Bungie is nerfing Destiny 2's most powerful exotics, including Whisper of the Worm and Ace of Spades

Each week Bungie updates players of its shared-world online shooter with the latest info from the development team. Normally it's a fairly sedate affair, peppered with info about forthcoming events, but today's installment was a sandbox balance special, and it's fair to say the fans are far from happy with the changes coming.

In preparation for the Season of Opulence, the Destiny 2 sandbox team (which is responsible for weapons and abilities) detailed a suite of nerfs to some of the most powerful exotic gear, explaining that forthcoming endgame content has proved too difficult to design and balance around these OP items. 

Bungie added that it would normally look to underused gear to compensate, but that would ultimately lead to the kind of powercreep that would make designing, say, a new raid, impossible. Whilst the logic sounds reasonable enough, the reality is that players are pissed that some of their most most beloved, hard-earned toys are being neutered. 

The biggest changes being made are to Whisper of the Worm, a high impact sniper rifle that will no longer endlessly generate ammo provided you hit critical hits. It's getting deeper reserves to compensate for the fact that bullets will no longer apparate from thin air. The knock-on effect, though, is that the cool but convoluted quest associated with earning this item now seems, well, a lot less alluring.

But don't take my word for it, here's one of the game's most renowned PvE players weighing in:

PvP favorite Ace of Spades also took a big hit. Memento Mori, a perk that grants bonus damage upon reloading immediately after a precision kill, will now reset once the weapon is stowed. 

A fair nerf for PvP, I'm thinking, but a prominent example of how shared balanced changes across PvP and PvE can never please everyone. A fair compromise in one mode is a kick in the shin in another. Sleeper Stimulant and Lord of Wolves were on the naughty list as well; read Bungie's blog or scroll down for those changes.

Guns weren't the only items to get some power sucked out of 'em. Skull of Dire Ahamkara, Orpheus Rig, and Phoenix Protocol will now generate bonus super energy with diminishing returns. Shards of Galanor and Ursa Furiosa will have their super gain caps reduced. And Gwisin Vest won't generate as much super energy for killing a couple guardians. 

Designing endgame challenges in a mixed PvE-PvP game with universal weapon and gear balancing doesn't sound like an easy task, it's just unfortunate that there isn't a better way to go about it besides raiding players' closest and cutting the sleeves off their favorite, ratty band tees. 

As Destiny 2's item pool grows and the endgame grind lengthens, Bungie is bound to run into difficult decisions like this. But this cycle of nerfs almost exactly mirrors what happened to Black Spindle (the original version of Whisper of the Worm) in D1. Wasn't that enough foresight to suggest infinite ammo might be problematic?

Still, with Season of Opulence almost upon us, hopefully there will be some spicy new exotics to grind for. Certainly the recent Outbreak Perfect quest was proof that the studio still knows how to do sweet weapons. We'll begin to find out more when the third and final installment of the annual pass drops on June 4. 

Exotic weapon nerf notes

Whisper of the Worm

  • White Nail pulls ammo from reserves rather than creating it
  • Reserve ammunition increased to 18 (without ammo reserve perks)

Sleeper Stimulant

  • Reduced ricochet/bounce damage on boss combatants
  • Modified precision behavior—total damage is unchanged, but non-precision shots are significantly more forgiving

Lord of Wolves

  • PvE damage reduced by 20%
  • Release the Wolves perk has been reworked, which means:
  • No longer triggers automatically on kill
  • This effect is now triggered by holding reload, similar to “The Fundamentals” on Hard Light and Borealis
  • PvE damage and range bonuses on this effect has been removed and replaced with a universal damage bonus instead

Ace of Spades

  • Memento Mori now ends if the weapon is stowed
  • The PvP damage bonus of Memento Mori was slightly reduced to prevent two-tapping Guardians while Vengeance (One-Eyed Mask) was active (Specifically, you need four resilience to survive this)
  • Memento Mori is active for six shots again (up from five)
James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.