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When I look at what I would like to see from a balance patch, it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture. As Bungie has said before, perfect balance for a game like Destiny does not mean every gun is equal, but instead that every gun has a role.
- High-impact (Hand of Judgmet, Cocytus, etc.) – High risk/high reward. Crit shots lead to one of the fastest times-to-kill in the game, but the body shot TtK is among the slowest.
- Mid-impact (Hung Jury, DIS-43, etc.) – Low risk/low reward. One of the easiest guns to use in the game. Only requires two shots out of four to be crits in order to achieve optimal TtK, but said TtK is very slow (1.00s) and thus is outside of the competitive meta. An easy and forgiving weapon, perfect for beginners, but outclasses at higher levels.
- Low-impact (DIS-47, The Inward Lamp, etc.) – Medium risk/medium reward. A faster rate of fire is more forgiving of missed shots, but a higher percentage of critical hits is needed to achieve optimal TtK. It sits between the high and low-impact archetypes in both TtK and difficulty of use, forming a solid middle ground.
Scout rifles are a good example of how a weapon class should be balanced internally (meaning how the archetypes relate to one another), and I believe it is Bungie’s biggest success in their PvP sandbox. Every sub-class has a purpose, and they fulfill their purposes well.
In the upcoming Balance Patch, I’d be very happy if SRs were left mostly untouched, with the exception of possibly adding more flinch to the high-impact models (to help them better counter snipers).
High-impact (An Answering Chord, Antipodal Hindsight, etc.) – I’d like to see this archetype become high risk/high reward, as opposed to what it currently is, which is high risk/no reward. With the slowest optimal TtK of all AR archetypes, the high-impact models currently serve no purpose. Using one of these weapons offers no benefits, as the damage drop off is still severe enough to limit their useful engagement distances to close range, and they don’t even do enough damage to make them kill quickly within that optimal area. High-impact ARs need some work done.
My suggestion would be to increase the precision and body shot damage by 5%, and push the start of damage drop off out to pre-patch 2.0 levels. Instead of doing 26/21 from crit/body shots, the gun would now do 28/22. This would keep the optimal time-to-kill of 0.93s the same against 200hp (10 armor) Guardians, but would allow the weapon to kill Guardians with mid-armor (7) or lower in 0.80s. High-impact ARs would also be competitive out to closer medium ranges, giving them a chance against low-impact PRs. I would also increase the amount of flinch done by this archetype, to both help with countering high-zoom weapons being used at closer distances, and to offset the inherent drawback of needing to maintain line of sight for extended periods of time while engaging a target.
Mid-Impact (Paleocontact, Righteous, etc.) – Medium risk/medium reward. Another weapon that suffers from aggressive damage falloff handicapping its usefulness, mid-impact ARs could also use a touch of help. While they have a slightly faster optimal TtK (0.90s) than the high-impact models, their base damage is right on the cusp, and as soon as damage fall off is initiated, they lose the ability to kill 200hp Guardians in 10 crit shots, which prevents them from being competitive. I would again add a 5% damage boost, bringing the damage from 20/16 to 21/17, and push the damage fall off out to pre-2.0 values. This will allow the weapon to maintain its optimal TtK longer, and also allow it to compete with high-impact ARs and very-low impact PRs at longer short ranges. Overall TtK would not change.
Low-Impact (Doctrine of Passing, Arminius, etc.) – Low risk/high reward in some cases, high risk/low reward in others. With the fastest body TtK of any legendary primary weapon in game, low-impact ARs don’t require much precision to take advantage of their benefits. Although these guns are low risk/high reward within their optimal engagement distances, they do have the drawback of being near useless outside of medium close range, due to damage fall off. I would again increase base damage by 5%, bringing us from 15/12 back to 16/13, but I would maintain the damage fall off ranges currently in effect.
This would drop the optimal TtK from 0.87s to 0.80s, and the body shot TtK from 1.07s to 1.00s, which would provide an excellent counter to aggressive shotgun play with weapons like Universal Remote. The damage fall off would still be quick and noticeable, which would keep these weapons from being effective outside of medium short range. Skilled players would be able to outclass these weapons by landing consistent headshots, as the optimal TtK for this class is almost impossible to achieve, and thus most players rely on a combination of crit and body shots, and the flinch of those impacts forcing other players to miss.
High-impact (Judith-D, Ill Will, etc.) – Needs to become high risk/higher reward. This class of hand cannon is criminally underrepresented in year two, but the truth is you’re not missing out on much. Although they are supposed to give you the ability to kill low-armor Guardians (3 armor or less) in a blazingly fast 0.50s with two critical hits, it’s becoming more and more rare to see people running any combination that gives them that low of armor.
What you’re left with is a gun that requires a full 1.00s to get a kill on the vast majority of Guardians, and thus is generally left behind. I would increase the damage by 1%, which would bring it from 95/64 to 96/64 (due to decimals, the body shot damage would not round up). This would allow them to kill Guardians with 5 armor or lower in two crit shots, without affecting their optimal TtK against higher armor Guardians, thus resulting in a proper high risk/high reward mechanic.
Next up would be a change that would affect all hand cannon archetypes, but I want to clarify that in this case, these changes would not affect Thorn and TLW. They are both unique among HCs, and I actually think they are in relatively good places right now. While still very powerful, they would be less so when compared to the overall increased potency of primary weapons this balance patch would bring. That being said, let’s move on.
- Remove the accuracy bloom that was brought in with patch 1.1.1. Completely and totally, this should be gone. Nobody likes RNG, especially when it comes to where your bullets will hit, and Bungie should have learned this lesson during Halo Reach’s DMR bloom debacle. The accuracy issues came about because of people sniping with TLW and Thorn, both of which were unique cases, and should have been treated as such. Other HCs have suffered for long enough.
- Damage fall off should also be pushed back to pre-nerf levels. It’s currently too aggressive, and has bullets landing for fractions of full damage even within the supposed sweet spot for HCs, forcing people to again put all of their eggs in the range-increasing-perks basket.
- In order to prevent them from once again taking over the long range primary meta, aim assist would be blanket reduced across all hand cannon archetypes. The exact number could be up for debate, but a general decrease of 15% or more would play into the hand cannon ideal of rewarding an accurate and skilled hand.
High-impact (Lyudmila-D, Spare Change, etc.) – Currently very high risk/high reward. That risk needs to be brought down a bit. While in theory the very fast time-to-kill is a decent trade off for the slow RoF, the fact of the matter is the risk is far too high to be worth the reward. These weapons either require all headshots from both bursts (Spare Change) or all headshots and one body shot (Lyudmila) in order to get their optimal times-to-kill.
In practice, this is very, very difficult to do. So much so, in fact, that almost no one uses these weapons at all. A 4% buff to damage across the board would bring Spare Change up from 34/23 to 36/24, making it kill in five crit and one body shot as opposed to six crits, which would not affect the optimal TtK of 0.73s. Lyudmila would move from 26/18 to 28/19, which would not affect the optimal TtK of 0.80s, but would make it require only six critical hits and two body shot, as opposed to the seven and one needed currently. These modifications alone would not be enough to drastically change the usefulness of these weapons, but I would pair it with increased flinch, which they deserve to have as high impact pulse rifles.
A slightly larger buff could be issued, as I originally toyed with a 9% increase, but I feel like weapons that can kill in only two bursts need to be heavily monitored, and they should stick to rewarding highly accurate marksman working within the given optimal ranges. Making the Spare Change kill in four crit and two body, or the Lyudmila kill in five crit and three body, could have the highly adverse effect of making these weapons too easy to use in general, although it would be something I would consider after seeing how the community reacts to these smaller buffs. If they were to be implemented, it would have to be with the condition that any new guns added to this archetype maintain the erratic recoil patterns of the current models, guaranteeing a certain level of difficulty in hitting the required shots from each burst.
Mid-impact (Nirwen’s Mercy, The Villiany, etc.) – Currently high risk/no reward. Needs to become high risk/high reward. Among the most useless of guns in PvP, their horrendous optimal TtK of 1.00s with seven critical hits leaves them out of almost every loadout. Currently doing a paltry 29/19, I would issue an 11% damage buff, pushing them up to 32/21. This would allow them to kill Guardians with armor less than 5 in two bursts, for a very rapid TtK 0.63s, but a very slow optimal TtK on full armor Guardians of 1.00s. This would make it a truly high risk/high reward weapon archetype.
Low-impact (Hawksaw, PDX-45, etc.) – Medium risk/medium reward. Currently the kings of the Crucible, I’d still like to see them get a small buff, so they can stay competitive with the improved meta. 4% should do it nicely, bringing them from 25/17 to 27/18. This will actually keep the optimal TtK the same, but take it from needing eight crits to needing seven crits and a body shot, while making them more effective against Guardians above 10 armor.
Very low-impact (Grasp of Malok, etc.) – Medium risk/medium reward. Not much needs to be changed here. A 1% buff to damage to keep it in line moves it from 23/16 to 24/16. There would be no changes to either optimal or body-shot TtK, but it would serve better against targets over 10 armor.
Pulse rifles would be quite strong overall in this meta, with the higher-impact models having the possibility of faster times-to-kill, while being less forgiving of missing shots. The lower-impact archetypes would have slower optimal times-to-kill, but would be more forgiving of missed shots. Both of these groups would be competing with improved ARs and HCs, while SRs will maintain their position as useful weapons at longer ranges.
Now that we’re done with the primary weapons overall, you can see that although the majority of changes didn’t result in drastic TtK differences, most of the weapons will perform noticeably better, both against each other and against special weapons.
Sniper Rifles & Shotguns
Make inventory more directly tied to impact. Higher-impact models should have significantly lower inventory than lower-impact ones. An example could be a 1000-Yard Stare only getting 3-4 rounds per special ammo brick (dependent upon armor) while Glass Promontory gets 5-6. Same with a Party Crasher vs. a Burden of Proof. This is already partially in game, but it’s inconsistent and not described well to the players, until they test the guns for themselves. There needs to be some incentive to run shotguns and snipers that aren’t just high-impact, but these classes do not need to be nerfed again.
Take down the aim assist on snipers. I’m not sure what a perfect number would be, but something in the ballpark of 20% would probably work. Snipers need to reward accuracy above all else, and they’re simply too forgiving in the current state. Again, it can be scaled so that high-impact/high-AA snipers like LDR and Longbow can be hit a little harder, as a method of pushing people towards other options in the Crucible.