Level 30, How do I get there?

There are quite a few guides floating around about what to do after you reach level 20 in Destiny (I reviewed a bunch what making this one). I wanted to boil this down so someone would better understand the tools at their disposal as they plan an efficient path to level 30.

Stay with me this is a long one. :smirk:


Marks are a form of currency obtained from doing both PvE and PvP content. You earn Vanguard marks for PvE and Crucible Marks for PvP.

Vanguard Marks are obtained by:

  • Completing Strikes in the Playlist (2 Marks for Level 18 Strike, 3 Marks for Level 20 Strike, 4 Marks for Level 22 Strike and 6 Marks for Level 24 Strike)
  • Completing the daily Story Mission, weekly heroic Strike and Nightfall Strike
  • Completing public events ( http://destinypublicevents.com shows when and where a public event might take place)

Crucible Marks are obtained by:

  • Completing Crucible matches (2 Marks for losing, 3 Marks for winning)

You can also exchange gathered resources for Marks. You exchange resources in bulks of 50, I’m not sure what the exchange rate is, but is is a very low return on investment. It is not advisable to do this, unless you ( and any Alts you may have) are fully equipped in Raid Legendary and Exotic gear. Then you can exchange any resource that will not be used for the upgrade of said gear.

There are also three other factions players can affiliate with in order to purchase gear from their vendors. The armor from these vendors will be tuned to increase your attributes, specifically as follows:

  • Dead Orbit: Melee and Grenades
  • Future War Cult: Grenades and Super
  • New Monarchy: Super and Melee

Ultimately, you will use these Marks to purchase legendary armor and weapons from the Vanguard and Crucible vendors. Keep in mind that Marks are capped at 100 per week (resets on Tuesdays) and you cannot have more then 200 at any given time. So, you need to spend them. Once you are outfitted in all Raid Legendary and Exotic gear, you should continue to buy legendary equipment. You can then break it down and use the Acendent materials to upgrade your Raid Legendary and Exotic gear ( credit to @Auth for this tip).

OK that’s marks in a nutshell, but there is a catch… you need to have Reputation in order for the vendors to sell to you.

Reputation (Rep)

Reputation is gained for either the Vanguard, Crucible, both or a faction. You need to build Reputation to be allowed to buy items from the respective vendor. Rank 1 Reputation will allow you to buy cosmetic items like emblems. Rank 2 Reputation will allow you to buy Legendary armor, while Rank 3 will allow you to buy weapons.

You can increase your Vanguard Reputation by:

  • Patrol Missions (+10 Rep for standard missions and +25 for Assassination missions)
  • Strikes in the Playlist (higher level Strikes give more Reputation)
  • Completing the daily Story Mission, weekly heroic Strike and Nightfall Strike
  • Turning in Vanguard bounties

You can increase your Crucible Reputation by:

  • Completing Crucible matches
  • Turning in Crucible bounties

Why are we getting all the legendary gear again? Oh that’s right…Light.


Light is a stat built into level 20 armor. Once your character has a certain amount of Light, he will level past 20 to all the way up to 30.

As this armor is leveled up it will gain light. Here is the amount it can give when fully upgraded:

  • Rare +15
  • Legendary +27
  • Legendary (Raid) +30
  • Exotic +30

The amount of Light you need to reach a certain level is as follows:

  • Light Level
  • 20 = 21
  • 32 = 22
  • 43 = 23
  • 54 = 24
  • 65 = 25
  • 76 = 26
  • 87 = 27
  • 98 = 28
  • 109 = 29
  • 120 = 30

Do not upgrade any non-raid legendary or non-exotic item, if you are level 28 or 29. Currently to reach level 30 you need each of your 4 pieces of gear to be of either raid legendary or exotic quality. This is because you need 120 Light Points and only those two item qualities can provide 30 points of light. This means that if you are already at level 29 and have a piece of regular legendary gear that is not fully upgraded, then there is no reason to upgrade it any more, because you will have to replace it to reach level 30.

Raid Legendary Armor

Raid legendary armor is dropped as a random reward from the Vault of Glass. @Auth pointed out that these armor drops are boss specific:

  • Oracles = Can Drop Boots or Gloves
  • Templar = Can drop Boots or Gloves
  • Atheon = Can drop Chest Piece
  • Atheon (Hard Mode) = Can drop Helm

You are only able to wear one piece of exotic armor at any given time. I suggest that you get an exotic helm as the Raid Legendary Helm is a very rare drop only available from Atheon on hard mode.

Ascendant Materials

The last three upgrades of Legendary armor cost Ascendant Shards. They require 6 Ascendant Shards with each upgrade (Exotics require 8) and also further increase Light. Ascendant materials are obtained by:

  • Random reward for completing your first Gold Tier public event each day
  • Random reward for completing a public event (rare)
  • Guaranteed reward for completing the daily Story Mission on higher difficulties
  • Random reward in the Vault of Glass (Mini Boss Fights)
  • Chest rewards in Vault of Glass (Once per week)
  • Randomly decrypted from engrams
  • Obtained from dissembling a piece of Legendary or Exotic armor (2 Shards a piece)

Ascendant Energy is used in much the same way to fully upgrade Legendary and Exotic weapons.

Strange Coins

You can purchase exotic gear from Xur, vendor who only appears in the Tower on the weekends (Friday to Sunday morning). He sells exotic armor and weapons in exchange for a type of currency called Strange Coins. These coins are fairly random, but completing the weekly heroic missions will get you three a week guaranteed. You can also earn a Strange Coin for the first Public Event you complete a day.

Motes of Light

Motes of Light are gained by earning experience after you reach level 20. As with Strange Coins they are also obtained through random drops. Motes of Light are used for two things: purchasing class specific cosmetic gear from the Speaker or spending them with Xur in exchange for an exotic engram. There is no guarantee what an exotic engram will roll, but you can always break down what you get and reap the benefits of the materials.

Call to Action

OK, I have laid out the “Big Rocks” for you and tried to explain them to the best of my abilities. Getting to Level 30 in Destiny is not so much an XP Grind, but a strategic approach that takes planning and execution. I’m sure you picked up on the fact that Ascendant Materials and Raid Legendary Gear are a must if you ever want to see Level 30. This means you are going to have to run VoG, Night Strike, Weekly, etc. and not just once.

I look forward to hearing your feedback, not only on what you thought of the guide, but what do you plan to do with it? What is your plan? How have you or will you get to Level 30? Inquiring Guardians want to know. :smirk:


Good read. I knew most of this, but I needed to see it to get me motivated to play again. I’m currently at 22 I think and very close to Vanguard 2.

Gotta get back on that horse.

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Great post!


Awesome writeup Tommy.

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I made a few updates thanks to some great input from @Auth. Also, I felt it needed some cheesy artwork as well.

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Recent changes that have been added to the game have changed this guide. First, the addition of Iron Banner gear has made another way to get “raid tier” legendaries. This gear only comes in boots and gloves though, so you still have to get that raid. Next, is the change in exoitc armor. Exotic armor no longer needs acendant shards to level up, but they now need one exotic shard to gain the last upgrade. Exotic shards should be noted that, they can be obtained by disassembling exotics or are availible for purchase from Xur for 7 strange coins.