A guide to Destiny 2’s endgame

destinyheader

So you’re done with Destiny 2’s story – which you either loved or hated – and are ready to enter the endgame. Luckily, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about how to minimise the grind and get yourself raid ready as quickly as possible.

In this guide, I’ll run you through how Power Levels work, what activities you can get up to and some specifics on how Engrams, Mods and Infusions work. Let’s get cracking!

Power Levels explained

The first thing you need to know is that once you’ve unlocked every ability for each subclass, XP becomes irrelevant. You probably won’t have gotten all of these by the time you finish the campaign, but the activities you’ll be doing to increase your Power Level will give you enough XP to do so within a (relatively) short time.

So, your Power Level is a measure of, surprise surprise, how powerful you are. It combines the stats from all your weapons and armour to generate that final number, and certain activities are only unlocked once your Power Level is high enough. That currently includes the Vanguard Strike Playlist at 140, and at 260 you can play The Leviathan raid and competitive multiplayer in Trials of the Nine. You can technically do everything else no matter what your Power Level is, though the game (and I) don’t recommend it. The current level cap is 305.

destinyguide5

Here’s the important bit: after you reach Power Level 265, only some activities will continue to provide loot that increases it any further. The next section covers what you might want to avoid doing before you reach that cap.

What activities to do

Firstly, whatever you choose to do it’s worth buying some fireteam medallions from Eververse in the social hub. They slightly increase XP and loot drops for everyone in your fireteam, though note that the effects from multiple medallions don’t stack. You can buy them for 50 Bright Dust and each one lasts for four hours of real world time. You’ll also want to join a clan, seeing as you’ll get one piece of gear a week as long as at least one person completes the clan objectives, as well as a load of other benefits as you level up your clan banner. The lovely RPS Clan live here.

The fastest way to level up to 265 is to take part in the ‘heroic’ versions of public events, which you can find out in the patrol zones. The heroic version of each public event triggers after you fulfil a certain hidden objective. The most obvious of these is the one for the Arsenal Walker. Every time you do enough damage to make the Walker expose its core, it will also drop Arc Charges. If you grab those and use them to unlock the 3 nearby scorch cannons, the heroic event will trigger and a second Walker will drop down. You can pop over to Eurogamer for a full list of how to trigger the heroic version of each public event.

Repeatedly doing heroic events might be optimal in regards to speed, but probably not to fun. You can mix things up by exploring lost sectors and doing adventure missions between the events, and cash in the vendor tokens you get from all of those with the NPC on each planet. It can be worth waiting until level 260 or so before you cash in those tokens, and then using the rewards you get from them to hopefully boost up to level 265. That makes sense because the higher your level, the less frequently you’ll find gear that levels you up further – the vendor tokens are a shortcut, but won’t give you anything that’ll take you past level 265.

destinyguide2

If you’re bored with patrol zone activities, there are alternatives: playing strike missions and normal PVP in the crucible will both net you gear up until level 265. You’ll also want to do the additional quest on each planet, marked by a blue flag on the map. Chances are your Power Level won’t quite be at the recommended level for all of them straight away, so you’ll have to spend some of your time elsewhere first. You might want to hold off from completing the last stage of the exotic weapon quests until after you reach 265 though, because once you’re past that point ways of earning levels get much more limited.

It’s worth making a decision as to how much you actually care about reaching the highest power levels. On the one hand, once you’re tough enough to face the raid there’s little point in making yourself more powerful, other than to make the activities you’ve already done easier. On the other hand, that cycle of continually upgrading your gear is one of the main draws of Destiny.

If you decide you don’t care about the end-endgame, then go ahead and hand those weapon quests in the moment you’re done with them. You can also complete all of the milestone challenges that show up in the top left of the map screen, and collect your rewards from those straight away. Otherwise, wait until you hit 265.

destinyguide4

Those milestones are one of the main ways you’ll gain levels from now on – just look for any reward that’s labelled as ‘powerful gear’. You can also do the raid and the weekly Nightfall strikes, which are much more punishing than the normal ones. Once you reach 300, you can try their ‘Prestige’ versions. All of those activities are designed to be done once a week, so there’s a limit to how much grinding you’ll be doing every evening.

If you’ve got three competitively minded friends, Trials of the Nine is another potential source of endgame loot. The gear that drops after each match is capped at 265, but that doesn’t apply to the rewards you can get for redeeming any tokens you earn.

Lastly, there are treasure maps. You can get five of them from Cayde 6 each week for 4,800 glimmer a pop, which you should consider peanuts by the time you reach the point where you ought to be buying them. Cayde will give you a clue for the location of each crate, and they can contain anything from cosmetics to exotic engrams that can take you all the way up to the level cap.

destinyguide3

Engrams, Mods and Infusions

That’s all the activities, but you should know a few more specifics about how gear works. We’re nearly there, promise! Every piece of gear above the ‘rare’ loot tier will drop as an Engram, which you need to take back to the Cryptarch in the social space for him to decrypt. Engrams have their level determined when you pick them up rather than when you get them decrypted, so it’s worth checking back in on the regs to make sure nothing goes to waste. Remember that faction rewards work differently however, and will keep gaining levels (up to the 265 cap) until you accept them.

When you do decrypt Engrams, there’s no need to make sure you have your best gear equipped – unlike in Destiny 1, the game will automatically work out you maximum possible Power Level and determine the stats of your new gear based on that.

destinyguide6

All that’s left for me to explain are Infusions and Mods. You can infuse gear (as long as it’s at least legendary tier) of the same kind – for weapons that means the specific weapon type, like ‘hand cannons’ – with more powerful gear to match the new item’s power level. That means that if you have, say, a level 270 rocket launcher that you really like and then later on find a level 280 rocket launcher, you can infuse your old launcher with the new one to bump its level up to 280.

That gets slightly more complicated when Mods are thrown into the mix. Legendary Mods add +5 to a weapon’s power level, but that number isn’t taken into account for Infusions. So if a helmet is level 275 with a legendary mod attached, infusing it into a lower level helmet will only increase that helmet’s level to 270. Incidentally, this is also why the level cap is 305 rather than 300.

destinyguide1

And we’re done! I hope all of that speeds up and smooths out your endgame grind. It’s not as harsh as in the first Destiny, though reaching max level still requires a substantial week on week commitment. As a parting piece of advice, remember that journey is far more enjoyable with friends along for the ride – or at least a podcast or two.

20 Comments

Top comments

  1. Zhiroc says:

    There's a lot of details the above leaves out.

    XP is not completely irrelevant after you've leveled all your subclasses--each level (and XP is boosted for the 1st 3 levels per week) earns you a Bright Engram, which is the same thing that Eververse sells for silver (the real-money currency). So, this is how you get the cosmetics, sparrows, and ships for free.

    Also, up until around 260-265 max power(I forget specifically), gear (blue and purple engrams) drops are higher than your max power, but afterwards, they start dropping around 10 below your max power (except for "powerful gear" awards from milestones, and with a minimum of that 260-265). So, once you get to 270-275, you'll start to see dropped gear loot start to rise in power alongside your max power increases again. While you might ask what good is that, it can be useful as you get some high power gear from your "powerful gear" awards that boost your max power. You can often use these to boost up whatever gear is lagging. So, say your max power is 280, and you're getting some 270 blues and purples. Any purple gear you have that's below a 270 base power can get infused up.

    And along with that, you'll want to have a set of gear that you maintain for "max power" calculations with those +5 purple mods, so that your max power is as high as possible--leading to the best power drops particularly from the powerful gear, which is what you depend on to really progress.

    BTW, the infusion system requires legendary shard, which you can only get by dismantling purples (3 per) and exotics (4 per). Unlike D1, the cost of infusion depends on the quality of the gear to be infused. It costs 4 to infuse a purple (or exotic) with a blue, but only 1 if you use a purple. I'm not sure about exotic with exotic, but I have noticed that infusing a legendary with an exotic costs no shards.

    Infusion of weapons only considers the weapon type irregardless of the kinetic vs. energy distinction. So, if you have a solar hand cannon, you can infuse that into a kinetic hand cannon.

    Unlike D1, you cannot infuse armor from a different character class--you used to be able to infuse a Warlock chest into a Titan chest, but no longer.

    There are YouTubers who have produced more detailed guides on how to gear up if progressing to higher power as fast as possible is a goal of yours. Personally, I don't stress over it, but I also look to progress regardless, so knowing the strategies is useful to make efficient use of your effort.
  1. SIDD says:

    “The lovely RPS Clan live here.” … which is already full up.

    The alternative RPS clan lives here:

    link to bungie.net

  2. racccoon says:

    Fair enough.

  3. mrevilboj says:

    If Engram levels are set when you pick them up, is that based on your equipped power level at time of pick up? Or your maximum possible power level at time of pick up?

  4. Zhiroc says:

    There’s a lot of details the above leaves out.

    XP is not completely irrelevant after you’ve leveled all your subclasses–each level (and XP is boosted for the 1st 3 levels per week) earns you a Bright Engram, which is the same thing that Eververse sells for silver (the real-money currency). So, this is how you get the cosmetics, sparrows, and ships for free.

    Also, up until around 260-265 max power(I forget specifically), gear (blue and purple engrams) drops are higher than your max power, but afterwards, they start dropping around 10 below your max power (except for “powerful gear” awards from milestones, and with a minimum of that 260-265). So, once you get to 270-275, you’ll start to see dropped gear loot start to rise in power alongside your max power increases again. While you might ask what good is that, it can be useful as you get some high power gear from your “powerful gear” awards that boost your max power. You can often use these to boost up whatever gear is lagging. So, say your max power is 280, and you’re getting some 270 blues and purples. Any purple gear you have that’s below a 270 base power can get infused up.

    And along with that, you’ll want to have a set of gear that you maintain for “max power” calculations with those +5 purple mods, so that your max power is as high as possible–leading to the best power drops particularly from the powerful gear, which is what you depend on to really progress.

    BTW, the infusion system requires legendary shard, which you can only get by dismantling purples (3 per) and exotics (4 per). Unlike D1, the cost of infusion depends on the quality of the gear to be infused. It costs 4 to infuse a purple (or exotic) with a blue, but only 1 if you use a purple. I’m not sure about exotic with exotic, but I have noticed that infusing a legendary with an exotic costs no shards.

    Infusion of weapons only considers the weapon type irregardless of the kinetic vs. energy distinction. So, if you have a solar hand cannon, you can infuse that into a kinetic hand cannon.

    Unlike D1, you cannot infuse armor from a different character class–you used to be able to infuse a Warlock chest into a Titan chest, but no longer.

    There are YouTubers who have produced more detailed guides on how to gear up if progressing to higher power as fast as possible is a goal of yours. Personally, I don’t stress over it, but I also look to progress regardless, so knowing the strategies is useful to make efficient use of your effort.

    • Chalky says:

      Thanks for that additional write up, this game can be a bit daunting and all this information is very useful!

    • citrusninja says:

      Great followup, I would also like to add a few points about my favorite game mode, returning this Friday: Trials of the Nine. Trials gear can randomly drop at the end of the match, along with tokens which can be turned in at the Trials social space at the Emissary. In the competitive game mode Trials, you have a wins/losses card on your director screen that can hold up to 7 wins but resets every 3 losses. You get an additional powerful (meaning higher than your average light level and higher than 265) trials gear reward at 3, 5, and 7 cumulative wins. There is an additional reward tier at 7 wins flawless (no losses on your card): this unlocks a new social space where you can choose from 1 of 3 flawless armor pieces, which looks like the Trials armor set but has cool blue glowy smoke effects pouring off of it. It also gives you arguably the sickest emblem in the game and a flawless aura around your character’s head that you can equip until the weekly reset. The map will be the same for the whole week and Trials runs from Friday until weekly reset. If you want to watch streamers on twitch, my favorite one currently is realKraftyy.

  5. Kollega says:

    Potentially interesting talking point: does anyone here prefer the Borderlands model of grinding for loot (especially in Borderlands 1) over the Destiny model of grinding for loot?

    To explain the difference in a very easy fashion: unlike Destiny’s MMO-style grinding model, Borderlands functions on a more ARPG-style grinding model. Most of the questing/storyline time in the game is spent actively leveling up (though the game cheats on that by featuring two playthroughs per each character), and the “endgame” stage features max-level enemies and ordinary bosses who you can farm for good drops. For example, in BL1 any of the ordinary enemies can (with some luck) drop a purple-quality, or orange-quality “Legendary” gun (two top tiers of loot in the base game), and the rarer “Super-Badass” versions of normal enemies who sometimes show up can drop super-duper-awesome Pearlescent guns. And there are also “proper” raid bosses with increased drop rates that you can fight however many times you’d like, instead of once a week. All of that basically combines – at least for me – to create a game where I can do loot-grinding in bursts, however briefly or extensively I’d like. And that attracts me far better than “play every day” model; I’m not always in the mood for shoot-and-loot gameplay, and I think having to play every day to get the best gear would quickly get tiring.

    However, that’s my take on the issue. What do other commenters here think? Who prefers the Borderlands’ ARPG-style grind, and who can bring up the good points of Destiny’s MMO-style grind?

    • RuySan says:

      For me nothing good comes from MMO/F2P grind. It’s a cancer on gaming.

      I liked Borderlands, even though i preferred it much more in single player, so i’m not the best person to give my opinion. Enemies in MP were bullet sponges.

      • Kollega says:

        I also like playing Borderlands in SP – because you see, its ARPG gameplay and progression model is actually very, very allowing for take-your-time enjoyment of solo play. The game never hurries you much to meet any requirements, keep up with other players, or get somewhere on time. That’s why I decided to pass on Destiny 2 and just wait for Borderlands 3.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I see somebody went and said what I was trying to suppress in the spirit of a new PC release. Yes, very, very tired of typical MMO endgames, there’s little that was said here that doesn’t apply to World of Warcraft or The Division.

        They just up and integrated typical MMORPG retention mechanics in Destiny 2, along with so many other forms of boring, derivative design risk avoidance.

        But, if I were to say a positive point about it, it’s a very fluid and capable FPS engine made by some of the best in the biz, and it features a better multiplayer event model than the Borderlands series, which largely didn’t have one.

        So, is that worth $60 to you, especially if you already own several Borderlands games and Warframe? It will be if you’re a Blizzard or Bungie fan. For the rest of us… it’s a bit tougher to decide.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      Yeah, must agree, MMO style loot with dailies etc. is horrible compared to standard loot drop models in games that take Diablo as the basic model. Sure, that’s still grind, but it’s grind on my terms and at times convenient to me.

      I can just about tolerate it in The Division, but that’s because I don’t play that to distraction as I have done with other MMOs I’ve played.

      I think the one that finally drove me away from this bullshit and made me realise exactly how exploitative these systems are is Guild Wars 2. That’s when I first really started thinking that governments should start taking a closer look at these systems and how they prey upon addictive personalities.

      • Kollega says:

        “Grind on my terms” is the most succint explanation of what appeals to me in Borderlands (besides the easy-to-explain colorful art direction and gun porn focus). It covers everything: the potential for rocking overpowered builds at max levels after earning them, the ability to bash against tough enemies untill I finally kill them and get through, the ability to play when I want and however much or little I want… and so forth. Mind if I use that term to explain the game’s appeal from now on? :P

    • Chromatose says:

      I’ll say this in Destiny 2’s defense – I’d much rather do challenges with weekly reset limits for top-tier gear than sit on the start menu entering Gearbox shift-codes.

  6. Zealuu says:

    The most important takeaway from Destiny 2’s endgame compared to 1 is that the game demands much less of your time for its rewards. Destiny 1 constantly gave you gear and engrams that inched you slowly forwards, 1 Light Level at a time, which heavily incentivized grinding. Destiny 2, on the other hand, soft caps your possible weekly progress by making it so that only clan rewards and weekly activities reward you guaranteed upgrades. Any time spent playing past that point sees you suffer diminishing returns on time vs rewards, to disincentivize grinding.

    Being a person and sometimes having to do other things, I very much prefer Destiny 2’s endgame logic.

    • Chromatose says:

      The fact that a choice of three of the best weapons in the entire game are available to you about 2/3rds into the campaign was IMO a really good thing too. That in and of itself makes the endgame grind so much more enjoyable and accessible.

  7. Moraven says:

    Got 290+ casually playing over 4 weeks. With 10-20 hours in the raid.

    Easy to get there. Only need 280+ if you plan to do Prestige Nightfall and Raid.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>