Destiny Bladedancer Hunter PvE Guide
Destiny Bladedancer Hunter PvE Guide by Eterya
This guide will comprehensively discuss perks, playstyles and equipment choices, and how any Bladebros among you can devastate any enemy up close to the best of their ability. Massive Wall of Text inbound, brace yourself.
DISCLAIMER: This represents my experiences and opinions, and is not necessarily the “correct” or “definite” way to play. It’s what I do, and I’m quite successful with it. Also, these are guidelines, nothing more. If you find anything else you want to do, go ahead. It’s your game, so you should play the way you want to.
Basics: This will outline the Bladedancer class and their special abilities. If you know anything about Bladedancers, feel free to skip this bit.
- The Bladedancer is a fast, offensive class that is strongest at close range, but can play at longer distances too. Specialization allows them to truly excel in close quarters, or gain stealth to play a more supportive role.
- Double Jump: The Hunter’s Jump ability. Significantly different from the Warlock and Titan ones, the principle will be known to anyone who played just about any action or jump&run title. It offers great, fast mobility in combat, but is slightly lacking in the platforming department. Two upgrades are shared with the Gunslinger, the third is Blink, shared with the Voidwalker, and will be discussed below.
- Arc Blade: Shrouds the user in Arc energy and summons a destructive greatknife to wield. Increases damage resistance and speed for the duration and grants a devastating melee attack: R1/RB executes a swift slash with the knife and homes on to a target in range. R2/RT on the ground triggers a special ability, dependent on the perk chosen. Note that (purportedly for balance reasons) Arc Blade will only generate about half as much Orbs of Light as other supers, i.e. 1 for two trash and 2 for one major.
- Perks: Showstopper: Hits all enemies around the user. Razor’s Edge: Sends a damaging shockwave straight ahead along the ground that can damage multiple enemies. Vanish: Immediately turn invisible.
- Blink Strike: The Bladedancer melee. If a target is in range it will teleport the user a short distance (>2 meters) to hit. It can be modified by various perks as discussed below. Any successful hit triggers a cooldown and deals increased damage.
- Perks: Backstab: Deals greatly increased damage when hitting an enemy from behind. Escape Artist: Hitting an enemy triggers a short period of invisibility. Fast Twitch: Significantly decreases the cooldown of Blink Strike; this seems to be capped at ~5 seconds.
The following discussion will expect the reader to know and understand the various perks and Bladedancer exotics. If you don’t, check out the perks by following the build links and reading their descriptions, and the armor by clicking here. (Ignore the exotic Cloaks in that list, they’re datamined and not yet in the game).
Melee/Shotgun build “Too slow.” An extremely fast and aggressive close-quarters build. I use this as my mainstay unless there’s an explicit reason against it (Lightswitch, some sections of raids). Played properly it can devastate just about anything short of an Ultra, and even some of those when assisted by a team. (As I did a melee build for the Voidwalker too, I’m gonna copy-paste some parts from there.) Build. Discussion on why to use these perks:
- Flux grenade. These boil down to personal preference. I like all sticky type grenades and the single-target damage they deal. Skip grenades are just bad. Their trackers come out an an awkward angle, deal to little damage, and their tracking is dumb, which leads to them either hitting walls or spreading the damage across multiple targets and not even killing one Dreg. Arcbolt grenade is a bit tricky to use, but is good at dealing with groups of weaker stuff. It damages via hitscan, can chain across 3 or so enemies and deals enough damage to kill or seriously damage Vandal-tier enemies, but is a bit lackluster on majors. Try them out and use whichever you like best.
- Blink. (Copy-pasted from my Voidbro guide) To some degree all jump abilities are a personal choice but, again, In my opinion Blink is the best option. Simply put, it’s fast. Nothing can match it in speed, and it actually provides invulnerability frames for the actual teleport, allowing you to move through attacks, including a Colossus’ Quake rocket salvo. As some mathematically astute Guardian pointed out to me, the teleport moves you a set distance along the tangent of the arc of your jump. A detailed description here would go beyond the scope here, so let me refer to this excellent post on the subject, with the following tips.
– Blink has a split second delay between activation and actually teleporting where you just hang in the air while your character does the animation. Be aware of that.
-Blink seems to have invulnerable frames in the actual teleport. It is possible to move through some attacks if your timing is spot-on, e.g. a Colossus’ rocket barrage. Note that this requires you to be moving towards the attack relatively quickly.
– Blink is dependent solely on your momentum, not your direction of view. This means you can easily move to the sides and backwards, allowing for some great maneuvering or fast retreat (for best effect double-tap jump while moving backwards, just be aware of what’s behind you).
– Along with the above, outside the moment of teleporting, it’s possible to quickly turn your vision while still moving. This mean it’s possible (in both PvE and PvP) to charge and overshoot a target, then immediately turn and hit them from behind with a Shotgun/melee before they have time to react, turn around and hit you.
– A main point of Blink (esp on the Hunter) is quick movement, allowing you to close in on enemies or catch them unaware. However the same can happen to you if Blink right before a guy you didn’t know was there. Thus it requires a particularly great deal of battlefield awareness (not that anyone else has an excuse for not doing so) and quick thinking. You move fast, so think fast.
– And lastly, practice makes perfect. At first I felt Blink was weird and unwieldy, but by now I feel incredibly slow and clunky when I run Gunslinger or Sunbro (Titan too, but (currently) none of them has Blink. How about you add that for the Solar Titan subclass, bungie? That would also fit so there’s Blink on a subclass of each element)
I highly encourage anyone to give Blink a try and practice with it a while, using the tips linked above. Practice makes perfect. If you feel it doesn’t work for you at all, use either of the alternatives, based on your preferences, though I feel Better Control offers better mobility in combat (though Higher Jump is better for platforming).
- Razor’s Edge. I use this one for the range it offers, for a bit of an option when there’s a situation you just can’t get up close and personal for some reason. Showstopper is good too, but you’re rarely gonna be that surrounded by enemies. Vanish is equally good, but doesn’t quite fit with the build. Use whatever you like best.
- Fast Twitch. One of the key components of the build, it allows for massive amounts of Blink Strike. None of the other options are really worth considering for this build.
- Path Forgotten and Way of the Drifter. All the Agility. The build lives off speed. I prefer a bit of armor to take the occasional hit, but if you like, switch to Path Forbidden for more Recovery.
- Fleet Footed. As above, more speed. Quickdraw is just not particularly great, and Shadowjack requires invisibility, which this build doesn’t have.
- Hungering Blade. Another part of what makes this build so strong, in particular when combined with Fast Twitch. If you use Blink Strike on weakened (or just plain weak) targets you’ll be regaining health all the time. Encore is decent too, but better if you focus on Arc Blade over melee/Shotgun. Stalker is for stealth builds, which this is not.
This build is somewhat defined by the weapons it uses, so the gear section comes first.
Weapons: Shotguns, obviously. Standard issue is any SG you work well with, plus a weapon that can cover longer ranges, should the need arise. I personally like Scout Rifles with a long-range scope (Focus Lens) for that. Of note are two combinations I found while perfecting the build, both (rather obviously) using an exotic Shotgun: First off we have Invective. It’s a seriously strong gun that regenerates reserve ammo (slower than IB, but you can also pick up ammo drops). Combined with any long-range primary (I use the Fang of Ir Yut), you can get in and wreck stuff while hardly ever needing to worry about ammo. Second is the Universal Remote. Somewhat considered a gimmicky weapon (tbh, it kinda is, but it’s great fun), on this build it is seriously powerful. Here too you will have relatively few issues with ammo, because it’s a primary. As a secondary you want something to cover the longer ranges. I found a Sniper with a low-zoom scope (Ambush, Shortgaze) to be the best option. Personally I have a custom Solar LDR with Field Scout and Outlaw, just use whatever you want. But get used to switching weapons quickly to accommodate the situation. Also interesting is the Red Death combined with an SG, because it gives you another source of healing top of your Hungering Blade, and is decent at hipfiring, but the combination is lacking at long-to-far ranges. Note that a HMG may be a safer choice than rockets because dying to your own splash damage is dumb (and totally not what happened to me numerous times before.)
Armor: Probably the best option are the Don’t Touch Mes. That way, if you do get hit by an enemy melee you have the chance to either fall back to regen, or set up a retaliatory strike (preferably a Shotgun right to the face). Seeing as you’re actually gonna be using your super to kill stuff, the Mask of the Third Man is good choice too, and it offers the Infusion perk. Other options, roughly sorted: Crest of Alpha Lupi > Knucklehead Radar > Lucky Raspberry > Radiant Dance Machines. Stats are pretty flexible. As Fast Twitch is capped at some point, I don’t think it’s necessary to max STR, so put points into INT for Arc Blade, and a few into DIS too.
Playstyle: Typical melee/Shotgun. You biggest asset is you speed. Know those infuriating blinking, sliding and shotgunning punks in Crucible? Turns out the same strategy works just as well in PvE. Since the buff just about anything gets positively
rekt wrecked by Shotguns. Use you superior speed and Blink to get close and start killing stuff. Try to use Blink Strike as a killing blow on targets to regain health. If your grenade is up, use it at your discretion, but as frequently as feasible. Use your super against a group of trash mobs to generate at least a few Orbs, or to deal some serious damage to a major. The most important thing is battlefield awareness (of course everyone should have that, but this build especially so). Know where you are, where your enemies are, and where everybody will be. Know where enemies at range are so they won’t interfere with your fights (apparently minions of the Darkness have no qualms firing into a melee). Try to flank enemies instead of rushing straight at them. Know when to not Leeroy Jenkins right into the enemy, which tends to be Ultras and a few enemies that hard-counter melee (Explodie Thralls, Fanatics, possibly Ogres/Colossi). Doing all this will keep you significantly less dead 99% of the time. I also did a short writeup about melee combat against all enemies here. I feel this build has a relatively high skill cap to play to its full potential, but said full potential is seriously devastating.
Ninja Sniper/Medic build “I got you.” A longer-range, stealth-based option, this build is a great choice for lower/under-leveled players. Build I will first outline the differences to the above build:
- Arcbolt grenade. I mention this one because at longer ranges Flux grenades may be trick to accurately hit, so a hitscan one is a good alternative. Use whichever you prefer,
- Better Control. I did advocate Blink before, but the issue is that using it breaks your invisibility, making it rather ill-suited for a stealth build. I feel higher jump tends to leave you airborne and mostly defenseless too long. Better Control gives greater maneuverability and still lets you jump over anything short of an Ultra.
- Vanish. For Stealth, obviously. It can last the entire duration of Arc Blade, allowing you to easily revive teammates, reposition, or just have a bit of easy invis to regenerate health.
- Escape Artist. Stealth. This allows you to either make a quick getaway from a melee situation or have a moment to reload/regen and set up the next attack.
- Path Unknown and Way of the Nomad. For a strategic, cover-based playstyle, recovery is useful, because it allows you to quickly heal off damage while taking cover and going invisible again.
- Shadowjack. Guess what? More stealth. This may be occasionally exchanged for Fleet Footed, if you consider speed more important.
- Stalker. Come on, you know this one. This one unconditionally gives invisibility at-will, so it’s really the key component.
Playstyle: Stay at mid-to-long range, utilize cover a lot and use whatever appropriate weapon you have, for that range, notably Sniper Rifles. Your invis greatly reduces return fire and allows you to accurately aim your first two or so shots to bust some heads. On boss fights this can be utilized to come out of cover undisturbed and empty a mag of rockets into the Big Ugly’s face, then running to cover and repeating till you’re out of rockets. Stalker has a cooldown that seems to be based solely on its total possible duration, not how long it lasted or if other invisibilities were activated in between. Ideally stick to mid-range; long enough that you’re not in the thick of things, but not so far that you can’t reach our teammates while invisible. Because that’s where the medic part comes in: If you see someone go down, especially in a bad spot, just stealth and run to pick them up. This tactic, even if employed by a 28 during a Nightfall, can save a serious number of would-be wipes. Just be aware that enemies like to keep shooting the Ghosts of players, so watch out you don’t run straight into their fire, especially when a Burn modifier is active.
Weapons: Mid-to-long range type. Snipers, Hand Cannons and Scout Rifles. Of note is Patience&Time for additional stealth, Ice Breaker for massive damage and ammo regen, MIDA for movement speed and 3rd Eye, Fang of Ir Yut for 3rd Eye (and Target Mark if you’re so inclined), Hawkmoon and Thorn as very strong Hand Cannons and Black Hammer if you’re really good with precision shots (in particular on bosses). Ultimately use whatever you want that works at the longer range categories.
Armor: The best pick is the Crest of Alpha Lupi, solely for the quick revives. With the DTMs an easy second, because if you do get hit by melee, it may be a very good choice to gtfo of there undetected. If you don’t have either (or need an exotic helmet for Light requirements) use the Knucklehead Radar for more awareness. Lucky Raspberry can enhance your Arcbolt grenade, but that’s about it. None of the other exotics need particular mention. Stat-wise, STR for Escape Artist and INT for Vanish Arc Blade.
Ninja Shotgun Assassin build “Now you see me..” (This build reminds me of Mass Effect 3 MP’s Alliance Infiltration Unit.) I was honestly surprised how good this worked. A variation on the melee build, focused less on staying right in the brawl, but more for precision attacks on high-priority targets. This is also the exact set I run as Swordbearer on CE (minus the weapon choices.) Build. As this is another stealth build, I will only be discussing the changes compared to the second build.
- Flux grenade. And we’re back to these. I like them, and they have a good chance to make an enemy cower, giving you a little bit of extra safety (what’s cowering is obviously not shooting at you.)
- Showstopper. Arc Blade is to be used a bit more offensively here, so this is a good option, as is Razor’s Edge. In particular if you go invisible,you can position yourself right in the middle of a group before hitting all of them.
- Path Forbidden and Way of the Fearless. This playstyle will involve taking some hits, possibly even intentional, so a good amount of Armor is massively helpful.
Playstyle: Everything I said in the above melee build applies here too, with awareness even more important, as there’s no easy way of healing this time. The general strategy actually slightly resembles fighting Crota: Use cover to gain stealth, then move up to enemies and gun them down with a Shotgun. Once you need to reload, if there’s still stuff around, use Escape Artist to go invisible and reload, then kill some more stuff. If you have the DTMs you can also intentionally take a melee hit to get more invis. At that point you have done some serious damage already. If you still have ammo and health, just acquire another target and repeat. If you don’t, fall back to regen or use your primary a bit. Ideally you will suddenly appear right next to an enemy, and repeatedly disappear while gunning them down, then vanish to cover. Your stealth lasts relatively long, so you can move across a great portion of the battlefield to surgically take out key threats (say, that Hallowed Boomer up the stairs during the Omnigul fight). Of course, if you see a teammate go down, rezzing them should still be priority. This build may be even harder to play, but it does have massive potential and can be a great asset.
Weapons: Everything mentioned above still applies. Though because the playstyle tends towards burst damage, I found Invective + Fang of Ir Yut the best choice, as the ammo regen helps out tremendously. Alternately use Red Death or better yet, MIDA + a legendary SG of your choice.
Armor: Don’t Touch Mes. The absolutely best option for this build, I was almost gonna list these as a requrement. Because you will get hit eventually, so when you can use that to get away or strike back, all the better. As mentioned above, this also gives you the possibility to intentionally take a hit to get that stealth, but be aware that all enemies already attacking you will finish their melee, and may still hit you. The only things even worth considering are the Crest of Alpha Lupi or the Mask of the Third Man. For stats you want to maximize STR for Escape Artist, then DIS and INT about equal.
About the Hunter exotics. What’s it look like? A short discussion on all currently available exotic armors.
- Achlyophage Symbiote: Gunslinger-specific. Grenade distance is okay, and Ashes to Asset is quite good, but there’s no use for the exotic perk, so pass.
- ATS/8 Arachnid: Gunslinger-specific. Ashes to Asset and melee for grenade damage are rather good, but once more the special perk is useless (actually even on a Gunslinger).
- Crest of Alpha Lupi: Special ammo is great, and I like Hand Cannons too. The signature perk increases the revive speed, and creates more Orbs from your super. While the Orbs will still be lackluster, the revive speed makes this one a good choice for a stealth medic.
- Don’t Touch Me: Special Loader is great, and Inverse Shadow is probably one of the best PvE perks (it will also stack with itself if you got a raid helmet with that same perk). You see these mentioned a lot in this guide, because they’re just that good. The invisibility duration is affected by the Shadowjack perk, and it has an internal cooldown for about as long as the invis lasts if it’s not prematurely canceled.
- Knucklehead Radar: Melee for grenade damage good, Inverse Shadow great. Radar while ADS primaries is useful for increased awareness if you don’t have a gun with 3rd Eye. For the most part not the top choice, but a good alternative, say, if you need an exotic helmet for Light level.
- Lucky Raspberry: Heavy Ammo is redundant, Fusion ammo is whatever. Arcbolt chaining further is nice, if you use it. The respawning with grenade energy is really more of a PvP thing, though.
- Mask of the Third Man: Formerly the best Bladedancer piece, it’s still a very good choice if you like your super. Melee speed is great for a melee build (well, duh) and Infusion is okay, but of note for Crota HM.
- Radiant Dance Machines: Heavy ammo is superfluous. The special perk only seems to be really useful in PvP. These are comparatively lackluster overall.
- Young Ahamkara’s Spine: Gunslinger-specific. Special loader and Ashes to asset are okay, but that’s about it. (And even on a Gunslinger the perk is not that great).
This got way longer than I expected (I originally had the second and third build in a single one, but that got too convoluted.) But now you have about all you need to slice and dice or ninja your enemies as a Bladedancer in PvE. If you read all the words preceding this, you deserve a cookie.
Do you guys know of anything I missed, forgot, or have wrong? If so, comment and I’ll change it accordingly. Of course feel free to comment with any other opinions questions, or whatever too xD
Thanks for reading, and see you on the battlefield, fellow Guardians.