Strike-Exclusive Weapon Reviews

Treads Upon Stars

Shield Brothers, Dust Palace, Cerebus Vae III

  • Pros – Above average reload speed.
  • Neutral – Average mag size and range.
  • Cons – Low stability. Below average aim assist.

Recommended PvP Perks:

  1. Red Dot-OAS, TrueSight IS, Red Dot-ORES, Red Dot-ORS1
  2. Crowd Control, Zen Moment, Life Support
  3. Hand-laid Stock, Perfect Balance, Injection Mold, Smallbore, Explosive Rounds, Braced Frame, High Caliber Rounds
  4. Hidden Hand, Third Eye, Outlaw, Reactive Reload, Grenadier, Army of One, Firefly

Recommended PvE Perks:

  1. Red Dot-OAS, TrueSight IS, Red Dot-ORES, Red Dot-ORS1
  2. Crowd Control, Triple Tap, Life Support, Zen Moment
  3. Explosive Rounds, Hand-laid Stock, Perfect Balance, Injection Mold, Smallbore
  4. Firefly, Reactive Reload, Grenadier, Army of One, Outlaw

Unfortunately, this gun is in the weakest of the scout rifle archetypes in the Crucible. The time-to-kill is quite slow, at 1.00s, but it is slightly redeemed by the fact that it only needs two head shots and two body shots to kill, making it a very forgiving gun for those who are just learning to play with scouts. In terms of optics, Red Dot-OAS is generally going to be your best bet, given that it’s a very stable, and aim assist boosting sight. If you can’t get that one, TrueSight, ORES, and ORS1 are all passable options, in that order.

In the second column, Crowd Control is probably the best choice, because it gives you the ability to kill with 3 crit shots immediately following another kill, which negates this guns biggest weakness in PvP. Zen Moment can help with the sub-par base stability, and Life Support is always a good thing to have when it activates. In the third column, improving stability is the name of the game, in order to minimize the time is takes to reacquire a target after a shot, hopefully maintain the optimal TtK. Hand-laid Stock is the best option here, mostly because scout rifles tend to have an excess of range to begin with, and losing a bit for a ton more stability is a worthwhile trade-off. Perfect Balance is also acceptable, or Injection Mold or Smallbore, but I tend to stay away from Braced Frame, just because a 12 round mag on this archetype can be a hindrance.

If you aren’t lucky enough to get a good stability perk, Explosive Rounds can be nice, helping to cause severe flinch to your opponents. In the last column, Hidden Hand will be the best choice to help improve the below average base aim assist, but Third Eye and Outlaw are both useful as well. Reactive Reload is a special perk that takes a particular play-style to use, but can be very effective when done correctly. Grenadier and Army of One are both decent, and Firefly is fun, if not very useful.

Although the gun struggles in the Crucible, it’s actually a solid weapon for the rest of the game. It’s in the same archetype as the fabled Dead Orbit Hung Jury, and, with a good roll, can be used as a decent substitute for anyone unlucky enough to not grab the original.

For PvE, the sight choices will remain the same as PvP, as will the second column options, with the exception of Triple Tap, which is very useful when shooting at large, mostly stationary bosses. In the third column, stability is not nearly as important in PvE, so Explosive Rounds takes the lead. If you can’t get that, stability is still nice to have, just to make the gun feel better and be easier to use. In the last column, Firefly is a fantastic perk for killing mobs, and Reactive Reload is much easier to take advantage of when facing adds, so I would hope for one of those two. Grenadier and Army of One can also be useful.

Does Not Bow

The Shadow Thief

  • Pros – High range.
  • Neutral – Average aim assist.
  • Cons – Low stability, reload speed, and recoil direction. Very low mag size.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Red Dot-OAS, Red Dot-ORES, Red Dot-ORS1, SureShot IS
  2. Rangefinder, Crowd Control, Spray and Pray, Persistence
  3. Perfect Balance, Rifled Barrel, Injection Mold, Fitted Stock, Hand Loaded
  4. Hidden Hand, Third Eye, Life Support, Counterbalance, Glass Half Full, Grenadier, Army of One

Unfortunately, this weapon is in the much maligned high impact auto rifle class, which means it generally isn’t competitive in the Crucible. However, if you happen to get a great roll, you can always hold onto it in the hopes that the archetype will be buffed in a future balance patch. As far as sights go, it’s mostly user preference, but I think that Red Dot-OAS is the best all round sight for auto rifles, due to the boosts to stability and aim assist. I also like ORES for better stability, ORS1 for the increased zoom magnification factor (which means damage fall off starts at longer distances), or SureShot to provide a boost to AA. Really, as far as optics go, if you have something you like you’ll probably be okay.

Column 2 doesn’t have a lot of great options, with Rangefinder being the only real tier-1 perk. Crowd Control can also be useful in some situations where you’re engaging multiple targets simultaneously, and Spray and Pray will actually help a decent amount considering the mag size is only 22. Conversely, with such a small mag size, Persistence probably won’t have enough time to really be effective, but it’s still generally a better option than most of the other perks in this column. Trying to get either more stability, or maxed range, is the name of the game in the third column. Perfect Balance is probably the best overall perk, but Rifled Barrel can also help a lot. If you can manage it, try to avoid decreasing the range stat by too much, since ARs need as much as possible to prevent the damage drop off from taking a toll. Injection Mold is only above Fitted Stock because its stability boost is a little higher, and it also increases handling speed, which is a nice bonus to have on a primary weapon. In the last column, Hidden Hand, Third Eye, and Life Support are all tier-1 perks, if you can handle the sideways sway of the recoil. If you can’t then Counterbalance becomes a necessity. If you’re not lucky enough to get any of those, Glass Half Full can assist with mitigating the damage fall off by providing 1 extra damage to the bottom half of the mag. Grenadier and Army of one are decent passive bonuses, too.

Grasp of Malok

Will of Crota

  • Pros – High mag size. Very high aim assist.
  • Cons – Below average range and recoil direction. Very low stability. Low reload speed.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Red Dot-OAS, Red Dot-ORS1, Red Dot-ORES
  2. Counterbalance, Rangefinder, Headseeker, Life Support, Eye of the Storm
  3. Braced Frame/Smallbore/Perfect Balance, Hand Loaded, Fitted Stock
  4. Third Eye, Glass Half Full, Feeding Frenzy, Grenadier, Army of One

Part of one of the most popular archetypes in the current meta, a well-rolled Grasp was the white whale of many players in year 2. Fortunately, the archetype has been padded by a couple of easier to acquire weapons (The Clever Dragon from Iron Banner and The Waltz from the FWC Vendor), but the Grasp still has some statistical benefits like higher base range and aim assist that keep it on top. In terms of perks, Red Dot-OAS will help to increase the aim assist, but this gun doesn’t really need it, so if you have a sight you like, you’ll be good to go.

Any combination of Counterbalance and Perfect Balance, Braced Frame, or Smallbore will be great in terms of getting a stable and easy to control recoil pattern. If you can’t get Counterbalance, Rangefinder is probably my next favorite option, as the increased zoom will tighten up the burst pattern a small amount and negate damage and aim assist fall off. You’ll be left with some sideways movement, but pairing it with one of the aforementioned column 3 perks will give you a solid mix of range and stability. In the last column, I like Glass Half Full for the bonus damage, but Third Eye probably has the most utility for PvP. Feeding Frenzy is also a nice to perk to have for the faster reload speed after kills.

Imago Loop

Echo Chamber, Undying Mind

  • Pros – High range, mag size, and recoil direction.
  • Cons – Below average aim assist. Low stability and reload speed. Very low equip speed.

Recommended Perks for PvP:

  1. SureShot IS/TrueSight IS
  2. Rangefinder, Outlaw, Hot Swap, Spray and Play, Underdog
  3. Rifled Barrel, Smallbore, Reinforced Barrel, Hammer Forged, Braced Frame, Explosive Rounds, Hand Loaded
  4. Hidden Hand/Icarus, Luck in the Chamber, Life Support, Third Eye, Reactive Reload, Grenadier, Army of One

Recommended Perks for PvE:

  1. SureShot IS/TrueSight IS
  2. Outlaw, Spray and Play, Rangefinder, Underdog
  3. Explosive Rounds, Rifled Barrel, Reinforced Barrel, Hammer Forged, Hand Loaded
  4. Firefly, Life Support, Reactive Reload, Icarus, Grenadier, Army of One

As always, the two best sights on HCs are SureShot and TrueSight, since they both help to boost the average base aim assist, but I would say they’re the least important part of a great roll. In the second column, Rangefinder is universally considered to be the very best perk, and no God-Roll is complete without it. Outlaw is a very passable second option, but after that it’s a steep drop off to Hot Swap and Spray and Pray, neither of which are optimal choices. Underdog brings up the rear, but at least it can give you a range bonus in some situations.

In the third column, Rifled Barrel is again the universally acclaimed choice, but Smallbore, Hammer Forged, and Reinforced Barrel (if you don’t care about the massive hit to stability) are all very passable second options. If you are trying to get a Luck in the Chamber build, Smallbore and Braced Frame will be your two best choices. Explosive Rounds and Hand Loaded bring up the rear of the preferred perks in this slot, with ER greatly increasing your opponents flinch, and HL giving a small boost to the range stat.

In the final column, Hidden Hand and Icarus are my two top choices, given their all around usefulness, but some people will want Luck in the Chamber, depending upon their play-style. Having started to play with Life Support more, I’m really noticing its usefulness and beginning to lean towards recommending it as a higher tier perk. It activates quite often in my experience, multiple times per game, and saved me on enough occasions that I think, despite its random nature, it’s definitely a beneficial perk. Third Eye is always solid in PvP, though some people look at it as a crutch, and Reactive Reload can be put to fantastic use situationally, so don’t sleep on either of those. Grenadier and Army of One are all also okay options, so you really can’t go wrong in this column, unless you get Mulligan.

For PvE the perk recommendations are simple: Make it a baby Fatebringer. Mix an aim assist increasing sight with Outlaw, Explosive Rounds, and Firefly and you’ve got yourself an add destroying machine. If you don’t win the lottery and hit that roll, there are other options that can still make it a very competent weapon. Spray and Pray is a decent substitute for Outlaw in the second column, and Life Support is incredibly useful in high level PvE gameplay, so if you combine those two with any range increasing perk in the third column you’ll still end up with a fantastic hand cannon.

Devil’s Dawn

Sepiks Perfected, Abomination Heist, The Wretched Eye

  • Pros – High Range. Can snipe Guardians out of their Supers, even at full armor, with 1 crit shot. Can kill 1-armor Guardians with a body shot.
  • Cons – Below average stability. Low aim assist, reload speed, mag size, and equip speed.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Linear Compensator
  2. Life Support
  3. Quickdraw
  4. Firefly

An interesting weapon, similar to the raid models in that comes with preset perks, the Devil’s Dawn is competitive in PvP right out of the box with a low zoom scope (4.9x), Life Support, and Quickdraw. Unfortunately, the last slot is filled with Firefly, a perk that, although fun, doesn’t serve much purpose on a sniper rifle. Although the scope is a one-off variant in terms of appearances, I tested to verify that it does indeed have the same magnification as other low-zoom options like ShortGaze and Ambush.

Something to note about this weapon is that, again similarly to the raid variants, its base stats are not a reflection of its usable stats. Because every barrel perk option decreases aim assist and stability, as well as increasing range and impact, the numbers are slightly different. It actually does 463 damage on critical hits to a Guardian, and 186 damage to body shots. This means it can kill 1-armor Guardians in PvP with a body shot. If you use the recommended perks, the stability drops to 31, aim assist goes down to 29, and the range climbs up to 88. Something less notable but still present is the change in recoil direction from 70 to 90 with Linear Compensator, but that’s just a minor improvement.

Stolen Will

Taken Winter’s Run

  • Pros – Above average stability. High reload speed and aim assist. Very high mag size and equip speed.
  • Cons – Low range and inventory. Below average max range.

Recommended Perks for Max Range:

  1. Linear Compensator/Accurized Ballistics/Field Choke
  2. Rangefinder
  3. Reinforced Barrel/Rifled Barrel
  4. Underdog, Exhumed, Final Round, Surrounded, Performance Bonus, Replenish

Recommended Perks for PvE:

  1. Linear Compensator/Accurized Ballistics/Field Choke
  2. Full Auto/Battle Runner/Crowd Control/Life Support, Grenadier, Army of One
  3. Lightweight, Single Point Sling, Quickdraw
  4. Surrounded, Danger Close, Final Round, Performance Bonus

This breakdown is going to be very similar to the Iron Banner’s Proud Spire review, as the Stolen Will is a shotgun in the same lowest impact archetype, similar to the old New Monarchy Burden of Proof or the Titan exclusive Immobius. Although it won’t ever be a PvP meta weapon due to the lack of a high one-shot kill distance, this class still has its uses. In PvE, it’s sought after thanks to its ability to pump a lot of rounds into high armor enemies quickly, and it can be used very successfully when rapidly cleaning up multiple weaker targets at close range. For the Proud Spire, the run-n-gun playstyle also translated well to more casual 6v6 modes of the Crucible and gametypes like Supremacy, but due to the perk layout of the Stolen Will I would only recommend it for PvE. Long story short this is a useless shotgun in PvP.

Moving on to perks, there are two main ways to spec this weapon for combat. The first is similar to almost all other shotgun recommended rolls, in that you do everything you can to maximize range. Linear Compensator, Reinforced or Rifled Barrel, and Rangefinder will help you do that on this weapon, and then Underdog or Exhumed can situationally provide another small bonus. Personally, I feel that this is the wrong way to try to use this weapon, as you’re working to improve on its weaknesses (which only makes them average) instead of playing to its strengths. This gun will never compete with the heavy-hitters like Matador, Party Crasher, and Last Ditch, no matter what perks you run, so I suggest avoiding this type of gun in PvP entirely.

Instead, what I suggest is diving headfirst into the run-n-gun playstyle for PvE. The reason you don’t want to use the run-n-gun playstyle with this weapon in PvP is that, unlike the Proud Spire, you have to give up Rifled Barrel to get Lightweight, which means you’re going to be putting yourself in a seriously deep hole versus other Guardians, and it’s just not worth it.

For PvE though, you’ll still want Linear Compensator, Accurized Ballistics, or Field Choke in the first perk slot, but in second column, you’ll have four options that will help to make this weapon a very effective tool. Full Auto, Battle Runner, Crowd Control, and Life Support can all be incredibly useful when engaging more than one enemy in a short period of time, but which one you pick depends on what you like the most. Full Auto makes it easy to do massive damage to high armor targets like major or ultra enemies, and it no longer makes the pellet spread significantly worse than a shotgun without it. Battle Runner stacks with Lightweight to give you a massive boost to running speed, and can help you close on a second or third target before they can react. Crowd Control gives you bonus damage for a few seconds after each kill, which has the added benefit of pushing out the one-hit kill distance. Life Support can keep you alive in situations where you really shouldn’t be, and is top tier perk in PvE.

In the third column, Lightweight is going to give you the extra agility you need to run and slide faster and farther than you thought possible, but Single Point Sling can also serve as a poor man’s substitute. In the last column we’re going to try to take advantage of the fact that we’ll be engaging multiple enemies in close range, and go with Surrounded or Danger Close, though neither of these perks are dealbreakers. Go with what you like and you should be good here.

Darkblade’s Spite

The Sunless Cell

  • Pros – Very high Impact. High Range.
  • Neutral – Average mag size.
  • Cons – Low Aim Assist, Reload Speed, and Stability. Very low Charge Rate.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Red Dot-OAS, Red Dot-ORS1, Red Dot-ORES, TrueSight IS, SureShot IS
  2. Hidden Hand, Hip Fire, Battle Runner, Kneepads
  3. Braced Frame/Rifled Barrel
  4. Rangefinder, Life Support, Eye of the Storm, Hot Swap, Icarus, Replenish, Grenadier, Army of One

Darkblade’s Spite comes with a host of wonderful sight options, including the ever popular Red Dot-OAS. OAS increases both stability and aim assist, two things that are very helpful on a fusion rifle. If you can’t get OAS, then ORS1 increases stability and range, and ORES increases stability, handling, reload speed, and range. TrueSight and SureShot both increase aim assist, reload speed, and handling by a decent amount, with small boosts to stability on top of that. Any one of these sights will be a winner on this weapon, so you’ve got a high chance of getting something good.

In the second column, Hidden Hand is the clear best out of some rather lackluster options. Hip Fire isn’t awful, although I don’t really recommend trying to fire from the hip outside of close range. Battle Runner and Kneepads offer some fun bonuses in terms of mobility, but neither are tier 1 choices. Darkblade’s Spite is one of the few FRs in the game that can kill in 4 bolts, and, as such, Accelerated Coils is not recommended in the third column. Accelerated Coils increases the charge rate, but also decreases the impact, and will make it need 5 bolts to kill. As such, Braced Frame or Rifled Barrel are the clear best choices, depending on user preference. Braced Frame massively increases stability (which decreases the bolt spread when firing) without sacrificing any range. If you believe you can control the recoil without needing Braced Frame, then Rifled Barrel is the best option, giving you a huge boost to range.

In the last column, Rangefinder is again the clear best choice, due to the increased zoom, but almost all of the options here are usable. Life Support and Eye of the Storm are both great perks for slow charging fusions, since, unless you’re amazing at pre-charging, there are going to be a lot of opportunities where your health is low in battle. Replenish is also a nice perk, and it activates by filling your magazine when you cast a super. Hot Swap is only this low because I’ve been completely unable to determine any noticeable positive effect that is has on FRs, in many hours of testing and reviewing clips, but some people absolutely sweat by it. Icarus is similar to Hip Fire, in that it can be good in some situations, but I don’t recommend trying to rely on it. Grenadier and Army of One can allow you to use grenade and melee abilities more often.

Baron’s Ambition

Fallen S.A.B.E.R.

  • Pros – Above average range, stability, reload speed, and mag size.
  • Cons – Below average aim assist.

Recommended Perks:

  1. Accurized Ballistics/Linear Compensator, Field Choke, Aggressive Ballistics
  2. Counterbalance/Life Support, Eye of the Storm, Spray and Play, Hip Fire
  3. Perfect Balance, Rifled Barrel, Speed Reload, Fitted Stock, Quickdraw
  4. Rangefinder/Feeding Frenzy/Hidden Hand/Crowd Control, Grenadier, Army of One, Persistence

The only barrel perks you should even look at are the ones that increase impact, as they all drop the TtK down for PvP. If you get Accurized Ballistics, you’ll want Counterbalance to stabilize the sideways movement of the recoil. If you get Linear Compensator, which helps with the sideways movement, then Life Support is the go-to perk in column two. Perfect Balance is the best choice in the third column, but Rifled Barrel and Speed Reload both are very good options.

In the last slot, there are four excellent perks to choose from, and many other useful ones. The only reason Persistence is not higher in column four is that, since this is a heavy weapon, you probably shouldn’t be sustaining fire on small targets long enough for it to really come into play. Try to avoid decreasing range, if you can help it, as this allows the gun to maintain its optimal time-to-kill at longer distances. The gun doesn’t have a high reload speed, so if you don’t have perks that help it, you’ll want to be careful to time your reloads when you know you’re safe.

Mercules904

Author of Massive Breakdowns, Crucible enthusiast, recovering re-roll addict.