Not every gun is created equally in Destiny 2. While Forsaken may have introduced plenty of new death-dealers, the best weapons in the game are still reserved for that vaunted golden bracket of Exotic guns. Forsaken has introduced a few crackin’ good new entries in that field already: The satisfying Trinity Ghoul bow, the ridiculous pay ‘n spray of the Cerberus +1 and the sheer intimidation of Lord of Wolves shotgun.
What about hand cannons though? Crimson and Sunshot may be great guns, but they still feel as if they’re just below the greats. Well step aside chums, because Forsaken has a new Hand Cannon king that can easily hang with the big boys: Cayde-6’s very own sidearm, the legendary Ace of Spades. Players will get a chance to restore the hand cannon to prime working condition by the time they finish the main campaign of Forsaken, but it’s not exactly the easiest mission ever tackled. Why? Here’s why:
Part one: The suffering
Update: So this part has actually been streamlined in a recent hotfix. All you have to do now, is get some kills on anything in Gambit, as opposed to THE TWO FREAKIN’ WEEKS OF PAIN I WENT THROUGH TO GET THIS PART DONE ORIGINALLY.
The first step in the Ace of Spades quest isn’t just stupendously challenging, it almost manages to kill any buzz that you might have left over for the superb Gambit mode in Forsaken. If you’ve been playing in the Drifter’s backyard, you know exactly how this mode works by now: Kill enemies, bank motes and summon a Taken Primeval to defeat to clinch a match victory.
The fly in the ointment here, is the presence of the Invader. When the opposing side can send one of their own through a portal to harass you, you quickly realise just how much of a challenge you’re facing. And then you factor in the first part of the Ace of Spades quest: Five kills of an Invader on your side of the map.
It doesn’t sound daunting, but here’s the rub: It has to be done with a hand cannon, against an opponent who has an overshield, is seldom spotted on your radar and can track you down relentlessly while you’re still dealing with enemy mobs. Han cannons aren’t exactly great for burning shields away, and by the time you’ve actually spotted an invader chances are high that you’ve heard the telltale hum of a Sleeper Simulant and fallen to its blast from across a map.
Now there are a bunch of hints out there for players looking to complete this step, ranging from having a team to help you out with whittling down an invader to using a combo of the Sturm and Drang weapon set to get the five kills, but the honest truth here is that you’re going to need a crapload of luck to nail this step. That’s the only way I managed to earn the five kills, which took me close to two weeks of on and off play to achieve.
Some times I managed to get the last word in (not that one) with a quick snipe while my team mate did the heavy shooting, other times I found the Invader before he found me and unloaded a full chamber of Sunshot rounds into him from point blank range. My last kill, was easily my luckiest of the lot. I was playing as a Warlock Stormcaller, had just laid down a healing rift and gotten an Arc Soul.
My team summoned a Primeval, the Invader appeared right in front of me and I unloaded a full clip of hand cannon ammo into him as my Arc Soul melted his overshield. After days and days of matches, fails and constant Sleeper Simulant deaths, I’d finally done the impossible. I’m still not certain that this first step was the best choice that Bungie could have made, but holy heck did I feel a sense of accomplishment.
Gambit was on the cusp of being ruined for me, but with that final kill I could finally start playing the mode in the manner that I intended to: With the weapons that I want at my side and by actually taking a turn as an invader for once. The first and hardest step, had been conquered after almost two weeks of grinding for a mere handful of kills.
Part two: The catharsis
If part one of the Ace of Spades quest is an exercise in reflexes, patience and perseverance, then step two feels like a reward in comparison. All you had to do with this step was notch 250 enemy kills with a hand cannon in Strikes, which are less challenging now thanks to the rampant rise in power that Forsaken introduced. There’s a whole selection of Strikes that you can hop into at any given time, and within three of them I’d already gotten the kills necessary to move on.
At this point, I was packing a Crimson so that I could eliminate targets with reckless abandon and not have to worry about reloading as precision kills gave the deadly hand cannon an instant refill. For my money, the Pyramidion Strike was the best one to tackle, thanks to the sheer volume of Taken and Vex inside the Io stage.
Part three: Say hello to my little friend
The penultimate step of the quest hit a nice balance between challenging and fun: 25 precision kills in the Crucible. Not impossible, but not a walk in the park either. Once again, I stuck to my trusty Crimson for this mission, as the hand cannon has a delightful upward kick with every three-round burst. In other words, aim for the torso, let rip and a bullet will surely splatter a Guardian head within three sprays.
The trick here, is to stay the hell away from team-based Crucible games, if you’re soloing this. Rumble was the name of the game, a perfect free-for-all with kills being handed out as if they were Thetans for the ego of Tom Cruise at an annual Scientology scam. Within a trio of matches, I had the 25 kills I needed and could move on to the next step. Heck, my skill with a hand cannon hadn’t gotten too bad either, although I’m still leaning towards an autorifle with a rampage roll when I hit that online arena again.
Part four: Let’s look for treasure
Before Cayde-6 had kicked the proverbial bucket, he’d managed to hide a few stashes around the system. Part four of the Ace of Spades is a treasure hunt, with players given only a planet and no clue whatsoever as to where on said planet one of Cayde’s stashes are hidden. Then again, this is the internet and I copped out by checking a video on YouTube that showed me where every stash was. Cheap? Probably, but I was hungry to finally finish the mammoth mission that I had started so many days ago.
Part five: Fond farewells
Banshee-44 only needs a little bit of your biorhythmic data to fix the Ace of Spades, and that requires you to tackle a hidden level that serves as the final swansong to Cayde-6. Over on Titan, Cayde’s final stashes happen to lay smackdab in the middle of a massive Hive nest. At this point, you can grab whatever weapon you want and head on down to slaughter the damn Sword Logic worshippers, mowing down hordes of Thralls and Ogres along the way.
It’s the moment between those battles which mean something however. Each of the ten caches within the stage contain a message to one of the people who Cayde thinks will be responsible for his demise, granting players some touching insight into the Exo behind the hood who gave Destiny so much personality.
Cayde’s life, his joys and regrets, it’s all laid bare here in this candid audio log quest, as Guardians finally close the chapter on his book and the multiple lives that he has led over the years. With that final message delivered, it’s time to finally restore the Ace of Spades to its true glory.
And don’t forget the Joker!
The deed is done. The Ace of Spades is back to working order, cleaned of Uldren Sov’s taint and given to the one Guardian who’ll wield it on the side of good. Holy Oryx, what a gun. While Ace of Spades may not have the style of Sunshot or the lumbering heft of Crimson, it still stands apart by a wide margin when compared to the only two other Exotic hand cannons in its class.
The party trick here isn’t just a smooth handling or explosive precision kills, but the Memento Mori perk on Ace of Spades. Get a kill, reload (WITH STYLE!) and you’ve got six extra-damage rounds chambered inside the gun. Rounds that don’t expire, do a ton of extra damage and sound beautiful to fire off. Ace of Spades feels like a throwback to Destiny’s legendary Hawkmoon hand cannon, but without the randomness attached to that weapon.
It’s pure class, a playful killer that is quickly finding a home in the Crucible thanks to its ability to knock down Guardians with a pair of well-timed shots while still giving you the option to see your radar when you aim down the sights. It’s a phenomenal weapon, one that lives up to the effort required to earn it. It’s not just the best hand cannon in the game, it’s a love letter to one of the best characters in Destiny and consistently fun to use.
Reclaiming the Ace of Spades may require surviving one of the most frustrating challenges of all time, but its legacy is well worth the ordeal.
Last Updated: September 21, 2018