With the introduction of Shadowkeep and the arrival of a wealth of new content, Destiny 2 has also seen a fundamental shift in how players can make Guardians their own. Armor 2.0 gives players a lot more control over how to build their character and express their creativity not only in fashion, but in function as well.
The entire economy of armor stats, perks, and mods has changed in such a way that new and interesting builds are popping up constantly. This is also thanks in no small part to a new seasonal artifact system whereby players can progress and unlock even more mods for their character. Here are some examples of some powerful Guardian builds that wouldn't be possible before Shadowkeep.
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Top-Tree Sunbreaker—Code of the Fire-Forged Hammerstrike is an exceedingly powerful ability that not only does a ton of damage to the target, but weakens them such that they take 30 percent extra damage from all fireteam members for 10 seconds.
Peregrine Greaves Introduced to D2 in Season of Opulence (returning from D1), the Peregrine Greaves allow Titans to do significantly greater damage with their charging melee ability if used while in the air. Technically this buff applies to the shoulder charge from top-tree Striker (Code of the Earthshaker) and the shield bash in the bottom-tree Sentinel (Code of the Aggressor).
Explosive Finisher Mod Finishers are also a new addition with Shadowkeep and the modifications for these have proven to be very useful. One in particular that I love using is the Explosive Finisher Mod used on your Arc-attuned class item. Upon use of this finisher, you trade a fifth of your super energy in return for all your grenade energy back instantly.
Monte Carlo Another exotic returning from Destiny 1, the Monte Carlo auto rifle provides melee energy back every time you damage an enemy with this weapon. It also provides a stacking rampage-like damage boost with every kill and the chance to refill your melee energy complete with every kill as well.
Loaded Question Pinnacle weapon found by completing a quest received from Zavala in the Tower. An excellent burst damage weapon that can take out waves of enemies due to the high area of effect damage it unleashes when your target is killed.
Intellect Mods Help increase super energy generation speed. More super means more finishers
So what does this all mean? It means that your Titan will be dishing our Hammer strikes left and right. Build up that melee ability with your shiny new Monte Carlo. Sprint at your target until you see the blur on the edges of the screen (this means "full speed" for Titans). If you don’t have enough space, running in circles or into a wall can help. Once near the ill-fated enemy of choice, leap into the air and attack head on in true Titan fashion.
If by some miracle your target survives, they’ll be taking tons of extra damage from your fireteam’s weapons thanks to the Hammer Strike buff for 10 seconds after you unleash your fury. On top of this massive single target damage, you’ll be able to spam your grenades thanks to your finisher mod and continue using the finisher thanks to your Intellect mods. Enemies beware. Even in the darkest depths of the Moon, Sunbreakers shine bright.
Bottom-Tree Voidwalker—Attunement of Hunger The recently buffed Vortex Nova Bomb paired with the ability to either heal or do damage with your grenade makes for a dynamic playstyle that allows you to dive into the action and maintain survivability when necessary. This survivability is bolstered even further when players use Devour, a unique melee ability that heals your Guardian completely upon use.
Nezarec’s Sin An ominous exotic helmet that allows for continuous use of your void abilities. The perk is as follows: Abyssal Extractors—Void damage kills increase ability energy recharge rate. This means that both ability kills and void weapon kills will recharge everything in your kit.
Gahlran’s Right Hand with Demolitionist and Anti-Barrier Rounds In the current sandbox, there is only one kinetic primary that can roll with the perk Demolitionist and also use Anti-Barrier Rounds—Gahlran’s Right Hand auto rifle from the Crown of Sorrow’s Raid. Demolitionist is a relatively new perk that provides grenade energy on every kill and reloads the weapon upon use of that grenade. The reason for the Anti-Barrier rounds will become apparent in a moment.
Epicurean Fusion Rifle with Demolitionist (and preferably Feeding Frenzy) Found by slotting a Rune of Excess and any green run into your chalice in the Menagerie, the Epicurean is a void fusion rifle that can also role with Demolitionist. I always like carrying a weapon that uses special ammo in case I need a little extra kick. It might as well be void to feed my Abyssal Extractors and have Demolitionist to really boost my grenade use. Feeding frenzy would just be icing on the cake.
Breach Refractor This is the new Artifact mod that really ties the room together. It grants grenade energy on final blows with shield-piercing weapons or when a member of your fireteam shuts down a barrier champion’s ability. Remember we put Anti-Barrier rounds on our auto rifle? Here’s why. Stack this with Nezarec’s Sin and Demolitionist and you’ll be getting your grenades back in mere seconds when enemy density is high, but we know that won’t be for long.
Oppressive Darkness As long as we’re spamming grenades, let’s make them even more punishing to our enemies. With this mod, unlocked on the final column of the Artifact, causing damage with a void grenade adds a weaken effect to enemies. This means that hitting an enemy with your endless supply of grenades will also weaken them as if you had hit them with a Tractor Cannon or Hammer Strike. Not even fair.
Grenades are the heart and devouring soul of this build. Use them either offensively or defensively, but know that you will have a virtually unlimited supply. Every kill with your primary, with your secondary, and potentially your heavy helps boost their cooldown.
Your melee is also going to be key to your survival as well. This warlock excels by diving into the middle of the chaos and causing havoc of their own. Standing on the sidelines will waste the potential of this build. If you get low on health punch an enemy and you’ll be back to full. If you’re melee is on cooldown, hold the grenade button and consume your grenade for health. Kill some enemies with any weapon and be right back in the fight with a full kit. Minors, majors, elites, and bosses don’t stand and chance unless you are standing still. Now get in there and devour your enemies.
Bottom-Tree Arcstrider—Way of the Wind A sleeper in the PvP arena, Way of the Wind is entirely focused on speed, agility, and constant use of the infamous Hunter dodge ability. Your fingers will have to be quick and your aim must be precise, but if used correctly, this build will be a ton of fun to use and a nightmare for your opponents.
Arc Battery Grants overshield and reduced cooldown during activation for all arc class abilities. Found in the final column of the Artifact mod chart.
Oathkeepers Allow for indefinite holding of a bow in the sweet spot which can be very useful for peeking corners in the Crucible.
Accrued Redemption Bow Found in the first encounter of the new Garden of Salvation raid, Accrued Redemption is a precision bow that can hit like a truck. Pair this with a No Distractions perk and you’ll be confirming headshots left and right. For good measure, toss a Quick Access Sling mod on it as well. You’ll see.
Eriana’s Vow One of the newest and easiest to acquire exotics, Eriana’s is the first hand cannon to use special ammo. It takes two headshots to kill guardians in PvP, but with this build, we’re going to circumvent that just a bit.
Paragon mods Try to stack paragon mods so that you can re-earn you dodge ability as quickly as possible throughout a crucible match. It’s vital to survivability and outplaying opponents.
As mentioned above, the bottom-tree Arcstrider is all about constant movement, agility, and speed. Perks on this tree allow for increased sprint speed, faster cooldowns when wounded or sprinting, and it makes you harder to kill while dodging. Stack this extra dodge protection with the new Arc Battery mod and you’ll be virtually invincible with every dodge. With Way of the Wind, your dodge should be returning to you very quickly. Consider all of the extra cooldown buffs the tree brings, especially with all the paragon mods you’ve stacked on your armor.
As for your damage output, Accrued Redemption paired with Eriana’s Vow is quickly becoming a new meta pick for PvP enthusiasts everywhere. The sequence goes like this: With Oathkeepers equipped, you can hold your bow at optimum draw for as long as you like. Once you find your target, take a shot at their head for the crit. As the arrow is in flight, you can swap to Eriana’s immediately thanks to the Quick Access sling mod on your bow. Since you’ve already aimed at the head for the bow shot, getting a round out of Eriana’s for a quick headshot seals the kill almost instantly. Incredible damage paired with high speed and a short cooldown dodge will make this hunter build a must-try in the Crucible.
After all of this, one thing should be exceedingly clear. There is no such thing as a "best build" in Destiny 2’s new Armor 2.0 system. Whether you’re building for burst damage, survivability, PvE, PvP, raids, or running a specific kit, Shadowkeep has brought with it an incredible variety of ways to play the game effectively. What’s your favorite build? Comment down below and tell us how you like to play.