Destiny Voidwalker Warlock PvE Guide
Destiny Voidwalker Warlock PvE Guide by Eterya
I was gonna do something like this anyway, and recently someone indirectly asked for it, so now here it is.
This guide will comprehensively discuss perks, playstyles and equipment choices, and how any Voidbros among you can us Space Magic to annihilate any enemy 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 Voidwalker class and their special abilities. If you know anything about Voidwalkers, feel free to skip this bit.
- The Voidwalker is an offensive close-to-mid range fighter of the “Glass Cannon” type, focusing on speed over toughness. They can deal significant damage with all of their abilities and either enhance them further or reduce their cooldowns through specialization.
- Glide: The Warlock’s jump ability. Remotely similar to a Titan’s Lift, but much more dependent on the users momentum. It moves comparatively slowly, and can be used to either gain height or traverse vertical distances. The first two upgrades are identical to the Sunsinger’s, the third, Blink, is shared with the Bladedancer, and will be discussed below.
- Nova Bomb. The Voidwalker super and single largest damage source. It launches an enormous ball of Void energy (commonly dubbed “Space Magic”) to deal massive damage in a large area. The base NB resembles a rocket, but moves slower and is launched in an arc. During the animation the field of view, and thus the aim can still be adjusted. The projectile will detonate upon contact with any solid surface, enemy or friendly player, possibly dealing splash damage to the user, that can deal a noticeable amount of damage, but not enough to kill them, unless they’re already at critical health. The perks change the projectile and its properties. Also note that during the casting animation the user gains a significant measure of damage resistance.
- Perks: Vortex: Creates a damaging vortex at the point of impact, that acts like a massive Vortex grenade. Shatter: Splits the projectile in three. Increases the radius significantly, but every singe projectile deals less damage. However multiple projectiles can hit the same (large) enemy. Lance: Increases the speed of the projectile noticeably (though it’s still slower than most rockets) and changes the flight path to be linear.
- Energy Drain: The Voidwalker melee. On hit it grants the eponymous buff that speeds up grenade cooldown by 60% for a base duration of 5 seconds. The additional perks grant ED an additional effect, as discussed below. The melee deals additional damage and will trigger a cooldown on any successful hit
- Perks: Surge: Increases reload, weapon swap and ADS speed as well as movement speed after a hit with ED. It lasts about 15 seconds and displays a timer. Life Steal: Kills with ED restore a portion of health and trigger regeneration. Soul Rip: Killing an enemy with ED reduces the Nova Bomb cooldown.
The following discussion will expect the reader to know and understand the various perks and Warlock 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 Bonds in that list, they’re datamined and not yet in the game).
Energy Drain/grenade build A flexible allrounder build I use frequently. If utilized properly it can put out significant damage with frequent grenades and supers. Build. Discussion on why to use these perks:
- Scatter grenade. This is personal preference to an extent, but I believe this one is the strongest in PvE. The Vortex grenade is good for area denial, but most likely won’t do its full damage on an enemy, as most mobs not immediately killed will quickly leave the area of effect. Scatter grenades deal immediate damage and have both a high enough damage to put significant hurt on a big target and enough range to hit several enemies in close proximity. Note that they resemble rockets in that they don’t bounce but explode on hitting any surface or enemy; the splash damage they deal can be enough to kill the user even from full health. Axion Bolt have too low damage and radius for PvE, and their tracking is hardly necessary if you aim properly.
- Blink. 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 movethrough 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. 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.
- Shatter. I prefer this one simply for the larger radius it offers. The reduced damage is only rarely significant, as a big potion is lost as overkill on trash mobs anyways. Vortex is good for area denial, but to get full use of it requires some investment that is not an option here. Lance just seems to not work for me, personally. I find that I relatively rarely want to use NB at a particularly long range, and the velocity increase is rarely needed to hit a target. To me it feels hard to aim, and I actually end up missing more with it than getting additional use out of it. If you are good with either alternative, feel free to use them, neither is particularly bad.
- Life Steal. This is not a dedicated melee build, yet requires triggering Energy Drain for max effectiveness. Thus the option to heal off melee kills is useful here. Surge is a good buff too, but the build is less focused on weapons. Soul Rip is just as strong, but this build is more grenade-centric. Neither is a bad choice, and if you prefer either run with it. I personally just like Life Steal best on this particular one.
- Arcane Force and Chaos Order. Mostly personal preference, but this is a “glass cannon” type of build, and the high Agility meshes very well with Blink. I find that a rapid getaway safes my life way more than a bit more of Armor would have. But feel free to change these up however you want.
- The Hunger. A key portion of this build, it increases the duration of the Energy Drain effect from 5 to 8 seconds. Annihilate is a strong option for grenades as well (and it is possible to use it for this build with a certain exotic). Angry Magic just seems to have little effect for me, and you very rarely, if ever, should miss a target with Nova Bomb.
- Embrace the Void. The defining feature of the build, it will trigger the ED effect off any ability damage. NOTE: There exists a common misconception, because of the Energy Drain melee and the ED buff/effect it grants being named identically. EtV will only grant the buff, but not grant the secondary effects of the ED melee gained from its perks. As this perk defines the build, no other option is even worth considering, and both others will be discussed below.
The playstyle is straightforward. Fight at medium ranges, using the grenade whenever possible. A hit will trigger Energy Drain, significantly shortening the downtime. If you manage to proc an ED melee as well, you can have a grenade back every 20-30 seconds, depending on you DIS. When your super comes up, use it to nuke the biggest group of enemies (or a high-priority target) you find.
Do note that the Energy Drain effect does not stack with itself, nor refresh. If you trigger ED with melee and hit an enemy with a grenade before the effect runs out, it will run out at the same time it would have without the grenade hit. Thus for optimal use make sure you stagger the use of you abilities to be ideally 8-10 seconds apart (where ED lasts 8 seconds).
Armor: Any of the subclass-neutral pieces is useful here, with Claws of Ahamkara > Apotheosis Veil > Light Beyond Nemesis. The only Voidwalker armor that is of use here is the Skull of Dire Ahamkara. However it is easily the best choice. It effectively grants The Hunger perk for free, allowing you to pick Annihilate instead, increasing the effectiveness of you grenades even more, and its secondary perk gives more super energy from grenade kills, which will be quite frequent. Of note for random legendary armor are the “grenade energy from melee hits”, “melee energy from grenade hits” and “more super for grenade kills” perks found on helmets or gauntlets. As for stats, the primary focus is DIS, with INT and then STR second and third.
Weapons: No too big deal, and no particular exotics. Just use whatever mid-range weapon works best for you. Of note however are any weapons with the Grenadier perk, as it synergizes beautifully with the Energy Drain effect. It can roll on any legendary weapon, but is guaranteed on Murmur, Swordbreaker, Song of Ir Yut and The Chance (FWC vendor version).
“Nova Bombs for days” build The Obsidian Mind one. You all knew this was coming. This build will allow you to use your super in rapid succession, creating an unrivaled damage, presuming you reliably have enough adds to nuke. I did a guide on that one back when Xur sold it, so I’ll just copy bits from there. Build. I will only be discussing changes from the build outlined above:
- Shatter. Here it is the explicit choice. Reason being that the build is dependent on getting as many kills with each Nova Bomb as possible, especially against trash mobs.
- Soul Rip. This is a super-centric build, so for maximum effect, we use anything that reduces the cooldown of NB even further. Again, the other options are good, but this one is best.
- Annihilate. Again, more power/radius to Nova Bomb. Without much doubt the strongest option.
- Bloom. Enemies killed exploding may just get an additional target or two around the outskirts of the blast radius. Once more a clear choice.
As the build is defined by the gear, this section comes first:
Armor: The Obsidian Mind. It gives a flat 10% charge to the next super for each enemy killed with Nova Bomb. As I said, defining feature, so absolutely no options. As for the rest of the gear, perks like mentioned above, focus on INT, then STR and DIS about equally important.
Weapons: You know this one too. Bad Juju is the only real option. Fittingly created by the lost Warlock Toland, “The Shattered”, its signature perks grants additional super charge on each kill, and it stacks with the OM’s Inverse Shadow. Other weapons, you’re gonna be a close-to-mid range fighter, so use appropriate gear. I personally like Murmur, because it can switch between both elements your abilities don’t cover and comes with the Grenadier perk. Really use anything you like and work well with.
Playstyle is focused on getting you super by killing trash mobs, then using that to nuke the largest possible group of enemies (if you can, hit them right wen they bunch up in spawn) to get a portion super back immediately, ideally 50+% to make the build really shine. If you have enough adds in range this build is extremely potent, but in some situations this is not a given. In particular during most boss fights the adds tend to be fanned out, and using NB on the boss give little to no return from the Obsidian Mind. Thus if you have a single big target as focus, you may be better off switching to, say, the above-mentioned Energy Drain build to get more consistent damage output. There is the ideal tool for every job, and that tool is not always Obsidian Mind.
Surge Shotgun build. I came up with this on a whim and I was honestly surprised how strong it turned out. (I ended up leading in kills in half a dozen Roc Strikes, including Ta’aurc, Flayers and Omnigul, sometimes more than both others combined.) As you would have guessed from the name, this one uses the Surge buff from Energy Drain to synergize with any Shotgun for massive damage up close. Build. Again I’ll only highlight the differences to the first build:
- Shatter. I just really like this one. But here it’s back to personal preference again, use whichever you like best.
- Surge. It’s in the title, what’d you expect. The buff is the defining feature of the build, so there’s really no other option.
- The Hunger. You’re gonna be using ED a lot, so it’s nice when the effect lasts a bit longer. If you want your grenades stronger instead of more often, use Annihilate instead.
- Bloom. You melee possibly blowing enemies up is a huge asset, especially when you’re being swarmed by weak trash (Thralls or Dregs). You could use Embrace the Void instead, but I think Bloom is stronger, as the grenades are just extra on this build, not the main focus.
- Note how I remain specced into max Agility. This is, in parts, personal preference because Surge and Blink both go well with an intrinsically high speed. However for a melee build, a little more armor would be sensible too, if you’re so inclined.
As above, loadout is a defining feature, so it comes first.
Armor: By far the best choice is the Claws of Ahamkara. The second charge for Energy Drain is invaluable, doubling your potential for both Surge and grenades. The Light Beyond Nemesis is okay, but not great, Apotheosis Veil works good if you don’t have the Claws or want a helmet for Light requirements. None of the Voidwalker specifics are particular good for this build. If you use the Skull, the build too much resembles the ED/grenade build, the Obsidian Mind simply does not get as much benefit as on a dedicated build and the Voidfang Vestments are pretty much PvP only. Definitely use the Claws if you can. As for stats, prioritize STR, then both INT and DIS
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, but use whatever you want. But get used to switching weapons quickly to accommodate the situation.
Other good guns include: Swordbreaker, Found Verdict and Red Death, MIDA as long-range options. 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.)
Playstyle is typical melee/Shotgun. Use the first enemy you find to proc Surge, then wreck his companions with your Shotgun. Note that the ED effect does not refresh if you trigger it again before it runs out. Though Surge does. I still recommend trying to space out your melees. Your super will come up soon enough, and can be used to nuke the next group of enemies or high-value target you see. Grenades will be up pretty often too, and can be used to either wreck a few adds or soften up a big target. Be aware that on Scatter grenades the splash damage is high enough to kill you, but if you throw and immediately Blink up or backwards you mayescape most of it (I take no responsibility if you try that stunt and die). I also wrote up notes about melee combat against all enemies here. I feel this build has a comparatively high skill gate, but if played to its full strength can be seriously devastating.
Vortex Master build This build focuses on area denial through use of grenades and supers. Because of the defining perks required it is also an option that Warlocks have fully available early in their skill tree progression. Build. As the grenade, super and perks are the defining feature, if you are a newer Warlock just use whatever you have available and like.
- Vortex grenade. It’s in the name already. As the entire point of the build is area denial via abilities, this one is the only real option.
- Vortex. As directly above.
- Life Steal. For similar reasons as in the first build. Really use whichever you like o have unlocked.
- Annihilate. This is easily the best option for area denial, as larger radius means more area denied. For this build this is the only real choice.
- Vortex Mastery. Once more, it’s right there in the title. The point is area denial, so more duration on that is the best option.
- This build is less reliant on fast movement, and can be played more tactically, so here you could reasonably spec into a middle ground of stats, like Arcane Spirit + Ancestral Order. Or really whatever you prefer.
Playstyle resembles the first one, but the grenades and supers are to be used more strategically at grouped up enemies or preemptively at chokepoints that have enemies inbound. (Or at open space to try to create chokepoints and funnel enemies). If you can, regularly use Energy Drain to get more grenades.
Armor: A bit of the interesting thing about this build is that there’s no exotic explicitly designed for it. This equals more versatility, and again beginner-friendliness. Options are: Apotheosis Veil > Obsidian Mind > Claws of Ahamkara > Skull of Dire Ahamkara > Light Beyond Nemesis. OM is not rated highest here, because the super is not utilized for maximum kills, but for its additional effect. (And because there already is an OM build further up.)
Weapons: Kinda like armor. Whatever you work best at mid-ranges. And as above note that weapons (especially primaries) with Grenadier on them are highly useful.
About the Warlock exotics: Exactly what it say on the tin. A short discussion on all currently available exotic armors.
- Apotheosis Veil: I like the word “apotheosis” (it means as much as deification, something becoming (a) god). I only got this one recently, so my opinion on it may not be as definite. Melee damage to grenade is a very nice perk. Infusion is good for CE HM, otherwise a little situational, but not bad. The main perk makes this one interesting. Just be aware that it only triggers regen. If you get hit again, it will stop. Also the effect may lead to an increase in actual panic supers, which is bad form I think. Instead use it as a Second Wind: fight the enemy until your health is critical, then use your super to sow more devastation and get right back into the game.
- Claws of Ahamkara: Melee speed and Special Weapon Loader are both nice perks. The extra charge on either subclass melee makes these a good choice for any build, as all of them will want to use Energy Drain, and the centerpiece of the Surge melee build.
- Heart of the Praxic Fire: The best Sunsinger piece, but not much for Voidbros. The Heavy ammo gets redundant with raid boots, and Fusion ammo is whatever. The primary perk has absolutely no effect, so really don’t use it for a Voidwalker (unless it’s you only exotic and you want the DIS).
- Light Beyond Nemesis: Melee speed is good, Infusion as above. The signature perk increases the revive speed, and creates more Orbs from your super. A decent choice if you like being support/medic, but overall there’s better.
- Obsidian Mind: Grenade distance is okay, Inverse Shadow is great. If you read this far you know what it does, and see it has an entire build dedicated to it, so there’s no need to say any more. Note that outside of a dedicated build, it is not utilized to its full potential, and I prefer other exotics more appropriate to the build, or just for versatility, as OM needs to nuke large groups of enemies.
- Skull of Dire Ahamkara: Grenade distance is okay, super of grenade kills is pretty good. Damage reduction during Nova Bomb only really seems to make a difference in PvP. If effectively grants the Hunger perk, which makes it a decent choice for most builds, in particular on the topmost Embrace the Void one.
- Starfire Protocol: Literally the same as for the HotPF applies, only replace DIS with INT.
- Sunbreakers: Another Sunsinger-specific. Special Loader and grenade for melee damage is okay, but you get no use out of the special perk. Only use if you have no other exotics avaiable.
- Voidfang Vestments: I like Hand Cannons. And special ammo is neat too. But the main perk just falls flat in PvE, as the Axion Bolt are lackluster there, imo and you should rarely die, so there won’t be much respawning. They are quite strong for PvP, but here there’s little use for them.
That was…about as long as I expected. That’s about all you should know for all you Voidbro needs in PvE. Anyone who read through all of this deserves 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.