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

Exotic Masterwork Weapons are coming to '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. With Destiny 2‘s second expansion, Warmind, bringing Exotic weapon Masterworks into the fray, there is even more to wrap your head around. 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)

The Masterwork Bonus cannot be upgraded, but if you aren’t happy with what you received, you can “re-roll” the upgrade by spending three “Masterwork Cores.”  Masterwork Cores can only be acquired by breaking down Masterwork Weapons. Breaking down a Masterwork Weapon generally yields one to three Masterwork Cores. With that in mind, you usually want to hold onto Masterwork Weapons or break them down, rather than re-rolling. It’s worth noting that re-rolling only comes into play with Legendary gear. Each Exotic Weapon has one and only one Masterwork, specifically created for it.

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.

Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Wearables

Samsung's new Galaxy Watch touts ultra-tough glass, multiday battery life

Samsung has finally introduced a sequel to the Galaxy Gear S3 smartwatch -- called the Samsung Galaxy Watch. The new device features a slick design, Samsung's Tizen operating system, and a heart rate monitor to help you track your fitness.
Deals

Score some Mac hardware on the cheap during Best Buy’s Apple sale

If you're in the mood for some Cupertino gear but don't want to wait until Black Friday, then you're in luck: Best Buy is slashing prices during its limited-time Apple sale. Find deals that can save you as much as $300 on everything from…
Home Theater

Put your home theater to the test with these spectacular Blu-ray releases

What's the point of having all of that awesome home theater gear if you can't breed a little jealousy in your friends and family? We've put together this list of fantastic Blu-rays that have the goods to drop a few jaws.
Gaming

Want to play SNES classics on your PC? These emulators make it easy

Emulation can be a tricky subject to nail, especially when you don't know where to begin, but you can explore your favorite Super Nintendo classics from the comfort of your home with our guide to the best SNES emulators currently available.
Gaming

Take control of your Xbox with these top-tier Xbox One gamepads

A number of different controllers are available on the Xbox One, from gamepads made by Microsoft, to third-party controllers loaded with special features. Here are the best you can buy.
Gaming

‘Diablo III’ is bringing loot-filled goodness to the Nintendo Switch this year

Blizzard's acclaimed action-RPG Diablo III will be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year and it will include four-player cooperative play on the console, the legendary game studio announced.
Gaming

Blazer5 Gaming has dominated the NBA 2K League. Now they prepare for the playoffs

We spoke with Blazer5 Gaming, the NBA 2K team that currently tops the professional 2K League, about their journeys to playing the basketball sim for a living. We also played a little game of overrated or underrated with NBA 2K19's ratings.
Gaming

Blizzard wants to see Diablo characters join fray in ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’

With Diablo 3 coming to Switch later this year, is it possible that we could see Blizzard characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate down the line? Blizzard would very much like to see Diablo characters in the Nintendo brawler.
Gaming

Blizzard changes its tune, says ‘Overwatch’ could run on Nintendo Switch

Blizzard's hugely popular multiplayer shooter Overwatch isn't available on Nintendo Switch, but one of the studio's senior producers says that it could technically run on the hybrid console.
Gaming

‘Warframe’ adds a trio of minigames, including a 2D fighting experience

Digital Extremes has added a new 2D fighting mini-game to Warframe, its free-to-play science fiction title. The game can be unlocked by using the Standing resource and features a surprising amount of depth.
Gaming

New 'Fortnite' challenge is among the most difficult yet, but we know the solution

Where are the Stone Heads looking? That's the challenge posed by Fortnite's sixth week of season five. It's an easy challenge in concept, but difficult to manage in execution. If you don't want a hassle, no sweat. We've found the solution.
Gaming

The PlayStation 5 rumors are heating up, and the console may arrive by 2020

Recent rumors suggest the launch of the PlayStation 5 is closer than you might expect. Predictions range from 2018 to 2021, and some reports are already making definitive claims about the hardware.
Gaming

Federal judge puts the brakes on ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ mod that allowed cheats

The GTA series brought us the lawlessness of Los Santos, but U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton handed down an injunction against David Zipperer of Georgia, maker of the Menyoo and Absolute mods.