Masterwork gear in ‘Destiny 2’: Everything you need to know

Exotic Masterwork Weapons are in 'Destiny 2.' Here's how to upgrade

Destiny 2 rarely sees substantial changes to the way players gain experience or earn equipment, but in a December 2017 update, Bungie added a new tier of weapons and armor with the potential to change your strategy both in solo play and in multiplayer. “Masterwork” Gear, a customizable tier higher than Legendary items, offers additional benefits previously reserved for Exotic-level weapons and armor.

Masterworks, both weapons and armor, add lots of little details (and significant grind) to the Destiny 2 endgame: Your gear is more upgradable but gathering what you need to make those upgrades takes time. Here is what you need to know about Masterwork Gear to get your guardian in top shape.

What Masterwork Gear does, and what it doesn’t do

Before we dive into what Masterwork Gear offers players, it’s important to understand the nature of the upgrades. Masterwork items do not offer any damage or power level boost compared to standard Legendary or Exotic gear. The gear will still be around the same level as your current gear, and it could be lower in some cases. If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re going to use the weapon at all, it’s best to store it in your vault, as it can always be infused or broken down later on.

The good news: Legendary Masterwork items are technically considered modified versions of Legendary weapons and armor. As such, they do not count against the “one Exotic weapon” and “one Exotic piece of armor” rules. We coupled a Masterwork fusion rifle with an Exotic scout rifle, allowing us to cause serious carnage against enemies.

What enhancements do Masterwork Weapons offer?

Legendary Masterwork Weapons offer several bonuses on top of the attributes you find in standard Legendary Weapons. Perhaps most important is a Masterwork Weapon’s orb-generating ability: Earning a multi-kill with a Masterwork Weapon — killing two or more enemies in a few seconds — will automatically generate an orb of light that’s used for charging up your super ability. During solo play, this is a handy way to take down targets more quickly, but it’s more powerful during cooperative strikes. If you focus on smaller targets that can be multi-killed while your teammates attack a larger boss, you can generate a constant supply of orbs for them to use.

Each Masterwork Weapon also comes with one statistical bonus, offering anything from increased reloading speed to better weapon range, or even blast radius. According to players on Reddit, these are the stats that Masterwork Weapons can enhance:

  • Impact (sniper rifles, fusion rifles, and swords only)
  • Range (not available on rocket and grenade launchers)
  • Stability (not available on swords)
  • Handling
  • Reload Speed (not available on swords)
  • Magazine
  • Blast Radius (rocket and grenade launchers only)
  • Velocity (rocket and grenade launchers only)

Since the launch of Forsaken, Masterwork weapons also come with tiered levels that are unlocked by continued use. The statistics you have on your weapon will continue to increase as you reach higher tears, but reaching the highest tier requires more Legendary shards and Masterwork Cores.

Masterwork Cores can be acquired in a few ways. One is by breaking down Masterwork Weapons. Breaking down a Masterwork Weapon generally yields one to three Masterwork Cores. Since the launch of Forsaken, you can no longer “re-roll” Masterwork gear to get the statistics you want.

You can also purchase them by talking to the character Spider in the Tangled Shores, which is located in The Reef. These aren’t cheap, however, so you might want to avoid it unless you have your heart set on getting a Masterwork weapon immediately.

Like some emblems, Masterwork Weapons also track the kills you earn. These can be either total kills with the Masterwork weapon, or simply those you earned in the Crucible multiplayer mode. On the “details” page for your weapon, this tally will be visible directly under the weapon’s power level.

Exotic Masterwork Weapons add the same orb- and kill-tracking abilities found in Legendary Masterworks to an Exotic Weapon, as well as unique perks and stat upgrades. Unlike Legendary Masterworks, the upgrades are not random and cannot be re-rolled. On the other hand, the benefits are also more substantial. According to a PlayStation Access explainer video, for example, Vigilance Wing — a popular exotic pulse rifle — gains a full-auto option when fully upgraded.

What about Masterwork Armor?

Destiny 2 Masterwork gear

Legendary Masterwork Armor offers a similar, albeit less variable bonus to standard Legendary gear. Masterwork Armor pieces grant a three percent damage reduction while using a super move. As a result, a complete Masterwork Armor set grants a 15 percent damage reduction.

You can modify Masterwork Armor by combining one Masterwork Core with 10 Legendary shards. Modifications tweak stats to create either heavy, light, or restorative armor.

Beware, though, because Bungie said a bug sometimes causes the upgrade to occur without adding new stats. Luckily, none of your cores or shards seem to get used if this occurs, so just make sure to double-check your gear after you’ve finished the upgrade.

How do I get Masterwork Gear?

Legendary Masterworks

Masterwork Gear can only be earned by Guardians at power level 250 or above. Once you’ve crossed that threshold, which is particularly easy now if you have the Curse of Osiris expansion, you will be able to earn Masterwork Weapons by decoding legendary (purple) engrams. These could come from random drops in the middle of a strike or as a reward for completing a milestone, or even be purchased directly from the Cryptarch at the Tower using Legendary shards. You’ll be able to tell a weapon is a Masterwork by the gold border around its picture in your inventory.

Don’t forget about the reputation tokens you’ve earned on the game’s various planets, either. Though the items you earn from these are likely far below your current power level at this point, they still have a chance to become Masterworks, and you can then infuse them to bring them up to your current power level. It will take you a little bit longer to make your way across each planet in order to speak to the vendor, but you’ll be saving your Legendary shards for more important things.

The chance of earning Masterworks through any of these methods is quite low — you can go through 20 or 30 engrams without ever finding one. However, the drop rates for Masterworks increase during high-level activities. Bungie specifically said players will have better luck finding Masterworks during the “Leviathan” raid and the Trials of the Nine multiplayer event, but similar endgame events such as the “Eater of Worlds” and “Spire of Stars” raid lairs and the Iron Banner tournament may offer better drop rates as well.

Exotic Masterwork Weapons

In season 3 of Destiny 2, Bungie added Exotic Masterwork Weapons. Rather than dropping randomly, each Exotic weapon you acquire has or will have the capacity to become a Masterwork Weapon (not all Exotics will have a Masterwork version available at the jump).

To upgrade an Exotic weapon, you must find its corresponding Exotic Masterwork Catalyst, an item that will trigger a mission or otherwise grant you instructions telling you what you need to do. Like the upgrades, both the catalyst and the instructions are different for each weapon. Some catalysts will be in specific places — Bungie said some weapons will have clues on them if you inspect them closely — while others will drop at random. After acquiring and applying the Masterwork Catalyst to your weapon, there will be a set number of more direct steps to complete in order to grind the Masterwork to its final, most masterful state.

One more thing you should know: Unlike Legendary Masterwork gear, you cannot customize the upgrades on Exotic Masterworks. Each piece of Masterwork Gear has one, custom-tailored Masterwork.

Can I upgrade a Legendary weapon to make it a Masterwork?

If you dream of making your favorite assault rifle a Masterwork, then prepare for some good news! All Legendary weapons can be upgraded to Masterwork Weapons by powering them up with 10 Masterworks cores. Again, you earn Masterwork cores by breaking down your Masterworks, so be absolutely sure that the weapon you’re upgrading is something you plan to use for the foreseeable future.

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