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Destiny 2: Shadowkeep 950+ power leveling guide

Here’s how to hit max level in Destiny 2’s newest expansion

Destiny 2 Guardians on the Moon Bungie via Polygon
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

In Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, there are loads of new sources for powerful items. And with all players starting on even footing at 750 power, the power grind is much simpler than before. However, there are still plenty of tricks to utilize while trying to grow your Guardian’s strength.

If you’re looking to compete in the raid race for Garden of Salvation, or just want to keep current with Destiny’s harder content, you’ll need to level smart. We can help with that.

Here’s how to reach 950 power in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, and push beyond with Pinnacle drops.

Step 1: Reach 900

With Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, 900 is the soft cap. This is the level when you’ll stop seeing power upgrades from random blue items.

You want to hit 900 as quickly as you possibly can in Shadowkeep — before you even start the campaign is ideal. There are a few good ways to do that.

Turning in tokens

If you’re a veteran Destiny 2 player, you’ll likely have an excess of tokens or planetary materials to turn into different vendors. As you rank up these vendors, you’ll get rewards to increase your power up to 900. If you feel like dropping hundreds or thousands of tokens on your first character, you’ll get through this process much faster than the alternative.

Completing activities

This is something everyone can do, regardless of how many leftover items you have from previous seasons. You can run Crucible matches, Strikes, Public Events, Lost Sectors, or whatever you want to increase your power. As long as it drops a blue piece of loot, it can increase your level.

Play the Shadowkeep campaign

If you forgo the first step, you’ll likely be around 860 or 870 by campaign’s end.

The reason we recommend you don’t start the campaign until 900 is that the campaign tends to drop decent items for you, even if you’re over-leveled for all the missions. This is partially due to a new system where most blue items drop at your maximum gear score. That means if you’re 902 and have a helmet stuck at 898, a new blue helmet can drop for you at 902, giving you a big boost even after you’ve hit the soft cap.

At the end of the campaign, Ikora will give you a class-specific Exotic. This drop is what’s known as a Pinnacle drop, meaning it offers massive power gains. Regardless of whether you’re using the token method, you should absolutely farm to 900 before picking up Ikora’s loot.

Complete challenges

Destiny 2 challenges map Bungie via Polygon

At 900, you’ll unlock new Challenges around the solar system. You can see them in the Destination menu denoted with a gold star against a blue background.

There are several new or revised Challenges this season, and Bungie retired many of the older ones. If you hover over a challenge’s icon, you’ll get detailed descriptions on how to complete it.

Powerful drops aren’t all equal. Tier 1 drops offer small boosts from your max gear power level. Tier 2 drops offer slightly better than Tier 1, with Pinnacle drops offering five or more additional power above your current level.

Here are all the Challenges currently available in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep:

  • Complete three playlist Strikes as the same subclass as the daily burn (Tier 1)
  • Complete Nightfall: The Ordeal. Earn five completion points by completing on different difficulties (Tier 1)
  • Earn 100,000 points in a single Nightfall: The Ordeal run (Pinnacle)
  • Complete three Gambit matches of any kind (Tier 2)
  • Complete four Crucible matches in the core playlists (Tier 1)
  • Complete four Crucible matches in the rotating playlists (Tier 1)
  • Complete the Flashpoint on the weekly featured planet (Tier 1)
  • Complete eight Gambit bounties (Tier 1)
  • Complete eight Gunsmith bounties (Tier 1)
  • Complete eight Crucible bounties (Tier 1)
  • Complete eight Strike bounties (Tier 1)
  • Earn Clan XP (Tier 2)
  • Weekly Moon bounty (Tier 1)
  • Complete Eris’ fireteam memory (Tier 1)
  • Complete three Nightmare hunts on the Moon (Tier 1)

Level up your Artifact

Destiny 2 Artifact bonus power Bungie via Polygon

Your seasonal Artifact can grant you bonus power that increases your ability to fight without affecting your Light level. This bonus exists across all of your characters, and is a great way to over-level content by just playing the game.

Our best advice for leveling your Artifact up is to always be working on Bounties of some kind. Bounties give a ton of XP, and Artifact levels get more and more expensive every time you level up.

Note that the new power display system on your character is very confusing with the bonus power system. You need to hover over your power to see what your gear power is separate from your Artifact power.

Repeat on other characters

When you’re all done with your first character, it’s time to log into a new class and do it over again. Like before, you want to make sure you hit 900 first, then start doing the rest.

Hitting 900 is very easy on a new character. Transfer all of you high level weapons from your first character over to give them an instant boost. Then go into your seasonal offerings to grab any season armor you’ve unlocked. With both of those systems, you should probably be in the high 850s before you even start using tokens or power grinding.

How to hit 950+

Once you’re 950, the only way to go higher is through Pinnacle rewards like the 100,000 point Nightfall: The Ordeal. We’ll have a better idea of exactly how to get above 950 once players have started reaching that level.

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