Published on: Sep 29, 2015 @ 16:21
Contributing author: Jay P.
If you’ve been playing the Taken King and somehow haven’t gotten your hands on a Sword, you’re missing out. Destiny’s newest Heavy Weapon is ubiquitous – from the Crucible to King’s Fall.
Having acquired our Legendary melee weapons, it was inevitable that we would yearn for more. Well, Bungie delivered, in the form of Exotic Swords.
The Dark-Drinker, Raze-Lighter, and Bolt-Caster are starting to trickle into the rotation, as more and more enterprising Guardians grind out the (admittedly tedious) bounty. Of course, with three delightfully powerful Exotic weapons, those of us who have tracked down all three want to know: which is best?
While you should know by now that while there’s rarely a definitive answer for this question, they certainly each have their strengths and weaknesses. We’ll do our best to get at what makes each special in this comparison!
What You Should Know
It’s worth noting first off that there isn’t too much of a difference in how each works. Despite the standard “stats” profile, all Swords in fact possess identical base stats. This means each deals the exact same damage, at the exact same range, with the exact same swing rate. You’re not choosing between a slower, heavier-hitting sword, and a lightning fast add dispatcher; you’re simply choosing between elements.
Do I want Solar? Void? Arc? Each has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, Arc guards more effectively against Solar and Void attacks, but the core experience is basically the same – with two exceptions. The first is one distinct perk on each Exotic Sword. These can be chosen in lieu of extra energy to add new talents to your Sword. The second is a unique Sword attack that is personalized according to the element of the Sword.
Special Ability, What Now?
Well, although you’re certainly welcome to swing away as usual – and with 310 Attack on each, it’s not a bad idea – you can opt to consume more energy to unleash a devastating unique ability. Normally, a single slash, whether you make contact or not, consumes 1 point of “energy” from the Sword’s reserves. This energy is replenished with Heavy Ammo packages, as we know.
However, if you opt to use one of these special attacks, you’ll consume five ammunition. The trade-off is already pretty clear: do you want to be ammo-efficient and limit your attacks, or do you want to go all out on your enemies? It’s a nice dilemma to have, and the answer isn’t always clear-cut. We’re going to compare each of the Sword’s abilities to help you decide what the right tool for the job is.
- Use to launch into a Solar Light uppercut.
- Kills with the sword grant Super energy.
The Solar variant of Destiny’s Exotic Sword is a burst DPS monster. It’s special attack, “Phoenix Uppercut”, deals massive Solar damage to a single target. If you’re choosing Raze-Lighter, hopefully it’s because you’ve singled out one bad guy that needs to go down. It’s going to burn through your reserves to continue to use the Uppercut, but if you’re looking to deal the most amount of damage in the least amount of time, you can do no better. We plan on doing some testing to see if the damage from 5 individual Sword swings outdoes that of a single Uppercut – but regardless, consecutive Uppercuts will be superior in overall DPS.
Your choice for alternate perks include “Thrive By The Sword” and “Warrior of Light”. Recall that you must select these instead of extra Energy. Thrive By the Sword grants you more Super energy from each kill with your weapon, and Warrior of Light increases the base damage of your Sword attacks. If you plan on using the Uppercut a lot, we recommend eschewing Thrive By the Sword for the Energy from Scabbard, but selecting Warrior of Light for the best damage possible.
Out of the 3 Exotic swords,this one is the best at damaging single targets by a significant margin. The Phoenix Uppercut attack is capable of one-shotting all red-bar non-major enemies, and leaves only a sliver of health on most majors after a single swing. It is possible to hit multiple enemies with the Phoenix Uppercut, but the Dark-Drinker’s Supermassive Vortex and the Bolt-Caster’s Sword of Thunder are better options for clearing out mobs.
The Raze-Lighter is not amazing in terms of sweeping through many enemies simultaneously, but it is an excellent option for heavily DPS-ing single targets. Most non-boss targets will melt under the heat of your Phoenix Uppercut, and will save you and your fireteam a lot of trouble in almost every situation.
- Use to shoot a beam of Arc Light from your sword creating a lingering electrical storm.
- Kills with the sword have a chance to grant Orbs.
The Arc Sword bridges the gap between Ranged and CQB with its unique ability “Sword of Thunder”. With a mighty slash, you’ll project a damaging field of Arc energy that travels a considerable distance in a straight line. It even has a small degree of homing! Once it makes contact with an enemy – or reaches its maximum distance – it will linger momentarily, causing periodic Arc damage akin to a Striker’s Aftershocks.
How far does the disk fly, you ask? Well, if you were to spawn into the Hull breach of the Dreadnaught, from your spawn point, the Sword of Thunder can launch a disk to fly just shy of the Cabal structure which lies ahead slightly to your left. In some PvP maps, it can fly across the map, as long as no obstacles impede its trajectory.
Sword of Thunder delivers a considerably smaller amount of damage to targets in comparison to Supermassive Vortex and Phoenix Uppercut. Although almost every tier 1 enemy (aside from Ogre’s and Centurion’s) will fall to the Thunder disk. That being said, the Bolt-Caster is more effective than the Raze-Lighter at clearing mobs since the attack leaves behind a thundercloud which will continuously damage enemies that walk into it for a short duration.
Out of the 3 exotic swords, the Bolt-Caster is probably the best choice for the PvP scene. Because of its attack range, the Bolt-Caster is also good for striking bosses and other enemies from extended distances.
Bolt-Caster’s ability gives you versatility when you need it most. You’ll charge in, hack away at some ground infantry, and then spy a pesky Wizard harassing your team. With a couple of judicious swipes, she’ll be flailing in a storm of your creation. The only downside appears to be the (relatively) low damage in comparison to that of the other Swords. This is a necessary limiting factor; if it dealt the same damage as Phoenix Uppercut, it’d be overpowered. It’s still more than enough to get the job done, and one of the coolest looking abilities to boot.
As well as possessing the requisite Warrior of Light perk, Bolt-Caster also has “Live By The Sword”, which gives you a 20-30% chance to spawn orbs when getting Sword kills. We always recommend Warrior of Light for PvE, though you may have better luck with more Energy in PvP. As for Live By the Sword, it all depends on your goals. Are you trying to wring out as many kills as possible before needing more ammo? In that case, Scabbard might be best. If your fireteam is a little starved for Orbs though, Live By the Sword is a great pick. Hunter’s with the Skyburner’s Annex know just how useful creating Orbs with Heavy kills can be.
- Use to unleash a spiral of Void energy in all directions.
- Kills with the sword replenish grenade energy.
With your own hands you forged the mighty Dark-Drinker. Now take it in hand and slake its thirst.
Well, that sounds scary. And it is! Dark-Drinker, the final Void option for Exotic Swords, is every bit as thirsty as its name suggests. Its ability “Supermassive Vortex”, while arguably not super massive, is certainly the preferred choice for AoE damage. Your Guardian will spin rapidly, swinging the sword in a wide arc, dealing heavy Void damage to anyone unlucky enough to be nearby.
You’re all but immune during these frames, as your attack is so rapid that anyone who isn’t killed outright will be staggered for the brief duration. You can imagine the instances in which Dark-Drinker’s ability would be useful. Anytime you’re beginning to become overwhelmed, just unsheathe your blade and the rest will sort itself out. It’s also not bad on single targets, either! It can’t quite measure up to the Raze-Lighter, but makes up for it by carving through groups of majors like a hot knife through butter. Take it to the Undying Mind fight and see for yourself!
The Supermassive Vortex is capable of killing enemies in 1 shot, given the “Warrior of Light” perk is active over the extra “Scabbard” node. This Sword excels in clearing large mobs, and the special attack ensures that nearly anything caught in the AoE will succumb to the massive damage regardless of the presence of an overshield. In PvP, however, there isn’t a significant benefit received from using the Exotic version of the sword over the Legendary version.
Its special perk, “Die By The Sword” grants bonus Grenade Energy for every kill. It’s very possible to get your grenade back in record time with just a couple uses of Supermassive Vortex, though whether or not you’ll have need of your grenade that frequently is a personal call. There’s an argument to be made for either perk here, honestly. A little extra Energy never hurts, especially if you’re playing a class where Grenades aren’t your top priority (think Defender).
An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age
Well, there you have it! Three weapons you’re probably now dying to get. We hope this article has shed some light on the practical uses for each Sword, the Solar fury of Raze-Lighter, the crackling Arc energy of Bolt-Caster, or the sinister Void light of Dark-Drinker.
They’re all incredibly viable end-game Exotics that are well-worth your one Exotic slot. While you shouldn’t be thinking “Sword” for every occasion, we can hardly blame you if you can’t part with yours for too long. Swing away!