Destiny 2 nerfs Arbalest, Renewal Graps, and St0mp-EE5 in what might be the longest balance post ever

Hunter Network, you might want to look away. Some of your favorite exotics are being taken to nerf town. (Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie’s weekly blog post about what’s happening in the studio is essential reading for Destiny 2 players, so much so that several YouTube creators record themselves just reading the thing. Tonight, they’ll have a long shift, because the latest issue is a moron. this week’s installment details a number of changes to the way aerial combat works, details substantial adjustments to incoming weapon flinch, and nerfs/buffs a bunch of specific weapon archetypes and exotics. It comes in at nearly 9,000 words and, in young people’s parlance, it’s pretty squeezing.

For very obvious reasons, I’m not going to list all of the changes – most of which should be released next season – but here are six highlights that stood out to me:

1. Air combat is being completely overhauled

1,200 words are dedicated to this topic alone, so it’s hard to summarize, but tl;dr is that all guns are getting a new (hidden) stat called “Airborne Effectiveness” that will affect their reliability when fired in the air. Note that traditionally there were substantial penalties for using your weapon while jumping. My understanding is that this is because in early playtests, Destiny 2’s potent jumping abilities caused players to spend an inordinate amount of time in the air. Anyway, for those of you – hello Hunters – who still like to take a trampoline-style approach to combat, you can now specify that accordingly.

Bungie, however, has given this section a very noticeable nerf. Airborne Effectiveness will also be changed by certain exotic armor pieces. From the 17th season the St0mp-EE5 will deal a massive -50 hit to the Airborne Effectiveness of any weapon. These boots, which grant higher heels, have been stapled to the feet of most hunters in PvE, so it’s a big change and many would say overdue. Particularly as all the other exotics listed grant a buff – for example Ophidian Aspect is +10 for all weapons, Peacemakers it’s +40 for SMGs and so on. Expect the Hunter’s Tears r/DestinyTheGame be biblical.

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2) Tracking rifles are getting another (big) buff

Bungie noted that in difficult PvE content, other than Divinity, Trace Rifles are not being used much. So they are all getting a 20% damage buff against non-minor enemies, in addition to the previous buff they received against rank and file enemies (i.e. red bar). In addition, exotics Cold heart, Prometheus lens, and wave divider are all getting reworks. For example, Coldheart will now create Ionic Traces that carry his abilities.

3) A lot of other exotic weapons are getting spicy buffs

Graviton Spear is already crazy about the Volatile Rounds perk added with Void 3.0, but apparently not crazy enough. Your catalyst will now grant the Vorpal Weapon and Turnabout perks instead of Hidden Hand. Another empty weapon, Le Monarque, will now deal 50% more poison tick damage against AI enemies, but the tick has been mitigated against players. Speaking of bows, Leviathan’s BreathThe Archer’s Tempo version is being buffed and a delay is being added so the arrow can stun Unstoppable Champions before dealing most of their damage, which is also being buffed by ~50%. must hit Difficult now. Huckleberry is getting some range added, eyes of tomorrow is getting a 30% damage bonus against bosses, and Fighting Lion is being manipulated again.

Destiny 2 Exotic Gear Image

Could the Leviathan’s Breath arc (shown here with the Bad Dog ornament) finally see some play in difficult PvE content? (Image credit: Bungie)

4) Arbalest, Lorentz Driver and Renewal Grasps will have big nerfs

Much to the surprise of anyone who has played endgame PvE, Bungie will try to tone it down arbalestomnipresence. Will now deal 25% less damage against champions, but still break barrier shields with a single hit. Frankly, I still think it will be a must for content with the Match Game modifier (which I personally have gotten over, but that’s a story for another day). Another linear fusion rifle in the firing line, albeit this time for the PvP domain, is Lorentz driver. Your melee shot damage against players is being controlled by 20%.

Bungie also mentioned that a hotfix coming next week will see Hunter’s Renewal Claws nerfed Duskfield Grenades will now take 152 seconds to charge (from 62) while wearing gloves. Damage reduction applied to enemy players will now drop from 50% to 20%, but will remain unchanged in PvE. It sucks that you won’t be able to cast that many ‘nades in PvE as a result, but the spam in PvP was crazy, so that’s not a surprise either.

Largely unloved since the Forsaken heyday, all LMGs are getting a massive 40% damage bonus against most enemies. This will be reduced to 20% against bosses in order to prevent the archetype from becoming a jack of all trades thanks to its range and abundant ammo. the exotics xenophagous and Grand Opening will get the basic buff but not the boss. Xeno is also having its previous RPM change reversed, while Grand Overture’s alternate missile firing is being tweaked (so I hope it doesn’t seem too crass). There’s no mention if other exotic LMGs like Heir Apparent or Thunderlord get the basic buff, but I assume they do.

The unloved change to Xenophage’s rate of fire is being rolled back. (Image credit: Bungie)

6) People can actually use exotic glaives

It’s fair to say that the exotic glaives introduced by the Witch Queen smelled great. I’ve put off writing about what’s wrong with them because I was expecting a major rework, and here it is: the Titan’s exotic glaive bubble will now grant a Void shield, the Warlock’s healing turret will fire faster projectiles more often, and the arc wave hunter is taking its damage tripled and will chain to more enemies. These are big changes, but whether they are enough to make up for the fact that you need to use the glaive’s shield less – the shield is the best part of equipping a glaive – remains to be seen. There’s a lot of additional talk about how glaive perks work and their design philosophy, and if you’re a glaive connoisseur, this seems like good news.


Bungie also noted that it is reducing one-hit kills in PvP that rely on damage buffs like Inertia Override and Empowering Rift, but I was surprised to see no mention of Titan Sunspots or the Lorely Splendor helm that spawns them on demand. The community manager who wrote the leviathan from the patch posts clarified it like this:

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There’s a lot more on the blog, as you’d expect from a blog post that’s as long as my college dissertation, including reworks to the Shotgun and Fusion Rifle archetypes, the complete removal of Scavenger mods from PvP, and tweaks to perks including Snapshot Miras, Full Choke and Desperado. But we are already in the middle of the forest.

A colleague of mine asked me how Bungie could have so much to say about a game now in its seventh year. The answer is that I don’t think there’s a single shooter with such a complicated sandbox of weapons, abilities, and perks all interacting with one another. By my count, Destiny 2 has 18 weapon archetypes, from the obvious (hand cannons and automatic rifles) to the more esoteric (bows and glaives). And each of them has several subfamilies.

Start considering player perks and skills and it’s an incredible amount of moving parts that require balance in diverging modes. The fact that the community gets excited enough to warrant this sort of granular navel observation – there are several graphs here – actually shows just how healthy the sandbox side of the game is.

If you know of a longer balance post, please let us know in the comments for archival purposes.

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