Linear fusion rifles have dominated Destiny 2's DPS meta for over a year now. The quadrilogy of Cataclysmic, Taipan-4FR, Stormchaser and Reed's Regret have been the default picks for raids, dungeons and Nightfalls throughout The Witch Queen era. So when Bungie first teased an overhaul of heavy weapons for next month's Lightfall expansion, we all instinctively knew that a major nerf was on the cards.
And so it is. In yesterday's Season 20 weapon tuning preview, Bungie revealed that all legendary linear fusion rifles are getting a 15% reduction to damage against Champions, minibosses, bosses and vehicles. Pack it in, they're done.
OK, maybe not entirely done. Linears were king for more than just the damage output, although that certainly helped. They have the best ammo economy of any ranged DPS option, and, thanks to perks like Clown Cartridge, Fourth Times the Charm or Triple Tap, most can extend their magazine size well beyond its default limit. They're perfect for sustained DPS, making them the best choice for raid and dungeon bosses that have long damage phases—ie, most raid and dungeon bosses. And while their damage completely falls off if you're not hitting headshots, that can be easily mitigated by having a Divinity user on your team.
Even Divinity's nerf last year didn't do much to lessen the popularity of Linears. And honestly, in terms of their ease of use, I could see them still having a place in the game after Lightfall's launch. Especially as exotic linears aren't being touched. As you can see by this crunchy breakdown of the numbers, Sleeper Simulant will be a compelling pick.
With the reveal today I simulated the changes in a copy of our sheet, posting a set of images for folks who want to compare them to the current sheet. We will roll these changes into the live version once I have tested them in game after Lightfall releases. Let's start with LFRs pic.twitter.com/nsG5m8SF5OFebruary 1, 2023
A modest buff to LMGs
If linears are the big losers of this upcoming update, we do also have some clear winners. Machine guns are getting approximately 10% extra damage, as well as an increase to reserve ammo.
Is it enough? Machine guns are in a weird place at the moment, largely because the community has decided that add clear weapons don't have a place in the current sandbox. This is largely thanks to the Light 3.0 rework, and how strong it made abilities. If you can clear whole rooms with instantly recharging Vortex grenades, why equip a heavy weapon that's built for that same purpose?
Despite this, I think they're being slept on. There are plenty of non-boss encounters in raids—think Totems in King's Fall or Exhibition in Vow of the Disciple—where machine guns are the perfect pick. And the more Bungie experiments with enforced power scaling—such as Heist Battlegrounds locking you below your current power level—the more I can see a place for their sustained, multi-target firepower. And, as the perennial Divinity user of my raid group, I'm rarely doing actual boss damage, so my trusty Commemoration has proved a solid choice for quickly clearing the field, particularly paired with Volatile Rounds.
Is Anarchy back?
Heavy grenade launchers, meanwhile, are getting a major buff—20% increased damage against Champions, minibosses, bosses, and vehicles. In addition, their projectiles are getting improved collision and increased blast radius, making it easier to land hits. "With this change, Heavy Grenade Launchers should be significantly more useful in PvE, and easier to use in both PvE and PvP," writes Bungie.
It's been years since heavy grenade launchers have had a place in the meta, with one main exception that, thanks to this update, could also be back on the table.
Anarchy, it's time. pic.twitter.com/MnmfirX9TGFebruary 1, 2023
Anarchy is an exotic grenade launcher that fires sticky projectiles that do damage-over-time to enemies they hit. This means you can pop a couple of grenades on a boss, and swap to a high-damage secondary to bump up your damage. It was the top pick back in Season 14—largely thanks to the Breach and Clear artefact mod that caused enemies to take increased damage when hit by grenades. Then, in Season 15, it felt Bungie's wrath—a 30% damage nerf to bosses, coupled with a significant reduction in total ammo.
Lightfall's update won't quite bring it back to its former glory, but it might once again become a solid choice for its specific fire-and-forget purpose. It's a great weapon to pair with a good boss damage secondary—meaning sniper rifles might once again make an appearance—and the damage-over-time effect will make it a top option for Warlocks running Starfire Protocol builds. For raid DPS, though, probably not.
As for whether legendary heavy grenade launchers will finally be worth using, I could see it. RokDC's tweet thread suggests a godroll Interference VI will for sure do the business. It's probably worth hunting for a good Wendigo GL3 when it returns as the Nightfall weapon on February 21. If you nab one with Spike Grenades in the second column, Explosive Light in the fourth column, and either Auto-Loading Holster, Clown Cartridge or Field Prep in the third, you'll be all set.
Exotic heavies are more fun now
One effect of the linear fusion meta is that exotic heavies don't get as much use. Sleeper Simulant does a hell of a lot of damage, but its legendary counterparts benefit from having access to ammo perks. As a result, Bungie is reworking a whole bunch of exotic heavies—giving them access to some of Light 3.0's effects, thus tying them more intrinsically into the game's buildcrafting.
This has resulted in my favourite upcoming change: giving scorch stacks to One Thousand Voices.
1KV is Last Wish's raid exotic—a (non-linear) heavy fusion rifle that fires a burst of plasma that explodes wherever it lands. It's loud. It's messy. You can easily kill yourself with it. It's everything I want in an exotic weapon. It had its time to shine in Season 15, thanks to the Particle Deconstruction artifact mod, but hasn't made an impact this year. "We wanted to lean even more into a chain of Solar explosions by adding scorch," writes Bungie, "and with the global Heavy weapon changes it's also a strong option. If you have Ember of Ashes equipped, landing a full burst on a single target will trigger an ignition immediately." Perfect. No notes. I will be using this constantly.
The exotic heavy bow Leviathan's breath is, similarly, getting a Light verb—it will apply volatile (big void explosion) on perfect draws, and is getting 30% increased damage to Champions. It's already a great pick for Grandmaster Nightfalls thanks to its many previous buffs, and, with this change, will be an absolute no brainer. Who needs Arbalest?
Those are the two exotic changes that feel immediately like they could shake things up, but there's plenty more intriguing changes planned too. The most interesting is the suggestion that Two-Tailed Fox—a rocket launcher that simultaneously fires a Solar and Void rocket—will be getting a third, Arc verb with its catalyst. With it also being updated so that each rocket applies an element-appropriate verb, it could finally see some use in the sandbox.
In addition to the above heavy changes, Bungie also announced some more crunchy changes to Kinetic slot weapon damage—giving pure Kinetic damage weapons more of a purpose over their slotmate Stasis (and, presumably, Strand) weapons. Feel free to crunch the numbers over at Bungie's blogpost. Personally, I'm just going to be staring longingly at One Thousand Voices. Soon, my friend. Soon.