Inside Strand

Feb 7, 2023 - Destiny 2 Dev Team

Guardians, prepare to unlock the mysteries of Strand. In Destiny 2: Lightfall, players will gain access to a brand-new elemental power to add to the current lineup of Void, Arc, Solar, and Stasis. Like its predecessors, Strand will offer players exciting new abilities and powers to dominate the battlefield, along with new wrinkles that promise to change the way Guardians think about traversal and combat.   

With Strand, Guardians will be wielding the fabric of the universe in ways that will be a formidable threat to anyone who stands in their way. The Strand trailer for Lightfall shows all three Guardian classes using Strand to deadly effect and provides an action-packed overview of what to expect: 

Here, we’re taking a deeper look into what players can expect from Strand, including a class-by-class breakdown of how each Guardian class will be plucking at the strings of the universe to play sweet destructive music. 

Threads Make the Guardian 

From the neon-drenched streets of Neptune’s secret city of Neomuna to Guardians soaring through the sky by grappling to an enemy spaceship, it’s been clear from the start that Lightfall is different. Yes, things are coming to a head in the penultimate chapter of the Light & Darkness Saga, but Lightfall‘s influences and inspirations prove that there has been plenty of room for the team to let loose, to revel in their creativity and craft, and to have some fun. One of the touchstones the team drew from was the bombast and flair of 1980s action cinema.  

Think of an era of film where no explosion was too big and no action set piece was too over-the-top. That aesthetic informed much of Lightfall’s tone and it’s certainly had a big influence on Strand itself, even before it was formally known as “Strand.” The team had many concepts for “Damage Type 5,” as it was originally called in development, before aligning on the feature set and lore that brought it to life.  

“We had a couple of front-runner [concepts] for a while,” said Destiny designer Kevin Yanes. “Part of my desire was to have something more ‘astral’ in the game. Strand also aligned really well to the fantasy of the product: the 80s action hero.” 

As Yanes puts it, there wasn’t a single “aha!” moment where all the threads of Strand fell neatly into place. Instead, it was a result of a continuous dialogue with the team about what would make for exciting gameplay, what would make sense from a narrative standpoint, and how they could make those ideas manifest in the game. Through these discussions, “Damage Type 5” slowly morphed into something a bit more specific – then called “dark telekinesis” – which evolved further, eventually manifesting into what you see today.   

“We had lots of conversations around where [the Strand concept known as] ‘weaves’ came from and trying to reinforce the physical language for how it manifests and how it looks, to make it feel like it was from the same [Darkness] family as Stasis,” Yanes said. 

The more the team talked, the more the concepts and evocative language that describes Strand – with terms and descriptors like weaves, tangles, and universal strings of consciousness – came to be. “It’s everyone building on everyone’s ideas,” said designer Eric Smith. “How we choose to implement these things affects how we talk about it and vice versa; like ‘weaving’ objects instead of spawning objects or summoning objects. It becomes part of the aesthetic.”  

Deadly Definitions 

To understand Strand, let’s first start with some vocabulary. Creating an object using Strand is weaving. Defeating an enemy affected by Strand will unravel them, disconnecting their lifeforce from the Weave, and creating a Tangle. Left behind after a Strand-debuffed-enemy is defeated, a Tangle is a swirling bundle of Strand fibers. These bundles of Strand explode when shot, causing area damage to nearby enemies. Guardians can also pick up Tangles and throw them to deadly effect. 

On the debuff side, there are three new terms to know: suspend, unravel, and sever. 

  • Suspend – A suspended PvE enemy is lifted off the ground for a brief duration and is essentially disabled. In PvP, suspended players are lifted off the ground but can still move (albeit slowly) and fire their weapon to fight back.  
  • Unravel – Attacking an unraveled enemy will cause threads to burst out of the target and attack other nearby targets. Once hit, that target will also become unraveled.  
  • Sever – A severed enemy is less capable of affecting the material world, reducing their damage output as a result. 

The major buff coming with Strand is Woven Mail. With this ability, the Guardian is sheathed in a protective mesh of Strand matter, reducing incoming damage. Note that in PvP, Woven Mail will only reduce damage taken on the body; head damage and melee damage will continue as normal.  

Thwip, Thwip 

One of the most exciting new abilities in Guardians’ Strand toolkit is the grapple. With this ability, players can press the grenade button and their Guardian will weave a hook from Strand matter which they can grab onto an anchor point. The grappling hook will then begin contracting, pulling the Guardian along. Strand’s grapple can create its own grapple points out of thin air, so you can always propel yourself through the sky even if there’s not a solid surface to latch onto. Guardians will also be able to execute melee strikes during or at the end of a grapple, known as a grapple melee, which will deal bonus damage, unravel an enemy, and push them backwards. 

“When we were developing the concept around ropes and string, we felt like it was the perfect opportunity to add grapple into the game,” said Smith. “You never want to shoehorn something in for the sake of interaction that isn’t natural. It has to be the right time, the right situation. The stars aligned for something like that here.”  

Yanes said Strand really came to life for him when the team started seeing the power of the grapple when combined with other elements of Strand. “When we got things like Tangles online, we started realizing that the gameplay here is incredibly novel, interesting, and new when you have to do all these quick context switches between grappling and slamming and throwing a Tangle. All these things can happen in quick succession and that rewards the player for having high APM [actions per minute], which is not really a thing we have had in the game at all [before].  

Smith picks up that thought and runs with it. “I defeat an enemy with my melee ability and they unwind into a Tangle. I grapple onto the Tangle, which refunds my grapple, and snatch the Tangle out of midair. I then hurl the Tangle at a group of enemies in the distance, grappling onto the Tangle again while it flies and pulls me through the air behind it. As the Tangle nears a group of enemies, I slam downward out of my grapple to suspend a lone enemy who split off from the group while the Tangle slams into the rest of the group and explodes. There's a lot of these really cool dynamic interactions built into Strand and that makes it feel unique.” 

From the start, these new mobility options will change the way you play. But it doesn’t end there. Each Guardian class will interact with and wield Strand in a unique way, with new abilities and powerful perks to explore and customize. Here’s how it breaks down. 

Warlock Broodweaver 

“The Warlock is our Strand minion master,” said Smith, when explaining how Destiny 2’s masters of all things (space) magical will utilize Strand. To understand how Warlocks will bend Strand to their will, you have to first understand Threadlings.  

“Threadlings are explosive minions woven from Strand matter,” he said. “The Warlock Broodweaver, being the cerebral type, is more in tune with Threadlings than the other classes. All Threadlings will run forward, jump on enemies, and explode. But only the Warlock’s Threadlings will return to the Warlock and travel with them if they can’t find a target.” 

“Let’s say I have three Threadlings and I only need two of them to defeat an enemy. If I’m a Warlock, that last one is going to run back, hop on to me, and condense down into a form that is orbiting me, which is known as ‘perching.’ Then, the next time I attack an enemy, it will pop off and attack that same enemy, which really gives it this sense of having these minions that are doing my bidding. They love me and they want to come back and hang out with me.” 

But it’s not just in summoning and wielding Threadlings that Warlocks excel. With their Strand melee attack, Warlocks cast Arcane Needle, a deadly projectile which tracks targets, causing high damage and unraveling them upon impact. Warlocks will be able to quickly chain three Arcane Needle attacks in a row. 

Warlocks have two Strand Aspects to utilize and it’s here where Threadlings once again enter play: 

  • Weaver’s Call: On Rift cast, the Warlock weaves three Threadling eggs, which hatch into Threadlings when they hit a surface. Any perched Threadlings are converted to additional eggs.  
  • Mindspun Invocation: This Aspect improves several of the Warlock’s abilities: 
  • Grapple: When you execute a grapple melee, the Warlock weaves three Threadling eggs from the target. 
  • Threadling Grenade: You can consume your Threadling Grenade to generate a full complement of perched Threadlings.  
  • Shackle Grenade: You can consume your Shackle Grenade to gain a buff, creating a suspending detonation on every kill.  

The Warlock’s telekinetic abilities culminate with their Super, Needlestorm, a deadly combination of burst damage and area denial. On cast, the Warlock conjures Strand matter into a fusillade of hardened spikes, launching them forwards with a wave of their hand. The missiles will stick into enemies and the environment alike before detonating and reweaving themselves into an army of Threadlings that will hunt down any survivors.  

Hunter Threadrunner

While every Strand Guardian class will have access to the grapple and the array of mobility options it brings, the Hunter takes movement and speed to an entirely new level. From attacking multiple enemies at once while in mid-air to using a new rope-dart weapon that benefits from maximum agility, it’s no wonder that playing the Threadrunner has been compared to the thrill of watching a superhero come to life. 

The Threadrunner’s melee attack, Threaded Spike, has the Hunter hurling out a rope dart that bounces between enemies, damaging and severing them before returning to the Hunter. Upon its return, it grants melee energy for each enemy hit. Hunters can catch the rope dart by pressing the melee input button at the right time; perfecting that timing will earn the player an additional amount of melee energy. 

Two Strand Aspects will be available for Hunters:  

  • Ensnaring Slam: While in the air, press the air-move input to slam downward, suspending all nearby enemies. 
  • Widow’s Silk: This Aspect grants an additional grenade charge. The Hunter’s grapple ability creates a persistent grapple Tangle when it latches, which fully refunds grenade energy when grappled to. Hunters can use this ability to set up chains of grapple points that their entire team can use, greatly enhancing their ability to quickly move around in combat and/or traverse the environment. 

The lethal combination of grapple and rope dart converge with the Threadrunner’s Super, Silkstrike. When activated, the Hunter uses their grapple to freely move through the world in third-person view, while also throwing their rope dart to strike down enemies. Hunters will be able to use grapple more often during the Super, and the rope dart features both a light and heavy attack. The light attack is meant for single opponents and can be used in air and on the ground; when on the ground, the Hunter can chain attacks seamlessly. Hitting an enemy with the tip of the dart deals bonus damage and defeating an enemy with it causes the enemy to explode. The heavy attack has the Hunter swing the rope dart around in a 360-degree arc, damaging all nearby enemies. As with the light attack, this can be used on the ground or in the air.  

Titan Berserker

The hulking mass of a Guardian stands before a squad of enemies, ignoring their paltry taunts. Without warning, gigantic blades made of tightly woven Strand matter surround her hands and she leaps into the fray, powerful blades whirling in fury. The Titan’s powerful woven gauntlets slice through scores of her foes, and the enemies of humanity tremble.  

From the start, the fantasy for the Strand-wielding Titan Berserker was wild, untamed power. As this subclasses’ name suggests, the Titan uses Strand in ways that ensure maximum carnage, with in-your-face attacks that can sever enemies en masse before they are permanently deleted.  

The Titan’s Strand melee ability is Frenzied Blade. With a press of the melee button, the Titan dashes forward and slashes at enemies with their Strand arm blades, severing victims and decreasing their damage output. With a default set of three charges, Titans can chain these slashes together for maximum offensive power. 

Titans will also be able to utilize a pair of Aspects:  

  • Into the Fray: Destroying a Tangle weaves Woven Mail unto the Titan and nearby allies. In addition to reducing damage taken, this Aspect also increases the Titan’s melee energy regeneration while wearing Woven Mail.  
  • Drengr’s Lash: When the Titan casts their class ability, the Titan will blast forward a powerful ripple in reality, suspending enemies that are caught in the shockwave’s path.  

The Titan Berserker’s Super – Bladefury – sees the Titan dual-wielding fist blades and roaming the battlefield with ill intent. The Super’s light attack is a supercharged version of the Frenzied Blade melee attack, and each light attack that connects increases the next attack’s speed (which tops out after a maximum of three hits). In addition, connecting with light attacks also builds energy for the Super’s heavy attack with each hit. With the heavy attack, the Titan hurls a pair of projectiles forward that seek out enemies, suspending and damaging them on impact. 

Elsewhere, Strand will see three new grenades (including grapple, which is controlled with the grenade button). The Threadling grenade splits into three projectiles that weave into Threadlings upon impact. The Shackle grenade effectively acts as a bola, detonating in a suspending blast and sending out smaller secondary bolas to suspend nearby enemies.  

Finally, it wouldn’t be a new elemental Power in Destiny 2 without new Fragments to explore and customize your Strand-wielding Guardian. Here’s a look at a few of the new Fragments:  

  • Thread of Ascent: Activating your grenade ability reloads your equipped weapon and grants increased weapon handling and airborne effectiveness for a short time. 
  • Thread of Fury: Damaging targets with a Tangle grants melee energy. 
  • Thread of Finality: Finishers generate Threadlings.  
  • Thread of Warding: Picking up an orb of power grants Woven Mail. 

From enemy-seeking Threadling minions to bombastic Supers to game-changing new mobility options, Strand is bringing a host of unique abilities to every Guardians’ arsenal. Prepare to conjure and weave for yourself in Destiny 2: Lightfall when it launches on February 28. 

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