Destiny’s shotgun and pulse rifle buffs mean it’s time to rethink your load-out

By Patrick Garratt
27 February 2015 13:36 GMT

Destiny’s most-ignored weapons got major boosts this week. It’s time to start thinking about how to work them into your set-up.


Even if you’re used to using scout rifles and sniper rifles as a general loud-out (neither class was touched by 1.1.1), the buffs to pulse rifles and shotguns should make you rethink your contextual approach to Destiny.

Destiny’s 1.1.1 update this week brought significant changes, including a heavy ammo glitch fix and some handy UI additions. While that’s all well, good and welcome, the real business was in weapon balancing. Based on some of the alterations, players should now be re-evaluating their approach to Destiny’s missions on a fundamental level.

A pulse rifle buff of 9.7% to damage was the headline. It’s fixed one of the more irritating weapons issues in Destiny, at least to me personally. Bad Juju is an exotic pulse rifle granted for completing Toland’s Legacy, a long bounty over which you’ll need to complete 25 strikes and accrue 10,000 Crucible points. It’s a grind. Bashing away at the same thing repeatedly is something any Destiny player is used to, but you do expect some kind of reasonable reward. Bad Juju just wasn’t that great, despite it having some nice perks. Chain of Curses instantly fills the magazine on scoring a kill, and there’s also a buff for increased hip-firing accuracy, but there was no punch. You couldn’t rely on it in a clinch as it didn’t bring 30-plus enemies down quickly enough. The same was true of pulse rifles across the board, so the damage increase is welcome. Bad Juju is now relevant, as it should be.

While most players will be glad of the attention paid to pulse rifles, Bungie also dropped a massive buff for shotguns in the latest patch. Shotguns often go ignored for anything other than PvP in Destiny, as fusion rifles, being more powerful over range, make a better PvE choice for a non-sniper special. Bungie went all-out with its shotgun damage increase yesterday, pushing it up 100% on non-player enemies. You have to get close, but post-update 331 shotgun slugs pack one hell of a punch. Now you have an answer to the minotaur rush. Pure, raw damage.

Even if you’re used to using scout rifles and sniper rifles as a general loud-out (neither class was touched by 1.1.1), the buffs to pulse rifles and shotguns should make you rethink your contextual approach to Destiny. I’ve added a new set-up to my repetoire based on this week’s update, which allows for maximum close-range power against rushing groups, such as minotaurs, thrall, hydras and goblins.

Here are my two main load-outs after this week’s update, as well as recommendations on what to put in each slot. I’ve left heavies off here. It’s a different discussion, and they weren’t affected by 1.1.1.

Distance and roaming load-out


  • Primary: Scout rifle
  • Special: Sniper rifle

This is my default set-up. I use this when generally moving through levels. It’s a flexible set-up that covers weaker, grouped enemies at mid-range and the ability to take down tougher opponents at distance, including bosses. It’s primary failing is the ability to handle closing enemies over small ranges.

I’m currently leveling a Vision of Confluence in the primary slot, as it has full-auto fire and elemental damage, but this is a 300 weapon and there are several other superb scout rifles worth considering. A personal favourite is the Badger CCL. This is a great gun. It has the highest critical impact in its class and ruinous effectiveness at range with the RLR5 scope applied. The Badger also comes with Third Eye, allowing you to see the radar while scoping. If you’re looking for something a little less like a sniper rifle, try Another NITC with a snappier scope. Range and impact both suffer compared to the Badger, but it has improved stability and the Luck in the Chamber perk, giving a random round in any magazine boosted damage.

I’m using Ice Breaker as the special right now, for reasons with which you’re no doubt well acquainted. This exotic is a prime choice for ranged kills, and its solar damage makes short work of shields on wizards and centurions. Ice Breaker was unquestionably the greatest sniper rifle in the game until recently, but I’ve seen an increasing number of top-level players saying they prefer Black Hammer thanks to its White Nail perk. Landing three quick crit hits refills the mag, making this an amazing weapon for taking down bosses and negating the forced wait for Ice Breaker to recharge. You can only get Black Hammer from drops in the Crota’s End raid.

Pressure and power load-out


  • Primary: Pulse rifle/scout rifle
  • Special: Shotgun

This set-up may take some getting used to. I play a Warlock (capital ‘W’ – Warlock for life), so the normal drill is to double-jump away at the slightest sign of being swamped. But with the new buffs, this combination makes for a formidable proposition, especially on the Vanguard Roc strike playlist. Taking down a centurion on Roc if you’re 30-plus is as simple as standing next to it with a shotgun and popping off a few shells.

I can’t recommend the pulse rifle wholeheartedly for tougher challenges such as the Nightfall. Getting close to, say, a yellow psion with the lightswitch modifier active is likely to end badly no matter your load-out (as my friend discovered last night when he left a trail of corpses all over Valus Ta’aurc’s lovely clean floor), so you’re arguably better off having a more powerful mid-range option when things get tough. A scout rifle’s best.

But now the shotgun buff’s been applied, you should get used to having one in the special slot regardless of the primary. It allows you to dash in, apply devastating damage to even the toughest opponents, and jump back to a safer range for the switch to primary. I’m immediately seeing many more shotguns being used in PvE.

As for choices, Bad Juju has to be the best option for the pulse rifle. Having your clip refilled on every kill-shot makes it a no-brainer for crowds. It’s particularly effective at clearing thrall once it’s powered up, so it’s a fine choice for the Crota raid. If you’re looking for an alternative, Oversoul Edict, a Crota’s End drop, delivers arc damage and fires full auto. Its second major buff is Dark Breaker, which allows it to fire through knight shields. If one of these pops up on the screen during Crota’s End, you’ve won for the day.

It’s great Bungie’s now given such a powerful incentive to properly explore Destiny’s shotguns. A primary choice is Swordbreaker, another drop from Crota’s End. The void damage on this will take down the praetorians at the beginning of Vault of Glass in two shots.

Unfortunately, if you’re not in a regular raid group you probably won’t be able to get your hands on one, but don’t despair. There are a number of other legendary shotguns worth considering. The Crash is a nice drop for lower levels, and Secret Handshake is currently serving me well. The Comedian is also constantly dragged up as a recommendation. They all have strengths and weaknesses based on perks, but, provided it’s a 331 purple shotgun, it’ll work.

If you want something particularly swish, Invective could be the gun for you. This exotic monster can only be obtained through the bounty A Dubious Task, and packs full-auto fire and a regenerating magazine similar to Ice Breaker’s. Up close, Invective’s a stunner. I’m working towards mine at the moment.

So there. Enjoy pulling pulse rifles and shotguns into your load-out. Now get back out there, guardian. The Darkness isn’t going to shoot itself.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

VG247 logo

Buy our t-shirts, yeah

They're far more stylish than your average video game website tat.

VG247 merch