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The best Destiny 2 Exotics that all Guardians should have

Destiny 2 guardians classes exotic gear witch queen
(Image credit: Bungie)

The best Destiny 2 Exotics are essential to success in both PvE and PvP as they allow you to output ridiculous damage or dominate the competition with the right builds. Either way, you’ll need an entire armory’s worth of Exotics ready to pull from your inventory or vault for the right situation – ridiculously powerful weapons for boss damage in Strikes and Raids, ability-buffing armor pieces for all sorts of activities, and deadeye weapons for PvP. Below, you’ll find our picks for the 19 best Destiny 2 Exotics – 10 weapons and three armor pieces for the three Classes – along with how you can get each one.

Best Destiny 2 Exotic weapons

Destiny 2 Exotic weapons collection menu

(Image credit: Bungie)

The following Exotic weapons in Destiny 2 are some of the best out there – especially for high-end PvE activities such as Raids and Nightfall Strikes. Some Exotic weapons can also be equipped with an Exotic Catalyst which, once unlocked, improve the weapon even further.

While most of these Exotic weapons don’t require random luck to get, you will need some of the Destiny 2 expansions to gain access to Exotic quests and missions. However, there are also a lot of great weapons only available at the Monument to Lost Lights found in the Tower near the vault. We recommend that you choose one weapon from the monument that you really want and focus on getting the materials to unlock it as quickly as possible. The following 10 Exotic weapons aren’t ranked and are listed in alphabetical order:

Arbalest

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Arbalest linear fusion riflet

(Image credit: Bungie)

Arbalest is very powerful Linear Fusion Rifle that sits in your Kinetic weapon slot and uses Special ammo. This already makes it pretty potent, especially in PvP where special ammo is relatively abundant compared to the Heavy ammo that other Linear Fusion Rifles need. It’s good range and strong aim assist also make it great for securing headshot eliminations. Meanwhile in PvE, its high damage against shields and intrinsic Anti-Barrier rounds means it’s perfect for Master or Grandmaster Nightfall Strikes where Champions are common, and the Match Game shield modifier is active.

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur.

Divinity 

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Divinity Trace Rifle

(Image credit: Bungie)

Divinity is one of the best Exotics in Destiny 2 because it increases the power of everyone else’s weapons. Focusing its beam on an enemy, especially a big boss, surrounds them in a glowing cage that weakens and stuns them. In practice, this means that the cage not only acts as a giant hitbox for the enemy, making it very difficult to miss, but any damage that hits this cage is treated as maximum critical damage, massively increasing your team’s total damage output. Divinity itself periodically deals a big chunk of damage to caged enemies too, and it’s one of the strongest options for dealing with Overload Champions since a single zap can instantly stun. Divinity is versatile, powerful, and a must-have for any PvE activities involving large bosses, particularly Raids.

How to get it: Complete the Destiny 2 Divinity quest tied to the Garden of Salvation Raid from Destiny 2 Shadowkeep.

Eriana's Vow 

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Eriana's Vow hand cannon

(Image credit: Bungie)

Eriana's Vow is one of the most reliable and versatile weapons around. It's a Hand Cannon with the slowest fire rate, has a scope, and uses special ammo, so think of it as a high-capacity pocket sniper with superb ammo efficiency. Its special perk deals bonus critical damage if you always hit headshots or shoot shields, plus it does bonus shield damage on top of having intrinsic Anti-Barrier rounds for Barrier Champions. Get the Exotic Catalyst to upgrade its magazine size from six shots to nine and get Auto-Loading Holster, making it much easier to pull out when you need to pop a Champion’s shield or just pop some heads. Eriana's Vow is another mainstay choice for high-difficulty activities with lots of Champions, especially Nightfalls and Lost Sectors, making it an essential Exotic weapon to have.

How to get it: Buy from the Monument to Lost Lights kiosk and unlock its Exotic catalyst by speaking to the nearby gunsmith Banshee-44.

Gjallarhorn

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Gjallarhorn rocket launcher

(Image credit: Bungie)

The Destiny 1 damage king is back with the Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack, and it’s one of the best Exotic Heavy weapon choices in Destiny 2. It’s massive blast radius, two-rocket tube capacity, and good reload and handling speeds make this a top-tier Rocket Launcher, even without its defining Wolfpack Rounds. These rounds cause Gjallarhorn rockets to fracture into many tracking cluster missiles upon detonation, dealing even more damage to bosses or cleaning up more enemies from large groups. New for this Destiny 2 incarnation is the Pack Hunter perk which allows you to reload Gjallarhorn faster while standing near allies, but also grants Wolfpack Rounds to nearby allies for their Legendary Rocket Launchers, making Gjallarhorn a superb team weapon too.

How to get it: Complete the Destiny 2 Gjallarhorn quest as part of the Destiny 2 Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack.

Izanagi’s Burden

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Izanagi's Burden sniper rifle

(Image credit: Bungie)

This Exotic Sniper Rifle is a solid choice for high burst damage, making it great against all PvE bosses and those pesky Champions, especially in Master and Grandmaster difficulty Nightfall Strikes. Izanagi’s Burden appears is much like any other Sniper Rifle, being able to quickly fire off four long-range shots. However, if you hold the reload button, you can compress all the bullets in the magazine into a single high-powered shot for its Honed Edge Exotic trait, and its catalyst makes that one shot even more powerful. The fact that it’s a special weapon also means ammo is relatively easy to come by and it can be paired with some excellent Legendary Heavy weapons – try a Rocket Launcher or Linear Fusion Rifle with Auto-Loading Holster.

How to get it: Buy from the Monument to Lost Lights kiosk and unlock its Exotic catalyst as a random drop from playlist activities.

Parasite

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Parasite grenade launcher

(Image credit: Bungie)

Much like Izanagi’s Burden, Parasite is another weapon that offers superb burst damage, this time in a heavy Grenade Launcher form. However, its magazine’s payload is a single, highly volatile Hive worm that violently explodes on impact, incinerating almost anything in a large area. Rack up plenty of kills with your other weapons to build up stacks of the Worm’s Hunger perk which increases the damage and blast radius of Parasite’s next shot. Once you reach the maximum 20 stacks of Worm’s Hunger x20, you’ll have a pocket-nuke loaded that can instantly wipe out some of the most powerful enemies in Destiny 2. Just make sure you don’t blow yourself up too.

How to get it: Complete the Destiny 2 Parasite quest which is available in Destiny 2 The Witch Queen

Trespasser

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Trespasser sidearm

(Image credit: Bungie)

This burst-fire Exotic Sidearm isn’t a leader in boss DPS but it’s excellent for shredding through groups of enemies in any activity and is a good choice for PvP too. Reloading after a kill with Trespasser, activates the Unrepentant perk which causes the next burst you fire to be a powerful five-round superburst, instead of the normal three-round burst. This superburst is incredibly powerful and can easily defeat any low-tier enemy in PvE or an enemy Guardian in the Crucible. What’s more is getting a kill with an Unrepentant superburst fully reloads Trespasser and primes another superburst, so it’s possible to just keep chaining superbursts when your aim is true in the face of clusters of enemies.

How to get it: Part of the Season of the Haunted Season Pass. Once this season ends, buy from the Monument to Lost Lights kiosk and unlock its Exotic catalyst by speaking to the nearby gunsmith Banshee-44.

The Lament

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon The Lament sword

(Image credit: Bungie)

Swords in Destiny 2 have always been quite powerful, but The Lament really stands out, mostly because it’s also a chainsaw. You can use The Lament like a normal sword, or you can use its special guard to rev up the blade and perform a devastatingly powerful melee combo that also heals you with each hit – the ideal combo is three light attacks (R1/RB) followed by one heavy attack (R2/RT). Moreover, it deals Anti-Barrier damage, letting it shred Barrier Champions and shields. It has some of the highest single-target damage of any weapon in the game, and its healing ability makes it a remarkably safe choice for Nightfalls. 

How to get it: Complete the Destiny 2 Lament quest unlocked through Destiny 2 Beyond Light.

Witherhoard

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Witherhoard grenade launcher

(Image credit: Bungie)

Witherhoard fires blighting grenades that can deal damage over time to enemies with direct hits, or create a pool of damaging goop, dealing damage to anything caught inside. These two damage effects can be applied to a single target at the same time, so Witherhoard makes for a great secondary boss damage weapon – shoot a boss with a grenade to blight them, fire another at their feet to create a goop pool, then switch to your Heavy weapon while Witherhoard’s damage ticks away. Enemies killed by the direct hit blight damage will also create a pool as they die, making Witherhoard great for crowds of enemies and area denial. With the Exotic Catalyst, which grants Witherhoard the Auto-Loading Holster perk, the weapon turns into a powerful fire-and-forget Special ammo Grenade Launcher that pairs well with any Legendary Heavy weapon.

How to get it: Buy from the Monument to Lost Lights kiosk and unlock its Exotic catalyst by speaking to the nearby gunsmith Banshee-44.

Xenophage 

Destiny 2 Exotic weapon Xenophage Machine Gun

(Image credit: Bungie)

Xenophage is a Machine Gun but slowly fires explosive rounds that hit like a truck and basically can't miss, making it the best Machine Gun for boss damage. Xenophage’s shots have little damage drop-off – so you don’t have to worry about range – and can’t deal precision damage, which make it feel incredibly consistent and comfortable to use. It's arguably the best all-rounder Exotic Heavy weapon in the entire game. From Champions to Raid bosses to clusters of lower-tier enemies, there's virtually nothing a magazine of Xenophage can't chew through.

How to get it: Complete the Destiny 2 Xenophage quest which is available in Destiny 2 Shadowkeep.

Best Destiny 2 Exotic Armor

Destiny 2 Exotic armour collections menu

(Image credit: Bungie)

Here’s just a small selection of some of the best Destiny 2 Exotic armor for a range of activities. Some of these are great general-purpose Exotics that suit many situations, while others are the centerpieces for entire Subclass builds. While the Exotic armor meta can change between Destiny 2 seasons and updates, these are solid choices for those tricky PvE activities or competitive PvP situations.

Exotic armor in Destiny 2 is mostly unlocked through random luck, but Legend and Master Lost Sectors give you a fairly reliable way of getting Exotic armor – there’s still a lot of luck involved, but you’re at least getting loot from a much smaller pool. It’s important to note that all Exotic armor from the Destiny 2 Beyond Light expansion and all seasons and expansions since then, including Destiny 2 The Witch Queen, can only be unlocked through these Lost Sectors. However, once an armor piece has been unlocked, it is added into your world loot pool and can be earned again through other means.

The following nine Exotic armor pieces aren’t ranked and are organized across the three Destiny 2 Classes in alphabetical order:

Best Exotic Hunter Armor

Omnioculus

Destiny 2 Exotic Hunter armour Omnioculus chest armour

(Image credit: Bungie)

For a good team support Exotic, look no further than Omnioculus. This chest armor is for the Void Nightstalker Subclass and grants you an extra Smoke Bomb Melee Ability and gives you damage resistance while invisible. Make an ally invisible and they’ll also get this damage resistance, and you’ll get Smoke Bomb energy back, allowing you to have almost constant Smoke Bombs and invisibility for evading danger. This is great for staying alive in tricky PvE encounters and can be used effectively by coordinated teams in Crucible modes too.

How to get it: Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Shards of Galanor

Destiny 2 Exotic Hunter armour Shards of Galanor gauntlets

(Image credit: Bungie)

Solar Hunters using Blade Barrage should consider Shards of Galanor an essential Exotic. Wearing these gauntlets causes Blade Barrage hits and kills to grant Super energy up to half your Super energy bar. This means you’ll be able to use your Blade Barrage incredibly frequently as you’ll probably be halfway to your next Super just from unleashing a barrage at a cluster of enemies or a massive boss. Let those flaming knives fly!

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur, Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

St0mp-EE5

Destiny 2 Exotic hunter armour stompees

(Image credit: Bungie)

The St0mp-EE5 Exotic Legs are one of the most popular Hunter Exotics and are especially useful in the Crucible. While wearing these boots, your sprinting speed is slightly increased, you can slide further, and you can jump higher. However, they also add a penalty to your weapons’ Airborne Effectiveness stats. Since St0mp-EE5 provide mobility-focused buffs that work across all Subclasses, you’ll be a tricky target to hit and able to easily outmanoeuvre opposing Guardians in PvP. St0mp-EE5 are also favorable for particularly tricky platforming sections in Raids, so always keep these boots on you to make your life easier as a Hunter.

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur, Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Best Exotic Titan Armor

Heart of Inmost Light

Destiny 2 Exotic Titan armour heart of inmost light chest armour

(Image credit: Bungie)

This Exotic Titan chest armor is a great all-rounder Exotic suitable boosting ability uptime in any activity, but it’s especially good for any ability-focused PvE builds. When you use one of your Grenade, Melee, or Barricade abilities, Heart of Inmost Light will temporarily empower the other two with fast cooldowns and increased damage or durability in the case of Barricades. Pair this with high Discipline and Strength stats to maximize your ability spam.

How to get it: Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Loreley Splendor Helm

Destiny 2 Exotic Titan armour Loreley Splendor Helm

(Image credit: Bungie)

Perfect for Destiny 2 Solar 3.0 builds, the Loreley Splendor Helm causes the wearer to create an enhanced Sunspot at their feet whenever they create a Barricade or whenever they become critically wounded with full Class Ability energy. As well as the usual rapid ability regeneration and slow Super drain, enhanced Sunspots created by the Loreley Splendor Helm also grant Restoration x2, making you very tough to kill with constant health regeneration. A build based around this Exotic armor makes Sunbreaker immensely tanky and great for any high-level PvE activities.  

How to get it: Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Wormgod Caress

Destiny 2 Exotic Titan armour Wormgod Caress gauntlets

(Image credit: Bungie)

Largely responsible for some of the most broken Destiny 2 builds for damage output, Wormgod Caress is a set of Exotic Titan gauntlets that massively improve melee damage. Each melee kill you get (that includes both charged Melee Ability kills and regular melee attack kills) adds a stack of the Burning Fists perk which increases your melee damage and resets the perk’s timer. Once you reach the cap of Burning Fists x5, you’ll be dealing 650% more damage with each melee hit. Pair this with the Sunbreaker Titan’s Throwing Hammer Melee Ability and even the more powerful PvE foes will crumble with a hammer bonk.

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur, Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Best Exotic Warlock Armor

Crown of Tempests

Destiny 2 Exotic warlock armour crown of tempests

(Image credit: Bungie)

Crown of Tempests is the go-to Warlock Arc Subclass Exotic, especially for the Stormtrance Super Ability. Any Arc ability kill you get – that’s with your Arc Melee, Grenade, and Super – grants you a stack of the Conduction Tines perk, which massively boosts your Arc ability cooldowns and increases the duration of your Stormtrance Super. Conduction Tines also stacks up to three times, with massively enhanced benefits coming from each stack. If you’re after an Arc-based ability spamming build, get this crown on your Warlock’s head.

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur, Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Ophidian Aspect

Destiny 2 Exotic Warlock armour ophidian aspect gauntlets

(Image credit: Bungie)

These Exotic gauntlets are the most popular choice for Warlocks in the Crucible, and for good reason too. Ophidian Aspect’s Cobra Totemic perk substantially improves the reload and readying speeds of all weapons, extends the range of your melee attack lunges by 2 meters, and gives a slight buff to Airborne Effectiveness for all weapons. Wearing these in the Crucible means you can rapidly draw your weapons in the heat of battle against opposing Guardians, hopefully to your advantage every time.

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur, Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Starfire Protocol

Destiny 2 Exotic Warlock armour starfire protocol chest armour

(Image credit: Bungie)

This Exotic chest armor for Warlocks is incredible when used in the right Solar build, allowing you to spam devastating Fusion Grenades that can nuke crowds and burn through bosses. Its Fusion Harness perk gives you an extra Fusion Grenade and lets those Grenades recharge a chunk of energy whenever you deal weapon damage while empowered, perhaps by the Radiant buff. Getting a kill with one of your Fusion Grenades also fully charges your Rift Class Ability. Match Starfire Protocol with the Touch of Flame Solar Aspect, Empowering Rift, Well of Radiance, and a few Elemental Well mods to lay the foundations for a simple near-infinite Fusion Grenade Warlock build.

How to get it: Exotic Engrams, activity rewards, Xur, Legend and Master Lost Sectors.

Will Sawyer
Guides Writer

Will Sawyer is a freelance guides writer at GamesRadar+ who works with the rest of the guides team to give readers great information and advice on the best items, how to complete a particular challenge, or where to go in some of the biggest video games. Will joined the GameRadar+ team in August 2021 and has written about service titles, including Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Warzone, as well as some of the biggest releases like Halo Infinite, Dying Light 2, and Elden Ring.

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