Destiny 2's next big update will rebalance almost every weapon type - and nerf a few, too

(Image credit: Bungie)

On the heels of sweeping subclass changes, Bungie recently revealed a raft of weapon changes coming in Destiny 2 Shadowkeep on October 1. These changes will affect almost every weapon type, with many receiving buffs (kind of) and some receiving range nerfs. Several Exotics are also getting a boost, and some of them are getting an ultra-mega-boost. 

First, let's get two big, fundamental weapon changes out of the way. Destiny 2 director Luke Smith recently confirmed that Bungie isn't working on a would-be Weapons 2.0 update, but weapon mods will receive a big change going into Shadowkeep. Like the mods in Destiny 2 Armor 2.0, weapon mods will now be treated as reusable unlocks instead of consumables, meaning once you unlock a weapon mod, you can apply and reapply it forever. 

This means two things: 1) no more dismantling weapons just to reuse a mod, and 2) you can now safely dismantle all but one of each of your weapon mods. However, Bungie says that "if the only copy of a mod you have is already in a gun, you will need to reacquire one to unlock it," so if you've already used your only Rampage or Dragonfly Spec, you'll need to get another from Ada-1 or dismantle the gun that's using it. 

The next change is even more important. Going forward, minor (red-bar) enemies will take reduced precision damage compared to what they do now. "These enemies previously took twice as much damage to their precision hit locations than enemies of higher ranks," Bungie says, and that's coming to an end. "You will still deal precision damage, but this is now entirely dependent on the weapon, as it is for higher-ranked enemies." 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Weapon damage and perk changes  

Keep this precision damage change in mind as we go through the weapon-specific damage tuning.  

  • Auto rifles: increased PvE damage by 25 - 30% depending on combatant rank 
  • Bows: increased damage to majors by 26% and damage to minors by 31% 
  • Hand cannons: increased damage to minors by 30%. The range stat will now have a smaller effect on damage falloff, meaning hand cannons are getting a blanket range nerf. 140 and 150 RPM hand cannons will also use a new aim-down-sights firing animation that will improve player accuracy. 
  • Machine guns: increased damage to minors by 25%. Increased damage falloff, meaning machine guns are also getting a blanket range nerf. 
  • Pulse rifles: increased damage to minor enemies by 28%. Same range nerf as above: increased damage falloff. Rapid-fire and high-impact pulse rifles will also deal slightly more base and precision damage. 
  • Scout rifles: increased PvE damage by 18 - 36% depending on combatant rank 
  • Sidearms: increased damage to minors and majors by 16% 
  • Sniper rifles: increased damage to minors by 47%, and to all other enemies by 20% 
  • Submachine guns: increased damage to minors and majors by 22.5%. The intrinsic perk of aggressive frame SMGs has been reworked into a flat 10% damage buff. This will not affect the current DPS of these SMGs, as this damage buff was already unintentionally active. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

In the same vein, a few weapon perks are being changed, with several receiving nerfs of some kind. Those are: 

  • Subsistence: will no longer reduce ammo reserves quite so heavily 
  • Ricochet Rounds: removed hidden bonus to damage falloff (range)
  • Swashbuckler: now activates after getting a kill with Ball Lightning (middle-tree Arc Warlock)
  • Grave Robber: now activates after getting a kill with ranged melee abilities (Explosive Knife, Ball Lightning, etc.)
  • One-Two Punch: reduced synergy between One-Two Punch and the Cross Counter perk on the Hunter Exotic Liar's Handshake. This would be the combo players used to delete every boss in the game in literal seconds.  

The change to Ricochet Rounds, coupled with the flat nerfs to hand cannon, pulse rifle, and machine gun range, should shake up the PvE and PvP metas to some extent. However, while they look significant, the rest of these changes will probably be fairly inconsequential in the long run. The overarching themes are: less damage to minor enemies and more damage to major enemies, with some weapon types and archetypes receiving a bigger boost to major damage. But most of these damage buffs are still just a means to offset the change to minor precision damage. 

Let's look at scout rifles as an example. They're getting an 18 - 36% damage buff. Sounds huge, right? The thing is, that's only a slightly larger buff than what all the other primary weapons are getting, and if everything gets buffed, then effectively nothing does. Pulse rifles and hand cannons will have reduced range, so that could create room for scout rifles in some engagements, but this is still a small buff to scouts at best. Scouts have been very bad for a long time, so it's unclear whether a minor buff will be enough to resurrect them.  

On the flip side, there are a few notable omissions here. Grenade launchers, the current DPS kings, weren't touched at all. Oppositely, Destiny 2's long-neglected (and absolutely dreadful) rocket launchers didn't get any sort of buff. More perplexingly, Recluse, the pinnacle Crucible submachine gun which is so powerful that it's effectively removed every other primary weapon from PvE, didn't receive any sort of nerf. I can't help but worry about how this will affect the new weapons coming in Shadowkeep. 

(Image credit: Bungie)

Exotic changes

Outside of general weapon changes, more targeted changes are coming to several Exotics, many of them of the underused variety. Here's the full breakdown: 

  • Sweet Business: magazine increased from 100 to 150. Increased PvE damage by 15%. High Caliber rounds replaced with Armor Piercing rounds. Base and precision damage slightly increased. Picking up ammo at all, not just when firing, will auto-reload this weapon.
  • Graviton Lance: increased PvE damage by 30%
  • Sunshot: magazine increased from eight to 12
  • Vigilance Wing: increased PvE damage by 25%
  • Crimson: base and precision damage drastically increased. Reduced flinch dealt to targets
  • Merciless: added missing aim assist
  • Ace of Spades: range falloff added to Memento Mori perk 
  • Lumina: Noble Rounds will buff allies more reliably
  • The Colony: Serve the Colony perk now works like Auto-Loading Holster

More Reckoning changes  

Ahead of the Shadowkeep update containing these weapon changes, Bungie is making yet another change to Reckoning. Just recently, its rewards were buffed and its difficulty was reduced, and it's about to be reduced even further. As Bungie explains, "all negative modifiers will be removed from Reckoning. This activity will continue to feature a weekly singe, with a daily rotation of Brawler, Grenadier, and Heavyweight. Our goal in this change is to improve the replayability of Reckoning, so players will feel more inclined to hop into matchmaking for some sweet loot. This should also help to address some feedback items from players that specific modifiers could feel too punishing." 

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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 staff 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.