Destiny Gear System

In Destiny, Bungie has taken what every high-end MMO raider knows and made it an explicit part of the game: gear is how you level your character past a certain point. In Destiny, the first twenty levels are character levels. From 20 to 30 is all about your gear. Here’s how the gear system works:


After level 20, you raise your level by equipping armor that has the Light stat on it. Only the four armor slots will have Light: Head, Arms, Chest and Feet. Light translates to levels according to the following progression: +20 for the first level, +12 for the second then +11 for each level thereafter:

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


As far as is understood, Level 30 is the actual level cap of the game currently.

Other Stats

Besides Light, there are three other stats that come on armor pieces. Each one reduces a cooldown of a certain ability:

  • Discipline — Grenade Cooldown
  • Intelligence — Super Cooldown
  • Strength — Melee Ability Cooldown (not melee attacks though, they always seem to be on a one second cooldown)

Item Quality

As seen in the terminology post, the item qualities are Common, Uncommon, Rare, Legendary and Exotic. Gear that is at least Uncommon (Green) is both upgradable and customizable through “unlocks”. As you use a weapon or armor piece, it gains “experience” as you do. As that piece of gear gains experience, the unlocks become available one at a time.

Unlocks, Upgrades and Customizations

There are two types of Unlocks: Upgrades and Customizations. Upgrades are Unlocks that allow you to permanently upgrade that weapon’s damage, armor’s defense or give it a special characteristic like reducing your grenade cooldown when you kill things with it. Customizations are Unlocks that allow you to select between two or more alternatives to customize a weapon (armor doesn’t get Customizations).

Damage Types

There are four types of damage in the game: Kinetic, Arc, Solar and Void. Kinetic is the default and generally unremarkable. The other three allow you to pierce shields faster (or at all on Epic setting) or do extra damage to creatures that are vulnerable to that type of energy. Each type of energy has a color and symbol associated with it:

  • Arc — Blue Buzzsaw
  • Solar — Orange Flame
  • Void — Purple Swirl

You can tell which energy each creature is vulnerable to (if it has shields) by shooting it and see what color the shields are. The damage corresponding to the color of the shields is the one you want.


So, as you can see, there are lots of different ways to combine gear to make yourself into the ultimate badass. In further posts, I’ll talk about strategies for ensuring that you’re making the most of your gear.

So … synergy, that’s what it is all about, building your gear around your desired playstyle. For example, I’m playing a Warlock and I’m favoring Auto Rifles, Sniper Rifles and Machine Guns for my Primary, Special and Heavy Weapons, respectively. I tend to want to use my Grenade ability more often than my Super and while I do use my Melee ability, I’m a Warlock. I’m squishy … so I use it as a last resort.

So my primary armor stat that I’m looking for is obviously Light, but after that I look for Discipline to allow me to toss grenades more often. I also have some gear that reduces the grenade cooldown when I get melee kills. I also look for gear that either lets me reload faster or carry more ammo for my chosen weapons. I even have gear that lets me throw grenades farther and lets my DoT grenade burn longer.

Besides all that, I’ve got one Sniper Rifle and one Machine Gun of each special damage type that I carry with me everywhere. This allows me to switch damage types during battle. It is cumbersome, but I’m getting faster at switching :laughing:

Given all of that, I’m definitely noticing the difference. My Primary Weapon already reloads fast (because I’ve used Customizations to make it so) but it has an Upgrade that allows it to reload even faster when the magazine is empty. It’s pretty amazing. Sometimes I just fire off the last two rounds in the magazine because it’ll reload automatically and faster than reloading manually!

So, when you get to 20 … keep an eye on how your gear can be customized and how you can make your choices work together!