A guide to Destiny 2's endgame
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.