Destiny House of Wolves Guide to Pulse Rifle Rolls

Destiny House of Wolves Guide to Pulse Rifle Rolls by InterWebNinja

I've seen several posts and comments regarding desirable perks for pulse rifles, and I think there are some misconceptions about the functionality and / or value of several of the perk options available. I'm going to describe what the perks do in more detail and I'll go into some recommendations for 'good' rolls for PRs.

Barrel Choice

This isn't specific to PRs necessarily, but I think it's important to understand what a couple of the attributes of these perks affect. I'm not going to cover specific barrels, but instead will shortly cover what some of the attributes actually mean.

Target Acquisition: This improves your weapon's Aim Assist. The actual nature of Aim Assist is still somewhat debatable, but it is believed to alter the trajectory of bullets to draw them closer to the target. This effectively increases the size of the hitbox on your target. Some people find this undesirable, though, as they prefer bullet to go exactly where they aim them. This attribute may or may not affect the 'stickiness' of your weapon to a target - I haven't seen any conclusive testing on this front. Overall, though, this is generally seen as a favorable trait.

Recoil Control: Recoil is a hidden stat in this game and is different than stability. Recoil determines the direction and magnitude that your weapon (permanently) travels after firing a shot. For most weapons (including PRs), this is a purely horizontal phenomenon. Some weapons drift left, some drift right, and some remain more centered. If you fire a single shot from a PR, you will notice that the reticule always returns to its original vertical firing position. Stability is what causes you to drift upwards on this weapon class, not recoil. While improved recoil control is generally a good thing, most PRs don't have much recoil to begin with. I don't feel this is a must have attribute.

Handling: This is just the time it takes your weapon to aim down the sights (i.e. time from pressing the aim button to the end of the aiming animation). This is a good attribute to improve, but PRs don't have nearly as sluggish aiming as heavier weapons like snipers or machine guns. Again, I wouldn't explicitly seek this out.

Other than those attributes, barrels affect zoom, range, and stability. I feel that for the most part, these come down to personal preference. I don't care for the Iron Sight options as I find them to take up too much real estate on my screen in the aiming area. My personal favorites are the Red Dot OAS or Red Dot ORES. But I'd just go with what you're comfortable with here.

Perk 1

Grave Robber (melees have chance to reload weapon): Best evidence so far is that this procs about 30% of the time. It doesn't work on Throwing Knives. This is of questionable value for PvP since you typically shouldn't be in melee range with your PR equipped. Perhaps a bit better for PvE, but I feel this is overall of limited value.

Rodeo (firing the weapon decreases recoil): This is one of the more misundertstood perks in the game. It is not a flat boost to recoil control; rather it operates more like Persistence and requires sustained fire before you see any benefit. I honestly don't know why the perk is even on Pulse Rifles, Scout Rifles, or Sniper Rifles - it seems to have no noticeable effect from the testing that I've done. I am not speaking from a subjective impression - I have spent some time systematically testing weapons with and without this perk by looking at spread patterns on walls. It just doesn't make sense on a PR. If you are skeptical, test it yourself, but I'd stay away from this one.

Outlaw (faster reload after precision kills): Faster reload is always good. Thumbs up.

Third Eye (radar stays active while aiming down the sights): This really depends on personal preference, I think. I'm accustomed to playing without Third Eye, but some people really like this perk.

Battle Runner (kills boost sprint speed): I don't have a strong opinion on this one, as I haven't tested it out. Potentially interesting, but I'm not sure it would be better than the reload perks.

Spray and Play (faster reload when your clip is empty): This is more of a PvE perk, and I'm not generally thrilled with PRs in PvE to begin with. You typically won't be unloading an entire clip with your PR in PvP (or at least I typically don't).

Feeding Frenzy (faster reload after kills): Not as much of a boost as you get from Outlaw on a precision kill, but still very nice.

Hip Fire (bonus accuracy while firing from the hip): Pulse Rifles actually aren't terrible when fired from the hip, but typically you shouldn't be engaging at ranges where this comes up. There are better perks.

Perk 2 (choose from 3)

I'm not going to go into all of the options here, as I only feel the third tier is particularly important. For the first tier, you can't really go wrong with a faster reload. Armor Piercing is okay for some PvE contexts, I suppose, as is High-Caliber Rounds for some additional stagger. But I never find myself selecting these perks unless I don't have a better option.

The second tier is filled with quality-of-life perks that are all nice, but again, I just don't value them as much as the options from the third tier.

The third tier is particularly important on Pulse Rifles because it has perks that affect stability. IMO, stability is the #1 attribute you need to be looking at to create a strong PvP PR. You want the first bullet to be landing as close as possible to the third bullet, and stability is what affects this. Several of the perks in the third tier will improve your stability, though they all come at a cost. Hand-laid Stock offers the biggest boost to stability, but at the expense of some range. Braced Frame and Smallbore offer moderate boosts to stability but sacrifice magazine size.

Perk 3

Hidden Hand (increased target acquisition): As mentioned above, this is a good thing. It's hard to measure just how much this improves your ability to connect shots, but in my experience, high aim assist weapons tend to really shine at range. I can snipe across pretty long distances with a PR with good all-around stability, range, and aim assist.

Reactive Reload (reloading after a kill grants brief bonus damage): Not really a practical perk in PvP and of limited value in PvE.

Secret Round (connecting all 3 shots in a burst only consumes 2 bullets): This description is misleading, but if you connect with a high percentage of your shots, this will effectively increase your total ammo capacity by 30-50%. This is more of a PvE perk somewhat akin to Field Scout. You shouldn't need the extra capacity in PvP for most contexts.

Headseeker (within a single burst, landing a body shot increases the damage of subsequent headshots in that burst): The damage boost is smaller than you may seem advertised in descriptions elsewhere - it's only about 10% on the affected headshots. This is a nice perk in PvP for bumping you over some contextual damage thresholds, but it really depends on the weapon archetype. This benefits high-impact PRs the most, IMO.

Army of One (unassisted kills grant bonus melee and grenade cooldown): I'm not sure what to make of this. More melees and grenades (in particular) are always nice, but I don't know the magnitude of the effect here. If it's in line with Grenadier, I don't think this is something to get overly excited about.

Glass Half Full (the bottom half of the magazine deals additional damage): I generally find this to be an impractical perk. Running down your magazine to half capacity can contextually bump you over some damage thresholds, but I don't know if it's worth having only 12 bullets (3-4 bursts) in your magazine to do so. I'd personally avoid this, though others may have found ways to make it work.

Rangefinder (increases range): Yes. Pulse Rifles are wonderful at longer ranges with this perk and will outperform any weapon except a sniper.

Counterbalance (decreases recoil and increases kick): Contrary to its description, this perk actually decreases stability. It does this by removing almost all of the horizontal recoil for the weapon. This just isn't desirable for a PR. You want more stability, not less. Again, if you don't believe me, test this perk out.

General Perk Recommendations

With all that said, my recommendation is pretty simple. Max stability is your number one goal for a PvP PR. I'd favor magazine upgrades (or Secret Round) for PvP, but that isn't really the context where these weapons shine. Here is my ideal loadout for a PR (ordered from most desirable to least desirable perks):

Barrel: Red Dot OAS, Red Dot ORES

Perk 1: Outlaw, Feeding Frenzy

Perk 2: Hand-laid Stock, Braced Frame, Smallbore

Perk 3: Rangefinder, Headseeker (high impact PRs), Hidden Hand

Honestly, if you just go to the Vanguard vendor, pick up the 55A-Allfate, and reroll it for Hand-laid Stock, you're going to have a great PvP weapon. It can kill with two headshot bursts at the same speed as Red Death (with better stability) and should almost always kill in 3 bursts. Whatever you get on Perk 1 and Perk 3 will mostly be gravy.

For PvE, I'd favor Secret Round, and I'd trade one of the middle 'choose 3' perks to get either more magazine size, reload speed, armor piercing, or high-caliber rounds. But again, I don't consider legendary PRs to be particularly strong options in PvE compared to Hand Canons or Scout Rifles.

Let me know if you have any feedback, criticisms, thoughts, or questions.

Credits: Guide by InterwebNinja