Destiny: What to do when you're at max level

Like any good MMO, Destiny's appeal doesn't run out once a player reaches the maximum character level of 20. Here are five different activities Destiny players can participate in after hitting the level cap.

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Despite developer Bungie's insistence to the contrary, the company's new online sci-fi shooter Destiny can, for all intents and purposes, be considered a massively multiplayer online game. Like any good MMO, Destiny's appeal doesn't run out once a player reaches the maximum character level of 20. Below are five different activities Destiny players can participate in after reaching the endgame and level cap.

Earn reputation with NPC factions

As you may have already noticed, the level 20 cap in Destiny is actually a "soft" cap. There is a way to raise your character's level above 20 but not through gaining experience points. It's done by finding and equipping gear that is infused with light, a special stat found on select pieces of high-end armor. While light-infused armor can be dropped by enemies in combat, the one guaranteed way to get armor with light in it is through reputation vendors .

For more PvE-inclined players, there's really only one option: the Vanguard. Vanguard reputation can be earned by completing patrol missions, bounties, or Strikes and Vanguard marks can be earned by completing random Strikes via the Vanguard playlist which is unlocked once a player reaches level 18. If competitive play is more your game, you have a few more factions to choose from.

In addition to the base Crucible reputation and marks earned through competitive matches, level 20 players can also purchase special trinkets from the three other factions located in the Tower: Dead Orbit, the Future War Cult, and the New Monarchy. Purchasing and equipping a faction's trinket converts all earned reputation into reputation for that given faction which in turn grants access to that faction's items. Because different factions offer different rewards, be sure to pick a faction and stick with it since it takes a while to gain enough reputation to access its better items.

Work on your character's second sub-class

If, on your journey to level 20, you focused completely on only one of your character's sub-classes, now is the perfect time to start building up the other. It may seem counterproductive to purposefully strip yourself of power, but making sure you have both your sub-classes built up can give you something more precious than the rarest of engrams: options.

Each of the two sub-classes available to a given class feel similar enough that playing one doesn't feel too different from playing the other but each also has its own unique powers that can help in different situations. The Titan, for instance, has the Striker sub-class which is perfect for risky offense-oriented gameplay thanks to its Fist of Havoc special attack and its focus on close-quarters combat. Then it has the Defender sub-class which goes the exact opposite route; focusing on deliberate gameplay and defense through its Ward of Dawn special attack which can grant various group-oriented buffs to those who stand within its sphere of influence.

You might also have noticed a third blank spot in your character’s sub-class category. While Bungie has yet to reveal details about if and when a third sub-class for each Guardian class will be added, there are plenty of possibilities that can help round the classes out and make them more ideal in both solo and group scenarios. Personally, I would love to see a melee-focused sub-class that uses a sword, similar to the Sword of Crota story mission in which you get to temporarily wield an energy sword in third-person combat.

Since Hunters already have the Bladedancer sub-class, this new sword-focused sub¬-class could be added to either the Titan or Warlock. However, the Warlock would make the most sense considering the Titan’s Striker sub-class already focuses a fair amount on close-quarters engagements. Maybe the Hunter’s third sub-class could focus on stealth and/or setting traps while the Titan’s third sub-class could focus on long-range heavy firepower - or at least work better to close distances from the enemy. I’m sure Bungie has plenty of ideas of its own, but here’s hoping it’s also willing to listen to a little fan input as well.

Complete random strikes for Vanguard marks

As mentioned earlier, participating in random strikes via the Vanguard playlist awards both Vanguard reputation and marks. While you can start doing random Strikes as early as level 18, you should try and wait until you're level 20 since the level 18 Strikes only award reputation and not marks. As you collect more light-infused gear and slowly raise your level above 20, you can eventually do higher level random strikes and increase your amount of marks and rep gained per strike.

But what can you do with all those Vanguard marks after you've acquired them? If you happened to pre-order Destiny, there are two different vendors you can spend your marks at. All players can spend marks at their class-specific Vanguard representative for special armor and emblems. Those who pre-ordered Destiny can also access the special Vanguard quartermaster in the Tower docking quarter who sells low-level equipment (for glimmer), max-level weapons, and souped up Sparrows.

Completing these random Strikes also awards a random piece of rare armor or a rare engram. While it can be frustrating to receive an armor/engram drop that you can't use, decrypting those engrams can help raise your Cryptarch reputation level (the Cryptarch will mail you new rewards for each reputation level he gains) and breaking down unneeded armor pieces can grant vital upgrade components and extra glimmer. If you're looking for a guaranteed way to build your character up past level 20, doing random Strikes is one of the best, and most time-efficient, ways to do so.

Chest runs and resource farming

Remember those chests you sometimes find while exploring? In addition to the standard gold chests, which appear at set locations on each planet, there are also chests that randomly spawn at select points during pre-set time intervals which can be “farmed” if you have the patience to constantly search a given area. These chests most often just contain a small amount of glimmer and a given planet’s resources (Helium Filaments, Spirit Bloom, Spinmetal, etc.) which technically isn’t so bad if you’re looking to gain rep or upgrade your legendary gear. However, chests also have a chance of containing anything from uncommon items to rare/legendary engrams, making chest farming a lucrative practice for those who know where to look.

Right now, one of the most popular spots to do chest farming is located on Mars, and is a short distance from where you first appear when travelling to the planet. This location is ideal for several reasons. The chests can be farmed either solo or with a group. Bringing friends allows you to check all the spawn locations more quickly, but the area is small enough it doesn’t take too long to do a complete check of all spawn points by yourself. Lastly, the Vex and Cabal enemies that spawn here also have a chance of dropping items and engrams, which can help you bump up your Grimoire ranks and glimmer reserves, especially if you have a few Resupply Codes and/or Blue Polyphage consumables to spare.

Roll a new character with a different class

If grinding for reputation/marks/light gear sounds more monotonous than fun, one way to keep the game feeling fresh is by rolling up a new character and making them into a different class than your first character. While at a basic level all three of Destiny’s classes function in largely similar fashion, each class’s (and sub-class's) unique powers, armor types, and playstyles ensure that one can feel quite different from playing another. Rolling a new character can have other benefits, since your account’s Grimoire progress, total glimmer amount, and vault storage is shared across all of your characters. Reputation progress, sadly, is not.

You can further change things up by consciously making different gameplay decisions than you did before. Did your first character have a penchant for pulse rifles and shotguns? Try out some other weapon types like hand cannons or sniper rifles and see if they offer a better fit for your new character. Did you spend most of your initial time with Destiny sticking to solo story and patrol missions? See if you can recruit some friends and venture into some Strikes or even Crucible matches if you’re feeling especially brave.

While it’s true Destiny can start to feel a little monotonous and repetitive after a while, especially at the endgame, a conscious effort on your part to switch things up can help prolong your enjoyment and maybe even introduce you to a new favorite class, weapon, or game mode.


Nate Hohl has been working as a freelance writer and game journalist ever since he graduated college in 2011. He has written for a large number of different websites including freelancewriting.com and Newegg's gaming site gamecrate.com. While he enjoys writing news and reviews, he feels his skills are best applied when exploring relevant topics and engaging readers through opinion and editorial pieces.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 29, 2014 4:00 PM

    Nathaniel Hohl posted a new article, Destiny: What to do when you're at max level.

    Like any good MMO, Destiny's appeal doesn't run out once a player reaches the maximum character level of 20. Here are five different activities Destiny players can participate in after hitting the level cap.

    • reply
      September 29, 2014 4:10 PM

      whats up with the ultramarine in screenshoot 2

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      September 29, 2014 6:18 PM

      Those who pre-ordered Destiny can also access the special Vanguard quartermaster in the Tower docking quarter who sells low-level equipment (for glimmer), max-level weapons, and souped up Sparrows.

      Whaaaaatttttttt??????????

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        September 29, 2014 6:58 PM

        The vendor is worthless. You're not missing out.

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          September 29, 2014 7:01 PM

          Just another demonstration of Bungie not knowing wtf to do.

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          September 29, 2014 7:04 PM

          As someone who is completely decked out in legendaries in every slot other than the primary weapon slot, I wouldn't call it garbage. All the other weapon vendors require crucible marks of which I have a total of 9.

          And some day it might be nice to have that sparrow if I ever care to farm enough vanguard marks for that.

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          September 29, 2014 7:42 PM

          It's good when leveling and you don't get any luck with drops.

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          September 29, 2014 8:22 PM

          I pre-ordered and knew that he was supposed to be in the game somewhere, but I didn't know where until I was like level 15. By that point, yeah, he was pretty useless outside of the legendary stuff I couldn't afford yet.

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        September 30, 2014 5:47 AM

        I thought he's available for everyone, only earlier for those who pre-order?

        Where do you guys spend your vanguard marks if you don't have this vendor?

        The fact that all factions vendors only sell for crucible marks is stupid.

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        September 30, 2014 7:47 AM

        I had no idea, but I did wonder why he was so far away from the other Vanguard vendors. That's pretty asinine.

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        September 30, 2014 7:48 AM

        Yeah I saw him pretty early on exploring the tower.

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      September 29, 2014 7:48 PM

      Find another game.

      I realize I keep shitting on this game, but it's really such a disappointment.

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        September 30, 2014 12:59 AM

        For you, personal opinion and such.

        I'm still really enjoying it

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          September 30, 2014 5:38 AM

          same here, Ive been having a blast with it.

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            September 30, 2014 5:38 AM

            Some people just like being tortured.

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              September 30, 2014 7:30 AM

              Some people just like to complain and think they're right and everybody is wrong.

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                September 30, 2014 7:46 AM

                They're not wrong it's just a half broken game. If they fix the loot it will incentivise me to play more. I'm letting it sit until it's fixed. Same thing I did with Diablo 3.

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                  October 1, 2014 1:13 AM

                  Again - your opinion, just because you think it's a half broken game doesn't mean everyone else does.

                  I'm still enjoying it, already got my moneys worth and can see myself playing it for a while yet at least

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        September 30, 2014 7:28 AM

        Then stop shitting on the game. It's a disappointment to you but not to other people.

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        September 30, 2014 7:51 AM

        [deleted]

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      September 30, 2014 8:03 AM

      Destiny is not an MMO. Please correct article.

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      October 1, 2014 6:59 AM

      What to do? Play Mordor.

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