Bungie details major Destiny 2 class and ability changes coming in Shadowkeep

(Image credit: Bungie)

The latest Destiny 2 patch notes are pretty thin, primarily because Bungie is saving all the big balance changes for the Destiny 2: Shadowkeep expansion coming this October. We've already seen some upcoming Hunter and Titan tweaks, as well as sweeping changes to the way buffs and debuffs stack, and a new blog post from Bungie's given us much more detail about how subclasses and abilities will work going into Shadowkeep. 

Let's get the big one out of the way first: abilities that instantly reload weapons will now provide a boost to reload speed instead. This will affect Titan's Rally Barricade and Warlock's Lunafaction Boots-augmented Rifts. As expected, Bungie's reasoning is that auto-reloading pretty much breaks the game. 

"Reloading is one of those mechanics that are simple, but have wide ranging consequences," Bungie says. "Because the effect on gameplay of removing reloading is inversely proportional to the size of your weapon’s magazine and how slow your general reload animations are, weapons like Rocket Launchers and Shotguns can benefit greatly compared to other weapons. This, alongside the increase in general access to damage bonus effects like Well of Radiance left us with the decision to remove this effect from these two sources, as they were causing things to quickly snowball out of control." 

Super armor - the additional resilience gained when using a Super - is also getting nerfed across the board, excluding Spectral Blades (which was nerfed before), Chaos Reach (which already has low Super armor), and Golden Gun (which has no Super armor). Other Supers will have their armor reduced by 5% to 7%. "In PvE players shouldn’t feel like their super makes them invulnerable and casting one should call for situational strategic thinking," Bungie says. "In PvP players need to feel like they can challenge a super and that with skillful play there’s a chance they can beat it." 

Likewise, the rate at which players generate Super energy is being reduced. Some Supers will generate more Orbs of Light now, but the energy Orbs of Light and Masterwork Orbs provide is being halved. The energy from kills and assists is also being reduced by 25%. Together, these changes will make Supers rarer, more fragile, and more valuable, which will hopefully benefit both PvE and PvP. 

Subclass changes 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie also shared a laundry list of subclass-specific buffs and nerfs, including more details on the Titan and Hunter changes revealed last month. Here's the full breakdown:

Void Hunter 

  • Vanish (bottom tree): smoke bomb grants invisibility to allies and now applies the Heart of the Pack buff to all affected allies. This buff grants 34 Armor, Recovery, and Agility, as well as a boost to reload speed and weapon handling, for eight seconds.
  • Provision (bottom tree): killing enemies tethered by Shadowshot creates Super orbs and increases Armor, Recovery, and Agility for nearby allies. Damaging enemies with grenades also reduces the cooldown of your smoke bomb, and granting allies invisibility will reduce the cooldown of your grenade. This is a new perk; the benefits of the old perk have been combined with Moebius Quiver.
  • Moebius Quiver (bottom tree): Heart of the Pack buff range increased from 20 meters to 30 meters. 
  • Shadowshot Super (top and bottom tree): damage increased from 150 to 250, ensuring a one-shot kill in PvP. Bungie says the tether will also have "improved tether accuracy near obstacles" and will suppress enemies on hit more consistently. 
  • Shadowshot Super (top tree): tether damage sharing reduced from 100% to 50% for the player who cast the Super, meaning 50% of damage from all players is now shared between tethered targets.
  • Flawless Execution (middle tree): now lasts three seconds instead of nine. Bungie says Shattering Strike was unintentionally nerfed as part of this change, but that its duration will be restored in a follow-up update. More on that below. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Void Titan  

  • Defensive Strike (top tree): melee ability kills grant an overshield to nearby allies. Killing enemies while the overshield is active grant melee energy for all players with the overshield. Energy granted is based on enemy difficulty: 5% energy for red-bars, up to 25% for players and bosses. 
  • Rallying Force (top tree): melee kills heal nearby allies. The heal has been buffed from 10 health and 10 shield to 10 health and 20 shield. 
  • Ward of Dawn (top tree): alternate Super that creates a bubble. Ward of Dawn now has increased health against enemy Supers in PvP, meaning "most Supers will require the whole thing to be dumped on the Ward to destroy it but will (usually) not kill the players inside." Ward of Dawn also grants Weapons of Light, giving a 35% weapon damage buff for 15 seconds. When cast, now generates three Orbs of Light instead of two. 
  • Shield Bash (bottom tree): shoulder charge melee ability that disorients nearby enemies. Will now suppress the target and any enemies within two meters. 

Void Warlock 

  • Vortex (bottom tree): Nova Bomb leaves a lingering AoE. Nova Bomb and AoE damage increased by 15%.  

Solar Warlock 

  • Well of Radiance (middle tree): when cast, now generates three Orbs of Light instead of two.  

(Image credit: Bungie)

Buff and debuff changes  

Finally, Bungie outlined some changes to damage buffs and debuffs. As previously reported, once Shadowkeep arrives, Destiny 2 players will only be able to use one buff and apply one debuff at a time. So if you hit an enemy with Shattering Strike and Shadowshot, only the stronger debuff will work. Similarly, if you put a Well of Radiance inside a Ward of Dawn, only the damage boost from Weapons of Light will work. This does not affect weapon buffs like Kill Clip or Rampage, or some Exotic buffs like Vengeance from One-Eyed Mask. To help clarify this system, Bungie's released updated damage values for these effects: 

  • Frontal Assault: 20% damage buff (down from 25%)
  • Sun Warrior: 20% damage buff (down from 25%)
  • Well of Radiance: 20% damage buff (down from 35%)
  • Weapons of Light: 35% damage buff (up from 25% in Destiny 1)
  • Shadowshot: 30% buff in PvE (down from 35%), 50% buff in PvP (down from 55%), and now affects power weapons (!) 
  • Tractor Cannon: 30% damage buff for all elements in PvE (no longer 50% for Void), and 50% damage buff for all elements in PvP (no longer 50% for Void) 
  • Hammer Strike: 30% damage buff (down from 50%) but now lasts 10 seconds instead of six 
  • Shattering Strike: 30% damage buff (down from 50%) 30% damage buff (down from 50%) but now lasts 10 seconds instead of six 

Whew. That's pretty much everything. The buff changes will have a huge impact on the current DPS meta in raids and other end-game content, and will likely promote more rotation-driven strategies rather than stacking a ton of buffs at once. The class changes, meanwhile, will hopefully improve class diversity in all content, particularly for Hunters and Titans. And that's not all: we'll learn more about the weapon balance changes coming in Shadowkeep in the near future. 

Here's everything you need to know to set up Destiny 2 cross save and prepare for the Destiny 2 Steam transfer. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.