The State of Heavy Weapons

Rocket Launchers

Although we’ve come a long way from the days where most launchers could grab four rockets per heavy ammo brick in PvP, they’re still highly used in competitive multiplayer, as well as most PvE activities. Slightly difficult to categorize due to the huge variance in stats between the most popular versions, I’ve found it best to organize them by rate of fire, for reasons you’ll see below.

The first rocket launcher archetype has the fastest RoF, and currently only has one member. It makes up for its quick follow up shots by having both horrible blast radius and velocity, and we know it as The Smolder. Although it’s not the best for PvP, it does have a high base inventory stat, which can allow you to claim more rockets per brick without having to wear two rocket launcher ammo armor pieces. It’s slow velocity also works well in PvE when combined with tracking.

The second subclass has three rockets included in it: The Hothead, Choleric Dragon SRT-49, and Elulim’s Frenzy. This class is characterized by a slightly slower RoF than The Smolder, but near maximum blast radius, coupled with slow velocity. Except for The Hothead, they also have high inventory size.

Beneath those three comes the only rocket launcher archetype that comes with higher base velocity than blast radius. Gjallarhorn is in this sub-class, along with Tormod’s Bellows, and the The Tamarind. Inventory sizes vary within this archetype, with Gjallarhorn and The Tamarind having a high inventory, and Tormod’s having a low, but in general these are very well rounded rocket launchers, and I recommend using them in PvP or PvE. Technically, Truth fits in here as well with the RoF, but the very high blast radius and slower velocity are more at home with the second subclass. Think of the increased RoF as part of its “exotic” perk.

Ceres Lost BMJ-46 is the only launcher in the next archetype, and has a weird combination of stats. Although it has the exact blast radius as the SUROS launchers in the next archetype, it has a slightly higher RoF, and much lower velocity. Capped off with a low inventory size, it’s not a great weapon.

In contrast, the SUROS RLs are some of the most well rounded in the game, with exceptional velocity and blast radius. Their only drawback is the low inventory size, which can be made up for by using a chest piece and boots with heavy or rocket launcher ammo perks. I highly recommend picking up a JLB-47 or 42 from the Gunsmith.

The last class of launchers has very high blast radius and average velocity, which also makes them a decent choice for most gametypes. The Ash Factory has a magazine size of 1, but makes up for it with high inventory, while The Nightmare has a low inventory, but mag size of 2.

When looking at perks for rocket launchers, you have to look at the type of launcher, be it SUROS or otherwise, to determine which specific perk tree you have.

Recommended Perks

  • Column 1 – Warhead Verniers/Hard Launch (increases both BR and Velocity), Soft Launch (increases Velocity), Linear Compensator (increases Velocity, decreases BR), Aggressive Launch (increases BR, decreases Velocity
  • Column 2 – Tripod (increases Mag Size to 3)
  • Column 3 – Javelin (increases Velocity), Heavy Payload (increases BR), Field Scout, Flared Magwell (increases Reload Speed)
  • Column 4 – Grenades and Horseshoes (proximity detonation)

Recommended Perks for JLB-47 /  JLB-42

  • Column 1 – Warhead Verniers/Hard Launch (increases both BR and Velocity), Soft Launch (increases Velocity), Linear Compensator (increases Velocity, decreases BR), Aggressive Launch (increases BR, decreases Velocity
  • Column 2 – Heavy Payload (increases BR), Speed Reload/Flared Magwell (increases Reload Speed)
  • Column 3 – Grenades and Horseshoes (proximity detonation), Tripod (increases Mag Size to 3)
  • Column 4 – Javelin (increases Velocity)

Machine Guns

An interesting mixture of incredibly useful and significantly less so archetypes, machine guns offer a diverse range of options to Guardians. The most popular variants serve well in either PvP or PvE, and they’re easy to learn and less reliant upon specific perks than rocket launchers. For anyone looking to get into MGs, there are at least a couple vendor versions that come right out of the box with excellent rolls. Five distinct archetypes allow people looking for anything from slow-and-steady to bullethoses to find something they like.

The highest-impact, lowest-RoF archetype only has one current model, the Bane of the Taken. Being able to kill with only three bullets (two crit, one body) gives it an incredibly fast TtK of 0.40 seconds, and decent body shot TtK of 0.60 seconds. The drawbacks include low aim assist and a small mag size.

The high-impact archetype is probably the most popular sub-class of MGs in the game, with Objection IV, Ruin Wake, Qullim’s Terminus, The Unseeing Eye, Bretomart’s Stand, and THE SWARM all falling into it. Barrel perks that increase impact are necessary on these weapons in order to bring their body shots to kill down from six to five, but it’s worth it, as headshots are no longer needed to achieve the optimal TtK of 0.50 seconds. With generally average stats across the board, all of these weapons are useful in PvP or PvE, and are great jack-of-all-trade heavy weapons.

Beneath them is, in my opinion, the best machine gun archetype, which includes the Baron’s Ambition and Zombie Apocalypse WF47. Using a barrel perk that increases impact drops the optimal time-to-kill down to 0.40 seconds, tied for fastest of all the machine guns, and also brings down the body shot TtK to 0.50 seconds, also tied for fastest. It gives you the best of both words, plus larger magazine sizes than any of the previous sub-classes. Average stability and low aim assist unfortunately mar what would otherwise be perfect weapons, but good base range values help to keep the optimal TtK effective out to longer distances.

The last two sub-classes, low-impact and very low-impact, are not very popular in PvP, but are acceptable alternatives in PvE. Neither sub-class can have its times-to-kill altered by barrel perks, which lags them somewhat behind the others in terms of viability. In addition, the higher rates-of-fire, combined with average or worse stability, can make them very difficult to control.


A barrel perk that increases impact, preferably Linear Compensator, Accurized Ballistics of Field Choke, is the first priority. After that, something that boosts aim assist or reload speed would be a plus. Depending on your weapon’s base range and stability stats, you’ll want to have a perk that can help in those areas. I tend to avoid perks that decrease magazine size, but that’s just personal preference. I also like to stay away from perks that hurt either range or stability to help another stat, as those two areas are key to having a solid MG.


Not much can be said about swords, other than that they are just fun, plain and simple. Great all around in PvE, they’re one of the heavy weapons that can really let you get up close and personal, even with bosses. They come with a ton of energy, so you don’t have to worry as much about using them sparingly, and they have the fun ability to block enemy projectiles.

Exotic variants each have a special ability, whether it’s launching an arc disc, spinning like a void tornado, or firing off a brutal solar uppercut. They’re all enjoyable to use, so your choice will probably be dependent on which enemy you’re going to come up against.

In PvP, they aren’t the first choice for a heavy weapon, but skilled players can have a blast with them once they get the mechanics down, and you can pick up some amazing killing sprees thanks to the higher energy stores. I don’t recommend them in super competitive environments, but larger Mayhem and gametypes can be a ton of fun when using one.

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