I've had the Destiny 2 Ruinous Effigy Exotic trace rifle for approximately 24 hours at the time of writing, and it's already one of my favorite Exotics of all time. When I finally get off my ass and finish its Exotic Catalyst, it may well become my all-time favorite. Don't get me wrong, it's not the best or strongest weapon in the game. It's weak (but hilarious) in PvP, and it can only tickle raid bosses, but it's unique, powerful, and extremely fun in basically every other situation.
Ruinous Effigy is a void trace rifle with an incredibly weird ability. Now, as a trace rifle, it's fine. It works. It's like a stronger auto rifle that uses special ammo. It looks and sounds cool, and I love the sight on it. But that's not the selling point of the weapon. Basically, when you kill something with it, it turns that thing into a void orb. Majors, minors, Guardians, it doesn't matter. All targets are equal before the orb. Now, I'm choosing not to ponder the specifics of the orb-ification process because I suspect it's a living nightmare, so let's focus on the applications of the orb itself.
You can pick up Ruinous Effigy's orbs as you would, say, the Blooms in the Contact event, and once you have one, you can perform three different attacks. The light attack is a melee with short reach but high damage and a blinding effect. The heavy attack is a small AoE where you just dunk the orb into the ground. And the guard attack projects a big, draining AoE that reduces incoming damage, blinds and damages enemies inside it, and heals you when you damage enemies. To top it all off, once you have the Catalyst, damaging enemies with any of these orb attacks causes them to take more damage - around 35% more damage, based on community testing - from Ruinous Effigy itself, which creates a cool DPS loop.
These orbs feel exactly like tiny versions of the relic from the Vault of Glass raid. The only catch here is that each orb has limited energy. Your energy starts ticking down as soon as you pick up an orb, and performing light or drain attacks will use energy over time, while a heavy dunk attack will instantly consume your orb. One nice thing is that you can keep holding the draining guard at one energy but you'll lose health instead. With all that in mind, Ruinous Effigy fights usually look something like this: kill a thing, grab an orb, melee single targets or drain groups of them until you reach low energy, and then slam a dunk to finish it off. Repeat until it stops being fun, which is to say never.
We haven't even gotten to the best part: anyone can pick up Ruinous Effigy's orbs. You can make orbs for your fireteam in a strike or for random players in a public event, or you can pick up a friend's orbs and go to town. This adds so much to basic activities. I'm actively looking for excuses to use this thing, and running strikes with a squad of three Ruinous Effigies - which isn't hard, because everyone and their dog is using it right now - is just the best.
Having continuous access to void orbs feels like running a fourth weapon. I've been pairing Ruinous Effigy with the Cold Denial pulse rifle and Falling Guillotine sword, but I constantly find myself using the orbs more than anything. The light attack hits like a sword, and the heavy attack honestly feels like a tiny Nova Bomb with a cooler animation. And I would know; I'm running this build on top-tree Voidwalker with Nezarec's Sin for that juicy void synergy. Plus the drain attack will utterly delete large groups of red-bar enemies while keeping you alive, which gives orbs way more utility. And because orbs have their own energy resource, they're great at conserving ammo. I can kill one trash mob with two of my 400 shots and then use their orb to clear out an entire room or two. It's not just fun; it's economical.
Ruinous Effigy isn't great in most raid encounters, and because the orbs put you in melee range it's a dicey choice for pinnacle activities like Master Nightfalls, but it is far and away the most entertaining weapon for casual or solo play. I haven't had this much fun with an Exotic since, like, the original Dark-Drinker. Between this and Witherhoard, this has been a great season for inventive weapons. And we even got Dark-Drinker back! As a Legendary! I'll probably stick to Witherhoard for pinnacle content, but for everything else, I don't think Ruinous Effigy will leave my hands for months to come.