‘Destiny’ Adding More Exotics, Major Weapon Balance Changes Planned For December Update

Bungie announced another round of weapon balancing for Destiny on Thursday. A planned December update to the PlayStation and Xbox shooter will see significant changes to Pulse Rifles and Shotguns in PVP among other balancing tweaks. Meanwhile, a fresh batch of Exotic weapons and armor is about to be added to the game, and information about Raid Challenges is coming soon, though don’t get excited about the older Raids just yet.

In the Bungie Weekly Update, the developer revealed that several new Exotics were coming without giving the specifics on each one. There will be two brand new Exotics, suggesting these might be weapons only and not armor since there are three classes. The rest are Year One weapons and armor upgraded to Year Two. The studio mentioned that these upgrades will have perks to select on their talent trees.

There were several pieces of Exotic armor and weapons that were left behind when The Taken King launched. Neither Icebreaker nor Gjallarhorn seem like likely candidates because of how Bungie previously mentioned they broke the design of some of the Destiny encounters. Some of the exotics from House of Wolves are a strong possibility since they didn’t get much play time before they were made obsolete by the changes the latest expansion brought.

Destiny: The Taken King (PlayStation, Xbox)

Other Exotic possibilities include the MIDA Multi-tool and the Armamentarium. The latter in particular comes across as needed since Titans are the only class in the game without a piece of Year Two armor that grants the ability to carry a double grenade charge. Is it possible we could see upgraded versions of Dragon’s Breath and No Land Beyond too?

The long-teased Raid challenges was teased yet again by Bungie. This difference is Community Manager David “Deej” Dague used the plural “Raids” to describe an information dump planned just before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this appears to be a typo as Creative Director Luke Smith tweeted out a correction not long after the information went live.

The last big part of the Bungie Weekly Update is the news that the December update will include another run at weapon balancing. The current PVP meta favors Pulse Rifles and Shotguns, so they are getting some significant nerfs. Pulse Rifles in particular will see a damage reduction of 8 to 9 percent for the majority of the weapons. This only affects play in the Crucible, however, as Bungie is increasing the base damage against enemy AI combatants to 1.3x from 1.25x. The net effect though is that two-burst headshot kills from weapons like the Red Death and Nirwen’s Mercy have been eliminated.

Shotguns are having their effective ranges reduced once again. Damage will now fall off at melee range, have additional recoil, slower reload time, slower Aim Down Sights time, slower base movement speed, and will be slower to fire coming out of sprinting. These changes are potentially the hardest nerf out of any of the weapon-balancing changes. Like the Pulse Rifles though, Shotguns are receiving a damage boost against AI combatants. The new stat is now 1.6x base damage versus the current 1.55x.

On the positive change side, Auto Rifles will see their base damage increased by 3 to 7 percent depending on the archetype while Hand Cannons are getting added accuracy when Aiming Down Sights. The First Curse Exotic Hand Cannon is also getting some changes to “emphasize its strengths as the longest range Hand Cannon” and the “Fabian Strategy” is also getting buffed some.

Destiny Sleeper Simulant (PlayStation, Xbox)

Finally, the glitch that allows Destiny players to fire all their Heavy Weapon ammo but one shot and then switch to the Sleeper Simulant with full ammo is getting squashed. This unexpected boon will be gone with the December update.

Here is the full overview of the weapon changes coming with the December Destiny update:

Auto Rifles

  • Small increases to base damage.
  • Low RoF (Suros Regime, An Answering Chord): 3 percent base damage increase
  • Med RoF (Zhalo Supercell, Paleocontact JPK-43): 7 percent base damage increase
  • High RoF (Arminius-D, Necrochasm): 4 percent base damage increase

Pulse Rifles

  • Reduce base damage.
    • Low RoF (The Messenger, Spare Change): 9 percent base damage reduction
    • Med RoF (Hawksaw, No Time To Explain, Red Death): 8 percent base damage reduction
    • High RoF (Bad Juju): 8 percent base damage reduction
    • Highest RoF (Grasp of Marok): 2 percent base damage reduction
  • Reduce damage falloff to start between Auto Rifle and Hand Cannon ranges.
    • A low range Pulse Rifle will have shorter damage falloff than an average Hand Cannon.
    • A high range Pulse Rifle will have farther damage falloff than an average Hand Cannon.
  • Increase base damage against AI combatants to 1.3x (was 1.25x).

Hand Cannons

  • Increase ADS Accuracy for more reliable shooting at close to medium range


  • Reduce starting damage falloff to match melee lunge ranges.
  • Low range stat falloff starts at standard melee lunge.
  • High range stat falloff starts at Blink Strike lunge.
  • Final damage falloff distance extends 0.5 meters longer for a smoother drop.
  • Slower ready/stow times for all shotguns.
  • Additional recoil across the entire Stability stat range.
  • Slower reload speed across the entire Reload stat range.
  • Slower time to Aim Down Sights for all shotguns.
  • Slower base movement speed when Shotguns are the active weapon (Walk, Run and Aim Down Sights. Sprint is unaffected.)
  • Add two frames delay when firing out of sprint.
  • Increase base damage against AI combatants to 1.6x (was 1.55x).

Fusion Rifles

  • Increase Charge Speed on fast-charging Fusion Rifles, but reduce burst damage to compensate
  • Fusion Rifles behave more predictably based on player state
    • Reduced Hip Fire Stability for all Fusion Rifles
    • Increased ADS and Crouched Stability for all Fusion Rifles
  • Reduction in carried ammo inventory for all Fusion Rifles
  • Increased base damage against AI combatants to 1.25x (was 1.15x)

Sniper Rifles

  • Extend Sniper Rifle damage falloff so damage only reduces for very long range shots.
  • Luck in the Chamber on Sniper Rifles now only buffs precision damage.


  • Increase ready/stow speed for all Sidearms.

The First Curse

  • The First Curse perk now refills the magazine when activated, provides better Stability, better Target Acquisition, and damage falloff starts further out while the perk remains active.
  • +25 to First Curse base range.
  • Fixed a bug where The First Curse perk would deactivate if the player summoned their Ghost.
  • Boost to Imprecation base range and magazine size.


  • Reduce base Range by 20.
  • Lucky bullets from both Luck in the Chamber and Holding Aces now deal 1.2x bonus damage (was 1.3x).

The Chaperone

  • Reduce base damage.
  • Increase precision damage scalar to 1.75x (was 1.1x).

Fabian Strategy

  • Front Lines perk on Fabian Strategy no longer buffs Rate of Fire as a bonus modifier. Front Lines now increases the base Rate of Fire stat to highest speed. Damage per bullet is offset to match the High RoF archetype.
  • Removed Extended Mag perk and replaced with Flared Magwell. Removed Small Bore perk and replaced with Rifled Barrel. Needed to make these changes to prevent shipping a magazine bug that could trigger when reloading the weapon while Front Lines perk was active.
  • Increased base Reload and Stability on the weapon to help offset the removed stat upgrades.

Black Spindle

  • Removed scope upgrades from Black Spindle talent grid (Spindle only has one scope). Replaced with Barrel upgrades.

Sleeper Simulant

  • Maximum inventory ammo buffed (from 7 -> 9)
  • Ammo swap exploit removed (weapon no longer converts one ammo from a different heavy weapon to a full inventory)
  • Inventory no longer benefits from Fusion Rifle armor perks, but does benefit from Heavy Ammo armor perks.

[Image via Bungie]