Thorn the Exotic hand cannon is back in Destiny 2: Joker's Wild, and on top of all sorts of dark story implications, the Light-devouring Weapon of Sorrow delivered a must-have hand cannon. The new and improved Destiny 2 Thorn fires the same piercing, corrosive rounds of the original model, and it comes with a new perk called Soul Devourer. When you kill an enemy with Thorn, you'll spawn a green orb called a Remnant. Thanks to Soul Devourer, whenever you pick up a Remnant, you'll instantly refill some of your magazine and your shots will temporarily deal more corrosive damage. This buff makes a big difference in the Crucible, as it allows Thorn to kill in just two headshots, making it an absolute monster in quickplay where you can regularly string together kills.
The Destiny 2 Thorn has a fun, fluid perk combo that really sets it apart from its original version and other Exotics, so it's definitely a weapon you'll want to own. To get it, you'll need to clear a fairly lengthy Exotic quest called Independent Study. It's not as difficult as the quest to unlock the original Thorn, but it's going to take some doing. Unlike most Exotic quests, the starting point for Independent Study is pretty hidden, so let's start our guide there.
How to start the Destiny 2 Thorn Exotic quest
Head to the Trostland landing zone in the EDZ. The starting point for the Independent Study quest is in the Salt Mines - and isn't that fitting, given Thorn's reputation in the Crucible - so head north past the church and into a tunnel filled with Fallen. Follow the path until you reach the salt mines and look for an elevator in the back of the first quarry. There's a Fallen transmat platform on its corner. Stand on it, activate the transmat, and you'll be teleported to an outdoor location. Follow this GIF if you get lost:
Once you're outside, follow the linear path forward until you reach a forcefield. Follow the left wall back and look up to find a small path leading back to a camp. Amidst the scattered supplies, you'll see a Guardian's corpse and a fire pit. Head to the fire pit and "Sift through the ashes" when the prompt appears to find "A Melted Hunk of Metal." If you don't see the prompt, just stand in front of the pit and hold the action button. Take that hunk of metal to Banshee-44, the Gunsmith in the Tower, to start the quest proper.
Once you take the hunk of metal to Banshee, you'll start The Essence. This is the first of three similar steps in Independent Study. Each one requires you to farm specific items - which are all throwbacks to Destiny 1 crafting materials, by the way - by completing a variety of activities.
You need to collect 50 materials for each step, but you can choose between three activities which award different amounts of that material. Getting kills in the Crucible is an option for all three steps, but the PvE options are much faster. With that in mind, let's go over the best ways to complete each step.
For The Essence, you need to complete Nightfall Strikes, kill Warlocks in the Crucible, or complete Io planetary bounties in order to collect Hadronic Essence. Nightfall Strikes award 15 Essence, Warlock kills award three, and Io bounties award five.
The fastest way to farm Hadronic Essence is to clear three Nightfall Strikes and one Io bounty. It doesn't matter how many points you earn in the Nightfall or what modifiers you use.
For The Steel, you need to complete Heroic (tier four) Blind Well rounds, kill Hunters in the Crucible, or complete Titan bounties to collect Plasteel Plating. Heroic Blind Wells award 10 Plating, Hunter kills award three, and Titan bounties award five.
The fastest way to farm Plasteel Plating is to clear four Heroic Blind Wells and complete two Titan bounties. Tier three Wells won't count; you must offer an Unstable Charge to trigger the Heroic version.
For The Binding, you need to complete Escalation Protocol waves, kill Titans in the Crucible, or complete Mars bounties to collect Sapphire Wire. Escalation Protocol waves award five Wire, Titan kills award three, and Mars bounties award five.
The fastest way to farm Sapphire Wire is to clear seven or eight waves of Escalation Protocol while completing two or three Mars bounties. The Mars bounties generally involve killing Hive or getting elemental kills, so you can easily finish them while playing EP. If one of the bounties is out of the way, just play another round of EP.
Weaponize the Unknown
Once you've farmed all those materials, you'll need to charge the husk of the Destiny 2 Thorn by getting kills in the Crucible using void damage or hand cannons. Unfortunately for PvE enthusiasts, PvP is required here - and quite a lot of it, at that. Thankfully, you don't lose progress when you die like in the Destiny 2 The Last Word quest, but this is still going to be a long grind. Here are some tips that'll help you along the way.
- Use a void hand cannon. This is the most efficient way to progress, especially if you can get a kill streak going. I recommend the Kindled Orchid, as you can farm a good roll for it via the Black Armory Forge bounties. Failing that, grab an Ikelos hand cannon from your collection.
- If you have it, use The Last Word as your Kinetic weapon. The Last Word is a great close-range weapon to pair with your void hand cannon, and kills with it will also count toward your quest progress.
- Use the Hammerhead machine gun. Machine guns are by far the best heavy weapons for Crucible, and Hammerhead is the only void machine gun, so it just makes sense. If you don't have this weapon, you can also obtain it via Black Armory Forge bounties.
- Use a void subclass. Again, this is a no-brainer. All void kills count, so you should use void supers and abilities.
- Stick to quickplay. Yes, kills in the competitive playlist are worth more, but it's also much harder to get kills in comp. Quickplay matches have more players and higher score ceilings, so you'll have way more opportunities to get kills. It'll also be easier to get a kill streak going, and a single hot streak with your void hand cannon can give you a huge boost.
Something Yet Remains
Remember the Farm, the new hub that was instantly forgotten after we cleared the main story of Destiny 2? It's time to go back there and talk to Tyra Karn, the Cryptarch. In case you've forgotten, the Farm is accessible via the EDZ.
The Chasm of Screams
The final step in Independent Study is a 660 Power version of the Savathun's Song Strike, better known as the Strike with the giant floating eyeball boss. This is pretty much the same as the normal Strike, just with a few Strike modifiers active and with big Hive Knights added in. The modifiers are Blackout (no radar, enemy melees buffed), Iron (enemies don't stagger), and Harsh Elements (you take more elemental damage). The knights will appear throughout the Strike and two more will spawn after the last crystal during the final boss fight, so just kill them quick then fight Savathun as normal.
Once you clear this special Strike, the Destiny 2 Thorn is yours. Congratulations. Now, if you can stomach it, I recommend revisiting the Crucible and putting Thorn through its paces.