Destiny 2 features a powerful weapon system that is, unfortunately, not very intuitive for newcomers. In fact, even experienced players can have a hard time explaining the difference between weapon classes and types, special weapons and energy weapons, etc.
This guide will walk you through Destiny 2’s weapon system, starting with the basics, but also covering its more nuanced aspects.
Weapon Classes in Destiny 2
Weapons in Destiny 2 are divided into three classes: Primary weapons, Special weapons, and Heavy weapons. These classes are defined by the type of ammo they require, either the always available Primary ammo (white boxes), the rarer Special ammo (green boxes), or the hardest to obtain Heavy ammo (purple boxes).
Weapon types in Destiny 2
There are several weapon types available in Destiny 2, and with the exception of a few exotics, they all use a specific ammo type:
Primary weapons are the foundation of your loadout. With infinite ammo, they are the weapons you will use most of the time. Generally, they will be the best tool against red-bar enemies (ads), allowing you to save your precious Special and Heavy ammo for more challenging enemies.
There are currently 6 Primary weapon types in the game that use primary ammo.
|Hand Cannons||Decent damage and range|
|Scout Rifles||Good damage and range|
|Auto Rifles||Good damage, decent range|
|Pulse Rifles||Average damage, decent range|
|Sidearms||Highest damages, lowest range|
|Submachine Gun||High damage, limited range|
|Combat Bows||Near infinite range|
If you’re looking for precise damage figures or simply wonder what the highest damage weapons are, check out our Weapon damage chart.
Special ammo is harder to come by, but with the right mods and playstyle, you can ensure you always have some Special ammo in hand.
For this reason, Special ammo is usually reserved for tougher enemies, such as Majors, ad clear when dealing with groups of enemies, or during boss damage phases once you’ve run out of Heavy ammo.
There are currently 5 weapon types in the game that use special ammo.
|Special weapons||Main Role|
|Fusion Rifles||Add Clear, Single Target Damage|
|Shotguns||Single Target Damage|
|Sniper Rifles||Single Target Damage|
|Trace Rifles||Add Clear|
|Breach Grenade Launchers||Add Clear, Single Target Damage|
Heavy weapons being the most powerful in the game and heavy ammo being the harder to find, you will want to save them for the most challenging encounters: Emergency ad clear and boss damage phases.
There are currently 5 Heavy weapon types in the game.
|Power weapons||Main Role|
|Rocket Launchers||Burst Damage|
|Linear Fusion Rifles||Single Target Damage|
|Swords||Add Clear, Single Target Damage|
|Grenade Launchers||Add Clear|
|Machine Guns||Add Clear|
We cover Heavy weapons in-depth here (top tier options, their place in the meta, etc).
Weapon slots in Destiny 2
There are 3 different weapon slots in Destiny 2:
- Kinetic: Kinetic weapons do more damage to enemies without a shield but cannot do elemental damage.
- Energy: Energy weapons do elemental damage (either Arc, Void, or Solar) and do extra damage to shielded enemies with matching elements.
- Heavy: Heavy weapons do elemental damage too, but also require Heavy ammo (which is harder to find).
And this is where things become confusing. Weapon types and weapons are not always the same thing. This cumbersome system is the result of a significant overhaul that the weapons system received when the Forsaken expansion was launched.
But to keep things simple:
- Weapon types are defined by the ammo they use (and how powerful they are)
- Weapon slots are defined by the type of damage they do
Kinetic weapons sit in the Kinetic slot, and unlike Energy and Heavy weapons, they cannot do elemental damage. This means they aren’t ideal when dealing with shielded enemies, but on the other hand, they do extra damage to unshielded enemies.
A little-known fact (and something that even veterans tend to forget) is that Kinetic weapons do more damage to unshielded enemies than Special weapons in PVE, 10% more damage to be precise.
Special weapons are those that sit in the Special slot and do element damage. Energy weapons can do either Solar, Arc, or Void damage, and are perfectly suited to deal with shielded enemies. Kinetic weapons may be able to deal more damage to unshielded enemies, but Special weapons can simply tear through enemy shields, as long as you are using a matching element.
Energy weapons do roughly 3 times more damage to shielded enemies until their shields are destroyed.
Primary and Special ammo
Kinetic and Energy weapons do have one thing in common, they both include Primary and Special ammo weapons:
Pro tip: You can also tell whether a weapon is Kinetic or Special simply by looking at its icon orientation:
- Kinetic weapons point to the left
- Special weapons point to the right
While Kinetic and Energy weapons both include Primary and Special ammo weapons, Power weapons only include guns that use Heavy ammo, aka, the purple ammo boxes.
Just as Energy weapons do, Heavy weapons also do element damage, either Solar, Arc, or Void damage, and are perfectly suited to deal with shielded enemies.
Needless to say, Heavy weapons are the most powerful in the game but their ammo is the most difficult to find.
You now know everything there is to know about Destiny 2’s weapon system. This information is, of course, useful, as it will allow you to better understand how everything works and eventually create the best loadout you possibly can.