Season 21 Exotic Armor Tuning Preview
May 10, 2023 - Destiny Dev Team
In Season 21, we will be rolling out the first wave of changes to Exotic armor intended to rebalance and reimagine many armor pieces at both ends of the usage spectrum. We’ve been hearing the feedback that such changes are highly desired, but the complete overhaul of the armor mod system and the introduction of an entirely new damage type in Lightfall necessitated delaying these changes to Season 21 so the dust could settle a bit.
There were two primary goals we settled on for this balance pass:
- Identify underused armor pieces and revamp them to increase their appeal.
- Tune down outlier armor pieces that are probably too powerful.
On top of that, we wanted to curb a few instances of damage stacking that circumvented the expectations introduced in Lightfall; partially to bring damage into an expected range, but also to alleviate the pressure to use certain combinations of Exotics and mods to reach optimal damage output. In these cases, we hope that this reduces the desire to run Surge mods on your leg armor, allowing your Exotic to cover that ground and freeing you up to use other mods in those sockets.
With those goals in mind, here are the changes we’re making.
Please note that, unless otherwise specified, the following changes leave the rest of the Exotic’s benefits intact.
Sealed Ahamkara Grasps
This Exotic will now reload the magazine of all of your weapons when you defeat a target with your powered melee, and for 5 seconds after dealing melee damage you gain increased movement speed and jump height.
Gain additional strength while the Exotic’s Weighted Knife damage bonus is active.
When fully drawn, Bows gain a bonus to damage against combatants that increases as you hold the draw but deactivates after a few seconds.
- Dev Commentary: The original redesign allowed you to retain the damage bonus as long as you held the Bow at full draw—which can be done indefinitely thanks to the existing Exotic functionality. However, this resulted in some overly passive play styles, where players felt like the optimal way to play was to move slowly at full draw, or hide behind cover indefinitely, before popping out to shoot. With a limited window on the damage bonus, Bows still benefit from a significant bump in damage from holding the draw for a short time without bogging down the play experience.
When deactivating your Arc Staff Super, you create a blinding explosion that temporarily increases your Arc weapon damage. However, blocking with Whirlwind Guard will no longer consume energy more slowly.
Radiant Dance Machines
Kills while your free dodge is active extend the duration of free dodging. No longer deactivates when you get too far away from enemies. Deactivates after using Suspending Slam.
- Dev Commentary: Adding the time extension on kills allows this to pair extremely well with Marksman’s Dodge, the Reaper armor mod, and the new Powerful Attraction mod that allows you to collect Orbs of Power at a distance. During playtesting, players could have free dodges for long stretches, pulling down a large number of orbs. However, allowing it to continue granting free Suspending Slams made it a little too easy to create an infinite orb-generating machine without ever having to risk your own survival.
Removed airborne effectiveness penalties. You only gain increased speed, slide distance, and improved jumping while your dodge energy is full.
- Dev Commentary: We want ST0MP-EE5 to have a strong fantasy, but permanent uptime for potent movement benefits that make targeting Hunters in PvP very difficult on controller ends up making it too automatic of a choice, even with the prior airborne effectiveness changes. We’re undoing that change, but tackling the uptime to try and make it so you can use it to ambush or escape from an engagement, but not both.
Mask of Bakris
Changed to use a tier-4 non-stacking weapon damage bonus (which behaves the same as the non-stacking damage bonuses provided by Surge mods). Damage bonus increased in PvE from 10% to 25%, and now grants a 6% bonus to weapon damage in PvP. No longer stacks with Surge leg armor mods, but provides a larger bonus than can be achieved with 3 such mods equipped.
Point-Contact Cannon Brace
Lightning strikes now jolt targets. Increased PvE damage per lightning bolt from 50 to 200. Being amplified now increases the damage of the lightning strikes by 50% instead of extending their range.
No Backup Plans
This is a complete rework, replacing the old functionality entirely. Now provides a moderate benefit to the airborne effectiveness and reload speed of Shotguns. While you have a Void overshield, Shotguns deal additional damage and Shotgun final blows refresh your overshield. While using a Void subclass, rapid Shotgun final blows or defeating a powerful enemy with a Shotgun grants you a Void overshield and kicks off your health regeneration.
Shield throw melee now weakens enemies. Stunning a Barrier Champion with your shield throw melee grants a single full melee charge.
Replaced the healing from blocking shots precisely with significant damage reduction (50% in PvE, 10% in PvP) while blocking with a Sword. When you stop blocking, gain restoration x2, with a duration that increases based on the number of shots you blocked.
- Dev Commentary: The original “heal on perfect guard” mechanic was swapped out for damage reduction to improve ease of use. The previous version of perfect guard incentivized rapid blocking and releasing of the block to be most effective, which was unintuitive for most players and inaccessible to some. The change to damage reduction while blocking and Restoration after you stop blocking allows you to close to melee range even against powerful enemies and stay alive while delivering attacks thanks to the restoration. Conveniently, this also pairs very well with certain Exotic Swords (such as The Lament).
Rapid takedowns with an Arc weapon grant an escalating bonus to Arc weapon damage, using the same non-stacking damage bonuses used by Surge mods. This can go all the way up to the tier-4 damage bonus, granting a damage bonus of 25% in PvE and 6% in PvP, providing a larger bonus than can be achieved with three Surge mods equipped. While at the tier-4 damage bonus, Arc kills refresh the bonus’s duration. After your Fist of Havoc Super ends, you gain the tier-4 damage bonus.
The Solar damage wave now scorches targets.
Path of the Burning Steps
Changed to use the non-stacking weapon damage bonuses used by Surge mods. This can go all the way up to the tier-4 damage bonus, granting a damage bonus of 25% in PvE and 6% in PvP, providing a larger bonus than can be achieved with three Surge mods equipped. While at the tier-4 damage bonus, Solar kills refresh the bonus’s duration. Becoming encased immediately grants you the tier-4 damage bonus.
Reduced the range of the chain damage from 20m to 12m and PvP damage from 85 to 50.
- Dev Commentary: This Exotic sees a lot of use in PvP and not much in PvE, and these changes embrace that. The range on the damage chain made it very easy to get killed by this Exotic without ever seeing the person killing you in PvP, so we reduced that range and tuned down the damage.
Vesper of Radius
Your rifts emit an Arc shockwave every 5 seconds that deals damage (200 in PvE and 70 in PvP). Enemies defeated by these shockwaves explode for an additional 100 damage and, if you have an Arc subclass equipped, also blind nearby enemies.
Increased the radius and damage of the explosion created by precision Kinetic takedowns. The explosion also applies a status effect to targets damaged by it, depending on which subclass you have equipped: blind (Arc), scorch (Solar), slow (Stasis), sever (Strand), weaken (Void).
Daybreak projectile’s damage bonus has been increased and no longer is reliant on the enemy being scorched.
Standing in a rift grants a non-stacking bonus to weapon damage matching your subclass damage type. This damage bonus is the equivalent of 2 Surge leg mods (17% PvE and 4.5% PvP).
Claws of Ahamkara
Powered melee kills create an Orb of Power. When Heavy Handed mods are equipped, increases the potency of the orb spawned (no more than 1 orb can be spawned per enemy takedown).
- Dev Commentary: This Exotic uses the same perk as Heavy Handed, and stacks with the mod should you choose to equip it.
Mantle of Battle Harmony
Weapon bonus damage changed to tier-4 when Super is fully charged, increasing damage bonus in PvE from 20% to 25% and reducing the damage bonus from 15% to 6% in PvP. No longer stacks with Surge leg armor mods, but provides a larger bonus than can be achieved with three such mods equipped. Damage bonus only applies to weapons that match your subclass damage type, and now stacks with Empowering Rift and other similar damage bonuses. Extended base duration of this bonus from 6 seconds to 10 seconds (PvE) and 3 seconds to 5 seconds (PvP).
Removed the extended melee range.
- Dev Commentary: The extended melee range created some strange situations where a player’s melee lunge would cause them to flicker in high latency scenarios. This Exotic still retains many strong neutral game benefits.
Grants Rift energy for any Solar weapon takedown, with more energy granted for Solar weapon takedowns while standing in a rift. Also, you now have to be standing in a rift when you get a final blow for the Exotic to consume your class ability energy and create a rift at the target’s location.
Reduced the amount of energy gained per instance of damage from 20% to 2.5%. Empowered weapon kills now grant 20% grenade energy.
- Dev Commentary: Oh, Starfire Protocol. This Exotic has been strong for a long time, ever since Solar 3.0 dropped and fusion grenades became much more powerful for Warlocks. In making these changes, we didn’t want to completely rob the Exotic of its benefits. But right now, Starfire Protocol is one of the best single-target damage boosting Exotics (combine Witherhoard or Wolfpack Rounds with a Rocket Launcher with Demolitionist and you essentially get an infinite loop of rockets and double-detonating grenades) and it’s sucking all of the air out of the room. These changes are intended to tamp down on passive weapon damage giving you your grenades back too quickly (you still probably get an extra grenade or two per damage phase), while also pushing it away from single-target damage dominance and more toward neutral play.
As with any changes we make, we’re going to be watching the data and your feedback carefully, and may make additional tuning changes accordingly. We’re already working on the next round of Exotic armor tuning for future Seasons!