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Destiny 2: Airborne Effectiveness Explained

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  • What Is Airborne Effectiveness?
  • How Airborne Effectiveness Alters Weapon Performance
  • Finding A Weapon's Airborne Effectiveness
  • Sources Of Airborne Effectiveness
  • Airborne Effectiveness FAQ

Season of the Haunted has overhauled how in-air accuracy works in Destiny 2. All weapons now have an Airborne Effectiveness stat that determines how well they function while you're airborne. In general, most weapons are now more accurate in the air but much less likely to land headshots.

This change also nerfed ST0MP-EE5, arguably the most popular Hunter Exotic in the game. For those looking to land more shots in the air, this guide will cover everything about Airborne Effectiveness in Destiny 2. Let's go over how this stat works, how it impacts your weapons, ways to spec into this stat, and we'll answer some general questions surrounding Airborne Effectiveness.

What Is Airborne Effectiveness?

Airborne Effectiveness is a hidden weapon stat that determines your weapon's accuracy and aim assist while used in the air. The more Airborne Effectiveness you have, the better your weapons will perform while dueling from the air. This stat has a value range from 0-100 and can only be viewed out of game through API apps—D2Gunsmith, Destiny Item Manager, and light.gg.

If you're new to Destiny 2, that description might not be particularly helpful. In the simplest terms possible, this stat makes your gun significantly more likely to hit a target while you're firing from the air. A low Airborne Effectiveness stat means your bullets will have a harder time hitting your target while aiming, and it makes landing headshots mid-air substantially harder. Conversely, a high Airborne Effectiveness means you can land headshots with the same consistency as on the ground.

For most players, that's all you need to know about how this stat works. However, if you want to know exactly how Airborne Effectiveness works, keep reading this section. Casual players that just want their guns to hit more often while airborne should skip to the next section.

A Crash Course On Weapon Accuracy And Aim Assist

Every gun in Destiny 2 has two core components that determine where your bullets will land:

  1. Accuracy: Affects how close your bullets will land to your reticle, typically showcased by a cross or "+" sign.
  2. Aim Assist: Determines reticle friction and bullet magnetism, showcased as a circle on your crosshair.
    1. Reticle Friction is how much your crosshair will stick to a target's body while they move. This effect is only present for controller users.
    2. Bullet Magnetism gives your bullets a small degree of forgiveness, allowing them to hit the enemy if your aim was narrowly off. This is present on all input devices.

    When you shoot a gun in Destiny, it doesn't actually go where you're aiming, at least not exactly. All of your bullets will land within that accuracy cone or "+" shape, giving your weapons a degree of error. However, all weapons also come with some form of aim assist (the circle around the accuracy cone) that makes your bullets "bend" to the target. Weapons with a higher aim assist rating allow your bullets to bend from further away. In-game terms, this why Hand Cannons are headshot magnets; they have some of the highest aim assist and initial accuracy values in the game.

    As you fire your weapons, you'll notice that reticle change shape. The accuracy cone will begin to expand while the aim assist cone will start to shrink. This means your bullets are more likely to land wide of your target and not bend towards them. You'll need to pace your shots to minimize this effect and consistently land shots again. The community calls this "bloom," referencing the blooming of your crosshair while in a gunfight.

    You can find more information about how Destiny's weapons work with our weapon stats explained piece, but this is all you need to know for the sake of what Airborne Effectiveness does. Accuracy makes your shots land closer to where you're aiming, and aim assist allows those bullets to slightly bend towards a target's head or body.

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    How Airborne Effectiveness Alters Weapon Performance

    Firing your weapon while airborne has a similar effect to weapon bloom—firing your weapon quickly during combat. When you are off the ground, your weapon's accuracy will be worse (more likely to deviate from the center of your crosshair), and your aim assist will be much lower (reduces the likelihood of landing a hit, especially headshots). How much worse your weapon will be is determined by this stat. If it's at 100, you won't notice any changes. If the stat is at 0, good luck landing a headshot. Coupled with the bloom mechanic we mentioned earlier, weapons with low Airborne Effectiveness will not win duels while in the air unless you have perfect aim.

    Airborne Effectiveness has a much larger effect on aim assist than accuracy. Even with an Airborne Effectiveness of 0, your bullets will still land relatively close to your reticle. Focusing on body shots will provide the most consistent experience. It's when you start investing in the stat where landing headshots will become viable, as your aim assist value will become far less penalized. Accuracy will see a noticeable improvement between 0-70 Airborne Effectiveness, while aim assist is affected for all 100 points.

    As with other weapon stats, Airborne Effectiveness can never exceed 100 or drop below 0.

    As mentioned in this year's April 21st TWAB:

    With little to no investment (0-30 airborne stat), a character will have a smaller accuracy penalty than retail but will have significantly lower aim assist.

    With minimal investment (31-50 airborne stat), a character will have around the same in-air accuracy as Icarus-equipped weapons do currently, but with noticeably lower aim assist.

    With substantial investment (51-70 airborne stat), a character will have better accuracy than retail weapons with Icarus, with fewer misses due to randomness, but with reduced aim assist.

    With specialized investment (71-99 airborne stat), a character will have no airborne accuracy penalty, with very slightly less aim assist.

    With full investment (100 airborne stat), a character will have no airborne accuracy penalty, and the same aim assist.

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    Finding A Weapon's Airborne Effectiveness

    You can find a weapon's Airborne Effectiveness stat by browsing a third-party API app. Good examples are D2Gunsmith (shown above), Destiny Item Manager, and light.gg. Similar to aim assist and recoil direction, this is a hidden stat that can only be viewed outside of Destiny 2.

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    Sources Of Airborne Effectiveness

    There are four key sources of Airborne Effectiveness:

    1. Your weapon.
    2. Weapon mods and perks.
    3. Subclass Aspects and Fragments.
    4. Exotic armor.


    All weapons come with an Airborne Effectiveness stat ranging from 0-30. This stat is fixed between all versions of that weapon. Stat ranges for each weapon archetype are as follows (taken from the Airborne Effectiveness TWAB):

    Auto Rifle0-25
    Hand Cannon0-25
    Pulse Rifle0-25
    Scout Rifle0-20
    Fusion Rifle0-10
    Grenade Launcher (Breech)0-5
    Sniper Rifle0-5
    Trace Rifle0-15
    Grenade Launcher (Drum)0-20
    Linear Fusion Rifle0-15
    Machine Gun0-20
    Rocket Launcher0-10

    Weapon Mods And Perks

    As of Season of the Haunted, there aren't many ways of buffing your gun's Airborne Effectiveness solely through mods and perks. There are two notable sources currently:

    • Icarus Grip (Mod): Grants +15 to the Airborne Effectiveness stat. Adept Icarus grants the same amount.
    • Air Assault (Perk): Grants up to +60 Airborne Effectiveness based on how low your health is.

    Subclass Aspects And Fragments

    Certain Aspects and Fragments found in your subclass menu can increase the Airborne Effectiveness stat of all weapons. Solar is the best subclass element for buffing your Airborne Effectiveness, although Stasis has a Fragment that buffs your in-air performance as well.

    • Heat Rising (Dawnblade Aspect): Grants +70 Airborne Effectiveness while Heat Rises is active.
    • Ember of Tempering (Solar Fragment): Grants +20 Airborne Effectiveness for 8 seconds after defeating an enemy with a Solar weapon or ability.
    • Whisper of Hedrons (Stasis Fragment): Grants +20 Airborne Effectiveness for 12 seconds after freezing a target in Stasis.

    Exotic Armor

    Exotic armor is arguably the best source of Airborne Effectiveness outside of Icarus Grip and Heat Rising. Exotics can grant anywhere from 10-50 Airborne Effectiveness based on its trigger condition. All Exotics that grant this stat are showcased below, categorized per class.

    Hunter Exotics
    Foetracer+20 to all weapons
    Lucky Pants+20 to Hand Cannons while Illegally Modded Holster is active
    Mechaneer's Tricksleeves+50 to Sidearms
    Oathkeeper+40 to Bows
    Sealed Ahamkara Grasps+50 to all weapons for 5 seconds after a melee hit
    ST0MP-EE5-50 to all weapons
    Titan Exotics
    Actium War Rig+30 to Auto Rifles and Machine Guns
    Hallowfire Heart+20 to all weapons
    Lion Rampart+50 while hip-firing
    No Backup Plans+30 to Shotguns
    Peacekeepers+40 to SMGs
    Peregrine Greaves+20 to all weapons
    Warlock Exotics
    Astrocyte Verse+30 to all weapons
    Boots Of The Assembler+30 to Lumina
    Eye Of Another World+15 to all weapons
    Necrotic Grips+30 to Thorn and Osteo Striga
    Ophidian Aspect+10 to all weapons
    Rain Of Fire+30 to Fusion Rifles and Linear Fusion Rifles
    Wings of Sacred Dawn+50 to all weapons

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    Airborne Effectiveness FAQ

    How Can I Land More Shots While In The Air?

    Aim for the body. Aim assist gets a disproportional penalty to accuracy with this system, meaning you'll need to aim precisely at the target's head to get a headshot. It's much easier to land body shots from the air unless you have 70+ Airborne Effectiveness or a ton of accuracy perks active.

    What's The Optimal Airborne Effectiveness Stat?

    For Primaries, 60 is preferred. For Specials and Heavies, get as much as possible. Your accuracy gets the most benefit at this investment while giving you enough aim assist to land the occasional headshot. Special weapons need as much as possible to behave well in the air, notably Shotguns and Snipers. If you want to use a Special weapon while airborne, we highly recommend using Fusion Rifles with a high Stability value.

    As for reaching this stat, Hunters can use Lucky Pants, Icarus Grip, and a Hand Cannon with a high Airborne Effectiveness rating. Warlocks can use Heat Rises or get a minor bonus with Ophidian Aspect. Titans should use Hallowfire Heart with Solar or Peacekeepers with SMGs.

    What Are The Best Weapons To Use In The Air?

    SMGs, Sidearms, and Fusion Rifles are best in the air. These weapons aren't as reliant on headshots as precision weapons, and Fusion Rifles are infinitely more accurate in the air than Shotguns.

    I'm Used To Stompees But Hate Missing Shots. What Else Can I Use?

    Give Dragon's Shadow, Lucky Pants, and Wormhusk Crown a try. Dragon's Shadow is the closest comparison to ST0MP-EE5, granting an absurd amount of handling and reload speed alongside the slide and sprint speed buffs that make ST0MP-EE5 great. Focus on speccing for Mobility and dodge cooldown if you run this Exotic.

    Lucky Pants is a good pick since Hand Cannons are so popular in the Crucible. Use your favorite Hand Cannon, throw on these pants and Icarus Grip, and you should see much better performance. Since these boots encourage quick swapping, pair your Hand Cannon with a Bow or Grenade Launcher to get in the habit of swapping.

    Wormhusk Crown allows you to make some truly aggressive plays that'd otherwise kill you. Like Dragon's Shadow, spec heavily for dodge cooldown.

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