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. Exotic weapons and armor are some of the best gear that you can acquire in Destiny 2. They typically feature incredibly specific Perks, the potential for even more impressive boosts from Catalysts, and as of recent additions, some especially incredible questlines. Out of anything in the game, these items are often the most impressive and most busted before any patches are introduced.

Now, 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 the Exotic Ciphers come into play.

Let’s get started!

What is an Exotic Cipher?

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

The main drawback of these Exotic Ciphers is that you can only hold one at a time. This means that you have to use them immediately to make sure that you can keep earning them and collecting more Exotics. This makes them especially useful for new players (New Lights) who are trying to catch up on their Exotic collection, but it can also help long-term players round out the last few Exotics they’re missing.

How to Obtain Exotic Ciphers

Exotic Ciphers are 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 as of Beyond Light. More than likely, there won’t be any new methods to acquire Exotic Ciphers with The Witch Queen expansion, but if that changes we’ll be sure to update this guide.

Upgrade Your Season Pass

Season of the Lost - Season Pass in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

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. Just be sure that you don’t claim it when you already have a Cipher in your inventory, otherwise, you’ll waste it.

Xur’s Weekly Xenology Quest

The most consistent method to acquire Exotic Ciphers is collecting and completing Xur’s weekly quest. Known as Xenology, you can obtain it by visiting him whenever he appears in a given week, and you’ll have the next week to complete it. Luckily, this quest is incredibly easy to complete and only requires you to finish twenty-one Strikes or win Crucible or Gambit matches. 

If you play with Clanmates 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.

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. 

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.

Sunset Exotics From the Monument to Lost Lights

All Exotic Quests in Destiny 2 Beyond Light
Image: Bungie

The real benefit of collecting Exotic Ciphers is to purchase sunsetted Exotics available in 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 sunsetted quests or events. 

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

Screenshot of Monument to Lost Lights
Image: Bungie via HGG

Most of these require you to have Legendary Shards, specific planetary materials, Prisms, and a Cipher. While they may be sunsetted items, most of these weapons are still incredibly useful in the current meta. Here are the best weapons you should purchase using your Exotic Cipher.

1. Anarchy

Screenshot of the Anarchy Grenade Launcher in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

This classic Grenade Launcher is built around chaining Arc bolts and has been one of the most consistently useful weapons in the vault. Rather than focusing on direct hits or vast explosions, you can instead layout a net of sticky mines and let the chained lightning do the work. Unlock the Catalyst to make sure that you generate plenty of Orbs when taking out Minor enemies. Grab this Exotic for an excellent crowd clearing, Super-generating, and surprisingly accurate option that defies the traditional standard for Grenade Launchers.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 150,000 Glimmer
  • 240 Spoils of Conquest
  • 2 Ascendant Shards

2. Thorn

Screenshot of the Thorn hand cannon in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

If you’ve been playing any of the 30th Anniversary DLC and ran the new Dungeon, you’ve likely seen the Thorn-inspired Armor Ornaments. Of course they’d choose this weapon as armor inspiration — it’s simply that good. This Exotic Hand Cannon is truly useful thanks to the Perks it comes equipped with. Mark of the Devourer provides piercing damage and leaves Remnants, while Soul Devourer allows you to absorb Remnants to partially refill your magazine. This makes it an effective weapon for cycling through damage buffs without having to worry about reloading or running out of ammo.

Cost: 

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

3. Ace of Spades

Screenshot of the Ace of Spades hand cannon in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

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, since the Forsaken campaign is set to be sunsetted in the coming months. 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.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 200Etheric Spiral
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

4. Eriana’s Vow

Screenshot of the Eriana's Vow hand cannon in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

There’s just something about Exotic Hand Cannons, and Eriana’s Vow is possibly one of the most valuable when it comes to taking out enemy shields. While you typically need a specific Seasonal Mod or Elemental value to quickly take out shields, this weapon comes equipped with the inherent Perk Looks Can Kill. This allows you to fire shield-piercing ammo, and with the Death, at First Glance Perk, you can gain bonus damage when aiming down sights on an opening attack. Land a precision shot or hit a shield and you’ll retain this benefit, making for an elegant cycle of damage output and shield breaking.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 100,000 Glimmer
  • 150 Helium Filament
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

5. Witherhord

Screenshot of the Witherhord grenade launcher in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

Special Grenade Launchers truly hit their stride with the Salvager’s Salvo. However, Witherhord may have been before its time. This Exotic Special weapon provides the standard AOE benefits you want with a sticking effect thanks to the blight that sticks to the enemy after you land a shot. If this happens to kill the enemy, you can expect it to expand and target other enemies in the area. In short, it provides a nice balance between standard damage output and added tracking damage.

Cost: 

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

6. The Last Word

Screenshot of the Last Word hand cannon in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

The Last Word is an iconic PVP Exotic Hand Cannon that’s worth adding to your collection. While it may not be the best of the best at this time, it still features one of the best reload speeds of any Hand Cannon and features an almost auto-fire-like quality with the Fan Fire Perk. This makes it one of the first instances of a hip-fire-specific Hand Cannon that has since become a regular feature of some of the better options currently out there. If you don’t have other go-to Hand Cannons, pick it up and run it in PVP to get off quick shots when running and aiming down sights.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 200 Etheric Spiral
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

7. Jotunn

Screenshot of the Jotunn Fusion Rifle in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

Jotunn was the first Fusion Rifle to feature tracking projectiles, and it’s still one of the best Special options out there. It hits hard, but you will have to deal with slower reload speeds consistent with classic Fusion Rifle builds. So, if you’re good at proactively charging, use it in PVP for the tracking benefits. If you’re worried about how quickly you can fire, keep this as a PVE option for taking down more elusive enemies.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 200 Microphasic Datalattice
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

8. Izanagi’s Burden

Screenshot of the Izanagi’s Burden Sniper Rifle in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

Anything remaining from the Black Armory is worth keeping an eye out for. It truly amplifies the damage output of your bullets, thanks to the Honed Edge Perk, which depletes your clip in order to amplify your DPS. No Distractions also reduces your flinch, making it far easier to land precise shots without worrying about a ton of kickback. This weapon has unfortunately seen the worst impact on any Sniper Rifle nerf, but it still sits as a go-to high-impact option.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 150,000 Glimmer
  • 250 Spinmetal Leaves
  • 2 Ascendant Shard

9. Bad Juju

Screenshot of the Bad Juju Pulse Rifle in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

Bad Juju is a truly iconic weapon that is worth picking up on name recognition alone. It’s possibly the first Pulse Rifle to break out as a viable weapon option in both PvE and PvP and still works as a decent option. This is mainly due to the status effects you gain that amplify damage, helps reload your clip, and ultimately boost your Super regeneration. Most of what this weapon does is fairly standard, but it still serves as a solid option with well-rounded Perks and stats to make it effective in a firefight.  

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 125,000 Glimmer
  • 200 Microphasic Datalattice
  • 1 Ascendant Shard

10. Whisper of the Worm

Screenshot of the Whisper of the Worm Sniper Rifle in Destiny 2
Image: Bungie via HGG

This Exotic Sniper Rifle is very similar to the Bad Juju in how it still works relatively well but is really more of an iconic weapon to collect. It retains the accuracy Perk from the original Destiny that made it so useful while introducing a Catalyst with additional range and precision damage once you acquire it. Make sure you hit at least three precision hits to keep reloading your magazine and basically turn this into an infinite ammo situation. That’s really all that’s valuable here, and worth picking up, especially if you’re light on valuable Sniper Rifles.

Cost: 

  • 1 Exotic Cipher
  • 150,000 Glimmer
  • 250 Baryon Bough
  • 2 Ascendant Shard

Join the High Ground

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 sure you spend it to avoid missing out on the next one. 

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!