Destiny 2’s weapon system is simple but flexible. In some cases it’s actually so flexible that even veteran players get their gun types wrong.
There are 3 weapon and ammo types in Destiny 2 – primary, special and heavy. You can tell each ammo break apart by the color – grey for primary, green for special and purple for heavy. Every gun will display its ammo type on the weapon card so you can easily tell what type of gun it is. Guns are often referred to by their ammo type so something like a hand cannon is called a primary weapon. Shotguns are called special weapons and so on.
Primary weapons are the weakest weapon type and they’re going to be the weapon you use the most. That sounds weird that you’ll use the weakest weapon the most. But the main reason for that is because primary ammo is the most common type of ammo in PVE. Primary weapons are used mainly for clearing out large numbers of trash adds and sometimes for dealing with majors. In PVP your primary is usually your main dueling weapon.
Primary weapons include scout rifles, bows, pulse rifles, auto rifles, hand cannons and SMGs. Scout rifles and bows have the most range among primaries while sidearms and SMGs have the least. As a general rule for primaries your time to kill increases as your range increases. This means that scout rifles have a slightly slower time to kill in their preferred range then sidearms do within their preferred range. But a sidearm is obviously not going to complete with the scout rifles time to kill in scout rifle range. This is done so that there is a reason to use lower range weapons at close ranges since they have a better time to kill.
Next step is our special weapons. The design behind these weapons is in the name. Special ammo is a little more rare than primary ammo but special weapons do a lot more damage than primaries. In PvE these are going to be your main weapons for dealing with targets like majors and mini-bosses and you can use them as a backup for boss damage. In PvP you only spawn with 2 ammo for your special weapon. Killing an enemy guardian who is also using a special weapon will make them drop the special ammo they were carrying so you can get extra ammo that way as long as you don’t die. Special weapons include sniper rifles, single shot grenade launchers, fusion rifles and shotguns. With two of these weapons you might not be familiar. Single shot grenade launches fire a single grenade before reloading. You can hold down the trigger and release it to control the detonation and this allows you to bounce the grenade off obstacles. Fusion rifles are unique to Destiny, they fire a multi shot burst after a brief charging period. In general, special weapons tend to kill in one shot but only within specific limitations. Shotguns can one-shot but only at close range, fusions can one shot but only after a charger, grenade launchers can one-shot but only if you hit the target dead on. Snipers can one-shot but only to the head. This is why they’re called special weapons because they are specialized for a specific role.
Last, but not least – heavy weapons. These are sometimes also called power weapons. They do the most damage but heavy ammo is very rare so you can’t spam it. In PvE heavy ammo is mainly saved for boss damage. In PvP you spawn with zero heavy ammo. At certain intervals heavy ammo will spawn in set locations on the map and you’ll be able to pick it up there, if you kill someone using heavy ammo you can also loot the ammo from their body. Heavy ammo weapons include linear fusion rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, drum mag grenade launchers and swords. Linear fusions have a charge time before firing just like fusion rifles. But instead of firing in a burst, they fire a single long-range shot. Machine guns are the one heavy weapon you do not want to use for boss damage. Their single target DPS is atrocious. However, they are absolute monsters at add clear and with fire rate and deep ammo reserves they can also be lethal in PvP. Drum mag grenade launchers are slightly different than single shot grenade launchers .These explode on impact instead of bouncing which means you can’t control the detonation unless you have a specific perk. But you have a larger mag size and generally do more damage.
Finally, swords are very close range but they have massive ammo reserves and the ability to block in order to reduce damage. You can also use sword swipes as a mobility tool in the air. One thing worth mentioning is that exotic weapons will sometimes break the rules for ammo types. Exotics are unique one-of-a-kind items that always have a special effect or perk. For example, Whisper of the Worm is a sniper that uses heavy ammo even though snipers usually take special ammo. Or Fighting Lion – grenade launcher that uses primary ammo instead of special.
Kinetic and Energy Weapons
If you look on your character screen you’ll see 3 weapon slots available. The slot on the bottom is your heavy ammo slot so all your heavy ammo weapons will always be equipped there. However the other 2 slots are a little different, you might assume that they’re for primary and special weapons but this is not quite right, you can equip a primary or special weapon in either slot, the difference between the slots is the damage types. The top slot is for kinetic weapons and the middle slot is for energy weapons. Kinetic damage is your basic non-elemental damage type. Energy weapons, on the other hand, always deal damage in one of 3 elements: solar, arc or void. Elements in Destiny worked a little bit different than in other RPGs. All elements are better than kinetic at damaging shields. Kinetic weapons make up for this by having a slightly higher base damage and energy weapons. If you match the element of your damage to the element of the shield, it will explode when you break it dealing extra damage. None of these distinctions apply in PvP though, they only take effect against AI enemies. This is important because primary and special weapons can be either kinetic or energy. This means that you can equip any combination of the 2 in either slot. For example – if you want 2 primaries – you can choose kinetic pulse rifle and an energy SMG to cover long ranges. On contrary if you want 2 special weapon, you can run a kinetic sniper and an energy shotgun. However, you cannot equip a kinetic sniper with a committed shotgun or an energy pulse rifle with an energy SMG.
When equipping 2 special weapons, your ammo will be shared between them, this means that you will run out of ammo very quickly unless you have specific perks for helping with ammo gain. In PvP you will only spawn with one bullet in each gun. So in general in most cases it’s best to equip one primary, one special and one heavy weapon. You should also try to choose a primary and special weapon that have complimentary ranges. E.I. if you choose a long-range primary option like a scout or pulse rifle it’s usually best to take a close range special like a shotgun or fusion. And vice versa. One helpful tip for identifying kinetic and energy weapons: kinetic weapons always face left in the item card. And energy weapons always face right.
Hope you enjoyed this Weapons types in Destiny 2 guide. Stay tuned for other materials.