Season 21 Weapon Changes Preview

May 17, 2023 - Destiny 2 Dev Team

G'day, Chris Proctor, senior design lead, here with another weapons balance blog! 

We shipped the 7.0.5 mid-Season balance update a few weeks back. That update was largely PvP-focused and was mainly made up of changes we'd been testing in Season 21 and pulled forward. As a result, this set of changes is focused on systemic changes in PvE.

For Season 21, we've got a substantial number of changes to hip-fire reticles, various changes to a bunch of Exotic weapons and a few other bits and pieces, let's get into it.

Weapon Reticles

We've looked at player feedback around how reticles convey less information at high field-of-view (FOV) settings, information that isn't obvious mid-combat, and Exotic weapons whose perk state can be hard to track and have rebuilt several weapon reticles to address these.

Hip-Fire Reticles and FOV

The two reticle elements on most weapons illustrate the current cones for autoaim (a.k.a. bullet bending) and accuracy (a.k.a. error angle), using moving circles and crosshairs.

These are clamped in size on screen to avoid growing too large or too small and hence blocking the very center of the screen, or overlapping too much of your weapon and the action in front of you—at default FOV these elements move as your autoaim and accuracy change, but at high FOV they typically can't shrink enough to show the current angles, resulting in them being fairly static.

We've rebuilt the reticles for the following weapon types so that they move more visibly at high FOV, while still conveying the current state of the weapon accurately.

  • Fusion Rifle
  • Hand Cannon
  • Sidearm
  • Trace Rifle

We plan to update other weapon reticles in a similar way in a future release.

Shotgun reticles also now scale with FOV, such that the reticle will closely match the pellet spread regardless of your selected FOV (and note that as of Lightfall they dynamically scale with Shotgun pellet spread angle changes).

Charge Meters

Fusion Rifle charge and Sword guard energy are critical aspects of these weapons, which until now required relying on cues built into the weapon's visuals or audio—we've updated their hip-fire reticles to include this information as well.

  • Fusion Rifles now have a charge meter under the reticle.
  • Sword reticles now show the current Sword guard energy.

Experimental Aim Down Sights Reticle

Our hip-fire reticles are built with technology that lets them scale with weapon autoaim and accuracy, but our aim down sights reticles are typically hand built for each specific weapon and don't necessarily show this information.

We've been experimenting with an approach that keeps the hand-built aesthetics of a weapon's sights or scope, but replaces the center crosshair or red dot with a variant of the hip-fire reticle. We decided we'd get this into your hands and see how it feels in the live game before looking into this type of reticle further.

  • Shayura's Wrath
    • Now has an aim-down-sights reticle that reacts to the weapon's accuracy and autoaim state, and ties into "red reticle," meaning this will change color when an enemy that's within this weapon's engagement range is under the reticle.

Custom Exotic Weapon Reticles

Plenty of Exotic weapons have perks with states or counts that are important information for players - we've added reticle elements to show these to several Exotic weapons (note that Exotic Swords and Fusion Rifles also benefit from the above charge meter and Sword meter elements).

Note that some Exotic weapons already convey their state very clearly and weren't included in this pass.

The specific additions to Exotic weapons are:

  • Charge meter added to Exotic weapons whose base weapon type doesn't typically have a charge meter.
    • Devil's Ruin
    • Salvation's Grip
    • Grand Overture
  • Perk counter shows pips for perked shots.
    • Quicksilver Storm grenade count.
    • Ace of Spades Memento Mori shot count.
    • Lumina Noble Rounds shot count.
    • Traveler's Chosen Gathering Light stacks.
  • Perk progress meter shows perk buildup.
    • The Manticore
  • Perk active shows when the Exotic perk is active.
    • Hawkmoon
    • Ager's Scepter
    • Tarrabah
    • Touch of Malice
    • Cryosthesia 77k
    • Trinity Ghoul
  • Charge meter and perk counter.
    • Vex Mythoclast

We'll keep an eye out for opportunities for custom reticle work for other Exotic weapons.


Inspection Screen Improvements

With the release of Season of the Deep, we are also doing an overhaul to the way we showcase weapons and other items in the Inspection Screen with some highly requested improvements. You'll now be able to do the following when previewing weapons:

  • Rotate them around the same way you would a Sparrow or piece of armor.
  • Added support for ambient VFX to play for weapons that have them.

This applies to your inventory, and also when inspecting ornaments in the Eververse store. These tech improvements have had compounding benefits, enabling us to also allow you to rotate ships and preview their contrails. We’ve also removed the depth-of-field blur from our weapon, ship, and armor preview screens to allow you to see all the angles of your gear better!

Full Auto Melee

Knowing how popular the full auto (now called "full auto firing") setting was, we've implemented a matching "full auto melee" setting that lets you continue melee attacking with your fist, charged melee, Sword, Glaive, or roaming Super melee by holding down the appropriate input.

This is explained in more detail here.

Weapon Archetypes

  • Bows
    • Tyranny of Heaven's stats were always weirdly low, and we were touching these weapons anyway so opted to update its stats while we were in there.
  • Submachine Guns
    • Aggressive Submachine Guns have surged in PvP, they need to be brought back into band—we're doing that in a way that keeps them viable by reducing both base and crit damage a little, requiring higher precision to reach their optimal time to kill (TTK).
    • Reduced base damage from 15 to 14.
      • Increased precision hit multiplier from 1.45 to 1.5 (crit damage goes from 21.8 to 21).
    • The Immortal is such a stat monster that no other Aggressive SMG can compete, we've brought its range in while allowing it to continue to excel in other areas.
      • Reduced base range value by 10.
  • Sniper Rifles
    • Sniper Rifles are a very safe option, and we don't want to also make them dominant, but there's some room to bring their damage up to improve their feel in PvE. Note that rapid-fire Sniper Rifles also got a large reserves bump and reduced recoil in the Season 20 mid-Season balance update. We'll keep an eye on this and may bring them up a little more in future if this doesn't move the needle.
    • Increased PvE damage by 10%.
    • Note: Izanagi's Burden's Honed Edge perk shots don't receive this buff, all other Exotic Sniper Rifles receive the buff as written.
  • Scout Rifles
    • Long Arm was inadvertently receiving the damage bonus vs minors for Exotics, so we've addressed that (it still receives the Scout Rifle PvE damage buff from the Season 20 mid-Season balance update).

Exotic Weapons

  • Eyes of Tomorrow's multi-targeted missile volley and "Adaptive Ordnance" Exotic trait suggest it should be used to kill groups of enemies, but the Rocket Launcher ammo economy doesn't really allow for that. But what if smart use of the weapon against groups refunded ammo?
    • Killing 4 targets with a missile volley will refund one ammo.
  • Graviton Lance's performance feels Exotic, but it was easy to miss out on the full damage of a burst because so much of it was back-loaded, and we felt the tuning of Revision Zero's Heavy Rounds 2-burst would be a good fit.
    • Increased RPM from 257 to 300 (reduced burst delay by 20%, now matches Revision Zero's Hakke Heavy Rounds rate of fire).
    • Rebalanced damage per shot.
      • Increased first shot damage from:
        • Body: 9.5 to 19.
        • Crit: 15.7 to 31.4.
      • Decreased second shot damage from:
        • Body: 35.6 to 25.6.
        • Crit: 58.7 to 42.3.
  • Jade Rabbit is a strong PvP Scout Rifle, but it was difficult to keep track of the state of the Exotic perk, and refunding a single ammo just wasn't impressive enough for an Exotic—these changes make the state clearer and provide more reward for precision.
    • Added buff text to show when Fate of All Fools increased body shot damage is active.
    • Quickly hitting 3 critical hits now refunds 3 shots instead of 1.
  • Flying around with The Manticore is some silly fun, but we wanted it to be more rewarding, mobile, and sustainable. With this change you should be able to remain airborne for longer and be safer while doing so.
    • Increased the catalyst's damage resistance from tier 3 to tier 4.
    • Increased movement speed during hang time.
    • Activating the catalyst perk (through an airborne kill or sustained damage following an airborne kill) now partially refills the magazine.
  • Lumina's cap on Noble Rounds was 5, while working on Exotic weapon reticles we opted to match Ace of Spades' Memento Mori shot count to improve consistency between the two and give Lumina a little buff at the same time.
    • Increased Noble Rounds cap from 5 to 6.
  • Heartshadow wasn't quite hitting the fantasy we wanted it to, so we've made it easier to exploit the Exotic perks.
    • Damage increase now activates quicker while invisible, after 0.25s instead of 1s.
    • Heartshadow now weakens upon dealing any damage while the damage increase is active.
  • We love Worldline Zero's performance, and with all of the attention we've been giving Swords we wanted to spend some time really differentiating it from a certain perk on glowing Sword Dares.
    • The sprinting Heavy attack can now be chained into itself once.
      • Sword guard energy cost from each sprinting heavy attack reduced from 100% to 50%.
      • Increased damage from an individual sprinting heavy attack by 8.3%.

  • Sweet Business's performance is a lot of fun, but we felt we could really plus its fun factor and strength by adding some explosions.
    • Now fires explosive rounds every 20 shots (fewer shots while fully spun up).
  • Legend of Acrius hits extremely hard already, dealing some of the highest damage per shot in the game, but its ammo reserves run out fairly quickly, and you have to be right on top of enemies to use it, we've relaxed both of those constraints.
    • Increased total ammo from 12 to 16.
    • Increased maximum projectile distance from 9m to 12m.

  • Tommy's Matchbook is all about burning yourself, we've updated it to let you burn others as well.
    • Catalyst updated: While overheated, sustained fire scorches your target. Every 5 shots applies 14+7 (with the Embers of Ashes Fragment) scorch stacks.
  • No Time to Explain's drone wouldn't work against Barrier Champion shields when it had an anti-barrier effect, we've fixed that, and also made the drone work with the Feeding Frenzy perk.
    • Updated drone to work with anti-barrier (will break Barrier Champion shields and over penetrate combatant shields).
    • Updated drone to work with Feeding Frenzy (from the NTTE catalyst).
    • This also resolved an issue where the feedback for Feeding Frenzy would always play when the player spawned and then never again.
  • Skyburner's Oath's Solar 3.0 pass turned out to be too conservative, so we've brought it up to be more competitive with other scorching options.
    • Increased scorch stacks from 3 to 5 and 5 to 10 with the Embers of Ashes Fragment.
  • Salvation's Grip's performance and utility is entertaining and situationally useful, but as a Heavy weapon it really needs to do some damage, without compromising on its identity—we've rebuilt its functionality using bowling as inspiration.
    • Reworked to have two firing modes. Charged shot creates a pattern of Stasis crystals (where the number of crystals is no longer dependent on charge time). Uncharged shot is a normal Grenade Launcher shot, which does more damage to Stasis crystals and frozen targets.
    • Added a new perk that reloads the magazine from reserves when you quickly shatter at least 3 crystals with the uncharged shot.
  • Bad Juju has always been hard to control, and it turns out that this is because it was originally set up to use Auto Rifle recoil.
    • Fixed an issue that was causing the weapon to recoil like an Auto Rifle, making it harder to control. The recoil pattern will now be similar to other Pulse Rifles.
  • Fighting Lion's damage against red bars spiked to massive levels due to a recent bug, we've addressed this—but note that it still receives the 40% damage bonus for Exotic Primary weapons.
    • Fixed an issue that was causing this weapon to do more damage than intended to red-bar combatants.
  • Thunderlord has surged in popularity with the release of its catalyst and the Season 20 Machinegun buff, but it shipped with a bug that allowed lightning strikes at a higher frequency than intended against Divinity bubbles. We've addressed that—note that regular crits are not affected by the change.
    • Fixed an issue resulting in hits against a Divinity bubble counting as two crits instead of one.
  • Winterbite's initial version included an exploitable damage bug, which is fixed here.
    • The impact damage has been removed and redistributed to the detonation damage.
    • The self-damage scaling has been tuned to account for the increased damage of the detonation.


  • Fragile Focus is fairly potent, but the perk deactivator was very unforgiving.
    • Bonus lasts until shield pop, returns when shield regenerates to 100%.
  • Thresh, Demolitionist, and Pugilist have always granted increased energy on Shotgun, Fusion Rifle and Sniper Rifle kills, but Glaives missed out on that bonus until now.
    • Grants increased energy to Glaive projectile kills (same as Shotguns, Fusion Rifles, and Sniper Rifles).
  • Reconstruction has been simplified under-the-hood so that we can place the perk on more weapons without exceeding perk budgets.
    • This results in a slight change to the timing of the perk where the initial timer and the cooldown timer between reloads have been unified.
    • Base perk: 4 seconds.
    • Enhanced perk: 3.5 seconds.
  • Shoot to Loot is already situationally useful, but we've been looking for a good way to allow players to interact with Orbs of Power at a distance, and this was an obvious option.
    • Updated to pick up Orbs of Power.
    • Currently this only works on direct hits. The ability for the orbs to be picked up with weapon detonations will be added in a future patch.

The Future

We’re in the process of redesigning how zoom interacts with damage falloff. Weapons with that weapon type’s standard zoom value (e.g., for SMGs this would be 14 zoom stat, or 1.4x magnification) will be unaffected by this specific change, but weapons with lower than standard zoom values for their archetype will have their damage falloff buffed, and weapons with higher than standard zoom values will have their damage falloff reduced. Note that this will only apply to damage falloff. To avoid negatively impacting weapon feel, bonuses to aim assist, accuracy, and recoil will still apply. We will also be making a pass on the base damage falloff ranges for several types of weapons to make sure that weapon types that previously relied on having above standard zoom to be competitive are not left behind.

There’s also a big Sword update coming, with the goal of making guarding substantially more valuable.

In the more distant future, we’re working on an update to Sparrows that will allow players to use their favorites instead of Always on Time (without touching AoT itself).

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