Destiny Weapon Tuning

Published on: Feb 5, 2015 @ 14:45

From the desk of Sandbox Designer Jon Weisnewski:

What you’re about to read is a heads-up about some upcoming changes to the weapons in Destiny, scheduled to go live in February with Update 1.1.1.

Many of these changes are subtle. It all depends on how you play. This is an opportunity to change up your combat strategy in new ways, and/or double down in the areas that still feel good to you.


It’s our goal for the Auto Rifle to be a visceral, close-to-medium range chainsaw. It should reward target tracking, and drop in effectiveness at longer ranges. Looking at raw DPS [damage per second], the Auto Rifle is the most lethal primary weapon class across all of Destiny’s activities.

Here’s a breakdown of kills by Primary archetype for the top players [filtered to focus on the top-half of the scoreboard] in Destiny.


That’s not just Suros. If you look at the top ten lethal weapons over a period of thirty days, six of them are Auto Rifles. Note the spike in SUROS starting on 1/13 – likely due to the Iron Banner Auto Rifle bounty. The ratios stay relatively consistent for non-Suros autos when Iron Banner is not in session.


It’s extremely effective in most combat scenarios and engagement distances. In fact, it is so effective that it’s intended role in the Primary family is being partially obscured. We want you to be able to deliver a steady stream of precision damage with an Auto Rifle, and you still can, but you’ll need to get a little bit closer.


  • Auto Rifle is optimal at close to medium range
  • Damage, Stability, and Range are tuned such that players desire Stability for reliable close quarters damage, or Range for better accuracy at a distance


  • Reduce base damage of Auto Rifles by 2.5% (averaged across Rate of Fire stats, higher RoF took less of a reduction than low RoF)
  • Reduce effective range values so that damage falloff and accuracy are a stronger factor in combat decisions
  • Range reduction is less severe in the higher stat values, so now your range stat is more critical to long distance engagements


The Pulse Rifle is the spiritual middle ground between full-auto and semi-auto weapons, delivering lethal bursts at a forced pace. The right combat rhythm rewards both target tracking and precision shooting.

Here are those same graphs again:


Pulse Rifles are currently the least used across all of the Tower’s warriors. We want to push these weapons to become a more compelling choice.


  • Pulse Rifle is optimal at medium range, but can still effectively harass enemies at close or long range distances.
  • Rate of Fire sets a pace for players to both track moving targets, and then deliver precision damage in bursts.


Increase base damage of Pulse Rifles by 9.7%. DPS is now more in line with other primaries.


Hand Cannons are intended to be the ideal weapon for precision-minded players on the move. Our goal is that they are ideal at close to medium range.

They reward the calm hand that can pace shots under chaotic combat situations. The rounds hit like a truck so you shouldn’t need to fire fast to be effective.

Right now, the Hand Cannons work as advertised, but they’re a little too effective at longer ranges. We’re finding that players get very comfortable hanging back and using the Hand Cannon like a Scout Rifle or a Sniper Rifle. With these new changes, you can still hit targets at long range, but the shots need to be paced out and the damage will be lower until you close in on your target.


  • Hand Cannon is optimal at medium range.
  • Hand Cannon is optimal when shots are paced, becomes less effective when fired quickly.
  • Rewards agility when under fire, precision targeting, and snap shots.


  • Reduce effective range.
  • Damage falloff starts closer to the shooter, and follow up shots are less accurate at long ranges.
  • Slight reduction to initial accuracy.
  • This is unnoticeable at close to medium range, but underscores the range intentions when used from far away.


Fusion Rifles are one of the most contentious weapons in the PvP arena right now. They’ve been largely untouched since Destiny launched and it has been great to watch the community slowly adopt these weapons and understand how to use them effectively.

Currently, they are the most hotly unliked weapon to be killed by. On the other end of the feedback spectrum, they are supremely satisfying guns to kill with.

It is pretty easy to find and build a Fusion Rifle that can push the range limits and land one hit kills and/or massive damage from pretty far away. Furthermore, in The Crucible it is not difficult to depend on a steady stream of special ammo so that players rarely have to pick and choose the right time to use this weapon. Our changes address these issues and leave the overall feel and function of Fusion Rifles intact.


  • Fusion Rifles are optimal at mid-range, where targets are easier to track but they’re not close enough to attack while you charge up.
  • Requires combat foresight and the ability to predict a target’s movement to use successfully.


  • Blast pattern on a Fusion Rifle burst cone is a little wider.
  • Close to medium range volleys are largely unaffected, but at a distance the projectiles are less likely to land hits on a single target.
  • This reduces the reliability of landing a one hit kill at far range, and makes the weapon better at spreading damage into a group.
  • Initial starting ammo is reduced across all ammo stats. This is change primarily affects The Crucible.
  • Starting a Crucible match, you’ll have less Fusion Rifle ammo in reserve.
  • In PvE activities we persistently track your ammo. We only use initial ammo values if you are logging in for the first time, or starting a Crucible match.


Shotguns are the close quarters king. These are the weapons you need to eliminate anything that is directly in your face. The role of the Shotgun has been well established in the shooter genre for a long time now. For Destiny, we have some interesting data from the field: A very high amount of players use Shotguns in PvP, and almost no one uses them in PvE.


In PvE activities, the reward of a close quarters Shotgun attack on any non-grunt enemy doesn’t give you enough of a damage spike to warrant using this weapon. Like the Fusion Rifles, in the Crucible it’s not difficult to find a Shotgun that is very lethal at some unexpected ranges. Some of the higher range values have been pulled in to help eliminate long distance Guardian one shots. We’ve also seen that the Crucible ammo economy allows for players to use Shotguns with wild abandon. So, like the Fusion Rifle, we’ve made a reduction to initial starting ammo.


  • Shotgun is the most optimal at very close range.
  • Complements melee attacks and other close quarters class builds.
  • Offensively closing on an enemy with a Shotgun is a risk/reward timing game.


  • Increase damage by 2x (100%) against all non-Guardian combatants (aliens).
  • Reduce high end range values – damage falloff starts sooner, so Crucible players with long range shotguns need to be a little closer for successful one hit kills.
  • (Like the Fusion Rifle) Initial starting ammo is reduced across all ammo stats in the Crucible.
  • In PvE activities we persistently track your ammo. We only use initial ammo values if you are logging in for the first time, or starting a Crucible match.


For the most part, these weapons have not been changed as a part of this update.

“Why did you “nerf” my favorite weapon? Why not make the other ones better and leave mine alone?”

Good question! Here’s why:

We pay close attention to kill times in all game modes against all combatant types. If we brought up all the other weapons to account for lethality spikes that occur in specific situations, then our TTK (time to kill) would get faster with every patch. It is important to us to keep TTK values such that your arsenal feels lethal, but also both allows for some drama while you fight, and creates opportunities for counter-play when you’re being attacked.


Check out if you’d like to talk to others about Destiny in a friendly and welcoming community! :)

  • Rex

    How about they make the good Ol’ No Land Beyond better?

  • RL

    Maybe they should fix the Black Hammer, and make the expansion exotics feel “exotic”

  • sbrozzi

    I can’t believe they are reducing base damage on the autos again. Even if the reduction is less noticeable on HRoF that just continues to make my Hard Light more useless & take up more room in my ever shrinking vault.

  • ƩɴɪɢϺΛ™

    Shotguns: “Increase damage by 2x (100%) against all non-Guardian combatants (aliens)”

    And with that, Invective just became a desirable item.

    • Very happy with the changes

    • insanetrasher

      I agree, but this blows my mind that they haven’t realized that by internal testing… was there really interns that used shotgun and felt it was useful in PvE? Devs these days..

      • WSquared88

        Oh man, I wish interns would have caught that because then that would mean that they used interns for testing. Bungie rarely gets interns and the QA (Quality Assurance) testers are almost always payed workers. I’ve tried getting an intern there for a long time, trust me they don’t have many interns there.

        • insanetrasher

          Well, I misused the term interns then.. I just meant to say their QA inbox.

          • WSquared88

            No problem, I just needed to lament a bit. You’re fine

    • Password?

      Except the range is being nerfed again making that 2x damage almost useful after the drop-off, since we’ll just be doing the normal amount of damage we were at the range we’ve been used to.

  • Meh

    What a joke. I feel like hand cannons could have been left alone. They’re meant to be that deadly, especially when going up against guns like the suros.

    • insanetrasher

      Yup, Hand Cannons are supposed to reward skilled players, they did. Although they didn’t mention any % for the changes so..

    • Topside 21

      I disagree. All of the exotic handcannons are just broken in PvP. Thorn and The Last Word are #3 and #4 on the table, The Last Word even netting more kills than the Suros on certain days and I bet Hawkmoon would be up there too if it wasn’t a PS4 exclusive.

      People keep saying there for “skilled players” but when 9 out of the 12 players on a pvp match are using Handcannons I find that hard to believe.

      • God


  • Law of Broses

    Well, I guess it could’ve been worse… I wish that they had some way of isolating debuffs to the game mode that they’re needed in. For example: Why debuff a gun in PVE if it’s really effective? Just debuff it in pvp…

    • Christian

      As you can see by the charts, the Game mode “Deadliness” factors are very similar for both sides. Plus, most of these changes affect one game mode more than the other. For example:

      In PVP, long range Handcannon kills were much too unbalanced, yet in PVE people only use Handcannons closer to targets anyway. So it has been nerfed in PVP but hardly in PVE, all with a single change (: Plus shotguns received a PVE specific change too.

  • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

    I think they could just leave handcannons alone.

  • Christian

    Great Changes, these are much needed. Very, very well justified and analysed. That Shotgun change has been much needed for a while and it is fantastic to see them as a genuinely useful item in our arsenal. Well done Bungie.

  • Adam Mead

    christ…again leave the hand cannons alone already…i mainly use thorn and devil you know in the crucible and its hard enough to kill people as it is…and now your telling me i have to get closer to idiots with shotguns and fusion rifles just to get a kill…ugh…if this update ruins the only class of weapon i like im just gonna stop playing…

  • Anonymous

    Vex Mythoclast has already been nerfed with a 34% base damage reduction (though precision hits buffed from 1.25-1.5%) and now we can expect another 2.5% damage reduction at least? Why? It’s supposed to be the best gun/hardest gun (to get) in the game for a reason; it’s supposed to be slightly over-powered for a reason. I do not understand why we go through hard raid VOG for an exotic that is on par with every other exotic in the game.

    • Patrick Casey

      The vex mythoclast isn’t an auto rifle. I suspect it will come out of this round of buffs/nerfs relatively unharmed.

      • Anonymous

        True, I misread the Iron Banner picture. Though, a true concern, is that a Bungie mod characterized VOC and Mythoclast as being “stuck in time”, meaning that they most likely won’t be buffed for HOW. The “stuck in time” response was to a question along the lines of, “Will VOG raid weapons like VOC and Mythoclast be buffed in the new package update?”. Found the article somewhere on planet destiny, can’t remember where.

        • Anonymous

          Found it. The way that he says it basically means that it won’t ever be buffed. Without argue, the new HOW exotics will overpower Mythoclast unless they are not proper guns, like CE’s Necrochasm.

  • BaeSuzy

    I, BaeSuzy, personally want to thank you Bungie or whoever decided to tuning these weapons. I finally do have a reason to stop being so addicted to this game. Now i will no longer have to worry about my daily, weekly and nightfall rewards anymore. It’s time for me to move on.

  • Figurczak

    Red Death buff! Yeah! Now i think this weapon is one of the best choice in PvE or PvP. Invective and universal remote in PvE it will be very nice too.

  • Oriel76

    I don’t think any of those tweaks will change the way players play, they already started in past and Scout Rifle and Pulse Rifle are still largely unused…

    In the end it won’t make bad players better, nor the best players get way better.

    More urgent bugs and changes are needed (Crota, Atheon, Heavy Ammo, your damn server…)

    • God

      OR they could just fix the broken shit instead of fucking around with the things that work. Dumbfuck. Go slap your mother for not swallowing you.

      • Guest

        You sound like an idiot man, we don’t need to be mean, that’s not what the comments are for.

  • Fenrir

    The problem with this changes is that bungie is forcing us to play with other weapons and changing our style of playing. If i want to change my way of playing, it should be by my own free will, not because bungie forces me to. Even if the AR are good from any range, a well placed shot from a hand cannon can take you down. And the funny fact…the change to the AR will be almost unnoticiable for the HRF auto rifles…the type of autorifles many people does not like…while a lot of players prefer auto rifles with low fire rate but more impact…in this case i can not call it balance…more like use the weapons we told you.

    I believe that bungie wants us to play the way they want, the only fix that was really needed was for the pulse rifles, let us face it, in general, they were the weakest type of weapon.

    Lately, with all the buffs that bungie has implemented, i do not feel like “making my own legend”, i feel more like “making my own legend the way bungie wants me to”

    Ok…so i will have more balanced weapons…but i will still keep losing my heavy ammo every time the screen changes, i will keep getting detained after being teleported and also i will keep getting damaged or even killed while being “protected” by the bubble the relic generates in the fight against atheon…i will keep getting my weapons jammed…i will keep buying the same shadders from the vendor in the tower and the same jumpships…but none of that matters because they “balanced” the weapons…

    • Taylor

      These weapons needed balancing cause it was a joke before. No one is forcing you to change how you play. Don’t get butt hurt cause some of the OP/UP weapons got brought in line. It seriously looks like you’re crying because your favorite gun/gun class isn’t broken anymore…

      • Fenrir

        Yeah…sure…whatever you say…

  • J P

    This is such a wasted update. Bungie has a content problem, not a weapon damage problem. They also need to understand that there is something COOL about large clips and auto fire and maybe THATS why they are popular.

    • dstripedape

      I agree with the content being the main problem but balancing should always be addressed. Right now a hunter, radiant dance machines and a good shotgun it the most unstoppable force in pvp, I get tired of using that method because it just aint fair. These changes aren’t addressing that

      • J P

        I don’t think there’s a power issue. They need to balance through content, not by taking and giving damage (shotgun Aside). Take red death. Who gave a crap about this gun until hard mode Crota?? Now it’s highly sought after. Same goes for bad juju on my warlock. With that exotic helm I’ve got nova bombs on tap!!

  • illwill $_55

    What is stopping you from making weapons reflect such changes in pvp and remain the same in pve ?

  • Hwoangjui

    I’d like to use a high rate of fire low impact ar but they get even worse now??

  • Geoffrey Sims

    Who honestly gives a FUCK about Pulse Rifles? Fuck’em…

  • bill

    Ya so just stop breaking the game bungie it was great now you are making it total shit

  • Hettar393899

    This is bullshit. “No, no, no. You’re not playing into the pigeon-holes we want you too! Use these guns if you’re THIS close, and THESE guns if you’re not.”. Basically, they want to force assault rifles into SMG roles and cover the fact they only wrote 2 maps for multiplayer that even warrant a sniper rifle. Since they made scout rifles in almost all cases pointless they have to now dick with everyone that took the time to get decent with a hand cannon.

    Way to lessen the game for the players that weren’t horse shit bungie! (that lack of a capital is not an error) Oh, and Ryan A, if you actually buy that crap you put after your nerf question in place of a real answer, you sir, are a fucking retard. Sincerely, that was the least valid response to a question I’ve seen outside a presidential debate, you jackass.

  • Hettar393899

    Update: Upon further though, at least that broken ass POS loot generating will be less frustrating now, since ryan a and 3 idiot chimps decided to fuck up the weapons I still wanted but hadn’t gotten yet! Fucking tools.

    • I don’t work for Bungie, this is a repost from