Big 'Destiny' Weapon Changes Inbound - Pulse Rifles Up, Auto Rifles Down

In addition to revealing when The House of Wolves expansion would be coming, Bungie also revealed that the weapons in Destiny will receive some balancing tweaks. Will the Pulse Rifles be less woeful now, and will the Auto Rifle nerf upset PlayStation and Xbox players?

The changes to Destiny's weapons appear to primarily be driven by their use in Crucible multiplayer. The PvP stats shared by Bungie show a large preference to Auto Rifles, particularly with the SUROS Regime during Iron Banner events. Nearly 24 percent of players used the weapon during the special multiplayer event, but that stat is likely skewed due to the Auto Rifle bounty that was available every day during the Iron Banner.

Meanwhile, Pulse Rifles are barely used by players during PvE, with only six percent of the kills. It gets even worse in PvP, where only two percent of the kills come from the primary weapon. Destiny players have repeatedly called Pulse Rifles underpowered since the game's launch and it looks like Destiny is finally doing something about it. Tweaks to Pulse Rifles, Hand Cannons, Shotguns, Fusion Rifles, and Auto Rifles are all part of the upcoming February patch.

Auto Rifles


  • Auto Rifle is optimal at close to medium range
  • Damage, Stability, and Range are tuned such that players desire Stability for reliable close quarters damage, or Range for better accuracy at a distance
  • Reduce base damage of Auto Rifles by 2.5% (averaged across Rate of Fire stats, higher RoF took less of a reduction than low RoF)
  • Reduce effective range values so that damage falloff and accuracy are a stronger factor in combat decisions
  • Range reduction is less severe in the higher stat values, so now your range stat is more critical to long distance engagements
Pulse Rifles


  • Pulse Rifle is optimal at medium range, but can still effectively harass enemies at close or long range distances
  • Rate of Fire sets a pace for players to both track moving targets, and then deliver precision damage in bursts
  • Increase base damage of Pulse Rifles by 9.7%. DPS is now more in line with other primaries
Hand Cannons


  • Hand Cannon is optimal at medium range
  • Hand Cannon is optimal when shots are paced, becomes less effective when fired quickly
  • Rewards agility when under fire, precision targeting, and snap shots
  • Reduce effective range
  • Damage falloff starts closer to the shooter, and follow up shots are less accurate at long ranges
  • Slight reduction to initial accuracy
    • This is unnoticeable at close to medium range, but underscores the range intentions when used from far away
Fusion Rifles


  • Fusion Rifles are optimal at mid-range, where targets are easier to track but they're not close enough to attack while you charge up
  • Requires combat foresight and the ability to predict a target's movement to use successfully


  • Blast pattern on a Fusion Rifle burst cone is a little wider
    • Close to medium range volleys are largely unaffected, but at a distance the projectiles are less likely to land hits on a single target
    • This reduces the reliability of landing a one hit kill at far range, and makes the weapon better at spreading damage into a group
  • Initial starting ammo is reduced across all ammo stats. This is change primarily affects The Crucible
    • Starting a Crucible match, you'll have less Fusion Rifle ammo in reserve
    • In PvE activities we persistently track your ammo. We only use initial ammo values if you are logging in for the first time, or starting a Crucible match


  • Shotgun is the most optimal at very close range
  • Complements melee attacks and other close quarters class builds
  • Offensively closing on an enemy with a Shotgun is a risk/reward timing game
  • Increase damage by 2x (100%) against all non-Guardian combatants (aliens)
  • Reduce high end range values - damage falloff starts sooner, so Crucible players with long range shotguns need to be a little closer for successful one hit kills
  • (Like the Fusion Rifle) Initial starting ammo is reduced across all ammo stats in the Crucible:
    • Starting a Crucible match, you'll have less Shotgun ammo in reserve
    • In PvE activities we persistently track your ammo
    • We only use initial ammo values if you are logging in for the first time, or starting a Crucible match
Scout Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Machine Guns, and Rocket Launchers will be left untouched. Bungie is going to judge how the changes to the other weapons work out with the players of Destiny before making more.

Meanwhile, the community reaction to these changes has been mixed, based on comments posted to the Destiny subreddit. The buff to the Pulse Rifle overall and the Shotgun in PvE was well-received, overall. However, this second nerf to Auto Rifles and the Hand Cannon was not as welcomed. The most pointed comments come from Bungie continuing to make changes to weapons due to their performance in PvP, which then changes their behavior in PvE, where the weapons now become less useful.

It's a tough balance for Bungie to strike with Destiny, as all the weapons perform the same in multiplayer and campaign. What do you think of these changes? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via Bungie]

[Edit: Corrected Fusion Rifle changes]