Destiny 2 Exotic Tier List

All 70 Exotic weapons ranked

By Ric aka Primatrix | Oct 11, 2020

It’s easy to get lost with so many exotics when you’re new to Destiny 2 or just have been away for a while.

Which ones are good? Which ones are worth grinding for? And for those who took a long break: Which are the latest ones?

As many of the best weapons in Destiny 2 are Exotics, this guide will cover every single one in the game. Of course, some may disagree with parts of the ranking. Just keep in mind this list is both based on my personal opinion playing Destiny 2 on PC with a mouse and keyboard, but also several discussions with very talented players.

These are the different Tier levels used for the list:

  • S Tier – Best: Highest ranking weapons in our Tier List.
  • A Tier – Strong: Very strong weapons, 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.  Also, you can filter and sort the list however you prefer!

Last Updated October 11, 2020

Things change fast in Destiny 2, especially the Meta. The weapons we call the best one day can completely change the next. All it takes are a few minor changes on Bungie’s end. For that reason, this ranking will be updated at least once per season.

Changes introduced today:

The following exotics were added to the ranking:

  • Ruinous Effigy
  • Traveler’s Chosen  

Changes introduced with Season of Arrivals (July 2020):

The following weapons moved in the ranking:

  • Trinity Ghoul: Moved up from Tier C to Tier S
  • Hard Light and Monte Carlo: Moved down from Tier S to Tier B
  • Huckleberry: Moved up from Tier B to Tier A.
  • Prospector: Moved down from Tier A to Tier B.
  • Tommy’s Matchbook: Moved from Tier A to Tier B.

The following weapons did not change Tier but did receive a buff:

  • Vigilance Wing: Received a minor damage increase for PVP
  • The Chaperone: Received +30% precision damage for PVE.
  • All Combat Bows: Received +10% damage for PVE.

The following weapon was added to the ranking:

  • Witherhoard: The Season Pass weapon for Season of Arrivals.

Finally, a few “Drops from” entries have been updated to reflect the introduction of the Exotic Cipher.


Destiny 2 exotic tier list (as of October 2020)

This list covers both PVE and PVP, but pay special attention to the “Excels in” column, as it clarifies what the best exotics for PVE or PVP are.

WeaponTierExcels inDrops from / DifficultyExotic Perk (and my take)TypeSlotDrops from
Destiny 2 Anarchy
Anarchy | Grenade Launcher
Best

S

PVEExotic Kiosk

Hard

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

"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 something like Mountaintop.
Grenade LauncherHeavyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Xenophage
Xenophage | Machine Gun
Best

S

PVEExotic Quest

Average

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

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

► A nerf to snipers and a huge buff to Xenophage made it one of the best DPS weapons. With no precision damage, it's also easy to use and shreds against guardians in Gambit and PVP.
Machine GunHeavyExotic Quest
Destiny 2 SUROS Regime
SUROS Regime | Auto Rifle
Best

S

PVPRandom Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"The bottom half of each magazine deals bonus damage and can return health on kill. Holding down the trigger increases rate of fire."

► 600 RPM Auto Rifles are extremely lethal in PVP these days and SUROS is perhaps the best one. When used on its spinning up form, it has one of the best TTK values in the game and one of the top PVP weapons in the game.
Auto RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Trinity Ghoul art
Trinity Ghoul | Combat Bow
Best

S

PVERandom Engram

Average

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary

"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."

► Trinity Ghoul was average at best but with its new Catalyst, it became one of the best exotic primaries in the game.
Combat BowEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Divinity art
Divinity | Trace Rifle
Best

S

PVERaid

Very Hard

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

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

► Able to deal with Overload Champions and to easily apply a huge debuff on everything, Divinity is a must in high-end PVE activities.
Trace RifleEnergyRaid
Destiny 2 Thorn
Thorn | Hand Cannon
Best

S

PVPExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Rounds pierce targets and deal damage over time. Kills leave behind Remnants which, when absorbed, increase damage."

► One of the few hand cannons that can compete with the overpowered 600 RPM auto rifles, Thorn is the most consistent and deadly exotic hand cannon in PVP. With soul devour active, it can 2 tap guardians!
Hand CannonKineticExotic Kiosk
Witherhoard art Destiny 2
Witherhoard | Grenade Launcher
Best

S

PVESeason 11

Unavailable

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"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.
Grenade LauncherKineticUnavailable
Destiny 2 Izanagi's Burden
Izanagi's Burden | Sniper Rifle
Best

S

PVEExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Holding reload consumes the magazine and loads a round with additional range and damage."

► One of the best DPS weapons in the game, Izanagi's Burden is also easy to use, consistent and it never runs out of ammo (as it doesn't require Heavy ammo).
Sniper RifleKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Eriana's Vow art
Eriana's Vow | Hand Cannon
Best

S

PVEExotic Kiosk

Average

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

"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, Eriana's Vow can also dish serious damage. This makes it an excellent choice for high-end PVE content.
Hand CannonEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Whisper of the Worm art
Whisper of the Worm | Sniper Rifle
Best

S

PVEQuest removed

Unavailable

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

"Higher base precision damage. Rapidly landing three precision hits refills the magazine and missing a shot has a chance to return ammo."

► Whisper of the Worm is one of the best DPS weapons available, especially if you're a good shot. And since Izanagi's Burden was nerfed, it's again a high-end PVE favorite.
Sniper RifleHeavyUnavailable
Destiny 2 Bastion
Bastion | Fusion Rifle
Best

S

PVPExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Charge to fire 3 spreads of Kinetic slugs. A portion of this weapon's damage bypasses elemental shields."

► Each Bastion shot is like a shotgun shot with even more range. No wonder many are calling it OP and keep asking for a nerf.
Fusion RifleKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Riskrunner
Riskrunner | Submachine Gun
Strong

A

PVEExotic Quest

Easy

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary

"When taking Arc Damage, this weapon becomes more powerful and resists incoming Arc Damage. Shots fired can become chain lightning and return ammo. Kills extend the duration of the effect."

► An underrated primary exotic, Riskrunner shreds when facing arc-damage dealing enemies and makes you nearly invincible.
Submachine GunEnergyExotic Quest
Destiny 2 Hard Light
Hard Light | Auto Rifle
Strong

A

PVPRandom Engram

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Rounds fired from this weapon have reduced damage falloff, over-penetrate targets, and ricochet off hard surfaces dealing extra damage. It can also change its damage type"

► Deemed OP in PVP for a while, it recently received a nerf. Still, Hard Light remains extremely lethal in PVP.
Auto RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 One Thousand Voices art
One Thousand Voices | Fusion Rifle
Strong

A

PVERaid

Very Hard

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

"Charging this weapon unleashes a giant continuous beam of death. The beam superheats its targets upon impact, causing delayed explosions."

► Previously S Tier, this weapon has suffered from buffs and nerfs overall but it's still a DPS powerhouse.
Fusion RifleHeavyRaid
Destiny 2 Jotunn
Jötunn | Fusion Rifle
Strong

A

PVE + PVPExotic Kiosk

Average

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

"Hold down the trigger to charge up a tracking shot that explodes and burns on impact. Energy matched shield explosion disorients enemies."

► My favorite Black Armory weapon, Jötunn is so powerful and easy to use, it almost feels like cheating. Experienced players may know how to counter it, but most will burn.
Fusion RifleEnergyExotic Kiosk
Traveler's Chosen Destiny 2
Traveler's Chosen | Sidearm

Traveler's Chosen

| Sidearm
PVPSeason 11

Unavailable

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Final blows grant stacks of Gathering Light. Consuming stacks, grant melee, grenade, and class ability energy based on the number of stacks. Each stack of Gathering Light improves this weapon's reload, handling, and target acquisition."

► Capable of inflicting some of the highest DPS, sidearms are considered a safe bet in PVP. And Traveler's Chosen, the newest exotic in the game, is perhaps the best sidearm ever created. It has the best base stats ever seen on a sidearm AND it features an extremely useful and consistent exotic perk.
SidearmKineticUnavailable
Destiny 2 Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo | Auto Rifle
Strong

A

PVERandom Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"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."

► On top of dealing a lot of damage, it's a mandatory part of any decent melee build out there.
Auto RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 The Chaperone art
The Chaperone | Shotgun
Strong

A

PVPExotic Quest

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Fires a single-slug precision round. Precision kills briefly grant bonus handling, range, and precision damage with this weapon."

► With the recent changes to shotguns' range, The Chaperone got even better. With unparalleled range and accuracy, this is the deadliest exotic shotgun in PVP.
ShotgunKineticExotic Quest
Destiny 2 Thunderlord art
Thunderlord | Machine Gun
Strong

A

PVERandom Engram

Average

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

"Kills with this weapon generate lightning strikes from above and increase reload speed for a short time."

► An absolute beast at killing ads, Thunderlord's lighting effects are both lethal and impressive to behold. It also has tons of ammo.
Machine GunHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Sunshot art
Sunshot | Hand Cannon
Strong

A

PVE + PVPRandom Engram

Average

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon fires explosive rounds. Targets killed with Sunshot explode in Solar energy."

► One of my personal favorites, Sunshot is not only stable and consistent, but it can also blow up entire waves of ads and make you feel like a god.
Hand CannonEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Outbreak Perfected art
Outbreak Perfected | Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

PVEQuest removed

Unavailable

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon creates SIVA nanite swarms on rapid hits and precision kills and does more damage to enemies based on the number of SIVA nanites that attach to them."

► With its SIVA nanites, Outbreak Perfected does excellent damage, especially if others in your team are using it too.
Pulse RifleKineticUnavailable
Destiny 2 The Last Word
The Last Word | Hand Cannon
Strong

A

PVPExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon fires full auto. Hip-fire shots deal bonus precision damage while increasing reload speed and accuracy."

► This weapon is hard to rank as it could be considered S Tier on console, but perhaps B-tier on PC. Either way, it's still strong and effective in spite of a nerf last season.
Hand CannonKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Heir Apparent art
Heir Apparent | Machine Gun
Strong

A

PVESeason 11

Unavailable

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

"This weapon can be fired only when fully spun up. While at full health, spinning up this weapon protects you with an Arc Shield."

► The newest exotic in this list, this is a unique and fun weapon that shreds. It may not have the best DPS but delivers good total DPS due to its huge magazine.
Machine GunHeavyUnavailable
Destiny 2 Ace of Spades art
Ace of Spades | Hand Cannon
Strong

A

PVPExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Precision kills increase reload speed and cause the target to explode. Reloading after a kill increases damage. Grants radar while aiming down sights."

► With a combination of Rampage, Dragonfly and good handling, this is a consistent killing machine in PVP.
Hand CannonKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Fighting Lion art
Fighting Lion | Grenade Launcher
Strong

A

PVPRandom Engram

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Grenade projectiles will bounce off surfaces. Hold to fire, and release to detonate. Direct hits do more damage to enemy shields. Rapid kills against grenade-damaged enemies refill the magazine."

► Fighting Lion us one of the most fun weapons in the game and can perform in the hands of an experienced player (especially after some recent buffs).
Grenade LauncherEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Legend of Acrius art
Legend of Acrius | Shotgun
Strong

A

PVEExotic Kiosk

Hard

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

"This weapon fires blasts of high-damage Arc energy that over penetrates enemies. Its radar detects enemies from farther away."

► It can deliver some serious DPS, especially with the catalyst, but it could use a little buff to make it more relevant compared to the top DPS weapons.
ShotgunHeavyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Black Talon
Black Talon | Sword
Strong

A

PVERandom Engram

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"Can fire heavy projectile attacks. Heavy attacks are stronger with full energy. Most attacks partially bypass elemental shields."

► Swords are back with Season of the Worthy. Black Talon may not excel in PVP or PVE but it's fun to use and deals a lot of damage.
SwordHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Rat King art
Rat King | Sidearm
Strong

A

PVEExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"This fully automatic weapon becomes stronger when nearby allies also have it equipped. Reloading immediately after a kill grants a brief period of invisibility."

► One of the most unique primary weapons available, Rat King is strong using it by yourself and very strong using it with others.
SidearmKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 The Wardcliff Coil
The Wardcliff Coil | Rocket Launcher
Strong

A

PVPRandom Engram

Average

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

"This weapon fires a volley of rockets and automatically reloads on ammo pickup."

► Rocket launchers are always out-DPSed by grenade launchers but this weapon can still do good damage and will give you free kills in PVP.
Rocket LauncherHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Telesto art
Telesto | Fusion Rifle
Strong

A

PVPRandom Engram

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Fusion projectiles attach and detonate with a delayed Void blast. Multikills with this weapon immediately reload your equipped Kinetic and Energy weapons from reserves."

► Telesto is a menace in PVP: Setting traps, getting multikills and shutting down Supers are all possible.
Fusion RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Le Monarque art
Le Monarque | Combat Bow
Strong

A

PVPExotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Arrows fired quickly after a full draw become poison arrows. Precision hits with poison arrows spread poison to nearby enemies."

► One of the best bows in the game, Le Monarque can be lethal in the hands of an experienced PVP player, especially when coupled with a Quickdraw hand cannon.
Combat BowEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 The Huckleberry art
The Huckleberry | Submachine Gun
Strong

A

PVERandom Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Increased rate of fire and recoil while you're holding down the trigger. Kills with this weapon temporarily grant increased damage and partially reload the magazine."

► SMGs may be outperformed by Assault Rifles right now but The Huckleberry is still an ad killing beast and a pleasure to use.
Submachine GunKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Tractor Cannon art
Tractor Cannon | Shotgun
Strong

A

PVERandom Engram

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"This weapon emits a powerful impulse that pushes enemies away, suppresses their abilities, and makes them more vulnerable to all incoming damage."

► Tractor Cannon was Top tier just a few seasons ago, but now that buffs and debuffs don't stack, it's no longer a must-have.
ShotgunHeavyRandom Engram
Ruinous Effigy Destiny 2
Ruinous Effigy | Exotic Trace Rifle
Average

B

PVESeason 11

Unavailable

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Final blows with this weapon collapse victims into Void Transmutation spheres. Transmutation spheres you create can be picked up and wielded as weapons by you or your allies."

► Ruinous Effigy is hands down the most unique and fun weapon ever released in Destiny 2. It won't be replacing any of the top PVE weapons, but it can be very effective at close range on Majors: Use it to cancel stomp mechanics, dunk, melee, and finish off with a sword.
Trace RifleEnergyUnavailable
Destiny 2 Tommy's Matchbook art
Tommy's Matchbook | Auto Rifle
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Sustained fire with this weapon overheats it, increasing damage but burning the user. Overheat damage is reduced while hip firing."

► This weapon is overshadowed by the extremely strong SUROS Regime, but make no mistake, this is a great AR in both PVP and PVE.
Auto RifleEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Vigilance Wing art
Vigilance Wing | Pulse Rifle
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon fires a 5-round burst. When a nearby ally is killed, gain health regeneration, and increased movement speed."

► Vigilance Wing just received a buff this season and could be considered A-tier. It's particularly strong in larger maps in PVP where it can destroy Auto rifles and Hand cannons.
Pulse RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 The Prospector art
The Prospector | Grenade Launcher
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

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

"Hold to fire grenades. Release to detonate all live grenades simultaneously. Grenades stick to surfaces and set targets on fire."

► The Prospector isn't the most popular exotic but it still gets the job done when dealing boss DPS, especially after the nerf to agressive grenade launchers.
Grenade LauncherHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Lumina art
Lumina | Hand Cannon
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Kills with this weapon leave behind Remnants which convert your next hip fired shot into an ally-seeking Noble Round that heals them and grants both of you a weapon damage bonus for a short duration."

► Albeit an interesting weapon, it needs a coordinated team and the catalyst to be effective.
Hand CannonKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Arbalest art
Arbalest | Linear Fusion Rifle
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Fires slugs that cause massive damage to elemental shields of enemy combatants. Breaking an enemy's shield with this weapon makes them more vulnerable to Kinetic damage."

► Easy to use in both PVP and PVE, Arbalest is a solid weapon that can sometimes be a refreshing change from all the snipers.
Linear Fusion RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Bad Juju art
Bad Juju | Pulse Rifle
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Kills refill the magazine, increase damage for a short duration, and grant Super energy based on the number of kills. Fires full-auto."

► Bad Juju is an absolute monster at killing ads and it gets even better with the catalyst.
Pulse RifleKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 The Jade Rabbit art
The Jade Rabbit | Scout Rifle
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Chain body shots to gain bonus damage on your next precision shot, return ammo to the magazine, and increases its stability."

► Scouts may not be in a great place right now, but The Jade Rabbit can still be effective in PVP, especially in Momentum Control where it can one tap!
Scout RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Wish Ender art
Wish-Ender | Combat Bow
Average

B

-Exotic Quest

Hard

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"While aiming down sights with a fully-drawn bow, enemies behind walls are highlighted. Piercing arrowheads damage the target on entry and exit. One-shot can over-penetrate multiple targets."

► S Tier a few months ago due to a bug, the Wish-Ender is back to being average. It's a good bow but as bows are average...
Combat BowKineticExotic Quest
Destiny 2 Graviton Lance art
Graviton Lance | Pulse Rifle
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Second shot of a burst rips a hole through space-time, doing high damage and recoil with no falloff. Kills with this weapon cause enemies to detonate and spawn tracking Void projectiles."

► While its void projectiles can kill ads in cool ways, Graviton Lance isn't much more effective than a good legendary Pulse rifle.
Pulse RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Lord of Wolves art
Lord of Wolves | Shotgun
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

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

"Fires a powerful short-range burst of Solar damage. Hold to swap to a longer, more powerful burst."

► It recently got a (well-deserved) nerf that made it disappear from the Crucible but Lord of Wolves is still one of the highest DPS weapons in the game.
ShotgunEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Truth art
Truth | Rocket Launcher
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"This weapon's rockets have tracking and detonate when they are within close proximity of their targets."

► Truth is not very versatile but there is one thing it can do better than anything else in the game: Get a bunch of kills while invading in Gambit.
Rocket LauncherHeavyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Polaris Lance art
Polaris Lance | Scout Rifle
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Precision hits return ammo to the mag. Landing 4 precision hits loads a delayed Solar explosive round for your next shot."

► Definitely underrated, this is one of the best scout rifles in the game. It's just too bad Scouts overall are in a bad place.
Scout RifleEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Coldheart art
Coldheart | Trace Rifle
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

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

"This weapon shoots a steady cold fusion-powered laser that does exponentially more damage the longer it remains on a target."

► Previously one of the best exotics in the game, Coldheart is nowadays a decent option, mainly because trace rifles are in a bad place overall.
Trace RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 The Fourth Horseman art
The Fourth Horseman | Shotgun
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

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

"This weapon's rate of fire is increased significantly and fires full auto. Each successive shot has more damage and more spread."

► A good all-around weapon, this shotgun can deal great damage if you manage to get very close. It's too bad most high-end PVE content isn't designed for close-combat...
ShotgunEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Devil's Ruin art
Devil's Ruin | Sidearm
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Variable trigger. Press and release to fire individual shots. Hold to charge up a high-powered, Unstoppable rounds staggering laser."

► Able to deal with Unstoppable Champions, this is a fun weapon that does decent damage overall and melts shotgun apes in PVP in its laser form.
SidearmEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Leviathan's Breath art
Leviathan's Breath | Combat Bow
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"Fires a massive heavy bolt that Unstoppable rounds staggers unshielded combatants. When fully drawn, the bolt knocks combatants back."

► Able to deal with Unstoppable Champions, Leviathan's Breath is a strong and versatile weapon, even if, for some reason, people love to hate.
Combat BowHeavyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 The Colony art
The Colony | Grenade Launcher
Average

B

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"This weapon's grenades are insectoid robots that chase targets and explode close to them."

► Extremely easy to use, The Colony is extremely effective and always a favorite in PVP, especially for those grinding The Mountaintop.
Grenade LauncherHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Sleeper Simulant art
Sleeper Simulant | Linear Fusion Rifle
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

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

"The weapon's laser over penetrates enemies and refracts off hard surfaces."

► Sleeper Simulant is, unfortunately, the shadow of its former self. It used to be a Top Tier weapon but has suffered from too many nerfs.
Linear Fusion RifleHeavyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Tarrabah art
Tarrabah | Submachine Gun
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk

Hard

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon stores power when dealing or receiving damage. Once full, hold reload to unleash the beast."

► Tarrabah could be a monster but activating its perk consistently is stupidly hard. This weapon is crying for a fix. Plus, it's extremely difficult to obtain...
Submachine GunEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Wavesplitter art
Wavesplitter | Trace Rifle
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Laser damage has three power levels that oscillate while the trigger is held down. Collecting an Orb of Light grants a short period of maximum power."

► There's nothing wrong with it, but Trace rifles are in a bad spot and are easily outmatched by other types of weapons.
Trace RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Symmetry art
Symmetry | Scout Rifle
Weak

C

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Primary

"Precision hits build up Dynamic Charge. Swapping to Arc Seeker mode increases damage and partially reloads the magazine. Arc Seekers track toward combatants you target."

► If you can hit your precision shots, Symmetry can be deadly both in PVP and Gambit.
Scout RifleEnergyExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Crimson
Crimson | Hand Cannon
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon fires a 3-round burst. Kills with this weapon heal the wielder. Precision kills also refill the magazine."

► A pulse rifle in a hand cannon body, Crimson can deal decent pain from a distance. Still, it's easily outperformed by other exotic hand cannons.
Hand CannonKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Malfeasance art
Malfeasance | Hand Cannon
Weak

C

-Exotic Quest

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Shoot tainted slugs that burrow into the enemy. Stacking enough slugs causes them all to explode. Bonus damage against Taken enemies and Gambit invaders."

► Malfeasance used to have a little niche, but it no longer offers anything special that makes it stand out.
Hand CannonKineticExotic Quest
Destiny 2 MIDA Multi Tool art
MIDA Multi-Tool | Scout Rifle
Weak

C

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon boosts move speed. Radar stays active while aiming down sights."

► Victim of the poor state of Scout rifles, MIDA doesn't have much to offer in neither PVE nor PVP. And if you really a Scout, you'll be better off with Polaris Lance or The Jade Rabbit.
Scout RifleKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Cerberus+1 art
Cerberus+1 | Auto Rifle
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Shoots erratic bullets from all gun barrels at the same time. Aiming this weapon reduces the spread of its projectiles."

► Cerberus+1 can be fun to use, especially with the catalyst, but even then you'll be better served with another assault rifle.
Auto RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Sweet Business art
Sweet Business | Auto Rifle
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Larger magazine. Increased accuracy when firing from the hip. Picking up ammo for this weapon immediately reloads it."

► While it can be fun to use, especially when pre-firing it and surprise opponents in PVP, Sweet Business definitely feels underpowered.
Auto RifleKineticRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Prometheus Lens art
Prometheus Lens | Trace Rifle
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

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

"Fires a Solar trace beam and generates a damaging heat field that grows while the weapon continues to fire. Kills with this weapon return a fraction of the ammo used."

► There's nothing wrong with it, but Trace rifles are in a bad spot and are easily outmatched by other types of weapons.
Trace RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 DARCI art
D.A.R.C.I. | Sniper Rifle
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

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

"Aim at an enemy to activate Personal Assistant and view critical information. When Personal Assistant is active, this weapon has better target acquisition and deals significantly more precision damage."

► This can do a lot of damage but is completely surpassed by most of the other exotic Snipers.
Sniper RifleHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Sturm art
Sturm | Hand Cannon
Weak

C

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

"Kills fill the magazine of the equipped Energy weapon from reserves. Kills with Drang reload this weapon and provides bonus damage."

► Sturn is definitely better when paired with Drang. But even then, it's easily outmatched by many other exotic hand cannons in this list.
Hand CannonKineticExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Merciless art
Merciless | Fusion Rifle
Weak

C

-Random Engram

Average

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

"Non-lethal hits make this weapon charge faster. Reloading immediately after a kill increases weapon damage for a short time."

► Merciless outputs decent damage and handles just fine, but unfortunately doesn't offer much compared to other exotic fusion rifles in this list.
Fusion RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Deathbringer art
Deathbringer | Rocket Launcher
Weak

C

-Exotic Quest

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"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."

► Albeit unique, Deathbringer doesn't really have a place as other Heavy Exotics are better at either ad clearing and/or boss DPS.
Rocket LauncherHeavyExotic Quest
Destiny 2 Two-Tailed Fox art
Two-Tailed Fox | Rocket Launcher
Worst

D

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

"Shoots two rockets, one Void and one Solar, that can track onto the same target. The Void rocket suppresses enemies. The Solar rocket causes damage over time."

► There's nothing wrong with it, it does good damage, but it's simply irrelevant compared to other heavies.
Rocket LauncherHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Borealis art
Borealis | Sniper Rifle
Worst

D

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

"Holding changes this weapon's damage type. Breaking an enemy shield with that shield's energy type grants bonus damage for the rest of the magazine."

► Borealis is a cool concept, it's just sad that some of the other Exotic Snipers are vastly superior.
Sniper RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 The Queenbreaker art
The Queenbreaker | Linear Fusion Rifle
Worst

D

-Random Engram

Average

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

"Fires a long-range precision Arc bolt that blinds enemies on hit. It has a slower charge time and deals greater damage."

► Previously amazing when invading in gambit, The Queenbreaker has suffered from nerfs that have made it pointless nowadays.
Linear Fusion RifleHeavyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Skyburner's Oath art V2
Skyburner's Oath | Scout Rifle
Worst

D

-Random Engram

Average

Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary

"This weapon lobs large, explosive, seeking slugs when firing from the hip. When aiming down sights, the slugs travel fast and straight, with higher damage and a lower rate of fire."

► Often the worst-ranked exotic, this weapon desperately needs a rework. There's no reason why you would waste your exotic slot on it.
Scout RifleEnergyRandom Engram
Destiny 2 Worldline Zero art
Worldline Zero | Sword
Worst

D

-Exotic Kiosk

Average

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

"Press while sprinting to launch a heavy blink attack. Attacks partially bypass elemental shields."

► This was a thing when "warlock skating" was used for speed-running, but since Bungie removed that feature, Worldline Zero became somewhat useless...
SwordHeavyExotic Kiosk

How to get Exotics in Destiny 2

In a nutshell, there are now 4 ways you can find exotic weapons in Destiny 2:

  1. Exotic engrams: These can be found in the Season pass, they are sold by Xur and can also drop randomly at any time.
  2. Exotic quests: The most iconic exotics are often tied to Exotic quests of varying degrees of difficulty and length.
  3. Raid drops: A select handful of exotics can only drop from raid bosses.
  4. Exotic Kiosk: A new way to acquire exotics tied to previous Season Passes or Seasonal Exotic quests no longer around.

There isn’t much more to say about Exotic engrams, only that they have a higher chance to drop from end-game activities. If collecting exotics is your priority, Nightfall: The Ordeals are for you. And the higher the difficulty, the higher the chance to get one.

Things can always change in future seasons, and the best way to be prepared is to keep an eye on our Destiny 2 Roadmap.

Destiny 2 Exotic Engram

Image: Reddit user Kaizion

Exotic quests

Exotic quests are a different story. They are, for the most part, long and complicated, each deserving a good tutorial. To get you started, you can head over to our comprehensive guide featuring all Destiny 2 exotic quests available (including video guides and highlighting the quests that will be soon removed and put into the DCV).

And to make things a little easier, Bungie recently made a change to the quest log and put all Exotic quests in a dedicated section. This won’t make each quest easier but at least keeping track of all of them will be simpler.

Destiny 2 Exotic quests

The new Exotics quest menu

Raid drops

A few exotics can only drop from raid bosses. You can simply filter the Tier list above and set the column “Drops from” to “Raid” to see all of them. The most infamous example is Anarchy. Probably because it’s one of the best PVE weapons in the game while being hard to obtain…

Exotics are special weapons and are supposed to be difficult to obtain. And when Bungie begins to retire Legendary weapons in a few months, Exotics will become even more special.

Exotic Kiosk: The Monument to Lost Lights

Bungie recently introduced a new method to acquire exotic weapons no longer available in-game. Most of these weapons were previously connected to Exotic quests removed and put into the Destiny Content Vault or Exotics that were connected to previous seasons. Either way, the Monument to Lost Lights has all of those exotics for sale. You can read all about it in our Monument to Lost Lights guide, including the cost to acquire each  Exotic and a complete tier list to help you prioritize.

 


Destiny 2’s new exotics: Season of Arrivals and Worthy

These weapons are part of the full Tier list above, but for those curious about what are the latest exotics released with Season of the Worthy, here they are:

Witherhoard Destiny 2 featured

Witherhoard

Weapon Type: Grenade Launcher Slot: Kinetic
Ammo: Special Source: Season Pass

Witherhoard became an instant favorite the day it was released alongside Season of Arrivals. It’s fun to use and unbelievably deadly. It was probably that lethal because it was plagued by bugs that made it inflict more damage than planned. Still, the bugs have been solved and Witherhoard remains a beast in PVE.

This weapon is so effective with its damage over time that many are using to tackle some of the most challenging solo experiences in Destiny 2, such as flawless solo runs of the Prophecy dungeon. But even if you’re not into unbelievably hard challenges, Witherhoard will get the job done for you, be it in Prophecy, Gambit, or a Nightfall.

 

Destiny 2 Heir Apparent featured

Heir Apparent

Weapon Type: Machine Gun Slot: Heavy
Ammo: Heavy Source: Seasonal Event

Officially the newest exotic in Destiny 2, Heir Apparent was a nice surprise. Many were quick to discard it as weak, probably because it was attached to Guardian Games, a weak seasonal event itself. But once people got their hands on it, they all changed their minds.

This exotic is effective (it has good total DPS), strong against ads and fun to use. Plus, it makes you feel powerful, something Destiny 2 has been missing lately. Many compare using it to that scene in Terminator 2 in which Arnold mows down several police cars with a minigun, and I couldn’t agree more!

 

Destiny 2 Tommys Matchbook featured V3

Tommy’s Matchbook

Weapon Type: Assault Rifle Slot: Energy
Ammo: Primary Source: Season Pass

While everyone was busy spamming Hard Light in Trials of Osiris, Tommy’s Matchbook was quietly racking up kills in both PVE and PVP. This Assault Rifle was probably not good enough to compete with Hard Light (which was completely OP), but now that Hard Light was nerfed, perhaps Tommy’s will finally be recognized as a very strong PVP option, along with SUROS Regime and the infamous Galliard-42 XN7568 from the Black Armory forges.

Drewsky did an excellent review of this gun concluding Tommy’s Matchbook is a great auto rifle because it has a hidden perk that makes it “incredibly unique, powerful and fun to use”: Excellent when fired from the hip.

 

Destiny 2 The Fourth Horseman featured

The Fourth Horseman

Weapon Type: Shotgun Slot: Energy
Ammo: Special Source: Exotic Quest

My least favorite of the three exotic weapons of the season, The Fourth Horseman is undeniably powerful. If you can get close enough to your enemies, it can dish a lot of damage. That said, there are so many excellent legendary shotguns that excel in both PVE and PVP, I don’t see The Fourth Horsemen getting any more spotlight than the week it was launched.

Ehroar did a great review pointing out that because it has poor range and pellet spread, The Fourth Horseman requires much more work and risk-taking than a Heavy sniper rifle or grenade launcher. So… Why bother?


Ranking criteria:

For the record, as much as I tried to keep this list as objective as possible, it’s still based on my personal experience playing the PC version of the game.

Also, even with hundreds of hours of playtime, I’m far from being neither an expert on the matter nor an amazing PVE/PVP player. But that’s the whole point of this site. I’m just a blueberry who loves this game and wants to share everything I’ve learned so far!

For that reason, this Tier list also takes into account everything I’ve learned from watching hundreds of videos from the most talented Destiny 2 players out there. The Reddit Tier list from Skyknight and the video Tier list from Skarrow9 were both great sources of inspiration.

Finally, if you’re wondering what criteria was used to build this Tier list, these are the main factors I took into account:

  • Lethality: The higher the effective DPS and usability, the higher the ranking.
  • Consistency: Some weapons may not have the highest DPS numbers, but they are so consistent, they more than make up for their lower DPS numbers.
  • Ease of use: Similar to the point above, some weapons are very effective because they are easy to use and don’t require too much skill or setup. This is also rewarded with higher rankings.
  • PVE/PVP Performance: High lethality in either PVE or  PVP is equally valuable. However, a weapon that is good at both PVE and PVP should rank higher than one that is slightly better on only PVE or PVP.
  • Fun factor: Not the most important factor, but it also helps if the weapon is damn fun to shoot with! A good example is Fighting Lion. Not the most efficient but sooooo much fun to use!

If you strongly disagree with some of the rankings here, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. But more importantly, what is your own personal Top 3, and why?