Today, Destiny 2 (opens in new tab) director Luke Smith published the third and final final blog post in his Director's Cut series. Part one (opens in new tab) looked at everything from design setbacks to future goals, while part two (opens in new tab) focused on changes to the Power system. Part three (opens in new tab) tackles specific balance issues and Bungie's solutions to them, as well as sweeping changes coming to the Crucible with the launch of Destiny 2 Shadowkeep (opens in new tab).
Balance changes - Supers, buffs, and debuffs
"The way damage stacking works in the game right now is busted," Smith says. "Multiplicative damage combines with exponential damage inflation to send damage numbers to soaring heights of 'we cannot continue this way.'"
To counter this, Bungie's changing the way buffs and debuffs interact in Destiny 2. Right now, you can stack things to high heaven. Going forward, players will only be affected by one buff at a time, and enemies will only be affected by one debuff at a time. The system will always prioritize the most powerful buffs and debuffs available, meaning Weapons of Light - it's back, baby (opens in new tab) - would override a buff from Lumina. This doesn't include buffs from Exotics like Raiden Flux or weapon skills like Rampage - those are their own category.
Critically, several debuffs are being tweaked, namely Shattering Strike, Tractor Cannon, Shadowshot, and Hammer Strike. Smith didn't give specifics for these changes, but he did say "we've touched the effects and durations of a number of them." It's not all nerfs, either: Shadowshot will now affect heavy weapons, which should make it more relevant for boss DPS. Smith also hinted - again - that Well of Radiance will be nerfed, since it seems like the buff from the Destiny 2 Lumina (opens in new tab) will override it going forward. Currently, Well overrides Lumina, so either Lumina is getting buffed or Well is getting nerfed, and all signs point to the latter.
Outside of these buffs, damage calculation is also being fundamentally changed. Basically, visual damage inflation is being reigned in. This won't affect the amount of damage you deal, but it will affect the numbers you see. That means more Celestial Nighthawk 999,999 headshots, but those headshots will still technically deal the same amount of damage to a boss.
In the same vein, the so-called "immunity wall" - that is, the Power difference that prevents you from damaging enemies way over your level - is being changed. Right now, players can't damage enemies that are 50 or more Power above them. From Shadowkeep on, players will be able to damage enemies up to 100 Power above them. "This isn’t a nerf," Smith says. "This is a way for folks to take on greater challenges by fighting further below the Power curve."
The nerf train doesn't stop there, mind you. "Similar to the way that deep down, we all know the damage-dealing capabilities of Guardians has gotten out of control, we know the Supers have too," Smith says. "Destiny 2 was overly restrictive at launch, but now the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction."
Supers will be changed in two main ways come Shadowkeep, in both PvP and PvE. Firstly, roaming Super armor damage mitigation is being pulled back, as Smith suggested during this summer's Lord of Wolves saga. Secondly, the amount of Super energy gained from Orbs of Light, kills, and assists is being lowered. Smith maintains that, as a result of these changes, "Supers will be just as powerful, but they will be a more strategic choice."
PvP changes - matchmaking, heavy ammo, Competitive
Crucible is in bad shape. Smith said it best: "We haven’t released a new permanent game mode, many game modes from Destiny 1 are nowhere to be seen, there isn’t a public-facing PvP team, and the last real thing we said was Trials is staying on hiatus indefinitely."
Fortunately, big changes are coming. Let's start with heavy ammo, which has been ruining PvP for over a year. Heavy ammo is basically going back to the way it worked in Destiny 1. It will now be "communal" in 6v6 playlists, meaning it will appear less often and everyone on the team (who's nearby) will get some when it does. It sounds like heavy spawns will be available for both teams as well. It's not exactly like Destiny 1, though; players will have more time to grab ammo once their team pops the box, which should prevent those painful moments where you arrive seconds too late. Additionally, the amount of heavy ammo provided is being reduced in some 6v6 modes.
Next up: Trials of the Nine, or rather the lack thereof. "Trials of the Nine wasn’t the hero we wanted it to be," Smith says. "We made too many changes to a formula that - while it had begun to decline in Destiny 1 - wasn’t as flawed as we thought. When we were making Destiny 2, we talked a lot about making sure it felt like a sequel, bringing in new players, and simplifying the game - and Trials of the Nine created another casualty there. It happened on my watch, and if I could turn back time, I’d challenge us to do many things differently. If nothing else, I hope it’s clear we are committed to learning from the mistakes we make and making it right."
Smith says that Trials of the Nine will remain on hiatus indefinitely, which suggests a new form of Trials - or good-old Trials of Osiris - will return in the not-so-distant future. That's just a teaser, but it's something.
The bulk of the PvP changes coming in Shadowkeep revolve around playlists. Here's the play-by-play:
- Quickplay is now Classic Mix, a 6v6 connection-based playlist featuring Control, Clash, and Supremacy
- 6v6 Control is now its own playlist
- Competitive is now a 3v3 Survival playlist which awards Glory
- There will also be a Survival solo queue playlist which awards Glory
- Each week will have a different 6v6 and 4v4 playlist featuring Clash, Supremacy, Mayhem, Lockdown, Countdown, and more
- 3v3 Elimination is in development and will start out as a Crucible Labs playlist, but is expected "to graduate out of Labs and find a warmer home"
- Some "underperforming" maps (presumably Firebase Echo and others) have been removed
- Two Destiny 1 maps are returning: Widow's Court and Twilight Gap
On top of all this, Bungie is changing the way skill-based matchmaking works. "This Fall, skill match should ensure a wider variety of matches, regardless of player skill," Smith says. "Some matches should be tense and thrilling, while other matches should be stomps. This philosophy should also apply to the top players, so they don’t feel like every match is a sweat-show, either. "
To this end, skill differences will now affect Glory and Valor gains in the Crucible as well as Infamy gains in Crucible. If you destroy a team of weaker players, you'll earn fewer points. If you win an even match, you'll get some solid points. And if you outfox some Crucible gods, you'll get bonus points. Smith also says "we’ve also made a number of quality-of-life changes to Glory, Valor, and Infamy to make losses less punishing to your streaks."
Seasonal content and the future of Destiny
Earlier this year, Bungie said Shadowkeep would kick off a new approach to seasonal content in Destiny 2, something that would pair better with its new a la carte DLC model. Smith elaborated on this point in his post. Destiny 2 is getting another annual pass-style lot of DLC, but it won't work the same way as the original annual pass.
"Over the course of the season, parts of the game will change before the situation culminates in an event that will ultimately resolve it, and its content will be exhausted," he explains. "But this resolution sets up the events of Season 9, which again adds something new to the game and resolves it, something that too will go away, but not before setting up Season 10, et cetera.
"This differs from last year’s Annual Pass, which permanently added activities to the game. This year will see events that last for three months and offer new rewards to chase, although at the end of that period, some of the activities will go away. For a time, the rewards will too. But we also acknowledge that part of playing Destiny is collecting all of the stuff, so in future seasons the weapons and Legendary armor associated with these seasonal activities will be added to other reward sites."
Finally, Smith briefly touched on the long-term future of Destiny, namely the plausibility of Destiny 3 (opens in new tab). Players have long wondered whether Bungie would continue to build on Destiny 2 with more expansions rather than release a new standalone game. Smith says that "technical limitations aside, we also don’t think making a game that grows forever is Destiny’s path forward." In other words, Destiny 3 will be its own game, not a massive expansion to Destiny 2. This isn't a huge surprise, and this isn't exactly a Destiny 3 announcement, but with so many unknowns still hanging around, it's nice to have some degree of certainty.
Here's everything you need to know about the Destiny 2 Armor 2.0 (opens in new tab) system coming in Shadowkeep.