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Destiny 2: Trace Rifle Tier List

TheGamer logo TheGamer 6/10/2022 Charles Burgar
© Provided by TheGamer

Trace Rifles are a unique weapon archetype introduced in Destiny 2. These weapons fire continuous beams of energy with near-perfect accuracy. Every Trace Rifle, save one, is in the Exotic category, which means you'll need to give up your Exotic slot to see everything this archetype has to offer.

Related: Destiny 2: Every Way To Obtain High-Stat Armor

Is it worth the cost? In most situations, it isn't worth it. With that said, the Exotic perks on these Trace Rifles can prove to be a large boon in certain activities, and the Legendary Trace Rifle currently in Destiny 2 is solid for PvE content. Most players use this weapon archetype in PvE content, although some Trace Rifles do surprisingly well in Gambit and even Crucible. Ranging from Coldheart to Divinity, here are all seven of Destiny 2's Trace Rifles ranked from worst to best.

Updated June 10th, 2022, by Charles Burgar: Yet another Legendary Trace Rifle was added in Season of the Haunted, allowing Guardians to choose between two Legendary variants and various Exotics. We've updated this list to include this season's Hollow Denial weapon, weighing its pros and cons against Retraced Path and all Exotic Trace Rifles currently available.

Coldheart

How to obtain: Exotic Engrams and Xur.

Coldheart is a versatile Special weapon that works in most situations. Need to kill a horde of enemies? Sweep Coldheart's beam across every enemy to kill them. Is a major closing the gap? Use Coldheart to kill them in a second or two. Is your Heavy weapon out of ammo? Coldheart can get the job done, albeit slowly.

This is the only Exotic Trace Rifle in Destiny 2 that doesn't rely on a gimmick, making it easy to use in all content. It can deal solid boss damage in PvE and Gambit, and can down Guardians in an instant if you don't miss. Other Exotic weapons excel at killing bosses or dealing with rank and file enemies, but Coldheart can do a little bit of everything. It's the jack of all trades for the Trace Rifle archetype. Unfortunately, Exotics that fall under this umbrella typically aren't used when compared to stronger, more niche options.

Prometheus Lens

How to obtain: Exotic Engrams and Xur.

Prometheus Lens is an underrated PvE Exotic for killing rank and file enemies. This weapon has a Solar beam that grows as you hold down the trigger. Killing enemies will partially reload your magazine, allowing the beam to keep growing.

Related: Destiny 2: Top Fusion Rifles, Ranked

After a few seconds of continuous fire, Prometheus Lens can create a beam that rivals the size of a Ward of Dawn. It also deals a good bit of damage against weaker majors, making this a fantastic weapon to use as an add-clearing weapon if you're running a double Special loadout. A lack of anti-Champion properties makes it useless in high-end PvE content, but this weapon does exceptionally well at killing fodder enemies in Gambit and at-level PvE content. Don't bring this weapon into endgame PvE or PvP; it doesn't deal enough damage and is quite ammo-hungry.

Ruinous Effigy

How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. Costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Helium Filaments, and 1 Ascendant Shard.

Ruinous Effigy is finally worth using again. With recent balance changes and the introduction of Volatile Rounds, Ruinous Effigy can dish out some surprising damage to fodder enemies, disintegrate majors with its Transmutation Orbs, and its incredibly ammo efficient.

Unlike other Trace Rifles, Ruinous Effigy is focused more on spawning weapons than dealing damage itself. Defeating a target will spawn a Transmutation Sphere which can be used to melee targets or drain their life essence. That drain attack is especially powerful, capable of proccing effects like Volatile if Volatile Rounds are equipped. This combo is especially deadly on Nightstalker Hunters, allowing them to stay permanently invisible while dealing solid damage to fodder enemies. Ruinous Effigy is downright awful in PvP, yet its buildcrafting potential in PvE makes it a great weapon for buildcrafters and casuals alike.

Hollow Denial

How to obtain: Season of the Haunted content and focused Umbral Engrams.

Hollow Denial is one of two Legendary Trace Rifles currently available, allowing it to roll with random perks. Hollow Denial immediately gets points for its Void damage type, allowing it to use Volatile Rounds with Void subclasses. As for its perk selection, it's sadly less interesting than Retraced Path.

Killing Tally makes a return, allowing you to gain a permanent damage buff on this weapon with each kill until you reload or stow Hollow Denial. This weapon doesn't have Overflow or Subsistence to pair with it, so this perk requires you to utilize some subclass or Exotic auto-reloading effects, something only Hunters have reasonable access to.

As for other perks, Adaptive Munitions in the first column is a great choice for breaking non-matching shields in Master and GM-tier content. For the second column, Swashbuckler or Wellspring can do well. It doesn't beat Retraced Path's Golden Tricorn and Subsistence combo, but you can use Volatile Rounds with this weapon. Grenade builds might get some use out of this weapon, but most players are better off using Wavesplitter or Retraced Path.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Adaptive Munitions,
  • Column Two: Swashbuckler, Wellspring

Wavesplitter

How to obtain: Exotic Engrams and Xur.

Originally a PlayStation exclusive during Forsaken, Wavesplitter is a Void Trace Rifle that deals an oscillating amount of damage. While the perk implies that the damage is random, Wavesplitter's damage output depends on how much ammo you've expended, allowing skilled players to maximize the damage of this weapon with some practice.

Wavesplitter saw new life with the release of The Witch Queen. It saw a 40% damage buff versus red bars, can now generate Orbs of Power to increase its damage, and can make great use of Volatile Rounds in PvE. While not the most ammo-efficient Exotic you can use, Wavesplitter is a great workhorse Exotic for players that want to melt red bars and majors alike with little issue. It's also one of the better Trace Rifles you can use for PvP. Build into generating Orbs of Power to get the most out of this weapon.

Retraced Path

How to obtain: Xur's Treasure Trove

The Halo: Reach Focus Rifle has made its way to Destiny 2, complete with random rolls. Unlike every other Trace Rifle, Retraced Path is a Legendary Trace Rifle, meaning you can run this weapon with another Exotic. Fans have been asking for a Legendary Trace Rifle since Destiny 2 vanilla, so how good is it?

Related: Destiny 2: Top Linear Fusion Rifles, Ranked

Thankfully, Retraced Path is a phenomenal Special weapon that lives up to its Exotic contemporaries. The perk pool for this weapon is truly special, capable of making this weapon an add-clearing workhorse or the ultimate utility weapon. Subsistence and One for All is an incredible perk combination in PvE. If you want an even stronger damage perk, use the Golden Tricorn perk instead of One for All. And if you're looking for a Special weapon that focuses on utility, this weapon can roll with Shoot to Loot and Disruption Break.

Retraced Path is a lackluster weapon for PvP, although Trace Rifles have never been too great in the Crucible. Perpetual Motion and Golden Tricorn is your best bet, although activating the improved version of Golden Tricorn can be a hassle if your build can't one-shot enemies with abilities. Even when it's active, Trace Rifles consume too much ammo to be worth running currently. If you really want to use a Trace Rifle in PvP, this will work, but you'd be better off using Wavesplitter or another Special archetype entirely.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Subsistence, Shoot to Loot
  • Column Two: One for All, Golden Tricorn, Disruption Break

Ager's Scepter

How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. Costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Helium Filaments, and 1 Ascendant Shard.

Ager's Scepter is the first Stasis Trace Rifle in Destiny 2. This weapon serves as an add-clearing machine, emitting a slowing pulse with every kill. This pulse freezes PvE enemies, allowing you to shatter them for immense damage. It has arguably better add-clear than Prometheus Lens and requires much less setup.

That alone makes Ager's Scepter great, but what makes this weapon truly amazing is its Catalyst. Masterworking Ager's Scepter allows you to consume Super energy to overcharge the weapon, granting an 80% damage boost and causing each hit to slow. You can also pair this weapon with Stasis Aspects and Fragments, allowing this weapon to spawn Stasis Shards and deal much more shatter damage. For PvE, this weapon stands alongside Riskrunner and Trinity Ghoul as one of the game's best add-clearing weapons.

For PvP, Ager's Scepter is somewhat disappointing. Most of its perks require either a kill or Super energy. It's a mediocre weapon on its own, lacking the bonus damage from Coldheart or the AoE of Prometheus Lens. If you want to use a Trace Rifle in PvP, you're better off with Wavesplitter.

Divinity

How to obtain: Complete the Divinity Exotic quest. Requires Shadowkeep ownership.

Everything you'd want out of a Trace Rifle can be found on Divinity. Obtained from the Garden of Salvation raid, this weapon is one of the best Exotic Special weapons in Destiny 2 currently. It might lack the damage of Coldheart or the add-clearing potential of Prometheus Lens, but it makes up for that with utility.

Divinity's beam will create a Vex cage around a target if it makes contact for a few seconds. Any allies that shoot in the cage deal precision damage. Better yet, the cage makes the enemy take 25% increased damage. It can also disrupt Overload Champions, making it a staple for Grandmaster Nightfall runs. Nearly every fireteam uses this weapon in pinnacle PvE content, as it dramatically increases the damage output of your fireteam.

Surprisingly, Divinity can hold its own inside the Crucible. Shooting at a Guardian for a second will spawn a cage around them, making all incoming damage automatically deal precision damage. That might sound lackluster when compared to other Exotic Special weapons that instantly kill Guardians, but the rapid application of critical hits can be a major boon for certain builds. Hunter Gunslingers, for example, can use Divinity to maximize Line 'Em Up's duration. If you pair this with Athrys's Embrace, you can activate its Exotic perk for 30 seconds by using Divinity against one enemy. It doesn't deal as much damage as Wavesplitter or Coldheart in PvP, but it doesn't require great aim to land a kill either. Don't underestimate this weapon.

Next: Destiny 2: The Witch Queen Complete Guide And Walkthrough

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