Exotics are the most powerful and unique items you can obtain in the Destiny 2 sandbox, and with them at your disposal, you'll be well-equipped to take on the enemies of the Guardians (or Guardians like yourself in the Crucible). With that said, some Exotics are more powerful than others, and using the best ones will help you maximize your efficiency and effectiveness in battle, especially if you incorporate them as a part of our best Destiny 2 builds.
While most of Destiny 2’s weapons and armor are unique and enthralling, Exotic equipment takes precedence over the rest. With the ability to only equip one piece of Exotic Armour and one Exotic at any given time, you need to consider which of the many options will take priority. At the right place and time, a fair whack of the Exotics can seem like the nuts, but a select few give you a bit more bang for your buck.
Here are our picks for the best Exotic Weapons and Armour in The Witch Queen, where they work best, and what they add to your Guardian.
Best Destiny 2 Exotic Armor
Unlike weapons, stats can vary wildly with armor, and not having the correct stats on a specific piece can hamper your build. However, some Exotic armor pieces are so game-changing that you can afford to drop a nice pair of masterworked gloves in favor of an Exotic pair and still see a noticeable improvement.
Best Destiny 2 Exotic Armor for Warlocks
With Destiny 2's latest "3.0" subclass updates and the continued evolution of its sandbox in The Witch Queen, Warlocks have shifted slightly further away from support roles, partially thanks to these Exotics. That’s not to say they aren't kings of the support role, but they now slay better than ever.
Weapon play is the single most important thing in The Crucible and, like it or not, neutral Exotics that work across all Subclasses. That makes Ophidian Aspect the perfect Exotic when it comes to PvP Warlocks. No matter what the day's flavor is, Ophidian Aspect makes sure you can ready and reload faster, extends the reach of your melee ability, and gives additional airborne effectiveness to all weapons.
Throughout Stasis’ lifetime, there have been many ups and downs thanks to some persistent nerfs. One of the few Exotics that survived the nerf bat is Osmiomancy Gloves.
Osmiomancy Gloves offer Warlocks the ability to use Coldsnap Grenades to freeze out enemies and chain them for additional grenade energy thanks to Fervid Coldsnap. However, even with the strength of Fervid Coldsnap, Osmiomancy Gloves become truly nasty with the Bleak Watcher aspect, as it allows you to place two very powerful Stasis turrets and manage enemies effectively from safe locations.
Warlocks are generally considered a support role. Lunafaction Boots are the first Exotic, but not the last, emphasizing the Warlock’s support abilities in this list.
Lunafaction Boots are incredibly practical thanks to their Alchemical Engine perk, which increases all Guardians’ reload speed when they are in a Healing or Empowering Rift and increases weapon rage in an Empowering Rift. These weapon buffs extend to the Well of Radiance too, which is empirical in dealing damage to bosses in end-game content.
The second support-based Exotic in the list is the Phoenix Protocol. Much like Lunafaction Boots, it pairs terrifically with the Well of Radiance Super. When in the Well of Radiance, each kill will restore some of your Super energy, up to 50% per Super.
This means that Warlock becomes an incredibly effective battery for the rest of the team when using the Well of Radiance and measurably cuts down the time between Supers. It makes a Warlock’s Well of Radiance a vital point of survival and intrinsically increases the number of Supers across your entire team thanks to the number of Orbs of Power each successive Well of Radiance creates.
Another fantastic neutral Exotic in the Warlock’s arsenal is The Stag. Providing additional resilience while standing in a rift to you and your teammates makes it hard to deny that it doesn’t emphasize the Warlock’s ability to keep teammates alive. It even gives the Warlock user additional Class Ability energy when they sustain critical damage, always ensuring they have a rift ready when near death. Even when the Warlock dies, The Stag still provides resilience to the players in the rift and drops an additional rift where the Warlock died. It lacks some other Exotics' thrills, but it’s still a vital part of a Warlock’s kit.
Best Destiny 2 Exotic Armor for Hunters
Hunters are known for their agility and have proven to be a menace in all aspects of Destiny, but they often struggle to provide ample support to those around them. With The Witch Queen and 3.0 changes, Hunter toolkits broadened, and they also managed to become even more self-sufficient in the process.
Arguments aside about the viability of setting up the Star-Eater Scales max damage outcome, these Exotics legs provide the highest damaging Supers in all of Destiny 2. And that’s it for the Exotic, it helps you earn your Super faster by increasing the amount of Super per orb too, but you really are running it to squeeze every ounce of damage out for Blade Barrage or Gathering Storm.
Like Warlocks, Hunters also have a go-to PvP Exotic that works across all of its subclasses. To describe the St0mp-EE5 and its benefits sounds like a Nike advert. Run faster. Jump higher. Slide further. And while that might sound quite basic, it’s incredibly effective. Jumping higher allows you to navigate airborne situations with far more ease. Running faster enables you to hold lines of sight before your opponent even starts to think about peaking. And Sliding further is a truly precious gift when it comes to shotgun users wielding the Slideshot perk.
As mentioned in our Build Guide, invisible Hunters are GOATed in Grandmaster content. The additional resilience provided when invisible, the extra smoke bomb, and the fact that it fully replenishes your smoke when you make two other Guardians invisible is insane. You can skip the majority of some strikes using it, make quick work of the Gorgon’s Maze in the Vault of Glass, and, once upon a time, absolutely dominate in the Crucible thanks to these perks. Every Hunter should have one.
Of all the Arc based Exotics a Hunter, I didn’t think I would be celebrating the efficiency of Shinobu’s Vow. It doesn’t just work, it devastates in PvE and PvP. The additional Skip Grenade is one thing, but improved tracking and returned Grenade Energy on hit, as opposed to kill, is extremely potent. Combine this with Arc 3.0’s ability to Jolt Targets and you can start to really push the limits of Ionic Traces. That means, with careful management, you barely ever run out of Skip Grenades to hound enemies around corners in The Crucible or stack damage on small waves of enemies in PvE.
No matter how often Bungie has nerfed Orpheus Rigs, they still come out the other end. With the additional buff to the Moebius Quiver shots introduced in The Witch Queen and the long-standing ability for Deadfall to regenerate up to 50% of your Super back based on the number of enemies it touches, there’s no better pair of boots to rock in a flexible Void build. While it might not offer as much damage as Star-Eater Scales, being able to alternate between Supers quickly based on the situation and applying a debuff with the Hunter’s Super means that it’s always a good choice to keep on hand.
Of all the Arc-based Exotics a Hunter, I didn’t think I would be celebrating the efficiency of Shinobu’s Vow. It doesn’t just work — it devastates PvE and PvP. The additional Skip Grenade is one thing, but improved tracking and returned Grenade Energy on hit, as opposed to each kill, is extremely potent. Combine this with Arc 3.0’s ability to Jolt Targets, and you can start to push the limits of Ionic Traces. With careful management, you barely ever run out of Skip Grenades to hound enemies around corners in The Crucible or stack damage on small waves of enemies in PvE.
Best Destiny 2 Exotic Armor for Titans
Titans are often considered a simple class. They hit hard and take hard hits. They have a defined class identity, and their abilities highlight as much. They are set up to draw aggro while allowing others to do their thing. We’ve all crouched behind a Titan’s wall and will continue until the light fades.
Heart of Inmost Light
Heart of Inmost Light is just the best. It works with anything and everything while dialing up the power to 11. Unlike our other neutral Exotics in this list, the Heart of Inmost Light is not best used in PvP, instead, it’s a critical element of every ability-based Titan build. By using one ability, all other abilities regenerate faster and either do more damage or have more hitpoints. Even builds with fairly mediocre stats can see great success.
Cuirass of the Fallen Star
There’s not much to say about this Exotic that isn’t in the description of Glorious Charge perk. Titans do a bucketload of extra damage using this Exotic and the Thundercrash Super. There’s a bonus of an overshield applied for the greater the distance traveled too. That’s it. It does nothing else special. There’s no extra steps to setting it up or bonuses. Just slap this bad boy on and hurtle towards the enemy. Job done.
Ever fought a Titan sat behind their barricade and hard-scoped your position? Yeah, it sucks. You have Citan’s Ramparts to thank for this. While it diminishes the time a barricade lasts and its ability to take damage, all a Titan needs to do is drop one at the right time to win a firefight. While its viability lives and dies by the PvP meta falling in line with team play, it is so powerful in those metas that it will always be worth discussing as one of the best PvP exotics in the game.
What about PvP exotics when you can’t play as a team? Dunemarchers is the answer, especially in six versus six game modes. You run fast, do the big punch, and watch every enemy in proximity take a burst of damage thanks to the Linear Actuators. On top of that, Titans also see a useful buff in their Sprint Speed while using Dunemarchers, which more than makes up for the stats lost by focusing on Resilience and Recovery in PvP builds.
Loreley Splendor Helm
This helmet is so powerful that it pushes Heart of Inmost Light out of the top contender spot for Solar builds. The additional Sunspots with enhanced restoration behind barricades and the safety net they provide by automatically dropping a Sunspot at the cost of your Class Ability when taking critical damage is good enough reason to run it alone. However, it works in tandem with the Solar 3.0 kit to increase your ability regeneration, which makes it an extremely potent option for every Solar build.
Regardless of your class, there are three staple ways to farm armor. The first of which is through the Nightfall playlist. At Master level or above, Exotic armor is considered a Common drop and will appear reasonably regularly. Couple this with the multitude of Double Loot periods Bungie introduces throughout a season, and you’ll find that it’s the most efficient way of earning a plethora of Exotics.
The next way of farming Exotic armor is through Legend and Master Lost Sectors. Legend and Master difficulty Lost Sectors are available after you clear a Lost Sector throughout Destiny 2. These operate on a daily rotation, offering the opportunity to target one specific type of armor; Helmet, Gauntlets, Chest, or Legs. The drop rate of Lost Sectors is lower than that of a Nightfall, which is noted as Rare drops in the Director, but it’s more precise in terms of the loot you can get. This is the only way to unlock newly added Exotics in expansions, and will prioritize these drops first and foremost over others in the same slot.
The final way is to hop over to Xur and pick up whatever he sells. Once a week, on the weekend, Xur will visit a random destination in Destiny 2 and set up shop. Xur will offer one static roll of an Exotic for every class, a random weapon, a roll of both Hawkmoon and Dead Man’s Tale, and the opportunity to purchase an Exotic Engram. This Exotic Engram will be targeted at Exotic Armour and Weapons you do not currently have in your collection. Xur’s prices start at a reasonable 23 Legendary Shards and go up to 97.
Special mention: Aeon Gauntlets
While every class has its own unique Exotic Armour, one particular piece offers the same benefits across all classes: the Aeon Gauntlets. Be it Aeon Swift, Aeon Safe, or Aeon Soul, these gloves will prove vital in stimulating the ammo economy in endgame content. These gauntlets have the option to insert one of three unique mods; Sect of Insight, Sect of Force, or Sect of Vigor. The absolute go-to is Sect of Insight which allows you to generate Special and Heavy ammo by finishing an Elite enemy or Boss-type enemy, respectively. There are some additional benefits, like generating additional Orbs of Power and offering others using Aeon Exotics with additional weapon damage, but those are far from its selling point. It’s about ensuring everyone uses their best heavy weapons to do the absolute most damage possible at every opportunity.
Best Destiny 2 Exotic Weapons
When it comes to weapons in Destiny 2, some are just head and shoulders above others. They either function in such a unique way that they can’t be replaced with budget alternatives, or they have exclusive abilities that provide such a devastating outcome that it’s hard to ignore them. They're the foundation of any great shooter, making it crucial to choose the right arsenal.
As such, we’ve decided to pick out a few of the best Exotic Weapons in The Witch Queen and tell you why you need to get them right now.
Ace of Spades
Without a doubt, the Ace of Spades is the most popular Exotic Hand Cannon in Destiny 2 and isn’t even close. It handles like a dream, packs a punch, and has the range to boot. Plus, reloading after a kill grants you Memento Mori which increases the damage of random bullets in your magazine that can tear through your opponents, and gives Firefly an extra oomph if you have the catalyst unlocked. To top it all off, you don’t lose your radar while aiming down its sights. It’s just bonkers.
As Champions became more prevalent in activities following their inclusion in Shadowkeep, players have been crying out for intrinsic Anti-Champion mods on Exotic Weapons. Arbalest is at the absolute top of the tiers for Anti-Champion mods, offering Anti-Barrier rounds on a Linear Fusion Rifle with some pretty nasty range.
In the current meta, combining Arbalest with any Heavy Slot Linear Fusion Riles means that you can double down on Linear Fusion Rifle-based mods, including Scavengers and Finders, which results in a far healthier ammo economy in endgame content. And if that isn’t enough, Arbalest does extra damage to enemies after breaking their shield, including Champions, and reloads itself automatically if you have the catalyst. Its benefits know no end.
None of the weapons on this list have drawn the ire of content creators more than Divinity. Divinity is an incredibly unique and powerful Trace Rifle. By shooting a target with Divinity, a giant bubble, called Judgement, is placed on the target. This acts as an additional crit spot on the enemy while weakening them. If Judgement is applied for long enough, the bubble also bursts and further damages the target. Divinity also has the intrinsic ability to stun Overload Champions, adding one more fantastic reason to rock the Trace Rifle.
Sometimes precision damage takes too long to rack up, and you need an explosive twist. That’s where Gjallarhorn comes in. This Exotic Rocket Launcher is the cream of the crop. It does great damage, gets better when standing near allies, and firing a rocket will buff other Rocket Launchers that aren’t Gjallarhorn with the Wolfpack Rounds perk, boosting their damage too. Hell, it even holds two rockets in the chamber and increases the effectiveness of Wolfpack Rounds when you have its catalyst too. This Rocket Launcher is so powerful that many Grandmaster Nightfall strikes can benefit from all three team members running this in tandem with Aeon gauntlets.
This Grenade Launcher is simple but effective. Each grenade leaves a puddle of blight energy that damages anyone that stands on it. Successfully hitting a target applies damage over time and, upon death, spawns a puddle of blight miasma too. This means that you can shoot a grenade at the spawn of any group of enemies or slap one directly on an enemy and watch as it crumbles and leaves a trail of devastation behind it. When it comes to boss damage, you can even apply the damage over time effect by shooting the boss and swapping out your primary source of damage. This is massively aided by the Witherhoard’s catalyst that automatically reloads while stowed and maxes out its Handling stat to ensure you can quickly switch to and from Witherhoard easily.
While not as prominent in most loadouts as the previously mentioned Exotics, Outbreak Perfected dominated the Vow of the Disciple raid thanks to the damage it can do without using Special or Heavy ammo. The Corruption Spreads catalyst allows Outbreak Perfected to generate SIVA Nanites through rapid precision hits and kills. These Nanites then attach to enemies and, in combination with the Parasitism trait, increase the amount of damage done to the target. This is further improved when you’ve unlocked its catalyst. The general strategy was to keep Outbreak Perfected in your inventory and use up all your ammo. When you had no more ammo to use, you’d quickly switch to Outbreak Perfected and squeeze in that little bit more to kill a boss. It’s also no slouch in the Crucible, although it is outclassed by No Time To Explain.
No Time to Explain
While No Time to Explain can summon a Time Portal that fires bullets from an alternate timeline, the real kicker is the ammo refunded to your magazine from every precision shot you land. In long-winded duels, this can make or break you. It’s also just an outstanding Pulse Rifle, edging out The Messenger (Adept) and all other 340RPM Pulse Rifles in most of its stats.
The last Exotic weapon on our list has fallen off slightly due to the increasing popularity of Linear Fusion Rifles and the undisputable power of Arbalest, but that doesn't mean it isn’t worth your time. Izanagi’s Burden is a sure shot for immediate precision damage thanks to Honed Edge, which allows you to condense one full magazine of ammo into one deadly bullet. It also helps that Izanagi’s Burden reload time while activating Honed Edge perfectly matches up with the timing of enhanced auto-loading holster on all weapons, the Palmyra-B being the most prominent, which can aid massively in timing your DPS phases. In short sharp boss encounters, you’ll find that dumping this weapon’s ammo reserves with Honed Edge could be the perfect solution.
While these might be our picks for Destiny 2's best Exotics, you can make a case for many weapons and why you might use them. Every gun can feel great in the right situation, and some builds just shine a little brighter when you find an Exotic that fits your playstyle. While we recommend trying out our favorites, don’t be afraid to experiment when crafting your builds.