Destiny 2: How To Get A Free Exotic Cipher (And What To Spend It On)

With the release of Beyond Light, many locations and activities have been removed from the game. Many Exotic, Pinnacle, and Ritual weapons that could be earned by completing quests and triumphs are no longer obtainable from their original activities. Instead, those weapons are now for sale from a new vendor called the Exotic Archive. If you want to buy an Exotic you missed, you’ll need an extremely rare currency called Exotic Ciphers. Luckily, there’s one you can get for free right now.

One of the best upgrades Destiny 2 got this year is the new triumph menu. Destiny’s in-game achievement system has archived all of the “legacy” triumphs (all pre-Beyond Light triumphs) and refreshed the collection will a myriad of new triumphs to pursue. While there’s a lot to go through there are some very important rewards hiding in these menus, including the elusive Exotic Cipher.

Open up the very first menu, Lifetime, and select the third category on the New Light tab called Gear. There you’ll find a triumph called Exotic Archivist with three stages of completion: collect one exotic, collect three exotics, and collect seven exotics. Completing the first stage of the achievement rewards an Exotic Cipher. If you’ve ever collected a single exotic in Destiny 2, you can get this Exotic Cipher for free.

If you’re a brand new player, you can earn your first exotic relatively easily. Begin the New Light campaign and pretty soon you’ll meet Shaw Han in the Cosmodrome. Shaw has an exotic quest called “Blast From The Past” that rewards the exotic shotgun The Chaperone. It’s a pretty straightforward quest chain that can be completed entirely within the Cosmodrome. Once you obtain The Chaperone, open up your triumphs menu and claim your Exotic Cipher.

Keep in mind you can only hold one Exotic Cipher at a time. If you already have one you won’t be able to claim this triumph and collect your free one until you spend the one that you have. If you played last season (and got your battle pass to at least level 55) then you would have gotten an Exotic Cipher then. This season rewards another Exotic Cipher at level 55, and just like the one in the Triumph menu, you won’t be able to claim it if you’re holding one already.

Additionally, Xur will begin offering a quest to earn an Exotic Cipher once per week. Xur only shows up in Destiny between Friday and Sunday, so we don’t yet have details about how this quest works.

So how should you spend your Exotic Cipher? First, visit the Exotic Archive vendor, AKA the Monument to Lost Lights terminal that now sits in between the two vault terminals at the Tower. This is where you can spend your Exotic Cipher to purchase any exotics you may have missed before — including raid exotics like Anarchy and Tarrabah.

Keep in mind that those raid exotics also cost Spoils of Conquest, a new currency earned from raiding. If there are other exotics you don’t have yet, you’re probably best off spending your cipher on those before the raid weapons, unless you’re raid-ready and have a group that can help you.

If you don’t have any of the weapons offered by the Exotic Archive, there are a lot of great options, depending on what your Destiny 2 priorities are. If you plan to play a lot of PvP, the Mida Multi-Tool scout rifle as well as the Thorn and Eriana’s Vow hand cannons are all great choices. If you’re looking to raid or progress through high-level end game content like Master Nightfalls, you absolutely have to have the Izanagi’s Burden sniper rifle. If you’re just looking for something fun that is useful in Strikes and Gambit, I highly recommend the Ace of Spades hand cannon, Symmetry pulse rifle, and the rocket launcher called Truth.

Keep in mind that the Exotic Cipher isn’t the only price. Depending on which gun you want, you’ll also need planetary materials, Ascendant Shards, and a whole bunch of glimmer. The battle pass will provide plenty of glimmer and planetary materials, but the shards are going to be a serious roadblock for a lot of players.

You can earn three shards each season through the battle pass, but shards are also needed to masterwork gear, so you’ll need a steady flow of shards to keep your gear in top shape. You can earn shards by completing master-ranked Nightfall: The Ordeal, which has a new level requirement of 1280. Considering the current season pinnacle cap is 1260, it’s going to take weeks before anyone is high enough level for these challenges.

The other way to get Ascendant Shards is by purchasing them from Banshee. Each shard costs ten enhancement prisms, while each prism costs ten enhancement cores. Therefore, you’re going to need 100 enhancement cores for each ascendant shard. That’s no small grind, especially when cores only drop vary occasionally from adept-level nightfalls and rarely from other activities.

Ultimately, if you have a cipher it’s better to spend it on exotics you don’t have before masterworking other gear.

READ NEXT: Destiny 2: Play New Light Before Starting Beyond Light (Or Suffer)


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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.

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