So I was looking at the rewards for some of the milestones in Destiny 2 and noticed there was one that was rewarding 'Legendary Gear' with a purple hexagon and another that is rewarding 'Powerful Gear' and is also a purple hexagon but a bit shinier. Which you can see down below.

So I am wondering, which is meant to be the higher tier and give better loot?


Destiny and Destiny 2 contain the same loot hierarchy. This is:

White (Common) < Green (Uncommon) < Blue (Rare) < Purple (Legendary) < Yellow (Exotic)

There is no tier of gear called "Powerful"; as the other answers have pointed out, these "Powerful gear" rewards give you a Luminous Engram.

"Powerful gear" rewards, which are Luminous Engrams, differ from Legendary Engrams in the fact that:

  • The Power of the items will be above your level, even once other items have "stopped" at 265 (more on this below)
  • You receive two items from the Powerful gear reward, one of which has a high chance of being an Exotic
  • Oftentimes these rewards will have Legendary Mods that give them +5 power, but not always; more often than not these are present in the Nightfall lumnious engram
  • These Powerful Gear rewards are available weekly (on each character!) from a variety of weekly activities called "Milestones".
  • Luminous Engrams are not "locked" at the light level they drop. Revisiting the rewards vendor who has a Luminous Engram available to give you after increasing your Power will increase the Power of the engram as well

It is worth noting that other items will not stop at 265. So far, no one is quite sure what this number is, but items will drop above 265 after a point. However, they will be stuck at 265 for quite a while until your Power becomes above 270, at which they will begin to slowly and incrementally increase in power. This likely beings around Power 276, the pattern for scaling Legendary Engrams appears to be 10 Power less than your current Power level, not factoring mods. So, if you are Power 295 and have no legendary mods installed, your Legendary Engrams will drop around 285.

Once you hit "true" Power 300 (this is Power 305 if everything is slotted with mods), engrams begin to drop in rotating patterns from vendors between 295 and 300. But that's a whole other rabbit hole.

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    No they are most certainly Luminous Engrams both in name on the milestone and when you pick them up from the correct person. They are significantly higher in level, and grant two items, both legendary but with one as a high exotic chance. They're specifically named that as they're important for leveling, while they may grant legendary gear, they are not the same as a legendary engram. – n_plum Sep 13 '17 at 15:26
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    Luminous Engrams are a bit of a special case since they are a reward from a vendor, and not an engram you receive as a drop in the game world -- unlike Legendary and Exotic engrams. They have a much, much higher chance of giving you an exotic than a regular Legendary engram, and as mentioned their power level is going to be much higher as Legendary engrams (and even Exotics) will cap at a certain Power once you get high enough. They will also never drop in the game world, and are milestone rewards only. So you shouldn't treat them quite like a normal Legendary engram. – Zodack Sep 13 '17 at 16:17
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    I've been tracking this closely across my 3 characters, which are now all 300ish. From my experience at 275 onward the base level of a Powerful/Luminous will be stick close to or a little above your maximum possible level (max 300) where a Legendary (or Rare!) will slow to 10 levels below (+-1). When you add on a +5 Legendary mod then the drop level is equivalent to Max-5 for Legendary and Max+5 for Luminous. e.g. @ 302 I get 292 Rare/Legendary engrams but my last Luminous contained a 299 and a 300. – PeteWiFi Sep 22 '17 at 13:31
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    You missed probably the most important point :-) A Legendary engram is level locked at the point it drops! A Luminous engram is NOT! You can hold off on cashing in a Luminous and it's potential power will continue to grow as your level does. This is particularly useful <265 but I wouldn't let it roll over the weekly reset. Useful tip: This is also the case for the Mida & Sturm rewards. – PeteWiFi Sep 22 '17 at 13:37
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    @PeteWiFi Both of these are things I have been encountering as well! The -10 scaling for legendary engrams I experienced a bit after answering this question, and I did totally gloss over that luminous engrams don't scale. Good catch. – Zodack Sep 22 '17 at 13:57

Reading this site, powerful gear isn't its own tier, but a type of gear within Legendary gear, which is how I interpreted it:

Power level 265 is the plateau for 'normal' Legendaries, but there's a tier within Legendary gear called 'powerful gear', which only drops from certain Milestones, which only drop their loot weekly.

The main difference that I can find about this gear is that it levels you past the cap of normal gear (which looks to be 265 according to this site, but I've read elsewhere that it's 260). Exotic gear can also level you past this as well. If you are looking to get as much power as possible, then I would say Powerful gear is the way to go and is of a higher tier despite being within the legendary rarity. Other players seem to suggest waiting until you reach the power cap before obtaining this gear.

  • Also in my experience powerful gear seems to give stuff that is ~5 power higher than normal legendary engrams. ie if I pick up an engram it might be a 250 power engram. A powerful gear would be 255. This is just anecdotal at this stage though but the powerful items have remained far higher than my other gear after a number of other drops have happened... – Chris Sep 13 '17 at 12:00
  • @chris If I remember correctly from Destiny, the items you got scaled to your level somewhat. That is probably why people say to wait until you are 260 to get this gear. Otherwise, if you obtain it earlier, it may not be powerful enough to push you past the cap. – Timmy Jim Sep 13 '17 at 12:01
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    Yes. The gear you pick up does base on your best item level attainable. My point is that normal legendary give say 1 or 2 above it whereas powerful give more like 6 or 7 above it. This is not related to discussions of when you should do this. Just a fact (I think) about how they work. – Chris Sep 13 '17 at 12:14
  • Depending on your level though. If you're stuck at say 267, you'll continue to get your legendary engrams dropping at 267 (they don't go up 1 or 2 if you're overall possible power is not above a threshold). Powerful gear and exotics are the only things that will drop higher than your power. I've had powerful gear drop over 10 levels higher, it's not always a small amount. – n_plum Sep 13 '17 at 15:08

Powerful Gear IS Legendary Gear, with the distinction that it's guaranteed to be higher than your current power level (until you max it out) where a normal Legendary drop or reward is not.

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