Destiny 2 News – Weapon Tuning

Bungie was back this week with another bumper TWAB, detailing big changes coming to Destiny 2, plus we have a mid-season weapons balance patch to look forward to with plenty of changes coming to weapons. We’ll go through all the detail today, so without further delay, let’s get to it.

MID-SEASON WEAPONS TUNING

Last week, we had a nice chat with the weapons team covering a wide array of questions. They also touched on some plans for weapon tuning coming in the mid-Season patch next week. Associate Designer Mercules is back again to give more detail on the what and the why for the weapon changes coming in 6.2.5.

Mercules: Hello, everyone, Mercules here! We have a lot to talk about in this mid-Season patch from a weapons standpoint, so let’s dive right in!

One note before we get started: When we say “ease of use,” we usually mean one, or a combination, of the following things: stability, aim assist, recoil direction, body shot time to kill (TTK), or optimal time to kill crit percentage (i.e., requiring a weapon that requires 100% critical shots to achieve optimal TTK is lower ease of use, and a weapon requiring 50% critical shot to get optimal is higher ease of use). We have seen this question asked a lot and wanted to address it upfront so that in the future, you can have a better idea of where we are looking at when we say we want to address the “ease of use” of certain weapons for balance purposes.

WEAPON ARCHETYPES

AUTO RIFLES

Auto Rifles see strong usage in most PvP activities – around 25%, but that drops to around 13% in endgame PvP (e.g., Trials of Osiris). We often hear suggestions that we should decrease the TTK, or increase the range of Auto Rifles, but we have investigated those options and found that with very minor changes to either, they can quickly become oppressive across PvP sandboxes.

As it stands, several High-Impact (360 RPM) and Precision Frame (450 RPM) Auto Rifles are already capable of outranging Hand Cannons (and at least one Adaptive Frame can as well), and we do not want them whole-heartedly competing with Pulse Rifles in the 40m+ ranges. In addition, even a single bullet reduction in TTK places many Auto Rifle sub-families into best-in-class lethality. As such, we have decided to lean more heavily into increasing their ease of use and making them feel better to shoot within their optimal ranges, with a substantial buff to stability. Although the change is only to the high end of the stat curve, the change affects all stat values above 0, with increasing effects as you get to higher stat values.

Precision Frame Auto Rifles specifically have languished since the Uriel’s Gift meta of early Destiny 2, and because they are inherently so stable, they did not benefit much from the change outlined above. As such, we have slightly brought their critical hit multiplier up to increase their critical hit damage, which, combined with the body shot damage buff from last Season, puts them in a much stronger position without directly lowering optimal TTK.

General:
Increased the effects of the stability stat on recoil reduction by ~20% at the high end.
Precision Frames:
Increased the crit damage multiplier from 1.5x to 1.55x (crit damage goes from 30 to 31).

BOWS

As mentioned in a previous TWAB, we want to reduce the effectiveness of max speed Bow swapping as a strategy, as it is functionally fast enough that it is nearly impossible to counter in high level gameplay. The below change is not massive but should move the total time for a Bow swap kill to be closer to other Primary weapons’ optimal TTK, giving players a better opportunity to fight back against it.
Increased Bow stow duration (varies by sub-family and handling stat):
Before, 0 to 100 handling stat:
Lightweight Frame: 0.4s to 0.2s.
Precision Frame: 0.433s to 0.2s.
After, 0 to 100 handling stat:
Lightweight: 0.45s to 0.3s.
Precision: 0.48s to 0.33s.

PULSE RIFLES

Pulse Rifles are strong in the current sandbox, both due to the reduced dominance of other mid to long range weapons and the availability of multiple easily acquirable/craftable strong options. In addition, a few balance passes back, we buffed their range a moderate amount, but in the current sandbox we no longer feel they need that help across the board. As such, we have removed the range bonus at the low end, while retaining it at the high end, to continue rewarding those who spec into range without giving the same advantage to those who do not. We also felt that there was not enough of a difference in the “feel” of weapon handling across Pulse Rifle sub-families, so we have rebalanced the stat to decrease the effects slightly at the low end and raise them at the high end.

Adaptive Frame (390 RPM) Pulse Rifles have not been favored since the Bygone era, and we believe this change will be enough to increase their strength relative to other Pulse Rifles without pushing them too far into meta-territory.

As for Rapid-Fire Frame (540 RPM) Pulse Rifles, Piece of Mind has an out of band zoom stat that allows it to compete at longer ranges than would be expected for the sub-family, so it will be the first of multiple zoom outliers we will be looking at bringing in-line over the next Season.

General:
Rebalanced the effect of the handling stat across Pulse Rifles (the handling stat affects a weapon’s ready, stow, and aim down sights speed).
Increased effects of handling by 5% at the high end (mostly affects Lightweight and Adaptive Frame Pulse Rifles).
Reduced effects of handling by 2% at the low end (mostly affects High Impact and Rapid Fire Frame Pulse Rifles).
Adjusted damage falloff scale based on the range stat:
0 range: reduced from 16m to 15m.
100 range: unchanged.

Adaptive Frame Pulse Rifles
Increased the precision multiplier from 1.6x to 1.65x (crit damage goes from 30.4 to 31.4).
This allows a weapon to kill Guardians below tier 4 resilience with 6 crits (two bursts) in 0.60s.
Rapid-Fire Frame Pulse Rifles:
Piece of Mind base zoom reduced from 19 to 18.

SCOUT RIFLES

When we buffed High-Impact (150 RPM) Scout Rifles last Season, the main goal was to get them up off the floor by reducing how punishing hitting body shots was. We over buffed them a bit, going so far as to make the optimal TTK more forgiving against low resilience as well. This has made them slightly too easy to use for a weapon with functionally unlimited range. The below change to damage will take their optimal TTK back to requiring three crits across all resilience values, while retaining the change to body shot TTK from the previous balance pass.
High –Impact Scout Rifles:
Reduced body damage from 42 to 40, and crit damage from 73.5 to 70.

SIDEARMS

Interestingly, Sidearms have long had substantially less auto aim range compared to damage range, a decision made many moons ago. With the removal of the auto aim falloff bonus from Rangefinder, we felt that Sidearms in general seemed lacking in the ~15m engagement distances, particularly on MnK (mouse and keyboard). As such, this change should bring them up to near parity with other weapons’ auto aim to damage falloff ratios. For comparisons sake, Sidearms with Rangefinder should feel about the same after this change as they do in the game now, but sidearms without Rangefinder should feel notably better.
General:
Increased auto aim fall off distance by 30% across the board.

SUBMACHINE GUNS

We wanted to be very careful touching Submachine Guns (SMGs), as we believe that most of them are in a good place within their intended ranges. However, in-game and in playtests, it has become apparent that some SMGs can be used well outside of this distance effectively, and it has made it difficult for other weapons to compete. We have addressed a couple outliers individually but have also made a change to rein in how strong SMGs are once damage falloff begins.

As mentioned above, some outliers in the Precision Frame (600 RPM) sub-family of SMGs have out of band zoom values, to the point that they can overstep the effective ranges of some Auto Rifles—these outliers have made it difficult to justify tuning Precision Frames overall. At the same time, their 0.80s optimal TTK makes them weak options against other SMGs, forcing them to rely on their high effective range and damage boosting perks in order to compete.

Lightweight Frame SMGs currently overlap too much with Adaptive Frames, so we’re making a very small change that will help differentiate them.
General:
Reduced damage fall off end (the distance at which the damage dealt by the weapon in hip fire reaches its lowest point, aiming down sights extends this distance by a factor of the zoom) from 24m to 23m across the board.
Precision Frame SMGs
Increased base damage from 16 to 17, crit damage goes from 22.4 to 23.8.
Reduced the zoom of Shayura’s Wrath, Shayura’s Wrath (Adept), and Friction Fire from 16 to 15.
Lightweights Frame SMGs:
Reduced base damage from 11 to 10.85, crit damage from 18.2 to 17.9.

FUSION RIFLES

Precision Frame Fusion Rifles have seen an uptick in usage since we buffed them to allow them to kill in five
bolts, and they are sucking the air out of the room for the other sub-families due to their extremely high ease of use. The below change should make it slightly harder for players to maintain perfect vertical recoil without additional manual control of the bolt spread.
Precision Frame Fusion Rifles:
Reduced the effect the intrinsic Precision Frame perk has on recoil direction by 50% for Fusion Rifles only.

GLAIVES

Glaives have been difficult to counter when they have shield energy, but this change should address that. We will continue to keep an eye on Glaive shield damage resistance in the future, especially when their improved hit registration changes come into effect in Season 19.

Reduced Glaive shield damage resistance vs. players from 75% to 50%.
Damage from player supers unchanged at 50%.
Damage from non-players unchanged at 97.5%.

SNIPER RIFLES

We’ve made several changes trying to make challenging a Sniper Rifle more feasible over the years, but ultimately the way flinch works made this tricky to do in a way that didn’t make them feel worse to use, particularly in PvE. Under the hood, incoming damage causes a player’s aim to deflect by an angle dependent on weapon type and damage amount, and then there’s a spring force that pulls aim back down (for spring nerds out there, this is defined as a damping ratio and spring force), often called a “settle time.” We’ve made a change in Season 19 that has significantly moved the needle in internal playtests. We’ve reduced the amount of flinch received in PvE (to avoid adversely affecting that experience) but increased the settle time substantially. This means you’ll continue to flinch away from your target without settling enough to shoot through flinch. Our goal is to discourage continuing to attempt a snipe when you’re already under fire (the experience of sniping while not under fire won’t change).
General:
Increased the settle time after receiving flinch by 60%.
Reduced received flinch in PvE.
Now that this has had sufficient playtest time, we’re making a similar change to Linear Fusion Rifles in Season 19.

TRACE RIFLES

Like Auto Rifles, Trace Rifles have not been popular at high levels of play outside of some particularly niche builds. When we investigated ways to improve their performance, we found that a small increase in damage had a dramatic and negative effect in terms of how it felt to play against them (imagine consistently being killed by an Out of Bounds with Rampage at 30m – 35m), and their range is quite respectable on its own. Indeed, what we found was that the lack of stability made it difficult for most Trace Rifles to be used at the farther points of their intended engagement ranges because it was difficult to sustain precision fire on moving targets, so we have increased their stability by an even larger amount than we did Auto Rifles. At high stability stats, this should make Trace Rifles feel much more like laser beams, and less like recoiling Ghost-busters proton packs.
General:
Increased the effect the stability stat has on recoil reduction at the low end of the stat by ~10%, at the high end of the stat by ~25%.

ROCKET LAUNCHERS

Although Rocket Launchers see passable usage in PvP, they lag far behind other Heavy weapons like Linear Fusion Rifles and Heavy Grenade Launchers in effectiveness, due in large part to their inability to get multiple kills per magazine without targets being grouped closely together. With an increase to blast radius, this should make it noticeably easier to net kills on targets that are not right next to the center of the blast.
General:
Increased blast radius by 0.4m across the board.

PERKS

GUTSHOT STRAIGHT

We had multiple reports that the audio was triggering frequently enough to be annoying, so we have removed the audio cue from activation.
General:
Removed audio from activation.

RANGEFINDER

Rangefinder has long been one of the flat-out strongest perks in the game across multiple archetypes of weapons, due to how effective zoom is at improving multiple aspects of weapon performance combined with the fact that it has a neutral activator (it does not require getting a kill or dealing damage to activate). The bonus of increasing auto-aim falloff distance by 20% put this perk into a league of its own in terms of power, as it massively increases the ease of use of certain weapon types well beyond even the increased engagement range provided by the zoom and makes it difficult for any other perks to compete without substantial power creep. As such, we have made the decision to retain the zoom bonus but remove the auto-aim falloff bonus. We expect the perk to remain a top choice, but it will be less dominant compared to other options.
General:
Removed the additional 20% bonus on aim assist falloff.

EXOTICS

JADE RABBIT

Jade Rabbit has a unique stat package compared to almost all other High-Impact Scout Rifles in the game, and has massively high aim assist and stability. The aim assist puts the weapon’s ease of use well above what we find to be acceptable for a weapon with nearly unlimited range and a fast optimal TTK Now that High-Impact Scout Rifles are performing comparatively better than they have been in the past, the time has come to bring Jade Rabbit more in line with the upper end of other Scout Rifles in its sub-family.
General:
Reduced aim assist by 20.

LORD OF WOLVES

When we nerfed Lord of Wolves for PvP, we mentioned that it was the first part of a larger rework we were planning for the weapon aimed at making it more competitive in PvE content. Right now, the Release the Wolves perk reduces accuracy by a substantial amount, with the intention that it would be useless against small targets, but still land shots on larger targets. The increased spread meant that it was difficult to land critical hits even on large targets without having to be dangerously close to them. In content where the extra damage matters, this could often be a lethal experience, so we have reduced the accuracy penalty by 70%. It should still be inaccurate enough that using Release the Wolves in PvP against Guardians will not be effective, but it will make it much easier to consistently hit critical hits on big targets in PvE without needing to be right next to them.
When Release the Wolves is active:
Reduced aim down sight (ADS) accuracy penalty 10x to 3x.
Removed the 25% universal base damage buff.
Added a 40% additional PvE damage buff.
Removed the 50% critical hit multiplier penalty.
Added full auto as an intrinsic perk.

NO TIME TO EXPLAIN

This gun has been dominant in PvP for much of the last Season, topping the Trials usage and kill charts week in and week out. However, we had to be careful in tuning this weapon, because its dominance is not universal. This weapon sees over twice the usage, and dramatically higher effectiveness, on MnK than it does on controller. For example, on MnK, No Time to Explain (NTTE) makes up 29.9% of all Pulse Rifle usage in PvP, and accounts for 31.1% of Pulse Rifle kills. On controller, NTTE is 12.3% of Pulse Rifle usage, and only 12.5% of Pulse Rifle kills. With MnK having higher stability, accuracy, and auto aim, two bursts from NTTE are much easier to achieve in that sandbox, so we needed to tune it in a way that the difference was noticeable on MnK but did not ruin gun-feel for controller players. At the same time, we also wanted skilled players to continue to be able to use the weapon effectively, while lowering the overall ease of use to make it more difficult to perform well with the weapon.

We tested several changes and decided on a significant reduction to the recoil direction stat which spreads out the burst pattern a noticeable but not uncontrollable amount, paired with a reduction in aim assist. We believe the weapon will remain a viable option in high level gameplay but will be less dominant compared to other weapons operating within the same range, especially given the changes to the whole Pulse Rifle archetype.
Reduced recoil direction stat from 90 to 73.
Reduced aim assist stat from 45 to 40.

RISKRUNNER

Riskrunner is a very niche weapon with a very niche strength, but 50% damage resistance in PvP with the perk active is far out of band from where we would like neutrally triggered damage resistance options to exist. We have reduced it down to 15%, which is still among the highest damage resistance options available, while at the same time making it less of a “free win” option versus other players who are using Arc weapons.
Reduced damage resistance versus players when Arc Superconductor is active from 50% to 15%.

FUTURE ITEMS

In addition to the items mentioned in last week’s TWAB, we wanted to make note of a few more things we are looking at tuning sometime in the next Season (not necessarily at launch).
Special ammo Linear Fusion Rifles (Lorentz Driver and Arbalest):
Auto aim reduction.
Flinch tuning.
Machine Gun balancing:
Make them a better Heavy option in PvP.
Reduce the difference between them and other Heavy Weapons in PvE.
Make them less punishing to use for add clearing.
Remove damage penalty to Dead Man’s Tale at five stacks of Cranial Spike.

Let me know what you think in the comments.