Destiny 2

A Detailed Look at Fusion Rifles in PvE – Why They Are Under Performing and What Can Be Done

destiny2 6 - A Detailed Look at Fusion Rifles in PvE - Why They Are Under Performing and What Can Be Done

Fusion Rifles

Let's jump straight into the damage numbers, coming from the Damage Chart Madness excel sheet linked in the sub's Useful Links tab. Note, this will be for legendary weapons only and does not include any damage boosting perks. I want to establish a base line for all comparisons going forward.

Legendary Fusion Rifles

FrameAverage DPSBurst DPSTotal Damage
High Impact7,8348,924200,129
Rapid Fire9,91010,651169,251

Now lets look at Sniper Rifles and Shotguns for comparison. Once again, ignoring damage boosting perks. This excludes perks like triple tap and fourth times the charm too since they indirectly increase dps without raising the damage per shot directly.

Legendary Sniper Rifles

FrameAverage DPSBurst DPSTotal Damage
Rapid Fire11,15713,44586,430

Legendary Shotguns

FrameAverage DPSBurst DPSTotal Damage
Rapid Fire10,60814,538130,838
Precision (Slug)13,06714,039155,508

Comparing the Numbers

Looking at the tables above, the mix of damage numbers doesn't seem too far apart from each weapon type; however, there is some outliers. Precision slug shotguns got a buff back during Arrivals that put them at the top of legendary weapon DPS. This is fine, it's a weapon which you have to be in close for while remaining precise. It's less forgiving than other options and deserves to be rewarding.

Fusion rifles actually aren't under performing in terms of their base offering. While yes, there is some frames that are bad in PvE like high impacts, this can be discounted for its PvP usage. There exists frames that perform well in PvE like aggressive and rapid fire fusion rifles. This is the same across fusions, snipers, and shotguns. Let's take a look at one of the consistently best damage dealing archetypes across all three weapon types, rapid fire frames.

Rapid Fire Frames

Rapid FireAverage DPSBurst DPSTotal Damage
Fusion Rifle9,91010,651169,251
Sniper Rifle11,15713,44586,430

Looking above, fusion rifles do indeed fall short in terms of average and burst dps, but their total damage output is nothing to scoff at. In fact, rapid fire frame fusion rifles beat out all of them in terms of total damage while still having comparable DPS. The lower dps can be written off by their ease of use and safety in using them, not bad right? In fact, the total damage output of rapid fire frame fusion rifles beats out almost all other legendary special weapons. This gets even better when looking at aggressive fusion rifles which have a total damage output of 250,236 with a competitive dps of 9,524. Fusion rifles are not lacking at all when it comes to total damage. They're the winners in this department.


With all that being said, where is the problem? Why aren't people using fusion rifles in PvE? You see plenty of shotguns and sniper rifles floating around, but I bet most of you can't remember the last time you saw someone using a fusion rifle in PvE activities that wasn't Telesto. They haven't had their time in the lime light since Loaded Question was around. I believe where fusion rifles fall short isn't their base dps, but the perks which they have which augment their dps and the way they perform.


When you think of good perks on a fusion rifle, what do you think of? Firmly planted? Under pressure? High impact reserves? Tap the trigger? I bet you can notice a trend here. Most perks we consider to be good on a fusion rifle come down to boosting their consistency, making sure each bolt lands on your target. This is a PvP mindset, the place where fusion rifles are typically used (albeit a low population). Targets are bigger in PvE and that extra bolt grouping isn't necessary.

There's nothing that stands out on fusion rifles from shotguns and sniper rifles in PvE. There's no real perks that jump out and make fusion rifles suddenly interesting to use. There's no diversity. Sure, there's common damage boosting perks, like kill clip and rampage, but those are available on all special weapons. There's also vorpal weapon, but that's once again available on most all legendary special weapons now days. Reservoir burst is returning to us, although nerfed a bit from what we remember, but that's just one perk that exist on one fusion rifle from the returning raid, Praetorian Foil in Vault of Glass.

When we look at sniper rifles and shotguns, we find perks that can change the way a gun functions in terms of play style and total damage output. Shotguns have wonderful perks like one-two punch and trench barrel. Sniper rifles have perks that reward their precision like triple tap and fourth times the charm. What do fusion rifles have that make them different? The only unique perk on them currently is kickstart which exists only on Exile's Curse and is PvP focused.

Fusion Rifles need the rocket launcher treatment in terms of perks. Looking at rocket launchers this season and last, they received Lasting Impression, Chain Reaction, and Impulse Amplifier – three perks which significantly change how the gun functions and boost their effectiveness. Reservoir Burst returning to us is a good start, but we need more options.

Some ideas could be:

  • Chain Reaction
    • I know reservoir burst has this built in already, but having this as a stand alone perk that works on all shots except the first minus the damage boost of reservoir burst would be worth it. Imagine pairing this with ambitious assassin or demolitionist.
  • New Perks
    • Wait for It
      • Something to focus on single target burst damage. Allow you to hold your fusion rifle's charge much longer for more damage at the cost much more projectile spread – perhaps up to a 20% damage boost. The shot is held until you release the trigger. Doing this on every shot should decrease your average DPS but allow you to pack more of a punch for those high health enemies. Think of it as the fusion rifle's equivalent of Trench Barrel on shotguns.
      • This would keep it from being broken in PvP while offering some burst damage options in PvE due to the larger bolt spread
    • Abiding Energy
      • Landing all 7 bolts in your bust leaves a lingering damage over time elemental burn on the target. This shouldn't be anything massive, maybe a passive increase of 5-10% damage or so to your average dps.
      • You rarely lands all bolts in PvP. In fact, only 4-5 bolts land on a target in PvP on high impacts to secure a kill, it's impossible to land all of them. This would keep it from being busted in PvP while offering some utility as a dps option in PvE.
    • Overcharged Ordnance
      • Landing all 7 bolts in your burst boost the damage of your next grenade. Think of this as one-two punch for grenades.
      • Not broken in PvP for the same reason as the last suggested perk.


Fusion rifles honestly aren't as bad as most people think right now. The numbers we have prove that. They're a case of almost being where they need to be while slightly missing the mark. I understand Bungie's hesitancy in buffing them. They are easily one of the most forgiving weapons to use in PvE. They occupy a safer range than shotguns while remaining easier to do their optimal damage than sniper rifles. Tuning their damage too much would suddenly make them the only viable choice in the special weapons department. They don't need a lot to make them a viable and interesting choice to use, they just need something to give them that extra fun factor. Something that makes them slightly more viable while being more interesting to use.

Fusion rifles have barely changed in terms of unique perks since the start of D2. I think it's time that Bungie starts branching out in their creativity for this weapon type.

Side note – Aggressive frame fusion rifles are amazing. The Europa one is the only available offering though. We could definitely use more of these!

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