into Heroic Public events when possible)
  • Actively search for chests (especially the golden chests in the Cosmodrome)
  • Do every quest that rewards gear

Again, everything works at this stage. All you need to do is grind and play a lot.

Destiny 2 Powerful cap: 1990Power

Only Powerful and Pinnacle sources will help you progress towards the Powerful cap. Both Powerful and Pinnacle sources are highlighted in the Directory and the table above.

Note you won’t be able to see Powerful and Pinnacle gear challenges in your directory until you hit the soft cap!

Vanguard Ops Destiny 2 featured

Tips to reach the hard cap as fast as possible:

  • Only Powerful and Pinnacle gear will increase your average Power Level
  • Always equalize your gear. More on that below.
  • Bonus: You can work on your Crucible, Strikes, and Gambit Bounty Challenges to also earn Bright Dust to spend in the Eververse store.

Equalizing your gear: When leveling up, some of your gear will be below the average of the rest. When that happens, you should chase lesser rewards to bring that lagging gear up to the average!

How to equalize your gear

Seasoned players know this crucial method to efficiently increase your Light Level. In fact, true GAMERS used to keep track of their current Power Levels per slot in an Excel sheet. They would then identify the gear that was lagging behind and find ways to bring those slots to the average.

Luckily for you and me, the process is much easier now. All you need to do is launch DIM (shot for Destiny Item Manager, my absolute favorite D2 tool in the world) and click on your Power Level:

This will tell you exactly what slots are lagging behind your average. This means even a Blue piece of gear could help you increase your Power Level for that slot.

For example, you’re going for the Pinnacle cap and see one or more slots lagging behind your average. You basically just need to stop chasing Pinnacle gear and only run activities that reward Powerful gear until all your gear is at the same level as your average. Even better: You can actively chase rewards that will match the slot you’re looking to upgrade. Some examples:

  • The Season Pass can be kept for when you’re working towards your Powerful or Pinnacle caps and need upgrades for specific slots!
  • Seasonal Activities often let you choose specific weapons and armor. These are generally Powerful rewards and should be used to level up the slots that need it the most!

And by the way, this equalizing tip is also valid when going for the Powerful cap.

Destiny 2 Pinnacle cap: 2000 Power

This section is straightforward. When you reach the Powerful cap (1800), only Pinnacle sources will give you progress.

Tips to reach the Pinnacle cap as fast as possible:

  • You can use Powerful gear to equalize your equipment closer to the average (as covered in the previous section)
  • You can filter the table at the top of this post to only see Pinnacle rewards:
    • Most of these activities are not matchmade, which means you’ll have to find a Fireteam beforehand.
    • Pro tip: Discord is a great place to find groups, and our LFG guide covers all the best Destiny 2 Discord servers you should check out.

By the way, Bungie made the Pinnacle climb slightly easier in Season 10: Some Powerful gear sources were turned into Pinnacle sources providing +1 Power.

Why Power Levels still matter

With so many activities requiring extremely low Power Levels, many guardians wonder if Power Levels even matter anymore. Truth is, for most activities, they don’t. But if you’re remotely interested in Seasonal or Endgame content, Power Level matters more than ever.

These are the activities where Power Level is critical (either because there’s a minimum requirement or because your opponents can take advantage of it in PVP modes):

Activity Minimum requirement Power Level Enabled?
Grandmaster Nightfalls TBC Yes
Nightfall: Master TBC Yes
Nightfall: Legend TBC Yes
Nightfall: Hero TBC Yes
Solo Lost Sectors: Master TBC Yes
Solo Lost Sectors: Legend TBC Yes
Crucible: Trials of Osiris TBC Yes

In conclusion, you can play several activities with the minimum Power Level. But if you’re serious about progressing and eventually tackling endgame activities, you’ll have to grind Power Levels.

How Level-Up Faster in Destiny 2: Tips and Tricks

If you’ve read this far, you already know how to efficiently increase your Max Power Level in Destiny 2. Those are the basics, but if you’re struggling to level up or simply want to increase your Power Level even faster, the following tips will definitely help:

Prime Engrams

Prime Engrams are a technically unlimited source of Powerful gear (as long as you play the game a lot and RNG stays on your side). Just remember: The Power Level of the Engram will remain at the level it was when found, not when decrypted.

Therefore, decrypt your engrams as soon as possible!

In any case, challenging activities (such as the Raid or Dungeons) will reward you with more Prime Engrams, which can either help you reach the Powerful cap faster or help you equalize gear if you’re already chasing the Pinnacle cap.

Grinding 2 or 3 characters?

If you’re prepared to level up your 3 characters (or 2), you can follow the same steps described above. You need to start with your least important character and finish with your most important character.

As soon as you’re done with the first character, transfer its highest Power Level weapons to the next character. Rinse and repeat.

Easy Pinnacle Sources in Destiny 2

Powerful sources are fairly common and not particularly challenging. Pinnacle sources are a different story. They are difficult because they are connected to activities, but mostly because they often require you to find your own Fireteam.

These are, in my opinion, the easiest Pinnacle sources in the game (trust me, I’ve done them weekly just by using LFG tools):

  • Playlist Pinnacles: These only grant +1 Power Level, but they are extremely easy compared to the others.
  • Nightfall: The Ordeal: Most people know how to run it, so finding a capable group in LFG is easy.

And these are, in a nutshell, easier ways to slowly reach the max Light Level cap in Destiny 2.

Before you go…

The entire purpose of leveling up as fast as possible is to have access to the most challenging and rewarding activities in Destiny 2. If you’re on your way to the Pinnacle cap but feel ready to tackle more difficult content, we suggest:

  • Legend Lost Sectors: Challenging activities that can be tackled solo for a chance to earn Exotic armor
  • Nightfall weapon this week: With different difficulty settings and matchmaking options, these are perfect for easing your way into challenging content.

See latest Updates

We keep our content up to date! These are the latest changes made to this guide:
  • June 26, 2024: Major updates following the release of The Final Shape DLC.
  • February 29, 2024: General updates, including activities released during Season of the Wish (S23).
  • September 18, 2023: General updates, including activities released during Season of the Witch.
  • May 24, 2024: General updates to reflect the introduction of Season of the Deep.
  • Jan 12, 2023: General updates connected to Seasons 19 gear sources.
  • Jun 6, 2022: General updates connected to Season 17: Crown of Sorrow gear sources added, War Table sources removed.

Stay tuned, and don’t forget to bookmark this page for next season!

About The Author

Ric Molina
Ric Molina
I've been covering gaming since 2012, and some of my work has been featured by large brands, including MSN.com, Forbes, Rock Paper Shotgun, and more. I've been obsessed with Destiny 2 (and now Diablo 4) for years now, and I hope to provide new and returning players with the guides and resources I wish I had when I first started.
More from Ric Molina
37 Comments
  1. marcos

    Hi,

    I red a ton of topics regarding my questions and still not sure what is the right answer. I am currently power level 1,013 (1,006 gear + 7 artifact). First, do I have to wear my highest weapons and armors in order to drop better gear? If not, should I kept them with me or having them in my vault is okay to get better gear?

    Second, what’s the range of the level of the droped gear compared to your power level? For instance, in my case, if I drop an item/endgram, would it be around -3/+3 or -3/0?

    thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • Aeck

      You can have them in your inventory or vault and still get better gear, dont worry.

      Reply
  2. Grover

    Is Luna’s Calling still a thing? I don’t see it

    Reply
  3. John won

    Nope.. Didn’t n not working for me at all wasted 10 pinnacles in two weeks, they even drop 1 level lower than my equipped one. U hv to be equipped with highest numbers to get +1 or +2 pinnacle. I don’t know is it just happening with me constantly or in general tht no one seems to talk abt it yet.😢

    Reply
    • Pointynose

      All of the moon activities that have a gold icon on the map representing that they drop powerful gear have only dropped sunset 1060 gear for me. Lunas calling, memory of vel tarlowe, etc. are a waste of time if you’re trying to get powerful gear over 1060.

      Reply
    • adrift

      I don’t really know what the issue is for you, but pinnacles will drop +1 or +2 no matter if you have the gear equipped or not. Could you be a bit more specific?

      Reply
      • Robert Dawson

        ive came across this issue as well, ive had a full weeks worth of pincils drop -1 light then what my charator was,

        Reply
    • aki

      Which 4 of the 5 encounters in Kings fall drop +2 pinnacles?

      Reply
  4. barton

    Hey, love the page and the help it provides. Just wanted to say that I did the Pinnacle Exo Challenge at PL 1257 and my drop was 1259. It may only be a +2 drop or may have a range. Thanks,

    Reply
    • Pointynose

      Same. Nothing has dropped at +3 for me yet.

      Reply
    • adrift

      There are no +3 drops. That +3 is a powerful before you upgrade it to a pinnacle. All pinnacles are either +1 or +2

      Reply
  5. Stephen

    My curious thought is why isn’t Strike Playlists Pinnacle +1 and Gambit Pinnacle +1 on there? I set it on Pinnacle to see which missions only give them and Strike Playlist and Gambit don’t pop up on that list which I found odd because I swear they give a Pinnacle +1 after 3 games just like Crucible.

    Reply
  6. vladimir

    The table is missing a weekly powerful +3 engram when completing 8 bounties from the War Table.

    Reply
  7. Kimberly

    This guide is very well done and makes things easy to understand, keep up the great work!!

    Reply
  8. Hestia

    Thank you so much for this fantastic resource. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Jaybird

      Maybe a bit pedantic, but I’d like to point out that the Trials powerfuls and pinnacles are no longer F2P. Accessing Trials requires the most recently released expansion as of the start of Season of the Lost.

      Reply
      • Ric Molina

        Not at all. I was meaning to update that but couldn’t get around to it. Now everything should be up to date. Thanks for the heads up!

        Reply
  9. BrendAn

    Chattered realm? Small mistake

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      Can’t believe I missed that one. Now corrected. Thanks!

      Reply
  10. theliquidchef

    Can anyone get the list filter to work? It seems to be broken on my side on Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

    Reply
    • Ric Molina

      Yep, messed up some code yesterday! Everything is resolved now, thanks for the heads up 😉

      Reply
  11. Doug

    “….the lower your Power level compared to your enemy, the more damage you take and the less damage you receive.”

    Unless I’m not understanding this correctly, but do you mean “less damage you do”?

    Reply
    • Ric "Prim" Molina

      That is correct. That was a typo on my end, thank you for the heads up! It is now corrected!

      Reply
  12. Mandema King

    The “pinnacle table” currently shows the weekly “Exotic Quests: Vox Obscura” item is available to all Witch Queen players. However, the exotic quest for Vox Obscura (i.e. “Kill the Messenger”) requires the Season Pass for Season of the Risen.

    Reply
  13. AgamingTV

    I would definitely recommend this guide to anyone looking to get the most out of Destiny 2

    Reply
  14. NAD

    Great guide. Could you update the power level tables in the Why Power Levels still matter section though?

    Reply
  15. Doug Smith

    Weekly Preservation Campaign +2 Pinnacle power increase? Great info!

    Reply
  16. Doug Smith

    Are you going to update your chart “Pinnacle gear sources in Season of the Haunted”?

    Reply
    • Ric "Prim" Molina

      I updated it a few weeks ago, but if you’re asking I guess I missed something! Did you notice an error or something outdated?

      Thanks for the heads up by the way 🙂

      Reply
  17. Aelund

    Yo just FYI the tables are broken for some reason, seems someone messed up the code for them.

    Reply
  18. Steven

    I am not sure about +1 vs +2, but Duality gives a pinnacle at each encounter, so that is 3 pinnacle drops (just confirmed today).

    Reply
  19. ian

    helped me a lot

    Reply
  20. Night

    you said this is updated for season 20 but you guys need to double check a lot of this information:
    master wellspring and legend dares are marked as no fireteam needed even though dungeons are marked as fireteam needed
    vox obscura no longer exists
    glory ranks no longer exist
    partition and the weekly mission are not on throne worldw
    100,000 in nightfall is still listed as an “easy pinnacle source” at the bottom of the page

    Reply
  21. MICHAEL

    It seems that War Table Bounties are also Powerful, not Pinnacle.

    Reply
  22. JEFF

    Pinnacle and powerful sources need to be updated for Season of the Deep (Season 21). Many pinnacle sources were reduced to powerful including Crucible, Gambit, and Strikes and the Season 20 dungeon and seasonal activities are no longer upgrade sources. The locations of some activities are also incorrect, like Spire of the Watcher is launched from the Throne World, not the HELM.

    Reply
  23. Skald

    Thanks for a great guide for someone new to D2. I played 8h or so years ago, was overwhelmed (just as you explained) and quit. I fired it up again two days ago and loved it. Just a few comments for someone who effectively started from the beginning.
    Leveling several characters: it seems the level is shared between all characters (should mayby be mentioned).
    Pinnacle gear. There is a chest now with 1810 gear you pick up at Hall of champions making the grind minimal. I’m bouncing between if should or shouldn’t picked it up for my experience of the game and play through. The content feels very playable even though I’m at 1810 after 15min but I guess I’m more collecting 1810 gear than grinding higher levels. but mayby you can comment on that.

    Reply
  24. cuatronicko

    Ghost and FailSafe Bounty objectives are not pinnacles. They are Powerfuls and listed as such on the map.

    Reply
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