Destiny 2 is finally nerfing its most broken ult, but as a Warlock main I fear my teammates will still want to crutch on it

Despite currently having two supers, Solar Warlocks have been locked to Well of Radiance for almost six years. (Image credit: Bungie)

Have you ever had your teammates bully you into running a particular loadout for their benefit? Everyone who plays Warlock in Destiny 2 knows the feeling. Back in 2018, the Forsaken expansion added a new Solar super called Well of Radiance, and in team-based activities we've been forced to run it ever since. When you pop this ult, the Warlock slams a flaming sword into the ground which forms a glowing pool around it for 20 seconds. 

Currently, standing in that well grants all players a 25% damage buff and, more significantly, a whopping 50% reduction to incoming damage. As you can imagine, that's incredibly useful in enemy-dense activities, particularly at higher-end difficulty where damage is substantially amped up. 

As a result, in any endgame content you will usually find multiple Warlocks running Well. Such is its ubiquity that entire encounters have to be designed around the knowledge that teams will be using Wells to do their DPS from extreme safety. The power of Well has also meant other Warlock subclasses have struggled to shine, despite being fun to play. If you turn up to a Master raid and you're running Void rather than Solar, you can bet it won't be more than one wipe before the squad asks you to swap. 

Bungie has long been aware of the problem with Well, and to a lesser degree Titan's Ward of Dawn which also offers a combo of protection and damage buff but is clunkier to use. Last November, the studio warned that the safety offered by Well "is not something we believe the sandbox can or should continue to support." The delay to The Final Shape meant Well has enjoyed an extra couple of months in the sun, but today the nerfs have been announced, and it's fair to say the hammer is falling hard. 

In an almost 7,000-word post detailing changes coming to Destiny 2 ability tuning, Bungie outlined how Well will change when The Final Shape releases on June 4:

  • Now grants radiant for 8 seconds when players exit the Well of Radiance area.
  • Reduced player survivability while standing in the Well of Radiance aura.
  • Reduced healing per second from 100 to 50 health points, matching restoration x2.
  • Increased heal on cast from 40 to 300 health points.
  • Reduced damage resistance vs. non-boss combatants from 40% to 20%.
  • Reduced damage resistance vs. boss combatants from 40% to 10%.
  • Note: damage resistance vs. enemy players is unchanged.
  • Increased maximum Orbs of Power from defeating targets while in your Well of Radiance aura from 4 to 5.

Explaining those changes, the studio said: "In its current form, its healing and damage resistance offer effective invulnerability, which removes any other defensive option from consideration on top of providing a sizable boost to your fireteam’s offensive output. We’ve chosen to push Well of Radiance further towards that offensive capability by allowing its radiance to persist for a short duration after players leave the well. We're also pulling back on its defensive output (both damage resistance and healing rate) by a significant margin." 

So the short version is the enemies will be able to kill you much more easily while in a well, but the damage utility is slightly improved. So far, the response from the community is pretty mixed. There are always those who don't want to see a crutch removed, whilst many elite players—such as back-to-back world's first raider Saltagreppo—have long called for a major nerf, and are reacting with delight. (Much to the fury of the players who wanted it left untouched.) 

My response, as a Warlock with many 1000s of hours in the game, is that removing much of the damage reduction will hurt, but I'm not sure it goes far enough if Bungie really wants the playerbase to run Well less. Prior to the changes being announced, there was a thread on r/DestinyTheGame titled: 'As a Warlock main, I'm hoping Bungie can unshackle us from Well of Radiance with a decent nerf." I fear those shackles will remain in place. For most encounters, having an area of even slightly less potent healing to dip into and grab a damage buff from is still going to be incredibly useful. I suspect part of the reason why Bungie didn't go harder with the nerfs is that so much of the game has been designed around Well existing that certain activities would become very annoying without it.

There's also the not insignificant matter of Bungie currently being on a wave of goodwill thanks to the well-received (and free) Into the Light update, plus the excitement around the new Prismatic subclass reveal. So, with the climactic expansion of the game's decade-long saga due in less than three weeks, now would probably not have been the time to force-feed the playerbase a big bad news sandwich. Hopefully the nerf will feel substantial enough to make my fellow Warlocks at least try the new fire-slinging Solar super coming with The Final Shape, which you can watch in action below.

The Well nerf should also give the new Prismatic subclass room to breathe on Warlock, particularly as it includes strong options like the above super, Needlestorm, Healing Grenade and the freezing Bleak Watcher turret. As for the rest of the blog, there's way too much to precis, but Ward of Dawn is getting a less dramatic rework, Strand Titan sees an expected nerf to Banner of War, and Spark of Beacons (which blinds enemies) will now work on heavy weapons which I think could be low key cracked. I also particularly like the sound of the Stasis makeover, which includes a new keyword called Frost Armor and several new fragments for build crafting. 

Final thought on Well: I was doing the Riven encounter as part of the Pantheon boss rush last night, and realised that if I swapped to Phoenix Protocol I could drop a Well on every floor and still have it back for the boss. Things went much smoother thereafter, and in balancing terms having an ult which effectively serves as swimming arm bands in hard content is probably not okay. I just want to run Briarbinds Warlock in a raid once, guys!

Tim Clark

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.