Destiny 2 Best PVE Weapons

Beyond Light ready!

By Ric (aka Prim) | Jan 30, 2021

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 2020 for endgame activities. And by endgame, we mean content where having a high Power Level matters and that requires weapons that will not be sunsetted any time soon.

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.

JarvA 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.

About DPS: You’ll see us talk a lot about DPS, damage per second, throughout this guide. DPS is important for PVE, because the higher the DPS, the more damage you can deal to a Boss or Major.

If you sometimes get confused between Kinetic, Primary, Energy, and Special weapons, just remember Primary weapons use “normal” ammo, aka, white ammo boxes:

WeaponDrops from / RequirementsExotic Perk, God Rolls & VerdictTypeSlotDrops fromRequirements
IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2 Destiny 2 art
IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2
| Submachine Gun
World Drop

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 15


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

► 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 (aka, mini-nukes that destroy everything around them).
Submachine GunEnergyWorld DropFree-to-Play
Sacred Provenance Destiny 2 art
Sacred Provenance
| Pulse Rifle
Garden of Salvation Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 1

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 15


PVE God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Full Auto Trigger) + 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, Sacred Provenance is one of the strongest.

On top of offering great perk options, a hard hitting four-burst fire weapon. Sacred Provenance is Best in Class, but you'll have to earn it throught raiding.

Good Alternative: Cold Denial.

Pulse RifleKineticRaidShadowkeep
Cold Front Destiny 2 art
Cold Front
| Submachine Gun
Dawning Event

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 16


PVE God Roll: Surplus (also good: Subsistence) + Kill Clip

► SMGs are in a great place now that 600 RPM Auto Rifles have been toned down.The IKELOS_SMG_V.1.0.2 may be the current king of SMGs due to its ability to create Warmind cells, but Cold Front is an excellent kinetic alternative and not far behind.

With great PVE perks and a good damage output, Cold Front is an top-notch PVE primary. Be warned that due to its recoil, it can be difficult to handle, especially with a controller.
Submachine GunKineticDawning EventFree-to-Play
Nation of Beasts Destiny 2
Nation of Beasts
| Hand Cannon
Last Wish Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 15


Nation of Beasts PVE God Roll:
Perk 3: Outlaw
Perk 4: Dragonfly (also good: Rampage)

140 RPM hand cannons have a slightly longer range and higher damage than their 150 RPMs counterparts (such as Dire Promise), making them favorites for endgame PVE. And Nation of Beasts happens to be one of the best 140 RPM hand cannons in the game.

Nation of Beats feels great, features good bases stats, and can offer potentially great rolls. What else could you want?

Good Alternative: Ancient Gospel.

Hand CannonEnergyRaidForsaken
Gnawing Hunger Destiny 2 art
Gnawing Hunger
| Auto Rifle
World Drop

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 15


Gnawing Hunger PVE God Roll:
Perk 3: Overflow (also good: Subsistance)
Perk 4: Rampage

Auto rifles have always been accessible and easy to use but with the buff they received with Season of the Worthy, they became extremely lethal too. Especially the 600 RPM variants.

Among the many options available, Gnawing Hunger is the top choice. It offers some of the best PVE perks in the game and it's also extremely easy to farm via the Umbral engrams system.

Good Alternative: The Summoner.

Auto RifleEnergyWorld DropFree-to-Play
Posterity Destiny 2 art
Posterity
| Hand Cannon
Deep Stone Crypt Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 16


PVE God Roll: Reconstruction + One for All (also good: Rampage)

► Posterity has some of the best base stats ever seen in a 180 RPM hand cannon, including a 100 Recoil stat that gives it a great feel. It's simply a joy to use, and the recent buff to Precision cannons helps it excel even more.

On top of that, Posterity can roll with all the best perks from the Deep Stone Crypt raid. The One for All perk is particularly great on this hand cannon. One for All is like Rampage on steroids, it lasts longer and does more damage without even requiring kills!

Good Alternative: Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver.

Hand CannonEnergyRaidBeyond Light
Destiny 2 Trinity Ghoul art
Trinity Ghoul
| Combat Bow
Exotic Engram

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: NA


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.
Combat BowEnergyExotic EngramFree-to-Play
High Albedo Destiny 2 art
High Albedo
| Sidearm
Europa Weapon Quest

Average


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 16


PVE God Roll: Ambitious Assassin (also good: Surplus) + Wellspring

One of the new Europa weapons, High Albedo is one of the best sidearms seen in a long time and the perfect replacement for the soon to be retired Breachlight.

With excellent PVE perks, High Albedo has great stats and does a lot of DPS, especially if you run a Stasis sub-class.

Good Alternative: The Fool's Remedy.

SidearmKineticEuropa Weapon QuestBeyond Light
Trustee Destiny 2 art
Trustee
| Scout Rifle
Deep Stone Crypt Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: Season 16


PVE God Roll: Reconstruction (also good: Surplus) + Wellspring

► It was hard to imagine just a few months ago that a scout rifle would 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 that is the most consistent and lethal scout you could use in PVE.

Good Alternative: Night Watch

Scout RifleEnergyRaidBeyond Light
Destiny 2 Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo
| Auto Rifle
Exotic Engram

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary | Sunsets: NA


Exotic Perk: "Dealing damage with this weapon reduces melee cooldown and can fully charge your melee with each kill. Melee kills and kills with this weapon increase damage."

► Just like Gnawing Hunger, Monte Carlo is a 600 RPM auto rifle capable of dealing a lot of damage. On top of that, it features a great exotic perk that is essentially Swashbuckler (one of the best damage-dealing perks in the game) on steroids.

That exotic perk also makes it the perfect tool for melee builds or basically for anyone that enjoys punching things.
Auto RifleKineticExotic EngramFree-to-Play

PS: Remember, our selection of top PVE guns is limited to weapons viable for endgame content with Beyond Light. This is why you won’t see any Pinnacle weapon such as Recluse or Mountaintop in here!


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:

WeaponDrops from / RequirementsExotic Perk, God Rolls & VerdictTypeSlotDrops fromRequirements
Destiny 2 Eriana's Vow art
Eriana's Vow
| Hand Cannon
Monument to Lost Lights

Average


Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 1

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: NA


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

► 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.
Hand CannonEnergyMonument to Lost LightsShadowkeep
Witherhoard art Destiny 2
Witherhoard
| Grenade Launcher
Unobtainable

NA

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: NA


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.
Grenade LauncherKineticUnobtainableShadowkeep
Destiny 2 Divinity art
Divinity
| Trace Rifle
Garden of Salvation Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: NA


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.
Trace RifleEnergyRaidShadowkeep
Cloudstrike Destiny 2
Cloudstrike
| Sniper Rifle
Exotic Quest

Average


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: NA


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...
Sniper RifleEnergyExotic QuestBeyond Light
Destiny 2 Seventh Seraph CQC-12
Seventh Seraph CQC-12
| Shotgun
World Drop

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: Season 14-15


Seventh Seraph CQC-12 PVE God Roll:
Perk 1: Auto-Loading Holster (also good: Slideshot)
Perk 2: Vorpal Weapon (also good: Trench Barrel)

As a Lightweight frame shotgun, the Seventh Seraph CQC-12 is one of the highest DPS legendary shotguns in the game. And on top of the damage, the faster handling, and movement speed, it also features excellent perks.

For example, auto-loading holster with trench barrel or Vorpal Weapon can result in insane burst DPS. Last but not least, this is an incredibly easy to farm weapon via the Umbral engrams system.

Good Alternative: IKELOS_SG_v1.0.2.

ShotgunEnergyWorld DropFree-to-Play
IKELOS_SR_v1.0.2 Destiny 2 art
IKELOS_SR_v1.0.2
| Sniper Rifle
World Drop

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: Season 15


IKELOS_SR_v1.0.2 PVE God Roll:
Perk 1: Fourth Time's The Charm (also good: Triple Tap)
Perk 2: High Impact Reserves

The IKELOS sniper used to be fan-favorite back when static rolls were the norm. It's, therefore, a relief to see it come back stronger than ever with random rolls.

The IKELOS_SR_v1.0.2 has good base stats but what sets it apart is the great PVE perk selection it has. If you manage to find a God roll, you'll have potentially the strongest legendary sniper in the game.

Good Alternative: Distant Tumulus.

Sniper RifleEnergyWorld DropFree-to-Play
Heritage Destiny 2 art
Heritage
| Shotgun
Deep Stone Crypt Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: Season 16


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.

With Recontruction and Redirection, Heritage can do massive DPS consistently, easily outperforming the vast majority of Special weapons in the game.
ShotgunKineticRaidBeyond Light
Deafening Whisper Destiny 2 art
Deafening Whisper
| Grenade Launcher
Wrathborn Hunts

Easy


Destiny 2 Season 12 logo 2

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: Season 16


PVE God Roll: Ambitious Assassin + Wellspring

► Wave frame grenade launchers are a rare breed in Destiny 2. Until now, we only had Martyr's Retribution, a perfectly capable weapon. But Deafening Whisper ups the ante.

With great base stats and excellent perks, Deafening Whisper is one of the best ad clearing weapons in the entire game. And on top of being efficient, it's extremely fun to use and good change from the usual running and gunning..
Grenade LauncherEnergyWrathborn HuntsSeason 12
Succession Destiny 2 art
Succession
| Sniper Rifle
Deep Stone Crypt Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: Season 16


PVE God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Full Auto Trigger) + Kill Clip

► Just like the Heritage precision shotgun, Succession also benefits from all of the best perks from the Deep Stone Crypt. And that is a big deal for a sniper rifle.

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.

Good Alternative: Long Shadow.

Sniper RifleKineticRaidBeyond Light
First In Last Out Destiny 2 art
First In, Last Out
| Shotgun
World Drop

Average


Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Sunsets: Season 15


PVE God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Full Auto Trigger) + Kill Clip

► First In, Last Out quickly took the spotlight when slug shotguns received a massive PVE damage buff a few seasons ago.

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...
ShotgunEnergyWorld DropFree-to-Play

But what about PVP?


Destiny 2 Best PVE Heavy weapons

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

WeaponDrops from / RequirementsExotic Perk, God Rolls & VerdictTypeSlotDrops fromRequirements
The Lament Destiny 2
The Lament
| Sword
Exotic Quest

Easy


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Sunsets: Season 15


PVE God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Full Auto Trigger) + Kill Clip

The Lament doesn't need an introduction. After all, half the guardians in the game use it to melt everything in their path.

Indeed, The Lament is currently the strongest sword in the game, and the perfect example of how swords should have always been: High risk and high reward. Manage to get close enough without dying and you'll delete your enemies.
SwordHeavyExotic QuestBeyond Light
Destiny 2 Xenophage
Xenophage
| Machine Gun
Exotic Quest

Hard


Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 1

Slot: Solar Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Sunsets: NA


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

► The nerf to snipers and a huge buff to Xenophage with Season of the Worthy made it one of the best PVE weapons in Destiny 2.

Many tests have been made and the results are undeniable: Xenophage is one of the most consistent DPS weapons in the game. On top of that, as it doesn't do precision damage, Xenphage is also easy to use and forgiving.
Machine GunHeavyExotic QuestShadowkeep
Destiny 2 Anarchy
Anarchy
| Grenade Launcher
Monument to Lost Lights

Average


Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 1

Slot: Arc Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Sunsets: NA


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

► Anarchy is arguably the best boss-DPS weapons in the game and a must-have. With its damage over time, it pairs perfectly with lots of powerful Special weapons.

It's often a favorite for raids and Grandmaster Ordeals, as it can deal a lot of tick damage while you and your fireteam use other weapons on that same target.
Grenade LauncherHeavyMonument to Lost LightsForsaken
Eyes of Tomorrow Destiny 2 1
Eyes of Tomorrow
| Rocket Launcher
Deep Stone Crypt Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Solar Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Sunsets: NA


Exotic Perk: "This weapon is capable of tracking and firing at multiple targets simultaneously. Killing four or more combatants in a single volley increases the damage of the next volley."

► Eyes of Tomorrow is currently the most sought after weapon in the game, mainly for 2 reasons: First, because it's not easy an easy weapon to get because it can only drop from the Deep Stone Crypt raid final boss. And second, because it's one of the most powerful heavy weapons in the game.

It may not be that great against Raid bosses, but against everything else, Eyes of Tomorrow is a top choice.
Fusion RifleHeavyRaidBeyond Light
Commemoration Destiny 2 art
Commemoration
| Machine Gun
Deep Stone Crypt Raid

Hard


Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1

Slot: Arc Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Sunsets: Season 14


PVE God Roll: Reconstruction + Rampage

Machine guns are not the most popular PVE option because the Heavy slot is usually reserved for DPS phases and boss encounters. And while there are better options for that, machine guns are excallent for ad clear.

With that in mind, Commemoration is definitely the best PVE machine gun currently in the game. With perks such as Reconstruction and Rampage, Commemoration is one of the best ad clear weapons in the entire game.
Machine GunHeavyRaidBeyond Light

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 September 2020)

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.

PS: 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 Type TierCurrent State
Auto rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Auto Rifles
Best

S

Auto rifles received a significant buff with Season of the Worthy, especially 600 RPM variants. They are undeniably the most lethal and easy to use primaries right now, as they have good range and large magazines.

They do have one drawback: You have to be out of cover to do the max possible damage (unlike a hand cannon or pulse), which makes them riskier in endgame content.

Lastest "meta change": Auto rifles were buffed with Season of the Worthy, receiving increased base and precision damage.

Sidearm weapon type Destiny 2
Sidearms
Best

S

Sidearms have been some of the most slept on weapons in Destiny 2 for too long. But ever since they were buffed and Recluse nerfed, the larger player base has realized their potential. They do some of the highest DPS in the game while having a decent magazine size.

Their only drawback is the fact they have limited range, making them a little risky in Master and Grandmaster content.

Lastest "meta change": Sidearms were buffed with Season of Dawn, receiving "increased target acquisition".

Hand cannon weapon type Destiny 2
Hand Cannons
Strong

A

Hand Cannons were the top tier choice for PVE content for years, but after a nerf to their effective range last year, they are no longer the go-to primaries they used to be.

Don't get me wrong though, hand cannons are still extremely strong and efficient. They are definitely viable for Master and Grandmaster content, and although their range suffered, they are still great at hiding behind cover in-between shots.

Lastest "meta change": Hand cannons were nerfed with Shadowkeep, receiving a reduced effective range.

Pulse rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Pulse Rifles
Strong

A

Pulse rifles have been quite stable for a while now with most sandbox changes focusing on other weapon types.

And that's a good thing, as Pulse rifles are in a good place. They do reasonable damage, have a good range, and are, overall, safe and easy to use in Master and Grandmaster content.

Lastest "meta change": Pulse rifles haven't received any noticeable PVE changes in a long time.

Combat bow weapon type Destiny 2
Combat Bows
Average

B

Combat bows may not be very popular, but they 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 (namely, solo flawless dungeon attempts).

With virtually infinite range, bows can deal good damage from insane distances. Granted, their damage is not as good as other weapon types, but they do offer a lot of safety.

Lastest "meta change": Bows were buffed with Season of Arrivals, receiving +10% PvE damage VS minors.

SMG weapon type Destiny 2
Submachine Guns
Average

B

The Recluse reigned supreme as the best PVE primary for a very long time, but it was an exception. Because in general, SMGs are not bad, but they aren't great either.

They can do decent damage but now that auto rifles are so strong, it's hard to recommend an SMG over a good 600 RPM auto rifle. And even if you don't care about having more range, a sidearm will do better DPS too.

Lastest "meta change": SMGs haven't received any noticeable PVE changes in a long time.

-
Weak

C

-
Scout rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Scout Rifles
Worst

D

Where to begin with scout rifles? Scout rifles have been in a sorry state for a long time. They offer good range but their damage is simply abysmal compared to other weapon types.

To be fair, some Scouts can get the job done, namely the re-issued Night Watch. But there's no reason why you should use a scout when auto rifles and pulse rifles are so much more lethal and consistent.

Lastest "meta change": Scouts haven't received any noticeable PVE changes in a long time.

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 Type TierCurrent State
-
Best

S

-
Shotgun weapon type Destiny 2
Shotguns
Strong

A

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

Overall, shotguns are finally hitting that sweet spot between risk and reward. Slug shotguns are finally viable too, thanks to a recent PVE buff.

Lastest "meta change": Slug shotguns were buffed with Season of Arrivals, receiving a massive +30% PVE damage.

Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
Average

B

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...

Lastest "meta change": Snipers were nerfed with Season of the Worthy, receiving a -20% PvE damage VS majors.

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.

Lastest "meta change": Fusion rifles were nerfed with Season of the Worthy, receiving an increased damage falloff and a decreased effective range.

Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
Weak

C

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.

Lastest "meta change": While not technically a "nerf", grenade launchers will greatly suffer from the loss of the Mountaintop.

-
Worst

D

-

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 Type TierCurrent State
Sword weapon type Destiny 2
Swords
Best

S

Swords have never been stronger than they are today. The huge rework they received with 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 have taken an even more prominent place this season, with the release of the monster that is Falling Guillotine. That sword is as high risk / high reward as it gets. When used right, you can basically delete any enemy in front of you, no matter the difficulty.

Lastest "meta change": Swords were buffed with Season of the Worthy, receiving a complete overhaul of how they function.

Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
Strong

A

Grenade launchers used to be the top tier choice for PVE content, especially Aggressive Frame variants such as Swarm of the Raven. But after the removal of the Aggressive Frame archetype entirely (now called Rapid-Fire) and a blanket nerf to all grenade launchers, they are no longer the indisputable choice.

To be fair, they remain a strong option, 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.

Lastest "meta change": Grenade launchers were nerfed with Season of the Worthy, receiving a reduced damage to Major enemies of -10% overall and a reduced damage to all Rapid-fire frames.

-
Average

B

-
Rocket launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Rocket Launchers
Weak

C

Rocket launchers went from top tier to mediocre in a heartbeat when Bungie removed most auto-loading abilities. This means we now have to actually reload these extremely slow single-round weapons every time we fire them.

This makes all the difference because, for as much damage a rocket can do, their reload time destroys their DPS. Until Bungie finally gives them a proper buff, there is no reason to use a rocket launcher over a good grenade launcher right now.

Lastest "meta change": Rocket launchers were nerfed with Shadowkeep, having their DPS destroyed with the removal of instant reloading capabilities.

Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
Weak

C

Linear fusion rifles are also in the middle of an identity crisis. They cannot do as much damage as grenade launchers and even lag behind exotic heavy snipers.

Granted, some of the newer linear fusion rifles with Vorpal weapon and firing-line can do decent DPS but there's really no reason to use one over a grenade launcher or even Whisper of the Worm if you need to be precise.

Lastest "meta change": Linear fusion rifles haven't seen any significant changes in a while.

-
Worst

D

-

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 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 and Monte Carlo

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, Izanagi’s Burden 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 and One Thousand Voices

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

And now that Bungie has added drop protection to all raid exotics, you should eventually get it if you put in the work:

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.

The Exotic quests to acquire Outbreak Perfected and Traveler’s Chosen are no longer available. Bungie will probably add new ways to acquire them but it could take a few more months…


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:

Weapon  Type Ammo Type
Sacred Provenance Pulse Rifle Primary
Traveler’s Chosen Sidearm Primary
Dire Promise Hand Cannon Primary
Outbreak Perfected Pulse Rifle Primary
Monte Carlo Auto Rifle Primary
Witherhoard Grenade Launcher Special
Izanagi’s Burden Sniper Rifle Special
Astral Horizon Shotgun Special
The Supremacy Sniper Rifle Special
Hawthorne’s Field-Forged Shotgun Shotgun Special

Destiny 2 Best PVE Energy weapons:

Weapon  Type Ammo Type
Gnawing Hunger Pulse Rifle Primary
Nation of Beasts Sidearm Primary
Trinity Ghoul Hand Cannon Primary
Last Hope Pulse Rifle Primary
IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2 Auto Rifle Primary
Eriana’s Vow Hand Cannon Special
Divinity Trace Rifle Special
Seventh Seraph CQC-12 Shotgun Special
IKELOS_SR_v1.0.2 Sniper Rifle Special
Hollow Words Fusion Rifle Special

PVE Loadout examples

If we mix and match the top kinetic and energy weapons, some 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

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.