Season 21 Abilities Tuning Preview

May 3, 2023 - Destiny 2 Dev Team

Hey folks. Combat Gameplay team here to talk about the near future of Destiny abilities tuning. It’s been a very busy year with a lot of change in the abilities sandbox—the Subclass 3.0 conversion of Void, Solar, and Arc, followed up by the brand-new Strand subclass—so we’re taking this opportunity to evaluate the state of our subclasses and systems, focusing on adjusting abilities that are either overshooting or not quite hitting our power bar. Today we’ll be going through an update to Fragment slot allotments on a selection of Aspects, PvE-focused improvements to roaming Supers, and general balance updates across our subclass suite.

With Season 21’s ability tuning pass, these are our high-level goals:

  • Increase viability of roaming Supers in high-difficulty PvE content.
  • Incorporate subclass keywords into a selection of Light subclass Supers.
  • Reduce the amount of unlimited uptime mobility available in the Crucible.
  • Increase buildcrafting capabilities of a selection of Stasis and Light subclass Aspects.

Let’s get into it.


Over the last year, we’ve consistently heard feedback that single-Fragment-slot Aspects feel restrictive to player buildcrafting freedom. Fragment slots are a critical balancing lever that we intend to continue to use to control Aspect potency, but we don’t feel that any of the current single-Fragment-slot Aspects are overperforming to the point of restricting them to a single slot, and so with Season 21 we’re increasing them to two.

To set expectations now, we are not committing to a minimum budget of two Fragment slots for future Aspects, and we may change these slot allotments in the future. As we monitor the affected Aspects’ performance following this change, additional updates to their potency level should be expected.

  • Increased the Fragment slot allotment for the following Aspects from 1 to 2:
    • Hunter
      • Trapper’s Ambush
      • Shatterdive
      • Gunpowder Gamble
    • Titan
      • Bastion
      • Juggernaut
    • Warlock
      • Chaos Accelerant


With Lightfall’s release came two new roaming Supers, Silkstrike and Bladefury. The tuning on these Supers was an experiment to determine where we felt roaming Supers could live in the combat sandbox. We’re pretty happy with the results, and with Season 21 we’re taking a pass at other roaming Supers (as well as some underperforming burst Supers) to increase their viability. While there is too much nuance in the Destiny sandbox to completely equalize the performance of something as diverse as our suite of Supers, our hope is that this puts them on a more level playing field.

One of the ways we’re working to increase that viability is through damage resistance. In addition to the damage resistance values that Supers have against other players, all Supers have additional intrinsic damage resistance against PvE combatants, which we’re increasing. With this change, our goal is that Supers—in particular melee Supers—are more easily able to engage with targets in high-difficulty content.

  • All Supers
    • Increased PvE damage resistance by ~20%.

In our initial Subclass 3.0 conversion we opted not to include subclass keyword integration (e.g. Jolt, Scorch, etc) into most Supers, but now that the dust has settled, we are revisiting that idea. With Season 21, we’re taking a pass at the roster and adding intrinsic keyword behaviors where their inclusion makes sense. Unlike existing interactions such as Arc Staff with Lethal Current, or Sentinel Shield with Controlled Demolition, these will be baked into the Supers’ base behavior. Let’s go through the changes class by class.


Overall, we're happy with where Hunter Supers sit in high-level PvE gameplay. They offer strong burst damage from relative safety and several already have keyword integration. However, there's still a few Supers that are lagging behind the rest of the pack that we’d like to address.

Golden Gun and Arc Staff are slightly underperforming in their intended combat roles, so we’re giving them a PvE damage bump that we think will make them more viable.

  • Golden Gun (both Marksman and Deadshot)
    • Increased PvE damage by 20%.
  • Arc Staff
    • Increased PvE damage by 20%.

Spectral Blades has historically been a significant underperformer, so we’re taking a harder swing here and allowing its heavy attack to weaken targets on hit. We’re also fixing a long-standing bug where at maximum attack speed, some attacks could fail to connect, which resulted in a significant amount of lost damage output.

  • Spectral Blades
    • Increased PvE damage by 35%.
    • Heavy attack now weakens targets on hit.
    • Fixed an issue causing some right-hand Spectral Blades attacks to fail to connect when attacking at maximum attack speed.

When building Gathering Storm for Arc 3.0, we intentionally required significantly higher player precision on the initial throw to separate its role in combat from Nova Bomb, but the current iteration too frequently fails to reward that precision in the Crucible, particularly in Super vs. Super interactions. To address this, we’re making targeted adjustments to the direct impact and delayed lightning strike damage to increase the payoff for directly landing the staff or properly timing the lightning strike, and increasing the damage Gathering Storm does against stationary defensive Supers.

  • Gathering Storm
    • Direct impact damage vs. players increased from 200 to 300.
    • Delayed lightning strike damage vs. players increased from 300 to 500.
    • Lingering lightning tick damage vs. players increased from 40 to 60.
    • Now deals increased damage vs. Well of Radiance and Ward of Dawn.


On the whole, we believe Titan Supers are currently falling a bit short in high-level PvE content. To remedy this, we’re increasing the PvE damage of several roaming Supers across their Arc, Solar, and Stasis subclasses.

While we increased Fists of Havoc’s PvE damage in Lightfall, its performance in high-difficulty content hasn’t noticeably improved, so we’ve more holistically re-evaluated its attacks' energy costs and are enabling its heavy attack to blind targets.

  • Fists of Havoc
    • Light attack cost reduced from 8.5% to 6%.
    • Heavy attack cost reduced from 18% to 12%.
    • Increased heavy attack PvE damage by 33%.
    • Heavy attack now blinds targets near the center of the slam area.

While Glacial Quake’s heavy slam is in a solid place with strong damage output, the light attack doesn’t offer enough of a reward to feel worthwhile in its current state. To address this, we’re increasing the light attack’s damage against all target types and increasing its speed by 10%. This attack will also benefit from some improvements we’re making to the neutral game Shiver Strike that you’ll read about further on.

  • Glacial Quake
    • Increased Shiver Strike thrust speed while in Super by 10%.
    • Increased light attack damage by 20%.

For Sentinel Shield, Hammer of Sol, and Burning Maul, we’re happy with their performance given their additional utility, but we feel that some minor damage increases would significantly help their usability in situations where pure offense is needed. For Burning Maul in particular, we’re also making a small quality-of-life change in its interaction with the Sol Invictus Aspect and allowing the heavy attack’s cyclone to apply a small amount of scorch.

  • Sentinel Shield
    • Increased PvE damage by 20%.
  • Hammer of Sol
    • Increased PvE damage by 10%.
  • Burning Maul
    • Increased PvE damage by 10%.
    • Now creates a Sunspot on cast when Sol Invictus is equipped, matching the behavior of Hammer of Sol.
    • Heavy attack cyclone now applies scorch over time.


Warlocks have generally strong neutral game abilities and are doing well within our expected performance band, but a number of their Super options currently feel below the bar in high-level content. With Season 21, we’re addressing some of these outliers on the low end, focusing primarily on Stormcaller and Voidwalker, with a few quality-of-life fixes sprinkled throughout.

For Voidwalker, we’re increasing the PvE damage output of Nova Warp and both Nova Bomb variants, and allowing Nova Warp to make targets Volatile.

  • Nova Warp
    • Increased PvE damage by 15%.
    • A fully charged attack now makes enemies Volatile on hit.
  • Nova Bomb
    • PvE damage increased by 20%.

For Stormcaller, we don’t believe either Stormtrance or Chaos Reach are excelling at their intended roles in the current landscape, so we’re taking a pass at their PvE damage output and allowing them both access to the jolt keyword.

  • Stormtrance
    • Increased PvE damage by 25%.
    • Damage ramp while attacking now occurs more quickly (over 3 seconds, down from 5).
    • Landfall detonation and seekers now jolt targets.
  • Chaos Reach
    • Increased PvE damage by 25%.
    • Sustained damage on a single target now creates a jolting lightning strike at the target’s location.
    • Increased damage resistance vs. players from 40% to 50%.
    • Increased maximum strafe speed from 3.5m/s to 4.5m/s.
    • Adjusted Super camera to avoid the player’s body blocking view of targets when strafing.

While we’re happy with Winter’s Wrath excelling as a crowd-control tool, we’re giving it a small damage boost in PvE to increase its usability in situations like boss damage phases.

  • Winter’s Wrath
    • Increased PvE damage by 10%.

Finally, we’re making some small adjustments to the Daybreak camera to make it easier to locate targets in the heat of combat.

  • Daybreak
    • Adjusted Super camera to allow the player to look down further and avoid VFX blocking view of targets when moving quickly.


Let’s talk about Strand, our newest damage type. We’re still in the process of evaluating Strand’s performance in the live game, and we expect that performance to continue to shift over the course of this year as new Aspects are added for each class. For now, we’re making some adjustments to base cooldown times and targeted improvements to pain points that we’ve observed since Lightfall’s launch. 

  • Hunter
    • Threaded Spike
      • Increased projectile travel range before beginning to return to the player by 30%.
      • Increased damage vs. PvE combatants by ~55%.
      • Slightly reduced speed of the dart as it returns to the player to make catching it easier.
      • Increased energy gain for catching the dart based on the number of enemies hit.
      • Now pierces Cabal Phalanx shields.
      • No longer prioritizes the catch action over the grapple melee if an enemy target is within grapple melee range.
  • Titan
    • Frenzied Blade
      • Decreased cooldown based on how many melee charges the player has stored.
      • At 0 charges, cooldown reduced by 15%. At 2 charges, cooldown reduced by 30%.
  • Warlock
    • Arcane Needle
      • Decreased cooldown based on how many melee charges the player has stored.
        • At 0 charges, cooldown reduced by 15%. At 2 charges, cooldown reduced by 30%.
      • Increased projectile speed based on the projectile’s flight time.
        • Initial velocity increased to 40 meters per second, up from 30.
        • Final velocity increased to 70 meters per second, up from 60.
      • Increased projectile tracking strength by ~10%.
  • Grapple
    • Reduced base cooldown from 105 seconds to 82 seconds.
    • Reduced the minimum time between grapple activations from 2.5s to 0.2s.
  • Thread of Generation
    • Reduced energy generation provided by some damage-over-time mechanics.
    • Reduced energy generation provided by Trace Rifles by 36%.


Across Seasons 14 and 15, we made a series of tuning changes to our Stasis subclasses to bring them closer to our expected power bar, primarily in the Crucible. With Subclass 3.0 and Strand out the door, we’re revisiting some of those changes and making updates where we feel specific Stasis abilities or Aspects are lacking in the current landscape, in particular where previous changes had a negative impact on the feel of an ability.

  • Hunter
    • Withering Blade
      • Increased projectile tracking search range on bounce vs. players by 20%.
      • Increased maximum tracking strength by 12.5%.
  • Titan
    • Shiver Strike
      • Maximum thrust while in flight increased by 16%.
      • Decreased maximum downward influence of gravity while in flight by 18%.
    • Howl of the Storm
      • Increased width of freezing cone vs. players by 31%.
  • Warlock
    • Frostpulse
      • Now provides 2 meters of additional melee lunge range after activation for 1.2 seconds.


For our Light subclasses, Season 21 brings a general tuning pass at a wide variety of abilities, focusing on those that are significantly overperforming or underperforming.


With Update 3.4.0, we made shoulder charge abilities (Seismic Strike, Shield Bash, and Hammer Strike) significantly easier to use and increased their viability as a movement tool, at the cost of the ability to one-shot other players without intentional buildcrafting. As Subclass 3.0 has rolled out and shoulder charge abilities are no longer locked to specific subclass diamonds, it’s become clear that the extreme mobility enabled by the energy cost of shoulder charge is too high.

While we’re comfortable with players having strong movement capabilities at their disposal, these abilities should have a meaningful tradeoff for their use and shouldn’t be always-on. To that end, we’re adding a small melee energy cost to shoulder charge abilities on activation, regardless of whether a target was hit. We realize this is a big shift and don’t want to punish players who use these abilities primarily for offense, so we’re offsetting this change with a decrease in their base cooldown.

  • Seismic Strike, Shield Bash, Hammer Strike
    • Now cost 15% melee energy on activation.
    • Base cooldowns are now standardized at 91 seconds (previously ranged from 101s to 114s).

Based on your strength stat, the effective cooldown on shoulder charges as a movement tool will range from around 17 seconds at 0 strength, down to around 7 seconds at 100 strength.

In Season 21, we’re also making some adjustments to Knockout, Shield Throw, Throwing Hammer, and Sunspots.

Knockout currently offers a large number of easy-to-activate, powerful effects—the most prominent of which is its long-duration melee lunge bonus which has proven to be extremely difficult to combat as a potential target. To bring this Aspect’s potency closer in line with that of its peers, we’re reducing the melee lunge bonus it provides from 2 meters to 1 meter. To offset this change in PvE, we’re also increasing its uncharged melee damage bonus vs. PvE targets from 60% to 100%.

  • Knockout
    • Lunge range reduced from 6.5m to 5.5m.
    • Uncharged melee PvE damage bonus increased from 60% to 100%.

For Shield Throw and Throwing Hammer, we’re making a few improvements to their usability—primarily against fast-moving targets.

  • Shield Throw
    • Increased base impact damage from 60 to 70.
    • Increased consistency of finding and adjusting initial trajectory toward a new target after a bounce.
  • Throwing Hammer
    • Now adjusts its initial flight trajectory based on your aim assist target.

With the launch of The Witch Queen last year, we implemented a preemptive tuning change to reduce the amount of damage Sunspots dealt to players. Sunbreaker performance is currently trailing the rest of the Titan subclasses in the Crucible, so with Season 21 we’re walking that change back slightly to make Sunspots a safer haven for Sunbreakers and their allies, and better at encouraging enemies to keep their distance.

  • Sol Invictus
    • Increased damage dealt by Sunspots to enemy players per tick from 17 to 22.


For Hunters, we’re making a series of targeted changes to Nightstalker and Gunslinger melee abilities.

For Nightstalkers, we’re increasing Snare Bomb’s effectiveness as a debuffing tool to help enable more offensive playstyles and furthering their ability to support their allies.

  • Snare Bomb
    • Increased PvE weaken duration on detonation from 4 seconds to 8 seconds.

For Gunslingers, Proximity Explosive Knife and Weighted Throwing Knife (particularly on mouse and keyboard) have dominated the performance charts, with Lightweight Knife struggling to land in its intended role as an easy-to-use melee option. To bring these back into our expected power band, we’re shifting the damage output of Proximity Explosive Knife slightly further toward direct impacts, reducing the ease-of-use of Weighted Throwing knife for mouse and keyboard inputs—especially at very close range—and making Lightweight Knife easier to use for a broader range of player skills.

  • Proximity Explosive Knife
    • Detonation damage vs. players reduced from 105 to 90.
    • Impact damage vs. players increased from 14 to 20.
  • Weighted Throwing Knife
    • On mouse and keyboard, reduced minimum tracking shape size by 25% and maximum tracking shape size by 10%. This shape grows over 0.5 seconds after the projectile is thrown.
  • Lightweight Knife
    • Projectile speed increased from 30 meters per second to 40 meters per second.
    • Tracking shape size increased by 20%.

In addition to being granted an extra Fragment slot, we’re also significantly reducing the cooldown of Gunpowder Gamble, which currently lives in too narrow a niche to see widespread usage.

  • Gunpowder Gamble
    • Reduced cooldown from 12 seconds to 6 seconds.


For Warlocks, we’ve got changes to Incinerator Snap, Ball Lightning, and a pair of Chaos Accelerant’s boosted grenades.

During Season 21 development, we identified a bug with Incinerator Snap that resulted in the projectiles failing to proximity detonate. We’ve fixed this bug and needed to make some tuning adjustments to compensate. In PvE, Incinerator Snap should feel more consistent and keep roughly the same damage output that it had in previous seasons. In the Crucible, however, Incinerator Snap’s total damage has been reduced slightly to offset dramatically improved consistency.

  • Incinerator Snap
    • Fixed an issue preventing the secondary projectile arming shape from activating.
    • Total damage vs. players reduced from 150 to 135 to compensate for dramatically increased consistency.

With Ball Lightning, we’re increasing its PvE damage output and implementing a small quality-of-life change to help prevent PvE combatants from flinching out of its downward lightning strikes while the player is amplified.

  • Ball Lightning
    • Increased PvE damage by 30%.
    • Reduced ping scalar on both primary and secondary detonations so combatants are less likely to be knocked out of the secondary strike area while the player is amplified.

With the launch of Season 16, we made some tuning changes to charged Scatter Grenades to improve their consistency. While these changes helped, there are still too many instances of submunitions detonating before reaching their target for our comfort, so we’re increasing their lifetime and tracking capability. In addition, we’re increasing the time players can hold a charged Magnetic Grenade to allow a bit more leeway in their timing to counterplay an enemy trying to close the gap.

  • Chaos Accelerant
    • Scatter Grenade
      • Increased tracking consistency of charged Scatter Grenade submunitions.
      • Increased submunition arming duration.
      • Fixed a bug where some submunitions were impacting the ground on creation in some situations, resulting in an early detonation.
    • Magnetic Grenade (Handheld Supernova)
      • Increase charged hold time from 3.2 seconds to 4.5 seconds.

Let’s talk about Lightning Surge. We’ve identified a bug allowing Lightning Surge to effectively one-shot an enemy player in the Crucible if activated near a wall or other surface. We’re fixing this bug and making some updates to Lightning Surge to provide a more consistent experience for both attacker and target.

  • Lightning Surge
    • Fixed an issue allowing Lightning Surge to deal more instances of secondary strike damage than intended – now targets can take a maximum of two instances of damage from a single activation of the ability: one from the primary lightning strike around the player, and one from a secondary lightning strike.
    • This change necessitated some changes in damage values, but in general its damage output should be significantly more consistent and slightly higher than the intended value previously, but without the ability to one-shot a single enemy Guardian from full health.


With Season 21, we’re also making changes to a handful of subclass keywords for our Arc and Solar subclasses—today we’re talking about scorch, jolt, and speed booster.

The damage and duration of scorch is highly variable depending on how many stacks are applied from a given source. While that variability is intentional, the delta in value between low and high stack amounts is a little too high for our liking, so we’re slightly increasing the duration before scorch stacks begin dropping off of a target to give low stack amounts slightly more value.

  • Scorch
    • Increase stun time before stacks begin falling off from 1.5s to 2.3s on players.
    • Increase stun time before stacks begin falling off from 3s to 4.5s on PvE combatants.

Since its introduction with Arc 3.0, jolt has performed very well in its role of making beefy targets into miniature Tesla coils. But in its current state, its damage output is too similar to ignitions but at a significantly lower cost, so we’re making a small reduction in its potency. Jolt also has an intrinsic damage bonus against major combatants which we’re reducing slightly, making jolt damage more consistent across all target types.

  • Jolt
    • Reduced base PvE damage by 15%.
    • Reduced additional damage scalar vs. major combatants in PvE by ~20%.

With speed booster, we’re making a handful of quality-of-life improvements. Specifically, we’re making its activation time slightly shorter, while increasing its linger time after stopping a sprint to make maintaining an active speed booster more achievable in combat. We’re also slightly reducing the additional jump acceleration it provides.

  • Speed Booster
    • Bonus jump acceleration scalar reduced from 1.5x to 1.25x.
    • Now activates while sprinting after 2.5 seconds, down from 3 seconds.
    • Now lingers while the player is not sprinting for 2 seconds, up from 1.5 seconds.
    • Fixed a bug where if the player was already sprinting and then became amplified, speed booster would not be granted.

That’s it from us today! This isn’t the complete list of abilities changes coming with Season 21’s launch later this month, so stay tuned for our full list of patch notes on launch day. As always, we’ll be monitoring how these changes land and will adjust accordingly based on both data and feedback. 

This site uses cookies to provide you with the best possible user experience. By clicking 'Accept', you agree to the policies documented at Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.