Weekly Exotic Roundup: Hard Light

Each week, a specific Exotic weapon will be used in every activity of Destiny. So far we’ve inspected Touch of Malice, Universal Remote, & The Last Word!

Hard Light

  • Pros: Literally light up your enemies! Over-penetrating rounds work well when enemies are lined up, decent magazine.
  • Cons: Blinding muzzle flash, difficult to stay on target, techno music will play in your head.

Perks

In the ballistics column, we have Accurized, CQB, and Aggressive. CQB increases Range at the expense of Stability, which is a baffling choice considering this weapon suffers no damage fall-off.

The Exotic Perk gives you the over-penetrating rounds with no damage fall-off and ricochets. I don’t think I’m the first player to see this perk and immediately try to bank shots off the wall and around corners. This is much harder than you might think.

The last two columns give you two choices each. Go with Fitted Stock over Quickdraw, because one gives you ridiculously helpful Stability.

Finally, there’s Glass Half Full and Spray and Play. It’s easy to blow through the front half of a magazine and get to the good stuff. However, because you run dry fairly quickly, it won’t hurt to increase your up time.

Heroic Story

The story mission had me chasing down Skolas on Venus and right away I felt a bit more at ease than previous weeks because Hard Light is an auto rifle (my favorite primary). Like most auto users, I opted for maximum stability, yet still found it a bit difficult to hit those precision shots. This could have been due to many things: blinding muzzle flash, odd recoil direction or perhaps my inability to let my finger off the trigger. With a medium ROF and a 40 round magazine, Hard Light’s draw seems to be as a bullet hose. Add in those equally appealing final column perks and running the magazine dry is a satisfying strategy.

In the tight corridors underneath Venus’s surface, the Fallen drop like sand bags. The light rounds gave incoming Vandals a heart attack.

The end encounter had me fighting off waves of Elite Cannon Captains, Servitors, Vandals and Shanks. Wrath of the Machine has really turned me into a pro with the Scorch Cannon, but after I ignored them in favor of Hard Light. I used “Glass Half-Full” and turned those Elites into a pin cushion. It also helped that they kept forming a queue to come after me.

Mission Verdict: Fun in tight areas and against Elites, but precision kills are slightly difficult.

Heroic Strikes

Another week of Arc burn saw me as the only doofus without Zhalo, but there were no complaints from my team of randos. The other major modifier was Juggler, which I suspect tied into the new Strike Scoring System’s “Rainbow Medals.” I forgot about that modifier and ran out of primary ammo while getting lost in the electric-blue laser-bullets.

I fought Taniks… again. This strike comes up a lot for me. The corridors on the sides of the Walker battle are where I made most of my kills, butchering Vandals and Captains as they stacked to charge in. The large magazine and high stability made it easy to knock down the Shanks well before they entered lethal range and gut anything in medium range.

At Tanik’s last stand, I kicked off a sweet disco with my light rounds bouncing off everything. My team lit him up with a tether and several Wolfpack rounds, so I’m not for sure how much I contributed to his death.

We fought the Brothers next and I tried to score a few of those Rainbow Medals. Handy tip, sidearms are great for snagging Special Spree.

Hard Light gave me very few problems here. My team may have been cranking out higher damage with Zhalo, but I didn’t feel useless like I did with TLW.

Strike Verdict: User-friendly; if your enemies line up it’s a massacre.

Nightfall

When I found a group, we realized very quickly that caution was the name of the game here. The first objective is to kill three Elites in separate areas and we died a lot trying to nail those guys. We moved slowly and with planning and got to the area where a charge must be taken from one side to the other while dodging snipers who will end you in two shots. Keeping your distance meant keeping your life, which also meant bad news for my Hard Light. I forced closer confrontations with the enemies and attempted to flank the snipers with medium success. After the charge is placed, we defended a light circle from a massive amount of enemies and barely made it through the door once it opened.

With less than ten minutes on the timer, I worried that we wouldn’t make it in time to complete the Elite Bounty. Ample cover and high ground let me defend my stairs on both sides and take down the adds while my teammates handled the boss. I also learned that the elites that spawn in will relentlessly harass my corpse for eternity while the other Guardians go about their business uninhibited.

Nightfall Verdict: Covers the medium-range fights well, but you’ll need something else to reach far enemies.

Wrath of the Machine

Hard Light isn’t an unwelcome sight in the Raid; I’ve seen it before. So I felt none of the anxiety that plagued me in weeks before. I could consistently drop pairs of Dregs and Shanks with a single magazine and the Big Shank fell with a full magazine and two shots from my fusion rifle. The weapon’s dependability in that arena allowed me to save all of my rockets for the DPS phase and we sent Vosik running for cover after two rounds.

The second fight with Vosik allowed me to line up enemies again on the left side and gave me reasonable success dropping the center Shanks before they landed. (Raid note: Left side is a cake walk, so help out the center when you can. Remember, Hard Light wants to help). I also got respectable damage from it during the damage phase after I ran dry on rockets.

The Zamboni ride got a bit dicey during the first part. While the others sniped key parts of the machine, I laid down cover fire. Hard Light gave a good effort, but missed too many head shots, amidst a horde of Dregs trying valiantly to kill me. The carrying section is always chaos with the groups I’m in. Someone is desperately calling for Guardians to carry parts and no one is shooting mines, so we’re crawling forward while Captains wreck us from above.

As I’ve said before, the mechanics make and break the last part of the raid. I will say Hard Light made most of it easier than my previous Exotics. Most of the adds are in that sweet medium-range where Hard Light perforates all before it. The high magazine capacity also let me stay in the game longer during the “Shank Fall.” Also, we can’t forget… DANCE PARTY! In between phases, it behooves any Guardian with Hard Light to bounce rounds off the ground at the feet of the fireteam while they boogie down.

Look, we all have a job; yours is to turn the Raid into a Rave.

Raid Verdict: Will get the job done, but pack a solid Legendary heavy.

Crucible

I am pretty handy with Auto Rifles in the Crucible and I’ve been burned plenty of times by opposing Guardians with this weapon. That’s why it surprised me when I failed so hard.

I hit mostly body shots and rarely killed quicker than the other guy. The vibrant, glowing light rounds also make it pretty clear where the fire is coming from.

Maybe my troubles sprang from the muzzle flash, recoil direction, or perhaps lack of skill. The situations that let Hard Light shine in Strikes did not work out as well in PvP.

Consequently, the area this weapon really came through on was assists. With ricocheting rounds all over the place in tight battles, every Guardian was hit. It wasn’t until the second match that I noticed my Assist score was in the double digits even though my kill count was about 8.

PvP Verdict: Helps your team with assists and helps the other team when you lose every 1-on-1.

Conclusion

The best way I can describe using Hard Light is… “not scary.” This weapon isn’t going to be the go-to, but it’s not the worst. Hard Light has a very niche perk with limited uses and reliability, but the weapon as a whole is dependable. Guardians will be able to make this weapon work for them in any arena, so if you don’t like switching weapons often, this is a solid choice.

Unfortunately, the unreliability of its Exotic perk makes Hard Light a forgettable weapon.

Once you start getting top tier Exotic Weapons, using your slot for Hard Light feels like a waste.

Case
Case C. Capehart is an author of several novels and short stories currently on Amazon.com. You can find his Titan, TightPenny, running Universal Remote and No Backup Plans on Crucible and your judgments will be promptly ignored.