Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (2024)

Leveling your gear and increasing your Power level is an important part of Destiny 2, but it’s also very confusing.

This page breaks down everything you should know about increasing your Power level, from how gear drops work, the various Soft, Powerful, and Pinnacle sources, and their respective max Power level caps.

How Power level and gear drops work in Destiny 2

Power level in Destiny 2 is a numerical value that determines how much damage you take and deal to your foes — the higher the level, the more damage you deal and the less you receive. Outside of dictating how much damage you deal, know that activities in the game will have a set Power level and you’ll be more effective when you’re close to or exceeding that level.

Players and enemies each have a Power level and they get compared together. Your overall Power level comes from averaging the Power level of your gear, plus any additional levels from your seasonal artifact.

When it comes to gear, Destiny 2 staggers your progress with different Power level caps: the soft cap, the Powerful cap, and the Pinnacle cap. Each of those caps represents a point at which certain types of drops will no longer increase your Power level, and so you have to shift your priorities each week in order to continue increasing your level.

Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (1) Image: Bungie via Polygon

Additionally, a seasonal artifact level is added on top of your gear's average Power level. This is how you are able to get to a higher level than the Pinnacle or Max cap. You gain artifact levels by playing throughout a season and gaining XP. However, unlike your gear level, your artifact level resets at the end of season. (If you’re looking to gain XP fast, it’s best to farm bounties or Seasonal Challenges, as they provide some of the quickest and easiest XP in the game.)

A change from The Final Shape onwards is the Adjusted Power feature when playing in a Fireteam. When in a party, players will automatically have their power increased to five Power below the player with the highest level — allowing them to join in on endgame activities (such as the raid) without grinding to the required activity level themselves. But even if your Power is adjusted under the Power Leader feature, you’ll still earn drops according to your normal Power level.

Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (2) Image: Bungie

Finally, for players with multiple characters, another change starting with The Final Shape is Power drop values are now account wide, meaning if you switch to a lower Power character, any new loot will match that of your most powerful character. As a result, Power Boosts (designed to help lower Power characters skip through the grind) are not longer available.

Max level caps in Destiny 2

There are three level caps in Destiny 2: the soft cap, the Powerful cap, and the Pinnacle cap. For The Final Shape, those caps are:

  • Starting power: 1900
  • Soft cap: 1940
  • Powerful cap: 1990
  • Pinnacle cap: 2000

We’ll break down each cap below.

How to reach the soft cap in Destiny 2

The soft cap for Destiny 2 is 1940. What does “soft cap” mean? It means that up until you reach 1940 Power level, pretty much anything and everything can give you a Power level increase. This can be blue drops from the ground or activity rewards; anything that drops for you will be a few Power above your current Power level. Once you reach the soft cap, you’ll no longer get blue drops.

The best way to reach the soft cap is to simply play the game, as regardless of activity, you’ll receive gear up to that Power level regularly.

Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (3) Image: Bungie

If you want to get past the soft cap quickly, and you are just starting The Final Shape, then it’s worth considering playing the Legendary campaign, which will give you fixed gear at 20 Power above the soft cap upon completion (1960). This is a challenge, however, especially for new players — so consider playing other activities instead while you familiarize yourself with the game.

How to reach the Powerful gear cap in Destiny 2

The Powerful cap for Destiny 2 is 1990, meaning that between 1940 and 1990, the only way to increase your Power level is to get a reward from activities that grant Powerful or Pinnacle gear.

Starting with The Final Shape, the range of Powerful gear sources has expanded to most activities in the game — with the aim to “help players gradually reach the Powerful Cap no matter what activities they choose to play”, even if they are not tied to the weekly reset, according to Bungie.

Examples of activities and sources with Powerful gear drops include:

  • Completing eight vendor bounties for Banshee-44
  • Weekly Nightfall challenge
  • Complete three Strikes
  • Three Crucible matches
  • Three Crucible Labs matches
  • Three Gambit matches
  • Gambit, Vanguard, Crucible, and Banshee rank rewards
  • Give out five Commendations
  • Three Dares of Eternity runs
  • Prime and Exotic Engrams, which drop at random

If you are trying to be as optimal as possible, you’ll want to save all of your powerful rewards until after you get to 1990. Though Powerful loot drops are no longer as limited per week as they once were, you don’t want to waste Powerful or Pinnacle drops when you can still get levels from unrestricted rewards.

How to reach the Pinnacle / Max Power cap in Destiny 2

Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (4) Image: Bungie

The Pinnacle cap for Destiny 2 is 2000, meaning that between 1900 and 2000, the only way to increase your Power level is to get Pinnacle rewards. Similar to Powerful rewards, if you are trying to maximize the effectiveness of the Pinnacle rewards, you won’t want to collect them until after you have reached Power 1990, as these loot drops are limited per week.

Activities with Pinnacle gear drops include:

  • Complete eight bounties for activity vendors: Lord Shaxx, Commander Zavala, and Drifter
  • 200,000 Nightfall score across the week
  • Complete the Exotic rotator mission twice
  • Salvation’s Edge, the latest raid (from release on Friday, June 7)
  • Warlord’s Ruin, the latest dungeon
  • 250,000 score on Dares of Eternity
  • Iron Banner Challenges (when the event is active)
  • Final encounter of the raid and dungeon highlighted in the weekly rotation

It’s worth mentioning that there’s no point in saving Pinnacles if you’re not going to reach 1990 on that character by the end of the week. We recommend just doing all Powerful rewards on a character first, and then tackling Pinnacle activities.

When is the best time to open Engrams in Destiny 2?

Until you hit the Powerful cap, you should turn in Prime Engrams immediately after you pick them up. These are considered +1 Powerful rewards from when they drop, meaning their Power does not increase as your Power level does. If you continue to level up without turning the Prime Engram in, you’ll essentially waste it. If you’re struggling in the raid and you get a Prime Engram, it’s always worth taking a quick Tower break to decrypt it.

Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (5) Image: Bungie

Destiny 2 also uses a slot leveling system, meaning that gear drops per slot and is based on your current average Power level. A sticking point of this system is that some of your gear slots may fall behind. For example, your overall level could be 1725 while your Hunter’s Cloak could be stuck at 1720 and your helmet is at 1728.

To make the most of your Powerful and Pinnacle drops, try to keep your items within a few Power levels of each other, which can be done by collecting items that drop ‘at Power’. ‘At Power’ means the gear drops at your current average Power level, which can help bring up some pieces that fall behind (bringing your Cloak up to 1725 and raising your overall average without using a weekly Powerful or Pinnacle reward drop). This can increase your overall Power level and make those Powerful and Pinnacles more impactful.

If you don’t even out your armor, a Pinnacle or Powerful might drop a +2 power helmet, which would be a waste since it’s already your best slot. Many playlist activities — Strikes, Gambit, Crucible — will drop items “at Power,” so keep an eye out for any gear that’s lagging behind.

How to reach the Pinnacle cap quickly in Destiny 2

For those looking to level as fast as possible — for a raid or other end-game activities — the process is much simpler in The Final Shape.

First, run the Legendary campaign and complete any and all activities to hit 1960 as quickly as possible. Then, collect powerful rewards from activities of your choosing until you reach 1965. At that point, you’ll be at the maximum level for the Contest Mode of the Salvation’s Edge raid and your grind is finished.

  1. Polygon
  2. Destiny 2 guides
  3. The Final Shape Exotics
  4. Power level guide
  5. Charge Transcendence
  6. How to enhance weapons
Destiny 2 power level guide, all caps and Powerful and Pinnacle gear sources explained (2024)
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