Review of the New House of Wolves Perks

Published on: Apr 25, 2015 @ 14:23

The quiet introduction of new perks for Legendary gear has given us new options to consider when choosing our weapons and armor for House of Wolves.

With this article, we’re going to break down what each of these new perks can offer, and give a fair assessment of how we can expect them to alter or otherwise impact Destiny in both PvE and PvP.



Before delving into the armor and weapons specifically, here’s a few answers to some frequently asked questions we’ve seen:

Q: Do I need the HoW expansion to Ascend an item?

A: No.

Q: Can my X Legendary/Exotic weapon be Ascended to 365 Attack?

A: Yes, you can Ascend any Legendary/Exotic weapon.

Q: Can my X Legendary/Exotic armor be Ascended to 42 Light?

A: Yes, you can Ascend any Legendary/Exotic armor.

Q: Can Tower vendor armor allow me to reach level 34?

A: Yes, you can reach level 34 with any set of Ascended Legendary armor (totaling 168 Light).

Q: Is X armor now useless?

A: No, you choose your armor based on its perks (and maybe even its aesthetics), not based on Light. Any Legendary armor can be Ascended to 42 (max) Light.

Q: What is Ascending? How do I Ascend a Legendary item? How do I Ascend an Exotic?

A: Ascending is the process of upgrading an item’s max Attack/Light level. Ascend a Legendary with Etheric Light, Ascend an Exotic with an Exotic Shard.

Q: Where does Etheric Light/Exotic Shards come from?

A: Etheric Light is rewarded from Trials of Osiris, Nightfalls, Prison of Elders, & Iron Banner. Exotic Shards can be purchased from Xur or acquired via dismantling an Exotic.

Q: Can I Ascend a Rare?

A: No, only Legendary/Exotic items can be Ascended.

Q: Can I Reforge raid/PoE weapons, such as Fatebringer or Wolfslayer’s Claw?

A: No, you can only Reforge Tower vendor weapons that are dropped/bought once House of Wolves is released.

Q: Can I Reforge armor?

A: No, you can only Reforge House of Wolves weapons.

Q: Are the new House of Wolves items in

A: Not yet, they will be in the coming weeks, but Bungie has not added them to their Companion app yet.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please reply with it and this list will be updated to include it.


Legendary Armor

We only managed to catch one new perk for Legendary Armor, and it was found on the Legendary gauntlets from Variks the Loyal, the Kellbreaker’s Gloves. While given no name for this perk, the effect was listed as “Chance to generate Orbs when killing Fallen with melee attacks”. This perk is somewhat of a “reskin” of one introduced with The Dark Below on the Crota’s End gauntlets.

If the House of Wolves follows The Dark Below’s pattern, it’s possible we’ll see the Fallen equivalent of the remaining two options on gauntlets; namely, we could expect to see critical hits or grenades generating orbs as the remaining possible perks. The Prison of Elders gear that is available from Variks is scheduled to be on a rotation, so collecting these three would be doable given a few weeks.

house of wolves armor perks

As far as the perk itself goes, it could easily have some utility. Melee-susceptible fallen include Dregs and Shanks, along with lower-level Vandals. The ability functioned in The Dark Below by occasionally spawning an Orb next to the attacking Guardian immediately following a melee kill on a Hive. So, after a lucky melee strike on a floating Shank or Dreg, your teammates will have a chance to gain some Super energy, and potentially regenerate Health, and/or Melee or Grenade, depending on their other gear perks.

This is arguably the least effective of the triad. Critical hits spawning an Orb is much more reliable, and can be safely done from a distance with monumentally greater damage numbers on critical hits. Even grenade kills are easier to land without taking damage, though you are then handicapped by needing to wait at least 27 seconds (with max Discipline) for another shot. Melee kills are not time-gated; as long as you’re alive and close enough, you can use your melee as much as you want.

Still, we don’t know what sort of modifiers and what new enemies we might face, that will make Melee a risky proposition. All in all, this perk will likely just be an occasional boon for Fallen-heavy activities.



Fortunately, Bungie revealed a lot more to us in the way of new weapon perks. All of these were shown across Vendor Legendary variants, and they could pose as compelling even in lieu of some of Destiny’s more popular options at the moment. Without the perk names, we are relegated to using their descriptions, but we will update with these as soon as they are made available.

Keep in mind that even though we saw these perks on 1 or 2 weapon types, that doesn’t mean that the perk is limited to only that weapon type.

Legendary Tower

“Rapidly landing precision hits will return one round to the magazine” – Hand Cannon/Scout Rifle

Word of Crota’s “Phantom Gift” seems to have made its way into the fold. We’ve talked about this perk in our Word of Crota review, as a somewhat buggy but occasionally appreciable benefit to have. If it has been in anyway patched – and with White Nail apparently having received attention, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility – we can see it being a little more appealing.

It’s best on any Hand Cannon with which you can reliably string together critical hits. This means either a low RoF, for easy reticle reset, or high Stability, if it’s otherwise difficult to manage accuracy with a high RoF. If you’ve got sure aim, you’ll have to reload less and have an effectively larger magazine.

As a lot of Hand Cannons struggle with ammo management, if any weapon was to have this perk, we’re glad it’s them. It can function as a patchwork Field Scout, but is most useful when you need to empty a magazine on a single target, such as a high HP boss. In PvP, you’re going to be better off with another perk.

“This weapon gains better target acquisition” – Sniper Rifle/Hand Cannon

Tough to say how this will impact the game. “Better target acquisition” is too vague to have an idea of what it will actually mean in practice. Our best guess is that it will offer a little more help with auto-aim and snapping-to-target. This will aid those who have a hard time keeping their scope steady in landing hits with regularity and precision. Making your shots count is essential for a sniper; the adage of “one shot, one kill” is the mantra of any seasoned marksman.

This perk will likely be most helpful to those who aren’t already comfortable with the Sniper Rifle. In PvP, it becomes doubly important to not miss a shot. Your opponents are better and will not give you the luxury of time, and with the dearth of Special Ammo, every miss is a costly hit to your killing efficacy.

house of wolves red hand ix

“Unassisted kills with this weapon reduce grenade and melee cooldown” – Hand Cannon/Shotgun

Grenadier’s older brother, we can see this one being extremely useful in PvE. “Unassisted” in this context, likely means without an ally contributing any damage. Solo players will not find this a drawback whatsoever, and it’s still not much of a hindrance in a fireteam. Thankfully, Hand Cannons have quite a lot of natural impact, and a certain few push this to even further levels.

This means a lot of one-shot kills that give both grenade and melee energy back. While it was hard to justify Grenadier over a useful perk like Outlaw or Crowd Control, this new option is hard to ignore. Any class that relies on its melee and grenades (Sunsinger comes to mind) should be on the lookout for it.

In PvP, it’s not going to be a game-changer. Coordinated fireteams often have at least one player getting an assist on an enemy, so it won’t be a reliable way to help your cooldowns. However, this is just on Hand Cannons. Shotguns are very greedy and are one of the most simple ways to guarantee an unassisted kill. Your cooldowns will thank you for finding one with this perk.

“Readying this weapon grants a brief period of bonus accuracy” – Hand Cannon

Our enthusiasm for this new perk is muted, to say the least. Hand Cannons already have high target-assist and base Range, even with a recent nerf. Anyone who frequently uses Hand Cannons knows that it’s not uncommon to empty an entire magazine without missing a shot, and this is before this new perk’s introduction. There are just too many appealing options for momentary accuracy to be a net gain as a trade-off.

If the effect is drastic enough, it could have some niche appeal in snagging long-range kills right off the bat, but once it wears off, you’re left with the same Hand Cannon as before. It might be better in PvP, for those who frequently switch weapons. Outlaw and Crowd Control aren’t nearly as necessary here, so a little accuracy on Hand Cannons might be helpful, depending on the Guardian using it.

vindicator house of wolves

“Kills with this weapon grant a brief boost to the sprint’s top speed” – Auto Rifle/Shotgun

This is definitely going to be a PvP staple. In average PvE content, it’s going to be best suited to a high-mobility build, for those who want to be constantly on the move. It can be used defensively, to guarantee a swift escape after getting a kill, or offensively, to quickly close the distance to the next unlucky victim.

Choosing it on an Auto Rifle over a Shotgun, you can obviously proc the interesting buff from a distance, and then make your decision as to how you’re going to use it. Note that you can’t fire while sprinting, so be sure to ADS out of it, canceling out the lag before you can begin sprinting again.

In PvP, this perk is no doubt going to be the subject of some consternation; Bladedancers with Fleet Footed are probably squealing with glee at the thought of rocketing around the battlefield unimpeded. No doubt this will contribute to the CQB metagame that PvP already encourages, and it will be interesting to see if it this will be a positive or negative shift.

“Melee kills while this weapon is equipped have a chance to refill the magazine” – Shotgun

A chance, what chance? The real deciding factor on this perk will be the percentage on it activating. If it’s 30% or higher, there could definitely be a place for this buff on your shotgun. If we’re looking at 10% or less, you might be better off avoiding it.

Shotgun blasts and melee kills go hand-in-hand, so this perk very naturally synergizes with the playstyle that Shotguns encourage. In PvE, there’s plenty of special ammo to go around, “Juggler” notwithstanding, so the real benefit will be in eliminating the need to reload when surrounded by enemies. A fortuitous proc can be the difference between a frustrating death when chambering a round and uninterrupted buckshot glee.

In PvP, again depending on the proc rate, this perk could be instrumental in circumventing or blunting the penalty of very little special ammo to go around. The “shotty beat down” combo from Halo is still a staple of several classes now in Destiny, and  landing an easy melee kill after taking a chunk off their health might potentially free you up to do more shotgun damage very soon after.

Weapons like Felwinter’s Lie, if down to one shot, could see a full six shots returned with a timely melee kill – very potent in the right hands.

hard luck charm house of wolves destiny

“This weapon’s magazine will be refilled whenever a Super is cast” – Shotguns

A more tactical choice than the Melee variant, you’ll have to be choosy about using your Super to make this go to work for you. In PvE, it’s probably best to use it after just having emptied the Shotgun magazine. Cast your super at a group of nearby trash mobs, then get right back into the fray with a full load of close-quarters death.

Again, special ammo isn’t at a premium in PvE, so getting the most of this perk means ensuring your Super is saved for when your Shotgun is gasping for ammo.

In PvP it actually could be more useful than the luck-based melee equivalent. Guardians who don’t abuse their Shotguns might prefer having a guaranteed 4-6 shots one, two, or even three times in a game over needing to get loads of melee kills and hoping the perk activates at just the right time. It’s a very momentum-based perk, of course. Without your super, you can’t refill your magazine, and you need shots in the magazine to earn your super back.

Still, it might be just enough to lighten the burden of managing special ammo; for some, this can make all the difference. Make sure to max your Intellect if you really want to let the ammo flow.

Be advised, the above perks have been displayed on the weapons we mentioned, but are not necessarily exclusively limited to them. A Shotgun perk we’ve listed above might be available on Pulse Rifles, or a Hand Cannon perk could be found on an Auto Rifle, etc.

Legendary Prison of Elders

“This weapon deals moderate bonus damage to Fallen Shanks” – Auto Rifles: Wolfslayer’s Claw

It seems likely that this perk may be limited to just this weapon, or at the very least a PoE exclusive. Obviously it has no ramifications for PvP, unless Shanks will be flying in sometime soon, so we’ll limit our discussion here to PvE.

Frankly, it seems a little bit underwhelming at the moment. Shanks are some of the least deadly Fallen enemies, and quickly dispatched when not boasting their admittedly strong Solar shields.

wolfslayer's claw prison of elders

Wolfslayer’s Claw also appears to be a non-elemental primary, so until you take down those Solar shields, you’re not going to be taking advantage of the bonus damage. But this is all speculation; wave after wave of Shanks – as we could very well see in the Prison of Elders – could easily begin to overwhelm even the most prepared fireteam. That bonus damage could be a lifesaver after all.


Your Favorite?

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably already entertaining the idea of Reforging the new House of Wolves weapons to make use of some of these potentially game-changing perks. There’s likely even more new Legendary perks that we haven’t seen, not to mention all of new Exotics and their unique attributes.

House of Wolves is already poised to infuse Destiny with new life, and some variety among weapons is a welcome addition to the party. With the ability to change the perks again and again, we’re going to see innovative combinations that leave us better-equipped than ever to deal with the new challenges we’ll face.

What do you think of these perks? Any that have you particularly excited? Are there any that you’d change? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments!