Destiny 2 has two tiers of endgame loot: the highly sought-after exotics, and the more abundant (but still desirable) legendary gear. Exotics may be flashy, but you only get one weapon and one armour piece. This means legendaries are most of your build, so you'd better learn them well if you want to save the solar system.
Looking for guns of the flashier variety? You'll want our Destiny 2 Exotic weapons guide.
How guns work in Destiny 2
The console beta was our first look at the details screen for Destiny 2's weapons. Between this and an interview Luke Smith gave, here's what we know about how they'll work now.
Legendary guns get a four-tier tree of fixed perks, each of which will affect the gun's behaviour somehow. The leftmost perk, in white, is said to be 'intrinsic' and is active as soon as you pick the gun up. It will also be randomly rolled, and may vary across guns of the same model. The remaining perks are fixed and will not vary: they'll be the same on every drop of a Minuet-42. If Destiny 2 is anything like the original, you'll unlock these by levelling the gun up, then spending upgrade materials.
Finally, new to the sequel, is a 'weapon mods' section. From left to right, this contains:
- The infuse button, which enables you to sacrifice a higher-level piece of gear to power up an old favourite.
- An elemental damage mod, but only if the gun is an energy or power weapon – we’ll be able to swap this out in the final game, enabling us to change the type of elemental damage that these guns will do. That’s be a welcome new feature, as no-one needs a vault full of only Void sniper rifles.
- A slot for a shader, which will apply a preset colour scheme to your gun. Looks like all legendary weapons (and armour) will have these, which should allow for much more precise dressing-up.
Legendary Kinetic weapons
Matt and Rich have both had a good go at the console and PC betas, which had a similar pool of a little under two dozen weapons. Here are their thoughts on a few that stood out, whether because they were good and you should keep an eye out for them in the final game, or for other, less positive reasons.
Auto Rifle - Scathelocke
Rich says: I saw this used a lot in PvP, for the simple reason that it seems to have one of the quicker times-to-kill among the beta's limited pool of weapons. Its stability is high enough to hold it steady on an enemy's head, and its range is sufficient for a variety of engagements. The high caliber rounds perk, which causes more flinch when your shots hit an enemy, is always handy in PvP to reduce the accuracy of return fire.
Matt says: People talk about Destiny’s gunfeel a lot, and Scathelocke is probably the best example of what that means. It’s a relatively simple auto rifle, with lines and components that parallel contemporary staples like the AK-47, and it rattles around as if it’s been in service for over a decade. Everything about it shouts ‘generic assault rifle’, but it’s an absolute wonder. By feathering the trigger you can achieve some solid mid-range accuracy, and when enemies go for mob tactics it’s an admirable full-auto weapon. Its versatility transfers to PvP, too, even against teams that are still relying on the heavy thwack of hand cannons.
Hand Cannon - Better Devils
Rich says: Despite being a Crucible hand cannon (you can tell by the graphics, and because Luke Smith said so), I found Better Devils pretty underwhelming in PvP. It was much better for shooting aliens: the explosive payload perk causes AoE explosions when each round hits, while drop mag greatly hastens reload speed at the cost of dumping any bullets remaining in the magazine. Given that primary ammo is common, this isn't an issue with a little reload discipline. The result is a hard-hitting weapon with splash damage and very little downtime – ideal for PvE.
Matt says: While nothing quite compares to the Solar punch that the exotic Sunshot hand cannon delivers, Better Devils is certainly a premium-level pistol. Of all the legendary weapons available in Destiny 2’s beta, it’s the one with the most satisfying… everything. The way it jerks like an angry stallion, the thunderous noise it makes as a bullet exits the chamber, and even the hot-rod red paintjob is all just right.
Scout Rifle - Does Not Compute
Rich says: so, here's fun: some weapons in the Destiny 2 beta – including all the scouts I used – tripled their base damage when scoring critical hits in PvE (the headshot bias varied with both weapon and enemy type, and was much less in PvP). It makes sense on scouts as a nudge to make them precision weapons, and I had good fun popping Psions, Harpies, and Goblins on the Inverted Spire strike, which features a lot of longer-ranged engagements.
In the more intimiate Homecoming story mission, Does Not Compute is totally outclassed by Better Devils, which hits harder, reloads faster (with drop mag on), has the same magazine size, and blows stuff up. Damage falloff is pretty aggressive on a lot of guns now, especially hand cannons, so scouts have a clear role.
Pulse rifle - Nightshade
Rich says: one of the more versatile weapons in the beta, I found Nightshade very useful in PvE and PvP, where it was almost as common as Scathelocke. Its range is good and damage falloff seems less aggressive than on other guns, so it does reliable damage at variable distances. This is great in both game modes, but especially PvP, where it provides a big edge over opponents with auto rifles and hand cannons.
In PvP, each bullet dealt 21 damage to the head and 15 to the body. Combined with a good fire rate and the potential damage boost offered by the Kill Clip perk (which grants bonus damage when you reload after a kill), it has one of the fastest times-to-kill of any gun in the beta.
Legendary Energy weapons
Hand Cannon - Minuet-42
Rich says: pretty good – it felt similar to Better Devils in terms of impact and stability, and it shares the drop mag perk (it's actually equipped in this picture, so you can see what it does to the reload speed). A reasonable alternative if you like Better Devils but want solar damage, though you lose explosive payload. You get opening shot instead, which grants improved accuracy and range to the first round in a magazine. That falls squarely in the 'nice to have' category, but it's hardly game-changing.
Sidearm - Urchin-3SI
Rich says: it makes a cool sound and it's fun to fire, but if Urchin is indicative of the state of sidearms in general, then they're in a bad spot. Compared to the best sidearms in Destiny 1, Urchin feels much less accurate – meaning it struggled to outdamage other energy weapons – and burned through my ammo reserves much more quickly. Bungie need to look at this, I reckon.
Pulse rifle – Nergal PR4
Matt says: Nergal's range and stability make for quick, largely accurate fire over middle distances, and the nicely sized targeting reticule in its sight makes it an excellent choice for a variety of engagements.
It’s Nergal’s design, though, that will make you fall in love. A bullpup rifle, the bullets seem to pass through a chamber of Void goo before being fired down the barrel. The liquid sloshes around as you move, and that’s just pure sci-fi bonkers. Wonderful.
Scout rifle – Black Scorpion-4SR
Rich says: Black Scorpion is a scout rifle with the added complication of its Veist intrinsic perk, which makes it fully-automatic. If you're tempted to hold the trigger to take advantage of that, you can forget about long-range critical hits – supposedly the role of a scout rifle – but you can pump bodyshots into mobs, which don't do enough damage because of the huge headshot bias.
Generally I preferred Does Not Compute for Inverted Spire, except when it came to the boss, because Black Scorpion is very good at chaining critical hits on a single target. That also means Guardians in PvP, where there's also a more even damage profile. I picked fluted barrel for a stability bump, and Black Scorpion came alive for me in the Crucible.
Legendary Power weapons
Grenade Launcher - Acantha-D
Rich says: The only grenade launcher in the beta, Acantha underwhelmed a little. As you can see its blast radius is feeble – like most of its stats – though without a comparison it's unclear how much this improves at the higher end of the scale, so it might be an issue across all grenade launchers.
When you're as accurate as you need to be, it does respectable damage, sweeping up a whole pack of War Beasts in a couple of shells and taking a decent bite out of the Modular Mind boss, but it was minutes before I got another go due to the paltry power ammo drop rate. Good to hear Bungie are looking at that.
Shotgun - Retrofuturist
Matt says: Retrofuturist is the ideal last-ditch gun. Due to being a power weapon it’s rare to have much ammunition for it, but the relatively tight spread makes it perfect for finishing off an enemy Guardian that you’ve lured into a choke point. Being a pump-action shotgun the cycling of the rounds is a little slow, but at close range Retrofuturist is absolutely devastating.
It’s also called Retrofuturist. How could you not want that in your arsenal?
Sniper Rifle - Copperhead-4SN
Rich says: I like sniping, so it was disappointing to find this was the only sniper rifle in the beta, and it's hard to say how good it is without something to compare it with. I managed a couple of picks in PvP, but its scope was a bit powerful to do this comfortably. It was far more useful in the Inverted Spire strike than the Homecoming story mission, given the latter's relative lack of long-range fights, but the paltry power ammo drop rate meant I couldn't get it out often. It's good to hear Bungie are adjusting that, based on beta feedback.
Fusion Rifle - Main Ingredient
Rich says: if you're new to Destiny, Fusion rifles are like long-range laser shotguns; they charge up for a moment before unleashing a tight spread of bolts. Their potential damage is huge and can mean a one-shot kill in PvP if all the bolts connect. They dominated the Crucible after Destiny 1 launched, then were nerfed into the ground early in 2015, never to be seen again.
It looks like Destiny 2 has revived them in a big way - Main Ingredient's charge time is shorter and its effective range longer than fusion rifles have been for ages. It was one of the most-used power weapons in PvP, and was probably the most effective choice in PvE, too.
I can't wait to see them vanish once again when the game launches.