Target Lock: Is it a New Top Destiny 2 DPS Perk?

Target Lock: Is it a New Top Destiny 2 DPS Perk?

Destiny 2 Perk Breakdown: Target Lock

Target Lock is a new damage-increasing perk that was introduced with Season of the Seraph. The description of the perk is the longer the weapon remains on a target, the more the weapon increases damage.

There are only a couple of weapons that can receive Target Lock as a perk. The two we will be looking at are Terminus Horizon, a 360 RPM Arc Machine Gun, and Retrofit Escapade, a 900 RPM Void Machine Gun.

We’ll be looking at the math behind the perk to find the optimal perks and magazines for the machine guns to have optimal DPS and compare these numbers to current top damage-dealing weapons.

Target Lock in Depth

To truly break down this perk we need to look at some exact number in depth; “Damage increases the longer this weapon remains on a target” doesn’t give us close to enough information on how to optimally utilize this perk. The way this perk works is that it increases damage based on continuous hits relative to the magazine size in what appears to be a linear fashion. Continuous landed shots are required, or else the damage buff will reset.

The increase of the damage is relative to base magazine size. This is important for a few reasons:

  • Smaller magazine sizes ramp up damage faster
  • Perks and Origin Traits that give ammo while shooting do not add to base magazine size
  • The top end of the damage bonus can be extended using ammo refreshing perks
  • Actium War Rig works with Target Lock

Now let’s get into the exact numbers with Target Lock. It is important to note there is slight rounding because of damage being rounded in game. Below is a graph that shows damage increase versus what percentage of the magazine was fired. Target Lock can give up to a whopping 40% damage increase.

The caveat is that you need to ramp up to that bonus, and to reach the 40% damage bonus, more shots than what is in the base magazine needs to be fired, ~105% of the base magazine to be exact. This means you have to utilize methods to refresh ammo in the magazine while shooting to get to the max damage bonus.

Once ~16% of the magazine is reached, a 16.7% damage bonus is applied, and then is increased per hit until the max 40% damage bonus is hit. The enhanced version of the perk works the same, but the damage bonus numbers are multiplied by 1.125, meaning every aspect is the same, but it deals slightly more damage. We’re going to look at both the enhanced and regular versions of the perk.

target lock magazine shot graph

The graph can be broken down into 3 sections:

  • 0-16% Base Magazine:
    • Damage Bonus % = 0%
  • 16-105% Base Magazine:
    • Damage Bonus % = 0.267 x (Magazine %) + 13.25
  • 105-∞% Base Magazine:
    • Damage Bonus % = 40%

Lasty, one thing to note is if the magazine is shot through entirely with no ammo refreshing, the average damage buff is 25% which is a very nice bonus without even maximizing this perk’s potential!

Here is the same analysis for the enhanced version of the perk which gives an average of ~28% damage bonus on average if there are no means of adding ammo to the magazine while shooting.

enhanced target lock splash

The graph can be broken down into 3 sections:

  • 0-16% Base Magazine:
    • Damage Bonus % = 0%
  • 16-105% Base Magazine:
    • Damage Bonus % = 0.294 x (Magazine %) + 14.17
  • 105-∞% Base Magazine:
    • Damage Bonus % = 45%

Now that we have a better understanding of the math behind the perk, let’s look at it on our specific weapons with Target Lock paired with other perks.

Machine Guns and Target Lock

retrofit escapade

Terminus Horizon and Retrofit Escapade are our two Machine guns with this perk. The first can pair Target Lock with Triple Tap, and the second can pair the perk with Fourth Time’s the Charm. These perks are great for getting to the max damage buff by refreshing ammo in the magazine. The main role of Machine Guns with this perk will be for DPS, so the main questions to answer for maximizing DPS are:

  • Does a bigger magazine mean more DPS if it takes longer to get to the higher damage numbers?
  • Does RPM of the weapon change DPS due to lower RPM weapons having smaller magazines and greater damage per shot?
  • How does an ideal Target Lock Machine Gun compare to top DPS options?

Terminus Horizon

First let’s analyze Terminus Horizon. Triple Tap and Target Lock will be the perks that we have on the weapon, and we’ll play around with a few options on the magazine such as Appended Mag, Extended Mag, and a Backup Mag mod. The weapon shoots at 360 RPM with a base mag of 46, and is not craftable, so standard Target Lock will be used.

terminus horizon icon

Option 1: Smallest Base Magazine: Standard Magazine Size + Boss Spec Mod

  • Base Magazine is 46
  • First 8 shots do standard damage
  • Shots 9 through 48 will follow the (0.294 x (Magazine %) + 14.17) equation
    • Because this is linear it can be simplified by taking the average damage bonus and applying that to all shots in this section
    • The average damage bonus will be 28.5%
  • Shots 49 through 68 (max number of shots with Triple Tap) will deal 40% bonus damage
  • Average Damage Bonus = (8 + 40 x (1.285) + 20 x (1.40)) / 68 = 1.285
  • 28.5% Bonus Damage over 68 shots
  • DPS = 44,634: Deals 498,416 damage in 11.17 seconds
  • DPS with Boss Spec = 48,102
  • With Actium War Rig:
    • Every 3 seconds (18 shots fired), adds back 5 shots (5 shots turns to 7 due to Triple Tap)
    • Activates 7 times, increasing total shots fired to 110 over 18.17 seconds
    • Average Damage Bonus = 32.9%
    • DPS With Boss Spec = 49,021 over 18.17 seconds

Option 2: Largest Base Magazine: Extended Mag + Backup Mag Mod

  • Base Magazine is 73
  • First 12 shots do standard damage
  • Shots 13 through 77 follow the linear equation
    • 65 shots deal an average of 28.5%
  • Shot 78 onward deal 40% bonus damage (109 total shots with Triple Tap)
  • Average Damage Bonus = (12 + 65 x (1.285) + 32 x (1.4)) / 109 = 1.287
  • 28.7% Bonus Damage over 109 shots
  • DPS = 44,454: Deals 800,174 damage over 18 seconds
  • With Actium War Rig:
    • Average Damage Bonus = 35.3%
    • DPS = 46,493 over 43.67 seconds
  • This option shows that Boss Spec is superior to Backup Mag due to DPS difference and Backup Mag is over a very long period which is not realistic for a damage phase

Option 3: Largest Mag with Boss Spec: Extended Mag + Boss Spec Mod

  • Base Magazine is 60
  • First 10 shots do standard damage
  • Shots 11 to 63 do an average of 28.5%
  • Shot 64 onwards deal 40% bonus damage (89 total shots with Triple Tap)
  • Average Damage Bonus = (10 + 53 x (1.285) + 26 x (1.4)) / 89 = 1.287
  • 28.7% Bonus Damage over 89 shots
  • DPS = 44,532: Deals 653,136 damage over 14.67 seconds
  • DPS with Boss Spec = 47,992
  • With Actium War Rig:
    • Average Damage Bonus = 33.4%
    • DPS With Boss Spec = 49,527 over 25.33 seconds

Option 4: Medium Mag with Boss Spec: Appended Mag + Boss Spec

  • Base Magazine is 55
  • First 9 shots do standard damage
  • Shots 10 to 58 do an average of 28.5% bonus
  • Shot 59 onwards does 40%
  • Average Damage Bonus = (9 + 49 x (1.285) + 23 x (1.4)) / 81 = 1.286
  • 28.6% Bonus Damage over 81 shots
  • DPS = 44,562: Deals 594,157 damage over 13.33 seconds
  • DPS with Boss Spec = 48,024
  • With Actium War Rig:
    • Average Damage Bonus = 33.3%
    • DPS With Boss Spec = 49,150 over 22.67 seconds
Important Notes
  • Boss Spec is the best mod to use for DPS
  • Damage was very similar with Boss Spec across magazine sizes
    • Smaller magazines benefit from getting to higher damage multipliers sooner
    • Larger Magazines benefit from shooting more shots with higher multipliers
    • For optimal DPS, use a magazine size that can fire enough time to shoot the entire damage phase, but with as little excess time as possible
  • Actium War Rig improved DPS significantly and extends time without reloading

terminus horizon chart

Retrofit Escapade

This machine gun is a little more exciting for a few reasons. First it is craftable, so it has access to the enhanced version of Target Lock. It has access to Fourth Time’s the Charm which refunds more ammo than Triple Tap. It has the Origin Trait Ambush which gives it a 10% damage boost at the start of DPS. And Lastly it is Void, which gives Hunter’s an exotic to bolster its damage with the Gyrfalcon’s Hauberk Buff. Damage will not be calculated with Gyrfalcon’s due to the Volatile Rounds currently being bugged and exploding more than intended, which means go use this while you can!

retrofit escapade icon

For our calculations we’ll be using Fourth Time’s the Charm, different magazine sizes, Boss Spec for every option, and the enhanced version of Target Lock for this 900 RPM Machine Gun.

Option 1: Smallest Magazine: Boss Spec and No Magazine Increasing Option

  • 77 Base Magazine
  • Standard Damage first 13 shots
  • Shots 14 to 81 deal an average of 32% bonus
  • Shot 82 and onwards deals 45% bonus damage (151 shots total with FTtC)
  • Average Damage Bonus = (13 + 68 x (1.32) + 70 x (1.45)) / 151 = 1.353
  • 35.3% Bonus Damage over 151 shots
  • DPS = 62,759: Deals 627,593 damage over 10 seconds
  • With Ambush Origin Trait (10.7% bonus damage for first 2 seconds of combat)
    • First 31 shots deal 10.7% bonus damage
    • Adds 11,594 damage total
    • Ambush DPS = 63,919 over 10 seconds
  • With Actium War Rig and Ambush
    • DPS = 64,320 over 11.6 seconds

Option 2: Largest Magazine: Boss Spec and Extended Magazine

  • 98 Base Magazine
  • Standard damage first 16 shots
  • Shots 17 to 103 deal an average of 32% bonus
  • Shot 104 and onwards deals 45% bonus damage (194 shots total with FTtC)
  • Average Damage Bonus = (16 + 87 x (1.32) + 91 x (1.45)) / 194 = 1.355
  • 35.5% Bonus Damage over 194 shots
  • DPS = 62,753: Deals 807,428 damage over 12.87 seconds
  • With Ambush Origin Trait (10.7% bonus damage for first 2 seconds of combat)
    • Still first 31 shots deal bonus damage
    • Adds 11,153 damage total
    • Ambush DPS = 63,620 over 12.87 seconds
  • With Actium War Rig and Ambush
    • DPS = 64,280 over 16.2 seconds
Important Notes
  • Magazine sizes have very similar DPS values, the main difference is time before a reload
    • Larger Magazine sizes are recommended due to being able to sustain fire for longer at the cost very minimal, nearly negligible, DPS loss
  • With and without Actium War Rig this weapon has very high DPS, comparisons will be below
  • Appended Mag was not tested due to the negligible difference in options in terms of DPS
    • Firing time of a gun with Appended Mag is 11.8 seconds

retrofit escapade chart

Maximizing DPS with Retrofit Escapade

These numbers are high… very high, but these numbers reflect the most ideal scenario possible. Here are some tips to help you keep as close as possible to these ideal DPS numbers this weapon is capable of:

  1. Prioritize Range over Reload Speed for Retrofit Escapade
    • The base range is 23 which is very low. This means there will be steep damage drop off. The base reload speed is 4.69 seconds, which is such a long time it isn’t worth reloading during a damage phase and opting to use a special weapon or a super.
  2. Plan your DPS positioning around the lack of range
    • In the same realm of the first point; the gun has bad range, and you should make sure to stay close to the target when DPSing. Smallbore is a great option for both stability and range.
  3. Using a magazine size which lets you fire just enough time to last the entire encounter yields the largest DPS
    • If a DPS phase is short and under 10 seconds, using the standard mag size will actually be the better option due to the way the perk ramps up damage.
    • Using a larger mag is the safer option as it allows buffer time in case shots are missed and you do not activate Fourth Time’s the Charm as much as possible.
  4. For longer DPS phases, use a dodge to reload, Actium War Rig, and/or Withhoard to allow you to deal damage the entirety of the DPS phase.
    • Gyrfalcon’s is a very good exotic with this weapon because of the increase in DPS from volatile rounds. With 100 mobility dodge cooldown is roughly 10 seconds with 2 Utility Kickstart mods which allows you to dodge just before the boss is vulnerable to have volatile rounds, deal damage for the entire magazine, dodge again to reload and refresh volatile rounds, then shoot until the damage phase is over.

Is Retrofit Escapade the Best Legendary in the Game?

If you’re into damage calculations, you might like our in depth guide on Linear Fusion Rifle damage. If not, here are the numbers you can compare to Retrofit Escapade which are for DPS values over 20 second intervals that account for the randomness of Veist Stinger.

  • Stormchase – 63,932 DPS
  • Reed’s Regret – 59,999 DPS
  • Cataclysmic – 60,472 DPS
  • Taipan-4FR – 60,053 DPS

Under standard conditions, Retrofit Escapade has roughly equivalent DPS to Stormchaser, the LFR with the highest DPS. What is in favor of these LFR’s are they can deal this damage at any range, and these DPS numbers are over 20 seconds, while Retrofit Escapade’s DPS falls off a cliff once you have to reload. With Withhoard, DPS of Retrofit Escapade increases to 65,500 over 14 seconds with extended magazine, and 66,200 over 11.2 seconds with a standard magazine. Not only does Withhoard increase the DPS you can dish out, but it also extends the window in which you are able to damage to 14 seconds.

Retrofit Escapade isn’t the definitive best DPS weapon in the game, but it competes with the top options. It has been confirmed that heavy weapon balancing will be done with Lightfall’s release, and there is a good chance that Linear Fusion Rifles are nerfed. If that does happen, this weapon can be the new top DPS legendary option, and that’s not even considering the possibility of a Machine Gun buff as they are a rather weak option outside of Retrofit Escapade.

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  • Retrofit Escapade is much better than Terminus Horizon.
  • Use Boss Spec, Fourth Time’s the Charm, and Target Lock.
  • Retrofit Escapade DPS is 63,000-64,000 over a 10-13 second sustained firing window.
    • Actium War Rig increases the DPS over 64,000 and the sustained firing window to up to 16 seconds.
  • Ideal Linear Fusion Rifle DPS ranges between 60,000-64,000 during a 20 second span.
  • With Witherhoard, extended magazine Retrofit Escapade has a DPS of 65,500 over 14 seconds.
  • Retrofit Escapade competes with the top DPS legendaries, but has a few shortcomings:
    • It has poor range which needs to be played around and specced into.
    • It has such slow reload speed that reloading should be avoided by Hunter Dodge or Stasis Melee, Actium War Rig, or using another weapon or super.
  • Smaller Magazines have better DPS for an equivalent damage window if both options can sustain fire for the entire DPS phase.
  • This weapon is worth getting, and may become even better amongst legendary DPS options with Lightfall balance changes.
  • Volatile Rounds are currently bugged and increase the DPS of this weapon even more due to having more explosions than intended.

Thanks for reading! For more guides on perks and more, check out our other Destiny 2 articles