Destiny 2 Exotic Tier List

All 68 Exotic weapons ranked

By Ric Molina | Jul  5, 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?

This guide will try to answer all these questions. Of course, some may disagree with parts of the ranking. Just keep in mind this list is both based on my personal opinion (and my few hundred hours of playtime) and from watching too many reviews from some very talented Destiny 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 July 5, 2020

Things change fast in Destiny 2, especially the Meta. The weapons we called 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.

This time, 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.

*Some of these changes are not linked to a buff or a nerf, but simply a reevaluation on my end.

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

  • Vigilance Wing: Received a minor damage increase for PVP
  • The Chaperone and Legend of Acrius: 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 July 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.

 WeaponWeaponTypeSlotSlotTierExcels inDrops fromDrops from / DifficultyExotic Perk (and my take)
Destiny 2 XenophageXenophage

Xenophage

Machine Gun
Machine GunHeavySolarHeavy

S

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 SUROS RegimeSUROS Regime

SUROS Regime

Auto Rifle
Auto RifleKineticKinetic

S

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Witherhoard art Destiny 2Witherhoard

Witherhoard

Grenade Launcher
Grenade LauncherKineticKinetic

S

PVESeason PassSeason Pass

Easy

"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.
Destiny 2 AnarchyAnarchy

Anarchy

Grenade Launcher
Grenade LauncherHeavyArcHeavy

S

PVERaidRaid

Very Hard

"Grenades stick to surfaces and chain Arc bolts to other mines. It also has the Moving Target perk."
► Anarchy is probably the best boss-DPS weapons in the game and a must-have. Anarchy is also one of the hardest to obtain so good luck finding one...
Destiny 2 Trinity Ghoul artTrinity Ghoul

Trinity Ghoul

Combat Bow
Combat BowEnergyArcEnergy

S

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Divinity artDivinity

Divinity

Trace Rifle
Trace RifleEnergyArcEnergy

S

PVERaidRaid

Very Hard

"Sustained damage with this weapon envelops the target in a field that weakens and 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.
Destiny 2 ThornThorn

Thorn

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

S

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Hard

"Rounds pierce targets and deal damage over time. Kills leave behind Remnants which, when absorbed, increase damage."
► The only hand cannon that can compete with the Spare Rations, Thorn is the most consistent and deadly exotic hand cannon in PVP. With soul devour active, it can 2 tap guardians!
Destiny 2 Izanagi's BurdenIzanagi's Burden

Izanagi's Burden

Sniper Rifle
Sniper RifleKineticKinetic

S

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Hard

"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).
Destiny 2 Eriana's Vow artEriana's Vow

Eriana's Vow

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonEnergySolarEnergy

S

PVEExotic CipherExotic Cipher

Average

"Fires special 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.
Destiny 2 Whisper of the Worm artWhisper of the Worm

Whisper of the Worm

Sniper Rifle
Sniper RifleHeavySolarHeavy

S

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Hard

"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.
Destiny 2 BastionBastion

Bastion

Fusion Rifle
Fusion RifleKineticKinetic

S

PVPExotic CipherExotic Cipher

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 RiskrunnerRiskrunner

Riskrunner

Submachine Gun
Submachine GunEnergyArcEnergy

A

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Easy

"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.
Destiny 2 Hard LightHard Light

Hard Light

Auto Rifle
Auto RifleEnergyVoidEnergy

A

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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, it recently received a minor nerf. Still, Hard Light remains extremely lethal.
Destiny 2 One Thousand Voices artOne Thousand Voices

One Thousand Voices

Fusion Rifle
Fusion RifleHeavySolarHeavy

A

PVERaidRaid

Very Hard

"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.
Destiny 2 JotunnJotunn

Jötunn

Fusion Rifle
Fusion RifleEnergySolarEnergy

A

PVE + PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Monte CarloMonte Carlo

Monte Carlo

Auto Rifle
Auto RifleKineticKinetic

A

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 The Chaperone artThe Chaperone

The Chaperone

Shotgun
ShotgunKineticKinetic

A

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Thunderlord artThunderlord

Thunderlord

Machine Gun
Machine GunHeavyArcHeavy

A

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Sunshot artSunshot

Sunshot

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonEnergySolarEnergy

A

PVE + PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Outbreak Perfected artOutbreak Perfected

Outbreak Perfected

Pulse Rifle
Pulse RifleKineticKinetic

A

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Hard

"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.
Destiny 2 The Last WordThe Last Word

The Last Word

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

A

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Heir Apparent artHeir Apparent

Heir Apparent

Machine Gun
Machine GunHeavySolarHeavy

A

PVESeasonal EventSeasonal Event

Unavailable

"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.
Destiny 2 Ace of Spades artAce of Spades

Ace of Spades

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

A

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Fighting Lion artFighting Lion

Fighting Lion

Grenade Launcher
Grenade LauncherEnergyVoidEnergy

A

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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).
Destiny 2 Legend of Acrius artLegend of Acrius

Legend of Acrius

Shotgun
ShotgunHeavyArcHeavy

A

PVERaidRaid

Hard

"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.
Destiny 2 Black TalonBlack Talon

Black Talon

Sword
SwordHeavyVoidHeavy

A

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Rat King artRat King

Rat King

Sidearm
SidearmKineticKinetic

A

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 The Wardcliff CoilThe Wardcliff Coil

The Wardcliff Coil

Rocket Launcher
Rocket LauncherHeavyArcHeavy

A

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Telesto artTelesto

Telesto

Fusion Rifle
Fusion RifleEnergyVoidEnergy

A

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"Fusion projectiles attach and detonate with a delayed Void blast. Multikills with this weapon immediately reload your equipped Kinetic and Energy weapons from reserves."
► Other than breaking the game every few months, Telesto is also a menace in PVP: Setting traps, getting multikills and shutting down Supers are all possible.
Destiny 2 Le Monarque artLe Monarque

Le Monarque

Combat Bow
Combat BowEnergyVoidEnergy

A

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"Arrows fired quickly after a full draw become poison arrows. Precision hits with poison arrows spread poison to nearby enemies."
► Often discarded as "just another bow", Le Monarque can be lethal in the hands of an experienced PVP player, especially when coupled with something like a Duke MK. 44.
Destiny 2 The Huckleberry artThe Huckleberry

The Huckleberry

Submachine Gun
Submachine GunKineticKinetic

A

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Tommy's Matchbook artTommy's Matchbook

Tommy's Matchbook

Auto Rifle
Auto RifleEnergySolarEnergy

B

PVPExotic CipherExotic Cipher

Average

"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 an great AR in both PVP and PVE.
Destiny 2 Vigilance Wing artVigilance Wing

Vigilance Wing

Pulse Rifle
Pulse RifleKineticKinetic

B

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 The Prospector artThe Prospector

The Prospector

Grenade Launcher
Grenade LauncherHeavyArcHeavy

B

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Lumina artLumina

Lumina

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

B

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Arbalest artArbalest

Arbalest

Linear Fusion Rifle
Linear Fusion RifleKineticKinetic

B

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Bad Juju artBad Juju

Bad Juju

Pulse Rifle
Pulse RifleKineticKinetic

B

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 The Jade Rabbit artThe Jade Rabbit

The Jade Rabbit

Scout Rifle
Scout RifleKineticKinetic

B

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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!
Destiny 2 Wish Ender artWish-Ender

Wish-Ender

Combat Bow
Combat BowKineticKinetic

B

PVEExotic QuestExotic Quest

Hard

"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...
Destiny 2 Graviton Lance artGraviton Lance

Graviton Lance

Pulse Rifle
Pulse RifleEnergyVoidEnergy

B

PVERandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Lord of Wolves artLord of Wolves

Lord of Wolves

Shotgun
ShotgunEnergySolarEnergy

B

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Truth artTruth

Truth

Rocket Launcher
Rocket LauncherHeavyVoidHeavy

B

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Polaris Lance artPolaris Lance

Polaris Lance

Scout Rifle
Scout RifleEnergySolarEnergy

B

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Coldheart artColdheart

Coldheart

Trace Rifle
Trace RifleEnergyArcEnergy

B

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 The Fourth Horseman artThe Fourth Horseman

The Fourth Horseman

Shotgun
ShotgunEnergyArcEnergy

B

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Easy

"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...
Destiny 2 Devil's Ruin artDevil's Ruin

Devil's Ruin

Sidearm
SidearmEnergySolarEnergy

B

PVPExotic CipherExotic Cipher

Average

"Variable trigger. Press and release to fire individual shots. Hold to charge up a high-powered, 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.
Destiny 2 Leviathan's Breath artLeviathan's Breath

Leviathan's Breath

Combat Bow
Combat BowHeavyVoidHeavy

B

-Exotic CipherExotic Cipher

Average

"Fires a massive heavy bolt that 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.
Destiny 2 The Colony artThe Colony

The Colony

Grenade Launcher
Grenade LauncherHeavyVoidHeavy

B

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Sleeper Simulant artSleeper Simulant

Sleeper Simulant

Linear Fusion Rifle
Linear Fusion RifleHeavySolarHeavy

B

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Very Hard

"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.
Destiny 2 Tractor Cannon artTractor Cannon

Tractor Cannon

Shotgun
ShotgunHeavyVoidHeavy

B

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Tarrabah artTarrabah

Tarrabah

Submachine Gun
Submachine GunEnergySolarEnergy

B

-RaidRaid

Very Hard

"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...
Destiny 2 Wavesplitter artWavesplitter

Wavesplitter

Trace Rifle
Trace RifleEnergyVoidEnergy

C

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Symmetry artSymmetry

Symmetry

Scout Rifle
Scout RifleEnergyArcEnergy

C

-Exotic CipherExotic Cipher

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 CrimsonCrimson

Crimson

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

C

PVPRandom EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Malfeasance artMalfeasance

Malfeasance

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

C

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 MIDA Multi Tool artMIDA Multi-Tool

MIDA Multi-Tool

Scout Rifle
Scout RifleKineticKinetic

C

PVPExotic QuestExotic Quest

Easy

"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.
Destiny 2 Cerberus+1 artCerberus+1

Cerberus+1

Auto Rifle
Auto RifleKineticKinetic

C

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Sweet Business artSweet Business

Sweet Business

Auto Rifle
Auto RifleKineticKinetic

C

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Prometheus Lens artPrometheus Lens

Prometheus Lens

Trace Rifle
Trace RifleEnergySolarEnergy

C

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 DARCI artD.A.R.C.I.

D.A.R.C.I.

Sniper Rifle
Sniper RifleHeavyArcHeavy

C

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Merciless artMerciless

Merciless

Fusion Rifle
Fusion RifleEnergySolarEnergy

D

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Sturm artSturm

Sturm

Hand Cannon
Hand CannonKineticKinetic

D

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Deathbringer artDeathbringer

Deathbringer

Rocket Launcher
Rocket LauncherHeavyVoidHeavy

D

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Two-Tailed Fox artTwo-Tailed Fox

Two-Tailed Fox

Rocket Launcher
Rocket LauncherHeavyVoidHeavy

D

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Borealis artBorealis

Borealis

Sniper Rifle
Sniper RifleEnergyVoidEnergy

D

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 The Queenbreaker artThe Queenbreaker

The Queenbreaker

Linear Fusion Rifle
Linear Fusion RifleHeavyArcHeavy

D

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"Fires a long-range precision Arc bolt that blinds enemies on hit. It has 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.
Destiny 2 Skyburner's Oath art V2Skyburner's Oath

Skyburner's Oath

Scout Rifle
Scout RifleEnergySolarEnergy

D

-Random EngramRandom Engram

Average

"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.
Destiny 2 Worldline Zero artWorldline Zero

Worldline Zero

Sword
SwordHeavyArcHeavy

D

-Exotic QuestExotic Quest

Average

"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...

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 Cipher: 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 Bungie’s D2 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 Eurogamer’s comprehensive list of Exotic quest tutorials.

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.

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 in the community is Anarchy. Probably because it’s both extremely sought after and hard to get…

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 Cipher

Bungie finally introduced a method to acquire exotic weapons from previous seasons. Up until now, if you missed Season of Dawn for example, you could not get Eriana’s Vow anymore. With Season of Arrivals, Bungie added an item called Exotic Cipher to the Season Pass (available to all, including free-to-play players).

Exotic Cipher Season Pass Destiny 2

The newly introduced Exotic Cipher

As soon as you reach rank 55, you’ll be able to claim that item and simply bring it to Master Rahool at the Tower. He will exchange you one of the following weapons for the cipher:

  • Eriana’s Vow
  • Bastion
  • Devil’s Ruin
  • Symmetry
  • Leviathan’s Breath

 For the sake of clarity, this means you can only claim one of these weapons during the entire season. Choose wisely…


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:

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!

 

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 Galliard4-2 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 Skynight4 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?