Destiny 2 Max Power Level guide: Powerful & Pinnacle gear

by | Nov 5, 2021 | Leveling

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 to 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 2021 Beginner’s Guide covers all the other D2 cornerstones, including XP farming, but Power Levels should remain a top priority.

Yet, every new season comes with a new Power Level cap. With Season of the Lost (Season 15), the max Power level was increased by 10 points.

Power Level Caps Season 15 Destiny 2

This means you’ll need Powerful drops to reach the Powerful cap set to 1320 and Pinnacle drops to reach the elusive Max Power Level in Destiny 2, the Pinnacle Cap now set to 1330.

Checkmark icon V3Guide updated as of Season of the Lost (S15).  Link


Pinnacle gear sources in Destiny 2

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-level gear (needed to go reach the Pinnacle cap):

SourceLocationPower increaseFrequencyFireteam needed?Fireteam neededRequiresRequirements
Shattered Realm
(Defeat 4 Champions)
Dreaming City+2Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Season 15 logoSeason 15
Vault of Glass Raid encounters
(4 total rewards)
Director+2 x 4Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Exo Challenge Simulation
(when upgraded to Pinnacle)
copy
Europa+2Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Master Empire Hunt
(when upgraded to Pinnacle)
Europa+2Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Nightfall: The Ordeal
(Score 100,000 points)
Playlist: Vanguard+2Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Prophecy dungeon completionTower+2Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Exotic Quests: HarbingerEDZ+2Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Deluxe Edition logoDeluxe Edition
Exotic Quests: PresageTangled Shore+2Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Deluxe Edition logoDeluxe Edition
Trials of Osiris
(Win 7 matches)
Playlist: Crucible+2Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Trials of Osiris
(Win 50 rounds)
Playlist: Crucible+2Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Vanguard Strikes
(Complete 3 matches with matching element)
Playlist: Vanguard+1Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Crucible Matches
(Complete 3 matches)
Playlist: Crucible+1Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Gambit Matches
(Complete 3 matches)
Playlist: Gambit+1Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Clan Weekly XPTower+1Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Iron Banner Bounties
(4 total rewards)
Playlist: Crucible+2 x 4Monthly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Reach "Legend" Glory rankPlaylist: Crucible+2Season

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-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.


Powerful gear sources in Destiny 2

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

SourceLocationPower increaseFrequencyFireteam needed?Fireteam neededRequiresRequirements
Astral Alignment
(3 troves opened)
Dreaming City+3 x 3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Deluxe Edition logoDeluxe Edition
Wayfinder's Compass bounties
(Complete 8 bounties)
H.E.L.M+1Weekly

No

NoSeason 14
Overrides Missions
(Complete 3 runs)
H.E.L.M+1Weekly

No

NoSeason 14
Battlegrounds
(at 3, 6 and 9 completions)
Playlist: Vanguard+3 x 3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Deluxe Edition logoDeluxe Edition
Wrathborn Hunts
(3 completions)
Tangled Shore+3 x 3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Deluxe Edition logoDeluxe Edition
Nightfall: The Ordeals
(at 5 points)
Playlist: Vanguard+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Survival Playlist
(Win 7 rounds)
Playlist: Crucible+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Trials of Osiris
(at 3 wins)
Playlist: Crucible+4Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Reputation Rewards Rank 1Playlist: Crucible+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Reputation Rewards Rank 1Playlist: Gambit+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Reputation Rewards Rank 1Playlist: Vanguard+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Deep Stone Crypt Raid encounters
(4 total rewards)
Europa+2 x 4Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Exo Stranger Weekly Challenge
(at 100 Stasis defeats)
Europa+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Empire Hunts
(at 2 completions)
Europa+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Exo Challenge Simulation
(can be upgraded to Pinnacle)
Europa+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Europa bounties
(Complete 8 bounties)
Europa+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Prophecy dungeon encounters
(Complete encounters 1, 2 and 3)
Tower+3 x 3Weekly

Yes

YesDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Gunsmith bounties
(Complete 8 bounties)
Tower+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Vanguard bounties
(Complete 8 bounties)
Tower+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Crucible bounties
(Complete 8 bounties)
Tower+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Gambit bounties
(Complete 8 bounties)
Tower+3Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Clan Engram Rewards
(4 total rewards)
Tower+3 x 4Weekly

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Beyond Light Exotic QuestsExotic Quests+3Season

No

NoDestiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1Beyond Light
Obtain "Null Composure" Ritual weaponTower+3Season

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Obtain "Ascendancy" Ritual weaponTower+3Season

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Obtain "Salvager's Salvo" Ritual weaponTower+3Season

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Obtain "Adored" Ritual weaponTower+3Season

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Exotic EngramsWorld drops+3Repeatable

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Prime EngramsWorld drops+3Repeatable

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Legend & Master Lost Sectors Exotic EngramsWorld drops+3Repeatable

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Major Infamy Rank UpPlaylist: Gambit+3Repeatable

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Major Valor Rank UpPlaylist: Crucible+3Repeatable

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Major Glory Rank UpPlaylist: Crucible+3Repeatable

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-to-Play
Completions of Strikes, Crucible or Gambit matchesPlaylist activities+3Random

No

NoDestiny 2 Free to Play logo 1Free-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!


Why Power Level still matters (TBU)

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 that 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 1345
Crucible: Trials of Osiris Yes
Crucible: Iron Banner Yes

This table summarizes the Power Level requirements for the main activities in Destiny 2:

Activity Recommended Power
All Crucible (except Iron Banner and Trials) Power Levels disabled
Vanguard: Strikes 1100
Raid: Garden of Salvation 1100
Raid: Last Wish 1100
Dungeon: Pit of Heresy 1100
Dungeon: Shattered Throne 1100 (tbc)
Seasonal: Battlegrounds 1200
Raid: Deep Stone Crypt 1220
Exotic Quest: Presage 1240
Nightfall: The Ordeals (Adept to Master) 1240 to 1340
Exotic Quest: Harbinger 1270
Seasonal (TBC) 1300
Seasonal (TBC) 1300
Raid: Vault of Glass 1300
Legend Lost Sectors 1310
Exotic Quest: Presage Master 1320
Master Lost Sectors 1340
Raid: Vault of Glass Master Mode 1350

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.

Power Level scaling

Destiny 2 gives a lot of “recommendations” when it comes to Power Level requirements. Only Grandmaster Nightfalls have a strict minimum requirement.

So, what happens when do not follow the game’s recommended Power Levels? Damage scaling.

Damage scaling is not easy to explain, but in a nutshell, the lower your Power level compared to your enemy, the more damage you take and the less damage you receive.

On the other hand, the higher your Power level, the less damage you take and the more damage you do.

These fine folks created an impressive chart that shows you how damage scaling works:

Destiny 2 damage scaling

If you’re struggling with a particular activity, increasing your Power Level will help. This includes Power levels earned through the seasonal artifact.


How to reach Max Light Level in Destiny 2

You may be familiar with the struggle that is chasing Pinnacle gear to eventually reach the Max Power level (and the frustration of getting everything but the one item you need for 3 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 in Season 15.

Guiding principles to Power 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 reaching that elusive Max Power Level, currently set at 1320:

Level Cap Power Level Gear needed
Starting Level 1100
Soft Cap 1270 Any
Hard Cap 1320 Powerful
Pinnacle Cap 1330 Pinnacle

Reaching the Soft cap in Beyond Light: 1270 Power Level

To reach the soft cap (1270), drops from any source will help you increase your Power Level.

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 an important role at this stage and you should be actively seeking blue drops whenever possible!

Alert icon You should preferably never chase Powerful nor Pinnacle rewards before hitting the soft cap first.

Destiny 2 Power level Character Season 14

Tips to reach the soft cap as fast as possible:

  • Play the Beyond Light campaign (and/or the New Light campaign at the Cosmodrome), and in parallel:
    • 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.

Reaching the Powerful cap in Beyond Light: 132

0 Power

Now that you’ve reached the soft cap, only Powerful and Pinnacle sources will help you progress. Both Powerful and Pinnacle sources are highlighted in the Directory and in the table above.

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

Destiny 2 Powerful Sources Beyond Light

Tips to reach the hard cap as fast as possible:

  • Only Powerful and Pinnacle gear will increase your average Power Level
  • Always be equalizing your gear. More on that below.
  • The Competitive Playlist in PVP is one of the best sources of Powerful rewards in the game. The timing is perfect too as Comp matters more than ever:
    • Every Valor and Glory rank-up will reward you with a Powerful reward, therefore the Comp playlist will help you with both.
  • 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 of your gear. When that happens, you should chase lesser rewards to bring that lagging gear up to the average!

How to equalize your gear

Seasoned players already know about 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:

Destiny 2 Power level equalize Season 14

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 is full of low stat gear that is generally useless. Do not claim it and keep it for when you’re working towards your Powerful or Pinnacle caps and need upgrades for specific slots!
  • Seasonal Activities often let you chose 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.

Reaching the Pinnacle cap in Beyond Light: 1330 Power

This section is straightforward. When you reach the Powerful cap (1320), 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.


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, doing challenging activities (such as the Raid or Dungeons) will reward you 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 just 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. If you’d prefer a video version of this strategy, CastleIsLive did a great video on that topic:

Easy Pinnacle sources in Destiny 2

Powerful sources are fairly common and not particularly challenging.

Pinnacle sources are a different story. And it makes sense they’re difficult. They are, after all, supposed to be part of the end-game activities, but they can be particularly challenging when you don’t have a pre-existing group of friends to play with.

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 other ones.
  • 100,000 in Nightfall: The Ordeal: Most people know how to run it. Finding a capable group in LFG is very easy.
  • Exo Challenge in Europa: This one can be done solo and is easy enough. All you need to do is upgrade it to a Pinnacle reward via Varyks.

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


The Last Word

Your Power Level is more than a number in Destiny 2. The higher your Power Level, the more accessible end game content will be for you, including Raids, Nightfalls, and Legend/Master Lost Sectors for PVE, and Trials of Osiris for PVP.

Hopefully, you now know everything there is to know about reaching the Max Power level fast.

So what’s the plan? Will you grind all 3 characters or just your main?

Latest changes

It’s worth noting that several Powerful & Pinnacle sources changed with the release of Season of the Lost (Season 15):

  • Season of the Lost related Pinnacle and Powerful rewards
  • Revamped Trials of Osiris Pinnacle rewards

The release of Beyond Light and Year 4 seasons have also brought these changes so far:

  • Vault of Glass is now the only raid rewarding Pinnacle rewards
  • Deep Stone Crypt no longer grants Pinnacle rewards
  • Powerful sources released with Shadowkeep no longer grant Powerful rewards:
    • Rune table
    • Repeatable campaign missions
    • Nightmare Hunt completion and time trials
    • Pit of Heresy completion
    • Garden of Salvation completion
  • Strikes, Gambit, Crucible, and Seasonal drops now have a chance to reward Powerful rewards all the way up until the Hard Cap
  • Gear earned through token purchases will be 20 Power below your Power Level
  • Collection buybacks will be capped at 1100 Power.

This means the old “cheese” to spam tokens at vendors to “equalize” your gear level no longer works. On the flip side, playing random Crucible matches and the like can now reward Powerful gear.

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16 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
  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
  9. BrendAn

    Chattered realm? Small mistake

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

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

      Reply
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