Destiny 2's Guardians have become too powerful for Bungie's liking, so in the name of preserving challenge and design space, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is changing the strongest abilities and weapons in the game. Earlier this month, Bungie detailed dozens of subclass tweaks including multiple major nerfs, and in a new blog post, the studio outlined sweeping weapon nerfs as well as the cancellation of pinnacle weapons altogether.
Pinnacle weapons such as Recluse and Mountaintop have dominated Destiny 2 in both PvP and PvE since their release, to the point that they've pushed out other kinetic and energy weapons. To keep making new pinnacle weapons, Bungie had to continually up the ante with special perks, which led to egregious power creep. To prevent further balance issues, pinnacle weapons as a system are straight-up going away. You'll still be able to get weapons like Recluse and Breakneck and Loaded Question, but in the Season of the Undying and beyond, we'll receive ritual weapons which offer strong curated rolls rather than pinnacle weapons with unique perks.
"The decision to stop creating extremely powerful pinnacle weapons was made for a variety of reasons," Bungie explained. "The first was that the band in which 'pinnacle' perks can exist is actually quite small, and most of them far exceeded the efficacy they should have been at. Another issue is that they cause problems in the player ecosystem, particularly in the case of the Crucible pinnacle weapons. Due to the nature of PvP and PvE, anything that works well in PvP is likely going to be extremely effective in PvE as well. This forces players into the Crucible if they want the 'best' loadouts. Even the title of 'pinnacle' set a variety of unrealistic expectations. Rather than being the absolute height of Legendary power, they were supposed to be interesting novelties to chase.
"These problems became more pronounced the more of them we produced. In the end, we decided to move away from pinnacle weapons. If you managed to collect them all, we hope you enjoy them!"
Bungie also shared the first set of ritual weapons, addressing an earlier announcement which mistakenly said there will only be two pinnacle weapons in the Season of the Undying. There won't be any pinnacle weapons, it turns out, but there will be three ritual weapons. Those are:
Vanguard - Edgewise machine gun
Crucible - Randy's Throwing Knife scout rifle
Gambit - Exit Strategy submachine gun
While existing pinnacle weapons won't be nerfed into the ground, several pinnacle perks and other damage-boosting perks will be toned down in Shadowkeep. The full list includes: Rampage, Kill Clip, Swashbuckler, Multikill Clip, Desperado (Redrix's Claymore), Surrounded, Master of Arms (Recluse), and Onslaught (Breakneck).
Bungie says that these perks will now use the same damage modifiers in PvE that they use in PvP, which will reduce the bonus damage they provide by over 50% in many cases. Perks like Desperado, Onslaught, and Surrounded will also receive more targeted nerfs to their damage values. The only exception here is the Exotic submachine gun Huckleberry, which will retain its Rampage values. This exception reinforces one of the main reasons for these weapon nerfs: taming out-of-control Legendary weapons to give Exotics a chance to shine.
"Legendary weapons have become too powerful overall," Bungie said. "In many cases, they even outclass Exotic Primary weapons, so we’re walking them all back a bit. All the way back in original Destiny, we had a perk named Crowd Control, which was Rampage’s predecessor. Crowd Control capped out at a bonus of +15% extra damage. At this point in Destiny 2, Rampage caps out at about +67%. That’s a 447% increase from the original iteration. Legendary damage perks have become so powerful, they simply invalidate non-damage related perks."
Together with the ability nerfs mentioned earlier, not to mention the massive weapon rebalancing coming in Shadowkeep, these balance changes should dramatically shake-up Destiny 2's weapon meta, at least in the kinetic and energy slots. However, none of the changes revealed thus far seem to affect the longstanding grenade launcher DPS meta. That said, the way players damage bosses in Shadowkeep's end-game activities remains to be seen.
Bungie recently detailed how Year 3 of Destiny 2 will change and improve on the release pattern of previous years.