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Destiny Class Balance - June Update

Destiny Update 2.3.0 is scheduled to deploy tomorrow. The following is a preview of how it will impact class balance.

From the desk of Grant Mackay:

Hello, this is Grant. You might remember me from the previous round of Warlock class balance changes. Well, I’m back and I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk about another round of changes, this time focused on Hunters.

So why are we changing Hunters?
On the Sandbox Design Team, we talk about build diversity a lot. We want to ensure that a number of different builds are viable for any given Class. It’s important to us that players have meaningful choices to make when customizing their characters.  

We also want to make sure that the choices between the classes themselves are interesting. Ideally, we’d like to address any ability that feels underwhelming to use. We also want to address abilities that feel frustrating or unfair when used against you by another player.

Ultimately, balance is an ongoing effort to improve the game. We have a lot of data on class performance and the choices that people are making. We want to try and use that data to inform improvements to overall game health and keep things interesting. We’ve taken a design pass with this in mind for Titans and Warlocks already, so now it’s time for the Hunters.


The Tripmine Grenade has been a dominant grenade choice for a while. It’s possible that this because it was the grenade that did everything: set a trap, stick it to an opponent, miss an opponent and end up setting a trap anyway. The original intent with this grenade was to be used as a trap, not a sticky, so we moved it back in that direction. Conversely, we increased the Swarm Grenades damage and ability to detect opponents to improve that option.

  • Swarm Grenade: increased arming radius by 0.5 meters 
  • Swarm Grenade: detonation damage increased by 7%
  • Tripmine no longer attaches to enemies; instead arms on impact then bounces
  • Tripmine damage reduced by 3%

Golden Gun
Golden Gun was feeling a bit lackluster damage wise, so we boosted that and provided further damage gains to the Deadeye perk which wasn’t seeing a lot of use. The hope is that this brings it into a place where it is considered a valid option in comparison to Shadowshot for Strikes and similar activities.

  • Base damage increased by 50% and an additional 30% against AI combatants
  • Deadeye now increases Golden Gun damage by an additional 30%

Throwing Knife
The Throwing Knife was creating some frustration, especially with the Incendiary Blade upgrade, so we nudged the damage down slightly. This will ensure that low armor players can’t be killed in a single headshot (with the extra burn damage from the Incendiary Blade upgrade). We also reworked the Circle of Life upgrade to be about building up your Golden Gun instead of maintaining it, since very few players where opting into the original incarnation.

  • Throwing Knife base damage reduced by 10%
  • Circle of Life modified functionality: precision kills with Throwing Knife reduce the cooldown of Golden Gun
  • Circle of Life no longer extends the duration of golden gun
  • Circle of Life +1 armor removed

We took a look at some of the passives in the Gunslinger build and tried to improve some of the least used options. On the whole, we’re pretty happy with the various choices and build paths there, so these changes are minor.

  • Scavenger: increased the amount of Grenade and Melee energy awarded by 33%
  • Chain of Woe: +1 Recovery added
  • Over the Horizon: +1 Recovery removed


Bladedancer mobility, particularly the ability to quickly relocate, is proving to be a bit too advantageous. We made some changes to try and reduce this. The Blink ability now has a recovery tradeoff and Blinkstrike doesn’t lunge as far.

  • Blink now incurs a -1 Recovery penalty
  • Blinkstrike lunge distance decreased by 0.4 meters

The Backstab upgrade has been the source of some confusing behavior for a while, particularly when it appears to hit from the front. The valid region for Backstabbing should now be more solidly behind the target. Escape Artist had some visual issues that we tried to smooth out and Fast Twitch was too fast so we slowed it down.

  • Backstab valid backstab angle reduced by 30 degrees
  • Escape Artist invisibility effect delayed by 0.5 seconds
  • Fast Twitch recharge reduced by 20%

Arc Blade
Arc Blade has a number of changes in this patch, many related to the mobility issue. We wanted it to be more about decisive strikes and not swinging frantically to try and cover ground, avoid enemy fire, or stay airborne for long periods of time. It will last longer but cost more to swing if you have no target. On the other hand it should hit the target you’re aiming at more consistently.

  • Base duration increased by 2 seconds
  • Hit search range increased by 0.5 meters
  • Added a 0.8 second cooldown between arc blade swings while airborne
  • Energy cost per swing increased by 20%
  • Energy cost on hit decreased by 20%

Being effective against AI Combatants with the Arc Blade has traditionally been difficult so we upped the damage against those foes. The Encore perk will now provide a significant damage boost if kills are chained together, and the Vanish and Showstopper upgrades should now have more utility.

  • Arc Blade damage increased by 30% against AI combatants
  • Vanish now causes the player to vanish on cast in addition to its normal functionality
  • Showstopper damage radius extended by 1 meter
  • Encore killing an enemy with Arc Blade now extends its duration and grants a 150% increase to Arc Blade damage for a short time.


The Spike Grenade was seeing very little use, likely due to how easy it was to escape the damage, so we’ve changed the rate at which it pulses to improve its output. The total damage dealt remains the same.

  • Spike Grenade damage impulses per second reduced to 5 from 10
  • Spike Grenade damage per impulse increased by 100%; total damage unchanged

Hitting another player with Shadowshot only to have them kill you with their Super before the effects kicked in was frustrating and confusing (often to both players involved) so we made it suppress when it hits.

  • Shadowshot now applies the suppression effect on impact

The Smoke ability received a number of modifications making it less frustrating to victims, but also adding some utility against slower opponents. The package of status effects delivered on impact could be overwhelming so we opened up more opportunities to escape. At the same time, the cloud will last longer and the initial impact of a direct hit will hurt more.

  • Impact damage increased by 34%
  • Impact suppression and damage over time duration reduced by 1 second
  • Jump suppression removed from initial impact status effects
  • Base smoke cloud duration increased by 1 second
  • Envenomed cloud duration increased by 1 second
  • Envenomed Jump suppression removed from cloud status effects
  • Vanish in smoke: +1 Agility removed
  • Snare cloud duration increased by 1 second

A number of Nightstalker perks have had small changes, mostly to power up perks that weren’t being chosen as frequently. The exception is Shadestep. The ability to evade, shedding tracking projectiles and the aim of your opponents, was overwhelming all the other choices in the build. We don’t want it to be so easy to completely disengage or bewilder enemies so we’ve disabled the ability to perform two evades in rapid succession. Nightstalkers will only be able to Shadestep once before they have to wait for the ability to recharge, but it takes less time to recharge.

  • Courage of the Pack now increases Recovery, Armor and Agility by 2 per stack
  • Courage of the Pack now stacks 3 times
  • Lockdown increases smoke duration by 2 seconds(+2 additional seconds with the Snare upgrade)
  • Predator now reduces the cooldown of the Shadowshot ability
  • Shadestep moved to a single dodge on a 3 second cooldown

Other Classes

Universal Consistency
But wait, this was about Hunters?! It turns out some of the things we wanted to change are in use by other classes and we want the game to be consistent. The Defender Spike Grenade got the same treatment as the Nightstalker version, and Voidwalker Blink ability received the same tradeoff as the Bladedancer version. The Twilight Garrison Exotic armor, which was creating similar problems to Shadestep, has been adjusted in the same manner.

  • Spike Grenade damage impulses per second reduced to 5 from 10
  • Spike Grenade damage per impulse increased by 100%; total damage unchanged
  • Twilight Garrison moved the Tactical Air Support ability to a single dodge on a 3 second cooldown.

Super Damage
Tweaking the Super damage output on Hunters led us to investigate the damage output of the other classes. It turns out many of them needed additional love.

  • Hammer of Sol damage increased by 10% against AI combatants
  • Fist of Havoc base damage increased by 50% and an additional 50% against AI combatants
  • Nova Bomb base damage increased by 50% and an additional 50% against AI combatants
  • Stormtrance damage increased by 10% against AI combatants

The Sunbreaker has been suffering a little since we ended their reign of terror, so we made some changes to make Hammers hit more consistently again. These adjustments may seem insignificant, but we remember the harsh rule of the Solar Overlords, so we’re making more targeted changes.

  • Hammer of Sol hammer travel speed increased by 1.3%
  • Hammer of Sol hammer detonation radius increased by 10%

As promised, we kept an eye on Warlocks after the previous patch. Sunsingers, while not out performing other classes, are still creating frustrating encounters. Most of these encounters are the result of a combination of build perks and the Firebolt grenade so we adjusted the target search radius and arming time. This means that from the moment the grenade lands players will have a split second longer to get out of the area in which the bolts fire and that area is slightly smaller, so there should be a little more counter play.

  • Firebolt: increased arming time by 0.2 seconds
  • Firebolt: decreased victim search radius by 1 meter

Viking Funeral
The biggest change to Sunsingers is to the Viking Funeral build perk. This perk will no longer extend the duration of Ignite (damage over time) effects. Instead it now causes those effects to weaken the target to other sources of damage (but not the Ignite itself). This will reduce the frequency and duration of the damage over time effect, but should still allow the Sunsinger interesting build options involving Ignite.

  • Viking Funeral: no longer extends the duration of Ignite effects
  • Viking Funeral: now weakens targets afflicted with Ignite effects, causing them to take 5% more damage from all sources, stacking up to 3 times.

Flame Shield
We added a minor delay to the activation time of Flame Shield. Ideally this makes it so that there is a window of opportunity (if only very briefly) for people to win melee trades against Warlocks running this upgrade.

  • Flame Shield: 0.3 second delay added before the overshield activation

Thanks so much for reading. These are the changes you’ll find in the June Update that will impact many of the Sub-Classes you find in Destiny. This won’t be the last time we talk about the way different Guardians fight, so be sure to let us know how combat feels in the new Sandbox. Player feedback is a huge part of what we do!
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