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Destiny 2 Lightfall: How to reach the power cap quickly

Every level cap explained, plus all the Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources

Destiny 2: Lightfall is finally available and if you are anything like us, then after finishing the campaign—and picking your jaw up off the floor—you will want to set about levelling up your character as quickly as possible. (Or perhaps your characters plural, you beautiful degen.) The level grind hasn’t changed too much since The Witch Queen, but the various “caps” have moved a fair bit, and if you want to make sure you gain ground efficiently, there are definitely a few things to bear in mind. Let’s get to it.

How power level and gear works in Destiny 2: Lightfall


First, a quick refresher. At the start of Lightfall, all your gear, including everything in your Vault, is boosted to power level 1600. As soon as you start acquiring new gear through random drops and mission rewards, you will be able to boost that by equipping the new gear directly or by infusing existing gear into it. (Infusion requires an Upgrade Module, and you sacrifice the target item.)

Your Destiny 2 power level is based on the average of the total power level of all your equipped weapons and armor. So if all eight of your equipped items are 1600, you’re at 1600, but if you pick up a gun that is rated 1640, you’ll go to 1605 as the extra levels give the average a modest boost. (Bet you weren’t expecting MATH in your Destiny 2 guide, eh?) You also gain additional power levels by levelling up your seasonal artefact, which in theory can be done as much as you like until the end of the season, albeit with rapidly diminishing returns after a certain point.

Destiny 2: Lightfall level caps


For Lightfall, Bungie has increased the level caps as follows:

  • Soft level cap: 1750
  • Powerful level cap: 1800
  • Pinnacle level cap: 1810

Gear from any source will get you to the soft cap. Campaign missions, playlist activities, strikes, public event chests—you name it. Some of it will be blue (rare), some of it will be purple (legendary), and since this is a new expansion, there is a good chance it will all be new to you. It will be tempting to use it all as infusion fodder for your existing items, and providing you have some decent-spec armor already then that is probably a good plan for armor pieces, but the weapons may well be worth trying out. There are some neat waveframe grenade launchers in there, for example, as well as some Strand guns!

The best way to get to the Destiny 2: Lightfall soft cap is simply to play the campaign. You don’t need to do it on Legendary, although if you do then you will be rewarded with exotic armor and a gear bundle that takes you straight to 1770 power. But you can always do that later, and in our experience you will easily make it to 1750 by the end of the campaign providing you grind a few bounties at the same time and perhaps do the introductory mission for the new seasonal content (currently Season of Defiance).

Once you hit the soft cap, blue items will stop falling completely—a very welcome quality-of-life change introduced in Lightfall—and you won’t be able to make progress towards the Powerful and Pinnacle level caps without obtaining gear from specific sources.

Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources


Bungie has indicated that it plans to change how levelling works in Destiny 2 later this year, but for now we are stuck with the old system, and that means spending a chunk of time each week ticking off all those Powerful and Pinnacle reward sources. Whenever you unlock a Powerful item, it will drop at a slightly higher level than your maximum possible power (+1 or +2 depending on the source), although there is no guarantee that it will drop for the slot where you need it most. You can only grind out a certain number of Powerful rewards per week, so it pays to focus on those if levelling is your primary concern.

Once you hit the Powerful cap, the only way to progress is to grind out Pinnacle rewards, which will take you from 1800 to the new 1810 Pinnacle cap. As with Powerful rewards, there are only a certain number available each week. There is nothing to stop you completing Pinnacle rewards while you’re still grinding your way to the soft cap or Powerful cap, but it is slightly inefficient, as it will mean there is less for you to harvest once you do reach the start of the Pinnacle phase. In the opening weeks of the new expansion, though, unless you are in a wild rush, you may not mind this too much.

Powerful gear sources in Lightfall include:

  • Banshee-44 8x bounties
  • Crucible 8x bounties
  • Dares of Eternity 3x runs
  • Gambit 8x bounties
  • Nightfall strike
  • Prime Engrams
  • Trials of Osiris
  • Vanguard 8x bounties
  • Weekly campaign mission
  • Wellspring 3x runs

Pinnacle gear sources in Lightfall include:

  • Crucible 3x matches
  • Dares of Eternity 250k score or higher
  • Defiant Battlegrounds seasonal activity
  • Dungeon on weekly rotation
  • Gambit 3x matches
  • Hawthorne clan vendor rewards
  • Iron Banner (when it is active)
  • New raid (available March 10)
  • Nightfall strike 100k score or higher
  • Raid on weekly rotation
  • Spire of the Watcher dungeon
  • Trials of Osiris
  • Vanguard 3x strikes with subclass matching elemental singe
  • War Table seasonal vendor 8x bounties

You can also expect to get Pinnacle drops from Grandmaster Nightfalls when those arrive, but if you’re playing through those then the chances are you’re past the Pinnacle cap anyway and probably need to buy the new Touch Grass emote.

Tips for levelling quickly in Destiny 2: Lightfall


Beyond the general advice sprinkled throughout this guide, there are a few things we would advise any new Destiny 2: Lightfall player to keep in mind if they want to level efficiently:

  • Play seasonal content alongside the campaign - It will be tempting to just blast through the campaign missions without worrying about Season of Defiance. This is a mistake! Once you get your bearings, go see Mara Sov at The Farm and do the first few steps of the seasonal quest line so you can open up the seasonal vendor (the War Table at the HELM) for additional reward sources and bounties. Completing those bounties will also help with boosting your artefact power level.
  • Use Upgrade Modules thoughtfully - If you’re anything like us, you burn through Upgrade Modules like nobody’s business when a new expansion comes out. Try to resist the urge to do this. Use them to infuse your preferred items to bridge large gaps, but if the difference is 5-10 power points, it is probably not going to make a noticeable difference. The game knows your maximum possible power level whether you have the trash item equipped or not, so just keep it handy but don’t infuse.
  • Dismantle unwanted items aggressively - At the start of an expansion, everything is new and shiny, and it can be easy to turn into a hoarder. But unless you like the new guns and armor pieces you’re gathering by the Vault-load, don’t be afraid to dismantle them and bank the glimmer and legendary shards. Most of the new weapons are craftable anyway, so you’ll be able to customize them to your heart’s content later, and the armor is unlikely to have decent specs compared to the items you already have, while glimmer and shards can be used to buy more Upgrade Modules, or to unlock those pricey new subclass fragments Ikora is hawking.

If you follow these tips, there’s every chance you will be ready and raring to go for a day-one raid on March 10. Good luck, Guardian!