Destiny 2: The 5 Best Warlock Builds For PvP (And The 5 Best For PvE)

With Destiny 2: Beyond Light introducing new avenues to customize a Guardian’s Subclass, players have been looking towards the current sandbox and creating new builds to farm the hardest content, both in PvE and the Crucible.

Out of every class, Warlocks have some of the strongest options. Great Subclasses and Exotics allow for powerful build combinations that can be taken further with certain weapons or seasonal mods. Ranging from aggressive dashes to chaining grenades infinitely, here are ten Warlock builds that are sure to impress in either PvE or PvP.

Updated April 27th, 2021 by Charles Burgar: Warlocks have some of the most unique builds in Destiny 2, pushing Combat Style mods and certain Exotics to their limit. With new Aspects, Fragments, and Exotics to play with, we figured it was time to update this article. We’ve lowered the build totals to ten, now going more in-depth with how to replicate each build. Only the best of the best builds are on here now. Enjoy!

Foreword

Before we begin, each build guide is rather long and covers Combat Style mods—seasonal mods that offer powerful effects. If you aren’t familiar with these mods, you’ll want to read our Charged with Light guide, Warmind Cell guide, and Elemental Well guide to understand what each mod does.

10 PvP: Firing Squad

Why Play This Build?

Are you tired of playing with teammates that can’t aim? Say hello to No Time to Explain, an Exotic Pulse Rifle that creates a time portal that fires at enemies with incredible accuracy. With the Stormcaller Subclass, you can also summon an Arc Soul or “Arc Buddy” to team-shot every enemy that dares approach you. Who needs teammates when you can make a weapons platform at will?

Time to kill values are extremely low when your portal and Arc Soul are active, and you have access to a fantastic Super in the form of Chaos Reach. If you hate PvP but need to complete 6v6 weeklies, give this build a try.

Essentials

No Time to Explain will be your weapon of choice. Masterwork it to increase the lethality of your time portal. Good backup weapons include Shotguns, Grenade Launchers, and any Legendary with Demolitionist.

Getaway Artist will be your Exotic armor piece, allowing you to consume your grenade in exchange for a Sentient Arc Soul for 20 seconds.

Attunement of Chaos (Middle Tree Stormcaller) will be your Subclass. This gives you access to Chaos Reach, an excellent melee ability, and Ionic Traces that partially restore your grenade and Super after every kill.

Armor Stats

Discipline is your most important stat in this build, allowing you to recharge your grenade every 32 seconds with 100 Discipline. Combining this with Ionic Traces and Bomber, you can have a Sentient Arc Soul active for nearly every gunfight. Recovery is a good second stat to invest in.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Discipline Mods (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Pulse Rifle Targeting (Helmet, 3 Energy)
  • Bomber x2 (Solar Bond, 2 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

  • Charge Harvester (Void, 3 Energy)
  • Stacks on Stacks (Void, 4 Energy)
  • High-Energy Fire (Any, 4 Energy)
  • Powerful Friends (Arc, 4 Energy)
  • Radiant Light (Arc, 3 Energy)

9 PvE: Vesper Of Shards

Why Play This Build?

Carve through waves of PvE enemies with nothing more than your Rift. No, you read that right, your Rift. As ridiculous as that sounds, the Shadebinder’s Frostpulse Aspect can turn your Warlock’s Rifts into group-clearing explosives when paired with Vesper of Radius, an Exotic chest piece that most Warlock mains have forgotten about.

To complement these explosive Rifts, this build also takes advantage of a few Charged with Light mods that center around aggressive play. If played properly, you can expect infinite abilities, constant Supers, a near-permanent 25% damage increase, and infinite Shotgun ammo. It’s absurd. This build isn’t viable for hard endgame content, but the sheer fun you can have with this build more than makes up for it.

Essentials

Weapons with Wellspring are fantastic for this build, allowing you to spam Rifts and other abilities with ease. Shotguns, Fusions, SMGs, and Sidearms all benefit from the Heavy Handed mod. We recommend Shotguns and Fusions, but it’s up to you.

Vesper of Radius is mandatory for this build, allowing you to detonate frozen enemies from your Rifts and other abilities. Your Rift also gains bonus recharge rate while surrounded, complimenting this aggressive playstyle perfectly.

Aspects And Fragments

Shadebinder will be your subclass. You’ll be using the following Aspects:

  • Frostpulse: This is mandatory. Whenever you cast your Rift, enemies within a short distance will become frozen for a few seconds.
  • Iceflare Bolts: Enemies that are frozen will proliferate freezes when they die, allowing you to chain freeze effects with ease.

You’ll have four Fragment slots to play with. This build uses the following:

  • Whisper of Refraction: Defeating a slowed or frozen enemy provides ~10% class ability energy.
  • Whisper of Fissures: Increases the damage and blast radius of Stasis when you destroy a Stasis crystal or defeat a frozen target.
  • Whisper of Bonds: Defeating frozen targets grants 2.5% Super energy. -10 Intellect, -10 Discipline.
  • Whisper of Hedrons: Gain a 25% weapon damage boost after freezing a target with Stasis for 10 seconds. -10 Strength.

Additionally, you’ll want to run Healing Rift and either Coldsnap Grenades or Duskfield Grenades, based on preference.

Armor Stats

Recovery is your most important stat. This grants improved Rift cooldowns and increases how quickly you heal. At 100 Recovery, expect your Rift to come back every 41 seconds. Past that, Discipline is a good secondary stat since your Stasis greandes (preferably Duskfield or Coldsnap) can freeze enemies with ease.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Recovery Mods (Any, 4 Energy)
  • Dynamo (Void Helmets, 4 Energy)
  • Perpetuation (Void Bonds, 2 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

  • Heavy Handed (Arc, 7 Energy)
  • Charge Harvester (Void, 3 Energy)
  • Quick Charge (Arc, 5 Energy)
  • Supercharged (Solar, 5 Energy)
  • Protective Light (Void, 2 Energy)

8 PvP: Mantle Of Hunger

Why Play This Build?

Using common Charged with Light mods and Voidwalker’s Devour spec, this build turns you into an unstoppable killing machine in 6v6 Crucible, so long as you can win 1v1 fights. Fortunately, the Mantle of Battle Harmony makes this easy to pull off. Throw constant Supers or repeatedly two-tap Guardians with Hand Cannons with this simple to use, beginner-friendly PvP build. It won’t hang in Trials, but this makes you nigh-killable in 6v6 Control and Iron Banner.

Essentials

Void weapons are mandatory for this build, as the Mantle of Battle Harmony’s perk only works if you use damage types that match your subclass. Good options include Gnawing Hunger, Bottom Dollar, Truthteller, Retold Tale, and Le Monarque.

Mantle of Battle Harmony tops Nezarec’s Sin for this build, granting massive Super energy gains and a whopping 20% bonus damage after killing a target while your Super is charged. A single kill can make Bottom Dollar two-tap or Truthteller one-shot enemies. Coupled with Devour, you become tough to kill.

Attunement of Hunger (Bottom Tree Voidwalker) is the best spec for this, allowing you to consume your grenade to gain the Devour buff for 11 seconds. While active, all kills fully heal you and you gain increased ability regeneration rates.

Armor Stats

Intellect is your most important stat, although Recovery is also useful if you have room. An Intellect stat of 100 will let you activate Battle Harmony’s damage perk sooner in the game, letting you steamroll the competition sooner.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Intellect Mods (Any, 5 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

Everyone has access to the following two mods:

  • Taking Charge (Any, 3 Energy)
  • High-Energy Fire (Any, 4 Energy)

That’s all you need for this build to function. If you want even more power, consider using Charge Harvester and Stacks on Stacks.

7 PvE: Fury Of Icarus

Why Play This Build?

Attunement of Sky for Dawnblades is a devastating Subclass for PvE and PvP. PvE is much more flexible with its build, however, as multiple Exotics and perks synergize with the spec rather well. Non-pinnacle activities are easiest to complete when a player pairs this Subclass with Sunbracers, Exotic gloves that cause melee kills to grant unlimited grenade throws for six seconds. This perk activates on ranged melee kills from Celestial Fire, allowing players to dominate the battlefield with tracking fireballs and Solar grenades. Enhanced Ashes to Assets further boosts this build’s Super energy generation.

As for pinnacle activities, players should replace Sunbracers for Karnstein Armlets for passive health regeneration on melee kill. As long as you stay in the air when getting kills, you should have a melee charge ready before Karnstein Armlets wears off.

Essentials

Monte Carlo is an excellent weapon to use, allowing you to melee enemies all the time to proc Karnstein Armlets or Sunbracers.

Sunbracers allow you to spam grenades with reckless abandon to cover the battlefield with fire. For harder content, Karnstein Armlets can help you survive.

Attunement of Sky (Top Tree Dawnblade) is this build’s spec. You gain excellent in-air accuracy, dashes, and one of the best melee abilities in the game. If you can stay in the sky, prepare for near-infinite abilities.

Armor Stats

Strength is needed to activate Sunbracers and Karnstein Armlets more reliably. Beyond that, focus on Recovery.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Strength Mods (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Ashes to Assets (Solar Helmet, 3 Energy)
  • Momentum Transfer (Arc Gloves, 3 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

This build utilizes elemental wells to become Charged with Light, allowing you to refund most of your melee energy after every cast.

  • Elemental Ordnance (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Elemental Charge (Any, 2 Energy)
  • Heavy Handed (Arc, 7 Energy)

If you want even more add-clear, considering using Wrath of Rasputin to spawn Warmind Cells with your grenades and Celestial Fire melee.

6 PvP: Umbral Shadebinder

Why Play This Build?

Shadebinders are absurdly strong in PvP, capable of stopping opponents in their tracks using their grenades, melee ability, and Super. This build enhances ability uptime by using Claws of Ahamkara and numerous ability-enhancing armor mods. You’ll have the ability to shutdown solo Supers, Shotgun rushers, and swing 1v1 gunfights in your favor with little issue.

Essentials

Monte Carlo is excellent here, giving you constant melee charges. 600 RPM Auto Rifles are still competitive in today’s sandbox, so long as you can engage at medium distances. Beyond that, use weapons with Wellspring.

Claws of Ahamkara give you two melee charges. Activating Whisper of Hedrons and winning 1v1 engagements becomes much easier with this Exotic.

Aspects And Fragments

Shadebinder is what you’ll be using. Run the following Aspects:

  • Iceflare Bolts: Enemies that are frozen will proliferate freezes when they die, allowing you to chain freeze effects with ease.

You can either run Frostpulse or Bleak Watcher for the second slot. We recommend Frostpulse, as it lets you shutdown Supers and Shotgun rushers with a panic Rift.

For Fragments, run the following:

  • Whisper of Bonds: Defeating frozen targets grants 2.5% Super energy. -10 Intellect, -10 Discipline.
  • Whisper of Hedrons: Gain a 25% weapon damage boost after freezing a target with Stasis for 10 seconds. -10 Strength.
  • Whisper of Chains: Gain 24% damage resistance while near frozen enemies or friendly Stasis crystals. +10 Recovery.

The fourth Fragment is up to you. Run Coldsnap Grenades to have a backup method of freezing an enemy.

Armor Stats

Strength will make Penumbral Blast recharge rather quickly. Recovery is the second stat you want to invest in.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Strength Mods (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Impact Induction (Solar Gloves, 3 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

  • Powerful Friends (Arc, 4 Energy)
  • Radiant Light (Arc, 3 Energy)
  • Sustained Charge x2 (Solar, 4 Energy)
  • High-Energy Fire (Any, 4 Energy)

5 PvE: Insatiable Harbinger

Why Play This Build?

What could be better than Attunement of Hunger? Pairing Attunement of Hunger with Telesto, one of the best Fusion Rifles in Destiny 2. This build maximizes the strength of Telesto, allowing it to kill most enemies with a single burst while providing infinite ammo. If you’re tired of using weak Primaries to tackle Destiny content, give this build a try.

Essentials

Telesto is the besto for this build. A single volley from this Fusion Rifle can kill most red bars and weaken tougher majors. If you look quickly enough mid-burst, you can spread Telesto’s bolts to multiple targets.

Mantle of Battle Harmony gives excellent Super energy and a 20% damage boost to Telesto once your Super is charged. Nothing stands a chance against Telesto when Battle Harmony’s damage perk is active.

Attunement of Hunger (Bottom Tree Voidwalker) grants excellent ability cooldowns and nigh-invulnerability thanks to Devour, healing you for every kill you make.

Armor Stats

Intellect is a solid choice, allowing you to obtain your Super faster. Mobility and Recovery are also good choices. Mobility is useful for strafing enemy projectiles while you charge Telesto.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Intellect Mods (Any, 5 Energy)
  • Fusion Rifle Finder (Helmet, 2 Energy)
  • Fusion Rifle Scavenger (Legs, 2 Energy)
  • Special Ammo Finisher (Bond, 2 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

  • Quick Charge (Arc, 5 Energy)
  • Heavy Handed (Arc, 7 Energy)
  • Supercharged (Solar, 5 Energy)
  • Protective Light (Void, 2 Energy)

4 PvP: Radiant Chaos

Why Play This Build?

Middle Tree Stormcaller stands as a direct counter to Stasis, shutting down most Supers with a quick Chaos Reach. Ionic Traces give you excellent ability and Super charge times, pairing nicely with min-maxed gear and Combat Style mods. Every time you cast Chaos Reach, you’ll also give your entire team Charged with Light—yourself included if a teammate is using Powerful Friends. If you want to go flawless in Trials or reach Legend in Competitive Crucible, this build will do the trick.

Essentials

Any weapon works here. Use whatever you’re most comfortable with or what’s meta.

Geomag Stabilizers will recharge the last 15% of your Super if you are sprinting. Not only does this work in PvP, but it also synergizes with this Super’s ability to cancel itself at any time to conserve Super energy. Start a Trials round, pop your Super for a free kill, immediately end it, then take down the last two enemies while your Super comes back. This setup grants free kills if used properly.

Attunement of Control (Middle Tree Stormcaller) is what allows you to shut down Stasis so well. Chaos Reach will charge before every other Super and stay ahead of the curve for the rest of the game. If you kill enough enemies, you can get three to four Supers off in a single game.

Armor Stats

Intellect is mandatory. Reach 100 Intellect to get your Super before anyone else and start a snowball effect.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Intellect Mods (Any, 5 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

  • Taking Charge (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Charge Harvester (Void, 3 Energy)
  • High-Energy Fire (Any, 4 Energy)
  • Powerful Friends (Arc, 4 Energy)
  • Radiant Light (Arc, 3 Energy)

3 PvE: Chaotic Hold

Why Play This Build?

Have you wondered what most top-tier players use to solo dungeons and other pinnacle content? It’s this build. In essence, you’ll be using Controverse Hold and Attunement of Chaos to throw constant supercharged Vortex Grenades, turning even the toughest of enemies into stardust. It’s a low-risk, high-reward build that virtually every player can use. If you have Combat Style mods, which aren’t mandatory, you’ll be able to tackle Destiny’s hardest content without much issue.

Essentials

Weapons are down to what content you’re tackling. Common options include Xenophage and IKELOS weapons. Thanks to the flexibility of this build, you can easily combine your deadly grenades with Warmind Cells to trivialize most content.

Contraverse Hold is mandatory. These gloves are what allow you to spam grenades, granting a random amount of grenade energy whenever your grenades damage someone. Since Vortex Grenades persist for multiple seconds, Contraverse Hold activates multiple times in one grenade.

Attunement of Chaos (Top Tree Voidwalker) allows you to overcharge your grenades, giving them increased duration and much more damage. Pair this subclass with Vortex Grenades for devastating results.

Armor Stats

Discipline is recommended, allowing you to recharge your grenade quickly in case you miss a throw. Beyond that, spec for whatever suits your playstyle, Recovery being the main choice for most.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Discipline Mods (Any, 3 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

You have two choices here: you can either go with a Warmind Cell setup or a Charged with Light build. This will boil down to which weapons you’re using. In most activities, a Warmind Cell build will outperform a Charged with Light setup.

Warmind Cell Setup

  • Wrath of Rasputin (Solar, 1 Energy)
  • Rage of the Warmind (Solar, 5 Energy)
  • Global Reach (Any, 1 Energy)
  • Warmind’s Protection (Void, 2 Energy)
  • Fireteam Medic (Solar, 3 Energy)

Charged With Light Setup

  • Protective Light (Void, 2 Energy)
  • Taking Charge (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Elemental Ordnance (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Elemental Charge (Any, 2 Energy)
  • Supercharged (Solar, 5 Energy)

2 PvP: Icarus Dawnblade

Why Play This Build?

Movement separates good players from great players in Destiny’s Crucible. Closing the gap and moving with confidence are critical to winning against more skilled teams, hence why virtually every Warlock in the Crucible plays top tree Dawnblade.

This build utilizes Charged with Light mods and popular Warlock Exotics to make you the fastest, deadliest killing machine you can possibly be. If you want to focus more on countering enemies, use the Radiant Chaos build discussed earlier. If you want to become an all-out aggressive Guardian that can’t be touched, this is the build for you.

Essentials

Any weapon can work with this build, but there are a few that get a plethora of benefits as a Dawnblade. Those include Dead Man’s TaleSniper RiflesFelwinter’s Lie, and Hand Cannons. In essence, if it’s meta, it’s even better on this build due to Heat Rising.

Transversive Steps and Ophidian Aspects are the best neutral-game Exotics you can rock for this build. Most argue that Tranversive Steps are better due to their increased sprint speed and auto-reloading properties. With that said, Ophidians are looking more and more promising with the announcement of the Quickdraw nerf. Their handling and reload boost are hard to top. Karnstein Armlets are also an excellent choice if you’re OK with sacrificing general buffs for survivability.

One more Exotic we want to mention is Starfire Protocol. This chest piece grants a second Fusion Grenade. Fusions aren’t anything to write home about, but this allows you to activate Heat Rising two times in a row, allowing for excellent hang time with a Sniper Rifle or other long-range weapons. The outplay potential with this Exotic is too good not to mention.

Attunement of Sky (Top Tree Dawnblade) grants mid-air dashes, perfect in-air accuracy with the Heat Rising buff, and you get a decent Super in the form of Daybreak. Celestial Fire is arguably the best melee ability for Warlocks as well, damaging targets around cover and from quite a distance.

Armor Stats

Intellect is the most important stat in competitive PvP. The sooner you cast your Super, the sooner your teammates get theirs. Recovery and Discipline are also great stats to maximize. If you can get all three stats to 100, you’ll be tough to kill.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Stat Mods (Any, 3-5 Energy)
  • Hands-On (Arc Helmet, 3 Energy)
  • Momentum Transfer (Arc Gloves, 3 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

  • Taking Charge (Any, 3 Energy)
  • Charge Harvester (Void, 3 Energy)
  • High-Energy Fire (Any, 4 Energy)
  • Powerful Friends (Arc, 4 Energy)
  • Radiant Light (Arc, 3 Energy)

1 PvE: Warmind’s Grace

Why Play This Build?

Combining lethality with support, this build is the ultimate PvE Warlock build for all Destiny 2 content. Normal strikes? Clear entire arenas with little issue. Grandmaster Nightfalls? Keep your team alive with constant healing effects and a powerful Well of Radiance Super. Thanks to Warmind Cells, Warlocks can have both offensive and support capabilities.

Essentials

IKELOS and Seventh Seraph weapons allow you to spawn Warmind Cells after a few kills. If you own Wrath of Rasputin, consider using Ticcu’s Divination, Xenophage, or Sunshot.

Lumina also pairs nicely with this build, healing allies and granting everyone a massive 35% damage buff. This gun procs Benevolent Dawn, giving you incredible ability regeneration rates whenever you use Lumina to heal an ally.

Lunafaction Boots and Phoenix Protocol are great support options if you’re playing pinnacle content with a team. If damage is what you’re after, Mantle of Battle Harmony is your best choice. Pair it with Sunshot or Xenophage for a hilarious amount of damage.

Attunement of Grace (Middle Tree Dawnblade) is the star of the show, granting constant abilities so long as you heal your allies. Well of Radiance is also an excellent Super for hunkering down or preparing for a raid boss DPS phase.

Armor Stats

Recovery is the only stat you need to worry about. This setup heals allies so frequently that your abilities are up constantly.

Armor Mods (General)

  • Ashes to Assets (Solar Helmet, 3 Energy)
  • Special Ammo Finisher (Bond, 2 Energy)

Armor Mods (Combat Style)

With this setup, your Warmind Cells will spawn from Solar splash damage (including Warmind Cell explosions themselves), and every Warmind Cell will heal allies. This procs Benevolent Dawn, giving you ability energy whenever you destroy a Warmind Cell.

Warmind Cell Setup

  • Wrath of Rasputin (Solar, 1 Energy)
  • Rage of the Warmind (Solar, 5 Energy)
  • Global Reach (Any, 1 Energy)
  • Warmind’s Protection (Void, 2 Energy)
  • Fireteam Medic (Solar, 3 Energy)

Next: Destiny 2: Beyond Light Complete Guide And Walkthrough

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Charles Burgar is an expert on all things tech and gaming. Graduating from Pikes Peak Community College in 2018 with an Associate of Science, Charles has spent his time dissecting popular video games, movies, and technology. With an understanding of games for as long as he can remember, Charles has a large interest in understanding what makes things fun. He is currently a Freelance writer for TheGamer and Game Rant.

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