Bungie has been addressing specific audience feedback over the past few weeks related to cheating in Trials, the state of Bounties and reward structures in the game. This week Bungie went into more detail about their plans to address power keep and incentives to chase new weapons. The following is a look at Bungie’s plans for sunsetting weapons in Destiny 2.
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Let’s start this analysis with a question. When you’re playing Destiny 2 do you use the same guns all the time from seasons gone by, or do you like to chase the new weapons as they’re introduced? I don’t know about you but Recluse, Mindbender’s, Revoker, Spare Rations and other similar weapons that were introduced during the Forsaken Expansion have been in my rotation for some time. What about you? What’s in your loadout and do you always use the same old weapons? I’ve tried updating my rotation – and there have been some stand out weapons this year (thinking of Perfect Paradox), but I don’t really engage with the new weapons as much as I should do.
Luke Smith introduced the concept of sunsetting weapons a few weeks ago in one of the This Week At Bungie updates and this week Bungie went into much more detail regarding why they are doing it, how it’s going to work and when we should expect to see changes.
First of all, let’s have a look at why there is a problem in the game right now. Bungie says:
“We want the sandbox to feel interesting, exciting, and dynamic, and to evolve in compelling ways over time in the same way that the game evolves. Our weapons are the primary way that players interact with the world, and Season over Season we want players to discover new weapons that feel powerful, have interesting new perks to explore, and power the builds that players craft in new and unexpected ways.”
If players are using the same weapons all the time then it’s harder to create a sandbox that feels interesting, exciting and dynamic. I’m sure we’ve all got our favourite weapons, perhaps weapons we’ve spent hours, days and weeks to grind for (especially when it comes to pinnacle weapons). In the past, Bungie’s approach has been to try and balance these weapons – which is going to be a tough task when you have to consider PVP and PVE. We’ve had a constant back and forth nerf and buff cycle, which seemingly comes at random in sandbox balancing updates throughout the year or during major expansions.
Bungie is looking at changing the infusion system in the game to address this issue and has outlined the following objectives for the changes.
“We want you to more frequently earn and enjoy more powerful and standout gear. Right now, if a new Legendary weapon isn’t better than the current best-in-class, there is no reason to replace your existing weapon with it. If a new Legendary weapon is better than the current best-in-class, we risk power creep, removing challenge from the game, or making the item mandatory/the only option for challenging activities. Both the above points apply equally to new mods and perks, as well. Powerful weapons can be era-defining, but eventually, those eras need to end so that new eras can begin. We want strong weapons to have their time in the sun, and whenever possible we want you to expect and prepare for powerful gear to cycle out of the endgame meta.”
This problem appeared throughout Forsaken with pinnacle and legendary weapons. Recluse, Mindbender’s, Revoker and Spare Rations all speak to this point directly with many players now using these weapons for 18 months, or longer in some cases. The Reckoning amplified this issue with players using the same loadouts and only a certain cut of the loot pool was viable and since weapons have struggled to replace these best in class weapons. Power creep is also an issue, just by making “better weapons” that then devalues end game content or narrows the way you can play.
“We can’t solve this by just making weapons that are always “better” than the previous ones. This will steadily lower time-to-kill in both PvP and PvE until the combat sandbox is neither fun nor tactical. We also want to foster a gradually evolving meta that regularly promotes experimentation and debate. We believe Destiny is at its best when you have new desirable things to pursue and when you have active debates with your clanmates about which of those new things to bring into the new raid, or which is going to be hot in Trials next Season.”
This is how it’s going to work
“Each Legendary weapon and piece of armour will have a Max Power Level it can reach through an infusion. Exotics will not have a Max Power Level. The Max Power Level for these items will be set at the player Power Cap attainable 3 Seasons after its release Season (4 Seasons total). This means all Legendary gear has a one-year span of time during which it can be used in activities where being at or near the player Power Cap is important (difficult and Power-enabled activities).”
With the new max power level this means Legendaries are going to have a time limit of one year in activities where the Power Cap is relevant. This means you can still use your Beloved, Recluse, Spare Rations in ceratin crucible, strikes and gambit content. But in end-game activities like Raids, Dungeons, Trials and Iron Banner then the meta is going to be shifting pretty constantly with new weapons to chase and level up.
“The Max Power Level for these items will be visible in-game in Season 11, but no items will be at their Max Power Level at the start Season 11. This means all your gear will be relevant in all activities during Season 11. You’ll be able to see what the Max Power Level is for all your gear and plan accordingly. At the start of Season 12, weapons and armour released in Seasons 1-8 will have a Max Power Level at the Season 11 player Power Cap. Gear from Seasons 9, 10, 11, and 12 will all be infusible to new player Power Caps for 1 year after their release. Weapons and armour from the Last Wish and Garden of Salvation raids, will be granted exceptions and will have a higher Max Power Level”
We’re not going to see major changes until the Fall expansion. It’s interesting to see here that gear from Last Wish and Garden of Salvation are exempt from the cap, which is good as this provides more value and incentive to go for those weapons. This is something we’ve been asking for as a community for some time now – motivation and reasons to play and get the raid weapons. Raid weapons have become devalued over seasonal weapons in the game for a while now, so this is a positive change.
Bungie did address some specific questions
“Can I still use gear that has reached its Max Power Level? Yes. You will always be able to equip and use any piece of gear. Reaching the player Power Cap is beneficial, but not strictly required, for most activities in Destiny. You can continue to equip and use all gear in these activities.”
“This applies to armour as well as weapons? Yes – all Legendary gear that provides Power will have a Max Power Level. Starting in Season 12, armour will no longer have a Seasonally rotating fourth mod slot. Instead, there will be a mod slot that accepts mods introduced into the game throughout a full year. We recognize that the current need to replace your armour every two to three Seasons, and hoard armour from past Seasons, is undesirable. Transmogrification, which we talked about in the TWAB last week, will give you the ability to keep your favourite looks and apply them to new armour pieces with higher Max Power Levels.”
“When gear drops after its debut Season, what will its Max Power Level be? It will have the same Max Power Level as it did in its initial release Season. Note, this is different than gear that is re-issued. See next question.”
“Will gear ever have its Max Power Level updated? Not directly, but gear can be re-issued in future Seasons. These re-issued versions will have a new Max Power Level based on the Season in which it is re-issued.”
“We’re going to experiment with how and when the gear is re-issued into the game throughout Year 4. Let us know what you think of the different methods as you experience them.”
There was a final statement from Bungie
“We’re committed to Destiny 2 continuing to grow and evolve for years to come, and a part of that continued evolution is the curation of an interesting, exciting, and dynamic player sandbox. The introduction of Max Power Level will allow us to create exciting new gear more frequently without significant concerns of permanent power creep, which is unsustainable in any game. This also should open up creative and experimental builds, season over season, while letting you anticipate and prepare for how the sandbox will change over time.”
I definitely think there are pros and cons to the approach that Bungie has outlined, and I’d be really keen to hear what you think of the proposals down in the comments.
This is going to provide the motivation to get new weapons and I think setting out the clear timelines for weapons is a good thing. Clear communication is always better than surprises out of the blue, for example, here we know that we have the 12 month limit on a weapon, rather than something being randomly nerfed (although that doesn’t mean the nerfs are going away – just look at Hard Light this season).
I do think these changes will allow for more creative and perhaps more powerful weapons than we’ve ever seen. Bungie mentioned in a previous TWAB the sandbox feels bland at the moment because they can’t create these overpowered weapons as they then create power creep and can live forever. Now, with this time limit, we could see new, powerful weapons enter the loot pool, knowing they’re going away within 12 months.
It’s worth remembering also this is going to only affect end-game content, where a smaller percentage of the player base hangs out. At first, this could be read that Bungie is “taking away my weapons”, but this is only for the small percentage of the game. Exotics also aren’t going to be affected. All in all, it’s a pretty soft sunsetting process, as we’re still going to be able to use the weapons in the majority of the game. Back in D1 at the end of year 1 weapons like Fate Bringer, Vision of Confluence were left behind and not viable in Year 2 during the Taken King.
There are definitely some cons too. There are concerns this could demotivate players with the weapon chase knowing there’s a time limit on the horizon (however, I’d argue that a year is a long time for weapon viability in a single game). There’s always the chance for this to create unforeseen problems. I’m for the weapon sunsetting in principle, but actually how this rolls out and how the wider community reacts is another story altogether. There seems to be a slight inconsistent approach with raid weapons too with Last Wish and Garden raid weapons being exempt – but Scourge of the past, Crown of Sorrow and Leviathan being left behind. As I mentioned, I do like the fact that incentives are being given to chasing these raid weapons, as they should be some of the strongest weapons in the game to make them feel special – like raid weapons used to. Perhaps Bungie has plans for these raids, maybe reprise versions in Season 11 leading up to the fall expansion (much like they did at the end of year 3 in D1).
All things considered, I’m for these changes. I’m looking forward to leaving behind these old weapons and moving into a more dynamic sandbox. Bungie’s communication related to the issues over the past few weeks has been very clear – Trials Cheating and other improvements, addressing the amount and focus on bounties and then rewards. The game has a bunch of issues right now, however, much of what they have discussed over the past few weeks sounds like improvements to me. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, but I’m optimistic about the future of the game and look forward to the changes.
What we’re not considering at the moment are the other changes in the context of the infusion caps. In the fall expansion, we’re likely to get a new story, new weapons, new raid, sandbox balancing, new activities and less of a focus on bounties and seasonal FOMO.
There’s has been a bunch of community feedback so far on Reddit and Twitter related to the proposed changes.
There’s also been feedback from Bungie Community Managers as well as other employees.
As always, let me know down in the comments what you think of the weapon sunsetting and let me know how you think it’s going to go. Are you looking forward to it, or do you think it’s going to be a huge mistake and why?