The Destiny Post-Level 20 Guide to Earning Legendary and Exotic Gear

destiny legendary gear

Hey Sushians!

Like many of you, I’ve been playing Destiny since it dropped on September 9. I hit the level cap of 20 about a week after release and I floundered for a bit wondering how to progress. Bungie doesn’t do a good job of explaining Destiny’s post-20 game outside of vague terms, so I put together a guide for how you can increase your Light and earn Legendary and Exotic gear. I’ve tried to be thorough and explain or remove as much of the jargon as I could. If you have any tips, please add them in the comments!

Post level 20 there are three (well, four) methods of getting Legendary or Exotic gear (purple and orange colored respectively). You can also get random drops (aka Engrams) from killing enemies, but most of what you’ll get from those are Rare (blue). Rare drops will still add to your Light (the post-level 20 progression system), but not as effectively as purple or orange gear. You can also break down blue gear for materials needed to upgrade your armor.

The higher you are in Light, the more post-game content you can tackle. For example, the highest difficulty Vanguard Strike is locked at Light level 24, as is the Nightfall Strike.

First Method:

Vanguard Reputation

The Vanguard is the faction you are in by default. Your class trainer (found in the lower area, down the stairs beside the Bounty bot) will sell you Legendary gear once you hit level 2 in reputation for around 65 – 120 Vanguard Marks.

What does that mean?

Vanguard reputation is how much this faction likes you. You earn Vanguard reputation by doing Vanguard bounties (PVE bounties taken from the Bounty bot in the main area of the Tower), doing the Daily Heroic Story or the Weekly Heroic/Nightfall Strike (accessed from the left side bar on the map screen), Vanguard Strikes (on the right of the map screen beside the Crucible) Patrols and Public Events.

Vanguard Marks are currency. It’s around 65 – 120 Marks for one piece of gear or weapon. You get Marks by doing the Daily/Weekly Heroics, Public Events and the Vanguard Strikes. The higher difficulty the Vanguard strike, the more Marks and rep you gain, so do the level 24 Strikes ASAP. You can earn a maximum of 100 Marks in a week.

Once you hit level 3 in reputation, and every level thereafter, the Vanguards will mail you a special item. Rank 3 is also when you can purchase weapons from the Vanguard quartermaster in the hangar.

Second Method:

Faction Reputation

There are three Factions (currently) in the Tower: Future War Cult, Dead Orbit and New Monarchy. At level 20 you can buy a Faction exclusive class item which will transform any reputation you earn into Faction reputation when you have it equipped. Factions sell gear tailored towards different stats. Factions use Crucible Marks (earned from PVP) to purchase gear.

Factions start selling you gear at reputation level 2, and past level 3 (and with each subsequent level) they will mail you items.

Third Method:

Crucible Reputation

Playing in the Crucible (PVP) will earn you Crucible reputation and Marks. This gear is biased towards PVP play, so if you plan on doing a lot of that, go this route. The Bounty bot in the main area of the Tower also gives out Crucible bounties.

Once you hit level 2 reputation with the Crucible, you can purchase gear.

Fourth Method:

Go to one of the designated exploit spots (such as the Loot Cave in Old Russia) and mindlessly kill enemies for a few hours. Acquire Engrams (random items) and be disappointed when the Cryptarch doesn’t turn them into useful items.

Strange Coins:

Strange Coins can be traded to Xur, Agent of the Nine (a special vendor) who appears only on weekends in the Tower. 13 Strange Coins will earn you guaranteed orange (Exotic) gear, 23 for a weapon, 23 for a vehicle upgrade and an Exotic Engram for 23 Motes of Light. You can only have one orange gear equipped at a time, so choose wisely! You earn Strange Coins from Public Events, Weekly Heroic Strikes and they sometimes drop from chests.

Mote of Light:

After level 20, every level you gain from experience (regular old EXP, not Light) will get you one Mote of Light. Motes of Light can be given to the Speaker or Xur, Agent of the Nine.

What is an Ascendant Shard?

Ascendant Shards are what you need to upgrade Legendary or Exotic gear. It’s a material you get from Public Events and Chests.


Pick whether you want Vanguard, Crucible or Faction gear.

Every day, do the Heroic Daily Story (found on the left hand side of the map screen). Take any Vanguard Bounties you can do, and complete those. Do the Weekly Heroic Strike and as soon as you can, do the highest level Vanguard Strike (Light 24). Mix it up with Public Events and Patrols if you get bored. Here’s a Public Event Clock so you can be as efficient there as possible.

For Crucible gear, play PVP a lot. Keep an eye out for special playlists, which appear on the left side of the map screen and take Bounties.

Destiny is not based around random loot, as much as it seems to sell itself this way. If you put yourself at the mercy of RNG (random number generation), you will be disappointed. You can easily earn the 100 weekly Vanguard Marks with minimal effort and soon you’ll be swathed in Legendary gear.

Written by Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Mister_L Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: PUBG, Rainbow 6: Siege, Assassin's Creed: Origins, Total War: Warhammer 2

3 thoughts on “The Destiny Post-Level 20 Guide to Earning Legendary and Exotic Gear”

  1. I think you covered it all pretty well Mitch! As far as I know, these all are the best options you can do. I have farmed Loot Cave here and there and managed to up my Cryptarch rank from it, which in turn gets you Engrams from the Postmaster, and at Level 5 (I think?) rank you can get Legendaries from them. I managed to get lucky and get a Legendary armor piece from a rare while farming, and then an Exotic from the Cryptarch rank leveling up. The best method I’d go for right now is to get Vanguard rank up and get marks to get guaranteed Legendaries as it’s less RNG based, and not hinged upon RNG’esus smiling upon you with your Engrams. Legendaries have been proven to show up at the Loot Cave though, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Plus a Public Event shows up there every 30 minutes to break the monotony of the firing squad surrounding the cave.

  2. Thanks playersbro! By the way I saw your Exotic gear on PSN and I got mad jelly.

    I don’t mean to suggest that the Cryptarch and Engrams don’t have their place, but they’re more of a stepping stone to better gear, not the be all end all of Destiny’s post-game content.

    Seriously, people think that shooting into a cave for 100 hours is what Bungie had planned? To be fair it would be helpful if Bungie would actually tell us. A lot of the current butthurt would be mitigated if Bungie would just spell it out in plain terms.

  3. No problem! Haha, I couldn’t believe I’d gotten it. That damn Cryptarch just loves to give me rares out of Legendary engrams.

    I defintely agree that they provide as a stepping stone. It does seem a bit odd that because of the way the loot system currently works, people have been using a mob spawn exploit just to get better gear. Hopefully they tweak it a bit so that doing some of the other activities have better chances of getting something worthwhile. That’s not to say they should be handing out Legendaries like Halloween candy. Bungie should have been a bit more vocal about this, but regardless of everything Destiny is still super fun to play. I haven’t had this much fun with an FPS in quite some time.

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