The Destiny meta is changing. Again.

Since Destiny reached version 2.0 around the time The Taken King launched, pulse rifles have been among the most effective weapons in the game.

Alas! The glory days are coming to an end, as they always do, and your favourite boomstick is in for a nerf.

“Pulse Rifles are some of the most adaptive and efficient Primaries right now sandbox designer Jon Weisnewski wrote on Bungie.net.

“The base damage forgives enough thumb skill up close that they can compete with Auto Rifles. The effective range keeps Scout Rifles in check at extended ranges, and the burst cadence forces a grueling pace for even the most adept Hand Cannon users.

“We like that they’re ‘having a moment’, but they need a few limitations in their raw utility.”

To this end, pulse rifles are getting an overall reduction in base damage as well as some other tweaks – although its worth noting that their damage against troops of the Darkness (AI) has actually been increased.

Although multiple weapon classes are getting a tuning with Destiny 2.0.1, shotguns are the other major target, with multiple changes. Most of these are aimed at further reducing effective range, but those shotguns designed to be used at a distance are being penalised in other ways, such as instability.

Auto rifles and fusion rifles are also getting a good tinkering. Weisnewski’s full balance notes follow.

General weapon class tuning

Auto Rifles
The 2.0 update brought Auto Rifles back into the competitive PvP space as an option. However, we find they are still occasionally losing to Pulse Rifles at close range. Based on that data, Autos are coming up a tiny bit to help them fulfill their intended role.

    Goals:

  • Auto Rifles are optimal at close to medium range
  • Auto Rifles can effectively compete against Pulse Rifles in PvP
    Changes:

  • Small increases to base damage.
  • Low RoF (Suros Regime, An Answering Chord): 3% base damage increase
  • Med RoF (Zhalo Supercell, Paleocontact JPK-43): 7% base damage increase
  • High RoF (Arminius-D, Necrochasm): 4% base damage increase

Pulse Rifles
Pulse Rifles are some of the most adaptive and efficient Primaries right now. The base damage forgives enough thumb skill up close that they can compete with Auto Rifles. The effective range keeps Scout Rifles in check at extended ranges, and the burst cadence forces a grueling pace for even the most adept Hand Cannon users. We like that they’re “having a moment”, but they need a few limitations in their raw utility.

    Goals:

  • Pulse Rifle is optimal at medium range, but can still effectively engage enemies at close or medium-long range
  • Pulse Rifles should feel strong in PvP, but don’t become the only competitive option
    Changes:

  • Reduce base damage.
  • Low RoF (The Messenger, Spare Change): 9% base damage reduction
  • Med RoF (Hawksaw, No Time To Explain, Red Death): 8% base damage reduction
  • High RoF (Bad Juju): 8% base damage reduction
  • Highest RoF (Grasp of Marok): 2% base damage reduction
  • Reduce damage falloff to start between Auto Rifle and Hand Cannon ranges.
  • A low range Pulse Rifle will have shorter damage falloff than an average Hand Cannon.
  • A high range Pulse Rifle will have farther damage falloff than an average Hand Cannon.
  • Increase base damage against AI combatants to 1.3x (was 1.25x).

Hand Cannons
For 2.0.1, we’ve increased ADS Accuracy for another pass at the goals outlined below.

    Goals:

  • Hand Cannons are optimal at close to medium range
  • Rewards agility under fire, precision targeting, and snap shots
  • Hand Cannons cannot reliably compete with Scout Rifles at long range
    Changes:

  • Increase ADS Accuracy for more reliable shooting at close to medium range

Shotguns
Our last few attempts at curbing the lethal range of shotguns have made some dents in the legacy of The Felwinter Times, but currently there are still weapon builds that can kill at surprisingly long range (albeit less reliably). We are hitting range again in the form of damage falloff, but we’re also turning the focus to other ways in which shotguns can be lethal. Long range shotgun builds now call for more challenging sacrifices on other weapon stats: Stability, Rate of Fire, Reload, and Handling.

    Goals:

  • Shotguns are most effective 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
  • Reduce weapon agility so that CQ combat is more deliberate.
    Changes:

  • Reduce starting damage falloff to match melee lunge ranges.
  • Low range stat falloff starts at standard melee lunge.
  • High range stat falloff starts at Blink Strike lunge.
  • Final damage falloff distance extends 0.5 meters longer for a smoother drop.
  • Slower ready/stow times for all shotguns.
  • Additional recoil across the entire Stability stat range.
  • Slower reload speed across the entire Reload stat range.
  • Slower time to Aim Down Sights for all shotguns.
  • Slower base movement speed when Shotguns are the active weapon (Walk, Run and Aim Down Sights. Sprint is unaffected.)
  • Add 2 frames delay when firing out of sprint.
  • Increase base damage against AI combatants to 1.6x (was 1.55x).

Fusion Rifles
Fusion Rifles are nuanced weapons. Not only in how to use them effectively – the ability to track targets and predict movement being imperative – but also that the weapon stats can provide a variety of experiences. For example:
High Stability will keep the projectile grouping closer together and improve your chance of hitting all shots.
High Range will increase projectile speed and reduce the enemy’s ability to dodge the burst.
Charge Speed will move the weapon’s role from reactive to anticipatory as it goes from fast to slow.

Our hope in this patch is to make these player facing decisions easier to answer. Slow charging Fusions like the Omolon Thesan FR4 can push the effective range of fusions to the max. Faster charging Fusions like Split Shifter Pro will allow players to be reactive to close range threats.

    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
  • Requires combat foresight and the ability to predict a target’s movement to use successfully
  • Accentuate close range/medium range effectiveness by tuning charge speed and stability
  • Make players feel more judicious about spending ammo
    Changes:

  • Increase Charge Speed on fast charging Fusion Rifles, but reduce burst damage to compensate
  • Fusion Rifles behave more predictably based on player state
  • Reduced Hip Fire Stability for all Fusion Rifles
  • Increased ADS and Crouched Stability for all Fusion Rifles
  • Reduction in carried ammo inventory for all Fusion Rifles
  • Increased base damage against AI combatants to 1.25x (was 1.15x)

Sniper Rifles
Damage falloff on Sniper Rifles is here to stay! [ducks] But, we’re pushing it out a bit further to ensure that a precision head shot is consistently rewarded. With the new values Sniper lethality should only be affected at really, really long combat distances.

Speaking of rewarding precision head shots, Luck in the Chamber will now only grant a precision damage bonus when the perk rolls on a Sniper Rifle.

    Goals:

  • Sniper Rifles are optimal at long range, and difficult to use for medium or short range combat
  • Sniper Rifles reward thumb skill with high damage against precision targets
  • The Luck in the Chamber perk on Sniper Rifles should still require precision shots
    Changes:

  • Extend Sniper Rifle damage falloff so damage only reduces for very long range shots.
  • Luck in the Chamber on Sniper Rifles now only buffs precision damage.

Sidearms
Sidearms are the multi-purpose support weapon for close range edge cases. Suppress a nearby flank route, gun down a rushing attacker, or swap to it when you just need a few more rounds to finish off a weak target.

    Goals:

  • Sidearms should always feel light and responsive. Reload and handling stats go from good to great.
  • Sidearms are optimal at close to medium range, and lose effectiveness at long range.
  • Sidearms are intended to act as an all-purpose support tool for your primary weapon rather than a special case alternative.
    Changes:

  • Increase ready/stow speed for all Sidearms.

Exotic Weapon tuning

The First Curse
The Last Word is your close range, hip fire bullet storm that begs you to rapidly empty the magazine. The First Curse is the spiritual opposite: a heavy hitting, slow firing pistol that asks you to stay calm, take aim, and drop each shot like a megaton payload. This weapon didn’t immediately resonate with many players like its scrappy counterpart so we’re emphasizing its strengths as the longest range Hand Cannon. The quest to achieve it is no walk in the park either, so the test weapon Imprecation is also getting some improvements.

    Changes:

  • The First Curse perk now refills the magazine when activated, provides better Stability, better Target Acquisition, and damage falloff starts further out while the perk remains active.
    +25 to First Curse base range.
  • Fixed a bug where The First Curse perk would deactivate if the player summoned their Ghost.
  • Boost to Imprecation base range and magazine size.

Hawkmoon
Armed with better base ADS Accuracy from the global Hand Cannon changes, Hawkmoon soared high above the pack as we playtested the new weapons. So high that all other Hand Cannons paled in comparison no matter the activity, and thus needed to have its wings clipped. Hawkmoon still hits hard, still has the largest magazine of any Hand Cannon, and can still 2-shot in the Crucible under lucky circumstances, but it won’t be as common with the new changes.

    Changes:

  • Reduce base Range by 20.
  • Lucky bullets from both Luck in the Chamber and Holding Aces now deal 1.2x bonus damage (was 1.3x).

The Chaperone
It’s not often that a weapon gets banned from internal playtests but as we tested the global 2.1.0 Shotgun changes, our bastard hero, The Chaperone, rose above in a tremendously anxiety-ridden way. By reducing base damage but enhancing precision damage we are ensuring this exotic remains good at what it does when playing to the weapon’s intended role, but doesn’t incite quite as much rage in its victims.

    Changes:

  • Reduce base damage.
  • Increase precision damage scalar to 1.75x (was 1.1x).

Fabian Strategy
Currently the effect of Front Lines is subtle and requires close attention to notice. The new approach to Front Lines focuses on a more tangible experience: we increase the base Rate of Fire stat and push the weapon up to the fastest firing Auto Rifle archetype, enabling the weapon to do more damage in less time (as long as you don’t miss). The visceral reply of the weapon as it cranks through the magazine feels much more appropriate for a Titan on the front lines, and the already ample Stability boost helps keep the rounds tight and focused. The new approach exposed a few bugs with magazine inconsistencies so we needed to retrofit the stat upgrade perks with new options.

    Changes:

  • Front Lines perk on Fabian Strategy no longer buffs Rate of Fire as a bonus modifier. Front Lines now increases the base Rate of Fire stat to highest speed. Damage per bullet is offset to match the High RoF archetype.
  • Removed Extended Mag perk and replaced with Flared Magwell. Removed Small Bore perk and replaced with Rifled Barrel. Needed to make these changes to prevent shipping a magazine bug that could trigger when reloading the weapon while Front Lines perk was active.
  • Increased base Reload and Stability on the weapon to help offset the removed stat upgrades.

Black Spindle
While the Scope changes do affect weapon stats as advertised, only one piece of scope art was built for Black Spindle so we opted to replace the first column with barrel upgrades.

    Changes:

  • Removed scope upgrades from Black Spindle talent grid (Spindle only has one scope). Replaced with Barrel upgrades.

Sleeper Simulant
In looking at an inoffensive ammo exploit bug, we took the opportunity to address some pretty unanimous feedback about the ammo inventory on this weapon.

    Changes:

  • Maximum inventory ammo buffed (from 7 -> 9)
  • Ammo swap exploit removed (weapon no longer converts one ammo from a different heavy weapon to a full inventory)
  • Inventory no longer benefits from Fusion Rifle armor perks, but does benefit from Heavy Ammo armor perks.