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Destiny 2 The Witch Queen sandbox changes - Buff, nerfs and more

Bungie unveiled the first balance changes we can expect when The Witch Queen releases.
Destiny 2 The Witch Queen sandbox changes - Buff, nerfs and more

The Witch Queen promises to completely overhaul the Destiny 2 experience. From weapon crafting to Origin Traits, there are plenty of systems in place on top of all the new content that will hit the game this 22nd February. 

Of course, a huge part of seeing a new expansion come to Bungie's looter shooter is the massive changes to weapon balance, as the developers try to fine-tune both PvE and PvP.

While we're still weeks away from The Witch Queen, we now know a huge deal of what players can expect when the DLC arrives thanks to a lengthy This Week at Bungie blog post

Destiny 2 The Witch Queen sandbox changes

destiny 2 balance changes
The Witch Queen sandbox will look completely different. (Picture: Bungie)

In short, a lot of the weapons dominating PvP had been hit with a slap on the wrist, particularly guns like Dead Man's Tale, Lorentz Driver, Felwinter's Lie, and more.

Along these weapons, certain perks also got hit with the nerf-hammer. Tap the Trigger was nerfed, but only for Fusion Rifles, or even got out-right removed like Bottomless Grief, Celerity, Underdog, or Air Assault.

Of course, there are also some buffs in order, including an overall buff to Exotic weapons that use the Primary slot, which will now do 40% damage to minor enemies. 

Destiny 2 The Witch Queen patch notes

  • Kill Trackers were once one reason to Masterwork a weapon, but we now see no reason to gate these behind Masterworking. They'll be present by default on all weapons that shipped in Forsaken and later (Exotic weapons prior to Forsaken will be updated in a later release). 
  • Following in the Armor Team's footsteps, weapon mods for Legendary weapons are now free and instant to insert. 
  • Players now only drop one Special ammo on death (or equivalent), no matter how much they were carrying (as long they weren't completely empty). 
  • The maximum you can pick up off a Special brick is one for a Shotgun, Fusion Rifle, or Sniper Rifle, or equivalent for other weapons. Scavenger mods add to this as normal, but we'll be evaluating their place in Crucible in the future. 
  • Players quickly found another way to execute the quickswap glitch, so we've fixed another animation cancel. 

Archetypes 

The Season 15 Fusion Rifle rework had a lot of moving parts – rapid-fire, precision, and adaptive Fusions came out of this different but all quite strong, but high-impact Fusions are hurting. We've definitely seen all Fusion Rifle subfamilies occupy different roles and want to maintain the large differences in charge time to keep these distinct for now. So, we're nudging damage up to make it easier for these to land kills at range in PvP and we are bumping the PvE damage scalar. That said, we'll keep an eye on how they're doing and may adjust charge time down a smidge in a future release. 

  • Increased High-Impact Fusion Rifle damage per bolt from 62 to 64 (this doesn't seem like a lot, but it allows more rolls to cross bolts-to-kill thresholds). 
  • Increased High-Impact Fusion Rifle PvE damage bonus from 15 percent to 20 percent. 

We like that the crowd control capabilities of Breech Grenade Launchers in PvE have taken off, but as it stands there isn't a meaningful tradeoff for the added utility that blinding or concussion grenades give you, and it's unreasonable that a way to really annoy other players in PvP can also one-shot them. 

  • Reduced Blinding and Concussion Grenade damage by 25 percent. 

Rocket Launcher subfamilies have lacked meaningful differences for a while now, and their free tracking Precisions are flat-out better, so we're pushing them further apart by adjusting damage. We may take a deeper look at Rocket Launchers later. 

  • Damage adjustment by subfamily: 
      • Precision: 0.95x 
      • High Impact: 1.0x 
      • Adaptive: 1.05x 
      • Aggressive: 1.05x 

We took a big swing at Sniper Rifle aim assist based on zoom in Beyond Light and having seen this play out are revisiting the tuning on the zoom-based AA scaling. Low-zoom snipers got more of an Aim Assist (AA) reduction than they needed, and high-zoom Snipers are getting some pretty silly headshots right now. 

  • Reduced variance in AA scaling between low (35 zoom) and high-zoom (60 zoom) Sniper Rifles. 
  • Cone angle scalar increased by ~25 percent on low zoom, reduced by ~9 percent on high zoom. 

Pulse Rifles take slightly too long to kill red bar enemies in PvE. We're buffing their damage vs. minors by 10 percent (but if you want Exotic Pulse Rifles to feel better at this – oh boy, keep reading). 

Exotic Weapons 

ace of spades
Time for Ace of Spades to shine. (Picture: Bungie)

Exotic Primary weapons and Trace Rifles aren't sufficiently stronger than Legendaries for them to be worth bringing into hard PvE content, particularly against minors. Note that this change applies to all Exotics that use Primary ammo, and includes most secondary effects (e.g., perk-triggered explosions). 

  • Increased damage vs minors in PvE by 40 percent. 

Chaperone is a terror in PvP, particularly with the nerf to pellet Shotguns and the reduced frequency of grenade and melee abilities, and it outperforms some weapons that ought to be good counters to it, for example Sidearms and Submachine Guns. 

  • Reduced passive range buff from 2m to 0.5m. 

Duality is in a similar place to Chaperone, but it's not quite as rangy. On the other hand, its Exotic trait shipped with the constraint that it would wipe on reload, to make it harder to chain. Having seen it in action for a while now, we don’t think that limitation needs to be there. 

  • Reduced passive range buff in slug mode (i.e., when aiming down sights) from 1.25m to 0.5m (pellet mode is unaffected). 
  • The On Black Wings damage buff no longer clears on reload. 

Tarrabah is extremely strong as it is, but it currently demands complete commitment, with no weapon switching. This constraint is a bit harsher than it needs to be, so we’ve loosened it without removing it entirely. Also, while the duration extension when damaging players did actually function in PvP, it was so subtle that players kept reporting that it was bugged, so we bumped them up. 

  • Now reduces perk progress by half instead of clearing it on weapon stow. 
  • Increased Ravenous Beast duration increases for damaging a player slightly. 

Ruinous Effigy has been overdue for a look at its Beyond Light nerf (the nerf to damage dealt while guarding), so we're rolling that back. Note that the other part of that nerf was to the airborne standard melee attack, and this hasn’t been touched. 

  • Increased the damage dealt by guarding with a transmutation sphere by 66 percent (30percent against players). 
  • Note: Transmutation Sphere multikills now count for Orb generation armor mods (previously only kills with the beam would trigger this).

Lumina's stats just don't compare with other 140 RPM Adaptive Hand Cannons, and its usage reflects that, so we're updating these alongside some of the Legendary Hand Cannons that also used to be 150 RPM (see below). 

  • Increased range stat from 44 to 59. 
  • Increased base stability stat from 46 to 56. 
  • Sorry Thorn fans, Thorn is already strong and popular, and a similar buff would turn it into a monster in PvP. 

Ager's Scepter's initial implementation used Super regeneration scalars, which had very weird effects in activities that also had scalars, so we've rebuilt it to turn off regeneration while active and have implemented a slower drain using a different method. 

  • Fixed being able to activate or continue using empowered mode while suppressed or Stasis encased. 
  • Rebuilt the perk — used to modify Super charge rate, now freezes Super recharge and deducts Super directly, fixing several issues with activities that change charge rate and outliers for recharge based on Intellect stat. 
  • Super should now drain more slowly while empowered. 

Dead Man's Tale feels good to use on both mouse and keyboard and controller now, and we don't want to go back to it feeling unreliable, but it's far too good at spamming hip-fire shots at long range as it stands. 

  • Reduced the catalyst's hip-fire rate of fire from 150 RPM to 130 RPM. 

Lorentz Driver and Arbalest remain fairly hard to counter in PvP; one common complaint is how easily they can shoot through flinch. We'll be keeping an eye on these moving forward and have another change planned if needed. 

  • Increased flinch received. 

Forerunner's ammo economy was fairly conservative when we shipped 30th Anniversary but having seen how it's used in PvP we believe it would benefit from gaining a little more ammo per Special brick. 

  • Increased ammo picked up from a Special ammo brick from two to three (and from four to five with a scavenger mod). 

Legendary Weapons 

Felwinter's Lie Destiny 2
Time for Felwinter's to get nerfed. (Picture: Bungie)

Several Legendary weapons have out-of-band stats, either to their benefit, detriment, or a bit of both. When infusion caps were still around, this was ok because they'd cycle out eventually. But now the weapons remain viable in all activities indefinitely and the solution is to adjust outliers to be in-band. 

Hand Cannons: The band for Legendary 140 RPM Hand Cannon Aim Assist ends at 84 (and this extreme should be for a Hand Cannon from a pinnacle activity, like a raid or Trials), but when 150s were converted to 140s, many of their stats were either too low or too high. We're adjusting the stats of these to be within the standard ranges (up or down), as follows (an overall buff in most cases): 

  • Dire Promise: +4 range, +3 stability, -4 aim assist. 
  • Waking Vigil: +6 range, +5 stability, -3 aim assist. 
  • Jack Queen King 3: +3 range, +3 stability, -8 aim assist. 
  • Spare Rations: +4 range, +4 stability, -9 aim assist. 

Felwinter's Lie's intrinsic perk makes it far too consistent and lethal compared to similar Shotguns, and it's had plenty of time to shine. 

  • +15 percent spread angle. 
  • Most of Ikelos SMG's stats are wildly out of band for an aggressive SMG, but it does suffer from having a low zoom compared to other popular options. 
  • +1 zoom, -5 range, -7 stability, -8 handling, -5 aim assist. 

Typically, we don't adjust base stats on specific weapons at all post-ship, so we don't intend to do this regularly. 

Perks 

We want players to be able to choose to build into hip-firing more easily, so we're adjusting the Hip-fire Grip perk to support this. 

  • Now increases damage falloff start and end distances by 20 percent (except on Shotgun, Sniper Rifle, and Fusion Rifle). 

Adagio often felt like it changed a weapon's subfamily to the next slowest rate of fire — but worse, particularly when comparing damage falloff. 

  • Increased duration from 5s to 7s. 
  • Increased damage bonus (except on Bows and Fusion Rifles) from 25 percent to 30 percent. 
  • Now adds +10 range stat. 
  • Added a timer to the buff text to make it easier to tell when it's going to expire. 

Dual Loader is okay on paper, but in practice that reload speed is pretty painful. 

  • Reduced reload stat penalty from -50 to -35. 

Danger Zone felt pretty risky to use in some cases, resulting in a lot of self-damage. 

  • Reduced self-damage scalar for Grenade Launchers, combined with the other scalars, this is ends up reducing self-damage from 1.25x to 0.75x. 

Tap the Trigger is the meta-breaking perk on a particular Fusion Rifle. When stacked with other elements of this roll, it makes Fusion Rifles much too stable. So much so that we stopped putting it on Fusion Rifles, and then squidface sold it a few times. With this change we believe it's still quite a strong perk without being overpowered, so it's likely to appear on future Fusion Rifles (note: we did try reducing stability from +40 to +20, but in playtests the difference wasn’t perceptible). 

On Fusion Rifles only: 

  • Reduced stability bonus from +40 to +10. 
  • Changed max recoil angle scale from 0.5 to 0.875. 
  • Changed error angle scale from 0.9 to 0.975. 
  • Unchanged on all other weapons. 

Headseeker didn’t work as intended on Aggressive Burst Pulse Rifles, because the buff’s duration was too short. Sacred Provenance is the only viable Pulse Rifle that benefits from this in Season 16 (although there IS such a Pulse in the Season, it doesn’t roll with Headseeker), but expect to see more in future Seasons. 

  • Extended buff duration from 0.17 to 0.3s 

Let’s talk about Eager Edge. It’s a lot of fun to use, but it can be used to do some mind-blowing, environment-breaking things if used in particular ways while airborne. While the tuning below isn’t meant to remove the fun factor, we have a fresh raid (and other fun content) coming with The Witch Queen and want to ensure we retain challenge behind our upcoming rewards. Breaking out of maps can be fun, indeed, but can easily remove the prestige and value of a given item or experience. 

  • Reduced lunge distance benefit while airborne by 25 percent. 
  • Now caps maximum player airborne velocity (to a fairly high value) while active. 

Occasionally we’ll shelve perks, because they’re not working for some reason (too strong or too weak). This means we won’t put them on weapons in the future unless we change the perk. In many cases we’d rather put design work into new perks than old ones, but there’s a whole “Perks” section here. Anyway, these perks are shelved (some have been shelved a while): 

  • Bottomless Grief and Celerity (Both were attempts to inject some uniqueness into Trials of Osiris and Nightfall weapons, which we’re now doing with Origin Traits.) 
  • Underdog 
  • Shield Disorient 
  • Air Assault (though note that this may get a redesign in a future Season) 

Read more: Origin Traits in Destiny 2 - How to get

 

Featured image courtesy of Bungie.