With the recent TWAB,
Bungie mentioned that they will be fixing the bonus damage that Falling Guillotine would deal after a heavy attack. Some of you might be wondering if the Guillotine is still a top option for DPS if you want to use swords.
I've been almost exclusively using swords as my Heavy ever since i got my first Quickfang from the Red War Campaign but I haven't got around to actually testing all the exact numbers until the beginning of this season when everybody starting swords to DPS. I have calculated everything from swing speed, heavy attack cooldown, optimal combo cycles and damage numbers and compiled them all in a spread sheet to calculate DPS.
In this post I will be rating swords according to the DPS they can output for simplicity, so higher DPS = better sword, although there are differences between sword frames that I will be mentioning later.
So what's the best sword?
Falling Guillotine. Unless you're a Hunter. Goldtusk is the highest DPS sword in the game and has been ever since its release. It has both higher burst and higher sustained DPS than the Guillotine, assuming you don't count the damage glitch that is being fixed. In terms of sustained DPS, it beats Guillotine by about 14%, but to pull it off you need to learn the optimal damage combo for the Goldtusk which I'll talk about later (please Bungie don't nerf this).
I know what you're thinking: Goldtusk sunsets next season. But I think there is a good chance that Bungie will release new class specific swords next season, and what I'm about to show will work on any lightweight frame sword.
**FOR TITANS: As a side note, Throne Cleaver's burst damage remains unchanged from the Shattering Blade nerf last season. The reason why Shattering Blade, Counter-Attack and En Garde were nerfed is because with the energy meter system, full meter heavy attacks in general deal something like 50% more damage than before. A Shattering Blade or En Garde boosted heavy attack does the same damage as before. For short, one-time DPS phases Throne Cleaver can outperform Guillotine but it relies on your ability to get a Counter-Attack to proc. For longer phases, Guillotine has better sustained DPS. For those of you who used Throne Cleaver for this burst combo, you can feel comfortable knowing that the total burst damage has not changed.
How did I find the numbers?
I tried to make everything as scientific as possible so I could compare the swords fairly. To find the swing speed of every sword, I swung the sword repeatedly using light attacks and used a metronome to find the "RPM" of each sword. For heavy attacks, I did the same. Damage numbers were found using a 1050 power level on each sword against the Tribute Hall Ogre. I could have used Greg but I needed a quick way to reset, and all I wanted were the relative DPS numbers of each different sword.Using swing speed and damage numbers, I was able to calculate the theoretical DPS values. The spreadsheet is very messy and convoluted so you are just going to have to take my word for it.
From there I found that theoretically, the Goldtusk dealt around 14% more DPS than the Guillotine. I'll come back to this value later.
All numbers were tested with Fully Masterworked swords with Jagged Edge, not taking into account any damage buffs (ie. no Whirlwind Blade, En Garde or Lucent Blade)
Additional testing was done on Kalli which I will discuss later.
A NOTE ABOUT HEAVY ATTACKS
For heavy attacks, we all know that it locks you into an animation, but I also found that holding down a directional key (or moving a stick on a controller) shortens the recovery time of the animation. This applies to all swords. During this recovery time you are not able to switch weapons, jump, or swing again. Because there's no reason not to do this, I deleted the slower heavy attack numbers so I don't have the exact numbers, but this saves you something like 0.3 seconds which is almost the time it takes to perform one light attack.
The Youtube videos I've seen that were testing sword DPS numbers don't take this "recovery time" into account and it leads to inflated DPS numbers.
TL;DR Whenever you use a heavy attack, holding a directional key will allow you to start your next swing a fraction of a second sooner, leading to increased DPS.
How to DPS with each sword
I first want to mention the new Lucent Blade armor mod, which gives you a 35% buff to sword damage for 5 seconds after you damage something with a sword while charged with light. It also increases the charge rate of your sword. Even if you're not charged with light, this charge rate increase is important. Since heavy attacks output more DPS than light attacks, you want to heavy attack with a full energy meter as often as possible.
Whirlwind Blade and Relentless Strikes is going to be the standard "God Roll" for DPSing bosses for most swords.
Here are the optimal damage cycles:
Falling Guillotine and Adaptive Swords (without Lucent Blade)
8 Light Attacks
Falling Guillotine and all Adaptive Swords (with Lucent Blade)
Light Attack (to proc Lucent Blade)
6 Light Attacks
Light Attack repeatedly
*using heavy attack on Temptation's Hook decreases your DPS and uses 8 ammo. Only use heavy attack (and Temptation's Hook in general) only for its range.
Throne Cleaver is a little different, the goal is to proc Counter-Attack whenever possible and follow up with a heavy attack. When you're low on ammo, make sure you proc Counter-Attack before you use Shattering Blade. If you have too much ammo, you can switch to another Heavy Weapon and switch back to Throne Cleaver before the DPS phase starts.
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT SWORDMASTER'S GUARD: If you get a god roll sword that's missing Swordmaster's Guard, it is no big deal. Swordmaster's Guard actually does not make your DPS higher. It still takes about 6 swings before you can heavy attack again. It does not change it to 5 swings. After a lot of testing, I found that it is not worth waiting for the heavy attack after just 5 swings. If you can't fit 6 swings in between your heavy attacks, make sure you are holding a directional key after your heavy attack as mentioned before. It will look like it only takes 5 swings, but if you only do 5 swings you have to wait about 0.2 seconds before your meter fully charges and trust me, after testing for hours and hours it is always worth doing the 6th swing. The only thing Swordmaster's Guard does is make your sword charge faster outside of combat and make your guard weaker. Just avoid Heavy Guard because Heavy Guard makes you require 7 swings between each heavy attack.
Most of the time, even with whirlwind blade, you get higher DPS by heavy attacking first. With Lucent Blade, perform a single Light Attack to proc the buff and then heavy attack, then perform the normal attack cycle.
Which brings me to Goldtusk.
The highest DPS sword in the game
With lightweight frame swords, there's a hidden gem that I found back in Forsaken on my Quickfang, which is the Aerial Heavy Attack. It's just as fast as a light attack, but has almost double the damage. The problem was, you had to be in the air which means you had to jump which means you could have just been on the ground swinging continuously.
So for a while I did the trick where you spam space bar while you attack and it makes you attack super fast. And then sometime in Season of Opulence, I found out that the game thinks you're "in the air" while you do this trick. So I tried weaving in the Aerial Heavy Attack into this combo and after a lot of practicing and perfecting, I found the optimal DPS combo which outperforms even the Guillotine.
How to DPS with a lightweight sword
First let's start with the roll you want.
Goldtusk is unique in that it can roll with 2 damage perks at the same time: En Garde and Whirlwind Blade. This combined with Jagged Edge will be your god roll Goldtusk. Every Goldtusk rolls with Swordmaster's Guard.
Here's the combo:
It looks very simple but the timing is tricky at times. Perform each action as soon as the previous action has been started. Use light attack RIGHT after you jump. Immediately after i press the light attack button, I like to hold down my heavy attack input, which will buffer the heavy attack. Sometime during the aerial heavy attack animation, your character will hit the ground. Press the jump key ONCE, and you will be able to light attack instantly after the aerial heavy attack animation finishes. After that light attack, I like to hold down my heavy attack input, which will buffer the heavy attack. Sometime during the aerial heavy attack animation, your character will hit the ground. Press the….
This is what it looks like when done correctly.
I've practiced this for a long time so I can get it consistently 95% of the time.
If you mess up the timing, sometimes your character will pop up off the ground, in which case wait until you hit the ground, and then reset.
Once you're comfortable with the combo, you could just repeat it on the boss until it dies, OR, if you want to squeeze out just a tiny bit more DPS, perform a Heavy Attack every 3 iterations of the combo.
IMPORTANT NOTE: THE AERIAL COMBO DOES NOT WORK AGAINST CERTAIN ENEMIES BECAUSE THEY ARE EITHER TOO SHORT OR WON'T LET YOU DO THE AERIAL ATTACK. IT WORKS ON 90% OF THE ENEMIES THAT I'VE FOUND BUT BUT YOU WILL NEED TO FIND OUT WHICH ONES WORK AND WHICH DO NOT.
Here's the finalized full optimized DPS combo. I'm also going to assume that you have Lucent Blade, because if you have gone through the trouble to farm a god roll Goldtusk and learned how to perfect this combo, you probably very much like using swords.
Goldtusk (with Lucent Blade):
Pull out sword to proc En Garde
Light Attack to proc Lucent Blade
Heavy Attack (if you do it fast enough, this heavy attack will be buffed by En Garde)
Perform the aerial combo 3 times
En Garde adds a very strong burst combo that you can perform as long as your sword is full energy. Before any DPS phase, you want to have your sword stowed at full energy, so that right when DPS starts, you pull out your sword and perform a light attack followed by a heavy attack as fast as possible. This burst combo is effectively stronger than Guillotine's spin attack. You can also use this burst to "one-shot" some weaker yellow bar enemies or deal a ton of damage to anything. The first light attack also functions as a way to proc Lucent Blade, so if you pull out your sword and are fast enough, the second heavy attack will be buffed by En Garde AND by Lucent Blade. You just have to be fast enough and it works.
You don't need En Garde to out-DPS the Guillotine. If you prefer Relentless Strikes for the ammo, then use Relentless Strikes. En Garde is just something extra ON TOP of the higher damage that Goldtusk already deals.
According to the spreadsheet, using this combo yields 14% more DPS than Guillotine. It all works in theory but I wanted to see how it would work in actuality. I went to Kalli because the Guillotine does no extra damage against her. I started DPSing Kalli each time at exactly 1 minute and 46 seconds after shooting her to start the encounter. I started a timer as soon as I shot Kalli, and as soon as the timer hit 1:46 I began DPSing. Each DPS phase's duration is as close to each other as possible so that the testing would be fair (about 18 seconds or so). Below I will an example of how I tested the damage on both swords. You can feel free to confirm that both DPS phases lasted almost the exact same time.
Falling Guillotine: https://gfycat.com/indelibletangiblefishingcat
These clips were the most representative of both swords that I could find. These were near-perfect DPS phases with minimal downtime.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that if you look at both damage numbers at the end and divide them, you get something like 14.7%, which is pretty close to my theoretical value.
Pros and Cons
- Higher burst damage
- Highest sustained DPS
- Builds up Whirlwind Blade stacks extremely fast
- Running animation looks good
- The running animation
- It's a lightweight frame so you gain extra Mobility
- Higher swing speed means you can clear ads faster
- Higher ammo reserves for ad clear
- Very satisfying to pull off the combo correctly
- Sunsets next season (unless they release a new lightweight sword)
- You need to farm a good roll in Heroic Menagerie which is heavily RNG dependent (20% drop rate from killing boss)
- The aerial combo uses quite a bit of ammo
- Hunters only so no well or bubble
- High skill to perform
- High DPS combo does not work in some cases
- Easy to obtain and farm a good roll for
- The AoE on the spin attack is very effective
- You can "sword skate" with it
- Won't sunset next season
- You can stun/stagger powerful enemies more easily
- Can be used on any class
- Extremely easy to use
- The spin attack animation can lock you in place longer
- Lower ammo reserves
- Slower swing speed means slower ad clear
- Light Attack can sometimes phase through enemies
Farming for a Goldtusk is not going to be worth it for everybody, especially since it sunsets next season. Again, if they release new class specific swords next season, which I think there is a high chance of happening, it will most likely take Goldtusk's place as the highest DPS sword.
If you don't care too much for the extra 14% DPS the Guillotine is still going to be the next best option over any other sword and is accessible and very easy to use. But if you already enjoy using Hunter swords and want to give the combo a try I highly recommend it. If you get consistent with the aerial combo you can consistently out-damage people who are using the Guillotine.
For the 0.01% who are going to switch to Goldtusk as their main sword, I wish you the best of luck in Menagerie. Happy farming!
EDIT 1: I typed out the title as Guillotine nerf and then I didn't touch the title afterwards. It was actually a bug fix. Poor wording choice, but I hope it's clear now 🙂
EDIT 2: https://imgur.com/a/1kJUYpu Here's an overview of the theoretical DPS numbers, I've also included Adaptive swords in case you were interested.
Source: Original link
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