After playing Destiny for a good few hours, I've now pushed my light level well into three figures. All my equipment slots are taken up with Rare/blue items.

I'm picking up new items and engrams on every mission. Early on, a friendly player on a fireteam told me just to equip the highest level items I had, never to buy upgrades, and junk everything else. The only exceptions were to be made for Legendary or Exotic items.

When you're rising through levels really quickly, this seemed like sound advice. And given I've still got a long way to go, I've stuck with it for my mid-level plays.

However, another friendly player told me yesterday that there were some upgrade perks that were worth taking and keeping, even on otherwise comparatively low-level gear. He gave me the example of Firefly, which causes targets to explode if they're killed by a precision shot, and said there were others.

Going through every item I pick up and looking at its upgrade tree is time consuming when I just want to be slaughtering aliens. So: what's the best way to quickly and accurately determine what's worth keeping and what should be dismantled for parts?

  • 1
    This really comes down to opinion, and depends on how you want to play the game. I personally sell new gear that I don't intend to use, and disregard the upgrade trees on gear unless an item is Legendary/Exotic (so the same attitude as your fireteam friend)
    – 1990clb
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:11

4 Answers 4


I recently did the "light level climb" after returning to Destiny for The Taken King. I'll give you my rundown on what to keep and what to shard:

Keep whatever has the highest light level in each slot. (duh ;) Make sure you equip your highest light level gear when decrypting, since that will impact the level at which the engrams decrypt at.

Shard almost everything below the highest light level in a slot, if that item's light is less than 30 below the light level cap (so 290 at this point). So if you've got a 290 helmet and pick up a 260, shard that 260 mo'fo.

One specific exception is the purple sword you can get from one of the questlines - infusing this up to 280 is a hidden quest step. (Thanks, Ob- ...ungie) You can re-buy the swords now, though, so destroying your purple sword is more of an annoyance than anything else.

There is one weapon perk (Relentless Tracker) that temporarily grants you the ability to see chests and upgrade materials after getting a kill, and if you can find this, it's worth hanging on to if you don't play a Hunter and have this as a sublcass perk. (You'll thank me later when you're collecting Hadmium Flakes for hours on end...)

"But, what about this awesome 210 whatever?!?" - Almost everything can be re-bought in the tower once you meet certain prerequisites. For instance, if you shard an exotic, you can buy it back (albeit at lower light level) from the vending machines in the Vanguard hall. Shaders, emblems, sparrows, etc, can be bought from other machines in the Tower as well. The faction reps in the tower sell various purple-grade gear too.

Another consideration - sharding purple items grants Legendary Marks. There's a cap of 200 marks you can hold at a time, so if you're at 200, you might want to save purples to shard later when you need more marks. Of course, you could spend some marks beforehand if that suits you.

If you are using Exotics, bear in mind that you can only have one Exotic weapon and one Exotic armor piece equipped at a time (again, some special exceptions apply, but this is the general rule). Thus, it makes sense to save a non-exotic piece with good light for slots where you might choose an exotic, so that you can use different exotics and not hinder your light level overly much.

When it comes to stuff that's within 20 or 30 light of the cap (ie, 290+ gear right now when the cap is 320), things get a bit trickier. You may want to keep some of this stuff so that you can infuse it into other gear. For instance, many exotics drop at 290, or 280 if you buy from vendor(s). Thus, you might want to infuse these up to get the most out of them. Or, you might get a really good legendary that you want to level up, so having some sacrificial high light items can be worth the trouble of storing for later.

(Infusion keeps a percentage of the difference in light level unless the two items are close enough together to get the full difference. If this is confusing, consult an infusion calculator ;)

A final note - standard Crucible (NOT Iron Banner) matches don't take your light level into consideration. Thus, you might want to keep some weapons that suit your playstyle around (ie, year one exotics, or weapons with your favorite perks, etc) to play regular Crucible with.


Something that hasn't been mentioned by the other answers is that the Gunsmith reputation will eventually give you missions to dismantle certain types of weapons for unique class weapons and other good weapons. Saving a few blue and purple weapons of different types will let you complete these right away. You need 10 "parts" total, you get 1 per blue dismantle and 5 per purple dismantle.


Yes, as far as running missions pre-level-cap goes, just roll with whatever has the highest light level and almost never buy upgrades.

Something that was not mentioned here, though, is that, if you like the crucible, it is very important to note that light level does not matter for (almost) every game type. So it might be a good idea to keep around a set of gear that you fully upgrade that has the stats/perks you like for pvp.

A good example of this is that I kept around a slow ROF very high impact machine gun light level 100 for a very long time because it kills guardians in 3-5 shots. I also found a headpiece that had a melee speed upgrade. Which is pretty odd as that bonus is usually found on an arm piece. Needless to say the effects are devastating when combined with an armpiece with that same bonus on a titan in the crucible.

Many of those legacy legendary weapons you get while doing the storyline missions during leveling actually totally wreck in the crucible. The Murmur is a fantastic fusion rifle especially when upgraded.


I generally hold all items (and engrams) then check everything over at once, 'after the fight' when I return to the tower.

It's annoying and slow, but this is really a mmo fps and so some kind of grinding behaviour is to be expected.

  • I do the same, decrypt everything at once then salvage what's not needed.
    – C-dizzle
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:09
  • Once you're near max level (around/above 300 light) you actually should decrpyt engrams one at a time and equip them if they increase your light. Engrams decrypt based on your current light level so it's beneficial to do this to get your light level that tiny little bit higher for that tiny extra chance of a higher light level item. Dec 22, 2015 at 14:17
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    Even then, you can yse higher-light items to upgrade the light of lower-light items from atleast legendary. It can be more beneficial to the end game to favour secondary attributes, like firefly, and simply use higher light items to uograde favoured items. You can lock items to prevent accidental dissassembly with r3/right analog
    – user106385
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:58
  • @Timelord64 omg that lock thing is genius, wish I knew that when I accidently dismantled my sniper :( Dec 22, 2015 at 15:15

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