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Destiny 2 speedrunners are pissed about incoming changes to swords

(Image credit: Bungie)

The latest This Week at Bungie update contained some upcoming and kind of out-of-nowhere changes to swords that the studio described as "a sort of tableflip when it comes to light attacks, heavy attacks, and guarding." Bungie said that swordsmiths will still "rip and tear through opponents", although they'll have to learn new techniques for getting the job done. 

"Swords are getting a little more love this Season," Bungie said. "While Swords have been a staple of Destiny ever since their introduction in The Taken King, we felt they were due for an update both to freshen them up, but also to allow us more room to work with them in later releases." The sandbox team closed the post saying: "We do hope you’ll enjoy the changes." Unfortunately, the reaction from the speedrunning community has been exactly the opposite.

Before we get to exactly why they're hopping mad, let's breakdown the incoming changes:

Sword Energy

  • Swords now have their own reserve of energy that recharges naturally on its own, and is not to be confused with ammo capacity. This energy will overtake your melee slot while you’re wielding a sword and is spent on various actions.

Guarding

  • Guarding now uses sword energy instead of consuming ammo. Different guards have different consumption rates, damage resistance and behaviors, so be sure to experiment and find a guard type you like. You’ll still need at least one ammo to begin guarding, though.
  • Back during Season of the Drifter, the Stronghold exotic for Titans was introduced, allowing them to guard with relative impunity and opening up a more interesting opportunities for swords to shine in a variety of content which caused us to take another look at the guard function itself. Although the guard function has always existed, it was never really considered worth the cost. With this change, we hope that players will use their guard intelligently to protect themselves instead of it being an almost unused button. Rest easy, Stronghold has also been modified to still allow Titans a unique guarding experience.

Light Attacks

  • Grounded light attacks for all Swords will now loop for an infinite combo, and all Swords can cleave.
  • While the basic three hit combo is quite a staple of melee weapons in many games – In a shooter this leaves the player extremely open to enemies. By letting the light attacks loop, we also push them and the heavy attacks apart further. Cleaving on light attacks was previously only on the Aggressive Swords, but we opted to add it to the rest of them for more hack ‘n slash.

Heavy Attacks

  • Heavy attacks now consume Sword energy. While you are always able to perform a heavy attack, the attack is stronger when you have full energy, and weaker when you don’t.
  • A lot of swordplay in many situations simply boiled down to endlessly mashing the heavy attack button instead of mixing up attacks which wasn’t quite the most interesting experience. Do note that aerial heavy attacks as a general rule do not consume Sword energy, but that can vary based on the Sword.

Shield Bypass

  • A portion of most Sword attacks can partially bypass elemental shields.
  • We added this to give Swords a little bit of a personality difference from shotguns who share a very similar role in combat as powerful CQC  weapons.

The changes sound potentially promising in terms of conventional Destiny 2 gameplay, but speedrunners are concerned that the change could either nerf or eliminate the practice of "sword skating." You can get a detailed rundown of how it works on Reddit, but the short version is that it's a bit like strafe-jumping in Quake: Destiny 2 players use the technique to move at far faster speeds than they'd normally be able to, which naturally makes it invaluable to speedrunners. 

That speed is increased further when combined with a particular exotic sword called the Worldline Zero, which is used almost exclusively by players looking to max out their movement. The video below explains how and why.

Naturally, the changes detailed by Bungie also effect exotics, which has led players who love using Worldline to zip around to complain bitterly about the upcoming 'buff'. 

The lack of specifics in the update make it impossible to know for certain what the impact on sword skating will be, but Bungie community manager dmg04 has all but confirmed that it will be significant.

There's also a feeling that the timing of the changes, while certainly coincidental, is nonetheless unfortunate: Destiny 2 appeared in the speedrunning extravaganza Awesome Games Done Quick for the first time this year.

The big sword changes will go live in the next season of Destiny 2, which according to leaks will be called Season of the Worthy and begin on March 9. We also expect that it will see the return of the Trials of Osiris competitive PvP mode.

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.