Developer Insights: S21 Mid-Season Weapon Tuning

Jul 6, 2023 - Destiny Dev Team

Hello everyone, Mercules here with the mid-Season 21 weapons tuning preview. This is going to be a smaller mid-season balance pass than usual, in large part due to the substantial changes that are coming in Season 22. We'll talk more about those later, but for now we wanted to make sure we addressed some outliers on both ends of the spectrum. Let's get to it!

Weapon Archetypes

  • Pulse Rifles - In general we feel Pulse Rifles are in a good place, but Pulses with low base Aim Assist stat values (like the High Impact subfamily) feel too forgiving of near misses. We've reduced the size of the auto aim cone at 0 stat, which will noticeably affect Pulses with stat values on the lower end of the scale, with reduced effect as the stat value increases.
    • General
      • Reduced auto aim angle at 0 Aim Assist stat by ~10%.
  • Bows - Lightweight Bows have been one of the least used and least effective weapon subfamilies in the game for a long time, and a lot of the feedback around them centered on how much worse they feel than Precision Bows at anything outside of close range. To address this, we've substantially increased the range at which they can deal full damage and we've improved their accuracy a small bit as well. We also have some more changes coming to all Bows in Season 22 which should improve both how they are affected by reload perks and how well their shots register at longer ranges.
    • Lightweight Bows
      • Increased fixed damage falloff start distance from 15m to 25m.
      • Increased fixed damage falloff end distance from 20m to 45m.
      • Increased final accuracy by ~10%.
  • Submachine Guns - We heard a lot of feedback that the new dynamic reticle, while displaying interesting information, was far too cluttered and made it difficult to use the weapon in combat. We made a second pass over the reticle aimed at reducing both the thickness of the lines and their opacity, which minimizes the clutter when ADS while retaining the ability to show you the effect perks or other actions have on your weapon's accuracy and aim assist.
    • General
      • Made improvements to Shayura's Wrath ADS dynamic reticle.
  • Shotguns - Lightweight Shotguns have fallen behind of their Precision and Aggressive counterparts in terms of effectiveness, in large part due to the outermost pellets being spaced so far apart that it can be difficult to land the entire spread outside of point-blank range. To address this, we have reduced their spread angle to constrain the pattern a bit more, which should move them closer to the other top shotgun options for PvP.
    • Lightweight Shotguns
      • Reduced the spread angle of the outer horizontal pellets by 15%.

Exotic Weapons

  • Graviton Lance - While it is nice to see that Graviton Lance has been returned to glory after a long hiatus, at its current strength the gun is too easy to use for how rewarding it can be, and the Cosmology explosion pushes it too close to "primary ammo Cloudstrike" for comfort. At the same time, it lags far behind Revision Zero's Heavy Burst mode in PvE damage, and that just didn't seem fair. So, we've given it a substantial buff to its PvE damage, while at the same time reducing the damage the Cosmology explosion does to Guardians and removing the extra aim assist that was granted by the catalyst. We'll keep an eye on Grav Lance moving forward to see if it requires any further tuning, or whether this helps it settle into a healthy spot in the meta.
    • Increased PvE damage by 67%.
    • Removed the extra aim assist provided by the catalyst.
    • Reduced the damage dealt by the Cosmology explosion by 40% against players.
      • Damage in PvE unchanged.
  • No Time to Explain - NTTE has been somewhat surpassed in effectiveness by the returning champion Graviton Lance, but given we are bringing GL down a bit we wanted to make sure we NTTE couldn't immediately reclaim the Pulse Rifle throne too easily.
    • Reduced range stat by 10.
  • Fighting Lion - Fixed a bug with the perk application that was preventing Fighting Lion from granting the benefits of its catalyst.
    • Fixed an issue where the Chimera perk on the catalyst wasn't applying the buffs to Kinetic and Power slot weapons.


  • Gutshot Straight - When we initially made Slickdraw and Gutshot, we wanted to make sure we weren't giving out substantial positive effects that had almost constant uptime for free, and we leaned a little too hard on their penalties in a way that made them often feel more like a punishment than a worthwhile trade off. As such we've substantially reduced the penalties on each perk, and in playtests they feel significantly better to use than they did before.
    • Reduced auto aim penalty by 37.5%.
  • Slickdraw
    • Reduced auto aim penalty by 33%.
  • Target Lock - Target Lock has had its time in the sun, but the ability to get such a large amount of damage with relatively minimal effort (for accurate players) has made this perk an overwhelmingly obvious choice in whatever slot it rolls for PvP. As such, we have reduced the maximum damage it can grant in PvP, while leaving it unchanged in PvE.
    • Reduced maximum damage versus players from 40% to 25%.
      • Damage in PvE unchanged.


In Season 22, we have a substantial shakeup coming to the weapons sandbox in the form of zoom. We will have more details to share closer to release, but we want to briefly touch on what's going to happen at a high-level:

The initial changes are going to enforce something we're calling range compression, with two main goals:

  1. Reduce the variance between the optimal engagement ranges of our mid-range weapons (Auto Rifles, Pulse Rifles, and Hand Cannons).
  2. Slightly reduce the average engagement range in Crucible by pulling in the maximum damage falloff distances of many weapon types.

To do this, the highest achievable damage falloff range on almost all weapon types will be reduced to some extent (with certain weapon types being reduced more than others) and then, in many cases, the lower edge of their damage falloff ranges will be coming up. Below, you will find a table with the current damage falloff start distances (with and without Rangefinder) for all Primary weapons, and then their values in Season 22 with the new changes. We do not expect these values to be final, but we wanted to start the mid-range weapons on a more even footing than they are in the live game.

Keep in mind, even with their damage falloff start values being similar, weapons will perform differently once their damage falloff begins. As they currently do in the live game, rifle-style weapons will experience falloff more gradually, while handheld ones will experience it more quickly, but the differences should be much less extreme. In addition, we have also hand tuned a small list of Exotics and all Special weapons with the intention of keeping them near where they are in the live game, as opposed to allowing them to receive substantial buffs or nerfs with these overarching changes, but we'll share more info on all that later.

ADS Damage Falloff Start Distances (0 - 100 range stat)

Primary Weapon Type

Old Base Zoom

Old Base + Rangefinder

New Base ADS Modifier


13.20 - 16.80

14.30 - 18.20

13.20 - 18.00


12.60 - 22.40

13.86 - 24.64

14.42 - 23.52

Auto Rifles*

17.20 - 33.20

18.92 - 36.52

18.28 - 39.53

Hand Cannons

22.40 - 35.00

24.64 - 38.50

24.00 - 37.50

Pulse Rifles

25.50 - 39.10

28.05 - 43.01

25.50 - 39.95

Aggressive Hand Cannons

25.20 - 39.20

27.72 - 43.12

27.00 - 40.50

Lightweight Bows




Precision Bows




Scout Rifles

60.00 - 90.00

66.00 - 99.00

60.00 - 90.00

*Note: Auto Rifles have the widest variance in available zoom values in the current live game, between 16 and 20 base. For the purposes of the above chart 16 zoom was used as the base value since it is the most prevalent, but 20 zoom ARs were reaching 41.5m at 100 range.

Other things to look forward to in Season 22:

  1. Hand Cannons will be receiving several buffs aimed at improving their usefulness in PvE, including a base reload speed increase and damage increases to minor and major enemies.
  2. Sword guard is getting a substantial rework.
  3. Tuning to a handful of Exotics, including a balance pass for Le Monarque and some big buffs to Touch of Malice.
  4. Changes to weapon perks, including buffs to Bipod, Envious Assassin, and Under-Over.

But what about second balance pass?

Season 23 work is in full swing here on the Weapons team, which means a lot of things are still in flux. We do know for sure that Glaives (and yes, the class Exotics too) will be getting some substantial tuning, and we're excited to share details of that as we get further along. For now, we can let you know that we're looking at ways to make them feel better to use without making them annoying to play against, and we're experimenting with things like reducing the delay after firing before you can melee, improving the base projectile speed, and altering how shield energy is granted. If you're a Glaive aficionado, we'd be interested to know how those changes strike you (and even if you aren't, we'd still like to hear from you!)

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