Cipher Exotic Comparison | What’s “Best”

Published on: May 31, 2015 @ 21:36

Having seen all three Elder Cipher Exotics, you’re probably a little overwhelmed deciding on which one to go for first. After all, the next time you run 34 or 35 POE, you could be given your very first chance to acquire one – and you don’t want to get cold feet!

Well, never fear, because we’re going to walk you through some steps to help you decide which is best for you. Unfortunately, we can’t simply say “You should pick The X” or “Y is the all-around best,” because each weapon has its inherent strengths and weaknesses, and may prove better for some and worse for others.

What we can do is offer you some points to consider that will help you narrow it down.

What are you missing?

One of the most important factors in deciding which Exotic to go for is to take stock of your current inventory. What elements do you have covered, and on what weapons? Do you have 15 Shotguns of every RoF and Impact, in every color of the rainbow?

Conversely, have you been using a beat-up 300 Praedyth’s Revenge to take on Solar-shielded bosses? Well, you probably have the raw CQB damage covered, and maybe you could use a little extra flexibility on the long-range end. What weapon is best for this? Queenbreakers’ Bow.

On the other hand, you could have an Ascended Black Hammer, an Icebreaker that is popped more skulls than you can count, and an Efrideet’s Spear and LDR 5001 that have been rolled to Arc and Void perfection. You look at Queenbreakers’ Bow and think “Uh, I think I can do better.” Well then, consider the Lord of Wolves, or Dreg’s Promise.

The idea is to cover your bases, especially for Burns. The Nightfall may no longer be as terrifying a challenge as it once was, but now we have the Prison of Elders to contend with. In the cramped frenzy of the Hive or Cabal rooms, facing a burn without the appropriate elemental weapon can be a death sentence. If this is something that worries you, then carefully evaluate if this should weigh in on your decision.

What suits your playstyle?

It goes without saying that we don’t all play the game the exact way. One of the reasons that Destiny succeeds as an FPS is the variety in the gunplay and ability use. It lacks the raw customization options of a more pure RPG, but in return compensates by offering accessible FPS mechanics in a format that lets you figure out what you’re best at.

Some of us like to charge in, guns blazing, and lay down a blanket of Shotgun fire. Others prefer sitting back with a Scout Rifle and a Sniper, content to land precision hit after precision hit until the entire field is wiped clean. The Elder Cipher Exotics are quite cool, in that they offer bridges between certain weapon variants.

Yes, the Bow is a Sniper, but it also is an accurate hipfire Fusion Rifle substitute for when your opponents are tired of getting their domes plugged from far away. If your go-to engagement distance is at Sniper range, but you like to have a weapon that also isn’t hopeless up close, it might be especially appealing to you.

If you don’t feel as confident with Sniper fire, really embrace the idea of “Primary” weapon, and rarely if ever switch up, then maybe you just need a trusty sidearm like Dreg’s Promise. A couple of lightning-fast Arc bursts and whatever’s bothering you is down.

And, of course, if you have borderline separation anxiety when you get further than a stone’s throw away from the Darkness, then the Lord of Wolves is going to soothe your soul with its ability to melt whatever idiot decided to take you on up close.

When it comes to playstyle, it’s not just a question of what’s “best” – we all know that conventional Shotguns and Snipers are going to out-damage almost any other weapon. No, it’s about what suits you. Since you can’t “try before you buy” with the Cipher Exotics, be sure to check out our reviews, and trust your experience in Destiny so far to inform your decision.

Do you like PvP?

While our scores reflect that each of these weapons is fairly balanced for both PvE and PvP, the scores don’t tell the whole story. The Queenbreakers’ Bow got an 8 for PvP, but could easily have scored much worse. The reason it got its score is because of its potential in the hands of a great PvP player. The aim-assist problems, inability to kill with a body shot up close, and learning curve for the charge time are big entrance barriers to PvP players who aren’t willing to invest the time to master it.

If you don’t play PvP very often, and thought “Well, I just want the Queenbreakers’ Bow so I can do good in PvP right away” you might want to re-think your position. With that said, if a killer Crucible devotee can figure out how to use it, it can be massively scary. With the Combat Scope, it has no Sniper glint to give away your threat from a distance. Moreover, it still can drop unlucky Guardians with a single hit to the head. This high-risk, high-reward weapon is the way to go if your main focus is PvP.

The Dreg’s Promise, on the other hand, doesn’t really favor either. Sure, its burst-fire shenanigans can kill other Guardians in the Crucible quickly when they’re running right at you, but it’s no better than most weapons in those situations. Still, in spite of it not being best-in-class, you might enjoy how forgiving its pattern of fire is on especially mobile opponents.

The Lord of Wolves is somewhere in between. In close quarters, you’re not going to need flawless twitch aiming, but you are going to need to keep your cool and be aware of your surroundings. Rush strategies, while occasionally leading to fantastic footage for a Crucible highlight reel, more often than not will invite a lot of deaths for those who don’t have their game face on.

The lesson to take away is that it’s important to differentiate between a weapon that has a high ceiling for skilled players, and a weapon that is going to perform more or less the same no matter who uses it – and to be honest with yourself about your skill level.

Go with your gut

There’s a piece of advice that says that if you are trying to decide between two things, flip a coin. If you’re even a little disappointed with the result, go with the option that didn’t come up. This little trick works against our own tendency to doubt our gut feeling by giving us a second chance to go with it. There’s something to be said for gratifying that desire, too.

You probably saw screenshots and gameplay, and read the flavor texts of all these weapons, and immediately one of the Exotics jumped out to you. Then, you learned how hard it was to get the chance to earn one of the Cipher Exotics, and you started sweating your early decision. You’ve watched and read our reviews and have seen the downsides of your initial impulse, and concluded the grass must be greener with the other two.

Our advice? Don’t think too hard. There are those intangible qualities of any given thing that can’t be quantified. Maybe you don’t like Shotguns, and have plenty already, but you think the Lord of Wolves is just so cool. There’s nothing wrong defying pragmatism to indulge that first instinct you had. Go with what you want. We can safely say that not one of the three Exotics available is head and shoulders above the rest. In fact, there’s probably a better Legendary alternative for each and every one.

To that end, there’s no way to really “screw up” this choice. You’ll always get another chance at the bounty for every 34 PoE run, and there’s no penalty for not collecting everything in the game in record time. Worst case scenario, you get to try out a weapon that most of Destiny’s community has yet to even see.

Best case scenario, you learn that you were absolutely right to go with what first looked exciting to you. Playing the min/max game is addictive, but it can be quite freeing to just roll the dice on something you’re not sure of.

Which are you going with?

Some of you are probably grumbling and wringing your hands saying “I just wanted you to tell me what to buy.” It’s nice to have someone else work out what’s best and have the peace of mind knowing you made the right call. Fortunately for you, every call here is the “right” call!

You’ve seen enough gameplay and read enough about each to know that you’re not gonna end up with a piece of trash, or overlook an overpowered gem, no matter what you choose. If you took any of this advice to heart, it’s probably helped you zero in on what it is you want from your new Exotic.

The Queenbreakers’ Bow, Dreg’s Promise, and Lord of Wolves are all quality Exotic options, and your choice is going to come down to how well you know yourself. If you can be honest about your abilities and preferences, you’re going to walk away from this with your shiny new toy and never look back.

If not? Well, there’s always the next bounty!

Joel
I'm aWrySharK, your resident Exotic guru and lover of all things min/max. At PlanetDestiny, my perfectionism is no longer simply a matter of form over function.

LATEST POSTS BY AUTHOR