Destiny guide: using elemental weapons to smash shielded enemies

By Brenna Hillier, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 08:25 GMT

Destiny gets really, really hard at higher levels; our elemental guide will help you smash through Nightfall and Epic missions with ease.


Destiny uses a system of elemental weapons and shields to change up gameplay for the most difficult of its challenges.

Whether you’re tackling the regular Nightfall missions or taking on a special event challenge like the Queen’s Wrath, you’ll soon find yourself facing shielded enemies who just don’t seem to take enough damage from regular weapons.

Except at the very highest difficulty settings – Nightfall at level 28 for example – you can usually grind down these shields if you have patience and enough ammo, or you can take them out with Supers. But when you’ve got half a dozen of them wandering about, pouring bullets into you, well. It’s not ideal. Your best bet is to leverage elemental weapons to chew through those shields in no time.

There are three elements in Destiny: Solar (red), Arc (blue) and Void (purple). Uncommon, Rare and Legendary heavy and special weapons often have elemental damage output (as opposed to kinetic damage, the standard), and some Legendary and Exotic primary weapons do too.

Elemental damage doesn’t make any difference against normal enemies, so use whatever you like. It’s only against the shielded ones that you should think about your choice of weapon.

Did you know?

Headshots do not do critical damage against shields. Don’t bother aiming precisely while an enemy is shielded; put as many bullets in them as you can until the barrier comes down, then switch to popping off headshots to take them down fast.

Next time you see a shielded enemy, look at it closely; you should see the shield itself as a mostly transparent, coloured barrier around the character model. The colour of this barrier indicates which element the shield is composed of.

All you have to do to chew through this barrier is equip the matching element. So if you see a purple barrier, hit it with Void weapons, and so on.

Note that once an enemy’s shields are down, there’s no need to use elemental weapons against them any more, so feel free to switch to another weapon.

Your Supers and Grenades also have elemental affiliations, so you can leverage those as well. As a reminder, here are the class elements:

  • Arc: Striker (Titan), Bladedancer (Hunter)
  • Void: Voidwalker (Warlock), Defender (Titan)
  • Solar: Gunslinger (Hunter), Sunsinger (Warlock)

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