Bringing Challenge Back to Destiny

Feb 21, 2023 - Destiny Dev Team

[Article updated on 2/23/23 with additional information on Surge/Threat/Overcharge, Master raid difficulty, and improved rewards]

Here we are with another update, this time coming from our World Systems team and focusing on the changes coming not only to Vanguard Ops, but also Nightfalls, raids, dungeons, and more.

Lightfall is almost upon us, and a lot is changing in the game. Proof of that is the buildcrafting, abilities, weapon sandbox and weapon crafting articles from the last few weeks. But we also wanted to share some details on how we're improving several activities in order to better reward your efforts, especially when you face the hardest content Destiny 2 has to offer.

Everything Hurts Now

How much? Well, that depends on you. Philosophically, we are attempting to bring the difficulty levels of Legend closer to the popular Legendary Campaign experience, and the Master experience closer to day-one raids. At the same time, any high-difficulty ritual content is designed to last many playthroughs over multiple Seasons, so we’re making some changes week-over-week and Season-over-Season to keep them fresh. Here's a breakdown of the changes coming to several high-difficulty activities starting with Lightfall.

The Basics of High-Difficulty Activities

  • Adept difficulty is being removed.
  • Hero difficulty will now be available at 1750 Power (the Soft Cap).
  • Legend and Master difficulties can be entered once you hit 1800 (the Power Cap).
    • Activity levels for Season 20:
      • Hero: 1770
      • Legend: 1830
      • Master: 1840
  • We are implementing Power level disadvantages to provide a better challenge curve:
    • Hero: -5 Power levels.
    • Legend: -15 Power levels.
    • Master: -20 Power levels.
    • Grandmaster Nightfalls: -25 Power levels.
  • Match Game is being removed.
    • Mismatched shields will now take 50% less damage across the whole game.
  • Burns in high-level activities will be split into Surges and Threats.
    • Surges increase your outgoing damage:
      • Surges increase elemental damage dealt by 25%.
      • Surges for high-difficulty activities change every Season based around featured damage types.
        • Featured Surge for Season of Defiance will be Strand.
        • Weekly rotating Surges will be Solar and Void.
    • Threats increase elemental damage coming from enemies by 25%.
  • High-level activities now also feature Overcharged weapons.
    • An Overcharged weapon deals 25% more damage.
    • Kinetic damage is also increased by 25% if using a Surging subclass.
    • Overcharged weapons can come from several sources. Currently:
      • Weapons set per activity.
      • Weapons featured as Champion counters on the Seasonal Artifact.
    • Overcharges and Surges do not stack.
      • Overcharged weapons do not get extra damage if they are also Surging.
      • You only need one for a given damage source.
  • Combatants are harder to stagger, and their health has been increased across the board.
    • This is to compensate for Surge and Overcharge.
    • The effect is strongest on powerful enemies and weakest on rank-and-file.

What is not changing

  • Equipment is still locked on Legend and Master difficulties, as well as Grandmaster Nightfalls.
  • Matchmaking is still available on Hero, but closed on Legend, Master, and Grandmaster Nightfalls.
  • Modifiers that affect enemy types (Fire Pit, for example) or fireteam coordination (Chaff, Togetherness, etc.).
  • Champion availability remains the same.
  • Grandmaster Nightfall revive limitations, wipe conditions and schedule stay the same.

Burns vs Surge/Threat/Overcharge:

We currently use an Acute Burn, in Nightfalls and other high-difficulty activities. This is a specific element buff/debuff that adds +25% damage from your Guardian and +50% damage to your Guardian. 

In Season 20, Acute Burn is being replaced with: 

  • Surge - Two different elements, either of which gives you +25% damage and if you are using a surging subclass, +25% Kinetic. 
  • Threat - +25% damage to your Guardian from a specific element —that's 25% less than now! 
  • Overcharge - One or two weapon types per activity as well as any selectable anti-Champion (and other) perks also makes those weapons Overcharged. An Overcharged weapon can ignore the Surge element and still get the +25% damage bonus.  

So, prior to Season 20, if you wanted that 25% damage bonus, your only option was to match the damage type defined by the strike — and given that match game was present in Legend and above, we were often requiring element flexibility to deal with shields. In Season 20, you can match one of two damage types or pick from a wide variety of specific weapons based on artifact perks.  

Additionally, if your subclass is Surging, any Kinetic weapons automatically get the 25% bonus no matter what type it is. And without match game, you are free to be much more flexible with the elements of your weapons, even running mono color builds to maximize damage bonuses. 

The High Scores Strike Back

Ritual activities are at the core of the Destiny 2 experience. That's why we have plans to improve on these familiar playlists that we all cherish so much. Today, we are focusing on the Vanguard Ops playlist.

Strike Refreshes

  • Lake of Shadows and Arms Dealer are being updated with new enemies, new encounters, new mechanics and new objectives.
    • Expect them to be much tougher than before... and less Sparrow-friendly.
  • We are working on adjusting other strikes, like Exodus Crash and The Inverted Spire.
    • Their presence on the Vanguard Ops playlist has been dramatically reduced.
    • They won't be part of the Nightfall rotations until brought to parity.

Vanguard Ops Playlist

  • PsiOps Battlegrounds and Heist Battlegrounds will become part of the Vanguard Ops playlist.
  • The playlist is now Power Disabled, like Gambit and Crucible.
    • This means you won't have a damage advantage over enemies, or them upon you, no matter your Power level.
  • Daily rotators and weekly Singes have been removed and replaced with:
    • One random weekly Surge.
    • One random daily Threat.
    • One daily random modifier from our "best of" collection, including Subtle Foes, Lightning Crystals, and more.

Vanguard Ops Scoring

  • We are adding scoring to the Vanguard Ops playlist.
    • Just like in Nightfalls, you earn points for killing enemies and other events (precision kills, picking up orbs, reviving teammates), with a multiplier based on the specific strike.
  • The higher your score, the larger your Vanguard Rank multiplier will be.
    • You get a 1x multiplier on Vanguard Rank earn for getting below 30,000 points.
    • The multiplier increases every 5,000 points after the initial 30,000.
    • The largest multiplier available is 7x for getting over 250,000.
  • This applies to all Vanguard modes, including Nightfalls.

Vanguard Challenges

The Vanguard screen challenges are being adjusted to reflect these changes. To complete the weekly Vanguard challenge, you will now need to:

  • Complete Vanguard activities with a Surging subclass.
    • It can be either the Seasonal Surges for Nightfalls or the Vanguard Ops weekly Surge.
  • Complete five activities.
    • You get increased progress for harder difficulties.
      • A single Grandmaster Nightfall completes this challenge.

Nightfalls are Dark and Full of Terrors

Nightfalls are getting a tad more challenging, to the point where you'll have to think twice before jumping into one without a proper build. Take one thing into consideration: once you reach the maximum effectiveness level, how high your Power level is won't make a difference. Or how many extra Artifact levels you have, for that matter.

  • Battlegrounds will slowly become part of the Nightfall playlist, starting with Mars Heist Battleground.
    • We will include others in following Seasons.
  • Two Surges available.
  • Threats dependent on the featured Nightfall.
  • One featured Overcharged weapon.
  • Combatants are harder to stagger and have more health.
  • Nightfall activity levels for Season 20:
    • Hero: 1770
    • Legend: 1830
    • Master: 1840
    • Grandmaster: 1840
  • Power delta disadvantages:
    • Hero: -5 Power levels
    • Legend: -15 Power levels
    • Master: -20 Power levels
    • Grandmaster: -25 Power levels
  • Maximum effectiveness targets:
    • Hero: 1765
    • Legend: 1815
    • Master: 1820
    • Grandmaster: 1815
  • The Nightfall weekly challenge now requires you to attain 200,000 points across multiple Nightfall runs, rather than 100,000 points in a single run.

Master Raids and Dungeons Get the Power Delta Treatment

We know the Master difficulty experience for dungeons and raids had its flaws, so we are making a few changes that those looking for a challenge should certainly find appealing.

  • One Overcharged weapon.
  • Two Surges.
  • No Threat modifier.
  • Combatants don't have increased health or increased stagger resistance.
    • We want to bring them into line with other Master experiences without the need to buildcraft toward Surges or Overcharges.

We also tuned enemy health pools so that if you completely ignore elemental buildcrafting, you’ll experience day one raid-like combat difficulty. After that, you can choose elemental or Overcharge bonuses to make it easier. Additionally, the Threat modifier is turned off in raids and dungeons so that enemies won’t be doing more damage than on day one. 

No Activity Left Behind

We are aware that Lost Sectors and weekly campaign missions are not as rewarding as the community would like. We actually agree. Same thing with Dares of Eternity and The Wellspring. The passion around them is appreciated and your feedback is always clear: they should be a bit more challenging. Here are our plans to improve not only them, but other activities, too.

Lost Sectors

  • One Overcharged weapon.
  • Two Surges.
  • Threats depend on the featured Lost Sector.
  • Combatants are harder to stagger and have more health.
  • Available in Legend and Master difficulties.
    • Lost Sectors feature +20 combat delta (rather than -15 or -20).
  • We will be monitoring completion rates and times during Season 20 to see if Exotic engram drop rates need to be adjusted.
    • There will be additional paths to acquiring Lightfall Exotic armors that you can discover on 2/28.

Nightmare, Empire Hunts, and Campaign Weekly Missions

  • One Overcharged weapon.
  • Two weekly rotating Surges.
  • Threats depend on the type of activity.
  • Combatants are harder to stagger and have more health.
  • Three difficulty settings available:
    • Hero: -5 Power levels.
    • Legend: -15 Power levels.
    • Master: -20 Power levels.

Dares of Eternity and Wellspring

  • Two rotating Overcharged weapons.
  • Weekly rotating Surges.
  • One Threat.
  • Combatants are harder to stagger and have more health.
  • Available in Legend difficulty on Dares of Eternity and Master difficulty on Wellspring.
    • Extinguish activated on Master.
  • Teams can wipe on a time limit if an objective is failed.

Seasonal Battleground Playlists

  • Shares the difficulty settings for Season 19’s Heist Battlegrounds.
    • Hero difficulty: -5 Power Level
  • Weekly rotating Surge (same one as Vanguard Ops Playlist).
  • Rotating threats.
  • No Overcharged weapons.
  • Combatants have a reduced health scaling and regular stagger resistance.

About Rewards

A funny thing happens when you work six months ahead, and also need to write blog posts—sometimes you miss some of the elements that help with player understanding. Rewards is one of these.

We did a balance pass on Nightfall and Lost Sector rewards. Starting with Lightfall, the new material reward structure looks like this:

Nightfall – Hero

  • Old
    • Small chance of up to two Enhancement Prisms.
    • One Enhancement Core and a small chance of up to two more.
  • New
    • One Enhancement Prism and a medium chance at one more.
    • Two Enhancement Cores and a medium chance of one more.

Nightfall - Legend

  • Old
    • One Enhancement Prism and a small chance at up to two more.
  • New
    • Small chance of one Ascendant Shard.
    • Two Enhancement Prisms and a medium chance of up to two more.

Nightfall – Master

  • Old
    • Medium chance of one Ascendant Shard.
    • Two Prisms and small chance of up to two more.
  • New
    • One Ascendant Shard and a small chance of one more.
    • Two Enhancement Prisms and a medium chance of up to two more.

Nightfall - Grandmaster

  • Old
    • One Ascendant Shard and a medium chance of one more.
    • Four Enhancement Prisms and a medium chance of up to two more.
  • New
    • One Ascendant Shard and a high chance of one more.
    • Four Enhancement Prisms and a medium chance of up to two more.

A similar pass has been done for Lost Sectors:

Lost Sector - Legend

  • Old
    • Small chance of one Enhancement Core.
  • New
    • Two Enhancement Cores and a medium chance of one more.
    • One Enhancement prism and a small chance of one more.

Lost Sector - Master

  • Old
    • Small chance of up to two Enhancement Cores.
  • New
    • Two Enhancement Cores and a medium chance at one more.
    • One Enhancement Prism and a medium chance at one more.

As we said Lightfall and the Year Ahead article, all the variety in the world would not matter if the content itself was not engaging and interesting. In other words, there’s no substitute for a good challenge. With all these changes coming to activities, we hope we’re able to reignite the excitement for some of our favorite content in the game. Only seven more days to go until you can test all of this yourselves in Lightfall.

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