Ruinous Effigy is the answer to a small running joke between me and my Destiny playing friends: every Exotic in the sequel is just a worse version of something from the first game. Riskrunner, for instance, is a shorter-ranged, more situational chain lightning gun like Zhalo Supercell. Crimson is a worse Red Death. Every rocket launcher in is just a worse Gjallarhorn.
Power rise and power fall is nothing new to Destiny. But it tends to follow a downward trajectory, pocked with 24-hour periods where a weapon feels truly special (usually thanks to a bug). Sometimes they get so bad (which is to say very, very good) that Bungie turns the gear off for weeks at a time to prevent players from burning through the weekly content grind. But Ruinous Effigy, an Exotic Trace Rifle released in the current Season of Arrivals, is unique. It completely changes the way I build my character — the way I play Destiny 2. It’s also been weeks without Bungie decrying the effective weapon as a bug. For the first time in a long time, we might actually have an Exotic that feels exotic.
If you don’t have the weapon yet, or haven’t kept up with Destiny lately, it’s basically a raygun made of wood. It shoots a directed energy beam like fellow Trace Rifles, Prometheus Lens (one of those infamously bugged WMDs) and Coldheart. Its Exotic perk, however, is unique.
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Killing an enemy with Ruinous Effigy transmutes them into an orb. Anyone can then pick up said orb. You can use it to beat enemies over the head with it or blind them with a bubble of darkness — at least for a few seconds. At which point you can slam dunk it on the ground (a true Destiny tradition) to create a small but devastating shockwave of damage. Then the whole process repeats the next time you gun down a foe with the gun part. That’s not to hard, since Ruinous Effigy is no slouch itself. It does hefty, consistent damage to PVE targets.
What really sets the stick and its balls apart, however, is how well they play with others. You’re not limited to using the orb yourself. Friendlies can pick them up, as well, allowing them to slam the damaging dunkable while equipping something different. That means players who haven’t finished the quest for Ruinous Effigy can join in on the fun.
Plus the orbs combo well with a variety of armor choices. I already thought Stronghold, an Exotic gauntlet for Titans, was underrated. It effectively lets you block incoming shots with a sword forever. A lot of Destiny objectives boil down to “stand on this plate while enemies shoot at you.” Using Stronghold, I can better lean into the Titan role as the wall that protects my teammates from harm. Though it’s not a very active role.
UPDATE: lol never mind
Ruinous Effigy orbs change all that. Combined with Stronghold, they block damage while suppressing (i.e. blinding) baddies and dealing damage. For a few seconds at a time I’m the unstoppable juggernaut Titans ought to be. Plus I protect my friends in a way that’s not just standing still or dropping a big, static dome.
“Temporary invincibility” might not sound much more dynamic than standing blocks, but it still requires surprising skill. Blocking with a Ruinous Effigy orb chews through its ammo. You only have a few seconds before you need to feed another flunky to the beast and pick up a new orb. And since the damaging bubble is pretty big, both timing and positioning are key, lest you vaporize the enemy you were saving as your next transmutation snack.
It’s also very easy to act overly aggressive. Enemies will try juke out of your kill zone. If you follow them too forcefully, you can find yourself out of energy and out of position. At which point you become the snack for surrounding snipers.
It’s also balanced — and flavorful — across classes. I just happen to be most familiar with Titans. We meatheads can only focus on one thing at a time, after all. But Warlocks and Hunters also have interesting Ruinous Effigy builds. The former can use it to trigger Devour — feeding enemies to the Void for nonstop health regeneration. Whereas Hunters can turn themselves invisible almost indefinitely.
Every option feels appropriate to the class. And every class gets to play a little bit differently than usual — sidestepping the push and pull of close- and long-range PVE meta altogether. Instead of choosing between a sniper or a shotgun, it’s all about timing, mobility, and position.In high-end play, it even plays neatly into what is fast becoming the most interesting (though finicky) elements of Destiny 2: builds.
Collecting mods is kind of a pain in the ass right now. They cycle in and out of the game every few months. And if you miss one that’s technically still viable, purchasing something you missed is regulated on a strict, random schedule. But the payoff for a perfect build is more interesting ways to engage with otherwise endlessly identical content. Combined with Ruinous Effigy, Destiny becomes a downright different game.
So far Bungie hasn’t acknowledged the power of Ruinous Effigy as a bug or an exploit. It just… is. It’s also the most fun I’ve had optimizing the game’s systems for a long time. So much so that I’m putting up with still endless Beaver errors.
The team’s silence on this “issue” has gotten my hopes up, too. If it’s not a glitch, or an unforeseen interaction, or something the community is clamoring to change, maybe this is a sign of things to come for Destiny. Maybe Bungie is more willing to get weird again. Well, that sounds anything but ruinous to me.