While Destiny 2’s sandbox has traditionally been a simple one that offers more width than depth, the developers at Bungie have made strong efforts to give players tools to put together powerful and creative builds over the course of 2020 and beyond. Thanks to the addition of three new stat types, the Armor 2.0 system, and dozens of armor mods that tweak moment-to-moment gameplay, creating and using builds is more relevant than ever before.
However, many players may have a hard time knowing where to start when it comes to builds, especially if they’re not franchise veterans (if that’s you, check out my beginner’s guide on how to get into Destiny 2 for a broader overview of the game overall).
If you’re not sure what build to use or how to make a build of your own, don’t worry — I’m here with an overview of some of the best builds in Destiny 2 for both PvE and PvP, as well as a crash course on how you can start forming your own builds.
Destiny 2 best builds: Titan
In general, Titans are at their strongest when they’re getting up close and personal with enemies in PvE as well as PvP. As such, the best Titan builds emphasize close-range combat with shotguns, swords, and melee attacks. They also have the best options for damage mitigation and tanking out of the three classes.
Ward of Dawn Endgame build
- Subclass: Sentinel, Code of the Protector
- Exotics: Helm of Saint-14, The Lament
- Weapons: Masterworked primary, preferred shotgun
- Primary armor stats: Recovery, Intellect
- Important mods: Taking Charge, Stacks on Stacks, Supercharged, Lucent Blade, Protective Light
This build is my personal go-to for Nightfalls and Raids in Destiny 2, as it provides you with strong defensive tools like Code of the Protector’s melee ability and Protective Light while also heavily enhancing your close-range sword damage with Lucent Blade — something that helps immensely against Champions and many boss enemies. Just make sure that your primary weapon is masterworked so you generate lots of Orbs of Power (and thus, Charged with Light stacks for Protective Light and Lucent Blade).
Additionally, thanks to the fact you have high Intellect, you’ll also be getting your Ward of Dawn Super fairly frequently. This Super is phenomenal for protecting both you and your teammates in sticky situations, and it also buffs allies that go inside of it with Weapons of Light. This effect dramatically increases damage output while active. The Helm of Saint-14 Exotic makes bubbles even more useful, as it provides you and your allies with an overshield that refreshes each time you strafe in and out of the bubble.
Icefall Mantle Tank build
- Subclass: Any
- Exotics: Icefall Mantle, Heir Apparent OR The Lament
- Weapons: IKELOS_SMG_v1.0.2, preferred shotgun
- Primary armor stats: Resilience, Recovery
- Important mods: Wrath of Rasputin, Warmind’s Protection, Global Reach, Fireteam Medic
This is a subclass-independent Warmind Cell PvE build that’s centered around the Icefall Mantle Exotic and is all about turning yourself into the ultimate frontline tank. The Icefall Mantle allows you to trade your barricade, your high jumps, and your ability to sprint for a very resilient overshield. This allows you to survive attacks from enemies that would normally kill you, especially in endgame activities like Nightfalls. As you kill enemies with your IKELOS SMG, you’ll also be making Warmind Cells that will reduce enemy damage. If needed, you can also destroy these to instantly heal you (and any nearby teammates). If you want to be even tankier, you can use the Heir Apparent for its Arc shield that activates when you spin it up at full health. Alternatively, you could use The Lament for massive close-range DPS.
Since this build is Icefall Mantle focused, you’re going to want as much Resilience as you can get. This is because Resilience makes your barricade recharge faster, and since the Icefall Mantle replaces your barricade ability, having high Resilience shortens the cooldown of the Icefall Mantle overshield.
Behemoth PvP build
- Subclass: Behemoth (with Cryoclasm Aspect)
- Exotics: Antaeus Wards, Salvation’s Grip
- Weapons: Preferred primary, preferred shotgun
- Primary armor stats: Recovery, Mobility
- Important mods: Targeting/unflinching aim, shotgun scavenger
This is without question the best build that Titan players can take into PvP in the Destiny 2: Beyond Light era, and it’s focused entirely on taking advantage of how powerful the Behemoth subclass’ Cryoclasm Stasis Aspect is. Slide-shotgunning is the absolute best way to push against the other team in the game (especially if you have a strong PvP shotgun like Felwinter’s Lie), and the Cryoclasm Aspect makes your slides faster and longer. This makes you harder to hit, and it also means that you can execute the slide-shotgun combo before the enemy even sees it coming.
Antaeus Wards increase your safety by reflecting enemy attacks for a brief window each time you slide, and you can use the Salvation’s Grip to freeze enemies for a quick kill with the Cryoclasm Aspect’s empowered slide. Make sure to equip targeting and unflinching mods that match your primary weapon choice, and don’t forget shotgun scavenger either since it will ensure you always have ammo.
Destiny 2 best builds: Hunter
Hunters are strongest when you take advantage of their high mobility and burst damage potential in both PvE and PvP. Due to this, the strongest Hunter setups are centered around taking advantage of the class’ positioning and/or its DPS strengths.
Celestial Nighthawk Endgame build
- Subclass: Gunslinger, Way of the Sharpshooter
- Exotics: Celestial Nighthawk
- Weapons: Masterworked primary, preferred special, preferred heavy
- Primary armor stats: Recovery, Intellect
- Important mods: Taking Charge, Stacks on Stacks, Supercharged, Energy Converter, Firepower, Innervation
This Charged With Light mod-heavy build is completely centered around getting your Golden Gun super back quickly. This, when paired with the Celestial Nighthawk Exotic, will allow you to kill Nightfall Champions incredibly consistently. Additionally, it will also allow you to do huge boss DPS in Raids, which your fireteam will love you for. To make your super recharge faster is equip the mods listed above and masterwork your favorite primary weapon and collect the Orbs of Power that drop when you get multikills with it to get Charged With Light. Then, throw your grenade to replenish a large chunk of your super energy. Further Orbs of Power will both contribute to your super charge and return your grenade energy to you, allowing you to keep the recharging cycle going until your Golden Gun is ready again. High Intellect will also help charge your super, too.
Versatile Stasis Revenant build
- Subclass: Revenant (with Shatterdive Aspect), Gambler’s Dodge
- Exotics: Monte Carlo, The Sixth Coyote
- Weapons: Preferred special, preferred heavy
- Primary armor stats: Recovery OR Mobility, Discipline
- Important mods: Charge Harvester, Stacks on Stacks, Protective Light
This is a versatile Stasis build that works well in both PvE and PvP. It’s focused on allowing you to constantly recharge your melee ability so you can freeze enemies and then Shatterdive them for easy kills. The Sixth Coyote allows you to use Gambler’s Dodge two times before it goes on cooldown, giving you two easily accessible full recharges on your melee ability. In instances where you can’t dodge, you can get melee energy back quickly by damaging foes with Monte Carlo. As far as stats go, Recovery is always a fantastic choice, but you can also opt for higher Mobility instead for a faster dodge recharge time. The second stat you should go with is Discipline so your grenade recharges relatively quickly as well.
The Charged With Light mods aren’t super important, but Protective Light is helpful in high-level content like Nightfalls and Raids. Notably, since Monte Carlo doesn’t have a catalyst (and by extension, no way to masterwork it), you can’t use it for generating Orbs of Power. Therefore, as opposed to using the Taking Charge mod, you should use Charge Harvester for this build because it has a small chance to make you Charged With Light whenever you kill an enemy.
Spectral Blades PvP build
- Subclass: Nightstalker, Way of the Wraith
- Exotics: Gwisin Vest
- Weapons: Preferred primary, preferred shotgun, preferred heavy
- Primary armor stats: Recovery OR Intellect, Mobility
- Important mods: Targeting/unflinching aim, scavenger for special
If you want a simple PvP-focused build that will dominate, look no further than this Spectral Blades-focused one. Way of the Wraith is one of the best PvP subclasses in the game, and it’s arguably the best one for Hunter due to the fact that you go invisible on headshot kills if you’re at full health. Additionally, Spectral Blades is nasty in PvP because of how fast it makes you, and if you use it smartly you’ll often get 3-5 kills against the other team. Gwisin Vest extends the duration of the super when you get kills with it, too, which is awesome. For stats, Recovery and Mobility are what you should hunt for since quick healing and high jump height are great for PvP. You could switch Recovery out for Intellect if desired, which will give you a faster Spectral Blades charge time.
One of the best things about this build is that it’s very applicable regardless of the weapons you like to use. Whether you’re a crackshot sniper or an aggressive shotgunner, this build will work excellently.
Destiny 2 best builds: Warlock
Warlocks are unique in that they are more support-oriented compared to Titans and Hunters. Therefore, Warlock builds that encourage a support playstyle are among the most powerful and effective. If you want a build geared towards lethality instead, aim for a setup that recharges your abilities quickly.
Voidlock PvE build
- Subclass: Voidwalker, Attunement of Chaos OR Attunement of Hunger
- Exotics: Nezarec’s Sin
- Weapons: Masterworked Void primary, preferred special, preferred heavy
- Primary armor stats: Recovery, Discipline OR Intellect
- Important mods: Taking Charge, Stacks on Stacks, Supercharged, High Energy Fire OR Lucent Blade, Protective Light
If you want all-out offense as a Warlock, your best bet is the tried-and-true “Voidlock” build that’s centered around getting plenty of Void kills with your weapons and abilities to proc the Nezarec’s Sin Exotic, which will in turn boost the recharge rate of all of your abilities. Either Nova Bomb Voidwalker skill tree works excellently here (avoid Nova Warp), and as for your Void primary weapon (don’t forget to masterwork it!), I recommend either Gnawing Hunger or a Reckless Oracle. When it comes to armor stats, I recommend Recovery for good health regen and Discipline for faster grenade cooldowns. You could opt for Intellect here if you want, but in my experience, Void grenades are fantastic for keeping your Nezarec’s Sin well fed with Void kills.
I also like to use the same Charged With Light mods that I use for the Titan Ward of Dawn build here, although I recommend swapping out Lucent Blade for High Energy Fire since its global damage buff to all weapons helps you rack up kills with your Void primary. Lucent Blade is a better choice if you want to use swords for big DPS, though.
Well of Radiance Nightfall build
- Subclass: Dawnblade, Attunement of Grace
- Exotics: Phoenix Protocol
- Weapons: Preferred IKELOS/Seventh Seraph primary, preferred special, preferred heavy
- Primary armor stats: Recovery, Intellect OR Discipline
- Important mods: Wrath of Rasputin, Cellular Suppression, Global Reach, Fireteam Medic
This is the ultimate support build for Nightfall runs, as Phoenix Protocol allows you to recharge your Well of Radiance super very quickly as long as you and your teammates are getting kills while using a Well of Radiance. Additionally, the Divine Protection grenade ability is fantastic for healing your teammates in situations where you don’t have a Well of Radiance ready or when using one would be impractical. For stats, you should primarily go with Recovery for strong health regen and Intellect for an additional boost to your Well of Radiance recharge rate. You could swap Intellect for Discipline if you want to use the Divine Protection grenade more often.
The build becomes even more powerful when you throw some Warmind Cell mods into the mix. Cellular Suppression allows you to blind enemies and reduce their damage by shooting your Warmind Cells, which is extremely helpful in Nightfalls at the Legend difficulty and above. Additionally, you can also destroy your Warmind Cells to heal you and your teammates with Fireteam Medic, which is great for scenarios where your Divine Protection ability is on cooldown.
Versatile Stasis Shadebinder build
- Subclass: Shadebinder (with Frostpulse and Iceflare Bolts Aspects)
- Exotics: Eyes of Another World, Monte Carlo
- Weapons: Preferred special, preferred heavy
- Primary armor stats: Recovery, Discipline
- Important mods: Charge Harvester, Stacks on Stacks, High Energy Fire
This Shadebinder build is great in both PvE and PvP and is perfect for people who want to support the team by freezing enemies frequently. Eyes of Tomorrow helps keep your melee, grenade, and rift abilities off cooldown — all three of which can slow and/or freeze foes (assuming you’re using the Frostpulse Aspect). Additionally, Monte Carlo will further ensure that you pretty much always have your melee ability ready to go, which means that, if needed, you’ll always be able to freeze an enemy in emergency situations. Additionally, the Iceflare Bolts Aspect also makes it so that killing frozen enemies freezes other nearby enemies, keeping the icy chain of freezing going. For stats, you should go with Recovery and Discipline.
There’s not a whole lot of room in this build for advanced mods, but we can make use of a little Charged With Light goodness by equipping Charge Harvester, Stacks on Stacks, and High Energy Fire. This will allow you to enjoy a solid damage boost on all of your weapons when you shoot enemies between uses of your melee or grenade.
Destiny 2 builds: Tips for making your own builds
If none of the above builds sound good to you, or if you simply feel like getting creative yourself, I highly recommend experimenting and coming up with your own personal Destiny 2 build. If you’re not sure where to start, these tips will help get you going in the right direction.
- Choose one or two core goals for your build. Destiny 2 builds are best when you go all-in on one or two specific “themes” such as fast ability regen or strong damage reduction. Trying to be good at everything will result in underwhelming performance overall.
- Pick the right subclass and skill tree. You should make sure that you’re using the subclass and skill tree that best synergizes with your build goals. For example, if you want to heal teammates and you’re a Warlock, pick the Dawnblade subclass with the Attunement of Grace skill tree. In general, your subclass will act as the foundation for your builds.
- Make sure you choose the right Exotics. Exotics are a huge part of any strong build. This is because they typically enhance specific abilities or weapons, which in turn allows you to use them to specialize. Study what Exotics are in the game and pick the Exotic armor and/or weapon that’s ideal for your chosen build goals.
- Aim for 70+ points in two stats that synergize with your build. When searching for well-rolled armor, you should aim for at least 70 points or more in two stats (three is possible, but requires excellent RNG) that will help you achieve your build goals. For example, a build focused on damage mitigation will benefit the most from Recovery and Resilience. In general, I always recommend choosing Recovery as one of your target stats regardless of build. This is because good health regen is optimal in high-level content and PvP. However, you can sacrifice good Recovery and still be okay if you’d prefer to target another stat.
- Never go above 100 points in a stat category. The effects of a stat cap at 100 points, so any further points in the stat above that are wasted. Try to find armor that allows you to hit 100 in one of your build’s chosen stats, but doesn’t go higher.
- Use the right mods. Mods have been heavily fleshed out over time in Destiny 2, and as a result they’re some of the strongest build tools in the game right now (especially Charged With Light and Warmind Cell mods). Making good use of them isn’t that important for PvP builds, but mods are crucial for any top notch PvE build. You can also use stat adjustment mods that allow you to tweak specific armor stats up by 5 or 10 points, which is helpful if you’re struggling to get the specific armor rolls you want.
- Masterwork everything. Masterworking your weapons and armor is a great way to enhance your build’s overall effectiveness. Aside from flatly boosting all of your armor stats by a slight amount, masterworking your armor also allows you to use stronger mods or multiple weaker mods per armor piece. Masterworking weapons, meanwhile, boosts one of the weapon’s stats and allows them to generate Orbs of Power for you and your allies on multikills.
If you have any questions about builds, ask me in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer you. Also, make sure you check out my Destiny 2: Beyond Light review for my thoughts on Destiny 2’s latest expansion.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light is available now on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, and Windows 10 PCs for $40. The base game is free on all platforms, so if you haven’t tried it out yet, I highly recommend doing so since it’s one of the best Xbox One shooters available.
Wield the Darkness
Beyond Light is the next big expansion for Destiny 2, introducing a new element for Guardians to wield, a new area on the Jupiter moon Europa, a new story, and plenty of loot to go around.
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This post was written by Brendan Lowry and was first posted to WindowsCentral
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