Bungie has long since learned that in the absence of major content drops, the next best thing is a big fat balance patch. Destiny 2's forthcoming major expansion, The Witch Queen, won't land until 22 February 2022, but players will have the celebratory 30th Anniversary Pack (opens in new tab) to help alleviate the longueurs of this extended season. The pack launches on 7 December, bringing with it a bunch of nostalgically-themed gear and a new dungeon activity that will reward the infamous exotic rocket launcher Gjallarhorn. Today, Bungie also announced (opens in new tab) that a slew of nerfs and buffs are coming to the combat sandbox as part of a major balance patch.
Before we get into the really spicy stuff, let's start with a few changes aimed at entire weapon archetypes:
- Slug Shotguns are having their PvE damage bonus dropped from 30% to 20%, which will come as no surprise to anyone who's used the double-slug boss melt. Meanwhile, their unloved pellet-firing brethren are getting a 10% boost.
- Linear Fusion Rifles are getting a 10% PvE buff to all damage, which seems nuts given that they're already strong in the meta, but the change is intended to shore up performance once the Particle Deconstruction mod goes away next season.
- Caster Swords will now expend 5 (rather than 8) ammo on heavy attack. This is long overdue and I suspect will make them quite strong. Don't sleep on Sola's Scar with the Chain Reaction perk.
- Bows are getting an additional 10% damage bump against rank-and-file enemies (ie red bars), which again feels shocking given how good they are in Grandmaster content, but I'm not complaining.
With those appetizers out of the way, let's get into the entrée: exotic weapon changes. 14 weapons are being touched, mostly in the form of buffs to underperformers, though a few terrors are being brought down also. Let's start with a gun many players are still hunting for.
- Reduced Aim Assist by 25
- Reduced the Linear Fusion Rifle mode Aim Assist Cone scalar from 1.1 to 1.05
- Now requires three PvP kills to activate full Overcharge instead of two
Reaction: Bungie admits it overcorrected when it buffed Vex, and these seem like reasonable changes aimed at moderating its power in PvP without gutting the gun in PvE. Certainly, combined with the right armor and mods (hello Path of Burning Steps and Font of Might) Vex is still going to be strong as hell. If you can get it to drop, that is.
- Dealing any damage will grant the Thin The Herd buff
- Increased the buff to the reload stat from +50 to +70
- Increased the buff duration to 7s
Reaction: Bungie sought to avoid Fighting Lion becoming "extraordinarily oppressive" after the recent switch to infinite primary ammo, and now seems confident that the weapon can remain niche but viable. Theoretically it's all good news for the denizens of r/FightingLion (opens in new tab), the gun's own dedicated subreddit, although the users still seem to be grousing about the PvE blast radius.
- Now has intrinsic anti-barrier
Reaction: This sounds low-key but has the potential to make a major impact on endgame PvE content. As noted, Linear Fusion Rifles are already meta thanks to Particle Deconstruction, and being able to stun Barrier Champions from a distance is huge, as Eriana's Vow has proved. The buff also fits with the gun's flavour of being the ultimate shield-breaker.
- Increased magazine size from 3 to 4, increased PvE damage by 6%
Reaction: Woof! More linear fusion love, this time for the daddy. Sleeper is already good, but these changes will see it ascend to greatness, particularly as Bungie insists it will also benefit from the global 10% damage buff to all LFRs. Sleeper is going to give One Thousand Voices serious competition as the exotic heavy weapon of choice.
- Dual Mode Receiver mode now grants the following in addition to its current effects: +30 range, +3 zoom
Reaction: I had hoped for more for the venerable auto rifle. This essentially fixes the fact that one of its firing modes was almost strictly worse than the other. I'd rather have seen a buff to the Regime's healing effect. Oh well.
- Removed Variable Trigger completely. Now fires on trigger press instead of release
- Charged Shot moved to special reload
- Getting a final blow with the Sidearm enables access to the special reload
- Once the Charged Shot is fired, the weapon reverts back to standard Sidearm mode (without costing your entire magazine).
- Charged Shot now causes an AOE which freezes AI and slows players (direct hits still freeze)
Reaction: It's a veritable cornucopia of buffs for a sidearm which Bungie admits it shipped neutered because it was scared of how angry players were about the freezing effects of Stasis in PvP. With that issue largely dealt with, this looks like a major rework that will at least no longer mean that Cryo is outperformed by a Vulpecula with the Headstone perk. I can see this being pretty good, if you can get over the intrinsic dislike of sidearms.
- Increased explosion damage by 50%.
Reaction: Bigger booms are always better. This Taken-hating handcannon has long been on the cusp playability (it's actually very good paired with Lucky Pants on Hunter), and larger explosions will no doubt push it further. I'd still really like to see an exotic catalyst so it can make Orbs of Light, though.
- The catalyst now grants the Archer's Tempo perk in addition to its other effects
Reaction: It's understandable that drawing the only heavy bow in the game was a little sluggish, but this bastard felt like you were trying to pull back a tectonic plate. Archer's Tempo will help, but whether that'll be enough to displace the DPS kings we'll have to see.
Whisper of the Worm
- Reduced delay on activating Whispered Breathing from the catalyst from 2.1s to 1.2s
- White Nail magazine refill changed. Was 3 from inventory but now pulls 2 from inventory and 1 from thin air
- Increased damage in PvE by 10%
Reaction: In its various forms Whisper has been one of the most nerfed and buffed guns in Destiny, but these changes look likely to bring it back into the DPS conversation with a bang. Improved damage, ammo conservation, and ease of use are exactly what the heavy sniper needs to compete. The return of the king? It really could be.
- Reduced flinch, recoil, and accuracy degradation by 50% while Personal Assistant is active
- Personal Assistant now has a 1s delay before deactivating when off target (was instant)
- Increase damage in PvE by 20%
Reaction: The other exotic heavy sniper is even less used than Whisper, and like its sister it's getting a substantial suite of buffs. Particularly notable is the damage boost, which I have to assume has been calibrated to make D.A.R.C.I. legitimately viable. Much will depend on the kind of bosses we're facing next season being suited to sniping, but one to test for sure.
Dead Man's Tale
- Increased reticle friction falloff distance (no effect on mouse and keyboard)
- Less recoil (reduced effect on mouse and keyboard)
- Improved accuracy (reduced effect on mouse and keyboard)
Reaction: Bungie notes that all these changes are aimed at improving the controller experience, which has seen a vertiginous drop-off after a previous nerf. Nonetheless, M+K is not entirely unaffected, and it's somewhat surprising to see one of the best primaries in the game getting better. I recommend locking down a roll with Vorpal Weapon before the Presage mission goes away next season—that perk is being buffed to do +20% damage on primaries.
- Reduced damage resistance against players from 75% to 25% when using the exotic catalyst.
Reaction: I mean, yes, wow, sure, this seems like a change which needs to happen. I'm somewhat shocked that what Bungie calls a "date error" went unresolved for so long, but it sure does explain why Heir Apparent users were essentially unkillable in PvP after picking up power ammo.
- Removed ability energy regeneration on picking up a telemetry
Reaction: Lorentz is an incredible weapon even without the bonus energy, which always felt like a delicious but unnecessary cherry on an already explosive cake. I think PvP mains were expecting a more substantial nerf, but to be honest I'm glad they've been ignored.
- Now grants 10% ability energy per stack on activation (was previously more generous on low stacks, less generous on high stacks, the average and amount for 10 stacks are unchanged)
- Reduced stacks granted on a Guardian defeat from three to two
Reaction: A seemingly small but also unexpected couple of nerfs for the little sidearm that could. I hope the change to how stacks scale doesn't make it feel much weaker in PvE, as I have a soft spot for Traveler's in ability spam builds.
Phew. There's a lot to unpack there, and most importantly a lot of new builds to test once the patch goes live—which is actually what I want. Juicing things up further are a few changes coming to general weapon perks, which for our purposes let's call desert:
- Adrenaline Junkie: Will now work much like Swashbuckler, its melee equivalent, which means that weapon kills will stack the perk up to 5x, but a grenade kill will instantly grant the full 5x. The duration of the perk has been lowered to compensate.
- Vorpal Weapon: The damage buff granted will now depend on what kind of ammo your weapon uses in order to prevent it being the auto-pick for power weapons.
- Primary = 20%
- Special = 15%
- Power = 10%
- Whirlwind Blade: Nerfed to require 10x stacks to hit max damage rather than 5x
- Pulse Monitor: Now activates when you're at 30% shields (rather than 90% health previously)—ie it will take substantially less damage in order for the perk to kick in.
And that's your lot! Bungie's same blog post (opens in new tab)also contains a code which you can redeem to unlock the 'Be True' emblem, which has been created to show support for Transgender Awareness Week. The code is ML3-FD4-ND9 and it can be redeemed now right here (opens in new tab).