Last month, Bungie announced that Luna's Howl and Not Forgotten are getting serious nerfs in Destiny 2's Season of Opulence, which begins this June. Yesterday, the studio added several of the most-used Exotics to the season's nerf list, including Whisper of the Worm, Ace of Spades, the Skull of Dire Ahamkara, and many more.
First things first: here are all the Exotic nerfs coming in the Season of Opulence.
Whisper of the Worm: The White Nail perk now pulls ammo from your reserves rather than out of thin air. In other words, no more infinite ammo. To compensate, Whisper's previous reserve nerf will be walked back, letting it hold 18 shots without reserve perks. This is the exact nerf Black Hammer and Black Spindle received in the original Destiny, so I can't say I'm shocked. If anything, I'm surprised Bungie released Whisper of the Worm in its original state to begin with. As Bungie said, "an Exotic that can generate an infinite amount of Heavy ammo is still a gigantic outlier and renders many weapons irrelevant for certain encounters."
Sleeper Simulant: Ricocheted or bounced shots will deal less damage to bosses, and body shots will be "significantly more forgiving" compared to precision shots. Sleeper Simulant hasn't seen a ton of use over the past year, so Bungie's explanation for this nerf - "much like Whisper, we’ve had to adjust enemies around that potential [for bouncing]" - makes me think this is a preemptive change to prepare for content coming in the Season of Opulence.
Lord of Wolves: PvE damage reduced by 20%. The Release the Wolves perk - which extends the gun's burst from five rounds to ten rounds - will no longer trigger on kills. Instead, you'll be able to swap between five- and ten-round bursts by holding reload, like the way you change elements on Hard Light and Borealis. Additionally, the perk's PvE damage and range bonuses will be removed and replaced with an unspecified damage bonus. The goal here, Bungie said, is to enable players to use ammo more efficiently.
Ace of Spades: Memento Mori will now grant six bonus damage shots (up from five), but you'll lose your bonus shots if you swap weapons. The PvP damage on those shots is also getting reduced slightly to prevent two-tapping while under the Vengeance effect of Titan's One-Eyed Mask. I've always felt Ace should have a 12-round mag and grant six Memento Mori shots just for symmetry's sake, so in that respect I almost prefer this change. Ace of Spades will still have a billion perks even after these nerfs, and it'll still reliably three-tap from absurd range in the Crucible, so I'd say these changes are fairly minor. Worst-case scenario, you have to think a little more carefully about when to swap to your secondary weapon while using Ace.
Skull of Dire Ahamkara, Orpheus Rigs, Phoenix Protocol, and Gwisin Vest: All of these Exotics refund Super energy, and all of them are getting the same nerf: diminishing returns on Super refunds. Bungie says these changes will make it "rarer to get a full Super back," and in the case of Gwisin Vest - which will now refund less energy after two or fewer kills in the Crucible - it'll make the average Super shorter.
Along with these nerfs, Shards of Galanor and Ursa Furiosa - two other Super-refunding Exotics which were previously nerfed - will have their "Super gain caps reduced to be in parity with other Super Exotic changes." It feels like this bit is poorly worded, but I'm reading it as 'Galanor and Ursa will now award slightly more Super energy.' At least, I hope that's what it means.
"We’re sympathetic about the fact that the changes we make in the interest of balancing combat and game design can be jarring," Bungie said. "It was important that we have this conversation before you read the patch notes. We know many of you have a lot riding on day one of Season of Opulence. Hopefully, this intel will assist you in building the perfect monster-killing machines for the next Season of play."
Disappointing, but probably not devastating
Over the past two years, Bungie's given several subclasses a way to maintain functionally infinite Supers, either by extending their Super duration or refunding their Super energy. However, the studio's also dutifully dismantled infinite Supers over the past few months, so again, these changes aren't too surprising - at least, most of them. Bungie doesn't want us to have infinite Supers in PvE, and I totally understand why: you simply can't balance for infinite Nova Bombs.
My hope is that the Skull of Dire Ahamkara and other Super-refunding Exotics will still be relevant going forward. If we make good use of our Super, maybe give us half of our energy back, eh? That way we basically get twice as many Supers as long as we play well. I think that's a reasonable baseline for an Exotic, but we'll see how things play out.
To the surprise of no one, the Destiny 2 community exploded in response to these nerfs, and I get why. Stuff that was fun in May will be less fun in June. It's disappointing to have your favorites weakened (or outright taken away in the case of Whisper, which I'll probably shard now). This is also a lot of nerfs to get at one time, and that's on top of Luna's Howl and Not Forgotten. Everything on this list is a top-ranking Exotic, so of course lots of people are going to be frustrated. If nothing else, I think Bungie could do a better job of setting and predicting the power levels of Exotics - again, Whisper comes to mind - to avoid doing nerfs like these.
At the same time, I understand Bungie's desire to avoid power creep and prevent specific Exotics from limiting encounter design. The problem, I think, is that while these nerfs are immediately disappointing, any potential positive effects on build diversity, encounter difficulty, or design limitations won't be seen for several weeks or months. But that's how nerfs always go.
All that being said, it's important to remember that many of these Exotics may still be viable after their nerfs. Whisper is pretty much dead at this point, but Ace of Spades will still be strong in PvP, Lord of Wolves' new firing mode may offset its damage nerf, and Sleeper should still perform in the corner-cases where it's currently used. It's also unclear just how much energy Super-refunding Exotics will grant going forward. As is the case with Luna's Howl and Not Forgotten, I think we should play with these things post-nerf before making any judgments. It's also worth remembering that plenty of strong Exotics are unaffected by these nerfs. Here's a quick list off the top of my head, in case you're looking for an alternative to your Exotic of choice:
- Nezarec's Sin
- Crown of Tempests
- Geomag Stabilizers
- Lunafaction Boots
- An Insurmountable Skullfort
- Hallowfire Heart
- Doom Fang Pauldron
- Heart of Inmost Light
- One-Eyed Mask
- The Dragon's Shadow
- Raiden Flux
- Celestial Nighthawk
- Wormhusk Crown
- Liar's Handshake
- Ophidia Spathe
- One Thousand Voices
- Legend of Acrius
- Two-Tailed Fox
Speaking of nerfs: here's everything you need to know about the latest Destiny 2 patch notes.