Taken King Patch Analysis (Part 1)

2.0 has arrived, replete with a massive amount of changes to talk about. While we haven’t had time to personally test-drive every one of them, this article will detail our impression of the changes at large, as well engage in a little healthy speculation about the PvE and PvP metagame shifts we might see as a result.

Since the list is a doozy, let’s waste no time in getting right to it.

After you check out our analysis, watch Tefty experience it all for the first time:

Player Character

This list is pretty much what Bungie promised and has now outlined several times in sufficient detail. Your character level will be set according to a smart reading of the gear you currently have available to you, and your Light level will be averaged subsequently with the Attack and Defense values on aforementioned gear.

“Player Health” (i.e.) Incoming damage will be directly computed from your Light score, but outgoing damage will lean more heavily on the Attack value of your equipped weapon. Ability damage scales directly with Light.

Classes

Stats have had their proposed changes implemented. Int/Disc/Str now does not help your cooldowns scale linearly, but instead is calibrated to assist you in reaching a “tier”, where you will suddenly see an increase in benefit. Between tiers, different values will have no use. Put more clearly: 100 Discipline might be the threshold at which Tier 2 is measured, and 150 could be where Tier 3 starts – but if you have anywhere between 100-150 Discipline, you’ll only get the Tier 2 effect. It’s a little odd that Bungie would pivot away from tiers in Level but embrace them for stat builds, but we’ll see how it plays out.

However, your CD bonus is now spelled out plain as day so you know exactly what you’re getting. Neat!

Orb generation for Strength of The Pack Exotics is now capped at 8, whereas before you could generate 9. This is a nerf, somewhat, but as far as we know the extra orbs per enemy are still the same – so it’s not too big a deal.

Recovery was apparently reworked as well. Bungie’s language is actually pretty confusing in the description, but we take it to mean that spec’ing very little Recovery will be more of a detriment, while spec’ing very high into the stat will be more of a benefit, than was previously the case. Recovery has, and likely will be, the best PvE stat choice out there, so this may be good news to many players.

A few grenades received an AOE tweak. Following the initial detonation, Pulse, Thermal (sic, presumably Solar), and Void, will see their base AOE field range increased, but Arcbolts will get an equal and opposite nerf. This is well warranted; very few players run Solar, Pulse, or Void Grenades in most PvE content. Additionally, Pulse Grenade “fuse time” is being reduced, which is either a buff (shorter time between pulses) or a nerf (less overall time) – but we’re guessing it’s a buff. Finally, Incendiary Grenades will have their detonation and DoT amped up to make them more appealing against Tripmines and Swarm Grenades. Good news, Holtzmann!

Titan

There are a lot of happy Defenders right now. To solidify the Ward of Dawn’s concept as an impenetrable shield, Razor’s Edge and Shockwave will no longer be able to penetrate the Void bubble. While this is a smart balance, it remain to be seen if those pesky Psions will still be able to do the same. It’s also going to make the infamous bubble train a lot more of a nuisance in pre-made Salvage.

Hunter

The Gunslinger’s Golden Gun is getting the slightest of power bumps to allow it to reliably OHK everything one might encounter in the Crucible. With the nerf to The Ram, and this damage buff, there is now no feasible encounter in which a GG would no longer be an instant kill. While GG’s power is still on the OP side, Bungie’s fix here makes sense from a consistency standpoint, and is a smart call.

Bladedancers are getting a few tweaks too!

“Arc Blade can now generate up to 6 Orbs when geared with exotic armor that increase orb spawning rates”

Again, Bungie’s language is very confusing. Arc Blade with Crest of Alpha Lupi previously could do this, providing you encountered enough enemies. And what do they mean by “spawn rates”? “More orbs” can hardly be considered any component of a “rate”. We’ll have to test this one out to really get what they’re trying to say. More orbs is never a bad thing though!

Blink is getting an interesting re-work and balance, with its base activation time increased ever-so-slightly, and a more clearly telegraphed FX trail so besieged Guardians can anticipate their landing zone and react appropriately. Blink needed something like this, and while it’ll be a little disappointing to those of us who have come to rely on it, we may even be asking for more when all is said and done.

The infamous meta-favorite grenades (sic) Thermal (Firebolt?) and Arcbolt are seeing their base damage reduced. On top of the Thorn nerf, we may just be saying goodbye to the incredibly potent “tag and drop” combo that has caused much consternation to many Crucible players. Furthermore, Arcbolt range reduction will mean less chaining potential, even for Lucky Raspberry fans. Perhaps to anticipate a shift and head it off, Bungie also reduced Flux Grenade tracking aggressiveness. And nothing on Fusion Grenades? Hmm…

Warlock

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Warlocks who have been abusing The Ram to sponge off damage that would kill most Guardians are going to have to get used to the lower TTKs again, as Strength of The Ram will be providing 40% less additional armor. You still might want to play around with it to take the strain off of spec’ing armor in your build, but we’re pretty sure most of the significant thresholds (survive a shoulder charge, Sniper headshot, etc.) are going to be unattainable now.

“Fixed an issue” indeed – Sunsingers no longer will spawn an orb upon self-resurrection. It’s hard to believe that this was unintended bug that needed fixing, but the balance itself is probably a good one. The momentum shift in competitive PvP with a well-timed revive was great enough without an orb fueling your team’s Supers. You now must get kills with Radiance to spawn orbs for your team.

Weapons

Auto Rifles

The news for Auto Rifles can only be described as “much better than we thought.” On top of the base damage increase and forecasted buff to AI combatant damage, Bungie decided to crank up the latter to a whopping 30%! This is certain to put the Auto Rifle back in contention for being truly PvE-viable, and makes us giddy to try out TTK weapons like the Ukonvasara.

Bungie kept their plans to limit Auto Rifles to close-medium range, and punish their stability, though, so you’ll have to learn their effective engagement distance before rushing headlong into a fight.

Pulse Rifles

The first change PRs are facing is another example of strange and unclear wording. It sounds like Bungie is removing the low RoF/high Damage archetype entirely, repurposing weapons like Three Little Words, The Messenger, and Hopscotch Pilgrim into the next RoF tier up. Then, on top of that, they’re buffing this new superclass of weapons with a higher RoF. What’s most confusing is that they claim we’ll still be able to kill targets in 2 headshot bursts – when this was previously only possible with the old archetype or Red Death. This will be another point of confusion we’ll clear up with empirical confirmation as soon as we can.

Less confusing is the Magazine Size change (more on all models!), reduced class Stability, and AI Combatant Damage buff. Bungie again makes the smart call with PvE by going all in with an additional 25% to Combatant Damage. The last update brought PRs out of irrelevancy, but they still needed that extra kick, and it sounds like they’re finally getting it. Expect these weapons to be strong contenders in both metagames, with a serious claim to the throne in PvP. If the Red Bull event was any indication, you’re going to be seeing a lot of them soon.

Scout Rifles

It previously looked like Scouts were going to get the best buffs of all Primary Weapons, but with the introduction of serious damage buffs to PRs and ARs, the unchanged 5% figure doesn’t look quite as compelling. Thankfully, Scouts are already in a good place and will likely remain so for the new expansion. The faster-firing Scouts will be packing a little extra punch, though Bungie assures us they fine-tuned it so TTK in the Crucible would be unchanged. On top of that, we won’t be seeing peculiar SRs with only 13 or 14 shots in a mag, as the whole class is receiving a boost to Magazine Size.

Hand Cannons

Unfortunately, Hand Cannons are getting a serious cold shoulder in 2.0. For better or for worse, Bungie has stuck with every proposed negative change for the weapon class, including decreased accuracy, earlier damage falloff, lower magazine counts, and a smaller zoom factor when ADS. The final one might be a good thing if you like to keep your FOV open, but everything else is decidedly poor. The funny thing is, Hand Cannons didn’t really need this nerf as a whole. There were a few big PvP offenders and one PvE monster, but as the former are getting individual attention and the latter is being phased out, it’s hard to see the rationale behind the sweeping changes here. Well, we’ll see if Bungie knows best!

Shotguns

The reign of Buckshot in PvE is apparently over. We knew we were seeing a 10% hit to Precision Damage, and a 10% hit to AI Combatant Damage too, but Bungie went ahead and threw on an extra 5% on Precision Damage, and 35% on Combatant Damage, to bring them way back down to earth. While this is devastating for those of us who want to run Prison of Elders without tearing our hair out in frustration, it may not be as detrimental in the new expansion, where Bungie has stated they will be trying to reduce the amount of bullet sponges. The initial Shotgun buff was to provide an antidote to a problem Bungie created themselves, and if this problem has been resolved, then this nerf will be less hurtful. If not, then we anticipate some pretty serious backlash.

Thankfully, Shot Package and Rangefinder nerfs are moving forward as planned. The Shot Package spread reduction is down to 20%, and Rangefinder’s effect has been reduced by half. It will be especially interesting to see which of these is still favored on Shotguns, as you’re still going to want maximum Range for winning your encounters with other Shotgun users.

Sniper Rifles

The Final Round redesign is unchanged from the slated proposal. You’ll now only be able to take advantage of the bonus damage on a headshot, eliminating once-and-for-all the easiest Crucible cheese in Destiny. We’re happy to see it go.

Fusion Rifles

Generally, accuracy and projectile speed is being reduced, but less so on those models with a lower base Range. This is to avoid creating a weapon that can snipe across a Crucible map, no doubt, but harms their utility in PvE.

But while a few of the disappointing nerfs remain, we’re very pleased to see that Bungie has added a slight damage buff against the AI enemies, at 15%. Fusion Rifles need to be able to compete with Shotguns, and this ought to position FRs more appropriately alongside their Special counterparts.

Sidearms

Reload Speed, already at a high value on half of the sidearms we’ve got to use thus far, is being pushed even higher. Unfortunately for Dreg’s Promise, barring an exemption, Magazine Size is being reduced to compensate. It’s hard to say what this holds for the new weapon variant, as we’ve yet to really see it explored. The Taken King will be introducing some fantastic new models, including one Iron Banner one that we’re practically salivating over, so we’ll be able to say more on it when these are in circulation.

Rocket Launchers

Grenades & Horseshoes either had to be scrapped or fine-tuned, and we think Bungie chose the more lenient option wisely. We’re hoping this leads to build variety on Rocket Launchers.

For all launchers, Blast Radius is being buffed slightly too. This pushes the RL into the role of quickly clearing large areas of threats, and draws a more clear line of delineation between its job vs. LMGs and the new and exciting Swords.

Machine Guns

Speaking of LMGs, the Dead Orbit ones had their animations patched up, and every Machine Gun now does 5% more damage to AI enemies. We might have preferred a little more, but 5% can go a long way on the right gun.

Weapon Perks

If you’ve glanced at the patch notes yourself, which we strongly encourage you to do, then you’ll have noticed the long list of specific numbers detailing what weapon perks bungie rebalanced.

Rather than list every one of them out in exhaustive detail, we’ll simply comment on the general trends we noticed and what it means for you.

Entropy's Pinnacle quest

Firstly, no weapon-specific talents with proc effects have been changed other than Mulligan, which now has a 20% chance of activating. Over-penetration from High Caliber/Armor Piercing Rounds no longer works on environment materials at all. While this is a nerf in theory, it was already next to useless since the initial nerf a while back, so it’s not a big change in practice.

Bungie announced their plans to reduce the effectiveness of every perk that provided a single stat bonus in exchange for no downsides, and they sure followed through. They provided a list with concrete numbers that you should check if it so interests you, but suffice it to say that perks like Hammer Forged, Perfect Balance, and Field Scout are no longer going to be the obvious choices for your guns. Instead, consider that HoW perks that extremely bolster one stat at the cost of the other may in fact be the best choice for you. You’ll have to do your best to highlight your weapon’s inherent strengths, without trying to put lipstick on the proverbial pig in trying to fix a weakness.

This concludes Part 1 of our Patch Review. Stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover Exotic Weapon tuning and more!

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.

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