This guide shows my insight on every trace rifle in the game currently and shows you how to use each trace rifle effectively based on my experience.
What is a Trace Rifle and Why should I Use It?
A trace rifle is a weapon class in Destiny 2 that shoots a powerful energy beam from it. These weapons are pretty rarely used currently so I’m here to shed light on them. In my opinion, they are severely underrated and deserve some recognition. I think you should use them because they are very versatile and great weapons to use casually. The current trace rifles in the game right now are Coldheart, Prometheus Lens, Wavesplitter, Divinity, Ruinous Effigy, Ager’s Scepter, and Retraced Path. I will go over all of these and give you my personal opinion on each, how to use them effectively in both PvE and PvP, their pros and cons, a final rating, and also maybe a bit more depending on the trace rifle. Trace Rifles are actually pretty good damage dealers for what they’re worth and vary in use, which is why I love them. Also, I won’t be going in the order that they came out, but I will instead go in order of my favorites to least favorites. I am making this guide because I want to see people using what they want to use and to have fun with these incredible weapons. I love trace rifles and I want to show you why.
Check out styropyro on YouTube for more context.
Coldheart is my favorite trace rifle currently because it is a great all-around trace rifle. It has great range and deals great damage as well. Coldheart is an Arc Trace Rifle introduced in Vanilla Destiny 2 made by Omolon. Coldheart uses liquid fuel as coolant and keeps the trace rifle at cold temperatures. And also, to those who think this should be stasis, that is false because the actual beam it shoots is Arc and also hot enough to leave burn marks on walls. Coldheart only is cold at its core, hence Coldheart. I personally recommend this trace rifle first for people who want to get used to trace rifles because it is “generic” as some say. This trace rifle’s perk is that it deals exponentially higher damage the more the trigger is held.
In PvE, this doubles as an add-clear and boss damage dealer. When by yourself, you chain adds and kill them faster the more you hold it down and they just start melting. And when you use it on bosses, it does pretty respectable damage, especially for a secondary. It does the best against elites and adds. You can see how powerful it is by aiming down sights and looking at the screen. It has 101 ammo in its magazine and has 505 max total. 88 is the lowest and 273 is the highest power. It charges from 88 to 273 power in about 4-5 seconds, so if you want to continuously melt things, hold down the trigger and reload quickly for best meltage. It also has a catalyst that increases its range.
In PvP, Coldheart is also very fun and useful. It also has very nice range and aim assist. At farther ranges, its aim assist starts to get very generous and it usually takes people by surprise at close to medium range. With trace rifles in general, aim at their heads at all costs (obviously), because if you don’t, you will most likely die. When aiming in PvP, you want to strafe when aiming your trace rifle, and also keep your hand steady as to not lose your lock of your target. Most trace rifles start out with 50 ammo and about 26 per ammo drop. At its least, it will probably take around 20 ammo to kill. Coldheart has pretty long range and if you have a lot of ammo, you might want to hold it a lot when there is more than one enemy, because at full power, it starts to melt without a chance for the other player. Coldheart also does hefty damage against supers, barriers, and warlocks in healing rifts. It might take a bit to get used to trace rifles in PvP if you are very new to them but they are generally pretty beginner friendly in my early experiences.
- Beginner Friendly
- All-Around – many uses
- Boss Damage
- Good in PvP
- Generous range and aim assist
- Surprises players at close to medium range
- Masterwork gives more range
- Long-ish charge time
- Its only unique perk is often overlooked
- Average in some aspects
In the end, I would rate this an 8.5/10 for its capabilities, but when compared to other exotic trace rifles, it sometimes seems lacking. People often overlook its perk and say that it shouldn’t be exotic. But, I guess I am a bit biased because of 2017 nostalgia and the coolness of it at first. I’d say it is a solid trace rifle and its pros outweigh its cons.
Ruinous Effigy is my second favorite (and arguably tied for first) trace rifle in the game. Ruinous Effigy is a void trace rifle that was introduced in Season of Arrivals / Season 11 for season pass owners. Luckily, it to free to all players now. Ruinous Effigy shoots a void beam that creates a collapsed void ball when you defeat an enemy with it. When you pick it up, you can do a light, heavy, or guard / drain attack. The ball has about 30 seconds for you to use it and the timer gets closer to 0 the more you use the light or drain attack. The heavy attack uses the entire rest of the timer and slams it on the ground, with a powerful AOE (Area of Effect) wave. The wave will kill any players in about a meter range and will do around 50,000 – 70,000 damage to enemies. I love this trace rifle because, it is the most fun to use in my opinion, and, like Coldheart, is pretty all-around. It does have significantly less range and aim assist (Fun fact: Ruinous Effigy is the only trace rifle without max aim assist; it has 84/100) than Coldheart, though. Its recoil pattern is easier to manage than most other trace rifles, as it tends vertical.
In PvE, you can kill an low rank enemy and chain light attacks on a boss or just through adds or an elite and use your heavy attack at the last moment to maximize its usage. Also, you can have multiple instances of the orb; it isn’t a max of 1 orb at a time. The orbs do eventually disappear if you don’t pick them up after a certain amount of time, but you will be able to tell when it is about to disappear. It doesn’t have any useful information when you ADS, (Aim Down Sights) though. Also, the orb will give you some health when you use Drain on enemies. Ruinous Effigy’s catalyst will make the trace rifle do increased damage to enemies damaged by the orbs. Ruinous Effigy’s beam does surprisingly powerful damage against targets. I think it’s still good for DPS though, especially when you use the orbs. It has 94 ammo in its magazine and has 438 max total ammo without any mods.
In PvP, Ruinous Effigy is a blast, literally. It feels like it has a lot shorter range than it actually does because of the damage and aim assist drop off. But when used at medium to close range, it shreds its enemy. It can have a very quick kill time if you use it right. The best part is using the orb after you kill them. Sometimes it doesn’t work (as in you get your face blasted off by a shotgun) but other times, it works MIRACLES. If you wait behind cover, you can execute your prey, or you can go into a large group of unsuspecting victims and annihilate them, though this is pretty risky. I’d recommend using this weapon at a close to medium range and not at a long range as the drop off is pretty harsh. I’d recommend to use Ruinous Effigy if you are more experienced and used to trace rifles.
- SO MUCH FUN
- Stylish Ornaments
- Hefty damage, especially with orb
- Fast kill time
- Orb is not expected by most in crucible; pretty good at ambushes
- Multiple Orbs
- Harsh Drop Off in Aim Assist and Damage
- Not very beginner friendly
- Weakness to shotguns (Transmutation Orb)
- Beam thickness and sound effects feel off to many
Overall, I’d rate Ruinous Effigy a 7/10. It is very fun and once you get into it, it feels like you’re on a roll. Although, some of its stats feel lacking when compared to other trace rifles. It also feels like the beam’s damage doesn’t fit for how skinny it looks and the sound it makes, but those don’t matter as much, as long as you ignore it.
Now, Divinity is considered by many to be the best trace rifle. I have no reason to object, for when I first got Divinity, I used it in my main load-out for a few seasons. Divinity is an Arc trace rifle introduced in Shadowkeep with intrinsic Overload in it. Divinity requires you to complete a quest for it, which requires you do to the raid, Garden of Salvation with a few easy puzzles in it. Divinity has a perk that allows it to create a giant critical-damage bubble when it is being shot at a target. This bubble also pops after about 50 ammo each. This pop does a big chunk of damage, which is why this exotic trace rifle leads in the DPS category for trace rifles. This exotic is also more used than the other trace rifles, because of its critical bubble on raid, nightfall, and dungeon bosses.
In PvE, it is very useful against elites and bosses, but not so much for add-clear. The bubble activates after 1-2 seconds after Divinity hits its target so it usually kills the add before its perk can even be useful. It also is very nice for Grandmaster Nightfalls because of its bubble and its intrinsic Overload perk. When using Divinity against bosses, champions, and elites, you don’t want to hold down the trigger, but instead kinda flicker it, so that it conserves ammo and ensures that the bubble stays on for the longest possible time. When doing this, make sure the bubble stays on and doesn’t disappear. Divinity has 447 ammo maximum without mods and 194 ammo in its magazine, which allows for about 4 bubble pops per magazine, and about 20-30 seconds for the bubble each magazine. Keep in mind that Divinity doesn’t have a catalyst (yet).
In PvP, Divinity also tears through enemies. Once the bubble activates, the enemy can’t hide behind cover and they have a giant critical spot for anyone to shoot at. Divinity is extremely underrated in PvP, as well. You barely even have to aim it so you should probably use this if you aren’t used to trace rifles in PvP. This is a very beginner friendly trace rifle. (Also, if anyone wants help through the quest-line; just message me on discord @ robocat52#4896. Make sure you have Shadowkeep before messaging me) Divinity has a surprisingly long range and kill time. Sometimes it does feel like it just won’t activate the bubble for some reason, but that doesn’t happen often. Divinity is probably the most reliable in PvP out of the trace rifles if you aren’t good with trace rifles in PvP. When using this in PvP, try aiming at their chest because it is the easiest place to activate the bubble.
- Beginner Friendly
- No need to aim much
- Useful in high-level activities
- Best trace rifle for boss DPS
- Good in PvP
- Quest-line to acquire this
- Bad at add-clear
- Sometimes bubble doesn’t activate
- No catalyst
Overall, I would rate Divinity a 9/10, for its usefulness in high-level activities and consistency. Divinity is a very reliable trace rifle and weapon in general. The only reason it isn’t my favorite is because I love the feeling of aiming my trace rifle and tracingmy enemies.
Wavesplitter is an exotic I wish I could rank higher, but it gets no love from Bungie and feels a bit underwhelming in some aspects. Well, that’s not entirely correct, as it is a great trace rifle. What I meant by that is that it has no masterwork nor ornaments. As only exotic trace rifle without an ornament, I feel inclined to put it here. But if you ignore that, it is a fantastic trace rifle. Just so that everyone knows, I have a bias towards void weapons; actually anything void at all. You have to admit it’s concept is pretty cool. Anyways, Wavesplitter is an exotic void trace rifle introduced in Forsaken (From Omolon), and is probably the other most common trace rifle I have seen in PvP other than Prometheus Lens. It fluctuates in damage over time, and apparently emits sonic waves that super-heat atoms into a focused void beam, which is the coolest explanation for a weapon in Destiny I have ever heard. This beam’s 3 power levels fluctuate at regular intervals. Also, picking up an orb supercharges it into a fat, powerful beam. It’s a very fun and interesting exotic that is great to use casually.
In PvE, it honestly feels a bit underwhelming to me. It’s good at moments, but it feels too inconsistent to actually rely on. I’d much rather just use Ruinous Effigy because it is more consistent and even at Wavesplitter’s best, it doesn’t compare much to Coldheart, and Ruinous Effigy is just tiny a bit worse than its best, without the orbs even. Now I’m not trying to discourage anyone from Wavesplitter, but to me, it just feels like there are better options. It does fine, just not what an exotic should feel like in my opinion. I just think that Coldheart is just this, but better. Wavesplitter has some add-clearing capabilities, though. And it sometimes is pretty good against elites. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t bad in PvE, just there are better options. On to a better note, Wavesplitter has a really cool ADS screen and effects. There are digitized sound waves, a green bar, and tesla coils, each shows something different. The digitized sound waves show the frequency you are shooting, or you can just look at the beam. The green bar goes down depending on your ammo in the magazine, and the tesla coils heat up the more the beam is shot. Speaking of ammo, it has 100 ammo in its magazine and 475 ammo maximum without any mods.
Now, for PvP, this thing is incredible. Its kill to is very fast and it has a great range. It can combat most meta weapons, too. I love this in PvP because it has the ability to kill and surprise unsuspecting victims, from far away this time! Well, when I say it has great range, it doesn’t quite reach Coldheart’s amazing range, but it is still very far. And after you pick up an orb, run to the nearest enemy and absolutely shred him. This weapon is far superior in PvP than PvE, so I’d definitely recommend this for PvP, especially because it can combat meta weapons (or at least in my experience).
- PvP Overlord
- Supercharge shreds
- Generous aim assist and range
- Combats most weapons at most ranges
- Add-clear and elites
- Cool ADS effects
- Easy to use
- Underwhelming in PvE
- No Masterwork
- No Ornaments
- Usually better options
- Very inconsistent
Overall, I’d rate this a 5.5/10. This is due to its poor performance in PvE, but if I were to rank it in only PvP, it would be a 9/10. I just feel Wavesplitter is inconsistent and hard to rely on. But I will say it is fun and I love its concept, but I think it deserves a Catalyst and at least one ornament like most of its exotic brethren. I wouldn’t say it’s hard to use but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.
Now, Prometheus Lens is the most basic of the exotic trace rifles in my opinion. By that, I mean it is good in about every category, and also recognized for it. Prometheus Lens is a solar trace rifle that was introduced in Curse of Osiris / Season 2 of Destiny 2. Prometheus Lens makes a sphere of fire where it shoots, and also has subsistence which means it gets ammo inserted in the magazine for each kill it gets. The more you shoot Prometheus Lens, the more the sphere grows so, like Coldheart, you want to keep the trigger held for as long as possible. In my opinion, Prometheus Lens is just so mediocre compared to other trace rifles. It just feels kind of… boring to me. But don’t let that discourage you from using it. Prometheus Lens has a crystal inside of it that allows it to spread fires across the floor. Even if its premise feels boring to me, this trace rifle is still my fourth favorite trace rifle just because it is so fun.
In PvE, Prometheus Lens is great at add-clear and killing rank-and-file enemies. It does pretty good against majors for a trace rifle as well. Prometheus Lens has an even 100 ammo in its magazine and 500 ammo maximum without mods. Prometheus also has a screen showing your ammo in the magazine and how large the sphere is currently. It also has a catalyst that makes it easier to kill large groups of enemies. It is very fun to spread your beam around a big group of enemies and literally melting them with a magic crystal laser. I feel Prometheus Lens should maybe have an intrinsic Champion mod to make it a bit more viable though.
In PvP, Prometheus Lens has great range. It also has the ability to kind of shoot behind enemy cover. I feel Prometheus Lens is the most commonly used trace rifle in PvP, and for good reason. It has a fast kill time and pretty generous aim assist due to the flames. It’s also pretty easy to use for beginner’s, which is probably why it is the most common trace rifle used in PvP. I don’t have much else to say other than it’s good in PvP and you should consider it.
- Good against most majors
- Flames and meltage
- Great in PvP
- Easy to use
- Feels a bit bland
- Just kind of average in everything
- Not used in higher-level activities
Overall, I’d rate Prometheus Lens a 8.5/10 for its mediocrity and overall consistency. There isn’t much to say about it though. Without any bias, I’d say it’s a great trace rifle, but with bias, I don’t really like it all too much, but don’t let my bias stop you from using it.
Now, this is the first Legendary Trace Rifle introduced to Destiny. Retraced Path is a Legendary Solar Trace Rifle introduced in Season 15 / Bungie’s 30th Anniversary Pack. This trace rifle has paved the way for a better future for trace rifles, a world in which they might be recognized by players, and not thrown aside immediately. This trace rifle also allows for better load-outs and can also have Shaders applied to it. It also has random rolls and drops fairly commonly, especially if you are doing Dares of Eternity. Personally, I’m going to hold off on Legendary trace rifles until Bungie releases a Legendary Void trace rifle. I have tried this trace rifle however, and I must say it has potential.
In PvE, Retraced Path is pretty solid. It does feel a bit lacking in DPS but that’s to be expected. It is very good in add-clear, but pretty mediocre in taking down Elites and Majors. Also, be sure to keep in mind what perks you have on it so you can make the best use of it possible. The best perks to get on it (in my opinion of course) are Subsistence and Golden Tricorn, so watch out for a Retraced Path with these perks. Retraced Path doesn’t have many noticeable ADS features aside from the rotating plate on its side. I love the sound it makes and it also has pretty good range too. Since, the rolls differ and it can also take mods such as Backup Mag, I will share my specific Retraced Path’s ammo information: it has 102 ammo in its magazine and 477 ammo maximum.
In PvP, Retraced Path is also pretty good. Its range is very noticeable when I first used it. It also has a moderately good kill time at its fastest. There isn’t much for me to say in this regard, other than you can use G-Horn with it or whatever exotic you want with it (Just don’t use DMT or I will find you… Just kidding, unless?). Its not Wavesplitter level or anything but, again, it’s really solid. I really don’t have any tips for this other than just aim it at the opponent’s head.
- Different Rolls
- Unique load-outs
- That fat range
- Moderate in most things
- Lacking in DPS
- Average, very average
I will rate this a total of 8/10 because it gets extra points for being Legendary. This is a very fun trace rifle, and also allows for great load-outs and versatility. And, with weapon crafting, this couldn’t get much better, except it can!
Ager’s Scepter is Destiny’s first Stasis and Kinetic trace rifle, and, to be honest, I really don’t like it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it, because I still want to see more trace rifles in Destiny 2, no matter which one. Ager’s Scepter is an Exotic Stasis Trace Rifle introduced in Season 15. I’ve used enough of this trace rifle already while I was trying to get its catalyst when I first got this thing. Ager’s Scepter shoots a funny beam of ice that slows and freezes enemies in an AOE around an enemy you’ve just killed. It also has Subsistence and a Catalyst and an ornament (I wish Bungie would show this much love to Wavesplitter). In order to obtain Ager’s Scepter, you must have the Season 15 pass and complete the quest-line: Tracing the Stars. Ager’s Scepter’s (?) Kinetic slot allows you to use energy weapons you would have previously been unable to use with a trace rifle before.
In PvE, Ager’s Scepter excels at add-clear because of its freezing abilities and subsistence. It actually doesn’t do too bad at DPS, which surprised me at first. I dislike that its catalyst takes a very long catalyst, which wasn’t even worth it and also its ornament isn’t very pleasing to look at. It just doesn’t feel very fulfilling to me. All it does is freeze, but you could bring up that argument for most of the other trace rifles. Ager’s Scepter has 97 ammo in its magazine and 447 ammo maximum without any mods.
In PvP, this thing is okay. It has pretty good range, but there are rarely any points where you can actually use the perk and, first, it works, and second, you survive long enough for the perk to work. I just feel there are better options, especially since its kill time isn’t the best. That isn’t to say it’s bad, because it isn’t, especially if you want to use something like BxR or Palindrome with it, but I just feel it doesn’t shine as much as other options.
- Stasis / Kinetic
- Great in PvE
- Pretty satisfying to use
- Annoying Catalyst
- Ugly AF Ornament
- Requires Season Pass and Beyond Light (I think)
- Pretty underwhelming in PvP
Overall, I’d rate Ager’s Scepter a 6/10, because it gets out-shined pretty easily. The only thing it really has going for it is heavy add-clear and pretty good DPS. My ratings are just from what I experience, and I encourage you to try all these out for yourself, to see if you like trace rifles, and which one suits you best.
You Don’t Have to Use Trace Rifles
I made this guide to encourage people to use what they want (by which I mean what they like, not what is good. Sometimes you may like something because it is good, and that’s okay, but I think you should try different things out to see what suits you best!) and not necessarily what they think they have to use. You don’t have to use trace rifles, I only want to encourage you guys and share my love with you guys. People who are new to this game may also never know the beauties of trace rifles, so I want them to see this guide and try out for themselves. Thank you for reading. Thank you Bungie for all these (mostly) wonderful years. I’m mostly late to posting this because I had to try out some of these Trace Rifles in PvE and PvP for an accurate description of them. Coldheart, Ruinous Effigy, and Divinity are the Trace Rifles I have used the most, while the other 4 I had to use more to get an accurate feel of them. I want to get this out before Witch Queen, before they add any more trace rifles for me to try out (just kidding, I love using Trace Rifles). Tell me what you personally think about each Trace Rifle in the comments below!
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