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Destiny 2: 10 Best Weapons to Buy With an Exotic Cipher

The ever-elusive currency of Destiny 2.

In this guide, you’ll discover the best way to obtain Exotic Ciphers and the best weapons to buy with them in the Monument to Lost Light (Exotics Archive). Exotic weapons and armor are some of the best gear that you can acquire in Destiny 2, so it’s always worth seeking them out. They typically feature incredibly specific perks, the potential for even more impressive boosts from catalysts, and some of the most unique quests available.

With Destiny 2 being a live service game, it can be incredibly difficult to keep up on every single Exotic that is introduced. More than likely, if you’ve just jumped in or are a lapsed player, you’ve missed out on plenty of useful Exotics that are no longer available through straightforward methods. Luckily, that’s where Exotic Ciphers come into play.

Let’s get started!

What is an Exotic Cipher?

Exotic Ciphers are a rare currency that were first introduced with Season of Arrivals. Earning an Exotic Cipher allows you to purchase specific Exotics from previous expansions and seasons in Destiny 2. You can also use one to purchase an additional random Exotic item from Xur every week, although this isn’t really the best way to use them.

As of 2024, you’re now able to hold a maximum of five Exotic Ciphers at once. In the past this was limited to only one, which limited what you could do with them. Now that we can have five, though, it’s more feasible to spend them on things like Xur’s random Exotic. However, I’d only recommend doing that once you feel like you’ve got everything else you can get with them.

How to Obtain Exotic Ciphers

Exotic Ciphers are one of the most elusive and valuable currency types in Destiny 2. So, of course, that means that your methods for acquiring them are fairly limited. Here are the two ways that you can currently obtain Exotic Ciphers.

Upgrade Your Season Pass

Season of Defiance Season Pass
Bungie / Kody Wirth

While you can gain plenty of valuable items from the Season Pass, you only earn one Exotic Cipher. You have to reach Rank 55 of the free track to unlock it, and there are no additional Ciphers available in the paid option. Any rewards earned will remain available as long as the season is active, so you can actually save this Cipher until you really need it. Don’t grab this one until you’re ready to use it, so you don’t hit the maximum capacity too quick.

Xur’s Weekly Xenology Quest

Xenology Quest Screen
Bungie / Kody Wirth

The most consistent method to acquire Exotic Ciphers is collecting and completing Xur’s weekly quest. The quest is called Xenology, and you can obtain it by visiting him on the weekends when he appears. Luckily, this quest is incredibly easy to complete and only requires you to play Strikes or win matches of Crucible or Gambit.

If you play with clan-mates or complete more challenging activities, like Trials of Osiris or Nightfalls, you can earn additional progress. However, you’ll likely finish this quest just by playing like you always do, giving you a guaranteed Exotic Cipher every single week. Just remember to return to Xur to pick up your Cipher, because if he leaves for the week, you’ll have to wait until next time to get it.

What Can You Spend Exotic Ciphers On?

We already briefly mentioned how you can spend these Exotic Ciphers, but let’s dig a bit deeper into what you can and should be spending them on. 

Exotics From the Monument to Lost Lights

Monument to Lost Lights (Exotic Archive) at the Tower
Bungie / Kody Wirth

The real benefit of collecting Exotic Ciphers is to purchase Exotics from the Monument to Lost Lights (aka the Exotic Archive). This is the kiosk in the Tower, located between Banshee-44 and Lord Shaxx, right next to your Vault. This kiosk includes previous expansions’ Exotics and a handful of Legendary items that were previously only available through sunset quests or events. The quests and methods to originally get these Exotics and Legendaries have been long removed, but you can still get the weapons themselves here.

Fated Engrams From Xur

Fated Engrams are weekly random Exotic items that you can collect from Xur. The first Fated Engram can be collected by spending Legendary Shards. The second can be purchased with your Exotic Cipher, but there are no additional benefits from using it. You simply collect another random Exotic that’s available in Xur’s loot pool. This is a good option for players who already have all of the Exotics from the Monument, but not so much ones who don’t.

What Are the Best Weapons to Buy with an Exotic Cipher in Destiny 2?

Screenshot of Monument to Lost Lights
Bungie / Kody Wirth

Most of these require you to have Glimmer, an Ascendant Shard, and a Cipher. While they may be older items, some of these weapons are still incredibly useful in the current meta. Here are the best weapons you should purchase using your Exotic Cipher.

1/10

Witherhoard

Witherhoard is the best weapon in the Exotics Archive. It’s so strong that you can use it in any content and it’ll still be meta, all while not feeling broken. When you shoot Witherhoard, it makes a big pool of Taken essence that burns enemies. You can also stick the shot onto enemies, which will then drop the pool after dying. Obviously this is great for taking out waves of ads, but it’s also effective on bosses. It’s great since you can just shoot the boss, then swap to DPS weapons and lay in damage while Witherhoard ticks away at the boss’s health.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 100,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

2/10

Ager’s Scepter

Ager’s Scepter is the newest Exotic on this list, and it’s one of the strongest. It’s a Stasis Trace Rifle in the Kinetic slot, which already makes it stand out. When you kill an enemy with Ager’s Scepter, they emit a Stasis blast and freeze any nearby enemies. Just shoot one and all the others get frozen — it’s incredible. With the catalyst, you can also funnel your super energy into Ager’s Scepter to make it freeze and slow targets when you shoot them, without having to kill another one near them.

This might be the overall best Exotic for ad-clear in all of Destiny 2. It’s that strong, so I highly recommend grabbing it as soon as you can.

Cost:

  • 1 Exotic Cypher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

3/10

Izanagi’s Burden

Anything remaining from the Black Armory is worth keeping an eye out for. Izanagi’s Burden amplifies the damage output of your bullets due to the Honed Edge perk, which depletes your clip in order to amplify your DPS. It effectively shoots your entire mag in one deadly shot. No Distractions also reduces your flinch, making it far easier to land precise shots without worrying about a ton of kickback. These days, Izanagi’s Burden is incredibly meta in several raids thanks to the absurd DPS it can produce with Honed Edge.

Also keep an eye out for the Worldshaper ornament in the Bright Dust shop. It makes Izanagi’s Burden look like a sword, which fits with the Honed Edge perk. It’s one of the most unique ornaments available.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 150,000 Glimmer
  • 2 Ascendant Shards

4/10

Outbreak Perfected

Outbreak is one of the strongest primary weapons for ad-clear, and its DPS is surprisingly good as well. It spawns SIVA nanites (bugs) that “swarm” enemies and quickly take them out. It spawns these nanites on precision kills and rapid hits, so you can use them for ads or bosses. If you need an Exotic that can also function as DPS if you run out of ammo, this is one of the best you could choose. It’s also just generally good in endgame content, including raids and Nightfall Strikes.

You might not find yourself wanting Outbreak in every situation, but it’s helpful if you’re struggling to clear ads from far away. For example, you can put Outbreak to great use in the Caretaker encounter of the Vow of the Disciple raid, since a lot of the ads spawn far away and have decent amounts of health. It also helps since that boss has a large health pool and several phases, so you might have the chance to use it for DPS.

Overall, Outbreak is one of the most consistent weapons in the game. Just make sure to finish the catalyst as soon as possible once you get it, because it increases the effectiveness of your nanites.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 2 Ascendant Shard

5/10

Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades remains one of the best PVP weapons available in Destiny 2. Oh, and it’s your last long-term memory of Cayde, other than the new memorial at the Tower. Camaraderie aside, this Hand Cannon still provides one of the most accurate and long-range firing options from this weapon class. Add in the Rampage and Dragonfly perks, along with the Memento Mori intrinsic perk for extra damage after a kill, and you can expect some crazy DPS.

This is easily one of the most iconic weapons in Destiny 2, so if you’re a PVP fan it’s definitely worth grabbing.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

6/10

Sleeper Simulant

Sleeper Simulant was one of the best Exotics from the Red War, but over time it fell out of favor for a while. It’s been back for a while now, and even though Linears got nerfed as a whole, Sleeper remains strong. Luckily, Bungie didn’t apply the Season 20 Linear nerfs to Sleeper, so it still outputs a ton of damage. Sleeper fires a laser beam at enemies, which pierces them and can rebound around the room. This rebound effect is mostly useless (other than the times you accidentally kill yourself with it), but the on-hit damage is strong enough to counteract it. It also has one of the best sound effects in the game when fired.

Cost:

  • 1 Exotic Cypher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

7/10

Le Monarque

Le Monarque is an Exotic bow with an intrinsic Overload Champion mod and poison capabilities. It’s strong in both PVE and PVP, and it can be really fun to use as well. To fire poison arrows with Le Monarque, just fire them as soon as the bow is fully drawn. In PVE, this helps chip away at powerful enemies, and in PVP, it can let you grab a kill you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. You can also use the poison damage ticks to see where you opponents are. This isn’t the main draw of this bow, but it’s definitely a fun strat to use in PVP.

Cost:

  • 1 Exotic Cypher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

8/10

Eriana’s Vow

There’s just something about Exotic Hand Cannons, and Eriana’s Vow is possibly one of the most valuable. It has an intrinsic Anti-Barrier mod, which allows it to pierce enemy and Champion shields, along with its high damage output. This is always going to be enough to make a weapon usable, but Eriana’s Vow is also a Solar weapon, so it synergizes with that as well. It isn’t as consistent as Arbalest at popping shields, but for Solar builds, it’s a fantastic alternative.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 100,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

9/10

Whisper of the Worm

It’s great to see Whisper of the Worm return to the DPS meta, even if it isn’t the best of the best anymore. If you’re against a boss with tons of HP that either doesn’t move around much or has an easy-to-hit crit spot (or you have a Divinity on your team), you can do more damage with Whisper than almost any other weapon. If you can land all your precision shots, you’ll be able to burn through your ammo at light speed, dealing a ton of damage in the process. With the catalyst, you also get a bit of extra range and precision damage after zooming in without firing for a short period. It’s a great buff to have for free, so I’d recommend getting that catalyst before going into any crazy high DPS environments. (The catalyst is a random drop from Vanguard, Gambit, and Crucible playlists, so good luck.)

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 150,000 Glimmer
  • 2 Ascendant Shards

10/10

Leviathan’s Breath

Since it’s the only heavy ammo Bow, Leviathan’s Breath has a special place in Destiny 2. Whether you like its clunky, slow style or not, it’s worth having just so you can try it out from time to time. Firing the massive harpoon-like arrows is fun in any game mode, and it synergizes really well with Void builds. This allows it to fit into some specific builds, and since it has built-in anti-Unstoppable Champion capabilities, it’ll always be a solid pick for Nightfall Strikes and similar difficult content.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 100,000 Glimmer
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

Exotic Ciphers may be the rarest and most limited currency in Destiny 2, but they can be used for some incredible weapons. Make sure that you take advantage of the weekly quest from Xur to collect a new Cipher, and be aware of how many you have so you don’t let any go to waste. 

Be sure to share this article on your favorite social platforms to help your Fireteam find just the right purchase with their Exotic Cipher, and sign up for our newsletter for the latest on Destiny 2. 

Happy gaming!

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