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Masterwork gear in Destiny 2: Everything you need to know

Masterwork gear adds a lot to Destiny 2‘s endgame, allowing you to boost the stats of a weapon past its power level with enough resources. In addition to a cool gold border and a kill tracker, Masterwork gear offers a range of goodies: Extra orbs, specific stat increases, and more.

Like almost every system in Destiny 2, Bungie doesn’t explain Masterworks very well. In this guide, we’re going to cover what Masterwork gear is (and isn’t), the perks Masterwork gear offers, and how to level up the gear you have to its maximum level.

Further reading

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?

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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 Enhancement Cores.

You can pick up Enhancement Cores a few different ways. One is by breaking down Masterwork Weapons. Breaking down a Masterwork Weapon generally yields one to three Enhancement 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

How do I get Masterwork Gear?

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Legendary Masterworks

There is a small chance that any Legendary weapon you pick up will already be a Masterwork. Certain Legendary drops are automatically a Masterwork, too, such as the Salvager’s Salvo ritual grenade launcher from Season of the Chosen. For the most part, however, you’ll need to upgrade your weapons manually.

Each weapon has 10 ranks, and it’s considered a Masterwork at rank 10. You can upgrade your weapon at any time using your inventory screen, and as long as you have enough resources, you can go from level one to level 10 right away. If you don’t have enough resources, don’t worry; each level rewards you with slightly increased stats.

Here’s what you need for each level:

  • Level one — Base weapon
  • Level two — 2,500 Glimmer
  • Level three — 2,500 Glimmer, one Legendary Shard
  • Level four — 2,500 Glimmer, one Legendary Shard, one Enhancement Core
  • Level five — 2,500 Glimmer, two Legendary Shards, One Enhancement Core
  • Level six — Two Legendary shards, two Enhancement Cores
  • Level seven — Three Legendary Shards, two Enhancement Cores
  • Level eight — Three Legendary Shards, three Enhancement Cores
  • Level nine — Five Legendary Shards, three Enhancement Cores
  • Level 10 — 10 Legendary Shards, five Enhancement Cores

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 are in specific places — Bungie said some weapons will have clues on them if you inspect them closely — while others drop at random. After acquiring and applying the Masterwork Catalyst to your weapon, there is 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.

What about Masterwork Armor?

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Legendary Masterwork Armor offers a similar, albeit less variable bonus to standard Legendary gear. Masterwork Armor pieces grant a 3% damage reduction while using a super move. As a result, a complete Masterwork Armor set grants a 15% damage reduction. Additionally, each rank gives your armor more elemental energy, allowing you to equip more mods.

Like Legendary weapons, you can upgrade Legendary armor to its Masterwork level. Here’s what you need for each level:

  • Level one — Base armor
  • Level two — 500 Glimmer, one Legendary Shard
  • Level three — 500 Glimmer, one Legendary Shard
  • Level four — 500 Glimmer, two Legendary Shards
  • Level five — 1,000 Glimmer, two Legendary Shards
  • Level six — 1,000 Glimmer, three Legendary Shards, one Enhancement Core
  • Level seven — 2,500 Glimmer, three Legendary Shards, two Enhancement Cores
  • Level eight — 3,000 Glimmer, four Legendary Shards, one Enhancement Prism
  • Level nine — 3,000 Glimmer, four Legendary Shards, two Enhancement Prisms
  • Level 10 — 4,000 Glimmer, five Legendary Shards, one Ascendant Shard

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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