Bungie has once again taken to their weekly update to announce that they will be fixing the weapon balancing within the game. To many fans this will be a wonderful thing. The Thorn for instance is one of the most annoying guns to many players simply due to the over usage and how easy you can get killed by that weapon. I’m going to focus on base weapon stats first by sharing with you below the direct wording from Bungie’s Preview Update that Sandbox Designer Jon Weisnewski has put together. After that I pull together all the Exotic Weapon information that Jon published for your reading pleasure. This is a large post, so let’s dig in.
As a whole, Auto Rifles needed to be reevaluated from the 1.1.1 update. The goals are still the same for this weapon, but this time the approach centers on a higher base damage with quicker falloff. With 2.0.0, our Sandbox programmers have granted the ability to independently tune Range and Damage Falloff. This allows us to emphasize optimal combat range without violating some of the more intricate aiming systems that are tied into the Range stat. When the update goes live damage falloff will be more obvious.
Auto Rifle is optimal at close to medium range
Damage, Stability, and Range are tuned such that players desire Stability for reliable close quarters damage, or Range for better accuracy and increased damage at a distance
Elevate Auto Rifles so they are a more competitive option in PVP, and simultaneously more satisfying to use in PVE
Increase base damage
Start damage falloff closer to the player to emphasize its role as a close to medium range weapon
Small reduction in base stability. Landing shots at optimal range is unaffected, but repeated precision hits require more weapon control to land consistently
Boost damage by 10% against AI combatants
Pulse Rifles are strong right now in PVP. We want to maintain that feeling of raw power, but introduce some subtlety to the firing mechanics of the weapon. Base damage for the mid-speed (most common) Rate of Fire is now tuned so that the victim’s Armor stat is the deciding factor in TTK (Time to Kill). Base Stability of all Pulse Rifles has been dropped very slightly, so that landing shots is still intuitive, but consistent precision hits will take more skill. Magazine sizes have been increased across the board to make them more efficient in PVE activities.
Pulse Rifle is optimal at medium range, but can still effectively engage enemies at close or medium-long range
Rate of Fire sets a pace for players to track moving targets, and then deliver precision damage in bursts
Pulse Rifles should feel strong in PVP, but don’t become the only competitive option
Additionally increase their efficiency as a PVE weapon
Reduce base damage of the medium RoF by about 2.5%
PVP: Bursts-to-kill (all precision hits) is 2 or 3, depending on victim’s Armor stat
Small reduction in base stability. A burst should still land all shots at optimal range, but three precision hits will require more weapon control to land consistently
Increase magazine size on for all base inventory stats
Scout Rifles are currently orbiting their sweet spot pretty nicely. We made a few changes to solidify their role as the optimal long range Primary choice, and to help create a delta between the Hand Cannon archetype.
Scout Rifles are the best Primary Weapon for long range engagements
Scout Rifles perform best when landing paced precision shots
Rate of Fire and Optics are tuned so that Scout Rifles are a little harder to use effectively close in
Increase base damage for medium to high Rate of Fire Scout Rifles
PVP: Does not affect TTK in PVP on a Guardian with full health
Increase magazine size for all base inventory stats
Reduce Final Accuracy when firing from hip
Fast firing outside of ADS will be less accurate
Boost damage by 5% against AI combatants
During the last set of changes we made a very small adjustment to Initial Accuracy, Range, and Damage Falloff looking to curb the long range effectiveness of Hand Cannons. However, anyone who has been cross-map-zapped by Thorn or Hawkmoon knows this is still very possible. So we pushed this a little bit further. Landing a long range shot now requires slow careful aim, and a hit at that distance won’t deliver on the weapon’s full damage potential.
In PVE, the role of the Hand Cannon is very close to the role of the Scout Rifle. Hand Cannons do slightly more base damage, Scouts have slightly more ammo in the mag, but otherwise their functions overlap a great deal. To help separate these two we made the range changes noted above, but also reduced magazine size on Hand Cannons while simultaneously increasing the magazine size on Scouts. This should help push these two weapons apart, and make the player choice more interesting. Hand Cannons do more damage up close, but with fewer rounds. Scouts with greater range and magazine size, but slightly less damage per bullet.
Hand Cannons are optimal at close to medium range
Hand Cannons are optimal when shots are paced, but become less effective when fired quickly
Rewards agility under fire, precision targeting, and snap shots
Hand Cannons cannot reliably compete with Scout Rifles at long range
Start damage falloff closer to the player to limit long range lethality
Small reduction in ADS accuracy, targeted at making long range snap-shooting less reliable
Reduce final accuracy when firing from hip
Fast firing from hip is less reliable
Reduce magazine size for all base inventory stats
Reduce base Optics (zoom) for all Hand Cannons
ADS now grants more width in favor of depth
The Shotgun changes in 1.1.1 hit Range pretty hard. For almost all of the Shotguns available to players, this felt really good in our playtests. Occasionally a long range Shotgun with the right perks on it would show up and push the intended limits, but they were few and far between…Until Lord Saladin started selling Felwinter’s Lie! The availability of a powerful, long range Shotgun that could be Reforged until the perfect perk arrangement showed up made this combination very prevalent. In House of Wolves, we continued to allow Reforging on other ranged Shotguns. Soon after, what we thought would be exciting edge cases in our weapon population became the new normal. Rather than hit the Range stat again, we are directly targeting the Shotgun perks that push out Shotgun lethality distance: Shot Package and Rangefinder.
The PVE boost to Shotguns in 1.1.1 was significant, and since then we’ve seen groups of Guardians gang up with their boom sticks and trivially roll through some pretty tough PVE encounters. The reward of gut blasting a hulking enemy is super sweet, but that close-quarters action could benefit from a slight reduction in outgoing damage.
Shotgun is most effective at very close range
Complements melee attacks and other close-quarters class builds
Offensively closing on an enemy with a Shotgun is a risk/reward timing game
Curb Shotgun effectiveness in PVE slightly to reintroduce some risk when closing on a powerful enemy
Shotgun perks that enhance lethality at range should be less effective when combined with a high initial Range stat:
Reduce Shot Package Accuracy buff by 30%
Rangefinder adds a 5% base Range increase on ADS (was 20%)
Reduce Precision Damage multiplier on Shotguns by 10%
Reduce damage against AI combatants by 10%
When we hit Fusion Rifle accuracy in the last update, we saw a lot of players move to Shotguns as their close range weapon of choice. For this update, we have preserved our original intent to reduce overall range, but have scaled back the nerf on close range Fusion Rifles to help them contend with Shotguns in close quarters.
Fusion Rifles are optimal at mid-range, where targets are easier to track but they’re not close enough to attack while charging up
Requires combat foresight and the ability to predict a target’s movement to use successfully
It should not be easy to find and build a Fusion Rifle that can achieve maximum Range
Slow charging, high Impact Fusion Rifles have decreased Range values
Makes it more difficult to max out Range for these weapons
Projectile Speed for Fusion Rifles is slightly reduced
Emphasizes the need to lead a targets outside medium range
Improve Accuracy for short range Fusion Rifles
Reduce Accuracy for long range Fusion Rifles
Sniper Rifles are playing into their intended role right now and we don’t feel a need to change the base behavior. However, one piece of feedback that the community has been very vocal about is the effect of the Final Round perk when combined with a high Impact Sniper Rifle.
Around the time of the 1.1.1 changes, we started phasing this perk out on Sniper Rifles and combined with the Special Ammo economy changes introduced by the Multiplayer Design team we hoped to see this perk lose its potency. The introduction of Trials of Osiris put us back on the spot to address this perk. To address this we are changing Final Round to only scale precision damage for Sniper Rifles. This change fits the role of the Sniper Rifle for both PVP and PVE.
Sniper Rifles are optimal at long range, and difficult to use for medium to short range combat
Sniper Rifles reward thumb skill with high damage against precision targets
The Final Round perk on Sniper Rifles should still require precision shots
Final Round on Sniper Rifles buffs precision damage only, not base damage
This change only affects this perk when combined with Sniper Rifles
There’s not much to say about Rocket Launchers. You find a purple brick, you load up your Rocket Launcher, you blow #### up. We’re giving Rocket explosions a tiny boost to Blast Radius to help out with those glorious multikills that rain bodies.
However, the Grenades and Horseshoes perk has enabled an element of carelessness in PVP, that we would like to address. While we definitely want that perk to grant you some slop while firing at a single target, it also needs to allow agile players the slim possibility of escape if your aim isn’t true.
Rocket Launchers deal massive AoE damage from a distance
Rockets are optimal when placed in the middle of a group
Slight increase in base Blast Radius.
Grenades and Horseshoes proximity detonation reduced.
Now, some of those changes sound pretty great, others sound like a change that didn’t need to happen. Overall though it does seem like this will help to balance out things hopefully. Most of these changes seem to be geared towards player complaints but the Preview Update goes into detail with stats as to why they want to reduce the overall effectiveness of some weapons while increase it for other weapons. Now, to dig more into the Exotic Weapon changes:
Hard Light is a beloved weapon. We want it to be better. The new flexibility we have with Damage Falloff as an independently tuned value gave us a great new avenue to push this exotic a little bit harder into its fantasy.
Increase base Stability to 80 (was 65)
Increase bounce count for Hard Light projectiles
Hard Light projectiles are not affected by Damage Falloff
We’ve heard (and share) the resounding feedback for Necrochasm. Not only has this weapon been considered a weak reward for the monumental effort it takes to acquire it, the base archetype (high Rate of Fire Auto Rifle) happened to be tuned down with 1.1.1 at almost the exact same time it became available. The following changes combined with the Auto Rifle base changes have made a positive impact in internal playtests. I personally shrieked with joy when I got my first ever double kill in Skirmish from the Cursebringer explosion.
Increase base Stability to 60 (was 40)
Increase magazine size
Cursebringer perk will always trigger on a precision kill
Cursebringer explosion has increased radius and deals more damage
The Last Word
The Last Word is our fastest time-to-kill (TTK) primary in the game. The intent of this weapon was always to deal lethal damage up close and in style while shooting from the hip. Right now the Stability and Range of this weapon has players reliably getting ranged kills while aiming down sights, so we want to try and push this weapon into more of its intended role.
Reduce Range stat to 10 (was 20), reduce Stability to 20 (was 30).
Reduce effective range while in ADS.
Increase accuracy and precision damage aim assist scale when firing from the hip. “Get three coffins ready.”
Fixed bugs with Hipfire damage bonus applying incorrectly
Thorn has had an interesting journey. It started as a weapon that was perceived as an unworthy reward for one of the most contentious exotic bounties in the game, and has slowly dug its way into players’ flesh as one of the most popular exotics among the Destiny population. We want to preserve the functionality that makes Thorn such a compelling weapon, but its effective range and lethality are one of the most hotly contended items by the PVP player base. The base changes to Hand Cannons and weapon stats address Thorn’s range.
Reduce base damage of Thorn’s Mark of the Devourer DoT (Damage over Time) to roughly 1/3 of what it was in PVP and PVE
Allow DoT to stack up to 5x across multiple landed projectiles
This is a net buff for Thorn’s DoT, but reduces the lethality of the weapon in PVP
The elusive nocturnal bird… Hawkmoon has evaded many players for quite some time. It is one of the hardest weapons in Destiny to acquire, which probably makes it sting that much more when you are killed by it. When you get dealt a lucky mag and the bonus rounds all stack on one bullet, then that bullet will one-hit-kill a full health Guardian with a precision shot. Even though this is rare, just knowing it is possible tends to amplify the frustration for Hawkmoon’s victims so we’re taking steps to help ease their passing.
Add a stack limit to Luck in the Chamber and Holding Aces so that only 2 of the bonus perks will ever stack on one round. This should prevent Hawkmoon from 1-hit killing full health players in PVP
Add 2 rounds to Hawkmoon’s magazine when Holding Aces is unlocked
Luck in the Chamber damage bonus reduced by 3%
We’ve all done it. Hunker down in the back of the map with your lunch box, picnic table, a sci-fi paperback, and Ice Breaker. Kill all the enemies, wait for more to show up, kill those ones too, put a few shots on the boss, make a sandwich, finish the strike, and then collect your reward-that-isn’t-Hawkmoon and move on. The recharging ammo of Ice Breaker has become a staple for the PvE game. We don’t want to completely destroy that, because a really great thing happens when all of a sudden you need Ice Breaker and you’re still waiting on that next round to show up. In that moment there is an interesting tension at play; you need to think about how you spend your next few seconds while it recharges. We are going to amplify that tension by increasing the recharge duration by a few seconds.
Increase recharge time for Ice Breaker rounds to 1 every 8 seconds. Was 1 round every 5 seconds
No Land Beyond
Sworn off by most as a waste of Strange Coins, used as a joke weapon by people who want to stack the odds against their favor, and every now and then it is the tool of destruction that wipes up a Crucible match by a slick, run and gun, sniper elitist faster than you can say “Welcome to my YouTube montage.” We built No Land Beyond for the quick sniping, PvP-minded player. However as many have pointed out since it was released, the weapon does not hold up in PvE.
Increase weapon handling speed for faster time to aim, ready, and stow
Adjust sights to fix overlap/parallax issue while aimed
Increase time decay of The Master to 8 seconds
Add an additional 20% Precision Damage bonus while The Master is active
While technically not an exotic, this weapon was chased as if it were. Currently it is the only Sniper Rifle that is more capable of ending a PvE boss faster than Ice Breaker.
Increase ammo inventory to 18 rounds
White Nail perk now pulls ammo from your inventory
Lord of Wolves
This weapon is a bruiser and doesn’t need help. The only element that is lackluster is the Recovery boost granted to allies from the Lord of Wolves perk. We had hoped this would inspire Fireteams to stay close and attack and defend as a unit, rallying around their pack leader. However the Recovery boost doesn’t do much to incentivize this. So we tripled it.
Tripled recovery boost bonus for allies granted by Lord of Wolves
If Destiny had a nuke it would be the “Ballerhorn.” We definitely intended to have a high damage Heavy Weapon that was ideal for PvE destruction. What we did not intend, and what we unfortunately saw, was pick up Raid and Nightfall groups gating participation based on whether or not players had this weapon. Gjallarhorn was so strong that for many people it had become the only answer to getting through tough encounters, and therefore they were less willing to spend time with other players that didn’t have it. We strive for Destiny to be a place where a single weapon or strategy does not dictate how, or with whom, you spend your time. In the new world Gjallarhorn is still worthy of its legacy as an exotic Heavy Weapon, but we hope it promotes inclusive behavior rather than exclusivity.
Reduce damage of Wolfpack Rounds
Overall there are a lot of changes and they do look to balance out the weapons on paper, but when we play and how we play could be different than planned. Only time will tell if these changes will truly help in the long run. Please feel free to leave comments below about how you feel about these changes coming to Destiny.