Destiny 2 Best PVE Weapons right now

by | Jul 14, 2021 | Weapons

As you start getting serious with Destiny 2, one of the first questions you’ll have is: What are the best weapons in the game?

That question is not as easy to answer, as it all depends on whether you’re looking for the top weapons for PVP, PVE, casual, or endgame content.

Today, we’ll focus on the best PVE weapons in 2021 for endgame activities that were not sunsetted and remain viable as of Season 14, aka, Season of the Splicer.

In this guide, we’ll cover both Exotic and Legendary weapons (including their PVE god rolls), give you an overview of the current PVE meta, and provide quick guides on how to obtain the top PVE exotics. For the sake of clarity, we’ll split our selection of weapons into three categories: primary, special and heavy weapons.

Jarv LogoA big thank you to Jarv for helping me put together this selection. Jarv is one of my favorite PVE content creators and someone you should definitely check out on YouTube.


Destiny 2 Best PVE Primary weapons

In this section, we cover the best primary PVE weapons. And by primary, we mean either Kinetic or Energy weapons that use Primary ammo. If you sometimes get confused between Kinetic, Primary, and weapons, just remember Primary weapons use “normal” ammo, aka, white ammo boxes:

Alert iconAbout DPS: DPS, or damage per second, is important for PVE, because the higher the DPS, the more damage you can deal to a Boss or Major. You can read all about it in our DPS guide.

Weapon | TypeDrops from ❘ RequiresBase DPSPVE Verdict
IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2 Destiny 2 art
IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2
| Submachine Gun
World Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
4,591
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Aggressive

PVE God Roll: Threat Detector (also good: Subsistence) + Surrounded

► Players have been desperately looking for a Recluse replacement for months, and after disappointments such as the Seventh Seraph VY-7 or the DeathAdder, Bungie finally delivered a solid SMG: the reprised IKELOS_SMG_V.1.0.2.

With the right perks, this weapon shreds, and as a massive bonus, it can create Warmind cells, which are virtually mini-nukes that destroy everything and everyone around them.

Decent Alternative: Seventh Serath VY-7.
Destiny 2 Trinity Ghoul art
Trinity Ghoul
| Combat Bow
Exotic Engram
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
-
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "Fires an arrow that splits when released. Aiming down sights and fully drawing the bow both decrease the spread. Precision kills grant the next shot chain-lightning capabilities."

► Bows don't usually get much love and are mostly used by bows aficionados only, except for Trinity Ghoul, which became one of the best Exotic primaries overnight and the absolute best PVE bow in the game.

With its new Catalyst, it can easily create massive chain-lightings, making ad clearing a breeze. To be fair, Trinity Ghoul won't be as effective in the highest-level endgame, but for everything else, it's one of the deadliest weapons in the entire game.
Good Alternative: Ticuu's Divination.
Fatebringer Destiny 2 art
Fatebringer
| Hand Cannon
Vault of Glass Raid
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
2,724
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVE God Roll: Explosive Payload (also good: Rewind Rounds) + Firefly (also good: Frenzy)

► The most iconic weapon from the Vault of Glass raid, Fatebringer is the weapon everyone is talking about. And on paper, Fatebringer has a lot to offer: great stats and great perks.

Fatebringer does have a little too much competition for PVP, namely all the top-tier kinetic Exotic hand cannons out there. But for PVE, Fatebringer has some of the best damage-dealing Perk combinations in the game, and that alone helps it stand out.
Decent Alternative: Dire Promise.
Extraordinary Rendition Destiny 2 art
Extraordinary Rendition
| Submachine Gun
Battlegrounds
Destiny 2 Deluxe Edition logo
4,591
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Aggressive

PVE God Roll: Subsistence (also good: Overflow) + Frenzy (also good: Rampage)

► SMGs are in a great place right now. Dealing much more damage than Auto Rifles while simultaneously offering more range than sidearms, SMGs offer the perfect compromise between the two.

And while the IKELOS_SMG_V.1.0.2 reigned supreme due to its ability to create Warmind cells, Extraordinary Rendition emerged as an excellent kinetic alternative. With great PVE perks and a good damage output, Extraordinary Rendition is an top-notch PVE primary, especially now that screen shake was toned down for controller users.
Decent Alternative: Cold Front.
The Messenger Destiny 2 art
The Messenger
| Pulse Rifle
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
2,720
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: High-Impact

PVE God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Outlaw) + One for All(also good: Kill Clip)

► Offering better range than Auto rifles, Pulse rifles remain solid and consistent weapons to use in endgame PVE. And among the many excellent Pulses out there, this returning weapon from the original Destiny is hands down the best there is.

The Messenger has best-in-class base stats and excellent perks, including One for All, a perk that works wonders in endgame content. The only problem is finding a good roll. Being a Trials of Osiris weapon, farming The Messenger is no easy task...
Decent Alternative: No Time to Explain.
Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver Destiny 2 art
Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver
| Hand Cannon
Gunsmith
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
2,865
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Precision

PVE God Roll: Ambitious Assassin (also good: Fourth Time's the Charm) + Timed Payload

► The Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver may not have the best base stats ever seen in a 180 RPM hand cannon nor the best feel (that would be Posterity). But it has something better: Warmind Cells.

And as you probably know, Warmind Cells are extremely powerful. Almost broken, which makes any Seventh Seraph weapon valuable. On top of that, this hand cannon can also roll with excellent endgame PVE perks, namely Timed Payload, which is excellent when dealing with Overload Champions.
Decent Alternative: Posterity.
Chroma Rush Destiny 2 art
Chroma Rush
| Auto Rifle
Override
Destiny 2 Season 14 logo
3,906
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PVE God Roll: Subsistence (also good: Heating Up) + Rampage

► One of the new weapons released this season, Chroma Rush took the entire community by surprise. No one expected an auto rifle to feel this good. Usually not as strong as Adaptive frames, this Rapid-fire Auto rifle just slaps.

It has great stats, all the top-tier PVE perks one could ask for and an overall great feel. Chroma Rush just feels great, and with the right perks, it shreds too.
Decent Alternative: Seventh Seraph Carbine.
Igneous Hammer Destiny 2 art
Igneous Hammer
| Hand Cannon
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
2,965
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Aggressive

PVP God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Outlaw) + Rampage (also good: One for All)

► 120 RPMs have been so dominant in PVP, that most of us forget how good they can be in PVE too. With the best stats among 120 RPM hand cannons and an excellent perk selection, including the extremely fun Subsistence + Rampage, Igneous Hammer is a monster.

And now that Bungie has confirmed a hand cannon PVE buff next season, expect Igneous Hammer to become even better. Last but not least, as a Trials of Osiris weapon, it can also come in Adept versions which have slightly better stats and access to superior Adept modes.
Good Alternative: Bottom Dollar.
Trustee Destiny 2 art
Trustee
| Scout Rifle
Deep Stone Crypt Raid
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
3,352
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PVE God Roll: Reconstruction + Redirection (also good: High-Impact Reserves)

► It was hard to imagine just a few months ago that a scout rifle could be part of our Top PVE weapons selection. But thanks to a buff that makes them more consistent and easier to use, Scouts are finally relevant again.

Trustee is a particularly great choice. It has great all-around perks, especially for endgame content, and excellent base stats. Overall, this is one of the most consistent and lethal legendary scouts for PVE.
Decent Alternative: Vision of Confluence.
Gnawing Hunger Destiny 2 art
Gnawing Hunger
| Auto Rifle
World Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
3,555
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVE God Roll: Overflow (also good: Subsistence) + Rampage

► Auto rifles have always been accessible and easy to use. And while they're not as strong as they used to be just a few seasons ago, they are still good all-around weapons.

Among the many options available, Gnawing Hunger is the top choice. It offers some of the best PVE perks in the game, a huge magazine, great base stats, and a nice feel.
Decent Alternative: Shadow Price.

Destiny 2 Best PVE Special weapons

Destiny 2 special ammoIn this section, we cover the best Special PVE weapons. And by Special, we mean either kinetic or Energy weapons that use Special ammo. Just remember, Special weapons use “Special” ammo, aka, green ammo boxes:

Weapon | TypeDrops from ❘ RequiresBase DPSPVE Verdict
Heritage Destiny 2 art
Heritage
| Shotgun
Deep Stone Crypt Raid
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
12,862
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Precision Slug

PVE God Roll: Reconstruction (also good: Auto-Loading Holster) + Recombination

► Heritage is hands down the best PVE shotgun in the game. Slug shotguns have in general good DPS potential, but Heritage also benefits from both top-tier perks from the Deep Stone Crypt and excellent base stats.

But on top of that, Heritage can roll with fantastic perks that are unique to the DSC raid. With Recontruction and Redirection, Heritage can do massive DPS consistently, easily outperforming the vast majority of Special weapons in the game. And being a Kinetic weapon, it intrinsically deals 10% more damage than its Energy counterparts.
Decent Alternative: Blasphemer.
Destiny 2 Divinity art
Divinity
| Trace Rifle
Garden of Salvation Raid
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
7,182
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Sustained damage with this weapon envelops the target in a field that weakens and Overload rounds disrupts them."

► Divinity is the ultimate support weapon. It can deal with Overload Champions and more importantly, it can apply a huge debuff on everything, weakening enemies and creating a giant crit spot on them.

Divinity may have the lowest DPS on this list, but the huge benefits it can bring to a fireteam more than make up for it.

Average DPS: 7,182 with Debuff and Penance active.
Ignition Code Destiny 2 art
Ignition Code
| Grenade Launcher
Override
Destiny 2 Season 14 logo
6,052
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Lightweight

PVE God Roll: Slideshot + Vorpal Weapon

► Special ammo grenade launchers have always been strong in PVE, but Ignition Code is particularly good. On top of featuring that same massive damage all grenade launchers share, Ignition Code can also roll with Slideshot, an overall good perk that happens to be excellent on a grenade launcher.

With Slideshot and Vorpal Weapon, Ignition Code is hands-down one of the most powerful PVE weapons we have seen in a while. And if you're more instested in endgame content, it can also roll with Blinding Grenades, which is perhaps the best perk you could ever want.
Decent Alternative: Truthteller.


Average DPS: 6,052 with Spike Grenades.
Destiny 2 Eriana's Vow art
Eriana's Vow
| Hand Cannon
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
11,603
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Fires special Shield Piercing rounds shield-piercing ammunition. Bonus damage when aiming down sights on the opening shot of an attack."

► Able to deal with Barrier Champions intrisically, Eriana's Vow can also dish serious damage. This makes it an excellent choice for high-end PVE content and has the community asking for more Exotics like this.

A fan-favorite exotic hand cannon for the toughest endgame content such as Grandmaster Ordeals, Eriana's Vow can deal with Barrier Champions while also dishing some serious damage.

And to top things off, Eriana's Vow may behave like a sniper, but as it's technically a hand cannon, it was untouched by the big sniper nerf from last season.

Average DPS: 11,603 with With First-Glance active.
Succession Destiny 2 art
Succession
| Sniper Rifle
Deep Stone Crypt Raid
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
8,611
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Aggressive

PVE God Roll: Reconstruction + Vorpal Weapon (also good: Recombination)

► Succession also benefits from all of the best perks from the Deep Stone Crypt. And that is a big deal for a sniper rifle. If you manage to find a God roll, you'll have potentially the strongest legendary sniper in the game.

With perks such as Reconstruction and Vorpal Weapon, Succession is hands down the best PVE sniper rifle in Destiny 2, especially when facing Majors and Bosses in endgame content where keeping your distance is crucial.
Decent Alternative: Praedyth's Revenge.
Witherhoard art Destiny 2
Witherhoard
| Grenade Launcher
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1
3,601
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Projectiles fired blight the target or nearby area on impact. Blighted targets take damage over time and blight the nearby area on death."

► With the ability to inflict significant damage over time, Witherhoard acts like a "mini" Anarchy. This weapon has quickly become one of the go-to weapons for PVE, with many using it for the hardest solo feats.

Players have been desperately looking for a Mountaintop replacement. This is it. Shoot it at an enemy, the floor where that enemy is standing, and then switch to your Heavy weapon to basically melt anything the game throws at you.
Salvager's Salvo Destiny 2 art
Salvager's Salvo
| Grenade Launcher
Pursuit Weapon
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
6,052
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Lightweight

PVE Fixed Roll: Ambitious Assassin + Chain Reaction (also good: Vorpal Weapon)

► Salvager's Salvo is an excellent grenade launcher that can also roll with Chain reaction, a must-have perk for PVE.

With Chain Reaction coupled with Ambitions Assassin, Salvager's Salvo is nearly unmatched when it comes to dealing with ads. And if you want to use it against Major or Bosses, it also comes with Vorpal Weapon.
Decent Alternative: Empty Vessel.


Average DPS: 6,052 with Spike Grenades.
Cloudstrike Destiny 2
Cloudstrike
| Sniper Rifle
Empire Hunts
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
15,926
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Precision final blows generate a lightning bolt at the target's location. Rapid precision hits create a lightning storm at the point of impact."

► Cloudstrike is currently so good, it basically puts every other sniper rifle to shame. The thing is, we all expected it to be a good ad clear weapon thanks to its lighting storms. But Cloudstrike is also an excellent weapon for boss encounters and generally inflicting a lot of DPS to single targets.

And as a bonus, its lighting bolts and storms look spectacular and will make you will gooooood...
First In Last Out Destiny 2 art
First In, Last Out
| Shotgun
World Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
12,862
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Precision Slug

PVE God Roll: Auto-Loading Holster (also good: Outlaw) + Vorpal Weapon

► First In, Last Out is one of the best PVE Special weapons in the game right now. In fact, it's a go-to option when dealing with the Deep Stone Crypt's final boss.

With good stats and all the best PVE perks, Last In, Last Out remains one of the best PVE Special weapons in the game. The only reason you don't hear more about it is because Heritage exists...
Decent Alternative: Sojourner's Tale.
Null Composure Destiny 2 art
Null Composure
| Fusion Rifle
Pursuit Weapon
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
8,771
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PVE Fixed Roll: Feeding Frenzy + Reservoir Burst

► To be honest, Null Composure did disappoint when it came out as a Rapid-Fire fusion rifle without Auto-Loading Holster. But that's mostly because players expected it to replace the legendary Loaded Question.

The now retired Loaded Question may be stronger, but Null Composure is still an excellent PVE weapon able to easily dispose of ads and Majors.
Decent Alternative: PLUG ONE.1.

Destiny 2 Best PVE Heavy weapons

Destiny 2 Heavy ammoIn this section, we cover the best Heavy weapons for PVE. In other words, weapons that use “heavy” ammo, aka, purple ammo boxes:

Weapon | TypeDrops from ❘ RequiresBase DPSPVE Verdict
Destiny 2 Anarchy
Anarchy
| Grenade Launcher
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1
8,252
Slot: Arc Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "Grenades stick to surfaces and chain Arc bolts to other mines. It also has the Moving Target perk."

► With its damage over time, Anarchy is arguably the best boss-DPS Power weapon in Destiny 2. Generally speaking, it's often a favorite for raids and Grandmaster Nightfalls, as it can deal a lot of tick damage while you and your fireteam use something like a slug shotgun or sniper rifle in parallel.

In fact, Anarchy is so strong and has dominated for so long that Bungie has already stated it will finally receive a nerf next season to give other Power weapons more breathing room...

Average DPS: 8,252 but has an insane total damage of 990,240.
Hezen Vengeance Destiny 2 art
Hezen Vengeance
| Rocket Launcher
Vault of Glass Raid
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
14,687
Slot: Solar Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Archetype: Aggressive

PVE God Roll: Overflow (also good: Auto-Loading Holster) + Vorpal Weapon (also good: Impulse Amplifier)

► As a pinnacle weapon only found in the Vault of Glass raid, Hezen Vengeance obviously features excellent bases stats and perks. But what sets this rocket launcher apart is one perk in particular...

Able to roll with Overflow, Hezen Vengeance automatically reloads when picking up Special or Heavy ammo. This alone makes Hezen Vengeance one of the best burst DPS weapons in the entire game as it can frequently shoot two rockets in a row.
Decent Alternative: Royal Entry.


Average DPS: 14,687 with Impact Casing.
Falling Guillotine Destiny 2 art
Falling Guillotine
| Sword
World Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
18,094
Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Archetype: Vortex

PVE God Roll: Relentless Strikes + Whirlwind Blade

► In spite of receiving a few nerfs over the seasons, Falling Guillotine is still one of the best Heavy legendary weapons in Destiny. The Crown-Splitter Titan-specific sword may be stronger right now thanks to a specific Seasonal Mod, but Falling Guillotine remains the all-around favorite.

On top of having great stats, Falling Guillotine also features the absolute best Sword perks, making it slightly better than its Solar counterpart, Eternity’s Edge.
Decent Alternative: The Lament.


Average DPS: 18,094 with Jagged Edge.
Destiny 2 Deathbringer art
Deathbringer
| Rocket Launcher
Exotic Quest
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
31,129
Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "Fires remotely detonated projectiles that drop Void orbs on combatants. Hold to fire, release to detonate. The further a Void orb falls, the more powerful its detonation becomes."

► Deathbringer is one of the most misunderstood and slept-on weapons in the entire game. But now that it finally received a Catalyst, players are finally realizing how good this weapon is.

While its projectiles can be sometimes unreliable, they still hit like a truck. When used right, Deathbringer can deal some of the highest DPS numbers In the entire game, be it against a Boss or several ads and Majors.

Good Alternative: Eyes of Tomorrow.
Destiny 2 Xenophage
Xenophage
| Machine Gun
Exotic Quest
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
14,680
Slot: Solar Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "Fires high-powered explosive ammunition. Aiming this weapon increases its effective range and zoom magnification."

► A top choice for both PVE and PVP, Xenophage is a must-have Power weapon.

Its DPS numbers may not seem that impressive, but Xenophage is so easy to use and consistent, it's a must-have Power weapon that all serious PVE players should have. Xenophage is particularly strong against bosses that move a lot and would be otherwise hard to hit with a grenade or rocket launcher, such as the Garden of Salvation raid's final boss.
Good Alternative: Thunderlord.

If you’re looking for a video with the best PVE weapons you should farm before Beyond Light arrives, this video from Jarv is a must-see:


Destiny 2 PVE Meta (as of July 2021)

Every sandbox change comes with a new meta. And while we love to criticize Bungie for not changing the meta often enough, the last few seasons have significantly altered the hierarchy of PVE weapon types in Destiny 2.

PS: If you’re looking for the complete rundown of the state of the current Meta for PVP and PVP, check out our Destiny 2 Meta weapons guide.

We covered the absolute best PVE weapons before, but if you’re interested in other weapons, it’s important to understand how the different weapon types compare with each other.

Alert iconDestiny 2 Meta refers to the most used weapons for a particular activity. Generally, these weapons are the most used because they are the most powerful/efficient.

These are the different Tier levels used for these Tier lists:

  • S Tier – Best: Highest ranking weapon types.
  • A Tier – Strong: Very strong weapon types, but not on the same level as S Tier Choices.
  • B Tier – Average: Decent choices that can be lethal in the hands of a skilled player.
  • C Tier – Weak: The middle of the pack, somewhat mediocre.
  • D Tier – Worst: Lagging behind the competition, these don’t have much to offer.

The list starts with S Tier and moves down until it reaches the bottom Tier:

PVE Primary weapons meta

Weapon TypeTierRole ❘ Current State
SMG weapon type Destiny 2
Submachine Guns
Best

S

Submachine guns are in a great place right now. With good DPS, decent ammo, and acceptable range, SMGs are seen as the perfect compromise between range and damage.

On top of that, specific SMGs such as the IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2 or Extraordinary Rendition are exceptionally good. True top-tier PVE choices, including endgame activities.
Auto rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Auto Rifles
Strong

A

Auto rifles, in general, are not as strong as SMGs. They simply cannot do as much damage as SMG.
On the flip side, they offer better range, and in some situations, excellent ammo.

But a few auto rifles can truly excel and can be easily considered S-tier individually, namely the 720 RPM Chroma Rush and the 600 RPM Gnawing Hunger.
Sidearm weapon type Destiny 2
Sidearms
Strong

A

Sidearms may be some of the most slept on weapons in Destiny 2. Most guardians prefer to stay away from them due to their limited range. But on the other hand, their DPS is unmatched as long as you can get close enough to stay within their optimal range.

This makes sidearms slightly riskier in endgame content such as Grandmaster content.
Hand cannon weapon type Destiny 2
Hand Cannons
Strong

A

While Hand cannons easily dominate in PVP, they are currently lackluster in the DPS department. Their DPS is so poor, even Bungie acknowledged it and already announced an incoming PVE buff.

But to be fair, they are still viable for Master and Grandmaster content, mainly due to their peak shooting capabilities.
Pulse rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Pulse Rifles
Average

B

Pulse rifles are true work horses. They do reasonable damage, have a good range, and are, overall, safe and easy to use in Master and Grandmaster content.

They may not excel in the DPS department, are still extremely solid all-around choices.
Scout rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Scout Rifles
Average

B

Scout rifles are slowly making a comeback. They will be easily outclassed by every other weapon types in most content, but they are proving to be excellent for endgame content.

Their long range, combined with the surprisingly high DPS of some of the best Pulses, makes them finally viable for endgame content.
Combat bow weapon type Destiny 2
Combat Bows
Weak

C

Combat bows can truly excel in some niche situations. Namely, in very difficult content in which you want to stay as far away from enemies as possible.

With virtually infinite range, bows can deal good damage from insane distances.

PVE Special weapons meta

For the sake of clarity, all weapon categories consisting of only 1 or 2 exotics have been excluded. Weapons such as Divinity or Eriana’s Vow are too unique to be representative of an entire weapon type.

If you’re particularly interested in these unique exotics, check out our Exotic Tier list including every exotic weapon currently in the game.

Weapon TypeTierRole ❘ Current State
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
Best

S

► Special ammo Grenade launchers used to be Top tier, but that was only because of the Mountaintop. Technically, the Mountaintop is still one of the best (if not THE best) special weapon for PVE.

Thing is, Mountaintop will be retired with Beyond Light and won't be viable for endgame content anymore. And as much as people keep saying Truthteller will replace it, no other grenade launcher will be nearly as good as the Mountaintop.
Shotgun weapon type Destiny 2
Shotguns
Best

S

► Shotguns are in a great place right now, and that's mainly due to the buff to slug shotguns but also the many new shotguns recently released with great stats and insane damage-dealing perks such as Reconstruction, Vorpal weapon, one-two punch, etc.

Overall, shotguns are finally hitting that sweet spot between risk and reward. Slug shotguns, in particular, are among the best shotguns in the game.
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
Strong

A

► Up until Season of Dawn, snipers were the best PVE special weapons in the game. They were extremely lethal and safe to use in endgame content, as they allowed players to deal insane DPS from afar.

But Bungie decided to nerf them hard because they were "too safe", bringing them back to pre-Shadowkeep values. Except, they were buffed with Shadowkeep because they were too average...
Trace rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Trace Rifles
Average

B

► Trace rifles don't have much going for them in PVP. They can deal respectable total damage, which can be useful on a boss. But in PVP, you wan't the opposite.

With insanely high TTKs (remember, high = bad), it can take forever to down an opponent, unless they're absolutely terrible and barely move at all, or you have excellent tracking. Generally speaking, Trace rifles take too long to do significant damage and most opponents will either hide or counter you with something that hits harder, such as a shotgun.
Fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Fusion Rifles
Average

B

► Fusion rifles were recipients of a significant nerf some time ago, making them technically weaker than before.

That said, fusion rifles deserve more love, because even if they were nerfed, they are still powerful. They are capable of dealing more damage than snipers while being safer to use (due to having more range) than shotguns.

PVE Heavy weapons meta

Same as before, weapon categories consisting of only 1 or 2 exotics have been excluded. In this case, snipers, shotguns, and fusion rifles have been excluded:

Weapon TypeTierRole ❘ Current State
Sword weapon type Destiny 2
Swords
Best

S

Main roles: Add Clear & Single Target damage (i.e. Boss damage).

Current State: Swords are incredibly strong right now. Several buffs and a huge rework during Season of the Worthy made them much more usable. They are now safer to use, have a better ammo economy, and can deal much more damage.

Swords are as high risk / high reward as it gets. If used right, a top-tier sword can basically delete any enemy, even on higher difficulties. No wonder The Lament and Falling Guillotine are still some of the best Power weapons available.
Rocket launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Rocket Launchers
Strong

A

Main role: Burst Damage (Secondary role: Add Clear)

Rocket launchers went through a rough patch that relegated to the least preferred Heavy weapon in the entire game.

Bungie has been hard at work at making them relevant again, and after two noticeable buffs, Rocket launchers are making a huge comeback. With great DPS potential and bigger magazines, they are among the best tools at your disposal, no matter the content.
Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
Strong

A

Main role: Single Target damage (Secondary role: Burst Damage)

Current State: Linear fusion rifles have been in the middle of an identity crisis for a while, but that should finally change this season. With increased damage to critical hits, Linear Fusions are now much more lethal and rewarding, provided you can hit your shots.

It's still too early to tell how meta they can become, but keep an eye on Sleeper Simulant, or a Threaded Needle with Vorpal Weapon. These will be among your top DPS options this season.
Machine gun weapon type Destiny 2
Machine Guns
Average

B

Main role: Add Clear

Current State: Machine guns are not what they used to be, not for PVE at least. While a god-rolled Commemoration or a Thunderlord will definitely get the job done at clearing ads, they remain the shadow of their former selves.

Bungie itself has confirmed they need to be fine-tuned, but that could take a while... To be fair, they still have their place and have proven to be excellent to deal with elemental shields in Grandmaster Nightfall: The Ordeals.
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
Average

B

Main role: Add Clear (Secondary role: Single Target Damage).

Current State: Grenade launchers went from the indisputable PVE choice to just an average, situational weapon type, in a matter of months.

To be fair, they remain viable, especially when getting too close to the enemy is impossible. Otherwise, they have been replaced by Swords as the go-to damage-dealing Heavy weapon type in the game.
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Exotic Sniper Rifles
Weak

C

Main role: Single Target damage

Current State: Finally, we have Exotic Sniper rifles, a very niche choice represented by only 2 weapons, D.A.R.C.I and Whisper of the Worm.

Heavy Exotic Snipers are far from being meta right now. D.A.R.C.I is one of the most underwhelming Exoticsin the entire game, while Whisper of the Warm is the shadow of its former self due to the blanket nerf all snipers received a few seasons ago.

As you can see, the Meta can completely change in a heartbeat. You can rest assured, though, as this overview is up to date with the current Season of Arrivals sandbox and will be updated as soon as a new meta arrives.


Destiny 2 Best PVE Exotics: How to get them

We cover every exotic quest in Destiny 2 in this guide, but these are the detailed steps on how to acquire all the top PVE exotics in Destiny 2 mentioned before. Note that exotic quests involve very different steps of varying difficulty:

0. Season Pass: How to get Witherhoard

This one is extremely easy to get. It’s part of your Season Pass and is immediately available in the Paid track of the Season Pass or at Rank 35 in the Free Track.

Witherhoard will probably be available via the Exotic ciphers (read the section below) once the season is over, but who knows when. I recommend claiming this weapon right now, just to be safe!

1. Exotic Engrams: How to get Trinity Ghoul

Trinity Ghoul and Monte Carlo can be found as random exotic engrams. This is bad news if you don’t already have them as you won’t be able to actively work to get them.

In a nutshell, there are only a few ways you can get exotic engrams in Destiny 2:

  • From the Season pass (the Free track offers while the Paid track offers )
  • From Xur: Either as his random exotic engram or as his weekly Exotic weapon for sale
  • As a random World drop

There isn’t much more that can be said about grinding Exotic engrams, only that they have a higher chance to drop from end-game activities. If finding this exotic is your priority, Nightfall: The Ordeals are for you. And the higher the difficulty (Master level and above), the higher the chance to get one.

2. Exotic Kiosk: How to get Eriana’s Vow and Anarchy

With the release of Beyond Light on November 10, 2020, several Exotics became available via the new Exotics kiosk in the tower, called the Monument to Lost Lights. The Monument to Lost Lights includes weapons that used to be part of Exotic quests that are no longer in the game.

Nowadays, weapons such as Erian’s Vow, Izanagi’s Burden, and Anarchy can be instantly acquired at the Exotics kiosk, provided you have the necessary materials. We cover all the weapons and materials from the Monument to Lost Lights here.

Destiny 2 Monument to Lost Lights wide

3. Raid Exotics: How to get Divinity

One Thousand Voices is straightforward to obtain as it can only drop from the Last Wish raid final boss.

Divinity on the other hand is more complicated to obtain. It’s part of an exotic quest that eventually takes you to the Garden of Salvation raid. This video guide from Datto has all the details.

4. Exotic Quests: How to get Xenophage

Xenophage is part of a long Exotic quest that will take you to a special boss in the Pit of Heresy dungeon. You can find video guides for all the Exotic quests still in the game here.


Destiny 2 Best PVE loadouts

Up until now, we have split our Top PVE guns into Primaries, Special and Heavy weapons. This makes sense when comparing weapons against each other.

But once you start building towards the ultimate loadout, a weapon’s slot becomes crucial. That’s because you can only carry one Kinetic, one Energy, and one Heavy weapon at a time. For example, if you’re committed to using a Gnawing Hunger as your primary weapon, then your Special weapon will have to be kinetic.

In this section, we’ll share some of the most popular PVE loadouts right now. This is how our Top PVE weapons look like, filtered by slot and not by ammo type:

Destiny 2 Best PVE Kinetic weapons:

NameTypeAmmoElementSourceRequirements
FatebringerHand CannonPrimaryKineticVault of Glass RaidFree-to-Play
Extraordinary RenditionSubmachine GunPrimaryKineticBattlegroundsSeason 13
The MessengerPulse RiflePrimaryKineticTrials of OsirisFree-to-Play
Seventh Seraph Officer RevolverHand CannonPrimaryKineticGunsmithFree-to-Play
Chroma RushAuto RiflePrimaryKineticOverrideSeason 14
HeritageShotgunSpecialKineticDeep Stone Crypt RaidBeyond Light
Ignition CodeGrenade LauncherSpecialKineticOverrideSeason 14
SuccessionSniper RifleSpecialKineticDeep Stone Crypt RaidBeyond Light
WitherhoardGrenade LauncherSpecialKineticExotic KioskForsaken

Destiny 2 Best PVE Energy weapons:

NameTypeAmmoElementSourceRequirements
IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2Submachine GunPrimaryArcWorld Loot PoolFree-to-Play
Trinity GhoulCombat BowPrimaryArcExotic EngramFree-to-Play
Igneous HammerHand CannonPrimarySolarTrials of OsirisFree-to-Play
TrusteeScout RiflePrimarySolarDeep Stone Crypt RaidBeyond Light
Gnawing HungerAuto RiflePrimaryVoidWorld Loot PoolFree-to-Play
DivinityTrace RifleSpecialArcGarden of Salvation RaidShadowkeep
Eriana's VowHand CannonSpecialSolarExotic KioskShadowkeep
Salvager's SalvoGrenade LauncherSpecialArcPursuit WeaponFree-to-Play
CloudstrikeSniper RifleSpecialArcExotic QuestBeyond Light
First In, Last OutShotgunSpecialArcWorld Loot PoolFree-to-Play
Null ComposureFusion RifleSpecialVoidPursuit WeaponFree-to-Play

PVE Loadout examples

If we mix and match the top kinetic and energy weapons, some of the potential top PVE loadouts might something like this:

Loadout 1:

Kinetic Energy Heavy
Izanagi’s Burden Gnawing Hunger Falling Guillotine

Loadout 2:

Kinetic Energy Heavy
Nation of Beasts Seventh Seraph CQC-12 Anarchy

Methodology

About the DPS numbers: As mentioned before, the DPS figures used for this Tier list come from the excellent Damage Chart Madness database.

As explained in that document:

Average DPS represents a weapons performance when emptying all of its reserves, with only full magazines. This factors in that the first magazine is already loaded, and you keep firing until the last mag is empty. Effectively, a combination of Burst DPS and Sustain DPS. The most accurate representation of a gun’s performance in most circumstances.

Bear in mind this number is done with luna/rally/fieldprep reload buffs

That document also includes Sustained DPS in case you want to get into the nitty-gritty.


Your Turn

Hopefully, this list should help you plan and prepare for Beyond Light. We did our best to include both Legendary weapons and Exotics, as well as the top tier, most difficult to obtain weapons, and easier to get, yet still great alternatives.

Did we miss your current favorite PVE weapon? Do you have a particularly good PVE loadout you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

For the record, this list is based on my experience playing the PC version of the game.

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10 Comments
  1. pizzaman

    Good guide, Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Cody

    I think you forgot to put the machine guns in the meta list. But it was very helpful! Thank you

    Reply
  3. DonPool

    Any updates coming to this with the overall weapons guide getting updated?

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      I’m working on it! This one is completely overdue and desperately needs an update… Sorry for the delay but I hope to have a proper refresh out by Monday the latest!

      Reply
  4. Rae

    There’s a typo classing Deafening Whisper as a Fusion rifle

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      Damn, you’re right! Completely missed that one, thanks for the heads up!

      Reply
  5. classzero

    PVE Energy weapons types are not correct.

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      What do you mean? I’m looking for something to correct but found nothing!

      Reply
      • Django

        I think he meant you labeled IKELOS_SMG_V1.0.2 as an auto rifle, while in fact it’s an SMG (as suggested in its name lol)

        Reply
  6. Whataloadofbull

    Hilarious. scout rifles are B? sidearms are A ? pure BS . let me know your sidearm load out in a GM or Master raid please

    Reply
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