Destiny Light Farming | Level 20+ Guide

Destiny launched with a relatively low level cap. Once you hit level 20, no amount of experience will get you to level 21. If you want to level your Guardian to level 30, you need to accumulate Light. Light is a difficult topic to explain, and so the game… just doesn’t bother. Many people wrongly assume the fastest way to get to level 30 is grinding low level enemies, which is not the case. I’ve invested a lot of time into Destiny’s “end game” so I’ll show you how to get the gear you need to level up past 20 in Destiny WITHOUT a ton of grinding.

What is Light?

Okay, let’s explain a few things first. One is the concept of Light. Light is a stat that armor can have, like “Defense” or “Strength.” Light starts to appear on armor only around level 18 or so (although I think I’ve seen some Light on a level 16 piece of armor before, so…) Light is required to move up in levels past 20. Only equipped gear’s Light counts.

How do I get Light?

There are several tiers of gear, and each tier can have different maximum levels of Light:

  • Green/Uncommon gear doesn’t give Light. Bummer.
  • Blue/Rare gear maxes out at 15 Light per piece, although this can vary slightly from Rare to Rare.
  • Purple/Legendary gear maxes out at 27 Light (for non-raid Legendaries) or 30 Light (for raid Legendaries).
  • Exotic gear maxes out at 30 Light, although you can only equip one of these at a time.

How much Light do I need?

LevelLight RequiredNotes
Level 2120 Light
Level 2232 Light
Level 2343 Light
Level 2454 LightMax level without Legendary (purple) gear (ie, max with just Rare (blue) armor)
Level 2565 Light
Level 2676 Light
Level 2787 Light
Level 2898 LightMax level with Legendary (purple) gear from vendors (ie Faction, Crucible, or Vanguard vendor armor)
Level 29109 Light
Level 30120 LightRequires raid (ie, Vault of Glass) Legendaries

From this table you can note a pattern – in Destiny, to get from one level to the next past 22, you need 11 more Light than the previous level. Knowing this, you can estimate how far you are from the next level based on the bar at the bottom of your emblem.

Wait, my gear’s Light is too low, what gives?

Legendaries and Exotics don’t give their maximum Light until they’re upgraded. You’ll have to go out, kill stuff, and then upgrade your gear to level up further.

Note that you’ve got to get special, super rare “Ascendant” materials in order to fully level these items, so try to avoid leveling your Legendaries/Exotics past this point if you don’t plan on keeping them long-term.

Secrets to maxing Light

You can get new gear from a variety of sources. Many people think that grinding “loot caves” or other easy-to-farm weak enemies is the best way to get to level 30. This isn’t a particularly great strategy because of all the random numbers involved. For instance, kitting yourself out with Legendaries from farming is an arduous task. Legendary engrams are super rare, and even if you get one, it could be for any class. Rare engrams are still… rare, but you might find one or two that bump you to level 21 if you’re lucky.

One easier way to get Legendary gear is from timed events. For example, one of the first PvE events that Bungie launched was the Queen’s Bounty event. By completing certain bounties, you got special items that allow you to attempt very hard missions. These missions always dropped either a Legendary helmet or a chest piece for your class.

You can also play in the Crucible or Vanguard daily events and/or playlists to earn points/rep to spend at the vendors in the Tower. You’d be surprised how fast you can gain vendor Legendaries if you focus on playing the featured missions and events. Plus, while playing you have a chance at Rare or Legendary gear anyhow.

Know all those Motes of Light and Strange Coins you keep turning up? They’re actually ridiculously useful. Every weekend (Friday morning to Sunday morning, at least in the USA), Xur is at the Tower. He spawns in a random spot, so you’ll want to look around the Tower or check online to see where he is on a given weekend. Xur sells Exotic items in return for Motes and Coins. Hang on to these bits of currency for a chance at some of the best gear the game offers!


So here’s the recap for the tl;dr crowd:

  • You need a lot of Light to get through your 20’s
  • The only way to make 30 is with maxed out raid Legendaries, but you can get powerful enough for late-game content with vendor gear
  • You should really save your Ascendant materials for the raid Legendaries if possible (since they’re so rare and required for 30)
  • Don’t grind weak enemies for engrams, it’s a serious pain and very limited in usefulness
  • Focus on the currently running special events – do the most you can at your level to get goodies
  • Save your Coins and Motes for Xur to get your hands on epic gear

Hopefully now you know how to maximize your time investment in Destiny once you get past level 20. People have called it a grindfest, but honestly it’s not if you know what you’re doing. The game doesn’t do a stellar job explaining any of this, really, but that’s why we have the internet, right?