When Bungie unlocked almost every Destiny 2 armor mod for players last week, there was an accompanying message that raised a lot of eyebrows: "We want to give everyone a chance to enjoy all mods in their current state".
I think most of us expected some sort of rebalancing to come on the February 28 Lightfall expansion release date, but that seemed to hint at something bigger. Today the studio pulled back the curtain on how buildcrafting is changing, and it looks like one of the biggest systemic reworks ever to happen to the game. Almost everything related to buildcrafting—from armor mods, to how champions are stunned, to the much-hated Match Game modifier—is either being substantially changed or in some cases straight-up deleted.
Suffice to say it's going to be a huge and controversial topic in the community, but also an exciting refresh for the five year-old looter shooter. "Not all previous builds are going to be able to be recreated one-to-one," noted Bungie in its post, "but the system has been changed enough to open up a lot of new possibilities with new mods and ability combinations." As with any change of this size to a live service game, I suspect people are going to be very nervous about whether the new thing is actually better than the stuff they're already accustomed to. Before we go off to write our furious Reddit posts, let's digest the specifics of Bungie's announcement. Here's what we see as the most substantial choices:
The new Loadout system will need to be unlocked
Destiny 2 players have long relied on third-party software like Destiny Item Manager to create and save loadouts. These enable you to switch your character's weapons, armor, and subclass set-up with a single click, which is essential given that different activities often require very different gear.
From Lightfall, that functionality is finally being brought into the game client. According to Bungie, you'll be able to save up to 10 loadouts (I assume this is per character, rather than per account, but have asked for confirmation). Using icons and colours, players will be able to label their loadouts according to damage types, the activity they're intended for (Gambit, Trials, etc) and so on. In order to unlock all 10 loadouts, you'll need to progress through levels of the new Guardian Rank system, which as far as I can tell should happen from playing the game in a fairly normal manner.
I followed up with Bungie to check whether or not transmog will be included in the loadout system, and had it confirmed that your shaders and armor ornaments will be saved. *wipes bead of sweat away*
There will be multiple ways to stun Champions with abilities
As a community, it's fair to say Destiny players are pretty much over Champions. Between their inconsistent stun effects and the fact you're locked into a limited range of weapons in order to combat them effectively, the hate for these enemies is at an all-time high. To alleviate that pain, Bungie is adding Champion-stunning capabilities to various subclass abilities:
- Overload: Champions will be stunned by the Arc Jolt effect, the Stasis Slow effect, and the Void Suppression effect.
- Barrier: Champions will be stunned by attacks made while the player has the Solar Radiant buff, Void Volatile Rounds, or an unannounced Strand effect. (Strand is Lightfall's new subclass.)
- Unstoppable: Champions will be stunned by the Arc Blind effect, the Stasis Shatter effect and the Solar Ignition effect. These sound hardest to achieve, but to be honest Unstoppables are the rarest type of Champion and have historically been the most consistent to stun, so no real issue here.
Additionally, as I note lower down, changes to the way the Seasonal Artifact works are going to make using the anti-Champion perks housed there much less fussy. Basically, once unlocked, they're equipped for that type of weapon for the rest of the season.
Match Game is going bye-bye
Hoo boy. Match Game has been a pain in Destiny players' backsides for so long that I'm close to tears typing this. It's a difficulty modifier used exclusively in end-game content that means unless players match their outgoing damage type (eg, Solar, Void) to the shield of an enemy, it will take forever to break. The prevalence of this modifier almost single-handedly led to the meteoric rise in popularity of Arbalest, an exotic weapon which bypasses the effect. Rather than continue to make players bang their heads against this particular wall, Bungie says it's gone:
"Match Game is being removed from high-difficulty activities and we are making a few tweaks to how you can do damage to different types of shields. Base shield resistance to non-matching damage types across the entire game is being adjusted to 50% (similar to Gambit now) and we will have some other ways for you to do some bonus damage to shields that we will tell you about before launch."
Thank. Frick. Reading the rest of the post, it's clear Bungie wants to keep leaning into bonuses from running monochromatic builds (ie, those that use a single damage type), so something had to give, and thankfully it's Match Game that has.
Seasonal Artifact unlocks changed to perks, no longer require mod slots
One of the biggest shake-ups in Lightfall is how the Seasonal Artifact works. Bungie is doing us all a favour and making it so that once a mod (now renamed "perk") has been unlocked, you don't have to slot it into your armour. Instead, it will be automatically applied to the appropriate weapons. Bungie gives the example of an anti-barrier pulse rifle mod: once unlocked via the Seasonal Artifact, it will affect all pulse rifles from thereon. Combine this with the new Barrier, Overload, and Unstoppable subclass abilities, and Champion enemies should take an easier kicking.
Before you get too excited, Bungie has put some checks in place to ensure you don't become ridiculously OP. You'll be free to pick up to 12 perks to unlock from the Seasonal Artifact at any one time, which means you'll need to be careful which you choose for certain builds and subclasses. Thankfully, resetting the Artifact and picking 12 different mods won't cost anything.
Finally, don't fret about that fancy Artifice armour you've stockpiled from Master Dungeons. The extra Artifact mod slot is becoming a unique new mod slot able to grant three points to a stat of your choosing. Should be helpful if, for example, you're at 97 Discipline and want to max the stat out.
All mod energy types are being removed
Praise the Witness, in Lightfall there'll be no need to match the elemental affinity of your mod with a corresponding armour piece. In a bid to make buildcrafting sleeker, it'll be much simpler to mix-and-match your mods. This will undoubtedly make for more flexibility and less grinding as you'll no longer need to stack your vault with multiple similar pieces of gear in Arc, Void, Solar, and Stasis flavours.
Weapon-related armor mods are being wildly simplified
There's a trend here, and it's Bungie doing away with mods that eat up the limited number of available slots for and replacing them with mods that are broader in scope and function. In this instance, Bungie is switching weapon-type mods, such as Hand Cannon Loader, to instead become mods for specific damage types. So in this instance, that means a mod that increases the reload speed of all Kinetic weapons equipped. Bungie says: "This levels the playing field for all weapon archetypes and should make it easier to put together a powerful suite of mods to benefit multiple weapons in your loadout sharing a damage type." Assuming we get a Special Ammo Scavenger, it will also make running double specials even more viable..
Elemental Wells replaced by subclass-specific pickups
Elemental Wells are out—replaced by more excitingly named collectible buffs. These new energy-specific objects will be created by subclass abilities from Lightfall onwards, as opposed to specific armour mods, but otherwise have a similar effect to the Elemental Wells when collected. That is, each of the subclass specific objects noted below will grant ability energy on pickup or have other useful effects depending on the rest of your build.
Here are the objects by subclass:
- Ionic Traces (Arc)
- Firesprite (Solar)
- Void Breaches (Void)
- Stasis Shards (Stasis)
- Strand object confirmed but details TBC
The mods that focused on creating Elemental Wells are being reworked to instead generate Orbs of Power, which might mean less of a kaleidoscope on the floor after you down a raid boss, but carpets of Orbs.
Some mods are being deleted completely, including Warmind Cells
If you were hoping for a resurgence of Warmind Cells anytime soon, think again. I'm not going to cry over it, but Warmind Cells are kaput. These mods haven't been particularly useful since they were nerfed, and now Bungie has had enough of them entirely.
"An example of mods that aren't coming along for the ride are Warmind Cells," Bungie says. "These are a relic of a different time and had already been nerfed in the past. They had a good run, but these mods will be deprecated and no longer available starting in Season 20 to make way for new options to consider when crafting your preferred combat style."
This change is a part of a wider effort to reshape the modding system with Lightfall. Some mods are being removed entirely, while others are being reworked or toned down. Bungie hasn't listed the exact mods which will be receiving nerfs with the coming expansion, but be sure that some ability energy gains, stat bonuses, and weapon damage buffs are being taken down a notch. I won't be at all surprised, for instance, if the free damage from Font of Might isn't replicated in the new system.
Bottom line: that build you've been working on for the past year might not survive into Lightfall.
Armor Charge is a new system that replaces Charged with Light
There's also a whole new system being introduced by Lightfall called Armor Charge. It's a rethink of the old Charged with Light system. Now, you socket an Armor Charge mod, and you're automatically granted the ability to gain stacks of charge from picking up Orbs of Light (ie, the Taking Charge mod is no longer necessary). You'll be able to hold up to three stacks of Armor Charge by default, and it'll appear in the same place on the screen as Charged with Light does now.
New armor mods will offer a few ways to utilise or augment your Armor Charge. Bungie offers a few examples, such as the Charged Up mod, which will increase maximum Armor Charges up to six, and the Extended Charge Mod, which slots into your class item and extends decay time so your Armor Charges stick around for longer.
To use Armor Charge for anything useful, you can apply mods to either gain passive benefits or effects which are triggered. Passive effects will consume charges over time, whereas triggered ones consume charges on activation. Note also that finisher mods will now consume an Armor Charge stack rather than Super energy. It's sort of the same system you know today, though streamlined and hopefully easier to get your head around if you're new to the game. Certainly, not having to slot all sorts of mods to generate charges will be an improvement.
Phew. So there you have it. As noted at the top, a change this seismic is bound to split opinion. Only by getting waist deep with the new mods and finding out how powerful Lightfall era builds are will we be able to determine what kind of improvement this is.
Destiny 2's mod system has long been due an overhaul, with too many competing sets overlapping with each other. Arguably, the biggest question is going to be whether Bungie's new in-game loadout manager can truly replace the depth currently being offered by the likes of DIM. As someone with enough Loadouts to fill the Library of Alexandria, I'm a little skeptical, but also excited to dive in.
As you can imagine, we have tons of questions on this topic, so will be following up with Bungie soon. If there's anything you'd especially like to know about, leave it in the comments.