After more than two years, Thorn, the legendary Weapon of Sorrow and former bane of the Crucible, has returned with some significant changes.
Is it still worthy of its past infamy?
Perks (courtesy of Light.gg):
- Mark of the Devourer: Rounds pierce targets and deal damage over time. Kills with this weapon leave behind Remnants.
- Soul Devourer: Absorbing a Remnant strengthens Mark of the Devourer and partially refills the magazine.
- Corkscrew Rifling: +5 to range, stability, and handling
- Accurized Rounds: +10 to range
- Textured Grip: -5 to stability, +15 to handling
- Impact: 79
- Range: 40
- Stability: 59
- Handling: 68
- Reload Speed: 46
- Rounds Per Minute: 150
- Magazine: 9
- Hidden Stats:
- Aim Assistance: 85
- Recoil Direction: 100
- Weapon Size: 60
- Zoom: 14
PVE Rating: 9.5/10
- Over-penetrating rounds are good for groups
- DoT is extremely useful, especially on shielded enemies when an energy weapon can’t be used, and helps with range limitations
- Soul Devourer does high damage and is easy to proc and maintain
- Slow reload speed (Minor, remedied by Soul Devourer)
- Lower mag size (Soul Devourer helps once again)
PvE is where Thorn really shines; something it couldn’t quite do at any point in the original Destiny. The addition of Soul Devourer improves the viability of gun tremendously, and with the perk proc’d, the health of most enemies just drains away. Because of the high amount of ads in most PvE activities, SD is extremely easy to activate and keep activated. Due to the reload function, which actually regenerates ammo rather than pulling from reserves, the magazine is almost always topped off as long as you’re getting consistent kills, which with perk active takes very little effort. On top of this, the souls dropped by slain enemies float towards the user as long as they’re within a few meters. Soul Devourer can be stacked up to two times, and while this doesn’t increase damage, it extends the duration of the perk from six seconds up to ten, providing plenty of time to get another kill, or several. Also, the DoT stacks, similar to how the weapon functioned in Rise of Iron, meaning successive shots are going to be draining a target’s health away even faster. The hand cannon itself is a lightweight frame, putting it in the same category as the ever popular Midnight Coup, and Sunshot too, as well as the newly introduced Spare Rations.
PvP Rating: 8.5/10
- DoT causes extra damage, surpassing other 150s and even 140s, holds the potential to kill with two headshots and one bodyshot
- DoT impairs health regen, making enemies vulnerable for longer
- Soul Devourer is very powerful when active, holding the potential to two tap to the head
- Less than ideal range
- DoT will not kill with two headshots and one body shot if the person is at 6+ resilience, same applies to two-tapping with Soul Devourer
- Slow reload
- Recoil and bloom (Console)
Perhaps fortunately, Thorn does not appear to possess its former PvP infamy, and, while powerful in its own right, is certainly not the best choice out there. The main two killers of this weapon’s potential are its lack of range when compared to other choice PvP cannons like Not Forgotten and Ace of Spades, as well as the DoT’s lack of effectiveness at and above 6 resilience. The optimal range for Thorn is 30 meters, with damage falling off sharply with each additional meter afterwards. Being a 150rpm, it hits 68 damage per crit and 43 per body, however the DoT adds four tics of 2 damage each, leading to a total damage of 76 and 51 respectively. It is worth noting that the DoT has no damage falloff, and will always apply the full amount, regardless of distance. With DoT included, Thorn actually eclipses Ace of Spades in per-shot damage while also firing at a faster RPM, with Ace’s crits landing for 70 and its bodies hitting for 47.
Unfortunately, Thorn users will often find themselves losing in gunfights with the Ace of Spades regardless because of the gun’s superior range, where damage falloff doesn’t begin until 36 meters. The same problem presents itself when going up against users of Not Forgotten (and to a lesser extent Luna’s Howl), which not only has superior range, but also the potential to kill much faster than Thorn with the use of Magnificent Howl. Finally, while Thorn will beat the Last Word at mid-ranges, it will lose quickly in closer combat, while being too far brings it out of its optimal range.
A similar problem presents itself when versing pulse rifles, scout rifles, bows, snipers, fusion rifles, and even SMGs or Shotguns. 150 RPMs have a very middling ideal range, often too low to either consistently engage with longer range weaponry, or be far enough to safely deal with lower range threats. The DoT does somewhat mitigate this problem compared to other cannons in this archetype, but does not do quite enough to be optimal. The range issue can be almost entirely bypassed when using an empowering rift combined with Lunafaction boots, but this is very situational, and reduces mobility. However, combined they make a powerful combo, especially when used with Well of Radiance, increasing Thorn’s attributes while negating its weaknesses.
Where Thorn really shines in the Crucible though, is as a form of support weapon. The gun’s DoT has fantastic synergy with practically any weapon your teammates happen to be using, impairing health regeneration and allowing for anyone to quickly finish off a tagged opponent. This especially lends itself to things like the competitive playlist, where each enemy death holds far more weight than a standard Quickplay game. While Thorn may be at a disadvantage in a long range duel with Ace of Spades or Not Forgotten, it can easily play a deadly supporting role in team-shooting, possibly better than any other weapon out there. The burn also forces an enemy to be extra cautious, which can make or break the clutch moments an objective based game mode, and it can even temporarily disable snipers with a quick and/or lucky shot. Even outside of heavily coordinated team modes, Thorn can act as a support weapon for the user as well. A quick shot or two can be used to lower an enemy’s health for just long enough to finish them off with a shotgun or SMG that’s just a bit too far for its normal one hit range. As a final plus, the tics of the DoT can show the user where the enemy is through walls for their duration, which can be a good warning before deciding whether or not to give chase.
A sub-note regarding recoil and bloom: hand cannons at RPMs other than 180 are currently reported to suffer severe bloom and difficult to control recoil on console, a problem present since launch. This fact reduces the usability of Thorn considerably. Additionally, Thorn shows an odd recoil pattern, kicking up and slightly to the right, which can be difficult to correct for on a controller.
Gambit Rating: 7/10
- All PvE pluses
- Low range makes it a poor choice for invading or defending
- Good at ad clear, but not the best
- Uses an exotic slot
- Poor boss DPS
Sadly, Thorn is at its weakest in Gambit. While it still remains a solid gun for killing ads and high-value targets, the competitive nature of the gamemode drags this particular hand cannon down. If looking at the various roles introduced in Gambit Prime, Thorn doesn’t fit properly into any of them. The majority of its positive score here stems from the fact that its just so good against PvE enemies that the user probably won’t feel dissatisfied using it until the more competitive aspects of the game mode come into play.
Sentry: Thorn is not particularly adept at quickly disposing of blockers due to the lack of weak enemies near the bank with which to trigger Soul Devourer. In all cases, an energy weapon or Malfeasance would do a better job here.
Invader: Thorn has its PvP troubles amplified by the larger size of Gambit maps, as well as the focus on special and heavy ammo. It very rarely will win primary battles against longer range weapons, and will almost never be victorious against a sniper or heavy weapon. Even so, it can be of some use in certain situations, and isn’t a bad choice if it doesn’t get in the way of using other, preferred weapons.
Collector: If a collector’s goal is to stay alive while picking up as many motes as possible, Thorn doesn’t really provide any benefit here. Quick reactionary weapons like Shotguns and Fusion rifles are the better choice, and possibly Crimson for health regen in emergencies. Assuming ad clear is mostly taken care of by the Reaper, Thorn has practically no situation in which it is the best choice, though it’s not a particularly horrible choice, like a solo Rat King would be.
Reaper: Thorn is possibly more at home here than in any other role, though not by much. While it is capable of clearing ads effectively, especially with Soul Devourer active, it is not particularly better at doing it quickly than something like Breakneck or Huckleberry, both of which can also generate orbs of light. For a Reaper with at least +6 armor, an exotic slot is much better used in the special category, which can be quickly regenerated through multikills.
A final problem exists across all classes, and that is when it comes time to damage the primeval, Thorn comes in short. While a primary weapon is not expected to do most of the boss damage in any case, Thorn uses up one of the most valuable assets in Gambit: The exotic slot. There are several solid choices for an exotic in Gambit, like Lord of Wolves, Wardcliff Coil, or Thunderlord, all of which will likely prove more valuable than Thorn. Even among primary exotics, Thorn is just not the best option. Malfeasance will far out-damage it with its Taken Predator and Explosive Shadow perks. These points also hold true in other high tier activities like Raids, where Thorn will not do enough to prove itself as a worthy choice for an exotic. It is worth noting though that the usage of Thorn is by no means a detriment to your team, and its use is really down to personal preference. It simply is not adding anything of note.
Note: Below are the results of damage tests against Kali using various exotic (and one legendary) hand cannons. If you are only interested in the review itself, you may skip this section. All tests were performed inside a Well of Radiance using Lunafaction boots. No plates were completed, all damage was dealt before Kali’s first wipe mechanic. Results are from “realistic” situations, meaning not every shot was a crit, but multiple runs were performed and averaged.
|Ace of Spades||478,688||19,148|
Results: Thorn, unsurprisingly, beats out Ace of Spades, which has never been considered a prime DPS weapon. Similarly expected, Malfeasance surpasses both of them with its explosive tainted slugs, though its lead would be slightly less on a non-Taken enemy type. The interesting thing is that all three exotics end up falling far behind Not Forgotten, a legendary. When landing regular crits, Magnificent Howl allows the weapon to maintain a consistently higher damage output. If you’re wanting to save your exotic slot for a heavy and have a good kinetic special, Luna’s Howl and Not Forgotten are the optimal choices for Hand Cannon DPS.