The Destiny 2 meta is in a very interesting place right now. A year ago, nobody would have guessed that auto rifles would dominate the Crucible or that a sword, of all things, would be the DPS weapon of choice for high-level bosses. And yet, here we are.
In making this tier list, I took into account weapon usage, the range of useable weapons within a class, and my own personal experience with Destiny 2. The list reflects the meta as of August 2020 — I’ll update it in the future to reflect buffs and nerfs down the line.
We have plans to update this guide following the launch of Beyond Light. If you’re seeing this, we haven’t yet gotten around to it or are waiting on more information. Check back soon!
The best of the best, these weapon types are some of the most useful across PVP and PVE in Destiny 2.
They’ve dominated the PVP meta since last season, and auto rifles show no sign of slowing down. A combination of good range, accuracy, and damage potential make these weapons easy to use and effective regardless of what Destiny 2 activity you’re playing.
Standouts: Suros Regime, Gnawing Hunger, The Summoner, The Forward Path
Swords were already on the upswing (sorry) last season after their rework, but one weapon has made them ubiquitous lately: Falling Guillotine. When it comes to raw damage potential, few other weapons in Destiny 2 can compare to the spin-to-win buster blade.
Standouts: Falling Guillotine
Great choices with a wide range of applications.
I’m including both Power and Special Grenade Launchers here, since there are strong choices in both categories. Power launchers may not be so hot in PVP, but they remain great boss damage dealers. Meanwhile, single-shot Grenade Launchers are flexible and strong choices for your Special slot in any activity, combining range, crowd control, and direct damage.
Standouts: Witherhoard, Mountaintop, Anarchy, Wendigo
Snipers have been laid low from their formerly-dominant position in the Destiny 2 PVE meta, thanks to repeated nerfs and buffs to other weapon types. However, they’re still powerful in PVP, with the Revoker and Beloved in particular being some of the most-used of all weapons in the Crucible. Oh, and Whisper of the Worm remains a powerful DPS option for those bosses that you can’t reach with your Falling Guillotine.
Standouts: Revoker, Beloved, Whisper of the Worm
There was a time when it seemed like hand cannons were Bungie’s clear favorite children, with new Exotics getting released every few months and powerful Legendary rolls crushing the competition in PVP. Hand cannons are still very powerful, but now that auto rifles define the meta, they see a little less use.
Standouts: Dire Promise, Thorn, Spare Rations
You’re probably not reaching for these weapons when the chips are down, but they’re serviceable nonetheless.
The heyday of the Recluse is now long-past, and SMGs are a shadow of their former selves in Destiny 2. They’re outranged in PVP, and while they’re still solid choices in many PVE activities, there are so many great auto rifles that SMGs have kind of lost their niche. That said, the new Death Adder and IKELOS SMGs are good workhouse Primary weapons for those who prefer this weapon type.
Standouts: IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2, The Recluse, Death Adder
With the rise of auto rifles in the Crucible, shotgun charging has fallen in popularity. But shotguns remain powerful tools for those able to close the distance effectively, and the boost to slug weapons has opened up their utility in PVE as well.
Standouts: Felwinter’s Lie, Mindbender’s Ambition, First In Last Out
Trace Rifles remain the strangest weapon type in Destiny 2, being composed entirely of Exotics. This makes them hard to rate as a class — most Trace Rifles are so-so Exotic choices, but two in particular have unique applications. Divinity still pairs great with Xenophage for boss melting, and Ruinous Effigy is one of the most interesting Exotics in Destiny 2 right now, fitting into a number of builds in both PVE and PVP.
Standouts: Divinity, Ruinous Effigy
Fusion rifles have been top-tier weapons in both PVE and PVP in the past, but nerfs have cut them down enough that they don’t have a clear place in most Guardians’ loadouts. They’re still perfectly usable weapons, but the class as a whole is dominated by a few Exotics, with the rest typically passed over in favor of other high-impact weapons.
Standouts: Bastion, Jötunn, Telesto
- Help, I’ve Been Buried Under a Pile of Umbral Engrams in Destiny 2
- Destiny 2 Berenger’s Memory Guide
- The 6 Best Exotic Weapons in Destiny 2
These weapon types have some clear flaws and only a few standout options.
The once-mighty pulse rifles have been brought low by the rise of their auto rifle cousins. There are a few good pulse rifles available right now, but in most situations an auto rifle is simply a better choice. Short of a major buff to pulse rifles or a nerf to autos, this weapon type will continue to languish into next season.
Standouts: Vigilance Wing, Outbreak Perfected
Bows are tricky weapons — their low rate of fire makes them ill-suited for clearing enemies in PVE, and the need to land precision hits keeps them from dominating Crucible. However, the Trinity Ghoul’s new catalyst this season has launched it from being a low-tier Exotic to a solid PVE weapon, and that alone is enough to bring bows up in the rankings.
Standouts: Trinity Ghoul
It’s not that rocket launchers are bad, exactly, it’s just that there are so many great Power weapon options these days that running a rocket is a hard sell. Truth remains the Gambit Invader’s weapon par excellence.
Standouts: The Wardcliff Coil, Truth,
The last couple of seasons have seen the introduction of some great sidearms like Devil’s Ruin and Breachlight. Unfortunately, the class’s typically low range and rate of fire still hampers them in many activities. If you’re going to run sidearms right now, make sure to use the Surprise Attack Charged With Light mod too.
Standouts: Breachlight, Devil’s Ruin, Drang (Baroque)
Serious problems, in need of buffs to make them relevant.
LMGs are still fine add clear weapons and work ok in PVP, but they’re useless against bosses and there’s little reason to run them in most PVE situations outside of personal preference. It doesn’t help that most LMGs are going to sunsetting next season, with the exception of the decidedly so-so Seventh Seraph SAW. Of course Xenophage is amazing, but it’s so unlike every other LMG that counting it alongside the other weapons in the class feels wrong.
Standouts: 21% Delirium, Hammerhead, Xenophage
Linear Fusion Rifles
I love linear fusion rifles, I do. But there’s so much competition for that Power slot (or, in the case of Arbalest, Exotic) that I rarely find reason to use them. Even the one-time king of boss DPS, Sleeper Simulant, now sits unused in Collections. Linears need something to set them apart from sniper rifles as long-range, high-damage, single-shot weapons.
Standouts: Line in the Sand, Arbalest
Poor scout rifles. Outclassed by auto rifles, hand cannons, and pulse rifles in various situations, they just can’t seem to find a niche. There are few truly great scout rifles available right now, and the class as a whole needs a rework or some new and powerful Exotics if it’s going to see much use in the future.
Standouts: Night Watch, MIDA Multi-Tool, Randy’s Throwing Knife
That’s my take on the current Destiny 2 meta. Did I over or undervalue any particular weapon type? Let me know in the comments below.