Titans have a lot going for them: fists so hard they can destroy robots, the fastest movement in Destiny, and base Armor that makes Hunters blush. So, it’s only natural that they would be handicapped in some regard. Or at least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves, as we take a look at Destiny’s Exotic Black Sheep, the Fabian Strategy. This workmanlike, Titan-exclusive “Exotic” still remains one of the most perplexingly designed weapons in the game’s history.
It is utterly average in every way, and Bungie does not seem interested in elevating it beyond its current station. Nonetheless, it’s worth another look since it was first introduced in The Taken King expansion.
The Good: Unique design, and forces you to play dynamically
The Bad: Un-Exotic in every other way, outstripped by any half-decent Legendary alternative
Summary: Not worth it without another buff.
Lame, all around.
Okay, in all seriousness, it belongs (without a certain perk proc) to the RoF/Impact class that sits somewhere in between the high Impact (Shadow Price, the classic Vanquisher) and the low Impact (Doctrine of Passing). In theory, this gives it a nice balance between TTK and better handling. Its Range of 22 is second-lowest among Exotic Auto Rifles – only the Necrochasm is lower. It possesses middling Stability at 50, but nonetheless beats out the Zhalo Supercell, Suros Regime, and a few popular Legendary variants in this regard. Its base Magazine Size of 40 is excellent considering its initial archetype, but we’ll come to see that this is not always the case. With a Reload Speed of 62, you’ll be able to load another magazine relatively quickly, though it doesn’t begin to scrape the numbers required to really consider it a standout.
It innately provides Crowd Control, a PvE-oriented perk we consider to be quite powerful on the right gun. Put simply, the Fabian Strategy is not that gun. It requires too many bullets out of its 40 round magazine to proc Crowd Control, only to be able to take advantage of it for a short time. On top of that, when its exclusive Exotic Perk Front Lines (we’ll get to it) kicks in, we paradoxically lose damage, even with the Crowd Control bump. High Impact weapons like Hand Cannons are better off with this perk. With that said, every little bit of damage counts, and as far as a free perk is concerned, Crowd Control is one of the best. It’s a nice vertical buff for a weapon that needs a considerable boost.
As far as first row ballistics are concerned, you’re best off shoring up its Stability. Even with a push to Range, the Fabian Strategy will never satisfy your desire for a flexible weapon. To this end, CQB Ballistics is advisable to at least help wrangle Fabian Strategy’s naturally erratic fire pattern and kick. Linear Compensator will supposedly make your recoil more predictable, while providing a hair of Range, and as such is also acceptable if you’re good at compensating for the natural vertical muzzle climb.
Its first distinct perk, Life Support, is also widely considered to be strong in PvE. Rather than encouraging you to fight in critical health, or giving you meaningless stat boosts when you should be running, Life Support will often jump-start your health regeneration on a kill when your health is low. Again, this perk is better on high Impact weapons like Hand Cannons or Scout Rifles, where a single well-placed bullet can more reliably trigger the health regeneration, but it possesses reasonable synergy with Crowd Control, and as you’ll be placing yourself in the line of fire with Fabian Strategy’s sad, sad base Range, you’ll need the survivability.
For the middle suite of perks, your options are fairly limited. Lightweight plays to idea of the Fabian Strategy as a mobile weapon by giving you a boost to Agility, Flared Magwell provides an almost negligible boost to Reload Speed, and Rifled Barrel will offer an actually noticeable buff to Range at the cost of a significant amount of Reload Speed. Rifled Barrel is probably still the best choice, as you can add a respectable amount of Range – and the Fabian Strategy wasn’t winning any awards for Reload Speed to begin with. It’s unideal, of course; a 40 round magazine is hardly a comfortable amount of reserves to be dumping Reload Speed – but your other options don’t do enough to patch up the weapon’s weaknesses.
Finally, we are left with Bungie’s re-tooled exclusive Exotic perk “Front Lines.”
Really, the amount of thought that went into this re-design is depressing. When in close range, you receive a boost to handling, stability, and rate of fire. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Your handling and stability buffs are minimal (really, just enough to offset the increased rate of fire), and the RoF buff is mercilessly offset by a nerf to Impact. That’s right, your Auto Rifle changes its “sub-class”, so to speak, while retaining its middling stats. This means that your 40 round magazine is expended incredibly quickly, while dealing less damage. The distance at which the perk procs is uncomfortably close, to the point where you’d be switching to a Shotgun or a Fusion Rifle in both PvE and PvP. You’re not going to tickle a Hallowed Knight to death with whatever remains in your magazine, and any Guardian with a brain will punish you for closing with a well-rolled Shotgun.
Perhaps Bungie was scared of a class-breaking perk giving Titan’s a weapon with unmatched TTK. But in hedging their bets with Front Lines, they might as well have not done anything. The ammunition consumption and whiplash from your weapon behaving differently at hard-to-define ranges is not worth the theoretical decrease in TTK when closing with an opponent.
Auto Rifles, in general, are a weak subclass of weapons in PvE, where the name of the game is damage thresholds. When a Hand Cannon, Pulse Rifle, or Scout Rifle can drop a Taken Acolyte in one to two shots or bursts, while retaining 80-85% of their remaining magazine, an Auto Rifle that must expend 25% of its magazine in closer range to do the same thing isn’t going to be in high demand. Sniper Rifles are reserved for bulkier targets, and Destiny has long been a game that punishes charging Guardians by giving Ultras and Majors powerful reflexive melee attacks.
Taking this into account, an Auto Rifle needs to be something special to be worth your time in PvE, and the Fabian Strategy is not special. A decently-rolled Legendary alternative from the Gunsmith may beat it outright, with superior Range, Counterbalance-boosted Stability for reliable precision hits, and the ability to equip a powerful Exotic Secondary or Heavy such as the Black Spindle or Sleeper Simulant.
In Destiny’s PvE meta, the further you can separate yourself from your enemies while still being able to pop their skulls, the better. The Fabian Strategy is ill-equipped for this task, and if you decide to go full Rambo with CQB combat, you’re better off embracing a reliable alternative like the Doctrine of Passing, with a significantly larger magazine and laser-like precision.
No, no, nope. Without Counterbalance – even as it’s been newly nerfed —an Auto Rifle must have an exceptionally tight base spread, and no obstructive kick. Hard Light’s base recoil was so erratic that it took Bungie giving it hilarious amounts of Stability before it even became workable. If you want to compete with seemingly head-seeking Pulse Rifles such as Hawksaw and Grasp of Malok, and Exotic favorites like The Last Word, your Auto Rifle has to be reliable in all encounters.
With its awkwardly low base Range, Fabian Strategy loses to Pulse Rifles, Scout Rifles, and Hand Cannons in midrange engagements, and outright has trouble dealing any damage at all beyond that. Damage drop-off kicks in too early, and it’s too tricky to keep the reticle at – or even near – the head. As Tefty’s video demonstrates, it doesn’t fare much better when you get up close and personal. Here, even with Front Lines kicking in, your aim is likely to be thrown off by flinch in a firefight, and this is to say nothing of the bullets that will naturally go awry due to the disappointing base 50 Stability. If you do manage to get the drop on an unaware Guardian, you’ll have a little better luck – but this is true of all weapons. It’s very possible that even with an early jump, they’ll simply pull out their Shotgun and make you pay for attempting to take advantage of the finicky Front Lines.
To suspend criticism of the weapon itself, there’s just no point in using an only occasionally above-average Auto Rifle like Fabian Strategy when there are just so many better options available. You may certainly see success with it, but we’re willing to bet that if you’re good enough to pub stomp with the Fabian Strategy, that you could do that with just about any other weapon. You’re better off with the Monte Carlo for its superior Stability and Exotic perk; the Suros Regime, for its class-breaking amounts of Range with Focused Fire; or even Hard Light, which fulfills the role of a CQB Auto Rifle more admirably.
Cosmetics and Sound
It has an appealing rugged aesthetic, featuring dark orange camo encased by a gunmetal grey frame. The muzzle is buttressed on either side by two shield-like flanges. As far as Destiny Auto Rifles go, it is instantly memorable, eschewing the futuristic or toy-like designs of the Taken King for a more classic looking weapon. The sound is similarly satisfying: a rhythmic rat-tat that increases to a rapid-fire staccato when Front Lines procs. It’s a shame it doesn’t perform as well as it looks.
There’s not much to boast about, when all is said and done. The Fabian Strategy is serviceable, with a perk that is intriguing in theory, but utterly fails to make the weapon worth using over its competition. It nonetheless will do the job in low-stakes PvE content, and could be fun for those in PvP looking for a challenge. When you consider the power of the Warlock’s Tlaloc and Hunter’s Ace of Spades, it’s hard to be anything but disappointed in this Titan Auto Rifle.