Chances are, you’ve heard a Destiny evangelist go off on a long tirade about how, ‘The real Destiny 2 doesn’t start until you hit level 20!’ Truth is, the tired, confused person is correct this time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to do and enjoy before hitting level 20, but Bungie’s excellent combat is best accompanied by a steady stream of rewards and access to the best stuff Destiny 2 has to offer, like raids and Nightfall Strikes.
However, with a leveling system based on the power of your gear rather than the slow accumulation of experience points, the route to the endgame content can be difficult to navigate. There’s no need to get frustrated though. Keep a few things in mind and you’ll sprint to the finish, bogged down with more high level gear than you can handle.
Sprinting through character levels 1-20
Join a clan
Clans aren’t just a good idea for leveling, they’re a near necessity for the entirety of Destiny 2. If anyone in a fireteam consisting of at least two clan members finishes the Nightfall Strike, a raid, plays enough crucible matches, or gets a seven-ticket win in Trials of the Nine, then everyone gets a legendary engram for each activity. Further, for contributing your weekly allowance of experience to your clan, you get a luminous engram. And as your clan levels up, you’ll hit tiers that unlock reward buffs for everyday activities like public events or killing Cabal. Join a cult, ASAP.
If you haven’t played the campaign before, do that
The mission requirements aren’t hard to meet, and on your way to and fro, you’re likely to accomplish enough to hit 20 naturally. It’s a good campaign anyway, one that echoes the best Halo games with big dumb bads and huge combat arenas filled with enemies going at one another (and you). And if you don’t hit 20 by the end, talking to the final NPC will boost you there anyway. The whole 1 to 20 thing is just a fun farce, a gradual ramp for new players to feel out what Destiny 2 is, bit by bit.
Public events are the easiest way to hit level 20
But if you want to put the campaign on the backburner, public events are the way to go. They’re easy to access and their times stagger enough across a given zone so that you can likely warp to one after another. Completing them rewards EXP, a planetary token, and a random chance at items and engrams.
Heroic public events are even better
Public events all have unspoken conditions that, if met, transform the public event into a heroic public event. You’d likely wager that means a greater challenge and greater rewards, which is right on the money. More powerful enemies will spawn, which means more experience overall. I hung out on Nessus doing public events for an hour or two, starting at level 10 and ending at the cap. Made the rest of the campaign a breeze.
Recklessly buy gear with glimmer
Destiny 2’s trash currency, glimmer drops from every enemy you kill as well as most chests. You’re going to get a lot of the stuff and chances are you hit the cap quickly. So don’t sit on it, throw it at vendors for gear with even the smallest power level advantages over what you have. Legendary engrams spawn with a set power level based on your current level, so you’ll want to keep nudging your power level up, regardless of where you’re at between level 1 and 20.
Hitting power level 280 and beyond
Pop Fireteam Medallions
As you earn bright engrams, you’ll collect bright dust from redeeming them with Tess at the Eververse shop. Either inside your bright engrams or by using the bright dust currency, you can get Fireteam Medallions, consumable items that increase experience gains and loot drop chances during public events, crucible matches, and strikes. Better yet, they work for your entire fireteam and you can stack their effects up to two times. Coordinate to pop two with a friend if you can, then head planetside.
Clean out region chests and do public events and patrols in tandem
While cleaning out an area’s region chests and with an active Fireteam Medallion, do public events and patrols as they crop up in your area—and if they make sense. Stick to the patrol missions that require you to gather materials from killing a certain enemy around 10 times. Other patrols require you to go somewhere else to complete them.
After an hour of cleaning out Nessus’ region chests, doing patrols and public events all the while, I ended up with something like 70 tokens to turn into FailSafe. I wouldn’t advise blowing them all at once unless the vendor engrams are dropping at a power level higher or equal to your own.
Some events only grant you a milestone reward once a week for completion, but by running multiple characters you can drop off high power level items in your storage box and swap them to lower level characters to catch them up quickly. Once every character is in the same power level ballpark, it’s possible to run events like the Nightfall Strike or raid three times a week for a milestone reward. You won’t get armor drops for the Titan as a Hunter, and so on, but it’s possible to swap weapons and mods between characters as necessary. If you’re especially dedicated, running three characters of the same class means sharing gear between them will shoot you to the power level cap. That just sounds too boring for me.
Delay popping your luminous engrams as long as possible
All engrams, with the exception of luminous engrams, have a soft cap. This means that once you cross an invisible power level threshold, legendary engrams will only produce items . It’s possible to receive an item with a 270 power level, but that’s only because it happened to roll a +5 mod too. It doesn’t happen often, making it an unreliable method for leveling.
But luminous engrams power level scales with your own, meaning the later you receive them by turning in quests at the NPCs they’re tied to, the better potential for item drops that will nudge your power level upwards.
Craft mods like a prepper
Once you hit power level 280, you can start crafting mods. Chances are, you’ve accumulated a pile by now and (hopefully) you haven’t used them all. Hit up Banshee-44 and craft every legendary mod you possibly can. Most take three of the same mod to create, so if you need another, drop some glitter on generating a few mods at random—you might just get what you’re looking for.
Legendary mods are an easy booster because they all give whatever gear they’re slotted into +5 to their power level. Equip your best gear, slot legendary mods in wherever you can, but pay attention to what’s going where. If you’re trying to run a specific subclass, you’ll want to equip mods that buff it’s abilities. But if you can’t be as selective, don’t sweat it. More mods will come. The priority now is getting your power level as high as possible to make luminous engrams match. Using this method, I went from 280 to 287 in a matter of minutes.