Destiny 2: Shadowkeep brings new challenges as Guardians face off against the Nightmares of the Hive and Vex invaders on the moon. As such, you’ll need to be in tip-top shape. You can do that by hitting 900+ power level (PL) in less than an hour or so. Be forewarned, however, that this will be very costly in terms of resources.
Note 1: Also, although Destiny 2: Shadowkeep does have a hard level cap of 960 power, this can be offset through the Artifact progression system. Your Gate’s Lord Artifact (obtained at Season Rank 7) adds bonus power whenever it gains enough experience points.
Note 2: For everything there is to know about Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, you can check out our nifty guides and features hub.
Update: There’s a recently discovered leveling exploit/glitch that immensely benefits your Titan. To learn more, check out our mini-guide.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep – Reaching the 900 power level soft cap
900 power level is the first soft cap you’ll hit while you’re playing Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. Take note that I mentioned Shadowkeep and not just the free-to-play version (New Light). That one’s for beginners just dipping their feet in Destiny 2.
In order to level up fast this time around, you’ll need to have put in some time and effort during the past year or so. That’s because we’ll be using a lot of resources — legendary shards, planetary materials (dusklight shards), and vendor tokens.
First, head over to Spider in the Tangled Shore. Spider sells planetary materials (five materials for one legendary shard). If he’s selling dusklight shards (the EDZ material), make sure to grab several thousands of these. As much as possible, don’t use those dusklight shards just yet. I’ll explain why later. Instead, you can use the materials for the other planet vendor NPCs (like Asher Mir on Io or Failsafe on Nessus).
Note: From 750 to 900 PL, vendor items will provide a +3 PL incremental boost. It’s all up to RNG what items you’d get, though. The good thing is that going for 750 to 900 PL should be a breeze, and you can save your powerful drops for later once you do reach that “hump.”
Tokens, Materials, Shards
In case you don’t have enough legendary shards (or planetary materials), you can opt to use your vendor tokens instead. These are of no use now in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, so you might as well spend some of them.
You can spend these tokens in exchange for gear pieces from Zavala, Shaxx, or Benedict in the Tower. Benedict, in particular, seems to like giving you Leviathan armor pieces.
My Hunter was around 880 PL when I decided not to spend any more shards or materials, so I ended up checking my vault. Little did I know that I stored some tokens for a rainy day.
I went over to Zavala at the Tower and spent around 1,500 Vanguard tokens. It took a while, but I hit 900 PL on my Hunter.
I still have some older legendaries and shaders which I forgot to dismantle, so I’ll get to do that soon enough. Go ahead and dismantle the low-PL legendaries you obtained. You’ll get a small number of legendary shards back, along with the occasional enhancement core or mod component.
The Alternative Leveling Method: Farming the Trove Guardian
If you don’t have the resources to exchange for gear, you can just play the game normally. Every regular activity where you get a world drop, even blues, will usually have an item that’s +6 to +10 of your current power level no matter the destination. Do remember that world drops (blues) will be capped at 900 PL once you reach that threshold.
If you want to, you can farm the Trove Guardian instead. This uniquely named Hive knight can be found in the Anchor of Light zone on the moon.
What makes this fella special is that killing him will spawn several Ascendant platforms. These are like the ones you saw in the Dreaming City in Destiny 2: Forsaken. Don’t worry, though, because you won’t need a Tincture of Queensfoil to see them.
Simply hop on the floating platforms and get all the way to the end. You’ll spot a secret chest which provides a rare/blue item. Unlike items obtained from vendor turn-ins, world drops will usually be +6 to +10. Of course, RNG will come into play so you’ll never know what you’ll get.
When you’re done with the chest, just fast travel back to Eris’ spot in Sanctuary and drive your sparrow back to the Anchor of Light. Kill the Trove Guardian again. Lather, rinse, and repeat until you reach 900 power level.
Getting past 900+ PL – The Powerful Gear Tier System
Once you hit 900 PL, that’s when the progression system opens up. The new powerful gear tier system will come into play. Also, the old weekly challenges (such as completing several Gambit Prime matches) will now provide powerful drops using the tier system. The higher the tier, the higher the power of the reward.
Tier 1 drops (+3 of your base power level):
- Zavala’s weekly – 8x Vanguard bounties completed
- Shaxx’s weekly – 8x Crucible bounties completed
- Banshee’s weekly – 8x Gunsmith bounties completed
- Drifter’s weekly – 8x Gambit/Gambit Prime bounties completed
- Flashpoint completion on planet
- 3x Vanguard strikes completed; subclass must match weekly elemental burn
- 5x Weekly Nightfall completed – only on the Adept (lowest) difficulty; grants more progress the higher the difficulty mode
- 4x Crucible core matches completed (ie. Control/Survival Comp)
- 4x Crucible rotator/rotating playlist matches completed (ie. Clash)
- Each Crucible and Gambit rank up will provide tier 1 powerful gear
- 3x Nightmare Hunts (only after you’ve completed Destiny 2: Shadowkeep’s campaign)
- Lunar Recall – a weekly mission you can replay via the moon’s map (only after you’ve completed Destiny 2: Shadowkeep‘s campaign)
- Memory Pursuit – a weekly mission from Eris relating to the specters of fireteam members she had lost (only after you’ve completed Destiny 2: Shadowkeep‘s campaign); refer to our Deathbringer exotic rocket launcher guide for more info about the first steps
- Vex Offensive activity – first completion via the introductory quest chain (Eyes on the Moon)
Tier 2 drops (+4 of your base power level):
- Hawthorne’s weekly clan exp reward
- 3x Gambit or Gambit Prime matches completed
- Vex Invasions public event – killing Overlord spawns have a chance to grant tier 2 powerful drops; refer to our mini-guide
- Vex Offensive activity – each completion for normal mode grants 1/3 towards progress
Tier 3 drops (+5 of your base power level):
- Ikora weekly (An Arm and a Leg) – just keep killing Vex to earn components
- The Haunted Forest (Festival of the Lost) – kill 25 Terrors
- Pit of Heresy dungeon – all encounters except for the final boss which has a pinnacle reward
Note 1: Once you reach 900 PL, world drops and vendor items will be capped at the same level. This is a “hump” you’ll need to get past. Do a couple of tier 1 weekly challenges (or decrypt Prime Engrams) to get some extra boosts.
Note 2: Once you get past the 900 PL soft cap, a majority of world drops and vendor gear will now be below your character’s base power, although there’d be a few that are on par with your level. If you’re at 903 PL, then blues and vendor gear will be around 901 to 902 PL with the occasional 903.
Note 3: All previous challenges from Forsaken/Year 2 that used to give powerful gear (ie. Ada-1’s forge weapon frame completions, Werner 99-40 bounties) will now just drop legendary gear that’s on par with your level or below it. Daily challenges that used to provide powerful drops are now gone.
The above, along with Prime Engrams, will be your means of increasing your power level from 900 to 950 in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. They will not benefit you past that point. In order to reach the 960 power base cap though, you’d have to earn “pinnacle gear” from various activities.
Pinnacle gear no longer means those old pinnacle weapons from lengthy grinding. Instead, they’re high-power drops that can get you past that final hump to reach 960. They’re only obtainable from the toughest activities in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep.
Pinnacle gear drops (+5 or higher/gets you past 950 PL):
- Weekly Nightfall 100,000 score
- Garden of Salvation raid rewards
- Master Nightmare Hunt completion
- Iron Banner bounties (4-6 each week)
- The Haunted Forest (Festival of the Lost) – clearing the 9th branch
- Pit of Heresy dungeon – only from the final encounter; high chance of being a fully-masterworked item
The Gate Lord’s Eye Artifact
The Gate Lord’s Eye Artifact will boost your power level once you obtain it. You can find it in the Season panel in your menu once you hit Season Rank 7. Each time you level up via bounties and other activities that give experience points, the Artifact also gains that exp. Mouse over it and you’ll see when it’s about to gain an extra power boost. You can continue to gain extra power as you keep leveling it up, making the idea of a “hard cap” moot.
This power boost will be added on top of your current PL based on the items that you have equipped. So, just keep playing and grinding and you’d have another means of increasing your power level in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep.
Also, remember to calculate what your base power is compared to what’s shown on your character screen. For instance, if you have 915 power but +5 of that comes from your Gate Lord’s Eye Artifact, then it means your base power is 910. Ergo, your tier 1 powerful drops will be 928 PL. Meanwhile, some blue world drops or non-powerful legendaries will be around 908 to 910 PL.
Devrim and Banshee are awesome
Let’s use the previous example:
- 910 power shown on your character screen
- 5 power boost from your Artifact
- 905 base power = remember this
So, world drops and vendors are just mostly dropping items below 905, right? Well, there’s one exception to that rule: Devrim Kay.
Devrim, unlike other vendors in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, will drop gear that’s on par with your base power. If your base power is 905, then his items will be 905. All you need are a lot of dusklight shards (or EDZ tokens) and a bit of luck.
Note: A theory that’s making the rounds why Devrim’s vendor items are like this is because this week’s flashpoint is on the EDZ. We don’t know what the flashpoint destination for next week would be. At the very least, try to have a lot of planetary materials from various locations just to prepare for any eventuality.
Alternatively, you can also pull items from your Season Rank tab. These items will be on par with your base power, although you can only get each reward once per character. Use these to bring up whatever gear slot is lagging behind.
The Gunsmith Banshee also acts like Devrim in a way. When you obtain engrams, they’d be at your base power level although you can only get weapons from him.
Leveling your alts in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep?
In the case of your Destiny 2: Shadowkeep alts, do the usual process:
- Transfer your 900 power level weapons to your other characters.
- Your alts will likely have 750 PL armor anyway, so check your Collections tab.
- Go to Collections -> Armor -> Leveling and pick up gear for various armor slots. Watch as your power level slowly climbs up. Keep buying leveling gear from your collections until your power no longer increases.
- After that, use your extra tokens or planetary materials to get incremental power level increases until you hit 900 PL and beyond.
- Also, since the Gate Lord’s Eye Artifact is account-bound, you’ll get the power bonus on your alt already.
My Hunter reached 918 power after having done all the activities that rewarded powerful gear. I ended up switching to my Warlock to start grabbing extra stuff from the Collections tab. I bought some extra items from vendors. Now, I’m at 911 power before I even started Destiny 2: Shadowkeep‘s campaign.
All the activities that can drop powerful gear were still available for me. The only downside was that the entire campaign (except for the final reward) wouldn’t provide a single powerful drop. All Dreambane items obtained as you go through Destiny 2: Shadowkeep‘s missions were all at a set power level.
End of Week 1 Update
The first week of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep leveling is in the books. I guess you could say this was a productive week when it comes to power level progression.
That does it for our Destiny 2: Shadowkeep leveling guide. We hope this helps you reach 900 power level quickly. You can definitely breeze through the story and start the grind to be ready for the endgame. Remember, there’s also an exploit that lets you boost your Titan’s power level as much as possible before starting your progression with it. Check out our mini-guide for that.
Destiny 2‘s free-to-play version and the Shadowkeep expansion are available on Steam. You can check it out via its Steam store page. Don’t forget, we also have our Destiny 2: Shadowkeep guides and features hub to help you out with other concerns.