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

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Hunter mains, you might want to look away. Some of your favourite exotics are getting taken down to nerf town. (Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie’s weekly blog post about what’s going on at the studio is essential reading for Destiny 2 players, so much so that numerous YouTube creators record themselves just reading the thing out. Tonight, they’re in for a long shift, because the latest edition is a whopper. This week’s instalment breaks down a slew of changes to the way airborne combat works, details substantial tweaks to incoming weapon flinch, and nerfs/buffs a bunch of weapon archetypes and specific exotics. It runs to almost 9,000 words and, in the parlance of the young people, is very much a juicer.

For very obvious reasons I won’t list all the changes—most of which are due to go live next season—but here are six highlights that stood out to me:

1. Airborne combat is getting a total rework 

1,200 words are devoted to this topic alone, so it’s tough to summarise, but the tl;dr is all weapons are getting a new (hidden) stat called “Airborne Effectiveness” that will impact how reliable they are when fired in mid-air. Note that traditionally there have been substantial penalties for using your weapon when jumping. My understanding is that’s because in very early playtests, Destiny 2’s potent jump abilities led to players spending an inordinate amount of time airborne. Anyway, for those of you—hello, Hunters—that still love to take a trampoline-style approach to combat, you will now be able to spec into it accordingly. 

Bungie did however slip a very notable nerf into this section. Airborne Effectiveness will also now be altered by certain pieces of exotic armor. From Season 17 the St0mp-EE5 will give a huge -50 hit to the Airborne Effectiveness of any weapon. These boots, which grant higher jumps, have been stapled to most Hunters’ feet in PvE, so it’s a big and many would say overdue change. Particularly as every other exotic listed grants a buff—for instance Ophidian Aspect is +10 to all weapons, Peacekeepers is +40 to SMGs and so on. Expect the Hunter tears on r/DestinyTheGame to be biblical. 

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2) Trace Rifles are getting another (big) buff 

Bungie noted that in hard PvE content, aside from Divinity, Trace Rifles aren’t seeing much use. Therefore they’re all getting a 20% damage buff against non-minor enemies, in addition to the previous buff they received against rank-and-file (ie red bar) enemies. Additionally, the exotics Coldheart, Prometheus Lens, and Wavesplitter are all getting reworks. For example, Coldheart will now create Ionic Traces that charge up your abilities. 

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

Graviton Lance is already nuts with the Volatile Rounds perk added with Void 3.0, but apparently not nuts enough. Its catalyst will now grant the Vorpal Weapon and Turnabout perks instead of Hidden Hand. Another void weapon, Le Monarque, will now deal 50% more poison tick damage against AI enemies, but the tick has been toned down against players. Speaking of bows, Leviathan’s Breath‘s version of Archer’s Tempo is being improved and a delay is being added so that the arrow can stun Unstoppable Champions before delivering the bulk of its damage, which is also being buffed by ~50%. It should hit hard now. Huckleberry is getting some range added, Eyes of Tomorrow is getting a 30% damage buff vs bosses, and Fighting Lion is being fiddled with again.

Destiny 2 exotic gear image

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

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

To the surprise of nobody who’s played endgame PvE, Bungie is going to try to tone down Arbalest‘s ubiquity. It will now deal 25% less damage against Champions, but still break Barrier shields in a single hit. Frankly I still think it will be a must for content with the Match Game modifier (which I’m personally very over, but that’s a story for another day). Another linear fusion rifle in the firing line, though this time for PvP dominance, is Lorentz Driver. It’s body shot damage against players is being reined in by 20%. 

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

5) Machines guns are back on the menu 

Largely unloved since their Forsaken heyday, all LMGs are getting a huge 40% damage buff against most enemies. This will be reduced to 20% against bosses, in order to prevent the archetype from becoming too much of a jack of all trades thanks to their range and plentiful ammo. The exotics Xenophage and Grand Overture will get the basic buff but not the boss one. Xeno is also having its previous RPM change reverted, while Grand Overture’s missile alt fire is being tweaked (so hopefully it won’t feel so cruddy). There’s no mention of whether other exotic LMGs like Heir Apparent or Thunderlord get the basic buff, but I’d presume so. 

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

 6) People might actually use the exotic glaives

It’s fair to say the exotic glaives introduced by The Witch Queen have whiffed hard. I’ve held off writing about what’s wrong with them because I was expecting a big rework, and here it is: The Titan exotic glaive’s bubble will now grant a Void overshield, the Warlock’s healing turret will fire faster projectiles more often, and the Hunter arc wave is having its damage tripled and will chain to more enemies. Those are big changes, but whether they’re enough to offset the fact that you have to use the glaive’s shield less—the shield being the best part of equipping a glaive—remains to be seen. There’s a lot of additional talk about how glaive perks function and their design philosophy, and if you’re a glaive enjoyer it looks to be largely good news. 


Bungie also noted that it’s cutting down on cheesey 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 generates them on demand. The community manager who wrote the leviathan of patch posts clarified thusly:

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There’s a ton more in the blog, as you’d expect from a blog post that’s as long as my university dissertation, including reworks to the Shotgun and Fusion Rifle archetypes, the complete removal of Scavenger mods from PvP, and tweaks to perks including Snapshot Sights, Full Choke and Desperado. But we are way into the weeds already.

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

Start factoring in perks and player abilities and it’s an incredible amount of moving parts that require balancing across divergent modes. The fact the community gets excited enough to warrant this kind of granular navel gazing—there are multiple graphs here—actually speaks to how healthy the sandbox side of the game is. 

If you’re aware of a longer balance post, please let me know in the comments for archival purposes. 

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