Fatebringer vs Word of Crota

Published on: Apr 6, 2015 @ 3:41

As the only two available elemental Hand Cannons, both Fatebringer and Word of Crota carry a certain prestige.

Primary weapons with elemental damage are highly sought after for their ability to take down enemies quicker, and Fatebringer has long enjoyed a reputation as one of (if not the) best weapons in Destiny. With the release of the Void Word of Crota, many were hoping it could bring a similar power to the table.

We’ll take a look at where each excels and falls short and do an in-depth comparison to help you decide which to use.


The Good

Statistically, Fatebringer is actually not much of a standout. It possesses average stats in many ways, with its above-average Impact perhaps being the positive outlier. Its base Range is higher than Word of Crota and only a few points shy of Timur’s Lash (full review).

The main selling point of Fatebringer‘s base stats is its huge base magazine size of 12. Even without Field Scout, this is the second-highest available value for a Hand Cannon magazine size, and is crucial to keeping DPS up at all times.

However, Fatebringer is not a monster because of its stat profile; this beast thrives on the benefits of its perks. With great Iron Sights, Steadyhand may be ultimately preferable, as the bonus to stability cannot be increased through other means.

“Firefly” already rockets it to the front of the Hand Cannon pack. No other hand cannon in the game has Firefly, and since its damage is directly proportional to base Impact and weapon damage, it is undeniably the strongest on Fatebringer, even over Gheleon’s Demise (full review) and other high Impact Scout Rifles.

To make things even more ridiculous, this weapon can cause chained Arc explosions that can clear the field of all trash mobs adjacent to the primary target. The power of this in PvE truly can not be oversold.

Field Scout tops off the magazine capacity at 13, and provides a large amount of reserve ammo. We recommend selecting this unless you have a pressing desire for Explosive Rounds or the ability to move marginally faster when ADS. Explosive Rounds can be disruptive and fun, but may interfere with Firefly, making the combination unreliable.

It also has “Outlaw” which is often considered a must-have for hand cannons. Most heavy-hitting hand cannons suffer from a low magazine size and/or intolerable reload speeds, but Fatebringer has all the tools it needs to remedy these shortcomings.

The speed at which you reload with Outlaw is only 1.77 seconds, and will proc in concert with Firefly; you never have to worry about one taking precedence over the other.

Finally, its Arc damage cements its place in the upper echelons of Destiny’s weapons. Arc shields are perhaps second only to Solar in prevalence, and often more difficult to handle. Fatebringer is perfectly suited for this role, so Nightfalls beware.

fatebringer raid damage

The Bad

Fatebringer is not especially held back by any one thing. Its average stats perhaps make it a bit tricky to handle for those who aren’t accustomed to hand cannons, but this is easily overcome with continued use.

Fatebringer‘s reload speed isn’t particularly fast, clocking in at 3.05 seconds, but is enough to make reloading palatable without Outlaw.

As far as perks go, Firefly and Outlaw are irreplaceable, and nothing Fatebringer could offer would be superior. Firefly is better suited for PvE, but loses some of its usefulness in PvP (discussed in greater detail in the PvP section).

Single Point Sling is a bit of a disappointment; Fatebringer would benefit from Hammer Forged or Send It, but is locked in to that medium-range sweet spot.

Now it’s time to turn scrutiny over to Word of Crota.

Word of Crota

The Good

This hand cannon is a breath of fresh air when it comes to playstyle. With its best-in-class rate of fire, you’ll be putting out rounds almost as fast as you can pull the trigger. This actually does good things for Word of Crota‘s DPS, especially in compensating for its lower Impact. You’ll be able to unload a full magazine in 4.50 seconds.

Statistically, Word of Crota holds its own in most categories. Although its range seems paltry, it’s not too bad considering its archetype. A comparable alternative, The Devil You Don’t, has a very mediocre base range.

Its above average stability assists Guardians in taming the rapid RoF. Only the Red Hand IX has a higher base stability among Legendary variants.

Word of Crota‘s 2.8 second reload speed is again well above average and can be decreased to 2.4 seconds with Speed Reload.

As for as distinctive perks, “Zen Moment” is actually quite practical with the fast RoF, as it’s very easy to reach the maximum stacking bonus afforded by it.

Speed Reload helps Word of Crota near the maximum base Reload Speed available for Hand Cannons, which helps compensate for the lack of Outlaw or Freeding Frenzy. Hammer Forged adds a much-needed buff to Range, making it a variable threat in PvP. Finally, Explosive Rounds adds some AoE damage potential along with the ability to reliably stagger foes and spread out its Void damage evenly.

You should switch between these three as often as you need to, as PvE content often demands a flexibility that Word of Crota can, and should, accommodate.

A perk that really helps Word of Crota to carve out a niche is Hive Disruptor. This Raid standard adds a significant amount of bonus damage on top of Word of Crota‘s base damage when the weapon is used against yellow-bar Hive Majors. Hand Cannons, powerful as they are, suffer from a significant modifier penalty when used on Majors/Ultras, so this perk evens the playing field considerably when engaging Hallowed Knights and other onerous foes.

Finally, its Void damage is helpful but underutilized. Void shields are the most rare, used only by Minotaurs and Psions, enemies who are especially lacking in most content. Still, as Atheon’s Epilogue is resigned to 300 ATK and continuing nerfs, it’s nice to have another primary to carry the Void torch.

The Bad

Anyone who’s used this weapon has probably remarked that it doesn’t pack quite enough punch sometimes. You’ll notice that“Phantom Gift” hasn’t been mentioned yet…

As it stands, it’s a broken and incomplete perk. It can work just fine in a lot of content, providing you avoid a certain number of conditions: you can’t equip Explosive Rounds, as any damage dealt outside of the initial headshot will immediately reset the counter; you can’t be firing on Hive Majors, as the bonus damage is treated as a separate shot, and thus resets the counter; and you can’t use any damaging ability in between shots, as the game considers grenades or supers as disruptive to the “consecutive” requirement.

Technically, if the killing blow from Explosive Rounds is dealt with the base round absent of the explosive damage, you can chain three of these together to proc Phantom Gift, but this is unreliable at best. Much like White Nail, Bungie has offered no solution to this perk, and we have no guarantee that one will arrive anytime soon. It’s a real knock to Word of Crota‘s efficacy, and moreover makes the weapon feel incomplete and not nearly as “Legendary” as it should.

This weapon also has another glaring weakness: Impact. At 68, it is the lowest available base Impact on a hand cannon, and nothing can be done to increase it. Destiny attempts to balance this statistic by creating an inverse relationship between Impact and Rate of Fire, but it’s not always a simple trade off.

Success in PvE relies on minimizing time out of cover and making shots count. Though it’s conceivable to match a higher Impact weapon’s DPS with a lower Impact weapon, it often requires more shots over a longer period of time, which isn’t always feasible when staring down the Darkness.

How Do They Compare?

For those lucky few who have both, these next sections will help you decide when to select Fatebringer, and when to go with Word of Crota.

You may have strategies and situations in which you prefer one over the other, so be sure to let us know that in the comments.


Tier 1 level 33 Thrall, critical damage:

  • Fatebringer = 1024, potentially 500+ extra damage to nearby enemies via Firefly.
  • Word of Crota = 1540 or 1047 with Explosive Rounds.

In almost all content, Fatebringer is going to be better. The staggering explosive power of Firefly and its Arc chains is simply too good to pass up. If you can even land half or your shots on an opponent’s critical spot, you’re likely to clear enemies with unrivaled efficiency.

Word of Crota holds it own, but even flawless accuracy and Explosive Rounds can’t provide the same kind of AOE domination that Fatebringer brings. For Patrols, Strikes, Heroics, and Arc Nightfalls, most will prefer Fatebringer.

However, there are some situations in which the Word of Crota is still going to be an appealing alternative. The first is obviously higher-level Hive missions. Any content in which you expect to see plentiful amounts of Hive Majors naturally lends itself to the Word of Crota‘s specific wheelhouse. Fatebringer will be unable to proc Firefly until landing the killing blow, and Hive Disruptor on a 331 Word of Crota is going to be objectively quicker in knocking these enemies down a peg.

With Explosive Rounds, you can do three separate ticks of damage (initial round, explosive round damage, Hive Disruptor damage), each with their own stagger rate. It’s very easy to lock down and eliminate Hive Majors with Word of Crota. Both The Wakening and Siege of the Warmind are friendly to the Word of Crota‘s particular set of skills.

Unfortunately, the Word of Crota competes with Fang of Ir Yût (full review) for this role, and arguably the Fang wins out. Simply being superior to Fatebringer in one situation does not make it the most appealing option overall.

The other place where the Word of Crota dominates is Void Nightfalls. Though the rare burn may not come along particularly often, when it does there is no better primary than the Word of Crota. The bonus damage amplifies an otherwise middling Impact to inhuman levels of damage, and Explosive Rounds spreads around the Void love with undiscriminating cruelty. Pair it with a Void sniper and Truth and you’re set for life.

Finally, the Word of Crota can work better against bosses, even though we don’t really recommend using a primary Hand Cannon as a boss weapon. However, if you’re forced into it by ammo constraints, Phantom Gift and Zen Moment make a case for the Word of Crota to be a better option; you can conceivably land 17 shots in a row.

Though the Word of Crota‘s Impact is lower than Fatebringer‘s, the extra damage granted by the 31 ATK disparity is enough to compensate for this and make the Hand Cannon just as powerful with single shots, though it probably won’t ever match Fatebringer‘s crowd-clearing potential.


Here, the scales tip in favor of Word of Crota. As neither Hand Cannon hits any crucial benchmarks for two-shot-kills, the Word of Crota‘s fast fire rate make it a little more deadly for those with patience and a sharp aim. Crucible is all about Time to Kill, and the WoC’s TTK is a hair faster than Fatebringer when considering consecutive critical hits and body shots alike.

Fatebringer‘s signature Firefly perk is all but wasted in PvP, as opportunities in which it is possible to kill an opposing Guardian with a headshot and land some residual Firefly damage are few and far between.Outlaw is also debatably effective – typically, winning a firefight will afford you plenty of time to reload and ready yourself for the next.

Similarly, Zen Moment is not going to see a lot of uptime. Ideally, you’ll be pulling off three to five quick shots, and then moving to your next target. While consecutive hits will momentarily help you land your next shot, Zen Moment is more PvE-focused. Phantom Gift, of course, is equally worthless. Getting an extra round from a 3-crit kill is a moot point when ammo is plentiful.

Word of Crota does have Speed Reload and Hammer Forged going for it though. Hammer Forged is especially appealing for catching unwary Guardians by surprise and dropping them fast without losing accuracy at Range, and Speed Reload adds an all-around buff to Reload Speed that is arguably better than Outlaw’s precision-only conditional buff.

Neither of these Hand Cannons are particularly suited to PvP – you’d be better off with an Exotic or a well-rolled Timur’s Lash (full review).

Which to Choose?

We’ve taken a look at everything both of these weapons has to offer, and it’s safe to say that there is ultimately a pretty clear winner. For the majority of what Destiny can present, Fatebringer is going to the best choice.

Word of Crota has its place, and is by no means a bad weapon, it just can’t compete with everything Fatebringer can do. The Word of Crota makes a case for itself in PvP, where its high fire rate makes it a surprisingly deadly killer, and where Fatebringer can’t consistently take advantage of Firefly.

If you’re lucky enough to score either of these weapons, consider yourself blessed by RNG. It is a ‘First World’ Destiny problem to have to choose between them, and now you know what to consider when making your decision.


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.


  • Dan

    Fatebringer and Fang of Ir Yut are my two go to primaries. I fear though for Fatebringer’s future when HoW comes out. Word of Crota has been great on the void burn Nightfalls though, so at least there’s that

  • Drakan

    Hmm, choices, choices… Excellent article. Kudos.

  • Trevor Owenby

    I love both of them and I was lucky enough to get woc the first week of hm release and have used it many a times in pvp. The sights are quick and I kind of prefer it to the others with crap stability. Once you land that first shot the zen moment kicks in pretty good making follow on shots quick and accurate. I don’t really pull it out during pve as fatebringer and fang are my 2 top choices followed by vision of confluence when doing vog for oracles as fatebringers rof and reload aren’t fast enough for me like voc is. Great article.

  • SGT_Pannenkoek

    I got both handguns twice, and all I can say is that I’m really really happy I have them. Fatebringer is just awesome in raids and strikes, and the word of Crota is my go-to weapon in for example the Vault, with all the void shields. If you don’t have these 2 handguns, I strongly recommend you should try Planet Destiny’s LFG. It helped me so much doing all the raids and nightfall every week 🙂

    • Jason Franzone

      I agree, i have both and find the steady rof of the word very fun. I sometimes use the word against praetorians, but i usually go with my full auto/+2 agility void judgement shotgun. Talk about a void slayer.

  • Keith Christmas

    One thing I will say in favour of WoC… Being average at best at crucible, it was the only reason I ever managed to finish the Thorn bounty. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

    Other than that, Fatebringer every time. Although my Rangefinder/Send It/Feeding Frenzy Red Hand IX is getting a lot more use these days, mostly just to switch things up a bit.

    • Anon

      Wow, I have the exact same roll on my RHIX, it’s pretty amazing. It more than takes care of the gun’s inherent statistical weakness vs. its peers, which is range.

      And Feeding Frenzy is extremely underrated. It hides in the shadow of Outlaw, but it’s almost as fast and much more versatile.

      • Keith Christmas

        Yeah, it’s a beaut. Hand Cannons have always been my favorites, and I’ve had some great ones. My original favourite was a Send It/Rangefinder/Reactive Reload Lord High Fixer which I used almost exclusively for about a month. It’s been retired now (it’s a 300 damage version, so it’s been superseded, but it’s still sitting in my vault for old times sake).

        I’ve also got a TFWPKY 1969 with Outlaw, choice of Armour Piercing or Explosive Rounds, and Final Round, as well as a 331 Venation III with Return To Sender, Send It and Grenadier. Along with the RH, three Fatebringers and two WoC, plus both of the Xbox available exotics, I’m pretty much set for Hand Cannons for a while.

        I’ve also got a fairly extensive collection of Firefly equipped Scout Rifles that I’m rather proud of, including two Another NITC, a Satrienne Rapier and a Badger CCL. As much as I complain about RNG, I’ve done extremely well when it comes to my two favourite primary weapon classes.

  • sbrozzi

    I am fortunate enough to have both & on top of which I am a Hand Cannon guy. I have the 3 Exotics (Thorn, TLW & HM) and am “that guy” in Crucible always using Thorn… sorry.

    Anyways, for me I could live without the WoC but don’t even try to take my Fatebringer! Fatebringer is a beast in PvE and the range on it feels almost like a scout rifle! I have hit enemies with it that I thought I had no chance. And in PvP? FB is very sleek and easy to aim at your targets. Not to mention great Impact. I find aiming WoC like having a loaf of bread at the end of my gun. The barrel feels like it gets in your way with those green glowing bones sticking out. I sometimes feel like I lose my target with the recoil. And this is from a guy that uses Thorn! I think we all know how much screen Thorn takes up.

    Without a doubt WoC is FANTASTIC in destroying Void damage shields but that alone is not enough to best FB. In my opinion, Fatebringer is KING of Legendary Hand Cannons and it breaks my heart to think that this weapon will probably be left behind as more and more expansions are released.

    Bungie, please, if you are reading this (I know they are not) keep all Raid weapons relevant and buff their stats as new content is released.

    • Charlie

      what perks you recommend using on Thorn? (pvp)

      • sbrozzi

        Depends on the map sometimes Charlie. Normally I roll though with “Aggressive Ballistics” & “Perfect Balance”. If it is a longer map, then I will change to “Send It” for a little more range. Since the HC nerf I have noticed that range has fallen off and that it seems tougher to land successive shots.
        Some people will argue that Hawkmoon is the better of the two in PvP but I will always reach for Thorn for the Crucible or IB. That DOT is really tough to beat.

  • Marteinn Orn

    Why on earth is the thrall section in CE the benchmark? Makes absolutely no sense to not include at least 2-3 other scenarios cuz close proximity mobs are NOT the majority of the encounters in the game.

    Also. One CLARING thing that this article does not touch on is continuous DPS. WoC has way higher RoF than Fatebringer. So in most situations outside close proximity mobs, WoC wins hands down.

    • Time Spiral

      Yeah i agree with your benchmark comment, mass thralls yeah totally FB territory but I rarely use it these days apart from Crotas End

  • cool_herc

    Good article. The RNG God(s) have not smiled upon me to bestow me with Fatebringer to this point, but I do have Word of Crota (multiple, actually). I think WoC is a very underrated weapon by most. I happen to really enjoy using it.

  • Diagnosed-Ghost

    IMO the balanced hand cannons like Fate-bringer will always be the best choice over the low impact high rof like the Word of Crota.
    To kill in three shots with WoC you need three consecutive head shots while the medium impact medium rof you only need one to the head and two to the body.
    At least in my case I replace a stroke of luck(three consecutive head shots) with a consistent shorter ttk.

  • sycoteck

    I have both and personaly I prefer TFWPKY just a better gun all around I got it with send it final round and explosive rounds

  • Jerry Sköld

    Goddamnit, I want those. I have to head over to /sherpa or something and have someone drag my useless newbie ass through the Raids.

  • creeping death

    Nice timing on this article as I just got Fatebringer (along with Thunderlord!!) last night. I’ve been wanting this gun for a long while now. RNG has been kind to me with primary weapons. I’ve been using WoC a lot lately and I have no complaints with it. Accuracy is great, range is spot on. I haven’t got to use FB a lot yet but both are amazing weapons, just depends on your preference and situation.

  • The Chosen Woon

    Don’t listen to this review when it comes to the sights. ONLY ever use Sureshot IS on hand cannons.The Sureshot’s higher target acquisition means that your bullets literally curve toward enemy crit spots, making it easier to hit headshots and proc firefly. Another way to look at this is that sight literally makes enemy crit spots bigger. It’s not even a choice or preference. If you don’t use Sureshot, you are doing it wrong.

  • berndguggi

    I got the Fatebringer this week and fully leveled it immediately. It is absolutely awesome. Firing in a group make them all explode is hell of a fun. My word of Crota can not do that. Despite the author right now I prefer to use firefly together with explosive rounds

    • Adept

      well the negative of using explosive rounds is it takes away from your initial hit, opening up the possibility of having to two shot kill someoen that could be a one shot, or even 3 shot somethign thats a 2 shot.

      Guaranteed 1 shot kills to proc firefly > explosive round splash. At least in my opinion. To each his own obviously. I only bring this up because I personally didn’t realize explosive rounds took damage away from the intiial hit.

  • Mike S

    It seems strange to me that the overall damage difference isn’t really mentioned. Am I missing something?

  • N00b

    I’m looking forward to the comparison between Found Verdict and Swordbreaker!

  • sbrozzi

    On a side note; can someone PLEASE tell me how to find the Secondary Stats on a weapon? How can I find out IN GAME how strong a guns Target Acquistion may be.

    • Patrick Casey

      db.planetdestiny.com for all your weapon stat needs.

  • SFC_Storm

    He says explo rounds interfere with firefly? This is not nearly my exp. Infact since the round is being counted as AOE it actually will chain heads you never would have gotten or will initiate firefly from the rear or off a wall etc.

    So unless someone has some direct evidence of this I dont think its true.

    All Firefly does, is Once the head detects 1 DMG it blows up the enemy right? Seems right to me. I`ll test it but im almost dead sure if I do a “Neck shot with AOE rounds firefly will engage, where as normally the ballistic size is a laser pointer right?

    • Patrick Casey

      Firefly will only trigger if the target is killed WITH bullet damage to the head. Explosive damage is divided into bullet damage, and explosion damage. If the target dies to the bullet damage then Firefly triggers as normal. But if the target dies to the explosive damage then Firefly will not trigger.

  • SFC_Storm

    I still think Raid weapons should be bonuses to attack the next raid released. I mean they already screw up DMG type. Fatebringer and Found Verdict are Arc while VoC is Solar and yet they have bonuses to Vex? Why not make them bonused to fight Hive. Like the Vex where making weapons to destroy the hive.

    WTF would you make Word and Swordbreaker Void, with Hive major DMG?

    See Fang, and and others could be bonused to kill HoW enemies in there raid, and the raid gear we get now goes towards Cabal?

    Makes much more sense right?

  • Alex Howden

    Well I guess I really do have a “first world” probelm, 3 WoC and 2 Fatebringers and I can say with good sense that their F*** awesome nothing can compete with them in my opinion. (except the G.horn, but let face it, nothing will beat that)

  • Brad_030

    If u aren’t a hand cannon guy, give fatebringer a chance…. If u don’t like FB, you aren’t going to like ANY hand cannon, imo. While FB isn’t the best gun in the game, I do believe it is the most fun you can have with any weapon in the game. I’ve had it for months and I can’t stop using it!!

    • cool_herc

      Disagree. Fun to use, but lots of weapons in the game have the Firefly and Outlaw perks (I have a few), yet only one (Thorn) has Mark of the Devourer. Seeing shields and health bleed away as enemies in both PVP and PVE try to run and hide after being hit with only a couple shots due to the impact of the DoT simply cannot be overstated.

  • Kenshiro Genjuro

    Nice article. These are two weapons I would really like to have. Sadly, I suppose there’s some good in Bungie leaving some raid gear “frozen in time” as it were. Because elemental damage with Firefly and Outlaw could never be outdone by future raid handcannons. Every generation of raid gear deserves to have their day in the limelight I suppose.

    • Kenshiro Genjuro

      On that note though, it’s completely ridiculous Bungie can’t fix these bugs in their raid weapons before the next DLC. We are most of the way to HoW and Black Hammer and Word of Crota are both still broken. Their day in the sun will end and no one will ever get to experience what they were really supposed to be. That these should have been fixed within a month of TDB’s release should have been automatic.

  • Martin

    I’m a handcanon guy myself, lucky enough to enjoy using all three exotics regularly and have the FB and WoC as well.
    Personally I love the Fatebringer for most casual stuff as well as the first two encounters in CE. However, once we’ve crossed the bridge and face the deathsinger I tend to switch to my WoC since I feel the hive disruptor perk just shines during that encounter.

  • I’ve gotten 3 Fatebringers in the span of 2 weeks. And, last night, I just got a Word of Crota during my (inadvertent) CE HM run.
    Please don’t hate me.
    I’ve been working on Fatebringer so far, and once I got the Firefly perk, I’m starting to like it. The recoil can be a hassle, but I’ve learned to work through it.
    I’m going to test out WoC, and see how that handles.

  • Jeff

    I have both and am a huge handcannon guy. While I don’t like the look and feel of WoC, I find myself using it a lot more than Fatebringer.

    Most of my time is spent on raids and nightfalls.

    During Void nightfalls, WoC is the best primary option by far. During Arc nightfalls, however, I often prefer the Fang over Fatebringer for the longer range, third eye perk, 27 bullets and faster reload.

    WoC is also much more useful in VoG than Fatebringer because of Minotaurs and Praetorians.

    For the Abyss in CE, IceBreaker is better than Fatebringer, so even though I equip Fatebringer I don’t fire from it much. For the other stages in CE, the Hive Disruptor perk on WoC edges it over Fatebringer.

    So….there’s not many situations where you need a Fatebringer. If I could only have to have one handcannon, I’d probably choose WoC over Fatebringer.

    That said, nothing beats Firefly on a handcannon for bounties, patrol, strikes, missions, etc. The pity is that I don’t spend much time on those activities any more.