There’s rarely a replacement for the rarest, most powerful weapons and gear in an RPG. That’s especially true for those you really have to work for. And Bungie’s shooter has plenty to choose from. These are the 13 best Destiny 2 Exotics you need to get right now.
13 Best Exotics You Need Right Now in Destiny 2
Despite literally hundreds of Exotics spread between three classes with four armor slots and three weapon types, you only really need 13 Exotics off the bat. In this list, I’ll detail all the Exotic weapons and armor that should take precedence before you go for any others. The majority of them are weapons, which I’ll talk about in order of importance, and then I’ll give two armor pieces per class.
A lot of the Exotic weapons in Destiny 2 are usable only in specific situations or activities. The ones I’ll talk about here are worthwhile no matter what you’re doing, who you’re playing with, or what class you play. If you have any of these Exotics equipped, you’ll be in a good spot.
To get most of these weapons, you need to visit the Exotic Archive in the Tower and pay one Exotic Cipher, 100,000-125,000 Glimmer, 150-200 Legendary Shards, and one Ascendant Shard. You’ll also need to own the Destiny 2 Legacy Collection, which contains the Shadowkeep, Beyond Light, and Witch Queen expansions, as well as the 30th Anniversary Pack. Both are worth their price.
Essential Exotic Weapons
There’s probably no weapon in all of Destiny 2 I can recommend more for literally anyone than Witherhoard. It’s the freest add clear in the game, takes almost no setup or knowledge to use effectively, and is a straight damage buff with no strings attached. Just fire the orb of Taken goo where enemies are or will be, and watch the damage numbers tick by.
To call the Gjallarhorn a necessary weapon in Destiny 2 almost does a disservice to the concept. Not only is it a fantastic weapon on its own — even after two mild nerfs — but it increases your team’s boss DPS by several orders of magnitude almost for free. The only requirement is that the rest of your fireteam is using Legendary Rocket Launchers. Also, it looks cool and can be your go-to choice for any activity in the game.
Another no-brainer, though becoming slightly less so with time, the Arbalest is the only Linear Fusion Rifle with the intrinsic Anti-Barrier Champion trait and does decent damage on top of it. The number of Raids I’ve run with a rocket in my Power slot and Arbalest as my Kinetic are too many to count. If you can’t think of any good way to defeat Barrier Champions in an activity, I can’t recommend Arbalest enough.
No Raid boss damage phase is complete without a Divinity, even in the current Rocket Launcher meta. It doesn’t matter what kind of enemy you’re fighting. If you hit it with a Div, it will have a weak point. And while you need to do what I think is the worst Raid in the game — Garden of Salvation — to get the weapon, it’s an absolute must.
The Witch Queen-exclusive Exotic SMG might be getting a well-deserved nerf in the future, but from what I could tell, it will still be an absolute PvE monster. It won’t be quite as broken as it has been since The Witch Queen expansion’s launch. It can massively overflow its magazine, clear entire rooms of trash mobs by itself, and has awesome synergy with Strand (provided you own Lightfall).
Dead Man’s Tale
Few guns were more despised when they came out than the Dead Man’s Tale Scout Rifle, and in the years since, it’s been mostly brought to heel. That doesn’t mean DMT isn’t still a monster of a gun and one of the better PvP Scout Rifles in the game (it’s no slouch in PvE either). And with it now being craftable, you can make an already strong weapon even stronger.
No Time to Explain
Want to make Destiny 2 PvP a more comfortable experience? Add the No Time to Explain Pulse Rifle from the Beyond Light expansion to your collection. It remains one of if not the best Pulse in the Crucible, and if you pair it with a close-range option, there’s almost no distance you can’t control.
Essential Exotic Armor You Need for Each Class
I admit, this section had me agonizing, because there are so many great choices when it comes to Exotic armor pieces for each class. However, I wanted to provide those that had the greatest possible utility. Many Exotics have specific use cases or exist to empower particular builds, but there are only a few that can be effective no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
Phoenix Protocol Warlock Robes
I recommend this Exotic despite the fact that the Phoenix Protocol only affects the Well of Radiance Super. It grants energy back for kills and assists while inside it, and Well is used almost universally over Dawnblade these days, so the benefits of keeping the best Survival/damage ability ready can’t go overstated.
Lunafaction Boots Warlock Greaves
As reliable as they are old (in Destiny 2 terms), Lunafaction Boots make almost any team activity better. Put your Well or rift down with Luna’s on and everyone inside gets massively increased reload speed. While these boots don’t offer much more than that, they don’t need to. Anything that can reduce damage downtime is immensely valuable in endgame content but can be useful in more everyday activities, as well.
Assassin’s Cowl Hunter Helmet
Survivability is not always the Hunter’s strong suit, but with Assassin’s Cowl, any of its subclasses instantly become better at it. At least, all the non-Void ones. Assassin’s Cowl’s ability is simple: if you get a powered melee kill, you turn invisible for ten to fifteen seconds. As with the Lunafaction Boots, that’s all the Cowl does, but it’s such a powerful ability, it doesn’t need to do more.
Radiant Dance Machines Hunter Greaves
Hunters are the premiere PvE DPS class in Destiny 2 thanks to a combination of these boots and their ability to instantly reload via their Gambler’s Dodge class ability. Like most of the best Exotics in Destiny 2, the Radiant Dance Machines are simple: dodge near an enemy and instantly get your dodge charge back. By default, you get five dodges before your ability goes on cooldown, but you can extend that limit by defeating enemies. Pair Radiant Dance Machines with a meta rocket launcher like Apex Predator, and your DPS is through the roof.
Synthoceps Titan Gauntlets
Also known as “Punch, the Exotic,” Synthoceps increase your melee lunge range and melee and Super damage when near enemies. All these effects are passive, meaning they take no input from the player to activate. I’ve mained Synthoceps since the beginning of Destiny 2 because, like the Titan, they are simple but effective.
Heart of Inmost Light Chestpiece
An Exotic so powerful its effects needed to be cut in half to bring it in line with the other best-in-class options for Titan, the Heart of Inmost Light makes your ability cooldowns disappear. Every time you use an ability, the other two are enhanced, increasing their effectiveness and reducing their cool down. Using a second ability doubles the enhancement of the last one. With the right build, you can have effectively infinite ability uptime.
And that’s my list of the 13 Exotics you need right now in Destiny 2. All of them are useful in almost any situation, activity, or difficulty, and your teammates will never hate on you for having them. Or they might, but there’s no pleasing some people. For more tips, tricks, and lists, check out our guides on how to get the Deathbringer, our guide to the Grasp of Avarice Dungeon, and more in our D2 guides hub.