The best Destiny 2 exotics

We've tracked down the best Destiny 2 exotics, both weapons and armor, including The Witch Queen and through the current Season of the Seraph

The best Destiny 2 Exotics in Season of the Seraph: A Guardian holds the Dead Man's Tale

Obtaining the best Destiny 2 exotics is a feeling like no other for avid players. Powerful exotics are essential for completing the game’s high-calibre activities and dominating PvP.

Without its exotic weapons and gear, Destiny 2 wouldn’t be a top-tier looter shooter FPS game. With a backlog of Destiny 2 exotics spanning four expansions, it’s tough to keep up with the game’s best exotic pieces through The Witch Queen and through Destiny 2 season 19. Factor in a series of buffs and nerfs and it’s enough to leave even the most seasoned players second-guessing their chosen exotic. So, we’ve compiled our favourite exotic weapons in Destiny 2, as well as the best exotic gear pieces to complement your best Destiny 2 Warlock build, best Titan build, or best Hunter build in one of the best free PC games of the past decade.

Best Destiny 2 exotic weapons

Destiny 2’s weapons are often situational, meaning that the best weapon may change based on the encounter type, the character’s Destiny 2 class, subclass, armour mods, or any combination of those things. Still, there are a few that stand out regardless of the circumstances. With some recent weapon balancing, including nerfs to powerful linear fusion rifles, we have some older exotics here that have more substance than ever as well as a few newer must-haves.

Ager’s Scepter

Stasis trace rifle – Kinetic weapon

There aren’t too many trace rifles in Destiny 2, and this one is a kinetic Stasis weapon that causes a slowing burst around defeated enemies. Like with the Witherhoard, this is also a great tactic for ad control in tough situations. Its Stasis final blows also transfer ammo into the magazine from reserves, meaning that, in theory, you may never have to actually reload it. Though it’s not particularly strong against champions, it’s ruthless against other enemies, and Stasis Aspects and Fragments only make it stronger. This is a Beyond Light exotic, so if it’s not in your collection, you’ll have to use an Exotic Cypher and an Ascendant Shard to pick one up.

Destiny-2-Arbalest Weapon Information Screen

Arbalest

Linear fusion rifle – Kinetic weapon

Even with a recent nerf to linear fusion rifles, Arbalest packs an undeniable punch even for players not particularly fond of linear fusion rifles. It’s an excellent choice for PvE and PvP combat, rendering any enemy Guardian a quick kill. However, its real power is in its ability to take down the game’s strongest enemies due to its increased damage against shields, making it highly effective against Barrier Champions. Combined with its Disruption Break trait, which makes enemies more vulnerable to kinetic damage after breaking an enemy shield with Arbalest, it quickly becomes a valuable weapon in almost any situation. It’s also a kinetic weapon, meaning players can pack their energy and heavy weapon slots with higher-DPS weapons for a killer combo. Its catalyst only makes it more robust, as breaking an enemy shield fills the magazine from reserves while energy weapons regenerate ammo on hit whenever the weapon’s damage type matches the enemy’s shield type.

The best Destiny 2 Exotics in Season of the Seraph: An image of the Gjallerhorn.

Gjallarhorn

Solar rocket launcher – Power weapon

This fan-favourite weapon from the first Destiny joined Destiny 2’s arsenal as part of Bungie’s 30th Anniversary celebration. It’s a potent area-of-effect weapon used for taking down groups of enemies, primarily due to its 100 blast radius stat and its Wolfpack Rounds that split into cluster missiles upon detonation. As an added perk, firing also grants Wolfpack Rounds to nearby pals actively using non-exotic rocket launchers. Finally, this weapon’s catalyst makes final blows spawn an even more powerful missile at the target’s location.

Witherhoard

Grenade launcher – Kinetic weapon

Even players not particularly fond of grenade launchers, Witherhoard is a must-have. First, it’s a kinetic grenade launcher, putting it in a class of its own. But not only is it powerful, but its projectiles also blight enemy areas on impact, forcing them into the substance that causes enemies to become Taken. These blighted enemies take damage over time and, in turn, blight the surrounding area on death. Ultimately, this makes an excellent weapon for ad control. Players can get it by using an Exotic Cypher and Ascendant Shard at the Monument to Lost Lights.

The best Destiny 2 Exotics in Season of the Seraph: Looking down the barrel of Dead Man's Tale.

Dead Man’s Tale (PvP)

Scout rifle – Kinetic weapon

Dead Man’s Tale is presently dominating the PvP meta, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best Destiny 2 PvP weapons. The honour is partially due to recent buffs that improved hipfire consistency. It’s a scout rifle, but in practice, it feels a little more like a hand cannon. With solid range and the ability to take out PvP opponents in just two or three shots, players in both Crucible and Destiny 2 Trials of Osiris have latched on to this weapon. With this weapon, chains of precision hits grant additional target acquisition and range, rewarding consecutive headshots, making it a great weapon for players with reasonable aim.

No Time to Explain (PvP)

Pulse rifle – Kinetic weapon

No Time to Explain is a powerful pulse rifle, capitalizing on the present PvP pulse meta. With the ability to defeat opponents with just two bursts, it’s almost a no-brainer that players who choose not to run Dead Man’s Tale in PvP are running No Time to Explain instead. Precision hits also return bullets to the magazine, creating a powerful cycle in which players who can land headshots rarely have to reload. Its stats are balanced and it feels smooth in gameplay. It’s an S-tier weapon, but players must own and complete the Beyond Light expansion to earn it.

Honourable Mention

  • Revision Zero: Kinetic pulse rifle
  • Le Monarque: Void energy combat bow
  • Ace of Spades: Kinetic hand cannon
  • Thunderlord: Arc power machine gun
  • Grand Overture: Arc power machine gun
  • The Lament: Solar power sword
  • Osteo Striga: Kinetic submachine gun

Destiny 2 Osteo Striga

Best Destiny 2 exotic armor

Destiny 2 often ties its armour to specific subclasses and playstyles, with particular traits that activate only when players are running certain builds. That aside, here are our picks for Exotic gear options that are undeniably powerful.

Exotic Warlock Armour

Transversive Steps – Leg armour

It’s not the most flashy Exotic, but it’s worthwhile. Transversive Steps dates back to 2017’s The Red War DLC but remains valuable today. This leg armour buffs the Warlock’s sprint and reloads their weapons while sprinting. Whether the activity is casual PvE or hardcore PvP, a Warlock will always be in a better position when it doesn’t need to spend time reloading.

Ophidian Aspect – Arm armour

Also not the flashiest, this is another versatile piece that buffs elements essential to both PvP and PvE gameplay. When wearing it, weapons load more quickly, and melee range is extended. Because of the game’s rework of each of its elemental subclasses over the past year, Aspects and Fragments have given way to even more opportunities to buff melee abilities, and mods such as Charged with Light mods that grant bonuses to weapon damage. As a result, even this simple armour piece can be part of a kit that has an exponential impact on your Warlock’s ability to defeat foes in any activity.

Exotic Titan Armour

Heart of Inmost Light – Chest armour

A solid option for both PvE and PvP, this armour piece is geared for ability spam. Its Overflowing Light exotic perk makes it so that using a grenade, melee, or barricade ability empowers the others, meaning they have faster regeneration, melee and grenades do more damage, and barricades have more hit points. Players can use it with any subclass, and with the right Aspects, Fragments, and mods such as Bountiful Wells, Melee Wellmaker, and Elemental Ordnance grant even more buffs that are extremely helpful when clearing difficult bosses or enemy hordes.

The best Destiny 2 Exotics in Season of the Seraph: The Heart of Inmost Light chest armour.

One-Eyed Mask – Helmet

A solid option for PvP and PvE play, the One-Eyed Mask highlights enemies that cause damage to the Guardian, which the player can then defeat for an Overshield. Bungie’s recent Void subclass overhaul gives additional power to this Exotic, as equipping the Offensive Bulwark Void Aspect increases grenade charge speed and melee range and damage while the player has an Overshield. Plus, melee final blows extend Overshield for even more protection.

Exotic Hunter Armor

Wormhusk Crown – Helmet

One of the reasons Hunters are so powerful is due to their ability to dodge. With Wormhusk Crown, Hunters gain a small health and shield bump when dodging. While it’s doesn’t exactly lead to invincibility, using Aspects and Fragments that accelerate ability regeneration can make players far less vulnerable as they dodge around maps in Crucible or avoid enemies in PvE activities. As such, it’s a great all-around option that doesn’t require any specific subclass or elements to run, and should be a default for players who switch subclasses frequently in pursuit of bounty completions, weekly challenges, and Triumphs that require specific subclasses to help players achieve certain objectives.

ST0MP-EE5 – Leg armour

Even with a nerf in 2022, this remains one of the best, most versatile Hunter exotic armour pieces. It remains dominant in PvP, as its buffs to movement render the user untouchable when played correctly. ST0MP-EE5 increase sprint speed and slide distance and improve the Hunter’s jump. The buffs are substantial, with sprint speed increased by 6.25%, slide distance increased by 33%, and jumps ranging from 10% to 33% higher. However, the nerf means that weapon airborne effectiveness stats now receive a penalty of -50 with this leg armour, rendering it more difficult for players to land shots when airborne. However, that hasn’t stopped Hunters from using it, as players can either focus on weapons with high airborne effectiveness to combat the penalty or simply choose to take fights on the ground, staying out of the air as much as possible.

Ultimately, Destiny 2’s best Exotics come down to playstyle and preference. However, this list is a wrap-up of some of our favourites that will no doubt help you when taking on activities such as the Destiny 2 Spire of the Watcher dungeon in anticipation of the forthcoming Destiny 2 Lightfall release date and introduction of the Destiny 2 Strand subclass in February.