In the history of Destiny, exotic weapons have always been a staple part of the experience. Designed to help Guardians feel like powerhouses, the weapons in these gold engrams have static perk rolls and drop so infrequently that most Guardians cross their fingers and hope that Xur, Emissary of the Nine, has what they're looking for during his weekly visit. If not, it's back to the grind to hunt down that ideal gun.
With the release of Shadowkeep, there are a few new additions to the exotic weapon pool and several of the guns that were already in there have gotten buffs with the recent changes to the Destiny 2 sandbox. That said, the title of this article may be a little misleading - there aren't 10 new exotics in Shadowkeep to compare, so we'll be looking at the exotic weapon pool as a whole to pick the five best exotics in Shadowkeep and the five worst.
10 Best: Eriana's Vow
One thing stands out about this hand cannon: the massive scope. Never in Destiny has there ever been a hand cannon capable of sniper rifle levels of zoom, but the namesake weapon of Eriana-3 gives this archetype of weapon an entirely new level of precision. Eriana's Vow is on the list as one of the best new exotics not only because of how novel it is but because of how versatile it is, too.
This hand cannon intrinsically fires shield piercing rounds, a type of ammo that is effective against new barrier champions present in Shadowkeep. Thankfully this gun is pretty easy to acquire; it's awarded to players that have the season pass as season rank 1. If you don't, no worries. You can still get the gun by getting your season rank up to 35 instead. That sounds more daunting than it actually is; trust us.
9 Worst: Wavesplitter
It's very hard to actually call any of the weapons on this list the "worst," so we'll take it more as a "not as good" descriptor instead.
Wavesplitter was incredibly popular when it first became available. This trace rifle has the intrinsic perk harmonic laser, which gives the gun three oscillating power levels. Additionally, its exotic trait allows a short period of max power after picking up an orb of light.
It's this aspect that makes Wavesplitter a bit less viable in situations; with the new sandbox and new mechanics introduced in Armor 2.0, orbs of light are more of a little treat rather than imperative like before. Obviously this would be different if Wavesplitter had a catalyst and could produce its own orbs, but that's not the case yet and we anticipate Wavesplitter might not be getting as much attention this season.
8 Best: Deathbringer
Destiny has a history of offering Guardians some impressive exotic rocket launchers: from the infamous Gjallarhorn from the first Destiny to the crucible-dominating Wardcliff Coil from Destiny 2, to even the Truth rocket launcher. It goes without saying that out of all weapon types, it's usually the rocket launchers that tend to feel the most exotic, and Deathbringer is no exception.
This launcher behaves differently from your traditional launcher; instead of aiming directly at the target, Guardians should instead aim above them. Detonating the projectile will cause it to rain void orbs onto enemies, and if you haven't seen this in action it's very cool.
7 Worst: Whisper Of The Worm
If any Guardians have ever been barred from grouping up for any kind of challenging activity, it was probably due to the lack of this particular weapon. Whisper of the Worm was once the DPS king and its "White Nail" perk regenerated ammo after three consecutive precision hits. Previously, Whisper took a nerf to its signature perk, meaning that it was no longer able to generate ammo from thin air.
This didn't discourage players from using it, but when Izanagi's Burden came along with its ability to pack all the bullets of a full magazine into one single super bullet, Izanagi's is now one of the top picks for DPS. Now, the Whisper is just a reminder of a unique D1 experience; a secret weapon that was only found through the community's careful efforts, and was a thrill to have back in Destiny 2.
6 Best: Divinity
Trace rifles are a unique breed of weapon in Destiny 2. As of the Forsaken expansion, there were only three available in-game, one for each element type. Divinity is the fourth and is available in Shadowkeep. If you have great synergy with your fireteam or need to deal major DPS, having a Guardian with this season's raid exotic helps by turning targets into giant crit spots.
When it comes to situations where DPS is essential, Divinity will be a fantastic addition to the arsenal, particularly due to the beefier and more challenging enemies that are running rampant throughout the system in Shadowkeep.
5 Worst: Anarchy
A grenade launcher that came with the new raid introduced in Black Armory, Anarchy allows Guardians to create webs of arc energy to trap unsuspecting enemies like rats. Unfortunately, it's not very practical. In fact, most enemies (PVE included) are smart enough to move out of the way.
It's unfortunate because raid exotics are expected to be real powerhouse weapons and Anarchy is not that. Instead, Anarchy is fun. It's a weapon that you bust out when you don't feel like playing too seriously or you just want to switch up your playstyle a little bit. It's not the game-changer that it needs to be, and that's why it's getting a "Worst" rating.
4 Best: Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is another returning exotic from D1. An auto rifle with a very cool design, kills with Monte Carlo have a chance of fully recharging your melee ability. Or rather, that's what the perk says. As of this writing, players have been reporting that this perk is incredibly generous and the melee recharge on kill is incredibly reliable.
So reliable, in fact, that there are builds built around this new Shadowkeep exotic. So far, Monte Carlo is the only exotic to be a world drop, so finding one is pure RNG - but once you do, it's definitely a gun worth using.
3 Worst: Arbalest
The Arbalest is a cool idea: the ultimate prize of the revelry event, despite being kinetic, this old-school medieval crossbow does massive damage to enemy shields. Paired with the destruction break perk, this weapon is one of a few that can essentially buff its own damage.
Unfortunately, Arbalest is pretty lackluster everywhere else. Its over-the-top uniqueness is its own downfall as it is, in turn, cursed by being forced into a very niche role. If you didn't grab one during the Revelry event...well, you aren't missing out on much.
2 Best: Sunshot
Sunshot has been in Destiny 2 since the beta; an exotic hand cannon that fires explosive rounds and causes targets to explode on kill. The one thing that constantly held it back was its magazine size of a measley 8 rounds. This drawback led to the gun losing out in favor of other options.
Thankfully, Sunshot finally got the ammo increase it deserves with a magazine increase to 12 rounds. Despite the blanket nerf to range that all hand cannons have received as of Shadowkeep, Sunshot's buff has it feeling incredibly good again. Guardians should definitely revisit this gun if they haven't already.
1 Worst: Crimson
Crimson is unique; it's a hand cannon that fires bursts like a pulse rifle and should be able to push incredible ranges. There were high hopes that Crimson would, like Sunshot, get some attention in Shadowkeep because it just wasn't the perfect blend of hand cannon and pulse rifle that we had hoped.
While Crimson did get a damage buff and has some great perks, the range nerf to all hand cannons has it feeling like it's in the same place. It's a decent gun but what could have helped it seems to have been neutralized by what got done to hand cannons overall.