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Destiny TTK Exotic Swords Comparison: Which Exotic Sword is Better (Guide)


All tests were made in the Croto’s End Raid (HM) as a 313 Guardian with 310 swords at the Bridge Encounter using the Swordbearer as test object.

The Basic Attacks

All swords deal the same amount of damage when using the basic attacks.

AttackDamageAmmo (Loss per Attack)
Jump + R2/RT4822-2

The Exotic Attacks

Without Warrior of Light:

AttackMax.Ammo*Raze-Lighter (Solar)Dark-Drinker (Void)Bolt-Caster (Arc)Ammo (Loss per Attack)
R2/RT813x 5358 + 21448x 214410x 858 + 215-5

With Warrior of Light:

AttackMax.Ammo*Raze-Lighter (Solar)Dark-Drinker (Void)Bolt-Caster (Arc)Ammo (Loss per Attack)
R2/RT683x 6697 + 21448x 267910x 1072 + 215-5

*Using Scabbard instead of Live, Die or Thrive by the Sword


When using the exotic attack both Raze-Lighter and Bolt-Caster have an additional Damage which is  called “Impact Damage” (similar to Rocket Launchers). In the tests above the additional Damage was 2144 (Raze-Lighter) and 215 (Bolt-Caster). The Dark-Drinker does not have this additional “Impact Damage”.

Screenshots (imgur albums):
Warrior of Light gives a 25% damage buff to the exotic attacks but does not affect the “Impact Damage”. For example (Raze-Lighter): 6697/5358 = 1.2499 = +25%

What is the “Impact Damage” and where does it come from?

To answer this question we have to take a look at the Basic Attack values again.

A normal R1/RB attack deals 3858 damage. In the case of the Raze-Lighter the 2144 damage are 55% of an R1/RB attack. In case of the Bolt-Caster the 215 damage are 5.5% of an R1/RB attack.

To verify this, we have to reran the tests on another test subject – the Celebrant of Oryx. Here a normal R1/RB attack did 1399 damage (Screenshot). The exotic attack of the Raze-Lighter had an additional impact damage of 777 (Screenshot)and in case of the Bolt-Caster 78 (Screenshot). Again that’s 55% and 5.5% of the R1/RB attack.

The Damage Calculation in general (Exotic Attacks)

The damage values of all attacks are based on the damage of the R1/RB attack. The numbers below are without Warrior of Light.

SwordDamage Calculation
Raze-Lighter (Solar)3x 138.8% R1/RB + 55.5% R1/RB
Dark-Drinker (Void)8x 55.5% R1/RB
Bolt-Caster (Arc)10x 22.2% R1/RB + 5.57% R1/RB

Other Stuff


Duration means the time from the start of the exotic attack animation to the end of the attack animation (until you can start your next attack).

The result of trying to measure the time between the start of the attack animation and the end of the damage output can be seen below.


  • Bolt-Caster was cast closer as possible to the target
  • Warrior of Light does not affect the Duration of the exotic attack.
SwordDurationEnd of Damage Output
Raze-Lighter (Solar)~ 1.44 seconds~ 0.52 seconds
Dark-Drinker (Void)~ 1.92 seconds~ 1.24 seconds
Bolt-Caster (Arc)~ 1.56 seconds~ 1.72 seconds

Efficiency (Warrior of Light vs. Scabbard)

Efficiency can probably also be described as “how to use the exotic sword”.

To state that you should always use the Warrior of Light perk over Scabbard because 14 buffed exotic attacks (68/5) deal more damage than 17 normal exotic attacks (81/5) is kind of a wrong conclusion. That would mean you would never use the R1/RB attack at all – and that’s not efficient.

To use the exotic swords in an efficient way you should limit the use of exotic attacks to shielded or yellow-bar enemies or in case of the Bolt-Caster and partially the Dark-Drinker to groups of enemies (mostly red-bar or with matching shields). Just keep in mind to have fun and that a few R1/RB attacks can kill an enemy as well.

It’s really hard to say if you should use Scabbard or Warrior of Light. If you are using full ammo capacity always, then you will never feel needing that 25% damage buff (including Kings Fall Raid but I only use a Sword for the Totems).

What about Live, Die & Thrive By the Sword?

Again, this probably depends on the way you play the game.

There is no need to lose another 13 ammo for these perks. Replenish grenade energy and a chance to grant orbs simply aren’t enough. The only interesting option can be found in Thrive By the Sword (see next “question”).

Does Thrive By the Sword of the Raze-Lighter stack with Inverse Shadow?

Thrive by the Sword: Kills with the sword grant super energy

Inverse Shadow: Increased super energy gained from killing minions of the darkness

No, it does not! So if you already have Inverse Shadow on your gear you know what to do.

(btw Inverse Shadow is the perk you want on your helmet, it grants 25% more super energy per kill in PvE)

Conclusion (Pros & Cons):

Raze-Lighter (Solar)Dark-Drinker (Void)Bolt-Caster (Arc)
Pro+ highest Damage Output+ high Damage Output+ Range
+ instant Damage / shortest Duration+ AOE Damage / multiple targets when close together+ AOE Damage / multiple targets when close together
Con- no AOE Damage / only single targets- slower Damage Output- lowest Damage Output
- targets can move out of the Damage zone
- slowest Damage Output

Other Information:
  • You can do the exotic attack of the Bolt-Caster with the Raze-Lighter & Dark-Drinker (throw a disc). To do so you have to lower you ammo to 1 and then quickly make a R1/RB + R2/RT attack combo.
  • You can still do a full damage exotic attack when you have less than 5 ammo.
The video version of this guide is below:

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Credits: Special thanks to CaptainChaozZz for this guide.