Destiny 2: How to get to Power level 280 (and beyond) while playing solo

Destiny 2 is now much more than just its vanilla story. Between the Forsaken expansion and Black Armory DLC, the world of Destiny 2 has expanded immensely in the past year and change. There are more activities to do and new rewards to chase, and all of those add up to a much higher Power level cap. The higher power cap has also made leveling up much easier by making the dreaded plateaus in leveling less frequent. The abundance of weekly activities has also made playing solo much easier. Group activities like raids are still the best source of powerful loot, but you can reach max Power completely on your own.

And many players do. Although Destiny 2 presents some of the finest co-operative activities in gaming, that sort of thing isn’t for everyone. Not everyone likes to play with people in their ear. Not everyone even has friends who play Destiny 2, or even video games in general. So, I decided to put together a guide for the solo player who wants to play things on their own, and on their own terms, but still wants to hit the reaches of the 280s and access to the high-level game without relying on online meet-ups and the wrangling of Raid teams.

So let’s crack on with the first tip, which will see you levelling even when you’re not playing.

Join a clan 

This might sound at odds with the notion of playing solo, but trust me, joining a clan early is The Best Idea. Clan membership, you see, comes with serious rewards. Every clan member’s activities contributes to a clan XP pool every week, and clan XP has a levelling system of its own. At certain milestones, you’ll earn permanent buffs like better rewards from Public Events, additional Glimmer, and better rewards from killing Cabal. Theses are all advantages worth having.

All clan members also get immediate, high-level engram rewards the first time that clan members complete one of four weekly challenges, not that I’m condoning a freeloading approach of benefitting from others’ work. You can at least help with the ‘Clan XP contribution’ Milestone on Tuesdays. That benefits everyone. And hell, if you’re playing solo due to a lack of Destiny-wise friends rather than personal preference, then all your problems are solved. Join a clan, buddy up, and feel free to be done with the rest of this article.

Did I mention that we have a rather excellent clan here at GR+? We’re all lovely, and you’re very welcome to join.

Remember to do Patrols early on 

They’re easy to forget later, being rather slight activities compared to Heroic Public Events and Milestones (which I’ll explain later), but pre-260, when you’re hammering Vendor loyalty levels for all that they’re worth, you can hammer harder and faster if you’re completing Patrol missions along the way. Patrols are relatively simple - tasking you to do things like kill a certain number of enemies or scout a particular position in the map – and will reward you with planetary materials for minimal effort. In fact, if you stack their completion with Public Events (say, picking up a ‘Kill a Bunch of Fallen’ mission before triggering a Fallen event), you’ll basically double your materials for free.

And speaking of Public Events…

Make all of your Public Events Heroic 

Seriously. Every time you do a Public Event, you should go in knowing how to trigger the Heroic version, and fully intending to. It won’t always be possible, mind. Most of the Heroic versions require multiple Guardians to effectively activate and complete them, so if no-one’s around, you’ll have trouble. But you should always aim for a Heroic. They tend to give better rewards (Exotics are not unheard of), and they’re also way more fun. Check out our guide on how to trigger Heroic Public Events in Destiny 2 for the run-down on how to do them all. Public Events are the fastest way to get rewards, but you really should take a little extra time to get the best gear out of them that you can. 

Recognise the levelling plateau, keep calm, and change your thinking 

For a long time, any activity in Destiny 2 will push you forward, thanks to the excellent universal currency system of materials and Legendary shards. But eventually, some time between the mid-260s and mid-270s, you’re likely to spot things slowing down. This is The Plateau. Do not panic. It happens to all of us. Here, the focus of Destiny 2’s levelling changes, moving away from Vendor rewards and random Legendary drops, and toward the accruing of Exotic gear and stand-out, high-level drops from weekly and daily milestones. Legendaries will start to drop at levels too low to give you a huge boost (if any), but when they land, these rarer drops will bring sizable jumps.

Don’t worry. It’s fine. Just keep cool, follow the advice in the rest of this guide, and you’ll keep moving.

Hold off on the Quest lines until later 

At certain points after the campaign, Quests will appear on the map. The multi-stage missions can be identified by their purple description box and crown icon. And although they tend to take a while, they will give you seriously high-level Exotics.

An important point to note though: This seriously high level will be relative to your current level. And because they’re attached to story missions, each with a single, specific Exotic item, you can only do them once per character. Thus, you should not rush to complete them in the early stages when higher level loot is raining in from mere material exchange. Wait until you hit a levelling wall (and, as I said, the first will kick in around 265 – 275), then start completing Quests. Just don’t do them all at once. Get your Exotic, boost your levels, then hit the next Quest when things slow down again.

Focus your gear 

A pretty straightforward but very helpful tip, this one. In post-campaign Destiny 2 levelling, you’re effectively trying to put together a load-out of weapons and armour that will get you the highest collective average of Power to boost your overall rating. You’ll achieve this by getting higher Power gear, and also by Infusing the Power of unwanted, higher-level gear into your favourites to boost their levels. You only need one equippable set to hit 280, and then you’ll get access to much higher-level gear and content Destiny 2. With that in mind, there is very little point in having too many of a certain gear type to concentrate on.

I’m not saying that you should run around without changing your Kinetic, Energy and Power weapons. Far from it. That would be miserable. A huge part of the joy of Destiny 2 is in playing – and falling in love – with all of the wildly differently, excitingly perked guns and armour waiting out in the world, ready for you to cause some creative havoc with them. But do you really need those five, barely distinguishable fusion rifles? A more focused collection of, say, one good example of each weapon category (with the option of doubling up for Kinetic and Energy versions), will keep your levelling efforts purposeful. Your numbers won’t go up half as fast if the Power is being spread around too much.

Always focus your attention (and Infusion) on the best of each gear type you have, and when a better one comes along, Infuse your existing one into that instead. For any particular favourites you want to come back to later, there’s always the Vault. Stash them in there, and start levelling them again when you’ve hit your Power goal and have resources to spare. And on that note…

Don’t shy away from breaking down your Exotics 

I know. They’re your precious yellow babies. Your shimmering, golden, magical tools of death. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t Infuse them for the cause of getting to 280. In terms of raw Infusion fuel, Exotics will usually be the most powerful drops you get, tending to come at a significantly higher level than your Legendaries, whatever levelling plateau you might have hit. So if you get an Exotic that you’re not a huge fan of – it’s okay, they’re not always amazing, even if they look frickin’ beautiful – and it will seriously boost the level of a much-loved Legendary, burn it straight in there.

In fact, as you get further into Destiny 2’s higher-level game, it becomes clear that Infusing Exotics is something you’re supposed to do. You receive them way more liberally than in the first game, and if you do Infuse them into other gear or break them down for Legendary Shards, you can just buy them back from the Vault for a by-that-point nominal cost. You are clearly meant to use them.

Tuesdays are levelling Christmas, but make the most of their opportunities 

Hitting a plateau during the second half of the week? Don’t worry. The path to big increases will re-open every Tuesday when the weekly reset brings back the Milestone challenges. At higher levels, these are your key to the big drops. Concentrate on the ones that promise “Powerful gear”. If all of your normal Legendary engrams and Vendor rewards are topping out around your minimum useful level, or even your maximum useless level – and at some point, they will – the Milestone engrams will sort you out. And the level bump they give you will probably kickstart the bog-standard Legendaries into landing at a slightly better level too.

It is worth noting though, that as plateaus kick in, it might be worth saving Milestones until the end of the week (ie. Sunday and Monday), in order to eke out increases via other means, before hitting a higher number with your big rewards.

However you time them, try to do several at the same time. Look out for Milestones that reward you for completing the smaller, local Challenges that pop up on the right-hand side of the screen when you press the touch-pad on PS4 or the View button on Xbox One. You can do those at the same as Flashpoint Milestones, and the same goes for completing Crucible Challenges at the same time as PvP Milestones. If you’re in a clan, you can combine all of this with the XP contribution Milestone, and also get the clan rewards for other players’ co-op activities in the Nightfall Strike and Raid.

Even solo players can benefit from Fireteams 

If you drop into the Strike playlist (which is match-made, and therefore totally possible to enjoy pseudo-solo), always pop a Fireteam Medallion. Available from Tess Everiss at the Eververse stall in exchange for 50 Bright Dust (check out our How to get Bright Engrams and Bright Dust guide for the full details on this particular economy), each Medallion will give you four hours of increased rewards and XP from team activities such as Strikes and the Crucible. They also work in Public events, whether you’re teamed up or not.

Fireteam Medallions will net you a higher drop rate on Legendary engrams and more cosmetic-filled Bright Engrams you get every time you level up the XP bar. And, as their name suggests, you’ll also get the benefit if someone else in your Fireteam has one active, so it’s absolutely worth hitting events and playlists that use them. Compared to the high-level team activities, it might not make up for missing the Nightfall strike (which needs a pre-assembled Fireteam of three), but for solo players it's certainly more approachable than raiding.

Once you hit the upper echelons of vanilla Destiny 2, follow the tips in our guide on how to get from Power level 500 to 600 in Destiny 2: Forsaken. No matter where you are on the Power ladder, they're sure to help you climb. 

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.