Hard Light Exotic Auto Rifle Review: Perks and Build Guide

Everything you need to know about the Hard Light Exotic Auto Rifle, and its perks and stats! 

Choice of Exotic Auto Rifles was slim during Year One of Destiny. If you played on the Xbox One, you had to choose between the Hard Light or the ever-popular SUROS Regime, with PlayStation 4 getting an additional choice with the Monte Carlo thrown into the mix. For the longest time the SUROS Regime reigned supreme, then Bungie nerfed it from its post and killed the obsession with Auto Rifles altogether. Despite this, the Hard Light was able to maintain something of an underground following, and today we’re going to figure out why!

We’ll be comparing the Hard Light against the SUROS Regime and Year 2 newcomer, Zhalo Supercell.

Hard Light Base Stat Analysis

Rate of Fire - 88

Hard Light spits its ionized polymer rounds at an impressive 88 Rate of Fire, putting it far ahead of the SUROS Regime’s 77, and tying with the Zhalo Supercell at 88. With such a high Rate of Fire, expect balance elsewhere (as 88 is somewhat excessive).

Impact - 8

And here is a prime example of that balance. With a pitiful 8 for Impact, the Hard Light is unlikely to do more than tickle your opponent with an individual shot. It’s no consolation that the Zhalo Supercell ties once again with 8, especially when compared to the SUROS Regime’s Impact rating of 28. However, combined with its impressive Rate of Fire, the meager damage of the Hard Light can be converted into some robust DPS.

Range - 28

In a rather strange turn of events, all three Auto Rifles tie at 28 for Range. This would mark them all as somewhat average, if only because they define the average here. Despite the tied stat, Hard Light actually wins due to its Exotic perk which causes the Hard Light to have no damage “drop-off” over distance, meaning its rounds won’t decrease in damage when farther away.

Stability - 82

The Hard Light rocks a steady 82 for Stability, exceeding both the Zhalo Supercell and SUROS Regime at 46. One of the biggest issues you find with an auto rifle is that they can have problems with Stability and Recoil due to their high Rate of Fire. However, this is barely a glancing thought for the Hard Light.

Reload - 86

Bringing Hard Light up to its third 80+ stat with a staggering Reload speed of 86, it outclasses the Zhalo Supercell’s 72 and leaves the SUROS Regime in the dust at 65. With a huge Rate of Fire, combined with a decent Magazine and impressive Reload speed, the Hard Light is capable of putting a lot of shots in the air at the same time, more than making up for its meager Impact.

Magazine - 40

We weren’t kidding when we said the Hard Light has a decent Magazine size. Carting around a hefty 40 shots per Magazine, the Hard Light is ahead of the curve against both the SUROS Regime’s 33 and Zhalo Supercell's 36. While not an excessively huge difference, it can often be enough to have a handful more shots than your opponent.

Base Stat Conclusion

Definitely fitting the bill for a low Impact, high Rate of Fire Auto Rifle, the Hard Light acts more like a submachine gun would in most other shooters. We would already recommend the Hard Light based on its stats alone, especially considering its impressive Stability and Reload. While it may lack the power of its former Year One colleague, the SUROS Regime, it’s certainly not a weapon to be underestimated. Nevertheless, there are always a few areas for improvement so let’s take a look at the Hard Light's perks!

Hard Light Perk Analysis

Exotic Perk – Volatile Light

  • Rounds fired from this weapon have no damage falloff, over-penetrate targets and ricochet off hard surfaces.

We’ve touched on the lack of damage falloff, which is certainly useful as it allows the Hard Light to maintain its peak damage output no matter the range. However, just because the Hard Light's damage is maintained doesn’t mean its accuracy will be as well. The next two elements work well in tandem and are great for both crowd control in PvE, as well as for clearing corridors in the Crucible. While it may be difficult to get used to due to a slight adjustment in playing style, the Volatile Light perk can prove to be extremely useful.

Selectable Ballistics Perks

  • Accurized Ballistics
  • CQB Ballistics
  • Aggressive Ballistics

Ignore CQB Ballistics, it reduces Recoil and significantly reduces Range which the Hard Light desperately can’t afford. Aggressive Ballistics is a slightly better option but is also not recommendable due to the fact that while it makes Recoil more controllable and increases Impact, it also increases Recoil and reduces Range. Accurized Ballistics is the best option of the three, as it gives a boost to both Range and Impact at the cost of reduced Stability.

First Selectable Stat Perks

  • Quickdraw
  • Fitted Stock

Here’s where Hard Light gets a little unusual. Instead of the typical “middle perk” which is fixed, followed by a choice of 3 Stat-boosting perks, the Hard Light takes up its last two columns with a choice between two Stats perks each. The same number of perks, with a little more choice. In the first column, we have Quickdraw and Fitted Stock. Ignore Quickdraw, although it allows you to draw your weapon incredibly fast, we still can’t fathom why this is considered such a huge advantage. Instead, we recommend going with Fitted Stock for increased Stability which will bring the Hard Light close to pinpoint accuracy.

Second Selectable Stat Perks

  • Glass Half Full
  • Spray and Play

In contrast to the previous column, both options here are equally viable. First, Spray and Play increases Reload when the weapon’s Magazine is empty. This is always useful if caught short in a firefight in the Crucible, and coupled with the Hard Light’s exceptional Reload speed, can even become somewhat excessive. Because of the Hard Light’s already high Reload, we lean more towards the second option. Glass Half Full increases the damage output of the bottom half of your Magazine. This is a necessity for the Hard Light’s low Impact, especially when combined with the huge Rate of Fire and Reload speed, making it perfect for both PvE and the Crucible.


The Hard Light was already something of a winner based solely on its stats, but after looking at the weapon’s perks it’s hard to deny that the Hard Light carries itself at an impressive standard. Because it was somewhat overshadowed by the former might of the SUROS Regime, the Hard Light never quite got its moment to shine (pun intended). Which is honestly a shame, it’s a fun weapon to use despite being a little quirky in places and maintains viability in both PvE and the Crucible. While we certainly wouldn’t say it’s a gun to use above all others, it’s definitely something you should have in your arsenal.

Because of this, we’re giving the Hard Light a solid 4/5 Exotic Engrams!

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About The Author: Greg Pain

A member of the #TitanMasterRace, Greg likes to Fist of Havoc his way through a good book, a great punk album and the background of Reddit. But really he plays Defender. Follow him everywhere as 'NorseFenrir'. Like everywhere.

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