Destiny: Are Explosive Rounds Any Good?


Let’s talk about Explosive Rounds (ER) & High Caliber Rounds (HCR). For a long time, I’ve wanted to dive deep and see exactly what High Caliber Rounds and Explosive Rounds do to your opponents in the crucible. If you didn’t know, High Caliber Rounds are supposed to “stagger” their target (according to the perk’s description). Explosive Rounds’ description doesn’t say that in the description, but should ideally have some impact on an enemies reticle bounce as well. To test how much impact both of these perks had, I grabbed a variety of weapons rolled with High Caliber rounds + Explosive Rounds, found a willing test subject (credit to MadDawgGrimes), headed into a rumble match and had him record HIS perspective as I shot him in the chest and head. The results may surprise you. Here are my findings:

Video with all the information:

1) Reticle bounce direction is determined by the angle of your attack in relation to your enemy. What I mean by this is that if you are shooting someone from the side, your opponent’s reticle will bounce to the side. If you shoot them straight on, their reticle will bounce straight up. Here are two examples.

I’ve marked the reticle peak with either white or black dots to show the reticle bounce pattern. If you move either of these bounce pattern lines to match the other’s angle, however, you can see that the pattern remains consistent regardless of the angle.

This same thing cannot be said about HUD disruption, however. When firing straight on you will have more impact on your enemy’s HUD then if you are shooting them at an angle (more on this later).

2) High Caliber Rounds don’t do much in PvP. Below are some example images of guns with high caliber rounds selected and unselected.

  • Ghelon’s Demise (low RoF scout rifle): Body // Head I also included Mida Multi Tool for comparison.
  • Red Death: Body // Head
  • Suros Regime + Monte Carlo: Body // Head
  • Red Hand IX: (mid RoF hand cannon) Body // Head
  • NL Shadow: (high RoF scout rifle) Body // Head

Across the board and regardless of gun used, the bounce pattern it creates is almost identical with or without HCR equipped. While the pattern is the same (i.e. it’s always linear), the vertical range of reticle bounce does change when HCR are used. In other words, HCR allows you to reach maximum flinch faster, but does not change the pattern. Generally speaking, when using a high RoF weapon (Auto Rifles or Pulse Rifles–even slow pulse rifles fire three rapid bullets) you will see an increase in vertical distance with HCR selected. This vertical distance is roughly equal regardless of headshot or body shot. So the perk isn’t wasted if you miss the crit shot.

The increase in reticle bounce created by HC rounds varies depending on the gun used, but in my experiments the faster the gun fires, the more benefit you will see from the perk. I wasn’t able to test with the highest RoF pulse rifle or auto rifle archetypes (didn’t have any with HC rounds), but I’m confident that, assuming you don’t miss your shots, these guns would be more effective with HC rounds.

Hand Cannons and Scout Rifles benefit the least from HC rounds. Even a fast-firing gun like the NL Shadow shows little-to-no advantage when using HC rounds. When using guns with high impact and a mid/low rate of fire (like Red Death for example), the benefit you see from HC rounds is less noticeable as the large amounts of time in between bursts allow your opponents to effectively recover.

Furthermore, HC Rounds don’t just do a bad job of staggering an enemy in PvP, they also LESSEN the on-hit HUD disruption per bullet.

NL Shadow: High Caliber // Nothing

3) Explosive Rounds could save your life in PvP. Despite HCR being somewhat underwhelming, ER actually DO make a difference in PvP. Instead of a linear bounce pattern like having no perk selected or using HCR, Explosive Rounds cause random, horizontal motion in addition to the vertical motion. Here are some examples.

  • NL Shadow (high RoF scout rifle): Body // Head
  • Zero Point LOTP (mid RoF scout rifle): Body // Head
  • Fatebringer (mid RoF hand cannon): Body // Head
  • Auto Rifles and Pulse rifles cannot roll with Explosive rounds.

I have a theory as to why this works. In Destiny, you experience reticle bounce any time you take damage. Even the DoT from a Thorn or a Sunsinger grenade will cause you to experience slight reticle bounce. Now consider that when you use explosive rounds damage is applied to your enemy twice: Once for the actual projectile and a second time for the explosion. Because of this, reticle bounce is triggered twice. The first time it is triggered, it is a linear bounce in relation to the angle of attack (just like any other projectile). The second time reticle bounce is triggered (this time by the explosion) the angle of the explosion is completely random and so the direction of bounce is also random. This means that explosive rounds are the ONLY possible way in Destiny to cause horizontal reticle bounce in addition to vertical bounce.

Another major benefit of explosive rounds is it’s HUD disruption. Explosive Rounds will regularly, completely blind enemies (their HUD is white) for upwards of 5-10 frames. This blind effect happens regardless of the angle of attack and makes your opponents reticle almost impossible to see for those frames.

NL Shadow: Explosive // Nothing

There is a negative to using ER, however. The explosion animation generally covers your OWN reticle and can make it more difficult to land consecutive critical shots. Certain scopes aren’t affected by this as much as other scopes and you do get more used to it over time, but this disadvantage should be noted.

4) Breaking your opponent’s shield often resets their reticle bounce. This might sound strange, but when you break your enemies shield, ALMOST always, their reticle bounce resets. Their screen briefly flashes a translucent white (image), but their reticle does not bounce meaningfully in any direction.

5) Unflinching does do… something. We also tested the effect of using unflinching with a sniper rifle. Recently some other users have posted some detailed research on this, so I’ll refer you to their posts as well. In my tests, we were able to see a small difference in reticle bounce (it went from really bad to mostly bad), but on primary weapons like Red Death, the difference unflinching made was almost non-existent. So non-existent, I’m not even including an image of it.

6) Landing a headshot does make a small difference. A popular opinion was that HCR only worked on headshots. While that is not the case, landing a headshot will make a small difference in increasing reticle bounce. As you can see in the multiple examples above, the recoil pattern is almost the same with or without the head being hit but in some cases, especially when using High RoF auto rifles, landing multiple successive headshots did cause a significant increase in vertical reticle bounce.

Here is an example of Suros Regime and Monte Carlo that illustrates this the best:

Suros Regime + Monte Carlo: Body // Head

7) Gun damage is essentially the same regardless of ER, HCR or any other perk selected. This might not be news to some people, but I was asked to test it. With some, guns I saw a 1-damage increase while using Explosive Rounds, but otherwise the damage was exactly the same regardless of the perks I chose to use.

8) Your armor stat does not affect the amount your reticle bounces. Your reticle bounces exactly the same regardless of your armor/recovery/agility stat choices.

In conclusion: High Caliber Rounds are most effective on Pulse/Auto rifles and don’t require precision to be useful.

Explosive rounds do a better job of staggering your enemy in a meaningfully improved way, and it can temporarily blind them. The effect is most noticeable on High RoF scout rifles like NL Shadow, but even on hand cannons the effect is there. I would recommend everyone try out Explosive Rounds in PvP. Not only can it be lots of fun, but it is HILARIOUS to out-duel someone with NL Shadow.


NOTE: This is an older post and may contain some outdated information.

NOTE2: This post was originally created on Reddit.

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