Destiny 2 is killing one-shot PvP abilities in its "biggest balance patch ever"

Destiny 2
(Image credit: Bungie)

Destiny 2 is gearing up for the Bungie 30th anniversary bundle coming December 7, and Bungie is preparing its "biggest balance patch ever" to roll out alongside it.

The studio's latest blog post goes through the main beats of the mammoth update, which was designed to curb ability dominance and steer Destiny 2 more towards gunplay. The "foundational change" leading the charge has been dubbed the "Variable Ability Cooldowns system" (or the VAC). With this change, Bungie says it can tune the cooldowns of individual abilities, like different types of grenades and melees, instead of assigning universal cooldowns. As a result, it can make stronger abilities with longer cooldowns and give less impactful abilities shorter cooldowns, allowing for greater contrast as well as more precise tuning. That's the goal, anyway. 

"The team has touched almost every piece of abilities content with this release, and I'm fairly convinced that this will be our biggest balance patch ever," says sandbox discipline lead Kevin Yanes. 

Upcoming changes to flux grenades were highlighted as a clear example of the VAC in action. Unlike other sticky grenades, flux grenades will be able to one-shot other players in PvP come December, but they've got a long cooldown and low projectile tracking to offset this. 

This is part of a broader plan to effectively remove insta-kill abilities from the Crucible. As of December, the Titan shoulder charges, Hunter shatterdive, and Warlock handheld supernova will no longer one-shot in PvP. Bungie says shatterdive can still technically pull off a kill with pixel-perfect aim under ideal circumstances, but the infamous one-two Stasis combo has definitely been heavily nerfed. Heavy throwing knives will seemingly still one-shot, and so will flux grenades, but easy-to-use instagibs are getting the axe. 

Destiny 2 Forsaken

(Image credit: Bungie)

Supers have been rebalanced, too. Passive Super energy is getting nerfed, but dealing and receiving damage will provide extra energy, with primary weapon hits granting the most. And like grenade and melee abilities, different Supers have also had their base cooldowns adjusted. Supers have been split into five tiers: the only tier five Super, Well of Radiance, has the shortest cooldown, while powerful tier one Supers like Spectral Blades and Winter's Wrath will take longer to charge up. Bungie also expects Supers to come online at different points in each match, with 3v3 game modes seeing fewer Supers overall.

Several armor mods, Exotic perks, and subclass skills have been modified to suit these updated Super and ability cooldowns. Super kills with the bottom-tree Striker and Dawnblade subclasses won't refund as much energy, for example, while Exotics like Contraverse Hold, Frost-EE5, and Heart of Inmost Light won't refuel your abilities as quickly. 

Most of the changes in this update are specifically targeting PvP and won't affect PvE. In fact, many of the abilities that are being nerfed in PvP will be buffed in the rest of the game. Stasis crystals will now slow players instead of freezing them in PvP, for instance, and their detonation damage has been reduced. In PvE, meanwhile, these crystals will not only freeze enemies, they'll also deal considerably more damage when you break them, plus the synergistic Whisper of Chains modifier will grant increased damage reduction. 

Other standout changes include normalized melee speed and range for Warlocks, huge diamond lance and shiver strike buffs for Behemoth Titans, and a heaping helping of cooldown reduction for Hunter's arc combination blow. Some of these changes will surely be softened and refined in the future as Bungie incorporates player feedback, but December 7, 2021 will likely be remembered as a defining moment for Destiny 2's gameplay and PvP. 

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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.