stranger's rifle pvp buff

Analysis: Patch 1.1.1 & You

Published on: Mar 1, 2015 @ 9:50

Contributing authors: Anson C & Ryan Kirby

Now that Patch 1.1.1 just rolled out, some changes may heavily affect the way you play.

It’s strangely satisfying keeping heavy ammo on death and all, but the community has forgotten about the existence of heavy weapons now that shotguns hit like a hand-held howitzer.

The balancing was largely successful at defining each weapon classes’ roles. Turning dust collecting pulse rifles into kings of Crucible and breathing new life into shotguns in PvE—something many people thought impossible.

We detailed the changes before the patch deployed, but now that its live, its time to see how everything is shaping out.



As expected, armor that previously increased heavy ammo reserves no longer come with the drawback of that ammo being reduced on death. Machine Guns never suffered from this glitch but rocket users and Fireborn Sunsingers will be happy to know they can use their favorite weapons with reckless abandon.

Auto Rifles of all kinds lose some of their usefulness, especially those of the high Impact variety, as the effective loss in damage is roughly 10% when range is taken into consideration.

However, high Impact Pulse Rifles such as Red Death are much more powerful, capable of doing more damage than high impact Auto Rifles in a short amount of time.

Shotguns are now much more useful, dealing double the damage that they did in PvE. While they may not be the weapon of choice in situations like Nightfalls where Lightswitch is activated, or when incoming damage is too high for close quarters combat to be practical as a result of the range decrease, the increased damage more than compensates for the lack of range.

A shotgun with elemental damage like Swordbreaker can easily kill Praetorians within a couple of shots.

While the patch notes do mention a nerf to Armor Piercing Ammo, in practice this only means that you cant shoot through particularly thick objects. Sniper rifle rounds can still go through cover, just not things like the floor and walls in Phogoth’s Shrieker room. Damage is unaffected if the bullet penetrates.

Golden Gun’s damage has been unintentionally decreased as a side effect of the hand cannon nerf.



As an inadvertent side effect of the Fusion Rifle nerf, the Vex Mythoclast has less ammo in the magazine and in reserve, but this will be fixed in a later patch.

Because heavy ammo no longer drops from anyone, it is particularly imperative to wait until your teammates are nearby when heavy ammo spawns. As a result, an effective strategy is to simply steal the other team’s heavy ammo spawn since you can deny all of their heavy ammo, even in the case that you die in the process.

One of the most monotonous Iron Banner bounties, Focused Aggression, can now be completed with any primary weapon.

The range nerf for Shotguns and Fusion Rifles have affected Fusion Rifles more, possibly shifting the balance of power in favor of Shotguns and Sniper Rifles with low magnification scopes. While Fusion Rifles are still the optimal close-mid range special weapon, they can no longer reliably kill in a single burst from across the map, and the prevalence of shotguns means that it is even more important to stay away from high traffic areas of maps.

Shotguns, despite the universal range decrease, can still be used at ranges greater than 5 feet, though it is even more important now that you have a shotgun with any combination of naturally high Impact or range with Shot Package or Rangefinder perks.

High Impact Pulse Rifles such as Red Death can kill within 2 bursts, assuming every bullet hits the target in the head, dealing about 34 precision damage per shot.

High Impact Auto Rifles will deal much less damage, with the Vanquisher VIII dealing 23 precision damage and SUROS Regime dealing roughly 31 precision damage.



When the balance patch was detailed, the shotgun buff looked more than a little silly. Shotguns lost some of their range and starting ammo, but gained a 200% damage buff in PvE.

The change was intended to get shotguns into PvE, but the community was quick to note that the damage shotguns dealt wasn’t what kept them from being useful outside crucible. Their low range coupled with the burst damage of high level enemies simply made shotguns poor equipment in the endgame.

Turns out 200% is quite a lot. The difference between shotguns pre and post patch is so jarring that many players changed their playstyle just to mix it up with these weapons.

Videos like Phogoth being stun-locked by Universal Remote or Urzok dropping to the red with a full burst from Invisible Hand flooded the Internet after the patch. Many Guardians are having fun with shotguns, and it shows.

Shotguns only received nerfs in PvP, and yet they seem to be even more abundant. Perhaps players that had stayed away from shotguns found them so fun in PvE that they simply couldn’t put down these weapons long enough to play a Crucible game.

The clear winner of 1.1.1. are shotguns. If you’re looking to get your hands on one of these weapons now that they’re the talk of the tower, you’re in luck. There are a variety of fan favorites available for purchase, from New Monarchy’s Judgment VI to the Crucible’s Two To The Morgue. If you snagged yourself a Felwinter’s Lie from Iron Banner, or you picked up a Universal Remote from Xur, you’re bound to be getting a lot of use out of these weapons in the coming months.

But it bears repeating, don’t try to hit Crota with your shotgun… unless of course you’re in a group of invisible Bladedancer Hunters.


Pulse Rifles

As soon as the phrase “Weapon Balancing Patch” was uttered, we knew pulse rifles would be getting some love. After a blanket 9.7% damage increase—and a little help from auto rifle and hand cannon nerfs—pulse rifles are finally performing up to par.

Pulse rifles now correctly fall somewhere between auto rifle and hand cannon as a primary. They’re less punishing on whiffed shots than a hand cannon, due to their burst fire, but they’re not as reliable as auto rifles.

In PvP, pulse rifles are performing well—maybe even a little too well. High impact pulse rifles (Three Little Words, Red Death, and The Stranger’s Rifle to name a few) are killing in two precision bursts, making them some of the deadliest weapons in the game.

pulse rifle buff

Players (not so) fondly remember the vanilla Bad Juju, the original Necrochasm. After the balancing, Bad Juju became a situational primary that complimented certain builds, but still lacked the punch to be viable in endgame content, especially in the Crucible. Well, it’s been bulking, and in 1.1.1. it’s reached its final(?) form.

If you’re looking to try out the new and improved pulse rifles there are a few options. If you haven’t been graced with a Red Death or the bounty for Bad Juju, your best bet is to pick up Three Little Words from the Crucible Quartermaster. It’s the best & most well-rounded pulse rifle available for purchase right now.

Oversoul Edict retains its situational, PvE-exclusive perks, but it’s very strong in the right scenarios, especially now that full auto has been fixed.

Are you kicking yourself for getting rid of The Stranger’s Rifle right now?


Hand Cannons

You would have thought The Traveler was falling when the hand cannon nerfs were detailed. There was even talk of hand cannons being completely phased out.

Hand cannons received a decrease in range and damage fall off now happens closer to the shooter. This change is only really noticeable when trying to out-gun snipers or guardians with scout rifles from across the map. Hand cannons still feel like an incredibly rewarding choice for Crucible.

Thorn remains a beastly weapon in all areas of Destiny, but now there’s more reason to pick the Send It perk. Suck it up and complete that Thorn bounty already.

TFWPKY 1969 and Fatebringer are still fantastic weapons, especially for PvE where their perks can shine, and The Last Word still rules the PvP arena.


Auto Rifles

Without question, auto rifles took the biggest hit in 1.1.1. Bungie claimed a 2.5% reduction in base damage and a range nerf, and the community was mostly on board.

Only time will tell, but the patch may have went a little too far in some places. Low RoF auto rifles were already valued before the patch for their high Impact, while high RoF auto rifles were mostly relegated to PvE. The gap between the two camps has widened even further.

Low RoF auto rifles, like SUROS Regime, Abyss Defiant, and Vanquisher VIII have taken a noticeable hit to range and stability. They’re far from unusable, forcing users to display a little more finesse in lining up precision hits outside mid-range.

Unfortunately, high RoF auto rifles are even harder to work into a build—guns like Atheon’s Epilogue, Silimar’s Wrath, and Bungie’s punishment for months of cheesing normal mode, Necrochasm, are outclassed by better options.

Thankfully Bungie did address that Necrochasm wasn’t preforming as well as it should be, so we may see it buffed in the future.

If you don’t want to live anywhere but in the glory days of auto rifle domination then your best bet is to get real friendly with New Monarchy for a Vanquisher VIII – check out our full review for it. Guns like Do Gooder V and For The People are still solid pickups too, you’re just going to have to work a little harder for those kills.


Other Weapons

Fusion rifles were the ‘other’ weapons to be changed in latest patch, but lowering their range and starting ammo while increasing spread hasn’t buried these weapons. Their usefulness in PvE may be questionable in the wake of the shotgun buff, but their telltale charge still screams “don’t turn that corner” in PvP.

Of the weapons not directly affected by 1.1.1, scout rifles benefited the most. The range reduction on auto rifles and hand cannons has created a climate where scout rifles can truly succeed in the crucible.

B-Line Trauma, Badger CCL, and Another NitC are incredibly strong and easy to obtain. Gheleon’s Demise is notable for its super high impact and re-rollable perks. Check out our Legendary reviews section for our thoughts on these weapons.


Changing Landscape

Shotguns are a blast in PvE. As Guardians search for the best ways to incorporate these weapons into PvP, they may forget that Valus Ta’aurc has an instant-kill ground pound. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! Despite nerfs in PvP, shotguns have clearly weathered the storm. Related: It’s a great time to use Blink.

Pulse rifles, hand cannons, and scout rifles are all well-balanced. These weapons feel strong in their own right, but none are so powerful that they can be used to full effect in every situation. Each classes’ unique traits have placed even greater emphasis on using a secondary weapon to offset their natural weaknesses.

Auto rifles might be a tad weak. They’re still decent options for PvE thanks to their consistent damage output and overall reliability. However, in PvP they have to compete with pulse rifles and its unclear if they’re up to the task.

destiny weapon patch analysis

For now, the patch was successful in opening up build diversity—especially in the crucible. Weapons certainly fell like they have a prescribed purpose, and no weapon fells like a skeleton key.

There’s still plenty of uncertainty. Everyone will have to experiment with their arsenal to settle on what feels best for them. Weapons that have been ignored since launch are making their way to the front lines.

It’s a great time to experiment, and we can only hope that when the dust settles, there’s better diversity at the top of the weapon charts.

What loadouts are working for you? Did you stick to your guns or pick up something shiny and new?