Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals boosts the cap to 1,060 power level (PL). That means players will have to redo the grind just to get close to the max. The good thing is that there are means to speed up the process by way of Umbral Engrams focusing and a certain cheese. Here’s our leveling guide to help you out.
Note: For more information about the other activities and content for this season, check out our Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals guides and features hub.
Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals – Leveling guide
Ideally, you should already be familiar with the leveling process for Destiny 2: Shadowkeep and Season of the Worthy since many of the activities and concepts will still apply. Here’s a quick refresher for the terms that will be used throughout this Season of Arrivals leveling guide.
- PL – The abbreviation for “power level.”
- Base power – Your actual power level not counting the bonus from the Seed of Silver Wings seasonal artifact. All drops (and their increases) are dependent on your base power.
- On-level – Refers to drops that are at your base power.
- Soft cap – The current soft cap in Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals is 1,050 PL. You can get to this point from the previous season’s cap (1,000 PL) via powerful gear drops (listed below). However, if you haven’t reached that point yet, then blues/rare drops will still level you up. Afterward, you’ll need to focus on powerful drops from 1,000 to 1,050 PL.
- Hard cap – As mentioned, the maximum level this season is 1,060 PL.
- Powerful drops – These are drops from various activity completions that’ll provide you with +4 base power until you reach the 1,050 PL soft cap. Once you reach this point, powerful drops will become on-level.
- Pinnacle drops – These rewards are the only means of going from the soft cap to the hard cap. These will always be +2 of your base power unless otherwise noted.
Focus on the following from 1,000 to 1,050 PL:
- 8x bounties completed for Zavala, Shaxx, and Banshee
- Planetary Flashpoint
- Prime engrams
- Completed tallies for Nightfall Ordeals (3x) and Nightmare Hunts (3x)
- Crucible valor, Crucible glory, and Gambit infamy rank-ups
- 4x Crucible rotator playlist match completions
- Lunar Recall weekly mission on the Moon
- Luna’s Calling weekly quest from Eris Morn
- Hawthorne’s weekly clan exp reward
- Trials of Osiris – Your third and fifth wins net you powerful drops.
- Pit of Heresy dungeon – The Necropolis and Chamber of Suffering encounters net you powerful drops.
- (NEW) The Prophecy dungeon – The first two encounters (Phalanx Echo and Hexahedron) provide powerful gear.
Focus on the following from 1,050 to 1,060 PL. All pinnacle drops will be +2 PL once you reach the 1,050 soft cap unless stated otherwise:
- 3x Weekly Vanguard strikes – Your subclass must match the element for the week; +1 only instead of +2.
- 3x Gambit matches or 3x Gambit Prime matches – +1 only instead of +2.
- 4x Crucible core playlist match completions – +1 only instead of +2.
- Hawthorne’s weekly clan engram – +1 only instead of +2.
- Pit of Heresy dungeon – Only from the final encounter; fully-masterworked Dreambane armor.
- Garden of Salvation raid rewards – Four encounters and one weekly raid challenge.
- Weekly Nightfall Ordeal 100,000 score – Legend difficulty now has 1,050 PL enemies and Master difficulty has 1,080 PL mobs. Grandmaster Nightfall Ordeal won’t go live until July 21.
- Master Nightmare Hunt completions – Master difficulty now has 1,080 PL enemies.
- Iron Banner bounties – There will be four of these throughout the week when the Iron Banner is live.
- Trials of Osiris – Your seventh win and getting Flawless both net you a pinnacle drop; if you have a “Passage of Confidence” active, you’ll earn extra rewards, but these are neither powerful nor pinnacles.
- (NEW) Interference weekly quest – This weekly quest where you help out Eris Morn provides pinnacle gear.
- (NEW) The Prophecy dungeon – The final boss (Kell Echo) provides a pinnacle drop once you kill it; the chest at the end provides non-powerful rewards.
Umbral Engrams and cheesing to high power levels
The above are the sources of powerful and pinnacle drops, and we’ll likely see more as Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals gets additional content (such as the Moments of Triumph and Solstice of Heroes). However, there’s an important system to take note of, one that can help boost you to the 1,050 PL soft cap easily — the Umbral Engrams and the Prismatic Recaster.
First off, you’ll want to be familiar with the Prismatic Recaster upgrades already. Next, it’s time to understand how to min-max effectively with your Destiny 2 characters by using the Umbral Engrams leveling cheese.
The Umbral Engrams leveling cheese requires the following:
- Unlocking the “Umbral Mastery I” perk.
- Choosing the Armor-focused Umbral Engram selection.
Normally, the mechanic only lets you get up to three powerful drops each week when you decrypt your Umbral Engrams. However, the cheese lets you net +4 PL items until you reach the soft cap as long as you’re using the Armor-focused selection.
The cheese won’t work 100% of the time, but it still has a very high success rate. Just make sure to have a lot of Umbral Engrams and Altered Elements (from farming Nightmare Hunt: Rage) to continue focusing on the rewards you want to get.
Since you’re getting +4 PL armors, you should be able to get quick boosts for your characters. Just remember that these are only powerful drops, so they’ll max out at 1,050 PL. Once you’re at the soft cap, you’ll only get on-level rewards.
Again, this only works for armors. Now, if you do need a weapon, you could pick the Pyramid-focused Umbral Engram. It won’t give you +4 drops, but it does provide weapons when decrypted. An example would be the Temptation’s Hook sword (which is invaluable if you need a better heavy weapon).
Update: The Umbral Engrams power level glitch has been fixed. Now, you’re only limited to three powerful drops each week whenever you decrypt a focused Umbral Engram. Hopefully, you were able to make the most out of this leveling cheese. You can check out Bungie’s tweet below:
Reaching the 1,050 and 1,060 power caps on your alts
Assuming you’ve already done everything on your main/first character, you’d want to switch to your alts. The basic concepts still apply such as switching over your highest PL weapons. You should also exchange Vanguard tokens with Zavala since his engrams, at least for the first week of Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals, are “on-level.” These will help increase your alt’s power level if you get the necessary armors to drop.
Likewise, don’t forget to pick up the rewards from the premium pass. These give you a full seasonal armor set that’s “on-level” as well. Later, consider picking up individual armor pieces from the season tab if in case you can’t get the drop that you want.
In the end, though, I was able to rely on the Umbral Engrams cheese to get higher PL armors. I reached Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals‘ 1,050 PL soft cap on my third character thanks to the cheese. After that, I decided to do pinnacle activities for rewards that will slowly bring me closer to the 1,060 PL hard cap.
Eventually, I managed to reach the following base power levels on my characters at the end of the first week:
- Titan = 1,052 PL
- Hunter = 1,051 PL
- Warlock = 1,050 PL
Reaching the soft cap means that I need only focus on pinnacle activities from week 2 onwards. Now, if I can just figure out how to stop getting energy weapons, that’d be great.
Week 2 update
The Umbral Engrams cheese might’ve gotten fixed, but you won’t get +4 PL drops anyway once you hit the 1,050 PL soft cap. At the moment, my characters are at the following base power levels:
- Warlock = 1,058 PL
- Hunter = 1,057 PL
- Titan = 1,056 PL
As you can see, it’s the opposite of how I ended last week since I used my highest leveled character first to get better gear for my alts. My Warlock is now 1,058 PL which means I’m getting 1,060 PL (hard cap) drops.
Moving forward, your goal once you reach 1,058 PL is to focus on the pinnacle activities that give you +2 (to reach the 1,060 hard cap). If you want to do the playlist pinnacle activities (ie. 3x Vanguard strikes), try to reach 1,059 first so that their +1 rewards will still give you 1,060 gear.
Week 3 update
I was able to hit the 1,060 power level hard cap on my Warlock during Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals‘ third week:
Given that the Prismatic Recaster’s Umbral Engrams focusing mechanic gives on-level drops, I’m able to get items that are also at the 1,060 PL hard cap. Now is a good time to collect some infusion fodder.