Guide to getting Light Level 400 in Destiny
(Note: This does not yet reflect the changes for version 2.5.0)
Your character’s light level is, simply speaking, the average light level of all the weapons, armor, and other items your character currently has equipped. The higher, the better.
So, obviously, you want it to be as high as possible. At the time of writing (Destiny v2.4.1), the light level is capped at 400. The rest of this assumes you have all extensions for Destiny, including Rise of Iron.
In order to increase your light level, you need to increase the individual light level of each piece of equipment. You can do that either by replacing it with something better, or (if it’s a legendary or exotic) by infusing another item with a higher light level into it (but it needs to be of the same type, so you won’t be able to use a special weapon for infusing a primary one).
To get higher light level items, you generally have to decrypt engrams (there are other things that can also get you higher light level items, listed below). To ensure you get the most out of decrypting engrams, make sure you do the following:
- Equip your highest light level items before starting to decrypt anything. Remember that you can share weapons and ghosts across characters!. Using something like Ishtar Commander (iOS, Android) makes this as easy as it can get.
- Decrypt the engram(s) of your lowest-light slot first. Example. If you’re currently at 360 light, but your boots are currently your lowest light level item at 350, you should first decrypt boot engrams, because:
- The decrypted item’s light level is determined by your current gear, and will be in the same range. That is, its light level will either be slightly below, or slightly above your character’s current light level. This means that the item you just decrypted is very likely above your currently equipped one (unless it was already very close to your character’s light level). If it is a higher light level, make sure to equip it before you decrypt anything else
Since engrams have a max light level at which they can decrypt (determined by their “color”), it can make sense to stash “higher plateau” engrams in your vault until you’ve exhausted the engrams for your current light “plateau”. For example, until you hit 365, you should stash away all legendary (purple) and exotic (yellow) engrams in your vault. Once you hit 365, you can use those purple engrams to quickly increase your light level, up until 385. Finally, exotic engrams will drop up to 400 light, so keep those stashed until you’re very close to 400.
Up to 365
Just play the game, doing whatever you want. Don’t forget about the 3 of Coins, at least for strikes!
Rare Engrams (the blue ones) drop equipment at around your light level, up to a maximum of 365.
The SIVA Strike playlist is great for getting those blue engrams.
Also: Most vendor gear is sold up to 350 light, so buying it can be a quick way to gain light levels or get an item for a weak slot, especially if you already at or close to 200 legendary marks. Class items and ghosts are usually good candidates for doing this. And if the gear has good stat rolls, it’ll still be useful later to infuse it further.
Up to 385
Play SIVA Heroic strikes, Archon’s Forge, and the “Wrath of the Machine” raid (on normal mode) for those legendary engrams and drops that will go up to 385 light. Completing a “Challenge of the Elders” score card can also reward items with up to 385 light.
Getting to 390
Reputation packages drop gear that goes up to 390 light. That includes packages from the Vanguard, Crucible, the various Factions (Dead Orbit, Future War Cult, and New Monarchy), House Judgement (a.k.a. Prison of Elders), Crota’s Bane (from Eris Morn), Queen’s Wrath, and the Gunsmith. Trials of Osiris gold bounties can drop up to 390 light level items as well.
If you have an appropriate reputation booster for whatever you’re doing, use it. Make sure to equip the right class item (they either boost your vanguard or crucible reputation gains).
If you have a lot of planetary materials, it can be a good idea to spend some on your favorite faction to gain reputation.
If you have a lot of strange coin, purchase as many heavy weapon synths from Xûr as you’re willing to spend when he’s around. Then use those heavy synths to further gain reputation with your favorite faction.
If you have a lot of glimmer, you can also purchase weapon parts from the Gunsmith, and turn those in for even more reputation. Just remember to save some for infusing your weapons later on. Variks will also give you heavy ammo synths for glimmer (and something else, I forget what. TODO.).
The road to 400
Once you hit 390, the following will drop items that will go up to 400:
- Decrypting exotic engrams (you stashed those, right?)
- Strike hoard chests (that’s what the skeleton keys are for, and don’t forget 3oC!)
- Nightfall strikes
- “Wrath of the Machine” raid in heroic mode (does not include the chests you find during the raid, but does include the SIVA cache chest)
- Iron Banner post-match rewards
- Iron Lord bounties
- Crucible legendary rewards
- Lord Shaxx’ weekly bounties (note: You might need to finish the quest “The Mountaintop” before you get access to those)
- Trials of Osiris (5-7 win drops)
- Completing Archon’s Forge encounters will also drop artifacts, ghost, or class items up to light level 400 (but they might drop as blue items, in which case they’re still useful as infusion fuel)
Credits & Sources
The denizens of the Disco Technical slack helped improve this. Any remaining errors are mine alone (if you find any, you should email me).