sleeper simulant vs exotic swords analysis

Sleeper Simulant vs Exotic Swords

Published on: Oct 17, 2015 @ 16:50

Contributing Author: Jay P.

Now that we finally have Sleeper Simulant, does it match up to the expectations? Is it worth using over an Exotic Sword?

You can see our full review for the Sleeper Simulant here.


Sleeper Simulant

Let’s first examine the areas in which the Sleeper Simulant excels. This ‘railgun’ is essentially a high-Impact Sniper rifle within the framework of a Fusion rifle. The Sleeper Simulant combined with the Ogre’s Fury buff is capable of taking Kagoor’s companion Ogre down with a single magazine. That’s a grand total of 3 critical shots to take out a Light-Level 300, tier 2 Ogre; certainly nothing to scoff at.

Any Tier 1 and non-shielded Tier 2 enemy will also fall to a single shot from the Sleeper Simulant, though it may be a waste to spend 1 of the 7 maximum shots on a low-priority enemy. But on the other hand, being able to reliably wipe out any troublesome minion with 1 “bullet” is a nice asset to have. Furthermore, in run-and-gun situations, the Sleeper Simulant is capable of inflicting more damage than a Rocket Launcher or Machine Gun, making it favorable over even a Year 2 Truth in such a scenario. Truly, in terms of single-bullet damage, the Sleeper Simulant is unmatched.

What Does It Lack?

As cool as the Sleeper Simulant is, there are few situations in which it beats the combination of a solid, high-impact Legendary sniper rifle and an Exotic Sword. Here are a few reasons as to why this is so:

  • Exotic Swords are much better options for the majority of encounters
  • A Legendary sniper rifle is capable of dealing more DPS than SS
  • Sleeper Simulant’s theoretical DPS settles around 6500-8500
  • Exotic Swords & Sniper Rifles can have better damage output


Which is Better?

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A popular question has arisen as Sleeper Simulant continues to find its way into the inventories of Guardians everywhere: should I use my Simulant over my Exotic Sword? It’s a fair question to be sure, but it doesn’t come with a clear-cut answer; this goes for both PVE and PVP. We’ll be looking at both the Simulant and the class of Exotic Swords to compare their utility out in the wilds of the Solar System and in the arenas of the Crucible.

Ammo Reserves

Before we begin highlighting the performances of the weapons in different environments, it is important to distinguish how each Heavy Weapon holds and consumes ammo.

The Simulant acts like any other Fusion Rifle, only that it releases a single high-powered bolt upon a full charge. Each charge consumes 1 round of Heavy ammo from its 3 round magazine and can carry up to 7 rounds total. If you have armor that comes with an extra Heavy ammo perk then you can boost the total capacity up to 9 rounds. Fresh Heavy ammo drops in the Crucible give 4 to 5 rounds for the Simulant, again depending on the presence of extra Heavy ammo perks.

All Swords behave differently from other Heavies in that they have a variety of moves that use different amounts of Heavy ammo. A simple ‘light’ slash consumes 1 unit of Heavy ammo, a midair ‘heavy’ spin costs 2 units, and a signature Exotic move eats 5 units. Holding a guard up without any incoming fire uses about 1 unit per second; blocking attacks can cause your Heavy reserves to drop like a stone depending on the strength and frequency of the blocked attack, or if the elemental damage matches your Sword’s guard.

The capacity of Exotic Swords is tied to the number of Scabbard nodes you choose over the Exotic Sword’s other perks. You can carry up to 81 units if you opt for both Scabbard nodes. One full Heavy ammo brick from the Crucible grants 40 units for an Exotic Sword spec’d for maximum ammo capacity.


There are a number of PVE events that both the Simulant and Swords are commonly used in but the most popular activities are Patrol, Strikes, and Raids.

The Simulant is used to deal massive amounts of damage to a single target. Is there a Major you need to vaporize? The Simulant’s got you covered. Need to put a sizeable dent in an Ultra’s health bar? Introduce them to your ricocheting railgun! Please note that the chances of your round hitting another target in between ricochets are slim and shouldn’t be relied upon. What you can rely on though is a surefire method of dishing out enormous damage to enemies from a distance without having to close the gap. This is especially useful against enemies that use a ground pound (i.e. most Strike bosses) or are risky trying to fight up close (like Taken Captains). Certain Raid bosses will feel the punch that the Simulant packs more than others, particularly if they have a critical spot; such bosses include Atheon and both of Oryx’s Daughters. Heavy ammo is usually hard to come by so it’s recommended to use the Simulant sparingly unless it’s raining purple ammo or you’re a Titan running Ruin Wings.

Each of the Exotic Swords has a signature ability that is intended for a particular use, with the Bolt Caster for ranged attacks, the Dark-Drinker for AoE attacks, and the Raze-Lighter for damaging a single target. Aspects of the Sleeper Simulant can be found in the Bolt Caster and the Raze-Lighter while the Dark-Drinker is the odd duck out, though it can still deal sizeable amounts of damage to bosses when applied properly. If you use your Sword for nothing but Exotic attacks, you can pull off 17 of them with both Scabbards active.

Opting for Warrior of Light over the final Scabbard increases your Exotic attack by 25% at the cost of 17% max ammo capacity; you get 67 units altogether which grants 14 harder-hitting Exotic attacks. The Bolt Caster’s Blade of Thunder allows you to damage a single enemy safely and reliably. The Raze-Lighter’s Phoenix Uppercut (and, to some extent, the Dark-Drinker’s Supermassive Vortex) will deal more damage than its Arc sibling to the same target if it doesn’t have any elemental shield active; but you have the caveat of going toe-to-toe with your target for the attack to connect. If you can safely manipulate an enemy capable of a ground pound into using it, you have a small window to slice and dice them before retreating to avoid their next stomp.

As the content you use your weapons in gets more difficult, you’ll find both weapon classes aren’t quite as effective as they were in lower-level content. This is especially apparent when jumping from regular Vanguard Strikes at Level 36 and going into Heroic Strikes at Light 260. All of a sudden you find certain Majors surviving with a sliver of health after taking a Simulant shot to the dome or you need one or two extra slices from your Sword to bring them down. It is this writer’s opinion that you ought to use the cost-effective slashes of an Exotic Sword with an occasional Special attack to see yourself through most of a Strike and whip out the Simulant for the final encounter.


Your choice of Heavy Weapon class in the competitive arenas will determine how you use it: stay at range or get up close and personal.

Just as with PVE, using the Simulant grants you the luxury of firing at range and still retains its ridiculous levels of Impact. This blaster can destroy anything with an instant OHKO on bodyshots alone; this includes active hammer-throwing Sunbreakers. With one of the Exotic Swords being the exception, no other weapon in the game is capable ofeasily or consistently accomplishing this. The ricochets are again unreliable in Crucible but can randomly net a multikill when the stars align. Be sure that your sights are well past a corner by the time you reach full charge if firing from around one, or you’ll likely melt yourself with the bolt returning from its first bounce.

Swords have high ammo capacity, granting prolonged use to skilled players practicing discretion. You’ll want both Scabbard nodes active as Warrior of Light is redundant in Crucible given any kind of Sword attack is typically a OHKO. If you use it for nothing else, you have eight Exotic attacks before hitting empty. Sword users can utilize the over-shoulder camera view to peek around corners without making themselves open to gunfire. The most practical of the Exotic Swords would be the Bolt Caster for its ability to kill at range with its pseudo-tracking projectiles.

The Raze-Lighter and Dark-Drinker are generally not recommended as their Exotic attacks require the same thing as a simple slash: getting up close with the enemy. Shotguns are still the prevalent Special Weapon in the PVP metagame as of 2.0.1 and it’s very likely you’ll be greeted with a blast of buckshot as you move in to slice them. Then there’s the subject of hard-to-kill Guardians like Sunbreakers and Stormcallers when their Super goes active…which is actually where the Lighter and Drinker can outshine the Caster in PVP. If you can get close enough, these blades’ Exotic abilities will outright kill any Guardian with an active Super. But by doing so you are more than likely going to be killed by that Super and lose your Heavy ammo in the process. This trade might be considered ineffective, but stopping a rampaging Sunbreaker could mean the difference between Shaxx proclaiming your victory or chastising your defeat.

In the end, the Simulant proves to be the more tantalizing option for Lord Shaxx’s domain. You’ll get less ammo but it’s hard to say no to that stopping power and even harder considering the ability to destroy a Sunbreaker safely at range.

The gun looks and sounds amazing, and the ricochet rounds are fun, but at the end of the day, I cannot justify using this gun over the Black Spindle, Exotic Swords, or just any other more versatile Exotic Weapon.