Best Exotic Armor for the Crucible

So far, Destiny 2’s exotic armor doesn’t feel quite as powerful as what we found in Destiny. In my mind, the jury’s out on whether this is a good or a bad thing, but for now we may as well use what we have.

While many of the armor pieces available across all classes feel as though they’ve been tuned for PvE, and others simply feel lackluster (likely due to balance issues), there are still some good options for Crucible combat. With a few exceptions, I’ve found it much harder to rank D2’s exotic armor, largely due to the fact that most are incredibly situational.

It’s likely that your list will differ, so be sure to tell us your favorite combinations in the comments!

Titan

Mask of the Quiet One

There’s a reason you’ve likely seen many a Titan sporting this massive helm. Not only does it look like it came from a Dark Souls game, but it makes you into an eldritch mini-boss. The more you get hurt, the more ability energy you get – and when you’re hurt, void ability kills heal you.

This is a good option for Titans who like to be in the thick of things, since you can intentionally put yourself into the line of fire in order to lower those ability cooldowns – as long as you’re making sure to stay alive. Then, heal yourself by punching! This helm can be very effective in PvE as well, specifically in certain sections of the Leviathan raid.

  • Pros: Grow stronger as you die. Steal the life of your enemies by punching them.
  • Cons: The healing is inconsistent, and only gives you a small ‘chunk’ of health as opposed to complete regeneration.

Actium War Rigs

Aside from the Synthoceps (which drastically extend your Titan-punching range), the Actium War Rig is probably the most fitting piece of exotic armor ever designed for Titans. Why? Because they automatically reload your assault rifle over time while you’re firing, and assault rifles are pretty darn good in the Crucible right now.

Although it may sound like a minor perk, don’t underestimate the importance of those few extra bullets. They may not win you a 1v1 duel on their own, but they could save your life when you win your first duel and immediately have to switch targets. They also let you hold down lanes longer with pre-fire, peek-fire without having to reload, and generally make you feel more like Rambo.

  • Pros: When your enemies are hiding to reload, you’re drowning them in a sea of bullets.
  • Cons: Very situational. If you don’t like auto rifles, you’re out of luck.

An Insurmountable Skullfort

One of several exotics that also appeared in Destiny, the Skullfort is a great option for Striker Titans who like to get into the thick of things. The exotic perk both heals and grants melee energy on melee ability kills. That means that if you’re playing things right, you get to shoulder charge. A lot.

Now, this ability is much more situational than in D1, and I recommend using your shoulder charge to flank and then finish damaged enemies. Following up with a sidearm or SMG is a great way to sow chaos.

  • Pros: Encourages a high-mobility, high-damage playstyle that can be very rewarding.
  • Cons: High risk, high reward. Not ideal for competitive playlists.

Warlock

Karnstein Armlets

Karnstein Armlets pair perfectly with a Devour-build, and allow for great survivability. Melee attacks (not kills) will grant a small amount of instant health, but they also grant small amounts of ability energy. This is notable because the more grenade energy you have, the more grenades you can then devour to restore your own health.

These don’t restore a ton of health or a ton of ability energy, and really only shave a few seconds off your cooldowns. However, based on how important intelligent use of abilities has become, smart play and ability management can certainly up your effectiveness in PvP combat.

  • Pros: Increases survivability, especially when paired with Devour.
  • Cons: The increase provided is meager, and requires close-quarters-combat.

Crown of Tempests

Another cooldown-reducing item, this Stormcaller-specific exotic provides ability energy for every Arc ability kill, meaning that grenades, charged melees, and arc souls will all give you ability energy. Like the Karnstein Armlets, this is absolutely not a game-breaking piece of armor. However, if you’re successfully cleaning up your gunfights with abilities, you’ll notice the difference.

  • Pros: The importance of ability energy can’t be overstated.
  • Cons: More noticeable in PvE.

Nezarec’s Sin

A void-based piece of armor, this helmet grants you ability energy with void damage kills while also giving your energy weapon improved handling speeds. If you’re using a void energy weapon consistently – and who isn’t – you’ll get both quicker handling times as well as recharge on kills.

They’re not comparable to the old Ophidian Aspects, but handling times are important nonetheless.

  • Pros: Two very solid perks, both of which can come in very useful.
  • Cons: Can feel lackluster outside of quickplay.

Hunter

Lucky Raspberry

Who doesn’t love a good Arcbolt grenade? No, they’re not as good as the Striker Titan’s pulse grenade, but they’re not terrible. Lucky Raspberry will grant improved cooldown time for your grenades, but it will also grant a chance to completely recharge your grenade every time it does damage.

If you’re throwing it into a crowd, that’s a lot of chances – and this seems to activate regularly. If you’re charging points on Control or Countdown, this is a great choice.

  • Pros: More grenades means more kills which means more grenades.
  • Cons: More reliable for add-clearing in PvE.

Foetracer

Foetracer’s perk does two things: first, it marks enemies that you’ve ‘targeted’ – meaning aimed at – and allows you to see them wherever they are on the map. With the Foetracer equipped, you’ll be able to pursue fleeing enemies, know where they’re coming from, and know how to chase them down. That’s incredibly valuable information, especially in 1v1 scenarios, because you’ll be able to tell if an enemy is about to peek, or where they ran when taking cover.

It’s an added bonus that this helmet can be used across all subclasses, but my own success with Foetracer has been limited. While it grants an excellent perk, I sometimes feel that the information it gives is too specific to be useful. While I may know where one enemy is, I don’t know where every enemy is. More on that next.

  • Pros: Allows you to track and hunt down enemies through walls and around corners, offering a huge advantage.
  • Cons: You must target enemies to mark them – flanking routes won’t watch themselves.

Knucklehead Radar

One of the most noticeable changes made to Destiny 2 is the reduced speed with which your radar reappears after you de-scope a weapon, which means that Guardians can no longer ‘flicker’ their radar to check for flanking enemies. This is especially impactful in the Crucible, when radar awareness is one of the keys to survivability.

Knucklehead Radar, which was one of the least useful pieces of armor in Destiny by the end, has received a substantial – and very welcome buff. Its perk grants constant radar while aiming down sights – all sights. That includes power weapons.

I can’t overstate how powerful this perk is. It means you can almost always get the first shot off in the duel, it means you’re never surprised – even while hardscoping with a sniper rifle – and it means you can engage enemies more safely. Truly, there’s not much else to say, except that this helmet underscores the importance of using your radar well in PvP. It’s a top-tier piece of armor.

  • Pros: Third Eye is arguably one of the best perks in the PvP game right now.
  • Cons: Few, at the moment.
Jasper L
Jasper is obsessed with three things: throwing knives, flavor text, and the Ahamkara. Although game lore is his true love, he now spends most his time dying in the Crucible. Despite repeated attempts, he has not yet managed to git gud, and he will never forgive Bungie for nerfing tripmines. You can find all of his Destiny writing @ themothyards.tumblr.com