Destiny Warlock PvE Exotic Guide
Destiny Warlock PvE Exotic Guide by aWrySharK
EDIT: Some great points made on Sunbreakers. I’m demoting them to a B for being too build-restrictive. I wasn’t following my own criteria set by Starfire Protocol’s explanation, so I’ll swap my gut feeling with the tier that falls more in line with my own reasoning. Got to stick to your principles.
disclaimer: The following is opinion, and intended to be taken as such. If you disagree with any specific tier, you probably have your reasons, and I’d probably love to hear them. I fully think you should use whatever exotic you prefer. That said, I will do my best to make a case for my favorites. This post is for PvE consideration only. I welcome PvP discussion, but will not respond to tier challenges with PvP arguments
Well, I got Hunter done last week, and now I want to talk about Warlocks. I truly think Warlocks have the most balanced Exotic profile between the 3 classes. There are very few weak exotics; almost every piece can be excellently suited to a non-niche playstyle. However, some are clearly outstanding in their field. Let’s do this.
- Discipline: Sunsingers live and die by their grenades. Lacking a definitive “super”, the efficacy of Radiance is dependent on the Discipline stat for grenade cooldown while under the effect. There’s no point having Radiance up every 3 minutes if your Discipline prevents you from getting in those crucial 4 grenades. Discipline is your first priority.
- Intellect: Essentially equal in priority to discipline, you need Intellect high enough so that you’ll have plenty of chances to use Radiance, but not so high that it takes away unnecessarily from Discipline. Radiance means more grenades, or more self-resurrections for safe retreat – if that’s your flavor – and therefore you need Intellect.
- Strength: Not a terrible stat on Sunsingers by any means, it’s simply the odd-man out with Discipline and Intellect requiring so much investment. Really, if you wind up with a healthy amount of residual Strength, this is okay. Flame Shield is arguably the most useful melee for end-game content and survivability, and as such having it up more often does not burn you terribly (maybe them, though). If you’re forced to hit 32 with high Strength, it could be worse.
- Intellect: No doubts, here. Some of the best Voidwalker choices for Exotic rely on a high Intellect to be made absurdly powerful. Nova Bomb is a monster in PvE, and having it up as frequently as possible is exactly what you should aim for.
- Discipline: A respectable second priority. Not nearly as important on Voidwalkers as Sunsingers, but still quite useful. Voidwalkers can be engineered to have grenades up quite frequently, through a combination of Energy Drain + Serpent’s Tail, and any number of enhancing perks in the skill tree like “The Hunger” and “Embrace the Void”. This leeway means you should never take Discipline over Intellect, all other variables constant.
- Strength: Really, not awful on Voidwalkers, either. Played well, Energy Drain can be a powerful tool for Dregs/Thralls even in end-game content. Bloom and Soul Rip/Life Steal means your melee can function as patchwork Intellect or a useful means of health recovery. Don’t feel too bad if you end up with a nice amount of Strength.
Once again, Strength takes the brunt of my displeasure. However, on Warlocks it’s not too bad, honestly. Int/Disc still are the heavy-hitters, but you don’t have to fret as much about stat allocation on the lower end. Aim for a single piece of Strength gear – a split-stat chest or a pure Helmet/Gauntlets to wind up with a pretty decent stat profile.
Going to go armor slot by armor slot, and give my reasoning for each tiers: S, A, B, and C. As you might guess, S is the crème de la crème, A is everything but the cherry on top, B is perfectly functional – if outclassed, and C is situational with dubious benefit and little end-game preference. I’ll be taking into account basic perk synergy, stat priority, and Exotic perk usefulness.
Apotheosis Veil (DISC): B
Reasoning: Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: For Crota HM, this helmet is an S. Its perks are perfectly suited to longevity in the Crota fight and anywhere you need survivability in the permanent state of being underleveled. For other content, it’s kind of overkill. Two perks dedicated to health regeneration is a bit of a waste when you feel confident enough to not need it. However, the pure Discipline plus Serpent’s Tail makes this an excellent choice for grenade regeneration, so it’s not at all terrible.
Obsidian Mind (INT/STR): S
Reasoning: Here’s our first S. I’m pretty sure I’d be crucified if I said anything else, but luckily I’m all in with this one. Obsidian Mind is the definitive Exotic for Voidwalkers. Played properly, it makes Nova Bombs ubiquitous in all kinds of content. As split-stat Exotics can roll “higher”, you can get a fairly impressive stat total, and Inverse Shadow is one of the best all-around PvE perks, helping to get those Supers up even faster when you’re unable to do it through Nova Bomb alone. Energy Projection is okay – Quintessence Transfer would be even better. The bit of Strength is not bad. I recommend Soul Rip to combo with this helm.
Skull of Dire Ahamkara (INT): A
Reasoning: Debated giving this a B, but I feel that would be unfair. This helmet was excellent until Obsidian Mind came along. Xûr has never sold it, so hopefully you’ve been lucky enough to snag it from a Nightfall
or VoG chest. Pure Intellect is excellent for Voidwalkers, and pairs very strongly with Quintessence Transfer (Axion Bolt/Scatter Grenade plus Bloom for maximum effect). Its signature perk provides impressive damage reduction for reckless Nova Bomb use, as well as “The Hunger”, helping immensely with grenade cooldowns, and freeing you up to select “Annihilate” or “Angry Magic”. With “Embrace the Void” and a respectable Discipline stat, you’ll have grenades up constantly, each of them contributing greatly to Super. Well-designed.
Light Beyond Nemesis (STR): C
Reasoning: This is probably an A/B in Crota HM, as well. For all other content though, it’s very fairly outclassed, therefore earns the Warlock C. Strength is a peculiar stat with very little synergy with its perkset and function. Snap Discharge can be a laugh for meleeing hordes of thralls, but it’s not worth having over Serpent’s Tail/Quintessence Transfer/Inverse Shadow. Steer clear of this in solo play, as its signature perk (Keeper of the Pack) and Infusion will be worthless to you. Faster revives and a little extra orb generation are more helpful with a group, but its situational use does not merit a higher tiering than this.
Gauntlets – Perk Constant: Special Weapon Loader
Claws of Ahamkara (DISC/STR): B
Reasoning: Strangely, these would probably be a C if it weren’t for a known visual bug/error. These gauntlets actually have “Serpent’s Tail” and not Snap Discharge as indicated, which is much more preferable given the DISC/STR roll and the need to balance away from melee. Two Flame Shields (yes, you can use one before the other expires) and two Energy Drains is a surprisingly useful boon in lots of content. Sunsinger’s can stay in the fray longer, while generating a little grenade energy, and Voidwalkers can get extra Life Steal and Soul Rip while doubling the potential time “Energy Drain” is up, as Serpent’s Tail pairs beautifully with extra Energy Drain charges. Split-stat status can grant excess STR/DIC, but ultimately this is a melee-heavy pair of Gauntlets. When you aren’t meleeing, it’s very outclassed.
EDIT: Sunbreakers (INT): B (Previously A)
Reasoning: I have a bit of a soft spot for these; for me they’re probably closer to a A. Pure Intellect is pretty great for Sunsingers, although Discipline would probably suit them better. Serpent’s Tail is great on any build, helping to give you Solar Grenades quicker. Helium Cycle is the make-or-break perk here though. It doubles the duration on your Solar Grenades, giving a theoretical 100% boost to DPS, but more importantly allows you to lock down the field in a glorious garden of Solar devastation. Excellent, fun perk for those who excel with Solar Grenades. If you don’t, your mileage may vary. Unfortunately, they force you to use Solar Grenades, when certain grenades are far superior for different situations.
Voidfang Vestments (STR): C
Reasoning: Ho-hum. You won’t be wiping enough to take advantage of full grenade energy on respawn. Hand Cannon ammo is nice for those who wield them, as is general Special Weapon ammo, but this means you’re left with just pure Strength and a single extra Axion Bolt seeker to make this “Exotic” in PvE. There’s no perk synergy here, just a ton of Strength, detracting from an ideal Voidwalker build if you have even a smidgen on another piece of armor. I don’t recommend it.
Starfire Protocol (INT): B
Reasoning: Fusion Rifle + Heavy Weapon Ammo isn’t great. Heavy Ammo is redundant on any piece of armor besides boots (you need Raid boots to get to 32; Raid boots come standard with +Heavy Ammo). This leaves us with an additional Fusion Grenade and a monster pure Intellect stat. The Intellect is greatly appreciated, but the Fusion Grenade is not terribly useful. It frees up your last row for Angel of Light or Touch of Flame, the latter being a little more appealing with Viking Funeral (in lieu of Radiant Will), but also restricts you to Fusion Grenades. If you don’t ever want to use Fusion Grenades – they are great – stay away from this one.
Heart of the Praxic Fire (DISC): S
Reasoning: Someone got a Perfect 170 Discipline HotPF in the Nightfall I ran last night to my 11 Ascendant Energies, so i’m still stinging from that. Oh well, this thing is S-tier all the way. It shares the Fusion + Heavy ammo combo of Starfire Protocol, but leaps ahead of it by miles with its signature perk “Praise the Sun”. As long as you have heavy Intellect investment elsewhere, and constantly use Radiance, you will light up the battlefield with your grenade of choice. PtS takes grenade cooldowns to extreme levels, meaning absurd amounts of Boss DPS/trash clearance/area denial. Its pure discipline roll is perfect for Sunsingers, giving you a chance to easily maximize your DISC stat for the ultimate cooldown during Radiance. Wear Solaire’s gear with pride – it’s a true Exotic.
Come on, Bungie. Give us some Fancy Footwear.
Round 2 is finished. Hope you find this helpful both now and in the future. I’ll also be linking to this for my Xûr Megathread posts if you want to know my opinions on PvE relevance for Warlock Exotics. Let me know what you think of this in the comments.