Taken King: Hunter Exotic Armor Tiers

Need help mastering the Hunter? Check out our complete Nightstalker & Gunslinger guides.

Contributing Author: Joel

Helms

Achlyophage Symbiote

  • PVE: D
  • PVP: C

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In Year 1 this was the go-to for all Gunslingers, giving an additional Golden Gun charge, bringing the total to 4. But in Year 2, while it still gives an additional charge, it happens at the cost of Super duration. So instead of having 4 shots to use over the course of 12 seconds (the standard Golden Gun duration), the wearer is limited to 9 seconds. This won’t make much of a difference in PvE, where you’re either unloading into high level enemies or taking down numerous minions, but in PvP this is severely limiting. More often than not, you’ll find yourself running out the clock before firing off that fourth round, rendering this Exotic practically useless.

ATS/8 ARACHNID

  • PVE: D
  • PVP: D

For an Exotic with such a cool aesthetic, it sure does have an awful perk: Golden Gun lasts longer and zooms in further when aimed. Sure, it would be nice in PvP to have your Golden Gun last a bit longer, but why would you use this over something more useful?

Celestial Nighthawk

  • PVE: B
  • PVP: F

An extremely niche Exotic, instead of firing three Golden Gun rounds, you fire a single round that deals the accumulative damage of six individual Golden Gun rounds. For those playing at home, that’s six times the damage. Sure, it’s great for taking down high-priority targets or chunking down bosses like Driviks or the Oryx Shade, but otherwise useless overkill. Ironically, the pretty-much-maximum of 4 orbs is better in Y2 with Stormcaller and Sunbreaker maxing out at 5 (w/o Keeper of the Pack).

Unfortunately, there’s a smaller niche for the Nighthawk in Oryx staggering with ToM being basically ubiquitous. Use it in tandem with a Nightstalker’s Blood Bound tether, and watch everything explode in an instant.

Graviton Forfeit

  • PVE: C
  • PVP: A

Sure, Nightstalker’s don’t have the a Flame Shield or Lightning Grenade, but the mobility, area denial, Super shutdown, and this helmet supplements the subclass perfectly. It gives you Shadestep for free, meaning you can keep Keen Scout, two stellar PvP perks. In PvP, there’s no shortage of unique opportunities to use it to your advantage, but in PvE the AI is not so crafty that you’ll need to avoid life and death that often with it.

With that said, it’s still a useful tool for escaping harm in PvE, too. Golgoroth’s gaze and the HM Warpriest projectiles are obvious things for a well-timed Shadestep to make irrelevant. Still, you’re only going to get so much mileage in PvE out of not shooting – the overall goal should always be to stay in the fight and support your team.

Knucklehead Radar

  • PVE: F
  • PVP: D

Never much of a PvE standout, Knucklehead Radar is still not worth your time in Destiny’s endgame content. PvP is a different story, where having constant radar can give an edge over the competition. In PvE, you should be aware of enemy spawns and be cautious enough to not throw yourself in a situation where you’ll be caught unawares from a flanking position.

Mask of the Third Man

  • PVE: C
  • PVP: C

With each Bladedancer attack using less Super energy, it’s brilliant for those who  tend to spam a lot. But it just loses out to more recent Exotic pieces. The only benefit of this in PvE would be for exploring out-of-bounds, but even then, a Titan with Twilight Garrison is superior.

Yes, Bladedancer has no real practical purpose in end-game PvE, but the Mask of the Third Man is a decent Exotic in spite of this. It grants a small amount of extra time to the Arc Blade super, and rapid slashes consume less Super Energy than without it on. Unfortunately, its usefulness stops here, and the sad reality that it takes the entire duration of a Super to carve up even a mid-level enemy means having a few extra cuts just doesn’t cut it.

Skyburners Annex

  • PVE: B
  • PVP: F

A little underrated at the moment, but the perk excels in PvE: Heavy weapon kills have a chance to create Orbs of Light. Great for the Oryx encounter in the Raid when you need to generate Orbs for your team, and just generally great when playing a Strike. It’s the ultimate helm for team play as a Nightstalker – Blood Bound + Skyburners Annex + Light of the Pack + Bolt Caster/Sleeper Simulant/Quillum’s Terminus = GG. If you’re one who hangs onto your Super in PvP, it has some interesting use as a second reservoir of Special Ammo for when your teammates spawn orbs for you.

The chance for an orb is roughly 50% or more from anecdotal experience, and when you’re chewing through enemies with a Sword while they’re fated to death with Blood Bound, your team will be staggered by the amount of Orbs you suddenly have for them on the field. And when they return the favor by cleaning house with their Supers, every orb you pick up beyond your Super being full has a chance to grant Special ammo.

Gauntlets

Don’t Touch Me

  • PVE: B
  • PVP: D

You’re not nearly as likely to get one-shot melee’d in the current game, so you’ll almost always get a practical use from the invisibility here. The key is that they still aren’t fantastic unless abusing Shadowjack, and the NS has far more reliable ways of going invisible with Smoke Bombs + SAGs.

Khepri’s Sting

  • PVE: A
  • PVP: C

This arm piece is not Subclass specific, so when you crouch, it activates invisibility for a brief period of time. When you’re invisible and melee someone from behind, it deals 4x damage, which enough to 1-hit KO most enemies. If that wasn’t enough, it causes lingering damage when you melee! Useful for Bladedancers who want to keep Hungering Blade, or for Gunslingers who want to run around invisible while holding their Golden Gun.

Sealed Ahamkara Grasps

  • PVE: B
  • PVP: A

These grant a powerful boon in one extra melee charge, and any melee damage has a chance to instantly refund your Primary magazine. This perk procs about 50% of the time, so it’s a great supplement for Raid weapons with Cocoon, or for Hunters running Ace of Spades – or any weapon that gets a little bashful about reloading or reserve ammo.

When Universal Remote comes forward, expect to see a lot of Blinking Bladedancers rockin’ this combo. As a Nightstalker, two Smoke Grenades with extra duration from Lockdown is an area-of-denial Heaven.

The extra melee charge is excellent for Bladedancers and Nightstalkers, who can make great use of it to play around with invisibility, or in the NS case, spam Lockdown/Envenomed boosted smoke charges. In tandem with Keen Scout, this is an excellent combination for solo PvE or especially PvP.

Young Ahamkara’s Spine

  • PVE: C
  • PVP: B

Gain an additional Tripmine grenade, now that’s a good perk. Gunslingers are one of the deadliest subclasses out there, with both their neutral game and their Super. Being able to place an additional Tripmine means increased area denial, or more sticky-kills for the more accurate throwers. On top of that, the Spine increases the Tripmine duration, meaning you can place one in a high-traffic area, walk away and find yourself getting a kill.

Chests

ATS/8 Tarantella

  • PVE: B
  • PVP: C

The brutal Bladedancer from Y1 just got a bit more deadly with this piece. Not only does this Exotic increase the recharge speed of Arc Grenades, but it also increases the recharge speed of the Super. Not only that, but in PvE this Exotic reduces the incoming Arc damage from minions of the Darkness.

Crest of Alpha Lupi

  • PVE: F
  • PVP: B

Supers generate an extra Orb. Revive and be revived faster. The first perk is beneficial for PvP when you’re chaining Supers, but almost useless in PvE. As a class that shows off its support skills in all aspects of play, this exotic not only allows Nightstalkers to revive significantly faster, but drop an extra orb during Shadowshot, a difference which can often determine when a teammate gets their super.

If you don’t play 3v3 modes, or usually play by yourself in PvE, this isn’t the chest for you. Keeper of the Pack is medic-like and support orientated, so it’ll benefit your teammates more than it’ll benefit you specifically.

Lucky Raspberry

  • PVE: C
  • PVP: B

Spawning with a grenade, even if you run with maximum Discipline, is the sweetest thing. In PvE this is a subpar perk, as you’re unlikely going to be taking advantage of it as much, but for PvP this means that whenever you’re resurrected or start a new round, you’ll be immediately ready to surprise your opponents. This Exotic also makes the Arcbolt grenade chain further.

Boots

Bones of Eao

  • PVE: B
  • PVP: B

Everyone loves the Bones of Eao. There’s something deeply satisfying about gaining an additional jump. But if we’re being honest, their usefulness is minor, they’re a niche item. They’re great in PvE if you’re exploring. These can be extremely fun to use when you’re looking to speed across the battlefield, or curious about that hard-to-reach ledge and what may lie beyond it – but for optimizing your build, there’s better options.

Still, for an example of where the Bones are right at home, check out this wildly fun Crota Speed Run. However, for PvP, traversing the environment is usually secondary to engaging its inhabitants, so the Bones are out-of-place in the Crucible.

Radiant Dance Machines

  • PVE: F
  • PVP: C

You move more quickly while aiming your weapon. Definitely pointless in PvE, but in PvP the increased ADS speed + MIDA Multi-Tool or other stacking Agility buffs, e.g. from the Chaperone, will give you an edge in chasing down opponents or pulling out that Crucial firefight victory with superior strafe speed. Graviton Forfeit still has the edge for Nighstalkers, but Bladedancers and Gunslingers will want to seriously consider these boots.

Best Hunter Exotic?

No doubt you have a few opinions of your own, so don’t hesitate to let the community know your thoughts on which Hunter Exotic(s) you prefer most. The tiers are meant to provide a rough framework for sorting their worth, but we wanna hear from you too! Do you think this is a mostly accurate list?

SerfaBoy

Warlock purist. Vault of Glass explorer. Writer. YouTuber. #FreeTheRelic

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