December Weapon Patch Outlook: Where Do They Stand?

Published on: Nov 19, 2015 @ 22:01

December can’t come soon enough! Bungie hasn’t teased a balance patch for quite a while, but with today’s weekly update, we got a list of weapon balances that December is going to bring.

For the most part, Bungie addresses real concerns about weapon balance in both PvP and PvE. However, there are a few slated changes that have us shaking our heads.

We’ll breakdown the specifics and let you decide for yourself!

Auto Rifles

Outlook: Good

We can all agree that Auto Rifles have come a long way from their dismal state in the House of Wolves. Bungie’s buffs to damage were a great start when TTK dropped, but even with these changes, Auto Rifles were still outstripped cleanly in PvP by the new king of the meta: Pulse Rifles.

Now, PRs are staring down the nerfhammer, and Auto Rifles are getting a second positive tweak to their damage. This combination will do great things for Auto Rifle relevance in PvP, while helping out just enough in PvE. We would have liked to see a little Range added back too, and a little extra combatant damage, but it’s a great start.

Pulse Rifles

Outlook: Excellent

The uncontested best PvP weapon, Pulse Rifles were going to get nerf’d. We all knew it; we just didn’t know when. Well, the (brief) era of the PR is coming to a close. They will be receiving a comprehensive damage nerf across all archetypes that will certainly end their indiscriminate dominance at all ranges. Expect Auto Rifles to be the best option for CQB, while PRs relentless fire pattern will continue to be a lower-difficulty way of competing in mid-range.

Just watch out for the more unforgiving scaling to damage drop off! We upped the outlook to “Excellent” for the minor buff to combatant damage, which is a nice consolation prize for those who are are a little bitter about the nerfs. Pulse Rifles will be where they need to be after this patch.

Hand Cannons

Outlook: Good

Only one little change is coming, and if it’s to a noticeable enough extent it’s going to go a long way to fixing the problems of Hand Cannons in the current game. Hand Cannons are practically unusable in PvP for the sheer fact that bullets frequently don’t go where you aim. This was the consequence of the brutal aftereffects of the Thorn/TLW rebalancing, but it has made your favorite six-shooter a real liability. No more!

Bungie seems confident that the increased accuracy, combined with the nerfs to Pulse Rifles, will put Hand Cannons back where they need to be. Note that they were especially impressed with Hawkmoon, to the point where it’s been nerf’d to compensate. We still feel they need some of their old Range back, but accuracy is a good place to begin.

Shotguns

Outlook: Poor

It’s been nothing but bad (or good) news for them, depending on what side of the fence you’re on. Every single patch sees another facet of their role removed or neutered in one way or another. It might make for a less frustrating PvP experience, but it’s slowly ruining the appeal of a very fun weapon.

Their Range is being taken down to stupidly low levels; you’re going to start seeing damage fall off even before Blink Strike range on the lower Range models. On top of that, you’re going to ADS slower, and move slower once you have taken aim. Oh, and Reload Speed across the board is being tuned down. Oh, and your ready, stow, and aim out of sprint times are increased.

Might as well just hand Guardians a sledgehammer. At some point, it has to be on the players to adjust to Shotguns. You’ll have to think twice about using a shotgun in PvE now, even with the tiny, tiny bonus to AI combatant damage.

Fusion Rifles

Outlook: Fair

The first change is a curious one. It could either be a buff or a nerf, depending on how fast the charge speed is increased – and how much the damage is lowered. Interestingly enough, Accelerated Coils currently features this change in microcosm; it increases your charge speed but lowers the damage of each projectile. It looks like Bungie is giving the faster charging Fusion Rifles this treatment en masse. Until we see the numbers, this is a neutral balance.

Even in PvP, a certain amount of projectiles have to connect for the crucial OHKO. The hip fire nerf is a negative, but it’s offset by a counter-buff in ADS stability. Again, we’ll have to wait to see how it shakes out. Reserve ammo has also been perplexingly reduced. A lot of these changes smack of theorycrafting nitpicks – did anyone really think FR reserve ammo needed a hit? The best news here is the combatant damage bonus, taking the damage from 1.15x to 1.25x. Might be time to break out that Midha’s Reckoning! All in all, we’re open-minded about the FR changes.

Sniper Rifles

Outlook: Good

Only two changes here, and both are for the best. Bungie is smartly kicking the crutch of Luck in the Chamber before players become too accustomed to it. RNG dictating kills is a bad recipe for competitive play, even if the fix is really just haphazardly adopting Final Round’s new function.

The second is welcome news for sharpshooters, who can be assured that damage drop off won’t impact their OHKOs in the Crucible anymore. Likely, Bungie wants to keep PvE free of camping, but is sympathetic to Snipers needing to do their job reliably in PvP. Good stuff.

Sidearms

Outlook: Poor

It’s rare that we criticize a patch for what Bungie did not do, but nothing is going to change about Sidearm use with just ready/stow buffs. It’s simply not enough. Even with a diminished role for Shotguns, the Sidearm’s range is too ill-defined. On paper, the idea of a weapon used to finish off weakened targets is a cool one. The problem is, no matter how quickly you can switch to your Sidearm, keeping up Primary fire will still be a lower TTK.

No one is going to swap from a newly buffed Auto Rifle just because the design goal of Bungie is for them to clean up with a different weapon. The fact is, Special Weapons are used by Guardians when a Primary won’t cut it. This means domination at close or long range. There doesn’t seem to be a desire for a “support” Special Weapon, when a low TTK is the end goal.

Sidearms could use a little more damage and stability, and then you can bet Shotgun users will think twice about charging. And would it kill Bungie for just a little bit of PvE utility? A combatant damage bonus would be a nice addition, even for those who just like to screw around on Vanguard Strikes.

That’s our take on the weapon balance changes. Check in later this week for our thoughts on the proposed changes to Exotics, and anything else new that we’d like to talk about!

Let us know in the comments how you feel about the proposed changes, and if you think we were too harsh – or not harsh enough. Thanks!

Joel
I'm aWrySharK, your resident Exotic guru and lover of all things min/max. At PlanetDestiny, my perfectionism is no longer simply a matter of form over function.