Destiny has a basic levelling system that is pretty easy to understand.  Complete quests, kill enemies, gain experience and therefore levels.  It’s a standard tried and true system that works in pretty much every game with levels out there.  However Destiny only follows this method until you hit the “level cap” of 20.

I say level cap in quotes, since it really isn’t the cap at all.  Sure, your character can only get to level 20 as his base level, but there is a whole second levelling system in the game that allows you to reach “pseudo” levels above the level cap.  These levels are reached by collecting Light points on your gear.

What are Light Points?

Light points are a special stat on high-level items that allow you to effectively exceed the level cap. 

Which items can provide Light Points?

Not all item types provide Light Points.  In fact, it is only your four basic pieces of armour that do.  This means that only your: Helm, Gloves, Chest, and Boots can provide any Light Points for you.  Additionally, don't expect to find any items at all that provide Light Points until you are at least close to level 20.

How many Light Points are items worth?

This is a complicated question as each item is different depending on several things. 

Firstly, the total amount of light that an item can have is limited by its quality. 

  • Rare items can max out at 15 Light Points (Blue Items)
  • Non-Raid Legendary items can max out at 27 Light Points (Purple Items)
  • Raid Legendary items can max out at 30 Light Points (Purple Items from Vault of Glass)
  • Exotic Items can max out at 30 Light Points (Yellow Items)

Secondly, even though the total max of an item is determined by its quality, any specific item may not be able to reach that maximum.  This is most typical with Rare (Blue) items that may not have as many Light points on them as they theoretically can.  Meaning many rare items start with 2 or 4 Light and not 14, and therefore can not hit the maximum possible.

Lastly, the Light Points that an item is worth, changes as you upgrade it!  This is a big factor and therefore gets it’s own section below.

What? The Light Point Value of an Item Changes?

Yes, that’s right, the number of Light Points an item is worth changes over time, which is not something that is advertised in the game as you level them up.  Unless you check the Light Points on an item before and after you upgrade it, you may never know.  Bungie has done a very poor job explaining this in game, and many people find out only after they upgrade their gear, and some never even realize.

This became apparent to me, when playing with a friend that got a really good piece of gear in the Vault of Glass and was going to disassemble it because it had less light than his existing gear.  He said he thought the item he had was only worth 18 light, but it was in fact worth 27, so he didn’t need the raid legendary.  So, even people that have finished the game sometimes are not clear on how this all works, hence this guide.

Luckily, there is a relatively simple way to figure out how many points a piece of gear will be worth once fully upgraded.

The final Light Points value of an item will generally = Starting Light Points + 2 Light Points per Defensive Upgrade.

There are a few exceptions to keep in mind though:

  • You only get +1 Point for the First Defensive Upgrade on Rare and Non-Raid Legendary items.
  • You get +3 Points for the last Defensive Upgrade on Raid Legendary and Exotic items.

How many Light Points do you need per level?

So, now that you know where Light Points come from, how many do you need?

The amount of Light points you need to reach level 21 is 21. Each level after that needs an additional 11 points. Pretty easy to remember, right?  It becomes a little harder to remember what you needed to get to each level though and where you are.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you do all the math for each level, here is a chart:

Level Light Required Level Light Required
20 0 21 21
22 32 23 43
24 54 25 65
26 76 27 87
28 98 29 109
30 120    

What happens to Light Points after Level 30?

No one knows.  At release the cap is at Light Level 30. That may change as time goes by and additional content is added.  Currently, since there are only four slots for gear that provide Light Points, and the maximum each can provide is 30, there is no way to get past 120 to see what happens.


Hopefully this guide has been of use to you.  If you have any questions though, please post them in the comment section below and I, or one of our readers, will give you a hand.


To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Destiny Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2016

About The Author

Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.