Published on: Apr 6, 2015 @ 3:41
As the only two available elemental Hand Cannons, both Fatebringer and Word of Crota carry a certain prestige.
Primary weapons with elemental damage are highly sought after for their ability to take down enemies quicker, and Fatebringer has long enjoyed a reputation as one of (if not the) best weapons in Destiny. With the release of the Void Word of Crota, many were hoping it could bring a similar power to the table.
We’ll take a look at where each excels and falls short and do an in-depth comparison to help you decide which to use.
Statistically, Fatebringer is actually not much of a standout. It possesses average stats in many ways, with its above-average Impact perhaps being the positive outlier. Its base Range is higher than Word of Crota and only a few points shy of Timur’s Lash (full review).
The main selling point of Fatebringer‘s base stats is its huge base magazine size of 12. Even without Field Scout, this is the second-highest available value for a Hand Cannon magazine size, and is crucial to keeping DPS up at all times.
However, Fatebringer is not a monster because of its stat profile; this beast thrives on the benefits of its perks. With great Iron Sights, Steadyhand may be ultimately preferable, as the bonus to stability cannot be increased through other means.
“Firefly” already rockets it to the front of the Hand Cannon pack. No other hand cannon in the game has Firefly, and since its damage is directly proportional to base Impact and weapon damage, it is undeniably the strongest on Fatebringer, even over Gheleon’s Demise (full review) and other high Impact Scout Rifles.
To make things even more ridiculous, this weapon can cause chained Arc explosions that can clear the field of all trash mobs adjacent to the primary target. The power of this in PvE truly can not be oversold.
Field Scout tops off the magazine capacity at 13, and provides a large amount of reserve ammo. We recommend selecting this unless you have a pressing desire for Explosive Rounds or the ability to move marginally faster when ADS. Explosive Rounds can be disruptive and fun, but may interfere with Firefly, making the combination unreliable.
It also has “Outlaw” which is often considered a must-have for hand cannons. Most heavy-hitting hand cannons suffer from a low magazine size and/or intolerable reload speeds, but Fatebringer has all the tools it needs to remedy these shortcomings.
The speed at which you reload with Outlaw is only 1.77 seconds, and will proc in concert with Firefly; you never have to worry about one taking precedence over the other.
Finally, its Arc damage cements its place in the upper echelons of Destiny’s weapons. Arc shields are perhaps second only to Solar in prevalence, and often more difficult to handle. Fatebringer is perfectly suited for this role, so Nightfalls beware.
Fatebringer is not especially held back by any one thing. Its average stats perhaps make it a bit tricky to handle for those who aren’t accustomed to hand cannons, but this is easily overcome with continued use.
Fatebringer‘s reload speed isn’t particularly fast, clocking in at 3.05 seconds, but is enough to make reloading palatable without Outlaw.
As far as perks go, Firefly and Outlaw are irreplaceable, and nothing Fatebringer could offer would be superior. Firefly is better suited for PvE, but loses some of its usefulness in PvP (discussed in greater detail in the PvP section).
Single Point Sling is a bit of a disappointment; Fatebringer would benefit from Hammer Forged or Send It, but is locked in to that medium-range sweet spot.
Now it’s time to turn scrutiny over to Word of Crota.
This hand cannon is a breath of fresh air when it comes to playstyle. With its best-in-class rate of fire, you’ll be putting out rounds almost as fast as you can pull the trigger. This actually does good things for Word of Crota‘s DPS, especially in compensating for its lower Impact. You’ll be able to unload a full magazine in 4.50 seconds.
Statistically, Word of Crota holds its own in most categories. Although its range seems paltry, it’s not too bad considering its archetype. A comparable alternative, The Devil You Don’t, has a very mediocre base range.
Its above average stability assists Guardians in taming the rapid RoF. Only the Red Hand IX has a higher base stability among Legendary variants.
As for as distinctive perks, “Zen Moment” is actually quite practical with the fast RoF, as it’s very easy to reach the maximum stacking bonus afforded by it.
Speed Reload helps Word of Crota near the maximum base Reload Speed available for Hand Cannons, which helps compensate for the lack of Outlaw or Freeding Frenzy. Hammer Forged adds a much-needed buff to Range, making it a variable threat in PvP. Finally, Explosive Rounds adds some AoE damage potential along with the ability to reliably stagger foes and spread out its Void damage evenly.
You should switch between these three as often as you need to, as PvE content often demands a flexibility that Word of Crota can, and should, accommodate.
A perk that really helps Word of Crota to carve out a niche is Hive Disruptor. This Raid standard adds a significant amount of bonus damage on top of Word of Crota‘s base damage when the weapon is used against yellow-bar Hive Majors. Hand Cannons, powerful as they are, suffer from a significant modifier penalty when used on Majors/Ultras, so this perk evens the playing field considerably when engaging Hallowed Knights and other onerous foes.
Finally, its Void damage is helpful but underutilized. Void shields are the most rare, used only by Minotaurs and Psions, enemies who are especially lacking in most content. Still, as Atheon’s Epilogue is resigned to 300 ATK and continuing nerfs, it’s nice to have another primary to carry the Void torch.
Anyone who’s used this weapon has probably remarked that it doesn’t pack quite enough punch sometimes. You’ll notice that“Phantom Gift” hasn’t been mentioned yet…
As it stands, it’s a broken and incomplete perk. It can work just fine in a lot of content, providing you avoid a certain number of conditions: you can’t equip Explosive Rounds, as any damage dealt outside of the initial headshot will immediately reset the counter; you can’t be firing on Hive Majors, as the bonus damage is treated as a separate shot, and thus resets the counter; and you can’t use any damaging ability in between shots, as the game considers grenades or supers as disruptive to the “consecutive” requirement.
Technically, if the killing blow from Explosive Rounds is dealt with the base round absent of the explosive damage, you can chain three of these together to proc Phantom Gift, but this is unreliable at best. Much like White Nail, Bungie has offered no solution to this perk, and we have no guarantee that one will arrive anytime soon. It’s a real knock to Word of Crota‘s efficacy, and moreover makes the weapon feel incomplete and not nearly as “Legendary” as it should.
This weapon also has another glaring weakness: Impact. At 68, it is the lowest available base Impact on a hand cannon, and nothing can be done to increase it. Destiny attempts to balance this statistic by creating an inverse relationship between Impact and Rate of Fire, but it’s not always a simple trade off.
Success in PvE relies on minimizing time out of cover and making shots count. Though it’s conceivable to match a higher Impact weapon’s DPS with a lower Impact weapon, it often requires more shots over a longer period of time, which isn’t always feasible when staring down the Darkness.
How Do They Compare?
You may have strategies and situations in which you prefer one over the other, so be sure to let us know that in the comments.
Tier 1 level 33 Thrall, critical damage:
- Fatebringer = 1024, potentially 500+ extra damage to nearby enemies via Firefly.
- Word of Crota = 1540 or 1047 with Explosive Rounds.
In almost all content, Fatebringer is going to be better. The staggering explosive power of Firefly and its Arc chains is simply too good to pass up. If you can even land half or your shots on an opponent’s critical spot, you’re likely to clear enemies with unrivaled efficiency.
Word of Crota holds it own, but even flawless accuracy and Explosive Rounds can’t provide the same kind of AOE domination that Fatebringer brings. For Patrols, Strikes, Heroics, and Arc Nightfalls, most will prefer Fatebringer.
However, there are some situations in which the Word of Crota is still going to be an appealing alternative. The first is obviously higher-level Hive missions. Any content in which you expect to see plentiful amounts of Hive Majors naturally lends itself to the Word of Crota‘s specific wheelhouse. Fatebringer will be unable to proc Firefly until landing the killing blow, and Hive Disruptor on a 331 Word of Crota is going to be objectively quicker in knocking these enemies down a peg.
With Explosive Rounds, you can do three separate ticks of damage (initial round, explosive round damage, Hive Disruptor damage), each with their own stagger rate. It’s very easy to lock down and eliminate Hive Majors with Word of Crota. Both The Wakening and Siege of the Warmind are friendly to the Word of Crota‘s particular set of skills.
Unfortunately, the Word of Crota competes with Fang of Ir Yût (full review) for this role, and arguably the Fang wins out. Simply being superior to Fatebringer in one situation does not make it the most appealing option overall.
The other place where the Word of Crota dominates is Void Nightfalls. Though the rare burn may not come along particularly often, when it does there is no better primary than the Word of Crota. The bonus damage amplifies an otherwise middling Impact to inhuman levels of damage, and Explosive Rounds spreads around the Void love with undiscriminating cruelty. Pair it with a Void sniper and Truth and you’re set for life.
Finally, the Word of Crota can work better against bosses, even though we don’t really recommend using a primary Hand Cannon as a boss weapon. However, if you’re forced into it by ammo constraints, Phantom Gift and Zen Moment make a case for the Word of Crota to be a better option; you can conceivably land 17 shots in a row.
Though the Word of Crota‘s Impact is lower than Fatebringer‘s, the extra damage granted by the 31 ATK disparity is enough to compensate for this and make the Hand Cannon just as powerful with single shots, though it probably won’t ever match Fatebringer‘s crowd-clearing potential.
Here, the scales tip in favor of Word of Crota. As neither Hand Cannon hits any crucial benchmarks for two-shot-kills, the Word of Crota‘s fast fire rate make it a little more deadly for those with patience and a sharp aim. Crucible is all about Time to Kill, and the WoC’s TTK is a hair faster than Fatebringer when considering consecutive critical hits and body shots alike.
Fatebringer‘s signature Firefly perk is all but wasted in PvP, as opportunities in which it is possible to kill an opposing Guardian with a headshot and land some residual Firefly damage are few and far between.Outlaw is also debatably effective – typically, winning a firefight will afford you plenty of time to reload and ready yourself for the next.
Similarly, Zen Moment is not going to see a lot of uptime. Ideally, you’ll be pulling off three to five quick shots, and then moving to your next target. While consecutive hits will momentarily help you land your next shot, Zen Moment is more PvE-focused. Phantom Gift, of course, is equally worthless. Getting an extra round from a 3-crit kill is a moot point when ammo is plentiful.
Word of Crota does have Speed Reload and Hammer Forged going for it though. Hammer Forged is especially appealing for catching unwary Guardians by surprise and dropping them fast without losing accuracy at Range, and Speed Reload adds an all-around buff to Reload Speed that is arguably better than Outlaw’s precision-only conditional buff.
Which to Choose?
We’ve taken a look at everything both of these weapons has to offer, and it’s safe to say that there is ultimately a pretty clear winner. For the majority of what Destiny can present, Fatebringer is going to the best choice.
Word of Crota has its place, and is by no means a bad weapon, it just can’t compete with everything Fatebringer can do. The Word of Crota makes a case for itself in PvP, where its high fire rate makes it a surprisingly deadly killer, and where Fatebringer can’t consistently take advantage of Firefly.
If you’re lucky enough to score either of these weapons, consider yourself blessed by RNG. It is a ‘First World’ Destiny problem to have to choose between them, and now you know what to consider when making your decision.