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Destiny Weapon Tuning – April Update

From the desk of Senior Designer Jon Weisnewski:

Greetings internet friends! Did we miss each other? I hope so. We’re back once more to talk about weapon and gameplay tuning that is headed to Destiny once the April update goes live. Designer Greg Peng and I have been working hard turning knobs, digesting data, playtesting, and then playtesting some more. As with all of these updates, I imagine some of these changes will be anticipated… and some not. I’m sure you’ll discuss this at length. Shaxx and I will be waiting for you in the Crucible on April 12.
 
BASE WEAPON CHANGES
 
AUTO RIFLES
High Rate-of-Fire (RoF) bullet hoses have been leading the pack in terms of competitive viability. Low RoF auto rifles are slightly behind their faster firing brethren. We’re tipping the scales ever so slightly on these weapons to try and create more options.
 
Goals:
  • Auto Rifle is optimal at close to medium range
  • Legendary low RoF Auto Rifles are a viable competitive choice
  • High Rate of Fire auto rifles are viable but not best in class
 
Changes:
  • Low RoF (Suros Regime, An Answering Chord, Anguish of Drystan): 2.3% increase in base damage
  • High RoF (Doctrine of Passing, Arminius-D): 2.5% reduction in base damage
  • Improvement to hip fire final accuracy


PULSE RIFLES
As with the auto rifles, the lowest RoF pulse rifles aren’t quite as effective as the faster firing models. The damage increase here doesn’t reduce bursts to kill against high Armor players in PVP, but it will provide more damage per burst which will help when team shooting and getting clean up kills.
 
Goals:
  • Pulse Rifle is optimal at medium range, but can still effectively engage enemies at close or medium-long range
  • Legendary low RoF pulse rifles are a viable competitive choice
 
Changes:
  • Low RoF (The Messenger, Spare Change, Lyudmila-D): 3% increase from previous base damage


HAND CANNONS
Hand Cannons were running lean on ammo inventory during PVP streaks and lengthy PVE encounters. We are increasing their ammo inventory amounts by a bit to not leave you scrounging for white bricks too often, but not so much that you don’t need to worry about making shots count.
 
Goals:
  • Hand Cannons are optimal at close to medium range
  • Rewards agility under fire, precision targeting, and snap shots
  • Hand Cannons have enough ammo to last longer streaks in all activities
 
Changes:
  • Increase ammo inventory for all Hand Cannons


FUSION RIFLES
The changes made in the last patch were somewhat more in depth than a blanket stability reduction: changing the ADS/Hip bolt spread paradigm as well as charge rate/damage tradeoffs. Rather than continue to play with nuance, this time we’re just going to do a blanket stability improvement.

Goals:
  • Fusion Rifles are optimal at mid-range, where targets are easier to track but they’re not close enough to attack while charging up
  • Require combat foresight and the ability to predict a target’s movement to use successfully
  • Low Stability does not make Fusion Rifles overly difficult to use.

Changes:
  • Fusion rifles are more stable across the board. The maximum stability for a fusion rifle has not changed much, but the baseline minimum stability is much stronger (40% recoil reduction), and we linearly ramp up from there.
  • Fixed bug where some outlying fusion rifle scopes had unintended increased zoom that was removed in Year Two. 


SNIPER RIFLES
The intent for Sniper Rifles has always been lethality at a distance using a measured approach. There are a few scopes and models of Sniper Rifles that are pushing the limits of “distance” and allowing for pretty effective twitch combat shooting at what many would consider medium range. These changes aren’t intended to remove that style of combat, but they are intended to put the player at slightly longer ranges for that style to be as effective as it is currently.
 
Goals:
  • Sniper Rifles are optimal at long range, and difficult to use for medium to short range combat
  • Sniper Rifles reward thumb skill with high damage against precision targets
 
Changes:
  • Increase base zoom distance on the lowest range sniper scopes. Medium to long range scopes are untouched
  • Increase base zoom distance on Sniper Rifles that did not have Optics enhancing scope nodes: Hereafter, Black Spindle, Patience & Time, Stillpiercer
  • Add 2 frames of zoom time to base Sniper handling
  • Reduce Snapshot perk to 20% benefit to base zoom time (down from 30%)
  • Reduce Stability across all Sniper Rifle stats so that reacquiring a target after firing requires more care
  • Addressed a bug where Zen Moment was not providing perk benefit to Sniper Rifles
    • Zen Moment removed from uncommon and rare sniper grids
    • Legendary Hakke Sniper Rifles trade Zen Moment for Performance Bonus
    • Legendary Omolon Sniper Rifles trade Zen Moment for Battle Runner


AMMO ECONOMY
We’ve heard pretty consistent feedback about the prevalence of special and heavy ammo in The Crucible. Data shows an uptick in Special weapon time equipped starting around December.



A while ago, the PVP design team made some changes to ammo spawns in 3v3 gametypes, and they’ll have some more changes to PVP ammo in 2.2.0. In addition to game mode ammo rules, we want to put some limits on how much ammo players get and horde during a PVP match.

Goals:
  • Special and Heavy ammo is a valued commodity over the course of a Crucible match
  • Players should be mindful of ammo conservation
  • The choice to use a Special weapon should be based on recognizing a strategic opportunity
  • Using Ice Breaker or Sidearms to “charge up” your ammo reserves for other weapons is not intended
 
Changes:
  • Swapping special weapons in PVP now completely removes special ammo until more is found on the map
  • Reduce the total Ammo Inventory for all Sniper Rifles by roughly 5-7 rounds (exact amount depends on a given weapon’s Magazine and Inventory stats)
  • Reduce the total Ammo Inventory for all Shotguns by roughly 5-7 rounds (exact amount depends on a given weapon’s Magazine and Inventory stats)
  • Increase Special Ammo drop rate in all PVE activities to offset the reduced Inventory for Shotguns and Sniper Rifles
  • Reduce the fraction of ammo granted by purple bricks in PVP. This change affects all Machineguns and only a handful of Rocket Launchers (Truth is one of the affected Rocket Launchers).
  • Reduced bonus Ammo Inventory granted by Machinegun Ammo Armor Perk by 33%


PLAYER RESURRECTION
Ally resurrection is a huge strategic factor in high intensity PVP and PVE. In the safety of cover or during a lull in combat it is an obvious helping hand to extend to your dead buddy. However, when an ally meets their end smack in the middle of a frantic firefight it should be with great peril that one risks their safety to bring them back. There are a number of elements in place that help players assess the risk/reward of sticking their neck out to revive a friend: time to resurrect, interactive prompt distance to Ghost, and resurrection overshield.
 
Right now these elements can be used in a variety of ways (and in combination with exotic armor) to greatly reduce the risk of bringing back a downed Fireteam member in the heat of combat. The downstream result of that starts to trend towards a trivialized death penalty and recklessness during the activities that have been built to require precision gameplay. 
 
Goals:
  • Resurrecting a player in the heat of combat should require the reviving player to put themselves at risk
  • Revive sniping in PVP should not be limited to a handful of Sniper Rifles

Changes:
  • Reduce interactive radius of resurrection prompt by .5 meters
  • Increase base time to resurrect by .25 seconds
  • Re-prioritize Overshield so that it takes precision damage modifiers (previously it did not) which allows more Sniper archetypes to get res-kills
    • Only a few PvE combatants deal precision damage so aside from a few exceptions this only affects the PVP mechanic
  • Adjust resurrection invincibility frames so that the moment a player can move and take damage are more consistent in most networking conditions
  • Reduce resurrection time bonus on exotic armor (Crest of Alpha Lupi, Light Beyond Nemesis) to 30% (down from 40%)


WEAPON PERKS

Eye of the Storm
  • Perk now improves error angle in addition to projectile accuracy so players can see the hip reticle contract as the perk activates

Icarus
  • Airborne inaccuracy reduced by an additional +9% (was 66% reduction, now 75% reduction)

Aggressive Ballistics
Aggressive Ballistics is a barrel perk that adds the highest damage increase to the weapon when selected, and can also roll on a handful of exotic and legendary primary weapons. This perk in particular has made balancing a few archetypes very tricky – bringing up the base damage to a certain threshold will make these weapons with Aggressive Ballistics abnormally lethal for that archetype. This change affects Aggressive Ballistics on all weapons.
  • Changes:
    • Damage increase now asks for a -20 stability trade off (from -10)


EXOTIC & LEGENDARY WEAPON TUNING

MIDA Multi Tool
Holy ****!! 



Ignoring popularity, we think MIDA is fairly balanced in the global scale of weapons but I’m sure many non-MIDA users are starting to get tired of seeing that name come up in their death screen. Considering the popularity of the weapon we wanted to preserve how it feels to use but thought it was best to make it a little less horrible to be on the receiving end.
  • Changes
    • Remove high caliber rounds from the intrinsic behavior

SUROS Regime
Since we added the Spinning Up perk to this weapon, it has become the dominant playstyle for Suros users. The base damage increase of this archetype made Spinning Up pretty deadly, so we pushed out the perk activation by 4 shots. We are hoping to make the Focus Fire option a little more enticing by adding a base Range increase on the node. When selecting Focus Fire along with other Range enhancements on the grid players can now push the weapon to a max Range stat.
  • Changes
    • Selecting Focus Fire grants +45 Range stat
    • Spinning Up now activates (4 shots) later in the magazine
 
Hawkmoon
Although Hawkmoon still has the highest damage to magazine ratio for Hand Cannons, the last round of changes left the weapon feeling inaccurate. It is getting a Range increase to help effective range and accuracy.
  • Changes
    • Increase base Range stat by 10

The Last Word
In 2.0 we reduced the effective range of The Last Word, but the hip fire accuracy and damage increase provided by The Last Word perk are still pretty strong when working together on this weapon. For the players who have mastered hip fire precision shooting, this weapon can cause 2 hit precision kills which is a very fast kill time on a full auto weapon. To keep the time to kill in line with other exotic primaries, we are removing the damage increase granted from hip fire. The Last Word perk still grants generous Stability and Accuracy when firing from hip.
  • Changes
    • No damage bonus is applied from The Last Word perk

Thorn
Thorn is back and better than ever! (Just kidding!) This pass on Thorn maintains the power fantasy of using the weapon in all activities, but makes it significantly less difficult to fight against in PvP.
  • Changes
    • Reduce Damage Over Time (DoT) tick damage to the absolute minimum in PvP (1 HP base damage)
    • Reduce DoT duration in PvP to 4 ticks (down from 6)
    • Reduce intensity of poison screen effects for the victim to preserve combat effectiveness while poisoned

Ice Breaker
Like Thorn, even though this weapon is “on the bench” in terms of current power level, many people are using it to great advantage to work around ammo restrictions. This is predominantly occurring in high-skill PvP matches, so these changes are targeted at that skill level: aggressive snipers using Ice Breaker for medium range quick sniping will be more affected. For casual players, these changes are targeted at reinforcing Ice Breaker's intended role as a slow paced, long distance combat tool.
  • Changes
    • Increase scope zoom Optics to 6x
    • Reduce base Handling stat to the lowest value for Sniper Rifles
    • Reduce base Target Acquisition by 25%
    • “Death swapping” in PVP no longer allows ammo to persist between swapped weapons

Dreg’s Promise
When it was released in House of Wolves it was one of two total Sidearms in the game. In the current range of Sidearm options, Dreg’s Promise is rarely used so we wanted to give it some attention.
  • Changes
    • Projectiles track more aggressively: On fire, targeting locks onto the enemy in your reticle. Damage reduced (40%) and rate of fire reduced to compensate
    • Damage falloff reduced to match Sidearm archetype range

Lord of Wolves
  • Changes
    • Reduce ammo inventory to reflect base Shotgun inventory reduction

Queenbreaker’s Bow
  • Changes
    • Reduce ammo inventory to reflect base Sniper inventory reduction

Telesto
  • Changes
    • Fixed bug that caused Telesto projectiles to despawn when impacting friendly players and Wards of Dawn. Telesto rounds now attach and detonate on friendly targets but do not cause friendly fire.

The Chaperone
  • Changes
    • Fixed a bug that was clamping precision damage on shotguns

1000 Yard Stare
This weapon has one of the highest adoption rates for any gun we’ve ever released. I think there are a number of factors that contribute to this, but the end result is a pretty remarkable spike in weapon usage.



This is an interesting situation. We don’t like punishing a relatively-balanced weapon just because it is popular, but we also want players to feel like they have options. For now, the safest way to reduce this spike is to preserve the feeling of the weapon, preserve the talent grid rolls that many players are no doubt happy with, and just pull a few rounds out of the Inventory.
 
  • Changes
    • Reduce base Ammo Inventory stat

Quillims Terminus
The Raid Machinegun is one of the most lethal and ammo-rich heavies in the game. As such, it has become the default choice for most people who have it. Data!



Not to keep banging the same drum, but it is important to us that players feel like they have options and that there isn’t a single ultimate weapon per archetype.
 
  • Changes
    • Reduce base Stability stat by 9
    • Reduce base Inventory stat by 15

King’s Fall Weapon Set
  • Anguish of Drystan
    • Increase Stability stat by 12%
  • All King’s Fall primaries
    • Increased reload speed
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