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Destiny 2: The 13 Best Exotics You Need Before The Final Shape

There are hundreds of Exotic weapons and armor pieces in Destiny 2, but these are the 13 you need right now.

The Exotic weapons and armor in Destiny 2 can define not just one player’s build but that of an entire fireteam of six. The very best of them are truly in a league of their own, and some would say you do both yourself and your teammates a disservice by not having them. These are the 13 best Destiny 2 Exotics you need before The Final Shape expansion.

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13 Best Exotics You Need Right Now in Destiny 2

There are hundreds of Exotic weapons and armor spread between the three Destiny 2 classes, and while almost all of them fall into the “great to have” category, there are 13 you have equally little excuse not to have in your Collections.

These pieces of equipment are so effective across all the content in the game or provide such value, whether you’re playing solo or in a fireteam, that having them immediately elevates the power and value you bring to the table.

This list is all about those 13 exotics you must have before The Final Shape expansion drops. Unless there is a frankly absurd balance patch that neuters the items presented here, every one, whether weapon or armor piece, will only make you more powerful. In other words, no matter what you’re doing, who you’re playing with, or what class you play, if you have any of these Exotics equipped, your teammates will thank you.

And unless I list otherwise, you can get almost all of these weapons from the Monument to Lost Lights Exotic Gear Archvies in the Tower. There, you spend 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.

The Seven Exotic Weapons You Need Before The Final Shape

Gjallarhorn

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To call the Gjallarhorn a necessary weapon in Destiny 2 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 several times, essentially for free. As long as the rest of your fireteam is using Legendary Rocket Launchers, and you’re using the Gjallarhorn (or some other combination thereof), everyone gets the benefits of the weapon’s trademark Wolfpack Rounds once the Gjallarhorn shoots once. Also, it looks cool, does solid damage of its own, and can be your go-to Rocket Launcher for any activity in the game.

Witherhoard

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I don’t think I can recommend a better Exotic weapon to anyone in Destiny 2 than the Witherhoard. Unlike Gjallarhorn, it’s not locked behind a DLC. Unlike some of the other weapons on this list, you can buy the thing from the Exotic Archives — no crazy activity completion or hard content grind. And to top it all off, the Witherhoard is 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, go where enemies are or will be, and watch the damage numbers tick by.

Wish-Ender

The Wish-Ender Exotic Bow in Destiny 2
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The Wish-Ender Exotic Bow takes a fair bit of effort to acquire, seeing you delving into the Shattered Throne Dungeon in the Dreaming City. However, its utility, especially in endgame content, is almost unmatched. Wish-Endger comes with intrinsic Anti-Barrier Champion properties, has crazy damage output for a Bow of any kind, and can be a menace in PvP. Casual content like Vanguard Ops and other easy activities don’t get the most value out of it, but for Legend Lost Sectors and high-difficulty Nightfall trikes, there are only a few better choices.

Divinity

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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 and keep the beam on target, you’ll generate a large and easy-to-see weak spot right in the middle of your enemy’s chest (or head, or stomach, or…). And while you need to do what I think is the worst Raid in the game — Garden of Salvation — to get the weapon, having this weapon in your inventory is an absolute must.

Osteo Striga

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The Witch Queen-exclusive Exotic SMG got a well deserved nerf (or some might say a mechanical correction), but from what I can tell, it’s still an absolute PvE monster. It’s just not quite as broken as it has been since The Witch Queen expansion’s launch. Despite its adjustment, the Osteo Striga can massively overflow its magazine, clear entire rooms of trash mobs by itself, and has awesome synergy with Strand (provided you own Lightfall).

Dragon’s Breath

A side view of the Dragon's Breath Exotic Rocket Launcher
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As any jaded Destiny 1 veteran, if they thought Dragon’s Breath returning was a good idea, and you’d have a long list of people who laughed in your face. Then it was released in Destiny 2 Season of the Wish (meaning you can get it right now!), and it elevated almost every Solar build the game has to offer. With and without its Exotic catalyst, it feels like an easier-to-use and more satisfying Solar version of Anarchy. Sure, it looks silly, but don’t let that fool you. Dragon’s Breath is the real deal. Get yours today!

No Time to Explain

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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. Just don’t assume you’ll be making any friends. Some players aren’t the biggest fan of No Time to Explain users.

The Exotic Armor You Need for Each Class Before The Final Shape

I admit, I agonized about the choices in this section because every class has at least half a dozen fantastic options that are great to have in content throughout Destiny 2, and narrowing it down to just two per class (for space, if nothing else) was really tough. Ultimately, I decided to pick Exotics, which have no one specific use case but are valuable no matter what you’re doing. I admit, there is a bit of a bias in the Warlock section, as the Solar 3.0 update gave that class a massive power boost, but the other two classes are fairly subclass agnostic.

Phoenix Protocol Warlock Robes

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The Phoenix Protocol might only work when your Well of Radiance Super is active, but as long as you and your team are defeating enemies while in it, you can easily get 50% of your Super energy back. And that’s huge because you can make every activity, of any difficulty, instantly easier and more comfortable to complete if you have a Well of Radiance Warlock on your team, thanks to the massive healing and attack boost it provides. This gives Warlocks the power to use that Super more often to save a Grandmaster GM, who can run the same way it can a casual match in The Crucible and everywhere in between.

Lunafaction Boots Warlock Greaves

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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 also be useful in more everyday activities.

Assassin’s Cowl Hunter Helmet

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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 10 to 15 seconds. If you build around throwing knives on Solar or Cross-Counter on Arc, you can easily wipe out a trash mob and suddenly have up to fifteen seconds of freedom to move around the battlefield unmolested. As with the Lunafaction Boots, granting invisibility is all the Cowl does, but it’s such a powerful buff that this helmet doesn’t need to do anything more.

Radiant Dance Machines Hunter Greaves

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Hunters are the premiere PvE DPS class in Destiny 2, thanks to a combination of these boots and their ability to reload instantly 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

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Also known as “Punch, the Exotic,” the Synthoceps main bonus is a vast increase to your Super damage when near enemies, as well as improving weapon handling. Both bonuses are passive, meaning they take no input from the player to activate. All you need to do is keep two or three enemies in fairly close proximity, and Punch, The Class will be so much better. I’ve mained Synthoceps since the beginning of Destiny 2 because, like the Titan, they are simple but effective.

Heart of Inmost Light Chestpiece

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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 (mostly) disappear. Every time you use an ability, the other two are enhanced, increasing their effectiveness and reducing their cooldown. Using a second ability doubles the enhancement of the last one. The buff only lasts five seconds, a full half of the previously stupid ten-second buff. Despite that reduction, with the right build, you can have effectively infinite ability uptime.

And that’s my list of the 13 Exotics you need before The Final Shape 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.


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Author
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John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.