From the desk of Sandbox Designer Jon Weisnewski:
What you’re about to read is a heads-up about some upcoming changes to the weapons in Destiny, scheduled to go live in February with Update 1.1.1. This is the result of listening to feedback from the community, observation of players in the wild, poring over user research data, and regular internal playtests.
Many of these changes are subtle. It may take a little while to feel the nuanced differences, or you may feel the changes immediately. It all depends on how you play. This is an opportunity to change up your combat strategy in new ways, and/or double down in the areas that still feel good to you.
It’s our goal for the Auto Rifle to be a visceral, close-to-medium range chainsaw. It should reward target tracking, and drop in effectiveness at longer ranges. Looking at raw DPS [damage per second], the Auto Rifle is the most lethal primary weapon class across all of Destiny’s activities.
Here’s a breakdown of kills by Primary archetype for the top players [filtered to focus on the top-half of the scoreboard] in Destiny.
That’s not just Suros. If you look at the top ten lethal weapons over a period of thirty days, six of them are Auto Rifles. Note the spike in SUROS starting on 1/13 - likely due to the Iron Banner Auto Rifle bounty. The ratios stay relatively consistent for non-Suros autos when Iron Banner is not in session.
It’s extremely effective in most combat scenarios and engagement distances. In fact, it is so effective that it’s intended role in the Primary family is being partially obscured. We want you to be able to deliver a steady stream of precision damage with an Auto Rifle, and you still can, but you’ll need to get a little bit closer.
- Auto Rifle is optimal at close to medium range
- Damage, Stability, and Range are tuned such that players desire Stability for reliable close quarters damage, or Range for better accuracy at a distance
- Reduce base damage of Auto Rifles by 2.5% (averaged across Rate of Fire stats, higher RoF took less of a reduction than low RoF)
- Reduce effective range values so that damage falloff and accuracy are a stronger factor in combat decisions
- Range reduction is less severe in the higher stat values, so now your range stat is more critical to long distance engagements
The Pulse Rifle is the spiritual middle ground between full-auto and semi-auto weapons, delivering lethal bursts at a forced pace. The right combat rhythm rewards both target tracking and precision shooting.
Here are those same graphs again:
Pulse Rifles are currently the least used across all of the Tower’s warriors. We want to push these weapons to become a more compelling choice.
- Pulse Rifle is optimal at medium range, but can still effectively harass enemies at close or long range distances
- Rate of Fire sets a pace for players to both track moving targets, and then deliver precision damage in bursts
- Increase base damage of Pulse Rifles by 9.7%. DPS is now more in line with other primaries
Hand Cannons are intended to be the ideal weapon for precision-minded players on the move. Our goal is that they are ideal at close to medium range. They reward the calm hand that can pace shots under chaotic combat situations. The rounds hit like a truck so you shouldn’t need to fire fast to be effective.
Right now, the Hand Cannons work as advertised, but they’re a little too effective at longer ranges. We’re finding that players get very comfortable hanging back and using the Hand Cannon like a Scout Rifle or a Sniper Rifle. With these new changes, you can still hit targets at long range, but the shots need to be paced out and the damage will be lower until you close in on your target.
- Hand Cannon is optimal at medium range
- Hand Cannon is optimal when shots are paced, becomes less effective when fired quickly
- Rewards agility when under fire, precision targeting, and snap shots
- Reduce effective range
- Damage falloff starts closer to the shooter, and follow up shots are less accurate at long ranges
- Slight reduction to initial accuracy
- This is unnoticeable at close to medium range, but underscores the range intentions when used from far away
Fusion Rifles are one of the most contentious weapons in the PvP arena right now. They’ve been largely untouched since Destiny launched and it has been great to watch the community slowly adopt these weapons and understand how to use them effectively. Currently, they are the most hotly unliked weapon to be killed by. On the other end of the feedback spectrum, they are supremely satisfying guns to kill with.
It is pretty easy to find and build a Fusion Rifle that can push the range limits and land one hit kills and/or massive damage from pretty far away. Furthermore, in The Crucible it is not difficult to depend on a steady stream of special ammo so that players rarely have to pick and choose the right time to use this weapon. Our changes address these issues and leave the overall feel and function of Fusion Rifles intact.
- Fusion Rifles are optimal at mid-range, where targets are easier to track but they’re not close enough to attack while you charge up
- Requires combat foresight and the ability to predict a target’s movement to use successfully
- Blast pattern on a Fusion Rifle burst cone is a little wider
- Close to medium range volleys are largely unaffected, but at a distance the projectiles are less likely to land hits on a single target
- This reduces the reliability of landing a one hit kill at far range, and makes the weapon better at spreading damage into a group
- Initial starting ammo is reduced across all ammo stats. This is change primarily affects The Crucible
- Starting a Crucible match, you’ll have less Fusion Rifle ammo in reserve
- In PvE activities we persistently track your ammo. We only use initial ammo values if you are logging in for the first time, or starting a Crucible match
Shotguns are the close quarters king. These are the weapons you need to eliminate anything that is directly in your face. The role of the Shotgun has been well established in the shooter genre for a long time now. For Destiny, we have some interesting data from the field: A very high amount of players use Shotguns in PvP, and almost no one uses them in PvE.
In PvE activities, the reward of a close quarters Shotgun attack on any non-grunt enemy doesn’t give you enough of a damage spike to warrant using this weapon. Like the Fusion Rifles, in the Crucible it’s not difficult to find a Shotgun that is very lethal at some unexpected ranges. Some of the higher range values have been pulled in to help eliminate long distance Guardian one shots. We’ve also seen that the Crucible ammo economy allows for players to use Shotguns with wild abandon. So, like the Fusion Rifle, we’ve made a reduction to initial starting ammo.
- Shotgun is the most optimal at very close range
- Complements melee attacks and other close quarters class builds
- Offensively closing on an enemy with a Shotgun is a risk/reward timing game
- Increase damage by 2x (100%) against all non-Guardian combatants (aliens)
- Reduce high end range values - damage falloff starts sooner, so Crucible players with long range shotguns need to be a little closer for successful one hit kills
- (Like the Fusion Rifle) Initial starting ammo is reduced across all ammo stats in the Crucible:
- Starting a Crucible match, you’ll have less Shotgun ammo in reserve
- In PvE activities we persistently track your ammo
- We only use initial ammo values if you are logging in for the first time, or starting a Crucible match
SCOUT RIFLE, SNIPER RIFLE, HEAVY MACHINEGUN, ROCKET LAUNCHER
For the most part, these weapons have not been changed as a part of this update. However, changes to the Destiny arsenal mean that untouched weapons may now seem different in side by side comparisons. You may discover new reasons to start using some of these weapons as part of your combat strategy.
"Why did you “nerf” my favorite weapon? Why not make the other ones better and leave mine alone?"
Good question! Here’s why: We pay close attention to kill times in all game modes against all combatant types. If we brought up all the other weapons to account for lethality spikes that occur in specific situations, then our TTK (time to kill) would get faster with every patch. It is important to us to keep TTK values such that your arsenal feels lethal, but also both allows for some drama while you fight, and creates opportunities for counter-play when you’re being attacked.
One of the great things about working on this game is how players continually change our understanding of how the game plays. We have an evolving tennis match of serves and returns. As always, we’ll be watching and listening. Keep the feedback coming.