Once you hit the level cap of 20 in Destiny 2, figuring out where to go and what to do first can be very confusing. If you accidentally run an activity in the wrong order, you can unintentionally hinder your progress for the week.
Whether you’re trying to gear up your first character or one of two alternative characters, this guide will help you level and gear up as fast as possible and blast your way through the grind.
Leveling up to 20
The road from level one to 20 is a long one, filled with missions to run and adventures to be had. Luckily, if you’re leveling an alt character, you can skip the cutscenes in the Red War campaign (assuming you don’t want to see them again) and save time.
While there are plenty of times in the campaign where you have to stop and complete the objective, most missions will actually let you run right through them in five to 10 minutes. Running past the enemies instead of just defeating them will leave you at a level disadvantage in the campaign, but it saves so much time that it is more efficient than finishing the mission correctly.
Many missions have level gates to them, requiring you be a specific level before you even start. Because you lose experience points running through missions, you’ll need to complete some of the on-planet activities to reach the next phase of the Red War campaign. To deal with this minor problem, run Public Events, Adventures, Lost Sectors and Quests to level up. Just make sure that your Power level is not too far under the mission’s recommendation.
Once you finish the campaign and return to the social space, follow the quest line and talk to Zavala. Accept his gift, and he will automatically raise you to the level cap. Congratulations! You just brought your first (second or even third) character to level 20.
Beyond level 20: getting geared
When you finish the campaign for the first time, you will be at about Power level 150. If you aren’t there quite yet, don’t worry: You will get there naturally by running Strikes or Public Events (or better, Heroic Public Events, which you can learn how to trigger in our Heroic Public Events guide).
Using this conservation method, you’ll be able to get to 280 within a week. The down side is that getting to 240 (and subsequently 265) is a real pain. You will need to do a lot of grinding to get there.
Getting your Power level up from here can be tricky, especially if you aren’t absolutely sure of how the gearing system works. The journey is long, so the first thing you want to know what not to do.
What not to do
Before you reach Power level 240:
- Don’t turn in planetary tokens to your planetary vendor. (You should have a couple of these after completing the campaign.)
- Don’t slot your Legendary (purple) mods into blue gear.
Before you reach Power level 265:
- Don’t turn in Milestones that give you Powerful Gear. (You can temporarily turn down the Luminous Engram when the NPC offers it to you.)
- Don’t start the “Blue Crown” planetary Quests that show up on Earth, Titan, Io and Nessus.
- Don’t loot Cayde-6 treasure chests.
Getting to Power level 265
Playing Destiny 2 will get you Rare (blue) gear, which scales all the way up to 265. Complete Public Events, Strikes and Crucible matches to get easy loot. Basically, do whatever you like best, and you will make progress.
- If you still have the Fireteam Medallion you get from Hawthorne, the Clan Steward at the Tower and know that you have a couple of hours in one sitting to run these activities, use it to make the process faster.
- Lost Sectors are great ways to get Rare (blue) gear very quickly, so farming them is a great option. However, it seems that there is some kind of timed cap on them. If you do too many in a row, the game will stop giving you loot. So do about three Lost Sectors and then run a different activity. Once you are done, run three more Lost Sectors.
- The weird space between 150 and 265 is also the best time to complete your initial Milestones. If you don’t see any of your Milestones offering Powerful Gear, it means you haven’t unlocked it yet. Complete all of your Milestones that offer Rare (blue) or Legendary (purple) gear. These are simple activities like complete two Strikes for Zavala or a few patrols for Cayde-6.
- Completing the lower Milestones will unlock the higher tier reward. For instance, finishing the two Strikes for Zavala will give you access to the Nightfall, while completing patrols for Cayde-6 unlocks the week’s Flashpoint. Getting these pesky missions out of the way when you are lower level means that you will be killing two birds with one stone. Once you are at the level you want to be (265+), you will immediately have access to the Nightfall and other activities.
- After completing your lower Milestones and grinding up to 240, begin turning in your Reputation Tokens to planetary vendors. Through grinding, you should have plenty of these. Jump from place to place and collect your loot. Once you have turned it all in, you will be somewhere between 240 and 265.
- If you have Legendary (purple) mods, start slotting them into the Legendary (purple) weapons and armor that you like. (You cannot remove them, and they are hard to come by until you hit 280, so be sure that you don’t mind the look and feel of your armor or weapon.) From now on, if a armor piece drops for the same slot as a piece of Legendary (purple) armor (that you’ve already modded), infuse the Rare (blue) into the Legendary (purple) rather than just replacing it. The same principle applies to weapons.
If you have completed all of your item management and find that you are still not 265, keep on grinding. This time, make sure you stick to just one activity, so that you can maximize the tokens you are getting. If you like farming Public Events, stay on the same planet instead of hopping around. After some luck and more grinding, you will make it up to 265 Power.
Beyond Power level 265
Getting to 265 is by far the worst chore in Destiny 2, so once you get there, give yourself a pat on the back. Now for the easy part.
Now that all of your loot should be Legendary (purple), make sure that everything has a Legendary (purple) mod in it. If you have used all the ones you can, you can go hunting for Cayde-6 chests. If you go to Cayde-6 on the Tower and buy his maps, spade icons will appear on a planet. Find and open the chests, and you could get some Legendary (purple) gear or even some Exotics (yellow).
After you’ve found all of the chests, you can start knocking out the Powerful Gear Milestones. Run the Nightfall, grind the Crucible and complete Heroic Public Events on the designated planet.
If you are in a Clan (and you really should be — it offers you a ton of free loot every week), you will also be able to contribute Clan XP weekly. Once you have contributed 5,000 points, you will get even more Powerful Gear from Hawthorne, the Clan Steward at the Tower.
Once all your Milestones are gone, you can no longer boost your Power level that week — aside from Trials of the Nine, the Leviathan Raid and Exotic (yellow) engrams. Wait for the weekly reset (every Tuesday) and do it all again. If you are completing every single activity every week, you should be all the way at 300 by the end of week two.
It’s also worth noting that if you are under 265 and you know that you will not be able to get to that point before the weekly reset, make sure you complete your Powerful Gear Milestones. While the gear that drops from these activities will be less powerful than if you were 265, it’s better to get worse gear than let it go to waste.
Gearing other characters
Getting your alt up to a respectable Power level is entirely dependent on your main’s weapons. Jump on your main and store your highest-Power kinetic, energy and power weapon in the vault. Next, log onto your alt and equip the weapons. (Note that this entire process is far easier to do if you have the Destiny App on Android and iOS or the Destiny Item Manager browser plug-in for Google Chrome.)
You will notice that you Power level will be boosted pretty significantly. While your armor is all trash, your weapons will increase your overall Power level, which in turn increases your drops. Because of the weapon Power average bonuses, you will start replacing your gear with upgrades that are 50+ Power better than your current item in that slot. Replace your gear if it is Rare (blue) or infuse into it if it is Legendary (purple). If you are making an alt, you almost certainly have the Legendary Shards to spare.
Start unlocking things in your milestones: Strikes for Zavala, Crucible matches for Shaxx, challenges for Ikora, patrols for Cayde-6. This will get you some easy Rare (blue) and Legendary (purple) gear, which will save you a bunch of time.
Assuming your main character is at least 280, you will be able to buy Legendary (purple) mods from the Gunsmith, which you can immediately slot into your alt’s purple armor. Once your alt has reached the 265 range (which should be around the time when all of your Milestones become Powerful Gear), complete those milestones to boost your level even farther.
And that’s all you can do. Congratulations, you just caught up an entire character in about seven hours. Using the methods listed above, we were able to gear three characters on the same account to 300+ Power. Good luck, Guardians.