How Destiny 2 Power Level works


Shawn Farner

Writer and Storywriter


So you’re new to the world of Destiny, and you want to know how Destiny 2 Power Level works. That’s great! It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that Power Level is immensely important. It is the barrier between content you can complete more easily and content that has you dying at a stupendously fast rate.

How Destiny 2 Power Level works

The subject of Powel Level is surprisingly complex, however, so the whole thing requires a bit of a guide to truly understand. Because Destiny 2 is essentially a first-person shooter mashed together with an MMORPG, there are lots of tiny bits and bobs that the game doesn’t explain very well. Today, we’re going to look at all of those and how they tie into your Power Level.

From there, we’ll talk about how you can increase your Powel Level so you can take on more challenging activities.

How to see your Powel Level

Before we get into the intricacies of how Destiny 2 Powel Level works, it would help if you knew how to see it. That screenshot above up in the header? That’s the character screen, and the number I’m hovering over there is my Power Level.

As you can see, the Power Level is actually the result of two numbers: there’s a number for Gear, and then another number that says “Bonus.” (More on those later.)

Using that total Power Level number, you can get a sense of how ready you are to enter certain activities. If there’s a Raid that has a recommended Power Level higher than the one you currently have, for instance, the enemies within will be more powerful than you. You’ll take a lot more damage than if you were even with or above the Power Level an activity recommends.

How the Gear number is calculated

The Gear part of your Powel Level number is an average of all the combined Power Levels of the weapons and armor you have equipped. So if every item you have equipped is sitting at a 1310 Power Level, your Gear score will also be 1310. If you have a mishmash of different Power Levels, all of those will be added up and then divided by eight (the number of items with a Power Level you can equip).

How the Bonus is calculated

As mentioned earlier, the Bonus comes from the Seasonal Artifact you get at the start of each Season. Earning XP throughout the Season will gradually tick that number up. In the image above, I’m at a +8 Bonus for the season, which means the game is taking my Gear score, then adding 8 Power Level points to it. Under “Next Power Bonus” in the image, you can see how close I am to getting my next Bonus point, which will turn that +8 into a +9.

How to increase your Powel Level

The next part of understanding how Destiny 2 Power Level works is knowing how to increase it. There are a few paths toward increasing Power Level, but they all require the same thing in the end: running activities that give you more powerful items.

To start, you need to know about the soft cap. This is the line in Destiny 2 where most drops stop increasing your Power Level unless they are “Pinnacle Rewards.” In Season of the Splicer, the soft cap is 1310. So if the “Gear” part of your Power Level hits that point, you need to start doing Pinnacle Activities to push it up to the hard cap for Season of the Splicer, which is 1320.

how Destiny 2 Power Level works Vault of Glass

If you’re below 1310, however, you have more activities to choose from in terms of increasing your Power Level. Anything that drops a “Powerful” Tier reward will help you, right up until the point your Gear score is at 1310. After that, anything dropping Powerful rewards will simply give you something at your current Power Level.

Here is a list of some activities and the “Tier” of drop they’ll give you:

  • Completing Vendor Bounties in the Tower (Powerful Gear)
  • Completing 3 Battlegrounds activities (Powerful Gear)
  • Completing weekly Nightfall Strikes (Powerful Gear)
  • Completing a Nightfall Strike with a score of 100,000 (Pinnacle Gear)
  • Completing 3 Crucible matches in a week (Pinnacle Gear)
  • Completing 3 Strikes in the Vanguard Playlist in a week (Pinnacle Gear)
  • Completing 3 Gambit matches in a week (Pinnacle Gear)
  • Completing the Prophecy Dungeon (Pinnacle Gear)
  • Rewards from Vault of Glass Raid encounters (Pinnacle Gear)

It is important to note that new weapon and armor drops will use your average Gear score to determine the Power Level of the reward item. The Bonus will not play a role here.

Another thing you should know: Destiny 2 is smart enough to base your drops on all of your equippable Gear, including items you have in the Vault. That means you don’t need to have your best items on your character in order to get the most out of Powerful or Pinnacle rewards you receive.

Once you have more powerful items handy, you can either equip it on your character in order to increase your Power Level that way, or you can learn another facet of how Destiny 2 Power Level works: “Infusion.” What’s Infusion, you ask? It’s the act of transferring the Power Level of one item into another.

As you can see above, I have an Accrued Redemption Bow that is at a 1310 Power Level. In that same slot, I have a Witherhoard with a higher Power Level. If I wanted to dismantle the Witherhoard and “infuse” its power into my Accrued Redemption, I could do that and my Bow would suddenly be sitting at a Power Level of 1313 (which is what the Witherhoard had previously).

In order to infuse one item into another, you’ll need an item called an Upgrade Module. You can purchase these from the Gunsmith in the Tower. They also drop as Season Pass rewards, and as rewards from other activities.

The Bonus negates the need for Pinnacles… to a point

Now, there’s one thing you really need to know about the Pinnacle Rewards chase in Destiny 2. You know that Bonus we were talking about earlier? The one connected to the Seasonal Artifact? The number of Bonus points you can get from that is unlimited — only held down by how much XP you choose to earn. With that in mind, you can actually push your Power Level up past 1310, and even 1320, by earning more Bonus Power Level points on the Artifact.

Hence, you don’t really need to chase Pinnacle Rewards for most activities. If you keep pumping that Bonus up, you’ll have all the Power Level you need to do most things.

how Destiny 2 Power Level works Trials of Osiris

There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. If you see anything that says “Level Advantages Enabled,” your Bonus will not save you.

Right now, two PvP activities — Trials of Osiris and Iron Banner — will strip away your Bonus Power Level points and leave you only with your Gear score. So if you plan to be competitive in these modes, you’ll still want to go after Pinnacle rewards and increase the Power Level of your weapons and armor. But if you don’t give a flying hoot about PvP, Pinnacle drops actually aren’t that important.

And now you know how Destiny 2 Power Level works

And there you have it! That’s a rundown of Destiny 2‘s Power Level system. Now that you (hopefully) have a better understanding of the ins and outs, you should have everything you need to chase better rewards, increase your Power Level, and take part in more difficult Destiny 2 activities. Good luck to you.

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