To Abilities and Beyond - A Look at the Past, Present, and Future of 3.0

Feb 8, 2023 - Destiny 2 Dev Team

We’ve got another update from our Sandbox team to dive into, this time exploring more about abilities and changes on the way to subclass fun with the next expansion.

Destiny 2’s newest damage type, Strand, is arriving in Lightfall, and we’re beyond excited for you to play around with it—but that’s not why we’re here today. No, we don’t have any additional Strand gameplay details to share just yet. Instead, we’ll be talking about some general ability updates and quality-of-life changes we’re making in Lightfall and beyond.

The Road Traveled, and the Path Ahead

With the release of Arc 3.0 alongside Season of Plunder, we completed moving all three Light subclasses to the Subclass 3.0 system. These updated subclasses allow players more customization and buildcrafting capabilities than ever before.

Now that all the 3.0 subclasses are out in the wild, we have some tuning work to do on the various systems connected to the subclasses. One such system is our core character stats. The amount of ability regeneration that the discipline, strength, and class ability specific stats provide hasn’t been meaningfully touched since the launch of Shadowkeep. Since then, across Aspects, Fragments, Exotic armor, armor mods, and weapon perks, there are a variety of ways to have powerful abilities with very high uptime. This has resulted in some PvE activities losing the tension that made them special and introduced additional noise into the Crucible.

Moving forward, our goal with ability uptime in both PvE and PvP is to get back to roughly where we were when the 30th Anniversary Pack launched in December 2021. We’re making some changes to the ability energy economy in Lightfall and subsequent Seasons to correct ability uptime, while still rewarding players for investing in buildcrafting and fine-tuning their Guardian into the perfect monster-slaying machine.

For Lightfall, we are making the following change, focused on passive cooldown gains:

  • Rescaled the efficacy of discipline, strength, and each class ability stat on grenade, melee, and class ability regeneration rates:
    • In general, the regeneration provided by a tier 10 stat is now roughly equivalent to a tier 8 in the previous system.
    • Each stat tier now provides a more consistent gain in cooldown reduction rather than spiking heavily at lower tiers.

Destiny 2 is a game about space magic, and your abilities will always be central to your combat loop. While this change looks like a lot on paper, we believe the buildcrafting improvements coming in Lightfall will more than make up for it. As a quick example, your Legendary armor now has three type-specific mod slots (up from two) that can fit a wide variety of mods that are no longer restricted by elemental affinity.

Starting in Lightfall, you’ll be able to run all the following ability energy generating mods at the same time, and more freely be able to socket multiple copies of each:

  • Bomber
  • Outreach
  • Impact Induction
  • Utility Kickstart
  • Melee Kickstart
  • Grenade Kickstart
  • Invigoration
  • Insulation
  • Innervation
  • Hands On
  • Ashes to Assets
  • Dynamo

Additionally, armor mod energy costs have been reduced across the board, and artifact mods no longer need to be slotted into your armor, giving you more space to buildcraft to your heart’s content. In fact, so much is changing and being added in Lightfall that we expect players will find unique combinations of mods and perks that we didn’t anticipate. In the coming Seasons, we’ll continue to tune the greater ability energy economy along with updates to specific ability potency to make them feel more powerful.

In Lightfall, we’ll also be adjusting the base cooldowns of some grenade, melee, and class abilities. We’ll provide more detailed information in the patch notes when Lightfall goes live. As a preview, with Lightfall we’re reverting the base cooldown change to the Dodge class ability that was implemented in Hotfix, as we feel that their cooldown under the new stat scaling system is in a good place.

  • Marksman's Dodge base cooldown reduced from 34s to 29s
  • Gambler's Dodge base cooldown reduced from 46s to 38s.

When in Roam

With the 30th Anniversary release in December 2021, we split Super regeneration times into separate tiers based on the damage potential of each Super, with roaming Supers generally having longer cooldowns than one-off Supers. While we still believe that a gradient of cooldown times based on each Super’s potency is healthier for the game, we also recognize that roaming Supers have taken a back seat in PvE content, particularly at higher difficulties where neutral-game options have grown more capable of clearing groups of enemies with Subclass 3.0 keywords.

We’re working to address this problem, and we don’t have a full suite of changes ready just yet. As a first step, in Lightfall we’re increasing the maximum number of Orbs of Power that roaming Supers can generate from 5 to 7, and reducing the number of Orbs that burst supers create from 7 to 5. We believe this split more cleanly reinforces the gameplay role of these types of Supers, and still provides space for burst Supers to shine in combat. With future releases, we plan to do a larger tuning pass to balance roaming Super performance in higher-tier content.

  • Roaming Supers
    • Increased the maximum number of Orbs of Power that can be created via defeating targets from 5 to 7.
  • One-off Supers
    • Decreased the maximum number of Orbs of Power that can be created via defeating targets from 7 to 5.
      • Note: The Orb of Power generation from Well of Radiance, Ward of Dawn, and both Shadowshot variants is unchanged.

We are also making a change to the only three Supers in our longest cooldown tier, reducing their base cooldown by one tier.

  • Hammer of Sol, Daybreak, and Spectral Blades
    • Base cooldown reduced from 10:25 to 9:16.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to detail a few ability-specific tuning changes coming with Lightfall. This is not a comprehensive list (which, as always, will be found in our patch notes), but it represents a portion of the major changes we’re making.

First up, Ward of Dawn. With Void 3.0, Ward of Dawn was reintroduced as a selectable Super rather than being tied to Sentinel Shield. As we’ve introduced more objective game modes into the Crucible with Zone Control, Iron Banner: Fortress, and Zone Capture Trials, it’s become clear that Ward of Dawn is overperforming. We don’t want to reduce its functionality in PvE content, and in general, we still want Ward of Dawn to be a strong option when you need to lock down a point on a map, but we’re making a few changes to make dislodging players from a Ward of Dawn more realistic in normal play.

  • Ward of Dawn
    • Ward of Dawn maximum health reduced from 13500 to 8000
      • Damage dealt to the Ward by PvE combatants has been reduced to compensate. In general, Ward of Dawn’s effective health in PvE should not meaningfully change.
  • Standardized the damage dealt by each type of Kinetic and Energy weapon against the Ward itself. Previously, Energy weapons did 2.5x damage to Ward of Dawn, and Kinetic weapons did 1x damage. Now regardless of damage type, all weapons do 1.5x damage to the Ward.
  • Armor of Light has been updated to reduce its potency in PvP:
    • Maximum health reduced from 425 to 300.
    • Now inherits Void Overshield's 50% PvE damage resistance.
    • No longer negates precision damage.

Similarly, Thundercrash is currently proving to be too difficult to counter or escape in high-level Crucible modes and is too strong at both its psuedo-roaming and shutdown roles. Our goal with these changes is to bring it in line without compromising on its fantasy of allowing you to be the missile. This also felt like a good opportunity to give Fists of Havoc a damage boost against PvE targets, so we’re including that as well.

  • Thundercrash
    • Reduced maximum flight time from 5s to 4.5s.
    • Reduced size of the damaging volume around the player while in flight by 20%, and pushed it further forward in front of the player to make fly-by disintegrations more intentional.
    • Descent now begins earlier in flight.
    • Reduced landing detonation size vs. players by ~20%.
    • Unchanged vs. PvE targets.
  • Fists of Havoc
    • Increased PvE damage by 20%.

Arc 3.0’s Spark of Resistance Fragment is achieving our intended goal of making close-range combat safer to engage with, but it’s a bit too easy to keep rolling throughout an entire PvE encounter or Crucible skirmish. We’re making a couple of changes here to increase the difficulty of doing so without changing its potency while you’re in the fray.

  • Spark of Resistance
    • Increased nearby enemy count requirement for activation from 2 to 3.
    • Reduced linger time after you're no longer surrounded from 4s to 2s.

With Solar 3.0, the increased Daybreak duration provided by Dawnblade’s Attunement of Flame path was removed, which has left Daybreak in a lackluster place. With Lightfall, in addition to the cooldown reduction detailed above, we’re reducing its attack cost and increasing its damage output against PvE targets.

  • Daybreak
    • Super energy cost reduced from 10% to 6.5% per swing.
    • Increased PvE damage by 25%.

Phoenix Dive has also struggled to find a solid role in most gameplay styles and is too difficult to justify picking over Healing or Empowering Rift, so we’re making a suite of changes to increase its viability across game modes, including a base cooldown reduction.

  • Phoenix Dive
    • Base cooldown reduced from 82s to 55s.
    • While Heat Rises is active, Phoenix Dive’s Restoration duration increased from 1s to 3s.
    • While Daybreak is active, Phoenix Dive's cooldown is significantly reduced, allowing for rapid reactivations.
    • While Daybreak is active, Phoenix Dive’s detonation maximum damage increased from 80 to 220.

Crash Test Guardians

Pretty soon, Guardians are getting a little sturdier. Starting in Lightfall, physics collision damage will no longer be lethal to Guardians. Fall damage will still be lethal when Lightfall launches, but we plan to also make that nonlethal in a mid-Season update. You’ll still take damage from physics collisions, but it will generally leave you at 1HP instead of outright splattering you.

We hope you’ll take this newfound freedom and run with it. We’ve found it’s more fun to hurl ourselves headlong into danger without worrying about what’s in our way. We’re Guardians, after all.

New Tools in the Arsenal

As part of our buildcrafting enhancements in Lightfall, we’ll be adding some new Fragments to the Light subclasses and updating a handful of Fragments on Solar and Void to tie into the new subclass pickups: Void Breaches and Firesprites. Some of these Fragment additions are intended as spiritual successors to combat style mods that aren’t making the jump over to the new armor buildcrafting system, and some are brand new additions intended to open access to subclass verbs that some classes didn’t have before.

Here are the details:


  • Spark of Instinct (New!)
    • When critically wounded, taking damage from nearby enemies emits a burst of damaging Arc energy that Jolts targets.
  • Spark of Haste (New!)
    • You have greatly increased resilience, recovery, and mobility while sprinting.


  • Firesprite (New!)
    • Firesprites are created by a suite of new and existing Solar Fragments, and grant grenade energy on pickup.
  • Ember of Mercy (New!)
    • When you revive an ally, you and other nearby allies gain Restoration. Picking up a Firesprite grants Restoration.
  • Ember of Resolve (New!)
    • Solar grenade final blows Cure you.
  • Ember of Tempering
    • Now creates a Firesprite on Solar weapon kills while active, in addition to its original effects.
  • Ember of Combustion
    • Now creates a Firesprite on Solar Super defeats, in addition to its original effects.
  • Ember of Searing
    • Now creates a Firesprite when defeating Scorched targets, in addition to its original effects.


  • Void Breach (New!)
    • Void Breaches are created by a selection of new and existing Void Fragments, and grant class ability energy on pickup.
  • Echo of Cessation (New!)
    • Finisher final blows create a burst of Void damage that causes nearby enemies to become Volatile. Defeating Volatile targets creates a Void Breach.
  • Echo of Vigilance (New!)
    • Defeating a target when your shields are depleted grants you a temporary Void Overshield.
  • Echo of Domineering
    • Now creates a Void Breach when defeating Suppressed targets, in addition to its original effects.
  • Echo of Harvest
    • Now creates a Void Breach when defeating Weakened targets with precision damage, in addition to its original effects.
  • Echo of Starvation
    • Now grants Devour on picking up a Void Breach, in addition to its original effects.

In case you missed the buildcrafting update from a couple weeks back, we’ve also added ways for your subclass keywords to counter Champions. While we still expect weapons and Seasonal artifact mods to be the primary ways you counter Champions in high-level PvE content, we’ve found that the subclass keywords are a solid complement to round out your loadouts or get your fireteam out of a tight spot when an Unstoppable Champion is barreling toward you. We'll be keeping an eye on this when it goes live, and we’re excited to see players use it!

That’s it from the Gameplay team today. We hope you’re looking forward to Lightfall, and we’ll see you on the other side.

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