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Bungie details major Destiny 2 balance changes

Here’s what’s happening to weapons and abilities

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Destiny 2 has been out for just under five months, and players are aching for a new set of major balance changes. Now we have an idea of what’s cooking, with details on tweaks that are in development at Bungie.

“The Sandbox Team is currently working on lots of updates for Destiny 2,” said design lead Josh Hamrick in Bungie’s weekly blog post today. (“Sandbox” is the studio’s name for the way weapons and abilities function in the game.) “We’ve begun playtesting a series of changes that you will have in your hands in the next few months.”

Bungie refers to the upcoming changes as the “Go Fast” update, so named for the studio’s goals with these balance tweaks: “to provide individual players with more hero moments by increasing overall speed and mobility, increasing the amount of supers you charge to demolish your enemies, and increasing the frequency and impact of our most montage worthy power weapons, especially in the Crucible.”

Highlights include buffs for a bunch of weapon classes — including hand cannons, pulse rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns — and Guardians’ maximum ground speed. “In short, everyone gets faster and the high end is higher,” said Hamrick. All super abilities will recharge more quickly, and while in their super state, the Arcstrider, Sentinel and Striker subclasses will move faster (and at the same speed as each other).

Destiny 2 - Striker Titan using Fists of Havoc
A Striker Titan in action in Destiny 2.

One of the biggest changes on the Crucible side is that enemy Guardians who die with power ammo will drop it, giving their opponents a 30-second window to pick it up. Speaking of power ammo, Bungie is reducing the respawn timers for it in Quickplay (by ~30 percent), Survival (~40 percent) and Countdown (~25 percent). The studio is also shortening the wait time for respawning.

In addition, Bungie is reverting the changes it made to the Titan’s Shoulder Charge ability with the launch of the Curse of Osiris expansion, when the studio nerfed the attack for a specific use case. In essence, players were using the attack for its mobility, not for its damage; it was a way to cover more ground. Many players decried the nerf as yet another example of Bungie fighting the Destiny community — the studio was putting the kibosh on a neat tactic that players had come up with, just because it was an unintended use of the ability.

“We believe there are a number of gameplay atoms like this that perform or are used differently than we expected but are thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless,” said Hamrick. “In the future, we want to embrace the state of gameplay atoms like that and balance around it, not against it.”

That’s an encouraging thought for the Destiny player base. Hamrick’s use of the phrase “the next few months” suggests that all of the balance changes might not make it into Destiny 2’s version 1.1.4 update, which is scheduled for March 27 (“weapon/ability sandbox changes” are listed among the elements of that patch). But Hamrick noted that the Go Fast update is “the first part in a series of sandbox updates.”

Update: Bungie released a developer video discussing what’s changing in update 1.1.4 for Destiny 2 in advance of the patch. Sandbox game design lead Josh Harmick discusses the increase to speed and firepower in the video above.

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