The new level cap in Shadowkeep is 960, although for the most part, you’re gonna be aiming for 950 first. We start at 750, which means you have 200 levels to grind for. Fortunately, 150 of those levels are really easy. Unfortunately, the last 50 are not. So, let’s talk about leveling. If you’re familiar with new expansion and season launches, then leveling works in the same way as it has prior. If that’s all the info you need, then there you go. The soft cap of Shadowkeep is 900. This means that basically everything you do will drop blues and purples up to a cap of 900. Note that you won’t have access to powerful reward giving activities and milestones until you hit 900 power, but you wouldn’t want to do any of those activities until you’re 900 power anyway. Generally speaking, if you want your main character to be your highest level character after a week of grinding gear, you will want to level it last, I’ll explain later.
Now, if you’re trying to really maximize the potency of every powerful drop to speed level as fast as possible, it is ideal to hit 900 before finishing the campaign and claiming the reward from Ikora, as Ikora’s reward is a +5 powerful drop. A +5 powerful drop means that the reward will drop 5 item levels above what your current max power is not including seasonal power bonuses, this is base power. If you don’t level up to 900 before the campaign, or you already did the campaign and claimed the reward from Ikora, then don’t worry about it because it’s only 1 powerful drop that you missed out on, which is NOT a big deal, even if you’re grinding to be ready for day 1 raiding. Hitting 900 before the campaign is over means you’ll need to do some grinding outside of the campaign first. You can utilize some of the drops during the campaign to help, mainly in the form of the Dreambane armor, but otherwise, you have 2 options. 1) Use Vanguard/Crucible Tokens or planetary mats to level.
This is the fastest way to level your first character, but requires hundreds or thousands of tokens in order to actually do so since vendors don’t really give items higher than your max power. Most people are probably not going to have tons of tokens to spare, which brings us to option 2, which is: 2) Do literally anything else. I found that doing strikes worked out pretty well on my first character, as I typically get 2 or 3 rewards from the end chest that gave pretty substantial boosts to my power in that slot. Also, it’s a lot more fun than something like public events. So, I’d recommend doing strikes in order to get blues to level up to 900 if you want to do that before you finish the campaign.
If you already finished the campaign, it’s not really a big deal, you’re only gonna miss out on 1 powerful drop. But, you’ll need to hit 900 regardless, so you should do that. Now let’s say you’re 900 and you’ve opened up a bunch of powerful reward sites. Here’s where things are gonna slow down. A lot of these are on weekly lock outs and only reward about a 2-3 power upgrade over your current power.
So, if you’re wearing all 900 gear and you do a powerful reward activity, you’ll likely get a 903 item. Tier 1 rewards are usually 2 or 3 levels above, while tier 2 is 4 levels above. Note that your new soft cap will be whatever your current maximum base power level is, so if you’re 904, then blues can drop up to 904. If you don’t care about min-maxing to the fullest, you can just go do your powerful rewards on your character and then start leveling your other characters. You don’t need to worry about anything else, just grind anything that says that it rewards a powerful reward, then do that on all characters and come back next week. If you DO care about min-maxing, and I mean really meticulous min-maxing, then this next part is for you.
Eventually, you will hit 901 through powerful rewards. This now means that randomly dropping blues and legendaries can drop up to 901, along with the occasional vendor also selling on level items for tokens or mats. Devrim from EDZ, as of the entire expansion so far, has been selling on level item packages, which enables this method to be done a little quicker. Let’s say you got 3 rewards through powerfuls, you’re 901. That means any armor pieces that you have that are 900 could become 901s if you grind for them. Doing this gives a tiny boost to a bunch of armor pieces, which can add up in order to get you even closer to your next level. Ideally, you’ll be doing this for every single level that you get so that you get the maximum value possible out of every drop. Is this ridiculous? Yes. Is it tedious and slow paced? Necessary for all people? No. Generally speaking, you want to try to do powerful rewards that will give a big boost when the difference between the power levels on your items is small.
So, let’s say every item you have is 909 or 910. Doing a big powerful is fine here because there’s no risk of getting an item that won’t be a big boost in some particular slot. But, when you have a big difference in power levels, I’d say a range of 5-6 is pretty significant, there’s a chance that your powerful reward will roll in your highest slot, thus making it a waste. So, if you’re power level 910, with a mix of items ranging from 907-913, there’s a chance you get a powerful that may give you only a +1 or even a 0 power upgrade. This is where you’d want to grind blues to try to even out your power levels on your items. There is no particular order that you need to go in when grinding your powerfuls. Powerful sources include: Strikes and strike bounties, crucible and its bounties, the gunsmith’s bounties, Clan XP, the Flashpoint, Gambit, the Eris story bounty, and Nightmare hunts. Another big source of powerfuls is the competitive playlist, aka Survival. Doing competitive gives you Glory AND Valor at the same time and whenever you level up your rank in Crucible, you get a powerful.
Running with a good PvP group means big Glory gains, which potentially means lots of powerful rewards. However, if you’re not a strong PvPer, then this option might not be as viable for you and you may want to just stick with non-competitive options. Let’s say you did all that, now you want to level your next character. You should transfer your high level weapons over to that character so that they get a big boost in their power.
Then, you can simply pull gear from your collections as it steadily levels your character. The gear in your collections is tied to your current character’s level, so if you drop a bunch of 900 weapons on a 750 character, you’ll go up to around 785. Which means the gear you pull from collections will be higher than 750 and you’ll just essentially power level yourself. This method will cap out at 860 on the armor, in which case you can just grind blues until you hit 900 on your armor.
This took me 3 strikes to do, it might take you fewer or more depending on your luck with armor drops. Then, you’ll repeat the powerful gear grind on this character, and then your final character. If you’re a new player to the game, this option might not be available to you, That is how to level up in Shadowkeep. Once you hit 950, your only source of upgrades will be from pinnacle activities, so that’s stuff like the higher level Nightfalls, probably the raid and whatever else will say pinnacle reward on it. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next time..