Bungie reveals big changes to Destiny 2 weapon perks and an absurd buff to Exotic primaries

A glaive from Destiny 2's The Witch Queen expansion.
The first weapon you craft in The Witch Queen will be one of the new glaives. (Image credit: Bungie)

This week's This Week at Bungie blog post is a monster—as is usually the case when the studio breaks down the major weapon changes coming with a new Destiny 2 expansion. There's plenty of ground covered, including an in-depth look at the new weapon crafting system, but there's also some major changes to the way guns work in Year 5.

Let's start with an absurd buff: all Exotic primary weapons are getting a 40% damage increase to minor enemies (ie, the ones with the red health bars).

This is going to be a major deal for Grandmaster Nightfalls—currently the hardest content Destiny 2 offers, where red bars hit hard and can take a good few bullets to put down. Exotic primaries will now be meaningfully better at the job than their Legendary counterparts—guns like Huckleberry, Vex Mythoclast and Trinity Ghoul are going to be absurd. Depending on how artefact mods shift the meta next season, this could make for some difficult decisions as to which weapon slot gets your Exotic—especially now, with orb generation moving to the armour slot, there's no penalty for running an Exotic primary that can't yet be masterworked with a catalyst.

Legendary weapons are also getting a major rework, with the introduction of Origin Traits, an extra perk column that's determined by where that weapon came from. "Every weapon that’s new or returning in The Witch Queen will have an Origin Trait determined by its source in a third trait column," writes Bungie, "including all 42 new Legendary weapons and all returning Trials, Iron Banner, and Nightfall weapons."

The Trials of Osiris trait, for instance, is Alacrity, which will give a gun +20 reload, +20 stability, +10 aim assist and +10 range when you're the last living member of your fireteam, or if you're running solo—for instance in Rumble or Master Lost Sectors.

Nightfall weapons get Stunning Recovery, where stunning a Champion will partially refill your magazine and trigger both an instant health regeneration and a short boost to recovery.

Depending on the source, a weapon can have multiple Origin Traits too, that you can switch between much like other perk columns. A Trials of Osiris weapon, for instance, will feature both the Trials trait Alacrity and the Crucible trait One Quiet Moment, which increases reload speed when out of combat.

This is both a cool change and a sneaky one. It's cool because I like the idea of guns having some additional personality. Before sunsetting was introduced (and, subsequently, itself sunset) there was a real problem with new guns not being desirable because you already had older versions of their same archetype. A third perk column, locked to the activity you earned a weapon from, could meaningfully change that. 

There are 14 Origin Traits being added for The Witch Queen and the season that launches alongside it, which suggests Bungie is targeting more than just the core activities. We'll likely see traits based around new content, specific seasons, and likely even raids, meaning there's plenty of scope to expand and experiment in future seasons too.

It's a sneaky change because it is, effectively, the softest form of sunsetting (deprecating old weapons by capping their power or potential), because the traits won't be applied retroactively. A version of a Nightfall weapon you earn next season will have more utility than one you earned before The Witch Queen. Much like when Forsaken added mods to weapons and most Year 1 guns fell out of use, this feels like a more organic way to get players to leave behind some of the god rolls they've been using for over a year.

(Image credit: Bungie)

One extra benefit of Origin Traits is that weapon foundries are returning. The world loot pool—those guns you earn from engrams that drop from enemies—is being replaced with 12 new weapons based around Year 1's foundry sets, and feature Origin Traits specifically related to their respective foundry's personality. Suros guns, for instance, favour consistency, and so its trait, Suros Synergy, gives bonus handling and reduced flinch after reloading.

Initially only Suros, Omolon, Häkke and Veist weapons are returning, but Bungie teases more in the future: "You can expect to see weapon foundries receive new additions each season for the year following The Witch Queen, with some fun surprises thrown in later in the year." Know this: if some of the Black Armory forge weapons return, I will lose my shit.

These Origin Traits are also likely the missing piece of the puzzle announced when Bungie revealed plans to move orb generation from masterworked weapons to armour mods a couple of weeks ago. Bungie has spoken before about weapons having a "perk budget", and that "bad things happen" when a weapon has too many perks. Orb generation counted towards that perk budget, so changing how it works frees up the budget for these new traits. This, of course, doesn't solve the community's problem with the previous announcement: mainly that armour mod space is already at a premium, particularly in the helmet slot where ammo finder and targeting mods already live.

The TWAB also reveals that, going forward, kill trackers will be standard on all weapons—so really the only benefit of masterworking a weapon going forward will be the small stat buff it offers. "We have no specific plans for changes to Masterworking at this stage but will revisit it later," Bungie says.

Bungie's post also details a lot of specific buffs and nerfs to weapons and archetypes—Chaperone and Duality are both getting bopped on the nose for being too strong in PvP, for instance. Meanwhile, Lumina is getting some love, which, alongside the global Exotic primary buff, is giving me some ideas for middle-tree solar support builds next season. There's plenty of small changes to dig into and start theorycrafting around, so head on over to the TWAB post to see the full list.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.