Blame Reddit for this one. I'm from the comics end of Bleeding Cool, but I play a bunch of Destiny 2.
I enjoy using this season's pinnacle Vanguard weapon, the scout rifle called Oxygen SR3. At first blush, it looks like an above average scout rifle. The only thing special about it is the exclusive perk Meganuera, which empowers Dragonfly, the perk that causes an explosion when you kill an enemy with a headshot. Get a headshot kill with Meganeura, and that the resulting explosion is larger, and more deadly.
Allegedly, in Bungie's test server, the explosions look awesome, but on a live server it doesn't always proc on time, if at all. So Reddit reasonably compared it to the other pinnacle weapons this season, and found Oxygen SR3 lacking. The other two: The Recluse, a difficult to acquire SMG that gains stacks of extra damage when you kill an enemy with a different weapon (kinda broken), and 21% Delerium, a machine gun that which reloads ammunition from 21% D reserves into the clip when the player picks up special ammo in addition to heavy ammo. The end effect of that is, often, if there's bullets left in the gun, you'll be able to fire those bullets without needing to reload.
Again, a bigger headshot explosion, which occasionally doesn't trigger isn't gonna look good by comparison. That said, I use Oxygen SR3 in Gambit and it passes my eye test there. So, I decided to make a comparison of my own, and that's to Polaris Lance, my favorite scout rifle in Destiny 2.
(I adore Polaris. It has two exotic perks: One: Any critical shot returns a single bullet to the clip, so if you land all crits, you can fire infinitely. Two: Four crits in a short amount of time will proc a fifth bullet that includes explosion damage on impact as well as burn damage from the fallout.)
So: A direct comparison to Polaris Lance shows a couple things: They're slightly different scout rifle archetypes. Polaris a 150 round per minute scout rifle, by design, fires slower and hits a little harder than Oxygen SR3, a 180 round per minute scout. But it doesn't do that much more. I use a bunch of math past here, mostly taken from light.gg (Below screencaps are from light.gg) and Braytech which have added hard numbers to Bungie's published stats pages for the Polaris Lance and Oxygen SR3.
And when you look at stats, Oxygen and Polaris are closer than I expected.
Impact is 62 compared to 67
Range is 49+ masterwork compared to 72
Stability is 50 compared to 55
Handling is 46 compared to 36
Reload speed is 49 compared to 39
Both impact and stability differences are negligible and accounted for by the different archetypes of both weapons. Polaris Lance will do more damage and be more stable because it's a slower firing rifle.
Frustratingly, neither light.gg or Braytech include the masterwork value into the Oxygen SR3 numbers, so I made a guess at 65. Light.gg says the masterwork value adds +10, but given on screenshots of the weapon, the range value is higher than the damage on SR3, that can't be right. See below.
If the range is +10, then that'd put the range at 59, which is less than 62. But inside the game, the unknown range value clearly outstrips the known impact value, which Braytech and light.gg agree is 62.
In terms of handling and reload speed, Oxygen's a little bit quicker than Polaris. The hidden stats, it's almost exactly the same, except in aim assist where Oxygen is almost twice as good (67 to 39), and recoil direction where Oxygen is down by 17 (60 to 77).
Games Editor Madeline Ricchiuto ran some numbers for me to calculate the average damage per second on both weapons, and here's what she came up with:
Impact/minute – 11,160
Stability adjustment – 6,696
Average DPS – 111.6
Impact/minute – 10,050
Stability adjustment – 7,537.5
Average DPS – 125.625
My takeaway: Oxygen SR3 keeps pace with Polaris Lance, one of Destiny 2's most versatile exotic weapons, and while the Oxygen SR3 is outclassed in range and damage, it's potentially not by that much. And on top of that, maybe there should be some meaningful difference between Oxygen and Polaris, given that Polaris is the ultimate reward of a 4 plus part quest (5 if you include the masterwork). I don't think it needs a damage buff. I think Triple Tap's a better choice for a buff, given that the theme of the Oxygen SR3 is chaining headshots.
Again: Madeline and I acknowledge these are extremely back of the envelope numbers. But we're working with what we have.