The Best PVE Weapons in Destiny 2 (August 2020 Season of Arrivals Meta)

There are so many weapons in Destiny 2, Exotic or otherwise, that it can be really hard to know which weapons are best suited for PVE, Crucible, or Gambit. You’ve got a bank full of weapons, sure, but which ones should you actually be using? While it’s possible to just hop into PVE and see what your teammates are using, that’s not really a fun way to figure out what’s what. That’s why we’re here sharing the best PVE weapons in the current meta so you can work out your loadout before diving into your next strike or dungeon.

Keep in mind that you may need to do some adjusting depending on which weapons you don’t have and which slot you choose to use an Exotic.

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Our picks are based off a combination of a few different sources. The largest is what the Charlemagne Discord bot which reports the current meta. Among other things, the bot tracks weapon popularity for each game mode. This is super useful to get our baseline information. We also use general community consensus from the Destiny subreddit and our own experiences playing PVE.

This guide was last updated on August 17, 2020.

Destiny 2 Witherhoard

Best PVE Kinetic Weapons

Witherhoard / The Mountaintop (Grenade Launcher)

Witherhoard is incredibly strong even without the bug which was causing it to do massive amounts of damage when used by multiple guardians against a single target. The strategy for PVE content is to drop a grenade at the target’s feet causing them to take damage over time. After reloading, send another payload into their body which will cause their health to tick away from both effects. What you do after that is your own business, but most Guardians are then charging forward with Falling Guillotine for some real DPS.

The Mountaintop remains atop the heap, however, but the difficulty to obtain it does put this out of reach for many players. If you don’t have it now, it’s been capped at 1060 power and won’t be feasible for endgame content come September.

We’ll also say that while The Militia’s Birthright is currently very popular due to Bungie giving it away during the Exodus: Preperation quest. Though you’re better off trying to find a god roll Truthteller which will last you many seasons to come.

False Promises / The Forward Path (Auto Rifle)

False Promises isn’t the best Auto Rifle out there, admittedly. It is, however, freely available and super fun to use. Try to get one with Feeding Frenzy or Overflow and Rampage as the final perk and you should have a great time with it.

If you really want to rock Auto Rifles, the best choice is The Forward Path from this season’s Iron Banner. It’s of an optimal RPM (600) and has an Adaptive Frame. Get one with Feeding Frenzy and Multi-Kill Clip and you’ll be in for a treat.

Outbreak Perfected (Pulse Rifle)

Season of Arrivals is the perfect time for Outbreak Perfected and other exotic Pulse Rifles. Why? Because the seasonal artifact has an all-new Unstoppable Pulse Rifle armor mod. All previous mods of this type have been limited to weapons themselves meaning exotics were not viable for endgame content with champions. Now you can just slap this one on and take whatever exotic Pulse Rifle you want into battle. We just recommend Outbreak Perfected because it’s clearly the best.

Lonesome / Breachlight (Sidearm)

A lot of players are using Lonesome as it’s now more easily available, but Breachlight is likely still the best Sidearm to rock for the moment.

Dire Promise (Hand Cannon)

With such a focus on Auto Rifles, SMGs, and other weapon types, Hand Cannons are taking a back seat even on PC. Dire Promise is the lone exception and it’s easy to see why. Osmosis is the ideal final perk, but as someone with Triple Tap I can thoroughly recommend it as a secondary perk.

Other Good Weapons

Perfect Paradox (Shotgun), Ace of Spades (Hand Cannon)

Destiny 2 Ruinous Effigy

Best PVE Energy Weapons

Ruinous Effigy / Divinity (Trace Rifle)

Ruinous Effigy is better than anyone really expected. After killing an enemy with it, they collapse into a Void orb which you can pick up and wield. These can either be used to melee foes, slammed into the ground for an explosion, or used as a mobile Titan bubble.

Basically any endgame PVE activity is helped by the addition of Divinity as it makes the crit spot of any enemy much larger than it normally would be.

Gnawing Hunger / The Summoner / Hard Light (Auto Rifle)

Gnawing Hunger is one of the most obvious choices for the energy slot this season. It’s easy to get and grinding for better rolls is passive and straightforward. You’re shooting for Demolitionist here, especially if you’re planning a grenade build. Rampage, Zen Moment, and Tap the Trigger are also desired perks.

Hard Light will always be good in PVE as long as it’s not underpowered since it can change damage type on the fly. This is particularly useful in game modes where Match Game is live.

The Summoner is another 600 RPM Auto Rifle, similar to Gnawing Hunger, but it’s exclusive to Trials of Osiris so unless you’re playing that, stick with the other options.

Trinity Ghoul (Bow)

There are few weapons in the game better at dealing with high numbers of weak enemies than Trinity Ghoul. Assuming you have the catalyst, all it takes is a single kill with the bow before your next attack becomes empowered with Arc energy. It’s nearly impossible for that bolt to not kill at least one weak enemy, letting you dispatch group after group of weaker foes in quick succession.

Destiny 2 Ikelos SMG God Roll

The Recluse / IKELOS SMG / Death Adder / Riskrunner (SMG)

Until the power limit goes into effect in September, The Recluse will likely remain at the top of the heap. If you don’t have that, Death Adder is a good alternative though you’ll need to grind the Prophecy dungeon to get it. With Feeding Frenzy and Dragonfly it can be nearly as powerful.

The Riskrunner has proven time and time again to be the best Exotic SMG in the game. Its ability to clear entire rooms of enemies with ease makes it a go-to choice for anyone facing down Arc damaging enemies such as the Fallen. Riskrunner is also quite good in the Garden of Salvation raid since you can trigger the Arc damage by stepping into the Vex Milk.

One thing that has taken many of us by surprise is the utility of the new IKELOS SMG. Perhaps due to its association with Mars and Rasputin, Bungie has updated the new IKELOS weapons to be compatible with Warmind Cell mods. As such, kills with them can generate these orbs, opening up a ton of new possibilities. My personal Warlock build, centered around Oppressive Darkness Void grenades currently uses it in combination with Power of Rasputin and Global Reach. Give it a shot!

Sunshot (Hand Cannon)

Sunshot has always been hovering right around the top ten weapons in Destiny. It continues to just plug away as a solid exotic to use at basically any time.

Other Good Weapons

Eriana’s Vow (Hand Cannon), First In, Last Out (Shotgun)

Destiny 2 Falling Guillotine God Roll

Best PVE Power Weapons

Falling Guillotine / Temptation’s Hook / Black Talon (Swords)

Swords are seriously up there when it comes to DPS and the addition of Falling Guillotine further solidifies that. No other sword in the game compares to it, even with the recent nerf. There’s a reason you see everyone using the spinning heavy attacks to DPS majors and bosses across the solar system.

With their rework, blocking no longer costs ammo which means you can soak a huge amount of damage without a worry in the world. As such, tons of players have been turning to swords for the sake of survivability on top of their damage. Plus, you can one phase bosses like The Deception in Crown of Sorrows and even Riven in Last Wish if your team has a Titan bubble!

Hammerhead / 21% Delirium / Xenophage / Thunderlord (Machine Guns)

Machine Guns have it good right now. With Hammerhead and 21% Delirium to clear high numbers of low level enemies and Xenophage to help out on the DPS front. The first two are absolutely fantastic, particularly on PC where Hammerhead has next to zero recoil. As we just mentioned, Xenophage can help do some quick DPS to bosses or majors which makes it unique among Machine Guns.

Anarchy / Wendigo GL3 (Grenade Launcher)

The Scourge of the Past raid exotic, Anarchy is a supremely unique and potent weapon. Capable of denying entire areas, this grenade launcher is the king of dealing passive damage. Despite not being a meta pick for the Garden of Salvation, it still has some utility in the Crown of Sorrows raid during the Deception fight. Even though its damage numbers aren’t as high as other choices on this list, Anarchy’s creative design make it a wicked fun gun to use.

One Thousand Voices (Fusion Rifle)

Now that Bungie has made it easier than ever to get One Thousand Voices. Drop chance begins at 10% and increases to a max of 50% over 20 clears. That’s still a lot, but it makes the weapon much more accessible and it’s a good thing because this thing packs a hell of a punch and is second to none to all other Fusion Rifles.

A Note on Rocket Launchers

Rocket Launchers are still lackluster when it comes to DPS. When it comes to PVE that’s the only thing that matters so they often take a back seat to basically everything. Bad Omens still remains the best launcher available, but it just can’t keep up with the rest of the power weapons on this list.

Destiny 2 Prophecy Dungeon

Update History

August 2020

  • Kinetic – Added Ace of Spades. Removed Bite of the Fox.
  • Energy – No changes.
  • Heavy –  Added Thunderlord.

July 2020

  • Kinetic – Added Bite of the Fox, Perfect Paradox. Removed Spare Rations, Ace of Spades.
  • Energy – Added Ruinous Effigy, IKELOS SMG. Removed Reckless Oracle.
  • Heavy –  Removed Steel Sybil Z-14 and Honor’s Edge.

June 2020

  • Kinetic – Added Witherhoard, False Promises, and Lonesome. Removed Monte Carlo, Breakneck, Austringer, Seventh Seraph Carbine, Steelfeather Repeater, and Sweet Business.
  • Energy – Added Trinity Ghoul, Gnawing Hunger, Reckless Oracle. Removed Tommy’s Matchbook, Seventh Seraph CQC-12, Loaded Question, Trophy Hunter, and Python.
  • Heavy –  Added Temptation’s Hook, Wendigo GL3, and Falling Guillotine. Removed Heir Apparant and Love and Death.

May 2020

  • Kinetic – Added Breckneck and Austringer. Removed Breachlight and Exit Strategy. 
  • Energy – Added The Summoner, Trophy Hunter, Python, Divinity, and Seventh Seraph CQC-12.  Removed Arc Logic and Fourth Horseman.
  • Heavy –  Added Goldtusk, Heir Apparent, Anarchy. Removed Thunderlord, Wendigo GL3, and Stryker’s Sure Hand.

April 2020

  • Kinectic – Added Seventh Seraph Carbine, Dire Promise, Outbreak Perfected. Removed Breakneck, Sweet Business.
  • Energy – Added Sunshot, Last Hope, Seventh Seraph VY-7, The Fourth Horseman, Loaded Question. Removed Symmetry, Misfit.
  • Heavy – Added Honor’s Edge, Black Talon, Interference VI, Steel Sybil Z-14, Stryker’s Sure Hand. Removed Anarchy.

March 2020

  • Kinectic – Added Spare Rations, Sweet Business, Breakneck, Exit Strategy. Removed No Turning Back, Randy’s Throwing Knife, Patron of the Lost Causes, Izanagi’s Burden, Bygones, Blast Furnace.
  • Energy – Added Tommy’s Matchbook, Hard Light, Arc Logic, Misfit. Removed Subtle Calamity, Arsenic Bite-4b, Fighting Lion, Devil’s Ruin, Outlast.
  • Heavy – Added Anarchy. Removed Avalanche, Edgewise, Love and Death, Pyroclastic Flow, Zenobia-D.

February 2020

  • Kinectic – Added Monte Carlo, Ace of Spades. Removed Wish-Ender.
  • Energy – Added Arsenic Bite-4b, Devil’s Ruin. Removed Oxygen SR3, Graviton Lance, Telesto.
  • Heavy – Added Zenobia-D. Removed Black Talon.

January 2020

  • Kinectic – Added Bygones, Patron of the Lost Causes, Blast Furnace. Removed Rat King, Smuggler’s Word, Lonesome.
  • Energy – Added Fighting Lion, Graviton Lance, Telesto, Oxygen SR3. Removed Eriana’s Vow, Drang, Anonymous Autumn, Translation Theory.
  • Heavy – Added Avalanche, Pyroclastic Flow, Xenophage. Removed Fixed Odds, Bad Omens.

December 2019 (Season of Dawn Update)

  • Kinectic – Added Breachlight, Steelfeather Repeater, Wish-Ender, Rat King, Smuggler’s Word, No Turning Back, Randy’s Throwing Knife, Lonesome. Removed Braytech Werewolf, Pluperfect, Sweet Business, Breakneck, Exit Strategy, Huckleberry, Ace of Spades, Go Figure.
  • Energy – Added Symmetry, Outlast, Drang, Anonymous Autumn, Translation Theory. Removed Subjunctive, Misfit, Arc Logic, Arsenic Bite, Fighting Lion.
  • Heavy – Added Edgewise, Black Talon, Bad Oments, Crooked Fang-4fr. Removed Temporal Clause, Avalanche, Edge Transit, Swarm of the Raven.

December 2019

  • Kinectic – Added Exit Strategy. Removed Monte Carlo.
  • Energy – Added Arc Logic. Removed Loaded Question, Graviton Lance.
  • Heavy – Added Love and Death, Swarm of the Raven, Avalanche. Removed Through Fire and Flood, Zenobia-D.

November 2019

  • Kinectic – Added Braytech Werewolf, Sweet Business, The Huckleberry. Removed Outbreak Perfected, Ten Paces, Duke Mk 44.
  • Energy – Added Graviton Lance. Removed Arc Logic.
  • Heavy – Added Temporal Clause, Zenobia-D. Removed A Fine Memorial.

October 2019 (Update 2)

  • Kinectic – Added Monte Carlo, Duke Mk. 44, Pluperfect. Removed Austringer, Huckleberry, Trackless Wastes.
  • Energy – Added Subtle Calamity, Eriana’s Vow, Misfit, Arsenic Bite, Sunshot. Removed Every Waking Moment, Reckless Oracle, Telesto.
  • Heavy – Added Fixed odds, Through Fire and Flood, Zenobia-D, Avalanche. Removed Play of the Game, Swarm of the Raven, Love and Death, Deathbringer, One Thousand Voices.

October 2019

  • Kinectic – Added Go Figure, Ten Paces, Smuggler’s Word, and Trackless Waste. Removed Bad Juju, Midnight Coup, Rose, Blase Furnace.
  • Energy – Added Reckless Oracle, Subjunctive, Arc Logic, Every Waking Moment. Removed Sunshot, Ikelos Shotgun, Telesto, Graviton Lance, Jotunn, and Misfit.
  • Heavy – Added Wendigo GL3, Deathbringer, A Fine Memorial, One Thousand Voices, Love and Death. Removed Outrageous Fortune, Anarchy, Tractor Cannon, The Wardcliff Coil.

September 2019

  • Energy – Added Graviton Lance, IKELOS_SG_v1.01, Misfit, Jotunn. Removed Prometheus Lance, Tarrabah, Nation of Beasts, Hard Light.
  • Heavy – Added The Wardcliff Coil, Anarchy, Tractor Cannon, Edge Transit. Removed Fixed Odds, Wendigo GL3, Through Fire and Flood, One Thousand Voices.

August 2019

  • Kinetic – Added Rose. Removed Lumina.
  • Energy – Added Riskrunner, Prometheus Lens, Nation of Beasts, and Hard Light. Removed Beloved, Kindled Orchid, Trust, and The Epicurean.
  • Power – Added Play of the Game and Through Fire and Flood. Removed Bane of Sorrow and Legend of Acrius.

June 2019

  • Kinetic – Added Austringer, Lumina, and Bad Juju. Removed Go Figure, Duke Mk. 44, Threat Level.
  • Energy – Added Tarrabah, Beloved, Sunshot, The Epicurean, and Trust. Removed Riskrunner, IKELOS Shotgun, Jotunn, Telesto, and Subtle Calamity.
  • Power – Added Fixed Odds, Wendigo GL3, Legend of Acrius, and Swarm of the Raven. Removed Play of the Game, Edge Transit, Through Fire and Flood, and Bad Omens.

June 2019

  • Kinetic – Added The Mountaintop and Threat Level. Removed Bygones and Thorn.
  • Energy – Added Fighting Lion, Loaded Question, CALUS Mini-Tool, and Subtle Calamity. Removed Nation of Beasts, Trust, Hard Light, and Misfit.
  • Power – Added Play of the Game, Edge Transit, Through Fire and Blood, and Bane of Sorrows. Removed The Wardcliff Coil, Tractor Cannon, Whisper of the Worm, and Avalanche.

May 2019

  • Kinetic – Removed Spare Rations.
  • Energy – Added Telesto, Hard Light, Misfit. Removed The Ringing Nail, Luna’s Howl, and Prometheus Lens.
  • Power – Added Bad Omens. Removed The Prospector.

And that’s that for our guide to the best PVE weapons in Destiny 2! Thanks for taking the time to check it out. We wish all of you trigger happy Guardians out there the best of luck in mowing down the forces of darkness.


Dillon Skiffington

Dillon is the Guides Editor at Fanbyte. He can't seem to quit games as a service or looter shooters — unfortunate news for his backlog, really. Can't get enough game art, soundtracks, or space games.

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    1. Thanks! There was an error with our update history, but we’ve fixed the typo (the wrong Seraph weapon got moved).

  1. You’re wrong about sidearms. Breachlight, lonesome, last hope and any other sidearms I’m not thinking of that roll with multikillclip are the best ad clearing weapons in the game after the recluse nerf. They do more damage to the body, more crit damage, are much better at range and do more dps overall then smgs including recluse….

    1. My guess would potentially be that due to the rotating forge, Blast Furnace has spiked downwards as its not as easily acquirable as it used to be?

  2. Just as a heads up, you have Loaded Question/Telesto marked as “Trace” rifles, when they should be “Fusion”, as the description states. Trace rifles are weapons like Prometheus Lens, Coldheart, etc.

      1. No problem. Bad JuJu might want to be re-added to the top, since the String of Curses perc wasn’t nerfed with the recent Rampage,etc nerf.

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