Like the inevitable lightning that follows storm clouds, Arc 3.0’s time has finally arrived. In 2022, the original trio of elemental subclasses that power Guardians in Destiny 2 have been undergoing a major overhaul. Void was the first subclass to get the “3.0” treatment with the launch of The Witch Queen expansion. Season of the Haunted welcomed Solar 3.0 and, soon, it will be time for Arc-wielders to receive their upgrades. The Destiny 2 development team has been hard at work on this subclass revamp, making sure that the new version of the Arc subclass brings the thunder.
Having lead subclass redesigns with Void and Solar, the team has spent a great deal of time zeroing in on essence of what a subclass revamp is all about: making sure that every aspect of gameplay and every ability and feature fits into the player fantasy. To get there, it all starts with inspiration.
“Arc is really just, ‘go fast and hit stuff,’” said Destiny designer Sam Dunn, when asked about the core fantasy that powered the Arc 3.0 revamp. “We call it the ‘hold W’ subclass. Everything is built around moving forward and enabling aggression and those abilities.”
Powering that high-speed, high-impact goal, one of the prime inspirations for Arc 3.0 was the 2009 action movie Crank 2: High Voltage. The madcap action flick stars Jason Statham as an ex-hitman who has his heart stolen and replaced with a battery. To stay alive, Statham must keep his body electrically charged in increasingly outrageous ways. It’s non-stop, it’s relentless, and it’s a great place to start for the fantasy the team wanted to achieve. Namely ridiculous closing speed and maximum impact upon arrival.
“We had a lot of ideas about, ‘Oh, you get this buff and then—much like Jason Statham's heart —you need to keep it ticking by staying in the fight,” said Destiny designer Mike Humbolt. “[As the design evolved] we strayed a bit from that just because it's hard to achieve that in gameplay of Destiny, where you're deleting 75 monsters in a room and then running through a hallway. But that was the emotional fantasy that we wanted to go for: very much like ‘living on the edge.’”
Those Guardians who have spent some time with the revamped versions of Void or Solar (or with Stasis, for that matter) know the basics of where to begin with Arc 3.0. As with those other subclass options, Arc 3.0 will give players more flexibility over customizing their Guardian’s powers to suit their playstyle, through the introduction of Aspects and Fragments. In addition, new and returning class and melee abilities have been built or refactored for the modern Destiny 2 sandbox, making the subclass more powerful than ever.
Lighting Up New Abilities
Before we dive into the class-specific Arc abilities, let’s talk about the buffs and debuffs that are key to the Arc 3.0 experience. First up is the new buff—amplified—which is key to the Arc 3.0 experience. An amplified Guardian is faster—both in terms of movement speed and in terms of their weapon handling—and more agile, able to perform long slides that can function as a devastating setup for some of the attacks that follow. Unlike other damage type buffs (Void’s invisibility or Solar’s radiant), players don’t need to equip any specific Aspects or Fragments to become amplified. By default, all Arc classes become amplified after rapidly defeating targets with any Arc damage, and equipped Aspects and Fragments offer additional ways to become or benefit from being amplified.
After sprinting for a few seconds, an amplified Guardian will gain another boost in speed (as designer Mike Humbolt put it, “basically as fast as we can make our sprint animation go”), gaining a sizable PvE damage resistance buff, and enabling an even-longer slide ability. (Imagine full-on Metroid speed booster mode, only Samus is now wielding Gjallarhorn). Even if a player is no longer amplified, as long as they keep sprinting, the Speed Booster buff will stay active.
“[In development], Speed Booster probably took the longest for me to get on board with in that you were already moving faster to begin with,” said Humbolt, when asked about the process of developing and refining the verbs for Arc 3.0. “Adding PvE damage resistance to Speed Booster to cement it as a strong gap-closing tool and seeing it being used to move from one cover to the next in playtesting really brought it all together for me. You start sprinting and then you hear this audio swell start to come up and then you're like a jet engine, rocketing around the arena. It’s awesome.”
On the debuffs side, Arc 3.0 is bringing two to the party: blind and jolt. Blinded opponents in PvE won’t be able to see (naturally) and will also be disoriented and unable to fire their weapon. In PvP, blinded opponents will have their screen whited out and their HUD removed for a short period of time alongside a distorted, washed-out audio effect. Jolted opponents who are damaged will periodically send slivers of chain lightning out to nearby enemies, damaging them in the process.
Arc 3.0 also democratizes Ionic Traces, which were previously available only to middle-tree Warlocks. Now available to all, Traces are objects that, when collected, will add energy for all your abilities.
Now that you are familiar with the basics, let’s jump into the classes themselves to see how they’ll be making the most of Arc 3.0.
A Hunter dashing forward crackling with the power of Arc lightning is a sight that is sure to strike fear in the heart of any enemy. As with previous subclass revamps, the team had definite images in mind when considering what the new Arc should feel like in combat. For Hunter, the team imagined the “graceful warrior monk,” giving the Hunter the ability to get in close quarters quickly and effectively make a mess of their opponents in the process.
“For Hunters we wanted to reward staying in close and being safe while you're in close quarters with an enemy, which is very difficult to do in a lot of our content,” said Humbolt. “We wanted to give them tools to stay alive while they either closed the gap or were in a melee combo. That came primarily in the form of giving them crowd control tools.”
To that end, the Hunter’s Arc Staff Super is returning. With Arc Staff, Hunters will be able to block and deflect projectiles with a press of a button as well as perform an armored dodge where, upon dodging, the Hunter is more resistant to incoming damage.
But one Super just didn’t seem like enough to the team, thus the introduction of a brand-new Arc-themed Super, the Gathering Storm. Here, the Hunter leaps into the air, hurling their staff into the ground (or into an unlucky enemy) like a spear. Upon impact, the staff emits a damaging burst that jolts nearby enemies. Soon after, a giant bolt of lightning strikes the staff and overcharges it, creating a large damage zone around it for several seconds—while overcharged, the staff sends out arcs of lightning to damage any enemies that move near it.
On the melee side, the team kept the Hunter’s Combination Blow ability, feeling like it was right in line with the graceful warrior fantasy that they were going for. Kills with Combination Blow will refund dodge energy, increase melee damage, and restore a small amount of health, allowing skilled Hunters to chain their dodges and melee attacks into balletic bursts of beautiful fury. In addition, the Disorienting Blow melee returns, blinding opponents with a devastating palm attack while also now amplifying the Hunter along the way.
Hunters will be able to choose from three Arc Aspects to customize their tactical style:
- Flow State: Defeating a jolted opponent causes you to become amplified. When amplified, the Hunter’s dodge will recharge faster and make you more resistant to damage, and you have quicker reload times.
- Tempest Strike: Allows the Hunter to perform a sliding melee that launches an Arc wave along the ground, dealing significant damage and jolting enemies in its path.
- Lethal Current: After dodging, the Hunter’s melee lunge range is increased and their next melee attack jolts the target and creates a damaging lightning aftershock. When used with the Arc Staff Super, after dodging, the Hunter’s next staff light attack hits twice. In addition, hitting a jolted enemy with a melee attack will blind them.
Finally, and of particular note, Arc 3.0 will also bring back the Blink movement mode for Arc Hunters. In fact, the Blink ability will also include a baseline buff for any class that has access to it (looking at you, Void Warlocks).
“Blink hasn’t really been touched since Destiny 2’s release, and never quite reached the heights of its previous reign of terror,” Humbolt said. “We felt like this was a good time to walk a few of the tuning changes back a little and bring Blink’s potency at baseline up without needing an Exotic equipped.” In practical terms, that means an increased travel distance and a reworked recharge model for the ability that will keep it fresh while still maintaining its effectiveness.
Player fantasies don’t come any more vivid than what the team had in mind for Arc 3.0 Warlocks. Two separate images were top of mind: the “lightning shaman” and Emperor Palpatine in full lightning-fingers mode while turning Luke Skywalker into burnt toast.
“We wanted the player to feel like they are channeling the power of the storm through their body,” said Dunn. “Controlling the storm, controlling lightning like an elemental conduit.”
Two Supers will be available for Warlocks: Chaos Reach, where players will be able to shoot concentrated beams of Arc energy out of their hand to decimate opponents, and Stormtrance, which is more akin to the image of Palpatine floating around the world, firing electricity from their fingers. This Super combines both the Landfall behavior from previous bottom-tier Arc (creating a damaging shockwave underneath the player) and the Ionic Blink behavior from the old top-tree Arc (allowing the Warlock to teleport briefly during the Super).
Warlocks will have two melees available, both utilizing the power of lightning. The Ball Lightning melee will send out a floating ball of Arc energy that detonates, zapping enemies down from above. Chain Lightning will send out arcs of lightning to strike and jolt the primary target and chain damage to surrounding enemies in the process.
“The Warlock’s whole thing is that being amplified modifies their abilities; it powers them up,” said Dunn. “For Ball Lightning, if you're amplified, the Arc ball will fly out and zap enemies three times instead of just the normal one time, so you can get more damage out of it. For Chain Lightning it chains to more targets.” More specifically, while normal Chain Lightning creates a single set of chains that bounce between a set of number of targets, when amplified, the ability creates two sets of chains, and can potentially jump to twice the number of enemies.
Three Aspects will be available for Warlocks:
- Arc Soul: The Warlock casts a rift to create an Arc Soul that will assist the player in battle. Allies who pass through the rift will also earn an Arc Soul. The rift charges faster when allies are near. While amplified, any Arc Soul you have or gain is supercharged, increasing its rate of fire.
- Lightning Surge: The Warlock activates their melee while sliding to transform into a ball of lightning and teleport forward, calling down a field of lightning bolts at the exit point that jolts targets.
- Electrostatic Mind: Arc ability kills and kills on Arc-debuffed enemies create Ionic Traces. When you collect any Ionic Trace, you become amplified.
Titans haven’t traditionally been known as paragons of mobility but, with Arc 3.0, the team is shaking things up. The teams had a couple of inspirations in mind for the Titan Arc revamp: the lead-with-your-fists bare-knuckle brawler and the freight train.
“You don’t get to move the Arc Titan,” Humbolt said, “they move you. The Arc Titan’s ultimate goal is to punch you in the face and so a lot of what we did for Arc Titan was to try and figure out how we facilitate fist-to-face contact as much as possible.”
That desire to punch all the things manifests in a couple of devastating Supers that are returning for Arc 3.0: Fist of Havoc and Thundercrash. While the latter is practically unchanged from before, Fist of Havoc now has an adjusted slam radius that’s halfway between top and bottom path, and the ground slam leaves a damaging field in its wake, while slamming from the air causes damaging AOE effect (from previous top-tree behavior).
In the case of Thundercrash (and other abilities), uncoupling a subclass’ abilities from the old “subclass diamond” system will result in some substantial buffs depending on how players use it. It’s one of the intrinsic advantages that the new Subclass 3.0 system brings to Destiny. “When you start pairing them with different things, even though nothing changed about the actual ability, they can end up getting significantly stronger as a result, because now they aren't locked into a canned set of perks that surrounded them,” Humbolt said. “Thundercrash is a great example of that.”
One of the biggest changes coming to the Arc Titan is the new Thruster class ability. By double-tapping a button while on the ground, the Titan bursts in their throttle direction at speed, performing a quick first-person evade, comparable in distance to a Hunter’s dodge. “Arc is the damage type that is about mobility, so if we were going to add a mobility boost anywhere [for Titans] it was going to be here,” said Humbolt.
For melee attacks, Titans will retain the Seismic Strike shoulder charge, which blinds enemies. Performing a Seismic Strike while amplified will increase the radius of the blind and the blinding effect will last longer. Ballistic Slam also returns, where players can slam the ground after sprinting in the air, creating a damaging explosion upon impact.
Those returning melees will be joined by a brand-new charged attack known as Thunderclap. Here, the Titan player holds the melee button and charges up Arc energy that can be unleashed in either a quick powerful jab or held and built up, to be unleashed in a furious One Punch Man-style blast that will devastate an opponent. The charged state cannot be stored and the Titan must be on the ground to charge the punch. The damage is significant: a 90-percent-charged Thunderclap will one-shot Guardians in PvP; but that reward will be balanced by the time it will take to build up that charge level and the fact that you must remain stationary to charge, always a dangerous move in PvP.
Like the other subclasses, Arc 3.0 Titans will have three Aspects to select from:
- Touch of Thunder: Improves Arc grenades in the following ways:
- Flashbang: Fires an additional blind impulse on its first bounce.
- Pulse: When the grenade damages an enemy, it creates an Ionic Trace for the Titan. Pulse Grenade damage increases over time as the grenade lingers after impact.
- Lightning: Grants an additional charge for Lightning grenade, and jolts targets on initial blast.
- Storm: Creates a roaming thundercloud that moves and tracks enemies (similar to the Stasis Hunter’s Silence & Squall Super), firing lightning bolts at the ground underneath it.
- Juggernaut: While sprinting and with full class ability energy, the Titan gains a frontal shield that blocks incoming damage. When amplified, the shield is stronger. Once the shield is depleted by taking damage, the player’s class energy is depleted.
- Knockout: Melee kills trigger health regeneration and make the Titan amplified. Critically wounding an enemy or breaking their shield increases melee range and damage for a brief period. Titan’s base melee becomes Arc-empowered while Knockout is active.
To complement the class-specific Aspects, Arc 3.0 will also introduce a suite of new Fragments, which offer new perks to build upon as well as add bonuses (or penalties) to your Guardian’s intrinsic stats.
Here’s a look at a few of the Fragments to come:
- Spark of Beacons: When the player is amplified, Arc special weapon kills create a blinding explosion.
- Spark of Resistance: When surrounded by enemies, the player has increased damage resistance.
- Spark of Momentum: Sliding over ammo will reload your weapon and grant a small amount of melee energy. Sliding over Heavy ammo increases the amount of energy granted.
- Spark of Shock: The player’s Arc grenades jolt enemies.
In all, the changes that are coming with Arc 3.0 will give Guardians more ways to bring the pain to the enemies of humanity, while also letting players customize their Guardian to the way they want to play. Fans will have their first chance to see Arc 3.0 in action during next week’s Destiny 2 Showcase, which is coming on August 23 starting at 9 AM Pacific. Check out the Showcase reveal page
to learn more!