Destiny 2 Masterwork armor and Raid reworks detailed in Bungie update

The latest edition of This Week at Bungie is another big one, with detailed information on Destiny 2's upcoming Iron Banner Event, substantial changes to how Raid loot drops work, some straight talk on why you can't easily dismantle all those shaders you've got lying around, and a rundown of the rest of what players can expect from the 30 January update. 

At the top of the list is Masterwork armor, which will bring a big change to Destiny duds when it's rolled out next week. In most ways, Masterwork armor will function in the same was as their weapon counterparts. Every piece of Legendary armor has a small chance to drop as a Masterwork, with a not-terribly-useful bonus—in this case, an extra three percent increase in damage resistance while your Super is active, stacking to 15 percent for a full Masterwork suit.

But there is one significant element: Masterwork armor can be reworked to a different stat package—Heavy, Light or Restorative. Restorative armor is regarded as being by far and away the most useful—when it comes to staying alive in a fight, the recovery stat is everything—which means that, for the cost of one Masterwork core and ten Legendary shards, you can look sharp without having to sacrifice survivability. 

Bungie said it's planning to update the system in the future to grant more benefits to Masterwork armor, which will obviously be a plus (a three percent boost when you're dropping the Super hammer is hardly a game-changer), but the simple ability to rework stats is welcome, and should ensure we're not all wearing the same stuff. 

Do be aware, however, that right now there's a bug in the UI that will keep the rework from taking effect if you do it too quickly, so take your time and savor the experience. (You won't actually lose any resources if you get hit by the bug but it initially appears that you do, and that can be nerve-wracking.)

Also coming next week is the Iron Banner PvP party, which unlike the recent Faction Rally will come with a healthy selection of new guns, along with the addition of an Iron Banner Ghost shell, Sparrow, and ship. Items from the previous Iron Banner event can also drop from reward engrams, which is good news for people who didn't get everything they wanted the last time around, and Lord Saladin will also offer some items for direct sale including armor and three different weapons. This being the second season of the game, you'll also be able to earn armor ornaments to zazz up the samurai-flavored gear you've earned.

Perhaps as a callback to the furor over the hidden cap on Faction Rally tokens, Bungie specified that there are no limits to the number of engrams or tokens you can pick up during the Iron Banner.

For those who prefer PvE, Raid rewards are getting some notable improvements too. Raid armor will drop with unique and powerful perks that function whilst aboard the Leviathan, via mods that can be applied to both new and existing pieces of Raid armor. Those mods will be reusable, so you can swap them around as you see fit (for one Calus Token each), and they will always drop as Legendary, meaning that there won't be any power penalty for swapping them around. One such mod, Emperor's Blaze, increases Solar ability damage by 25 percent while on the Leviathan, a huge boost by any measure and particularly if you're a Hunter running the Celestial Nighthawk exotic helmet.

"The goal for these perks was to elevate the power of Guardians in the Raid, and we aimed to build things that were useful in every encounter," senior designer Daniel Auchenpaugh said. "As a result, we avoided things that relied on specific mechanics to be useful and moved to broadly useful perks like 'Recharge your grenade when you activate your Super' and 'Deal 20% extra damage after getting a melee kill' as opposed to things tied to specific mechanics."

Clearing the Prestige Raid will award both Prestige and normal drops, the thinking being that if you can handle Prestige then obviously you're capable to doing it in normal mode and so there's really no need to re-invent that particular wheel. Raid encounters will always drop a Raid piece, and have a chance to drop Exotics as well; for players who just can't catch a break, the Raid vendor will sell a rotating selection of gear to players who have completed the week's raid, and there's also a new exotic Raid ghost shell, with more Leviathan-exclusive, and potentially very powerful, perks of its own.

On the less-happy-news front, Bungie also explained why it will continue to be a hassle to dismantle shaders. "Shaders are individual items, and individual items trigger individual reward bundles when dismantled, even when those rewards are simple. That creates a challenge for us that we haven’t yet addressed, which is triggering dozens (or hundreds) of reward bundles simultaneously when an entire stack of shaders is dismantled," senior design lead Tyson Green explained.

"This is challenging not simply because an arbitrary number of rewards need to be run and delivered simultaneously, but because we also have to safeguard against scenarios where this produced items that couldn’t fit in your inventory, which could be instantly lost."

Bungie is working on a proper solution to that and other issues with shaders, including making armor shaders function more like they did in the original Destiny. Developers are also looking at enabling shader collections, or possibly a way of making copies of shaders you already own, in order to make them "more freely usable and not limited by availability," Green said. 

"This work is ongoing, and we’ll go on record as to when the solution will land as we get closer to a fix that we test and certify. For now, it was important to us that you know it’s on our workbench."

On the whole, it sounds like a decent update: Being able to rework armor stats is big, raiders should be pleased with the perks and loot improvements, and after the relative stinginess of the Faction Rally, I'm happy to see that the Iron Banner rewards will be more accessible. As Bungie's big plan for 2018 made clear, this is just a start—but it's a good start.   

The next update is planned for February. A "graphical roadmap" laying out the plan for future updates will be released next week.

Update: Bungie has clarified a few potentially confusing points about how the changes will work.

  • When applying the Masterwork upgrade to a Legendary [armor], the stat package is rolled randomly.
  • All Raid Masterworks must be earned from raid drops and can’t be obtained from Engrams or vendors in the Tower.
  • Equipping a Raid Armor Mod will fully replace any mod that is currently equipped to the armor piece. While Raid Mods can be equipped at any time using a Raid Token, alternate mod consumables are lost in this process.
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.