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I have recently found a few weapons (mostly fusion rifles) that deal arc, solar, or void damage instead of kinetic damage.

Do these "elemental" weapons provide some sort of benefit over kinetic weapons? Are some enemies weaker to arc, solar, or void damage?

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Each element is tied to a certain enemy faction. and their shields is that element. using the element on them deals bonus damage and helps take down the shields much faster.

  • Fallen - Arc damage, signified by blue shields
  • Hive - Solar damage, signified by orange shields
  • Vex - Void damage, signified by purple shields (exception: some Harpies have arc shields)
  • Cabal - Solar damage, signified by orange shields

Most of the time you won't need the element to deal damage, but in a few rare cases I've noticed one area so far with Vex Harpies with Arc shields that take damage from Arc attacks, but resist all others (still do damage, just a lot less).

Your primary weapon will usually be Kinetic damage. Your special and heavy weapons can and should have an element. Preferably one of each element so you are prepared for any encounter.

  • Just a note, shanks had solar shields in last weeks weekly nightfall. It may be possible that the shields aren't really tied to faction, but just occur more commonly. – turbo Sep 18 '14 at 16:59
  • Yeah, nightfalls and other mission skulls seem to throw these rules out the window. If you go on an explore mission though, this is what you can surely expect. – Rapitor Sep 18 '14 at 17:01
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    For the record, the "only takes damage from Arc attacks" is not true. I'm assuming you're referring to the ones in that area on Venus with all the yellow and high level vex, where the entrance to the extremely dark area with lots of vex is. If you deal damage with the wrong element you'll get the text "Resisted", but you'll still actually do damage, just not very much. This also happens on missions with boosted shielding, like the Queen's wrath missions. I have taken out Solar Shielded Shanks with my arc sniper in one shot with Arc Burn, even though the damage said "resisted" :) – Daniel Bruce Oct 3 '14 at 3:33
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    I would also like to say that the damage bonus is 200% body damage for matching the shield's element. – Daniel Bruce Oct 3 '14 at 3:35
  • thanks @DanielBruce, I edited my answer to reflect this, I've noticed this as well. – Rapitor Oct 3 '14 at 13:28
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Yes, some enemies are weaker to certain kinds of damage.

This mostly won't matter until you're at end-game content and you'll start to see enemies get resisted notifications pop up when you hit them.

For me the best weapons so far are the electric ones since they drop shields fast. Even so, precision shots (head or crotch gem depending on the enemy) tends to outweigh damage type.

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There can be modifiers on the mission that affect damage of a particular type.
In the weekly strike over the past weekend, there was a modifier that increased Arc (blue) damage from all sources. I was hitting maybe 600's with a Void sniper, while my friend was hitting 3k's with an Arc sniper. I believe both were crits, same attack, same level.
It would have been very difficult for us to complete that mission without that bonus damage, so I believe having damage from all types will be important for higher level strikes.

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Damage type does play a role and as mentioned above is extremely useful for higher level strikes or any mission. Some weapons have special abilities that can be used to do more such as arc burn or in pickup weapons a scorch cannons trigger can be held to charge the explosion up.

Maybe the damage types isn't useful against levels lower than you by 10 but in stuff like the vault of glass or raids its essential

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