In their latest blog post, Bungie has announced several changes to exotic armor and weapons. These changes will be coming with the new Season of Opulence, starting on the fourth of June. The changes contain broad, sweeping nerfs to several fan favorite exotic weapons and armor items such as the Whisper of the Worm sniper rifle and the Skull of Dire Ahamkara warlock helmet. Bungie’s development team say the targeted exotics were overwhelming them in their pursuit to create challenging content for players, leading to the outlined nerfs.
For weapons; Bungie will be adjusting the Whisper of the Worm sniper rifle, the Sleeper Simulant linear fusion rifle, the Lord of Wolves shotgun, and the Ace of Spades hand cannon.
In the case of Whisper, Bungie are changing the White Nail perk to pull ammo from the user’s reserves instead of having it create the ammo from thin air. Bungie will increase the weapon’s base ammo reserves to 18 to compensate for this change. This is effectively the same change Bungie implemented in the original Destiny game when they nerfed the Black Hammer for exactly the same reason. It was interesting to see Bungie reintroduce the un-nerfed form of the perk into the game again with the release of the Whisper of the Worm. Perhaps the development team were originally optimistic they could design encounters around the perk’s output, or they were at least willing to give it a try. Bungie has only released two raids since putting Whisper into Destiny 2, but those two raids provided enough data for them to arrive at the same conclusion they reached almost four years ago.
It remains to be seen if players will continue to use Whisper after the nerf to White Nail, given that there are several other team-focused, weapon-independent means for players to achieve the same effect. Warlocks equipping the Lunafaction Boots and Titans of any subclass using Rally Barricade will be able to do exactly what White Nail will do after the change while applying to any weapon, on non-precision hits, and work for the whole Fireteam. A lot of those tactics were already in use prior to the introduction of Whisper.
Next are the changes for the Sleeper Simulant. Bungie will be reducing the damage from the ricochet effect of the weapon’s fire while buffing non-precision shots’ damage. Aiming Sleeper shots to proc extra damage had very limited applications in end-game content. It was most famously used while fighting Argos in the Eater of Worlds raid, but could be useful in other boss fights as well. I’m personally sad to see this nerf, as I felt that mastering the art of the ricochet damage was the whole fun and point of the Sleeper Simulant in PvE. I am, however, glad to see Bungie buffing non-precision damage.
Bungie will be nerfing the Lord of Wolves’ damage in PvE by 20% and changing how players activate the Release the Wolves perk. This was the least surprising of the nerfs to me. The Lord of Wolves became exceptionally potent after the last sandbox changes to shotguns. It quickly became a personal favorite of mine in Gambit and Gambit Prime for its ability to shred high-value targets, Envoys, and Primevals. Bungie’s change to the Release the Wolves perk will allow users to know manually activate the perk by holding down the reload button after scoring a kill with the weapon. Bungie claim this was done in response to player feedback that the weapon could become a bit unwieldy with the perk active. I like the change, since it provides the gun some flexibility it didn’t have before.
Finally for exotic weapon changes we have the Ace of Spades hand cannon. Bungie are changing Memento Mori, the Ace’s permanent Kill Clip-like perk, to deactivate when players holster the weapon. Ace has so many advantages to it that, while players will undoubtedly dislike the nerf, Ace will remain a very effective choice for the Crucible on PC. Memento Mori’s PVP damage bonus will also be slightly nerfed to prevent Titans benefiting from the One-Eye Mask’s Vengeance perk from two-tapping other Guardians. Bungie point out you’ll need at least four Resilience to survive this effect now, so plan your load outs accordingly. Lastly, Memento Mori will now benefit six shots once again, up from the previous nerf to five.
Ace’s range, abundance of perks, and now semi-permanent nature of Memento Mori mean the weapon will remain a powerful force in the Crucible on PC. This nerfs are more precision cuts than they are hits from a hammer, trimming away fat to bring the weapon a bit more in line with everything else (if only a bit).
For exotic armor changes, Bungie will adjust the amount of super energy certain exotics generate from their exotic perks. These include very popular exotics such as the Warlock’s Skull of Dire Ahamkara helmet and Phoenix Protocol robes; Hunters’ Orpheus Rigs pants, Shards of Galanor gauntlets, and Gwisin Vest chestpiece; and finally the Titan exotic gloves, Ursa Furiosa. Per Cosmo’s points in the blog, the developers feel these exotics are becoming players’ only viable option for exotic armor. Bungie say they also envision Orbs players generate for each other to be their intended means of ramping up Super usage. This seems odd to me, given the presence of Super Mods for Armor, but moving on…
Bungie will apply a rule of diminishing returns to the Super energy players receive while using the Skull of Dire Ahamkara, Orpheus Rigs, and Phoenix Protocols. Bungie claims these changes will make getting your full Super back with these exotics a much “rarer” occurrence. Interestingly, Bungie have already nerfed the Orpheus Rigs with the pre-Forsaken sandbox update last year, but still feel that Rigs are too good.
Bungie will cap the Super energy gains possible while using the Shards of Galanor and Ursa Furiosa to be in line with other exotics. Again, both of these exotics have already had their returns diminished or modified and clearly Bungie feels those adjustments weren’t enough to keep these exotics from being “must picks.”
Lastly, the Hunter exotic Gwisin Vest will have its Super energy returns for killing one to two Guardians in PVP changed from 15% to 8%. The vest should still scale as it did before the update when going into stealth after killing three or more Guardians. Its PVE energy returns should remain about where they are right now, per the blog. It looks like Bungie wasn’t quite finished fine-tuning the Way of the Wraith subclass’ dominance in the Crucible. This change tells me they’re actively monitoring the sub-classes performance in PVP overall.
It’s clear Bungie wants to see more variety in players’ exotic armor choices, as well as some more freedom in designing difficult endgame content. The primary offenders for exotic armor pieces are those exotics I call “Builders and Spenders.” These exotics differ from pure “Spenders,” such as Raiden Flux and the Doom Fang Pauldrons in that they increase the duration AND frequency of Supers. Gwisin Vest is obviously a “Spender” exotic, but is being brought in line with the “Builders and Spenders,” exotics for some reason.
While adjustments and sandbox updates are useful to curtail over performing pieces such as the ones mentioned by Bungie in this blog, I cannot help but think the overarching issue is a lack of useful “Spender” exotics. I have advocated before for more exotics like Raiden Flux and Doom Fang before, specifically for classes such as bottom tree Striker Titans and Dawnblade Warlocks. Both trees come with built-in “exotic” perks that extend the duration of their Supers, and both have been adjusted recently for being too powerful. In the case of Dawnblade Warlocks, a “Spender” exotic that could improve the speed and tracking of Dawnblade projectiles would allow Warlocks more diversity in their potential loadouts.
We’ll have to wait to see just how hard hitting these nerfs are, but it’s likely that the community’s reaction to them will change for the better. Perhaps new exotics and legendary perks will soften the blow from this planned update. New perks and gear could redirect players’ attention away from the losses they face with the Season of Opulence.