Destiny Endgame Detailed Guide

Destiny Endgame Detailed Guide by Debo37

“The natural state of Destiny without its endgame is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” – Thomas Hobbes

Congratulations, Guardian. You’ve reached Level 20, beaten Destiny’s story, and now you quite possibly have no idea what the hell to spend your time doing. Maybe you have some idea of what to do, but if your goal is to reach the maximum level possible in the game, odds are this guide will teach you a trick or two.

No matter where you are in your journey towards the level cap, the goal of this guide is to help you get there. If you’re already a good way towards the cap, you can skip to the appropriate level section – but you may miss out on tips included in the previous sections, so I would advise against it. I’ve broken this guide into three sections, based on the three major phases of endgame grinding you will progress through en route to the level cap. These level phases are somewhat arbitrary, as one can easily bleed into the next, but I think the general grind strategies are distinct. I’ve also included a comment with an explanation of terminology and mechanics – it didn’t fit in the post because of the 15k character limit.

  • Level 20-24: The Blues
  • Level 24-27: Purple Haze
  • Level 27-30: Gold, Raids, and Frequent Prayers to RNGesus

Level 20-24: The Blues

In this phase of the endgame grind, your goal is to acquire your first set of gear with light on it, as a stepping stone toward acquiring your first pieces of Legendary (purple) gear. A full set of maxed-Light Rare (blue) armor will net you +60 Light – so Level 24. Level 24 grants you access to the Vanguard Tiger playlist, and enables you to do the Weekly Heroic Strike and Daily Heroic Story more easily. Once you’ve acquired your first piece of Legendary Armor that puts you past level 24, you are essentially done with this phase, because it becomes pointless to grind for Rare armor to progress your level (the materials from dismantling Rares are always helpful though, even past this point).

Things to Do in this Phase

  • Play Crucible Matches to receive random armor drops in the postgame screen
  • Play Matchmade Strikes in the Vanguard playlist to receive random armor drops in the postgame screen
  • Collect and decode Rare Armor Engrams from either the various PvP and PvE postgame screens, or from killing enemies in any PvE mode
  • Passively accumulate reputation, Crucible Marks, and Vanguard Marks for the next phase of the endgame grind

Notes, Tips, and Tricks

  • Upgrading the Defense of a Rare armor item that already has a Light stat INCREASES the Light stat on that armor piece! Don’t be stingy with your Plasteel Plating/Sapphire Wire/Hadronic Essence – spending it on upgrading Rares is a wise investment, even though you won’t be keeping your Rare set of armor all the way through the endgame.
  • If you acquire a piece of Rare armor that gives more light than the piece of Rare armor you already have in that slot, dismantle your old piece and bring in the new one. As a general rule, the higher the level requirement for wearing a given piece of Rare armor, the higher the light it will give you when fully upgraded. So scrap all those “Requires Level 16” pieces for “Requires Level 20” ones when you can. The perks on the armor don’t matter at this point – your whole blue set will be replaced eventually.
  • Rare armor pieces max out at +15 Light each – but only for those Rare pieces of the highest quality. As your Light Level increases, the quality of the Rare armor and weapons you get from postgame screens increases, as does the general quality of Rare armor and weapons you get from decoding blue Engrams. You’ll start off getting pieces of gear with +2 and +3 Light when you’re Level 20, but as your level increases you’ll find that Rares drop with +11 and +12 Light. Any Rare piece that requires Level 20 to wear will upgrade to +15 Light, although the exact amount of Light increase per Defense upgrade seems to vary a bit.
  • This phase can be a frustrating grind because it may seem that leveling progress is slow, but in actuality it’s quite bearable – building up Reputation and Marks for one or more Factions is your best bet, as that gives you an assured way to progress. If RNGesus doesn’t bless you with good gear, you will still be able to move up in light level by buying pieces of Legendary armor from the vendors in the Tower – just make sure you have adequate Reputation and Marks to do so, which you will eventually (all non-Helmet Legendary armor pieces cost 65 Marks and require Reputation Rank 2 for their respective Factions – a very achievable goal, especially if you do bounties).
  • If you are lucky, you may even acquire a Legendary Engram or get a Legendary Armor Piece in the post that decodes to something you can use – purple gear is ALWAYS better than Blue gear from a Light Level perspective, as it gives +18 Light at its lowest, un-upgraded level.

Level 24-27: Purple Haze

In this phase, your goal is to acquire a full set of Legendary/Exotic armor. This is the first phase where you will start having to make real investment decisions based on Ascendant Shards and preferred Vendors – there is no truly right or wrong answer, so I will present the options available to you and the best way to pursue them. As you progressively add more Legendary and Exotic armor to your repertoire, more of the endgame content will become available to you. You will be able to do the Weekly Heroic at higher levels, and you will be able to attempt the Vault of Glass Raid on normal mode. Once you’re Level 27, this phase is no longer as important and you can move on.

Things to Do in this Phase

  • Continue passively acquiring Crucible Marks and Vanguard Marks. Try to hit the cap on both every week. Spending these at various Tower Vendors is the only guaranteed way to acquire Legendary armor and move beyond this phase of the grind.
  • Collect Strange Coins to spend when Xûr, Agent of the Nine is in the Tower (check his schedule here). This is the guaranteed way to get an Exotic armor piece, which can upgrade to +30 Light – the maximum possible. You definitely want an Exotic armor piece, as it is a safe thing to invest your Shards in.
  • Pick a non-default Faction, or keep working with the default Factions. Either way, you want to grind the reputation for whatever Faction(s) you care about to Rank 2, so you can purchase Legendary armor from them.
  • When you get to Level 26 or Level 27, assemble a team to take on the Vault of Glass Raid. You can get excellent loot from Raids every week, and you may get lucky and acquire Raid Gear early on, which will minimize your time in the last grinding phase.

Notes, Tips, and Tricks

  • Right as you start this phase, go to the Tower and check out all the Vendors’ gear to find things you like – remember that Intellect reduces your Super cooldown, Discipline reduces your Grenade cooldown, and Strength reduces your Melee cooldown. If you strongly prefer one or two of those abilities to the other, find the Faction whose gear increases those stats, equip their class item, and grind their reputation to Rank 2. New Monarchy gear always has Intellect and Strength, Dead Orbit gear always has Discipline and Strength, and Future War Cult gear always has Intellect and Discipline.
  • Understand that grinding out a whole set of Faction gear is NOT the fastest way to get a full set of Legendary armor. The three Tower Factions all require Crucible Marks for gear purchases – remember that you can only get 100 Crucible Marks and 100 Vanguard Marks per week. Helmets cost 120 Marks, and Gauntlets/Chests/Boots cost 65 Marks each. 120 + 65 + 65 + 65 = 315, so in the worst case it would take you four weeks to get all of the gear from a single faction this way. The only Faction that uses Vanguard Marks is the Vanguard itself – so if you’re gunning for full Legendary gear in as little time as possible, buy 2 of your pieces from the Vanguard and 2 from any other Faction. That way, you’ll spend 120 + 65 on either the Vanguard or your Faction, and 65 + 65 on the other, meaning that it could potentially take less than 2 weeks for you to have full Legendary gear. Factor in an Exotic from Xûr, and you can get 3 Purples and 1 Gold even faster.
  • Don’t get too attached to the Legendary gear you get in this phase (except for maybe your Exotic), because you’re going to want to replace it for Raid Gear eventually, but also don’t pick gear with perks you don’t like just for the sake of getting this phase done more quickly. You’re going to be stuck with this gear for a long time – so do yourself a favor and pick things you like somewhat. Even if it takes a couple more days in this phase, you’ll be thankful that you’ve built a character you enjoy playing when you have to grind the next phase.
  • Don’t spend Ascendant Shards on upgrading your Legendaries in this phase. Reasoning for this is explained in the Tips & Tricks section of the next phase.
  • Don’t buy Legendary weapons with your hard-earned Marks just yet, even if you’ve ranked a Faction up to Rank 3. Spend your Marks on armor until you have a full set of Legendary and better armor – or else you’ll have to grind needlessly longer in this phase, which could make you more of a burden in the Raids. There’s a chance you’ll get Legendary weapons from Postmaster packages or as mission rewards for the harder difficulties, so hold out hope. If RNGesus doesn’t bestow wonderful weapons upon you, you can always buy them with the Marks you accumulate during the next major grinding phase.
  • You’ll be in this phase for a while, so make sure to stay positive and have fun. Running and beating the Vault of Glass is a great thing to do and aim for once you’re 26 or higher. Aside from that, doing Bounties to grind Reputation is the best use of your time, as ranking Factions up to 3 and every rank higher than that will give you a Postmaster package that almost always has a Legendary of some kind (be it a weapon, armor, or crafting materials).
  • If you get duplicate or extra pieces of Legendary gear through random drops or Postmaster packages, max out the experience on that gear before dismantling it – instead of yielding 2-3 Ascendant Shards, it will yield 5-6 of them, even if you haven’t invested any Glimmer or Materials in upgrading them. Just having the XP maxed is enough, so when turning in Bounties I highly recommend switching to non-maxed gear so the Bounty XP goes toward your otherwise-unused armor.
  • If you get Legendary gear that isn’t for your class specifically, toss it in the Vault – if you plan to start a character of every class eventually, which I recommend, it will make their grinds much easier because you’ll be able to skip the blue grind phase and get a head start on the purple one.

Level 27-30: Gold, Raids, and Frequent Prayers to RNGesus

In this phase, you are completely at the mercy of the game’s Random Number Generator, effectively worshipped by loot grinders everywhere as the ubiquitous, all-powerful RNGesus. Your goal for this phase is to acquire Legendary Gear that gives +30 Light – which as of now is only available in the Vault of Glass (though many assume the rumored Trials of Osiris will provide opportunities for +30 Light Legendary Gear). But since that takes a while, at this point you may want to explore other things the game has to offer – like acquiring Legendary weapons and potentially starting a secondary or tertiary character.

Things to Do in this Phase

  • Raid the Vault of Glass repeatedly and hope for Raid Gear drops.
  • Beat the Weekly Nightfall Strike – doable at 27, but much easier at 28 and beyond.
  • Continue purchasing Exotic armor pieces that you like, and hence continue getting Strange Coins weekly.
  • Grind reputation up for all of the Factions, because why not?
  • Level up and purchase Legendary and Exotic weapons.

Notes, Tips, and Tricks

  • Raid Legendary gear is the only non-Exotic gear in the game thus far that gives you +30 Light per piece. You want it, and you want it bad.
  • Non-Raid Legendary gear maxes out at +27 Light, and thus a full set of maxed out non-Raid Legendaries would only put you at 108 Light – just shy of Light Level 29. The real secret to leveling to 30 is to have a minimum of 3 pieces of Raid Legendary Gear, and possibly one Exotic. So since you’re going to replace most of your Legendary Gear with Legendary Raid Gear anyway, there is almost no point to investing your Ascendant Shards into it, and you’d likely be better served saving your Shards. Legendary Gear reaches +22 Light with all the non-Ascendant upgrades, so a maxed Exotic and 3 Legendaries leveled to +22 would give you +96 Light, putting you at Level 27 and just shy of the +98 Light required for Level 28. In some cases, getting to this point and spending 6 or 12 Shards on just one piece of your non-Raid Legendary gear may be advisable, just to get to Level 28 so you can do the Raid and the Nightfall more easily while waiting to get your second +30 Light armor piece. Similar logic can justify upgrading a piece of non-Raid gear to get to Level 29 to do the Raid on Hard mode, but ultimately it’s up to you,
  • For the Vault of Glass Raid, Normal mode can only drop Gauntlets/Chests/Boots, and Hard mode adds the possibility of Raid Helmets. Keep that in mind when gearing – you may want to invest in an Exotic Helmet since obtaining the other three items in Raid form is possible via normal Vault of Glass, which is easier.
  • Beating the Nightfall gives you a great boost to reputation gains with Factions and the Cryptarch, so definitely do it early every week if possible to maximize the beneficial effects.
  • You may want to start a secondary or tertiary character – seeing as you can run the Vault of Glass only once a week, doing it on multiple characters is a reliable way to get more Ascendant Materials and Strange Coins per week. You may have also acquired some non-Raid Legendaries for another class prior to this point, so that’s a head start on another character that minimizes the annoying grind.
  • Don’t try the Vault of Glass on Hard Mode unless you’re Level 29 or higher. Odds are you’ll get spanked unless your teamwork is truly astounding.

That’s it for my basic guide. Please leave some comments, and I’ll do my best to address them by updating this post once some feedback has rolled in. I may have missed some things, so feel free to suggest additions or corrections where necessary. I’ll be away from my computer for several hours from the time of this posting but hopefully I’ll be able to address feedback in a timely enough manner. Thanks for reading!

TL;DR: If you aren’t patient enough to read this guide, you aren’t patient enough to play Destiny’s endgame.

Terminology and Mechanics

Light Levels Explained
Once you reach Level 20, the gear game begins in Destiny. You will only be able to progress in level by acquiring armor with a “Light” stat on it. Only Rare (blue), Legendary (purple), and Exotic (gold) armor can have Light attributes. The sum of the Light across all four of your major pieces of gear (Helmet, Gauntlets, Chest, and Boots) determines your Light Level, per the following chart:

Light LevelMinimum Light Required
Level 2120 Light
Level 2232 Light
Level 2343 Light
Level 2454 Light
Level 2565 Light
Level 2676 Light
Level 2787 Light
Level 2898 Light
Level 29109 Light
Level 30120 Light

Only blue armor pieces awarded to you after reaching level 20 will have Light attributes on them – not before. So save those blue armor engrams you acquire during your leveling-up-to-20 phase, and don’t decode them until you’re Level 20.

Motes of Light
Motes of Light are an endgame currency used for two things (so far) – purchasing items from the Speaker, or purchasing Exotic Engrams from Xûr, Agent of the Nine. Motes of Light can be acquired from Public Events, Postmaster rewards, or Crucible Postgame rewards, but you will also acquire them automatically for XP accrued after Level 20. If you check your character screen and hover over your “Level 20” indicator, you will see a progress bar indicating how much more experience is needed for your next Mote of Light.

Strange Coins
Strange Coins are an essential endgame currency used to purchase Exotic Armor, Exotic Weapons, telemetries, Sparrow upgrades, and other miscellaneous items from Xûr, Agent of the Nine. They can be acquired from Public Events, Postmaster rewards, or as Crucible Postgame rewards, but you can also acquire them for completing the Weekly Heroic Strike.

Ascendant Energy
Ascendant Energy is an endgame crafting resource, used to upgrade Legendary and Exotic weapons. It takes 18 of them to fully upgrade a Legendary Weapon, and 16 to fully upgrade an Exotic Weapon – so save them and use them wisely. They can be acquired from Public Events, Postmaster Rewards, Daily Heroic Story missions, Nightfall Strikes, and from Raids. Very rarely, they may be found in loot chests in PvE spaces.

Ascendant Shards
Ascendant Shards are an endgame crafting resource, used to upgrade Legendary and Exotic armor. It takes 18 of them to fully upgrade a piece of Legendary Armor, and 16 to fully upgrade a piece of Exotic Armor – so save them and use them wisely. They can be acquired from Public Events, Postmaster Rewards, Daily Heroic Story missions, Nightfall Strikes, and from Raids. Very rarely, they may be found in loot chests in PvE spaces.

Crucible Marks
Crucible Marks are awarded for completing games in the Crucible. You acquire 3 for a win, and 2 for a loss. A maximum of 100 Crucible Marks can be earned per week. Crucible Marks can be spent on armor, weapons, and vehicles from the Crucible Handler, Crucible Quartermaster, or the various Faction Representatives (New Monarchy, Dead Orbit, Future War Cult). You can acquire Crucible marks for PvE materials from the Quartermaster, but I advise against that.

Vanguard Marks
Vanguard Marks are awarded for completing PvE tasks like Public Events and Strike Playlist Strikes. A maximum of 100 Vanguard Marks can be earned per week. Vanguard Marks can be spent on armor, weapons, and vehicles from the Vanguard Quartermaster or the various Class-Specific Vanguard Mentors in the Tower. You can acquire them in exchange for PvE materials from the Vanguard Quartermaster, but I advise against that.

Faction Reputations
There are five principal Factions in the Tower – the Crucible, Vanguard, New Monarchy, Dead Orbit, and Future War Cult. Acquiring reputation points with each of these Factions enables you to reach new ranks within them – enabling the purchase of Armor, Weapons, and in some cases Vehicles. Reaching Rank 3 and any rank beyond 3 for these factions will reward you with a Postmaster package that will give random goods – Legendary Armor, Weapons, and crafting materials are common rewards.

Reputation for these factions can be acquired through normal gameplay – by playing PvP games, by playing PvE matchmaking, by completing Patrol missions, and by turning in Bounties. The Crucible and the Vanguard are the “default” factions, meaning that reputation gained in PvP by default goes to the Crucible reputation meter, and reputation gained in PvE by default goes to the Vanguard reputation meter. You cannot accrue reputation for the three other factions naturally – you must purchase their class item and equip it, and then all Crucible or Vanguard reputation accrued while wearing the item will be counted toward the faction.

Some special Factions appear as time-based events – Queen’s Wrath and Iron Banner being the two examples as of the time of this guide being written, with more likely to follow. These Factions’ reputation can be increased similarly to the other factions, often with the caveat that simply wearing the class item doesn’t convert Crucible or Vanguard reputation to the time-based Faction’s reputation. Special Bounties have typically been the way that extra reputation is acquired, but specifics vary based on the event.

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