Burn the world. Burn it all.
The good: Great at taking down grouped enemies or stationary bosses.
The bad: Unless combined with The Taikonaut, it’s not too good in PvP.
Conclusion: 6 of these in a raid? Super fun.
Rocket Launcher (Heavy Weapon)
Talent Upgrades Tree
Release trigger after weapon fire to drop a Solar Damage napalm canister.
SMART DRIFT CONTROL
Greatly reduced recoil. Significant penalty to range.
Expect to find more ammo for this weapon.
This weapon can be drawn unbelievably fast.
A kill with the final round in the magazine increases reload speed.
More predictable recoil. Slight boost to Velocity and decrease to Blast Radius.
Increases warhead velocity.
Greatly reduced recoil. Significant penalty to Velocity.
Reload this weapon quickly.
It’s really fun.
No, seriously. Year 2 Dragon’s Breath, a pleasant surprise of an Easter egg in the most recent balance patch, is a (Dragon’s) breath of fresh air. It isn’t going to be a meta-defining Exotic, but it validates the plethora of complaints since DB’s release that it simply wasn’t imaginative enough.
Now, Bungie has re-tooled the stats and perks, and we’ve got a whole new weapon to review! Regardless of our assessment here, you should pick this one up for the simple reason that it is a blast to use. With that said, we’re not going to pull any punches when it comes to the review, so read on if you want to know if it really is going to help you out.
Dragon’s Breath doesn’t exactly impress from a statistical standpoint. Despite Bungie’s universal buff to Blast Radius, DB’s abysmal class low of 60 (tied with another TTK introduction, The Smolder) limits its initial destructive power greatly.
It also has the slowest base Velocity of any Rocket Launcher at 30; nothing else in The Taken King has lower than 36. Its base Magazine Size of 1 is not particularly offset by the middling Reload Speed of 52, so without the benefit of perks, you’ll be spending more time than usual between shots. Ironically, with only one pod in the magazine, Stability and Fire Rate are rendered moot.
Dragon’s Breath relies on its perks more than its stats to earn its spot in your arsenal.
Okay, so the first column isn’t particularly inviting. Smart Drift Control and Confined Launch give noticeable boosts to the aforementioned useless Stability stat, but hinder Velocity. Linear Compensator buffs the miserable Velocity, but shaves off a sliver of Blast Radius. The lesser of the three evils is probably Linear Compensator; the minor hit to Blast Radius will be negligible in the grand scheme of things, and extra speed to deliver your payload isn’t bad. Honestly, is it too much to ask for Hard Launch or Warhead Verniers?
Its first distinct perk, Surplus, is a welcome bonus. With only 1 round in the Magazine, your reserves are limited slightly too, and Surplus helps to alleviate this concern by giving you a minimum of 3 pods for every Heavy Ammo brick that drops. Stack it with Ruin Wings for more fun! Surplus is truly a great perk for PvE, as not only will your Heavy drops contain more ammunition, but Primary and Special bricks will as well! This means Hand Cannon users and those that lean on their Snipers (so, everyone) can stress a little less about reserve ammo when they clear a crowd of adds with this launcher.
In the middle column, you have the choice between Quickdraw, Javelin, and Speed Reload. Quickdraw will give you the best draw and aim times – but these benefits are wasted on a Rocket Launcher. Javelin is probably the best choice for PvP, urging your missile to find its target sooner, and is helpful for mobile PvE targets like Wizards and teleporting thralls. Otherwise, we recommend you go with Speed Reload. The quicker you can get your next rocket in the chamber, the better. Still, the bonus from Speed Reload is minimal, so if it’s a choice between a more accurate shot with Javelin or a quicker one with Speed Reload, you should go with Javelin.
The final standalone perk, Who’s Next, makes a lot of sense – in theory. In practice, it’s hard to take advantage of with any consistency. You’ll need to get the kill with the actual projectile in order to proc the reload bonus, and even then, it’s not too substantial. Still, it’s decidedly better than nothing. Considering that it replaced Y1 DB’s Tripod, though, it’s hard to call it an upgrade.
You may have noticed we skipped the intrinsic perk until now. Well, that’s because we saved the best for last. Projectiles will now ignite a canister of Napalm that detonates when you release the trigger. It works a bit like a Scorch Cannon; as soon as you fire, keep the trigger held down, and release it when you feel your rocket has reached its destination. The canister can even bounce off walls and around corners, though it’s hard to use this benefit sensibly. The Napalm will remain on the ground for about 7 seconds, doing staggering ticks of damage across a wide swath of terrain. There is nothing like this in the game that a Guardian can use, so hats off to Bungie for making Dragon’s Breath really fit the definition of Exotic. We’ll talk more about this perk shortly.
If your goal is to instantly clear some Tier 1 mobs, you’re probably better off with Truth or Elulim’s Frenzy. However, if you’re thinking about area lockdown, damage over time, and harassing Tier 2 Majors and beyond, Dragon’s Breath can help you out. The cumulative damage of a napalm canister following the initial impact can actually begin to approach Y1 Gjallarhorn levels of damage, though it’s spread out across more time, and difficult to get the full impact on a single target.
Thankfully, enemies won’t side-hop out of it like they did for the Solar Grenade spawned by the Y1 version. Instead, they’ll stagger every two ticks or so, and this is a perfect way to strip the shields and prep more irksome foes for Sniper headshots from you and your team. T1 weak mobs like Thralls and Dregs also have a chance to die to one tick of AoE damage, depending on your DB’s Attack level and the content at hand. If you anticipate a mad rush and know where it’s coming from, laying down a field of Napalm is a smart decision.
Unfortunately, the Blast Radius is a pretty significant drawback. Without tracking or proximity detonation, your aim will have to be absolutely perfect if you want to get the full initial damage value. The Napalm may in fact make up for it, but your goal should always be to take off that first chunk as reliably as possible. With the tiny base Blast Radius and no way to buff it through Wardhead Verniers/Hard Launch or Heavy Payload, it’s one of the least usable Rocket Launchers when it comes to the first explosion.
Sure, this isn’t too big of a problem when you’re intentionally using the Napalm, but it’s a trade-off you have to consider, knowing that stat monsters like the near-flawless Truth are readily available alternatives.
The Magazine Size is also a problem. You have to reload between every shot, and considering that you can’t reload until you release the trigger to detonate the canister, there is no way to “fire and forget” for DPS purposes. A Titan with the Taikonaut might argue otherwise, but for this reason, targets at a distance are best handled with another weapon. Dragon’s Breath is quite effective at close-to-medium Range, when you can comfortably reload and lay down a second field of Napalm before the first has even dissipated. The Warpriest, Blight-heavy Strikes, and the Heroic Lost to Light mission are excellent examples of where this weapon can thrive.
All in all, it’s a PvE-friendly weapon that still can’t be used indiscriminately. In this way, it’s not quite the Y2 Gjallarhorn we were hoping for. There are situations in which it would be silly to think Dragon’s Breath can stack up against its competition. If you are adept at reading the field of battle, though, Dragon’s Breath is a solid option that will have you cackling like a madman with glee.
Well, uh, it’s definitely possible to get a kill with it. We could conceive of a situation in which a very slow or bored Guardian pauses long enough for you to smack him in the face with a Dragon’s Breath missile, but all-in-all it might be one of the worst possible Heavy Weapons you could use in PvP.
Normally, you want your rockets to reach their target quickly, and explode with enough force that you’ll be forgiven for accuracy indiscretions. Shortcomings can be remedied with Grenades & Horseshoes and Tracking – neither of which Dragon’s Breath offers. Its only unique draw, Napalm, loses its effectiveness significantly when facing the reflexes of a human player, who will very likely not stand still long enough to burn to death after the initial impact invariably leaves them with some health.
There’s not much more to be said for Dragon’s Breath in PvP. It’s a poor choice that only really has value for amusement purposes. You might hear something from overexcited Guardians like “It will be great for Control!” but really if you manage to catch 3+ Guardians clumped up on a Control point, it’s better to just wipe them out with a bigger explosion than to try to blanket the area in Napalm. Similarly, it’s a waste of killing power to continue to lay down suppressing (literal) fire in lieu of just scoring points with easy kills.
Y2 Dragon’s Breath is another example of an Exotic done right. It doesn’t intrude unnecessarily into the balance of the game, but carves out a niche in PvE as a nice Heavy Weapon to take control of the field of battle. In PvP, it’s a bit of a joke – but a pretty funny one at that. Above all, Dragon’s Breath is just fun, and it provides reassurance that Bungie can still flex their creative muscles. With the introduction of thematically appropriate Napalm, Dragon’s Breath might just be the coolest Exotic in Destiny.
Thanks for reading our updated Exotic Review for Dragon’s Breath! For PvP this weapon earns a 4/10 and for PvE a 8.5/10.