For the first time in the new calendar year, Bungie, developer and publisher behind Destiny 2, released their weekly news update appropriately titled, “This Week at Bungie”, or TWAB for short. The release comes at a time when the community, especially the PvP focused side, has been more than vocal at their displeasure towards the state of the game. So did the TWAB address these issues, well no, but yes…kinda? Let’s back up first.
With the recent launch of “Beyond Light”, a new expansion giving players new loot, a new location and most notably, a new subclass calledStasis. At launch, many players were giddy over the potential for a fourth energy type in the game. For the last six years of Destiny, Solar, Void and Arc, were the only options for guardians to use. Stasis was meant to change the way Destiny was played in all game modes, and it certainly has done that.
In the weeks that followed the release, players dove deeper into the subclass, unlocking upgrades, grenade options and passive buffs/debuffs to equip and further kit out their new abilities. Some of these abilities, or even just the base subclasses themselves, proved to be jarring in the Crucible, the game’s PvP arena.
Between the stasis subclasses, Shadebinder (Warlock) and Revenant (Hunter), stasis has received a wave of buffs/debuffs since the launch of Beyond Light. Warlocks dominated the crucible in the days after launch. Their melee freeze ability could reach targets from 28 meters away. A hotfix was issued shrinking this to 16 meters. A later hotfix then changed this again, increasing the range by 37%.
Weeks progressed and a new villain in the crucible was identified in the form of Revenant Hunters and their Shatterdive. Shatterdive is an ability unlocked through upgrades in the stasis subclass. It allows for hunters to vault into the air and use a pickaxe to slam into the ground casing area of effect damage. On an unfrozen target, it’s not very effective, although it does give hunters another movement ability in a class that’s known to be very fast. Shatterdive’s real potential emerges when an enemy is already frozen or when interacting with something that is frozen. When using Shatterdive in combo with the Glacier grenade, a grenade that builds an ice wall upon contact, freezing anyone that touches, the problem fully emerges.
When you Shatterdive onto a Glacier wall, it will shatter, causing an even larger area of effect damage. This often results in an instant kill for anyone within the radius. Combining these two effects creates essentially a get out of jail free card for any hunter that knows their kit.
This kit becomes even more deadly when using Whisper of Fissures Fragment. Fragments are essentially modifiers to players’ stasis subclasses, modifying them in unique ways that can shake the game radically. Whisper of Fissures increases the damage and size of the burst created when destroying a frozen object, be that a Glacier grenade or frozen enemy.
Now getting to the topic at hand. In the recent TWAB, Bungie announced that they would be issuing a hotfix to weaken Shatterdivers in the coming days. Nerfs to the Shatterdive ability and a heavy nerf to the Whisper of Fissures Fragment headline the sandbox tuning. Shatterdrive now has damage falloff versus unfrozen targets, reduced the range from 50 meters to five and changed damage reduction during ability from 50% to 25%. Whisper of Fissures now does reduced damage to non super players, super players and has taken a hit in its area of effect range. These changes, although may be needed, don’t necessarily address the problem, that being the Glacier grenade.
When breaking a Glacier grenade, the ice shatters and is launched, creating shrapnel that does notable damage. The nerfs to Shatterdive may address a real issue, but may not address the actual root of the problem. And with the nerf to the Hunter subclass, it may reveal what is about to be an even larger problem in the crucible, the Titan Behemoth subclass.
Behemoths, as part of their stasis subclass kit, can use stasis to slide at heightened speed on the ground making them notably hard to hit. When they slide into a Glacier grenade, the wall shatters, as it would from the Shatterdive ability. Bungie did comment that Titans would be next for a nerf, but didn’t provide a timetable for when these adjustments would hit the live server or even what they would be. As it stands right now, titans are primed to rise to an even greater standing in the Crucible thanks to the recent nerfs.
The changes outlined in the TWAB may prove to be effective and worries around this topic may prove to be unnecessary, and completely overblown. Time will tell if that is the case.
Now, what did the rest of the TWAB cover?
The other major topic of late in the Destiny community was the recent implementation of weapon/armor sunsetting. It led to a notable drop in the potential loot pool, and has forced Bungie to add weapons back into the loot pool to provide a stop gap. This is happening again.
Weapons/Armor that were previously sunsetted from the Moon and the Dreaming City will be obtainable with new perk pools next season. Players have voiced their concerns to this news as many of them, Destiny veterans, have been running these areas, and their events, for the last one to two years. This speaks on a larger issue of sunsetting.
Sunsetting was introduced with the launch of Beyond Light. Weapon/Armor obtained a year ago from the current season would no longer be able to be powered up to max level and carried into activities. Sunsetting was meant to be an answer towards certain weapons/builds becoming too overpowered/overused. If everything has an end date, the meta of the game will constantly shift. This in theory leads to a higher diversity of what players use and how they play. In reality, not so much.
Sunsetting has led to a meta shift. The rise of hand cannons and shotguns in crucible is definitely different than the season before hand, that was dominated by auto rifles and short zoom snipers. But in the weeks following sunsetting implementation, concerns around the practice have emerged.
Bungie, after sunsetting gear, have added some of that same gear back into the season gear pool. This has led to many players voicing concerns that they’re time isn’t being respected. After spending hours farming for a god-roll on a weapon, that same weapon was sunsetted but is now obtainable…if they go farm again.
As part of the re-addition of gear from the Moon and the Dreaming City, there is actually a very welcomed change to how dungeons reward gear. Players will have the opportunity to run the two dungeons between the two destinations every week of a heightened chance at a high-stat roll armor piece. Right now, raiding and running Trials of Osiris is the most direct way to obtain a high-stat roll armor piece, but it’s not always guaranteed. You can find these in the wild while playing, but it’s nice to have a more direct path at chasing loot.
In addition, the Legend and Master Lost Sector system introduced in Beyond Light will be expanded to the Moon’s four Lost Sectors. Players can farm these Lost Sectors on either Europa or the Cosmodrome for a chance at a specific exotic type, I.E. exotic arms, legs, helmet, etc.
The other major topic addressed in the TWAB was vendor rewards and vendor tokens.
Destiny veterans will likely have thousands of extra tokens between Crucible and the Vanguard Strike playlists. Well, turn them in now. In season 13, Guardians can look forward to a modified system of earning reputation progressively as you play those activities.
As guardians level up, they will earn rewards periodically through the vendor. Different levels have different rewards ranging from Upgrade Modules to Ascendant Shards.
The TWAB answered a couple of questions and potentially raised a dozen more. A few hours before the TWAB went live, Bungie Community Manager, DMG, tweeted out that the development team is “in active discussions on PvP” but had nothing to release at the time of the TWAB.
As of late, multiple content creators have voiced their concerns regarding PvP, sunsetting and the state of the game in general. Recently, Hush, a long time content creator who focused on Destiny, announced that he would be stepping away from the game.
The community is hungry for an answer. An answer to the balance of PvP, the state of sunsetting and its practices and the larger health of the game. There are three TWABs between now and the start of Season 13. Bungie will need to calm these concerns heading into next season or risk further departures. As a fan of the game, and someone who has played since Destiny 1 Alpha, here’s hoping they do.