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Destiny Weapon Tuning - Rise of Iron

From the desk of Greg Peng.

With every new Destiny expansion, we find an opportunity to try to holistically address Sandbox balance. We learn from our success and mistakes, scrutinize player activity from our vast reserves of player data, and come up with a plan of execution. With an expansion, we can change the balance landscape not only by modifying old guns, but also by creating new ones to fill missing roles and satisfy player desires.

The changes in 2.4.0 will go hand in hand with the weapon ecosystem of Rise of Iron.


Exotics

Fabian Strategy
Doubling down on a Titan’s role to hold the front line, Fabian Strategy users will now be able to hold down the trigger to melt enemies until there are none left.
  • Kills with this weapon now automatically load a portion of the magazine
  • Increased base range (+16%) and stability (+44%)

Thorn
Since we are bringing back Thorn for Rise of Iron, it was worth re-evaluating its place in the weapon ecosystem. What are Thorn’s strengths? 
  • Damage over time (which provides location information and health recovery delay)
  • Fastest family of Hand Cannon fire rate
  • Effectively best in class level range with Send It

To avoid a repeat of year one, we decided to remove one of those elements from the equation.
  • Reduced base range by 25%

Universal Remote
An exotic shotgun not gated by the special ammo economy was already a dangerous tool, but as players honed their mastery over the strong mobility options that Destiny has to offer, a hair-pulling combination was born. A range reduction helps bring the efficacy of these sorts of tactics down a bit.
  • Exotic Perk range bonus reduced by 75% (no longer guarantees maximum shotgun range)
  • Increased rate of fire (lowers damage as a secondary effect)

Dreg’s Promise
Fitting in with the retune of Sidearms (see below), Dreg’s gets a little bit more love. 
  • Increased damage by 8%
  • Increased magazine size by 3
 
Touch of Malice
It is intended that Touch of Malice still shine best in King’s Fall, but outside of the Raid, clever players figured out how to avoid Touch of Malice’s single drawback by imbuing themselves with the Blessing of Light - but the Darkness has been boiling stronger within the gun...
  • Touch of Malice’s self-damage infliction now removes Blessing of Light
 
Boolean Gemini
This super versatile weapon receives another tool in its kit.
  • Added intrinsic perk High Caliber Rounds

No Time to Explain
I’m going to respect the spirit of the weapon with this one.
  • Added intrinsic perk Headseeker


Sniper Rifles
Snipers are being utilized extremely effectively in both the Crucible and against the Minions of the Darkness. However, one family of Sniper Rifle stands out from the rest – the mid-high impact family of sniper rifles (of which 1000-Yard Stare and Y-09 Longbow Synthesis belong).

Let us evaluate the benefits of the family:
  • Decent magazine sizes combined with strong impact provide for strong DPS
  • Strong target acquisition and when combined with Hidden Hand can reach the upper echelon normally reserved for lower impact Sniper Rifles (Weyloran’s March)
  • Ability to take down a guardian while in their super state
  • High body-shot damage with a rate of fire still fast enough that the two tap body-shot is still viable

The resulting Sniper Rifle has all the strengths of other families but without the drawbacks. To spread the power a bit, we touched two elements:
  • Reduced damage on the mid-high impact (1000-Yard Stare family) of Sniper Rifles by 6.95%
    • Mid High impact snipers can no longer reliably kill high armor guardians in super
    • No Land Beyond is not affected by this damage reduction
  • Reduced Target Acquisition for LDR 5001/Y-09 Longbow Synthesis to bring in line with other snipers in the same family

As a result, the slowest firing family of Sniper Rifle (Black Spindle) should be your key tool to take down Supers, balanced by lower magazine size, fire rate, and aim assist.

Aim Deflection (aka Flinch)
“You get the drop on an enemy sniper, reducing him down to a pixel of his life. Right before you pull the trigger for the last bullet to exit your scout rifle’s chamber, you see the glint and hear the sound of your head turning to mush. You raise your fist in the air and release a silent scream so as not to wake the baby.”

With these changes, we want to give your primary weapon a better chance at contesting sniper rifles. 
  • Increased the starting strength for aim deflection (aka Flinch) when players take damage while scoped in from 30% starting to 50% starting
    • With every subsequent hit, the strength of deflection increases until you hit 100% max deflection
  • Overall Sniper ADS aim deflection multiplier increased to 1.9x (was 1.85x)

Bugs
  • Fixed an issue where Eirene UI stat bars showed an incorrect rate of fire


Auto Rifles
With new Auto Rifles being introduced in Rise of Iron, playtests revealed a decrease in the importance of reloading – high rate of fire Auto users had enough bullets for multiple encounters. We do not want players feeling starved for ammo, but creating an opening for opponents to attack is an important part of the “combat dance” for Destiny.

Middle rate of fire Autos also received a small damage boost to help with damage falloff, but the resultant damage does not drastically change its time to kill.
  • Reduced the maximum magazine size for highest rate of fire Auto Rifle family (all weapons in the Doctrine of Passing family)
  • Increased damage to middle rate of fire Autos (1.5%)


Shotguns
While strong against combatants, fast firing Shotguns have generally experienced low up time in PvP. The following changes are meant to sweeten the value proposition, starting with everyone’s favorite Titan class weapon.
  • Immobius: decreased spread on Titan class shotgun in ADS (0.1 zoom factor increase), increased base stability by 60%
  • Reduced spread angle penalty on Shotguns with the perk Full Auto, Invective was not affected
  • Increased high rate of fire and middle-low rate of fire shotgun damages by 2%


Pulse Rifles
With high rate of fire Pulse Rifles being strong contenders in the crucible, we put our lens on the mid and low rate of fire models, nudging them slightly forward while still maintaining Pulses around the three burst kill.
  • Increased rate of fire for the Hakke Pulse Rifle Lyudmila-D
  • Minor increase (2%) to damage for middle rate of fire family Pulse Rifles (Nirwen's Mercy)


Sidearms
When evaluating player loadout data across the game, we can see that Sidearms are being underutilized. With 2.4.0 we aim to change that, pushing Sidearms to shoot further, faster, and more predictability. 
  • Unified damage for all Sidearm types
    • Increased damage for existing Häkke Sidearm families by 3% for lowest rate of fire and 7% for higher rate of fire
    • Decreased damage for non-hitscan Sidearms by 5% for Vestian Dynasty and Queen's Choice
  • Minor extension of damage falloff point for Sidearms across the board (+0.5 meters)
  • Minor increase of stability for Sidearms across the board
  • Added damage bonus in PvE (20-30% dependent on combatant tier)
  • To accommodate two new faster firing Sidearm families releasing in Rise of Iron, all current Sidearm rate of fire bars will be slightly shorter
    • This is so we have more bar space to display rate of fire differentiation
    • Does not change the actual fire rate, just the stat bar representation


Rocket Launchers
While super satisfying, Cluster Bombs are not always super reliable. At times, the bombs land inches out of their effective range and hit for single point damages.

Grenades and Horseshoes is by and far the most popular Rocket Launcher perk. While decreasing the chance that a rocket misses, it also removes or reduces many of the interesting combat prediction elements that make the weapon archetype interesting to play.

By making Cluster Bomb more reliable and Grenades and Horseshoes less effective, we hope to mix up the Rocket Launcher perk selection and inject a bit more technique into the archetype.
  • Increased effective range on the explosions for the Cluster Bomb perk
  • Grenades and Horseshoes perk activation radius reduced (1.3->1 meters)
    • Truth is not affected by this change


Machine Guns
The high rate of fire family of Machine Gun really hits the fantasy when it comes to face melting crowd control weapons. Increasing their DPS will also help them shine in other scenarios as well (i.e. boss battles). 
  • Increased damage on highest rate of fire Machine Guns (4%)


Hand Cannons
You will only find small bug fixes for 2.4.0 for this weapon category. However, as a preview to Rise of Iron, newly minted low rate of fire hand cannons have a higher maximum possible range stat, giving players a distinct reason to choose that type of weapon.
  • Fixed an issue where the hand cannon Zaouli's Bane's rate of Fire stat would display incorrectly
  • Fixed an issue where the Taken King Vanguard and Armsday Hand Cannons (Down and Doubt 00-0, Kumakatok HC4) stats would display incorrectly.


Fusion Rifles
Again, only small bug fixes. You can stop making that joke now.
  • Accelerated coils correctly reflects damage reduction now on the UI stat bars
    • No change to gameplay effect, UI only
  • Fixed an issue where stat bars on Techeun Rage displayed incorrectly


Perks
After months of collecting player feedback and analyzing usage data, we decided upon a list of perks that could benefit from a refresh. We also decided to reduce the effectiveness of Unflinching, which otherwise would have negated the aforementioned sniper flinch changes without tradeoff. Finally, classic magazine perks like Armor Piercing Rounds now give additional range bonuses.

Take a Knee
  • Now activates after 0.5 seconds of crouching
  • Added flinch reduction (25%) and increased aim down sights speed by 25%

Exhumed
  • Added an extra +5 seconds (15 seconds total) of effect time

Cascade
  • Functional change: melee kills automatically reload a portion of the magazine

Surplus
  • Now increases carried ammo capacity

Grave Robber
  • Increased activation chance to 25% (from 20%)

Guerilla Fighter
  • Increased stability and range bonuses by 200% (think of it as a bonus Hammer Forged and Perfect Balance when the perk activates)

Magazine Perks
  • Magazine perks now give range bonuses
    • Removed impact stat bonuses that had no effect on base damage and only on the UI
    • Armor Piercing Rounds: adds +4 range, reduces -4 handling
    • High Caliber Rounds: adds +3 range, reduces -5 handling,
    • Skip Rounds: adds +5 range, reduces -3 handling, adds +5 inventory
 
Unflinching
  • Decreased efficacy of the perk from 25% flinch reduction to 15% flinch reduction
 
As a final note, sometimes there are bugs that require a more careful roll-out than can be achieved through a small update. The stakes are much higher when the issues lie deep within the foundation of the Destiny engine. This bug has been an incredibly difficult one to fix and test – we hope that we got it this time.

Firefly
  • Possible fix for crash related to special effects triggered by the Firefly perk

That’s all for 2.4.0 Weapons Update Preview. I hope it’s been informative, and I’m looking forward to reading your questions and comments.

[Editor's Note: The full Patch Notes for Update 2.4.0 will also be published soon, during scheduled maintenance and deployment.]
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