Destiny 2 leveling guide: blast through the gear grind and get Raid-ready fast

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Destiny 2 is a social shooter with many RPG elements - perhaps most notably, a protracted and obscure leveling system, comprised of experience points and many tiers of gear. Since all the best stuff tends to happen at the end of the game - most notably the Raid - players are often in a rush to get there. This guide is here to help with that.

When you're powered up, our Destiny 2 raid guide will help you rise to victory.

Step one: Complete the campaign (experience levels)

New Destiny 2 footage

You need to do this anyway to unlock mid-game content. No spoilers, but after the story finishes, you'll get map notifications to check in with certain NPCs as they process what we've just witnessed. Do so, and you'll get an experience bump that should leave you at level 20, if you weren't there already. (One miscellaneous tip: when you're offered a choice of weapons, pick Nightshade. It's amazing.)

You'll have noticed you also have an attribute called 'power' besides your experience level. Once you're at level 20, it's all about power from there on out. If you didn't know, your power is calculated by averaging the attack and defence values of each piece of gear you have equipped. The hard cap for power is 350 - future expansions will raise this as new content is added.

Step two: The big grind (power 200 - 270) 

The cave of reliable chest-spawning, on Nessus

Gains from blue (rare) gear slow to a crawl around 260 power, but until then you can do strikes, adventures, Lost Sectors and almost everything else, and trundle happily along. However, since this is a gear guide, you're after the most efficient route through this tier, so here's our recommendation: pick your favourite planet, buy a scout report for it from Cayde-6, go there, and grab chests while grinding public events

Your ultimate goal is to farm planetary tokens, which you can trade in at overseers for rep and at least one piece of Legendary gear - often two - at each rank. Vendor Legendaries can get you up to 265, while public events are a great source of loot in themselves. To increase the chance of a good drop, you'll want to trigger and complete their Heroic versions whenever possible. Not sure how? Check out our public events guide. If you have any Bright Dust from Bright Engrams, you should also load up on Fireteam Medallions from Eververse and ensure they're active while you do events - this gives you the best possible chance of good loot, and can even yield Exotics. A level three clan banner also adds to your loot chances, so try to join an active one.

Cayde-6's scout reports will mark nearby chests in your HUD, each of which will drop a token and can drop both blue and purple gear (though the latter is rare). Grab them whenever they pop up - it'll always be worthwhile. With this setup, simply use the map to check for the next public event and Fast Travel or Sparrow from one to the next, stopping only to grab chests or kill High-Value Targets - another good source of tokens. Nessus and the EDZ are best for this, in our experience - we found Titan a bit awkward to navigate, and Io generally has fewer events going on at once. 

Grinding the same activities can be exhausting, and if you'd like to guarantee a reasonable rate of return while doing something else - watching YouTube or Netflix, listening to a podcast, perhaps - then you can just wait out the spawn timers of treasure chests for a token every three minutes. That's a faction rank every hour. Their spawn locations vary, but only to a point, so if you find the right place, token farming is literally just a matter of sitting still for a while. There's a cave on Nessus that's particularly good for this, if you fancy it - click here for more details.

World quests also drop planetary tokens, and are pretty fun, but hold off on turning in the very last stage of the quest since they can drop high-powered gear. Strikes are an option for loot and for rep with Zavala, but we've generally found world activities to be more efficient.  

Step three: powerful gear Milestones (power > 265)

Powerful Gear activities in Destiny 2

Power level 265 is the plateau for 'normal' Legendaries, but there's a tier within Legendary gear called 'powerful gear', which only drops from certain Milestones, which only drop their loot weekly. They'll be appropriately marked in the Director - if you haven't unlocked them yet, just follow the Milestone quests. Here are the ones we know of:

  • Cayde-6's patrol Milestones unlock the weekly Flashpoint. All you need to do is grind public events - as if you hadn't done enough of that.
  • Lord Shaxx's Crucible Milestones unlock the weekly Call to Arms PvP quest. Just play Crucible games; winning will get you there faster, but isn't necessary.
  • Commander Zavala's strike missions unlock the weekly Nightfall strike. This one is especially lucrative, as you can see in this video - the completion rewards are great in themselves, but there are also a number of Challenges to complete, each with a generous loot drop if you can manage it. 
  • Clan XP. This will accrue as you complete strikes, the Crucible, or world activities, so no need to do anything specific. If you need a clan, you're more than welcome to join ours.

So, if you're on console and aiming to get raid-ready, check off every Milestone activity that drops powerful gear, and do them before the weekly reset on Tuesday. Then do them again. 

At the top end of this tier, you should be ready to tackle the true endgame: the raid and Trials. We'll update this guide when we know more about these from a gear perspective. Here's what we know about the raid so far. If you want to give yourself the best possible chance, though, there's one or two other things you can do.

Step four: Exotics (power > 265)

Exotics are another source of 265+ gear. They're guaranteed from very few activities, but there are exceptions: each planet has its own world quest which, when completed, unlocks another quest for a guaranteed Exotic weapon. For more information on these, see our Exotic quests guide.

Exotics can drop at the highest power level of all, so save these until late in your grind (265 at the very earliest) for another boost. Obviously you can only equip one Exotic weapon at once, so you'll use these to infuse your Legendaries. Don't panic about wasting an Exotic - once unlocked, you can make another copy at any time via the 'Collections' tab at the Vault. 

After you've exhausted your powerful gear drops and your Exotic weapon quests you should be in good shape, but there's one other avenue open to you if you're still thirsty for power: farming for Exotic engram drops and crossing your fingers. Fortunately, you've already been doing the activity that, according to most reports, gives the best chance of an Exotic drop: Heroic public events, with the aid of Fireteam Medallions and, ideally, a level three clan banner. Get back on that grind!

Step five: Mods (power > 280)

You don't need to be this powerful for the Raid, but if you happen to reach 280, then the next few points should be really easy to get. Why? Because at this threshold, you can make your own Legendary gear mods at the Gunsmith. 

Unlike blue mods, each Legendary mod adds five points of attack or defence to the weapon or armour piece you attach it to. You've probably got a few already if you're nearing this stage - there's a chance, albeit a small one, that gear will drop with such mods equipped. Once you hit 280, you can make Legendary mods by mixing blue ones, which you can buy for Glimmer. You should have mountains of the stuff by now, so hopefully you'll be able to fill out all your empty mod slots and earn another few points of power in just a couple of minutes.

One word of caution when infusing: if gear has a Legendary mod equipped, its base power level is five points lower than indicated, and the mod doesn't carry over. So never infuse gear with mods into gear without them - the infusion will be weaker than you think and you'll lose the mod for good, effectively tossing five points into the abyss.

Addendum 1: alts

If you're still not happy with your progress, you could technically make another character and do the Milestones again with them. You'd have to complete the campaign again, but after that you can use gear from your main to boost your alt up, so you can skip at least some of the gear grind. I say "some" because, unlike in Destiny 1, you can't infuse one class's gear with another's anymore. So, if you main a Warlock and want a Titan alt, they can only share weapons, not armour. If you make a Warlock alt, they can share everything, so as soon as the campaign is done you can take another swing at the Milestones with drops relevant to your main.

Addendum 2: don't forget Xur, or why dismantling is good

Xur is a special vendor who appeared in Destiny 1 every weekend, selling Exotic gear for his own strange currency. He isn't due to arrive in the sequel until the weekend after the raid, but when he does, his Exotic gear will probably sell at a good power level.

With that in mind, you'll want to stockpile his new currency, Legendary Shards. Not only can you extend your Exotic collection, but you can use them to infuse your Legendaries, provided Xur is selling them at high enough power. 

Legendary Shards sometimes drop in purple engrams, but, as you've probably discovered, the most consistent source is dismantling your Legendary gear. So don't be afraid to do that - there will be plenty more in the future, trust us.

When am I raid-ready?

Luke Smith has announced the raid will have a power range of 260-280:

That's roughly what we expected, and eminently achievable for anyone in their first week of play (we've seen some players break 290). Obviously, the higher you can get, the better. 

On console, the Raid unlocks on Wednesday, September 13, at 10:00 Pacific (18:00 BST). If you’ve done two weeks of Milestones without wasting the extra headroom they give on the 260 cap, you’ve done all you can to prepare, and you should be fine. 

Check out our Raid guide, which we'll update as soon as we get in ourselves, for tips on completing Destiny 2's ultimate challenge. If you're looking for a fireteam, you're welcome to join our clan!

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Ananym avatarRichard Scott-Jones avatarbrotatochipses avatar
Ananym Avatar
1 Week ago

This will be out of date by the time your audience gets to play the game.

brotatochipses Avatar
1 Week ago

No. This is exactly what i was looking for already.

Richard Scott-Jones Avatar
1 Week ago

That's probably not true; power levels are unlikely to change until the first DLC, which isn't due until December - well after the PC launch. Obviously we'll update this once Raid and Trials gear starts dropping, but that won't affect the earlier stages of progression.